Willie & Seg: Just Another Stunt?
So was the "fight" between Bill Cunningham and Bill "Seg" Dennison legit last Friday? Or just another publicity stunt? And will we ever know? Or care?
So many signs point to this being just another scam to draw attention to the station and Cunningham, and to drive traffic to the WLW-AM website for the "official statement" (which I'll print here, so you don't have to go there).... If you compare all the instant attention to this "fight" Friday afternoon to the secrecy by the Big One around Andy Furman's suspension/firing a year ago, then it looks like another stunt.
If you didn't hear, here's what happened. In the final half hour (2:30-3 pm) Friday, around the time of the Willie-Seg "Stooge Report," Willie and Seg got into an argument. According to Scott Sloan, who was filling in for Burbank (3-6 pm), Willie threw a newspaper at Seg, and Seg hit Willie in the face. The altercation continued in the hallway.
--Even before Cunninghman's show ended, Sloan was on the air talking about it. If this were really serious, would they go public with it? NOBODY talked about Furman's absence during his suspension. Employees were ordered not to talk about it. They also didn't talk about the Clear Channel firings right after Thanksgiving. But this "fight" they talk about intstantly?
--By 5:30., Sloan was telling listeners a Clear Channel memo had been issued ordering air personalities not to talk to Seg when he did his 20/20 sports reports. Gee, when Furman was suspended, Big One employees were ordered not to talk about it -- and not to talk about the fact they were ordered not to talk about it....
--When Seg did his 5:40 sports report from Great American Small Park, Ken Griffey Jr. interrupted him to ask "what happened at the station?" Dennison said: "An altercation ensued. I took care of myself, but Willie is a little messed up." Listeners also heard that Willie had a busted lip, or might have lost a couple of teeth.... If this were serious, you'd think someone would know exactly what injury Cunningham suffered? No, instead it sounded more like WWE hype and theatrics to me. Cunningham is a smart attorney; if he was assaulted, why hasn't he filed charges? Or a police complaint?
--Cunningham and Dennison are good friends, and coworkers for 24 years. Earlier in the week, Cunningham said Seg would do NFL scores and recap during his new nationally syndicated Sunday night talk show starting Oct. 7. (So if Seg doesn't appear on Willie's new national show, I guess the fight was for real?)
--I can think of one reason why Seg would want to punch Willie: I'm sure that Dennison, who is down at Great American Ball Park for all the Reds games, heard plenty of negative comments from players about Cunningham's broadcast remarks that Adam Dunn was drunk the night he missed third base. Then Willie went down to the stadium and apologized to Dunn on Thursday. So maybe the Big One pulled this stunt to make Cunningham a "victim," to get some sympathy after his slanderous remarks about Dunn?
--When opertations director Darryl Parks was on Saturday 9-11 a.m., he said Cunningham was saying he won't return to his show on Monday. Are there any Clear Channel insiders reading this who can tell me if Cunningham already had time off scheduled for this week? Again, this sounds like another scam where somone gets "suspended," when the person is actually on vacation... How many times has Cunningham pulled that one...
--Parks also said on the air Saturday that he couldn't talk about (ordered by Clear Channel HR department, he said), and encouraged everyone to go to the website to read the statement. They're really encouraging people to go the website, to increase traffic. So here's what's on the website:
"Dear 700WLW Listener:
Our goal is to entertain and inform you each day. The staff at 700WLW is a family, and at times can be considered a dysfunctional family. Any family has disagreements and arguments. Unfortunately, our disagreements may end up being exposed to hundreds of thousands of people.
On Friday, September 7, 2007, an ugly and uncalled for incident was broadcast on 700WLW. The disagreement, argument and physical altercation was never meant to be heard. Bill Cunningham and Bill Dennison have been friends and co-workers for over 24 years. They have each brought us hours of entertainment. I hope this will continue.
Bill Cunningham made the statement he will not return to 700WLW until Mr. Dennison has been reprimanded. As of this writing, I have been in contact with Mr. Cunningham and his representatives and we are working toward a resolution of this issue. I hold out hope Mr. Cunningham will return to his daily show in the near future. We are also in the process of investigating this incident internally.
In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the varied and popular programming on 700WLW.
Director of AM Operations
Clear Channel Cincinnati
--If Willie did provoke Seg, how about making Cunningham broadcast from a WLW billboard (like Wildman Walker in the 1991)... until the Reds win... a pennant?
--If Seg really assaulted Cunningham, then where's the police report or a law suit?
--If Furman was fired for questioning if TJ Houshmandzadeh was a racist, what are the consequences for Cunningham calling Dunn a drunk on the air?
But if Seg refuses to appear on Willie's show, or the "Stooge Report," or on Cunningham's big new national show, then maybe this is all legit.
Either way, what folks at WLW want is attention. And they're creating it.