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Jason Whitlock quits 61 Sports

March 2, 2005

In a stunning twist in Kansas City sports talk radio, Star columnist and 61 Sports personality Jason Whitlock quit his afternoon talk show Tuesday while on the air.

Whitlock opened his 2-6 p.m. show with a lengthy explanation on the problems he was having trying to divide his time among writing his column for The Star, hosting his four-hour radio show and doing regular work for ESPN while maintaining quality in all endeavors.

Whitlock also suggested strongly that he wasn't getting enough support from 61 Sports to achieve that goal.

After Whitlock's opening monologue, the station went to a commercial break. When it came back from the break, Whitlock had been replaced by midmorning talk-show host Doug Franz.

“I enjoy radio work,” Whitlock said later. “But as a multimedia journalist, all of my employers must understand that sports writing is my foundation and is the reason I have value on the radio or TV. It's difficult and grueling to handle all of these roles. It creates very long days and nights. Also, my competitive nature caused me to invest more than $18,500 of my own money in the promotion and support of 610 Sports over the past 18 months.

“The show was envisioned as an equal partnership between myself and a co-host (Bill Maas). The partnership did not work and dissolved the first week of August. I carried the ball solo for seven months. I had my representative contact Entercom management about resolving four issues: 1. my compensation; 2. assigning Neal Jones as my permanent co-host; 3. the compensation of my producer and engineer; 4. my taking on additional responsibility in the leadership and direction of the station.

“On Monday, Entercom informed me in writing that it would not address any of the four issues. I reached the conclusion that my desire to take on the competition was much greater than Entercom's, and given that circumstance it would be foolish for me to continue working 12-hour days, seven days a week and traveling across the country to cover sporting events.”

Whitlock began doing radio in Kansas City in 1999 with WHB. In June 2003, Whitlock, Maas and Tim Grunhard all left WHB to join Entercom and its plan for a new all-sports talk station.

Entercom's Kansas City general manager Michael Keck, who oversees 61 Sports, told The Star on Tuesday night in a prepared statement: “Basically we have a signed contract with Jason through June 30 of 2006, with the right to extend one more year. And despite that written agreement, he announced his resignation on the air on 610 Sports today.

“Even though he is under contract, Jason and his agent have recently made demands to renegotiate his deal to dramatically increase his compensation, and Entercom was unwilling to meet his demands. As a result, Jason is attempting to tear up his contract rather than live up to the demands he agreed to.

“Entercom fulfills its contracts and expects those it deals with to do the same.”