Dave Gram was let go as WDEV morning talk host this past weekend in part because of how he interjected his political opinions into discussions, both he and station management said.
“We thought the direction that he was going in wasn’t what we wanted,” WDEV General Manager Steve Cormier said. “We made it clear to him on many occasions….on what he was doing right and what we wanted him to do differently. If you think it’s hurting the company, that’s what you do.”
Gram confirmed that management had discussed his opinionated comments as an area in need of improvement, he told Seven Days: “I was too critical of the president, and I needed to be quicker about asking questions and getting into and out of breaks,” he said.
Gram added these thoughts in an email today to Vermont Daily: “I guess it was a clash of cultures. I made it a project to try to inject some new thinking, and bring along some new listeners, to a station with a reputation of catering mainly to older white men. In the end, my efforts were not successful. One example: Each morning, after my 8:25 promo for my upcoming show, the station ran a segment it called “Party Calendar,” about upcoming events in the community. It would introduce the segment with the 1960 Neil Sedaka tune “Calendar Girl.” I said in an informal staff meeting once that many listeners were likely to find that tune dated and sexist, and suggested replacing it with Marvin Gaye’s 1971 hit “What’s Goin’ On?” I thought it might help to update the station’s presentation by a decade. My proposal died immediately.”
“I wanted to help preserve the long term viability of the station by continuing to welcome all viewpoints, but also making my show relevant to people outside of the older, white, male demographic and to the two-thirds of Vermonters who didn’t vote for President Trump last week,” Gram said. “These efforts, too, were doomed.”
Cormier said Gram’s final segment on Friday – in which Vermont Daily publisher Guy Page and Conflict of Interest columnist Kevin Ellis discussed state and national election results from differing political points of view, with Gram acting as referee – was the kind of program management wished it had seen more of. “You were both on different sides. That is what we wanted,” Cormier said. “But he would tend to throw himself into it. That’s not what we wanted. It’s a public affairs program.”
“We’re giving Ric the reins right now,” Cormier said. “I’m sure he’s going to do a great job. We kind of feel that maybe he’s going to bring us back to the days of [longtime WDEV radio host] Mark Johnson.”