Regular listeners to WINA’s “Morning News” may have noticed the absence this week of co-host and producer Jane Foy, but they were not given a reason why.
Foy, who had been on vacation and was coming back to work Tuesday, only learned in a phone call the night before that she was no longer on the show on which she’d worked since 2001, at the station where she’d worked for almost 20 years.
“It was a surprise,” says Foy. “You always know it’s coming because it’s the nature of the business, but you’re always shocked when it’s your time.”
The morning show is being “retooled,” Foy says she was told. The 6am to 10am drive time slot will lose an hour and go down to one host (her former co-host Rick Daniels).
“It’s just a programming change,” says Charlottesville Radio Group’s general manager Mike Chiumento. “The show with Rick and Jane hasn’t changed in 11 years.” The new version will have more features from CBS and be “more like the ‘Today Show,’” he says.
“It was extremely difficult to think about and execute,” says Chiumento. “She’s just a stellar part of the community.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to wake up every morning,” says regular listener Mary Miller. “Jane’s program was centered on local events. I appreciated her ability to keep us in touch” with news around town.
“I never like hearing this stuff,” says Joe Thomas, who hosts the morning show at competitor WCHV and says he once got fired on the way to a public event. Foy’s abrupt ouster, he says, “unfortunately is way too common in corporate radio.”
Charlottesville Radio Group includes ESPN Charlottesville, 106.5 the Corner, 3WV, Z95.1 and Country 92.7, and is owned by Michigan-based Saga Communications, which purchased the locally owned Eure Communications in 2004.
“I feel for her as somebody who’s committed this much time and effort in the community,” Thomas says. “She brought a great professionalism in journalism from the storied stations she’d worked with.”
A Pittsburgh native, Foy, 70, started her career in broadcast at a television station there nearly 50 years ago, doing film editing, public relations, and promotions. One day, a general manager at a local radio station called to ask what she thought of a show. She described it as “yawn radio,” which must have been the right answer. He hired her to take over the program and become the first female AM talk show host in Pittsburgh, at age 24.
Foy’s colleagues at WINA declined to comment, including Rob Schilling, who himself was dropped by the station 10 years ago. He’d filled in as Foy’s cohost on the “Morning Show” after Dick Mountjoy, another staple of local radio, died in 2008, and then Schilling was given his own show.
After Saga pulled the plug, Schilling’s fans launched a campaign to bring the conservative host back, which it did in January 2009.
State Senator Creigh Deeds was surprised to learn Foy is off the air and calls her “a voice that everybody knows and an essential part of everyone’s morning.” He’s been appearing on her show since he was first elected to the Senate in 2001, and says she’s a tough interviewer. “I know I wasn’t going to get softball questions.”
When reached on the phone, Foy sounds upbeat, and says her severance agreement was “very satisfactory.” Another bright side: She won’t be getting up at 4am and going to bed at 8:30pm.
And despite being the full-time caregiver for her husband, who has dementia, she says she will be looking for another job and hopes to do some volunteer work as well.
She’ll still be hosting the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 20–only this time it won’t be as Jane Foy of WINA.