Fired Proud FM hosts weigh in as they pursue a wrongful dismissal suit.
Scott Dagostino / Toronto / Tuesday, May 18, 2010
“I understand the general public’s whiplash feeling,” says Shaun Proulx of being abruptly fired — along with fellow hosts Deb Pearce, Mark Wigmore and Patrick Marano — from Proud FM on May 5. Proulx says he doesn’t know why they were fired, but that the pink slips were issued after the group asked for a meeting with station management.
Despite rumours, Wigmore says the meeting wasn’t about money.
“We weren’t stupid enough to think we could go in as a group and scream ‘Unionize’ or ask for raises,” he says.
With the three-year-old station struggling to become profitable, Marano says everyone was “toeing the company line.” But, Pearce says, “Certain things kept creeping up and we wanted more clarity.”
Proulx points to April 12, the day the station became Glee FM. In a marketing tie-in with Global TV, Proud FM devoted its entire programming schedule and website content that day to the show.
“The station loves to use the word ‘transparency,’ but this deal wasn’t very transparent,” says Proulx. “Hosts were being asked to do some advertorial stuff that we’d never been asked to do before,” including using talk time to plug products. “I have a bit of an issue with just being handed something and told to shut up and read it. I have a lot of credibility behind my name. So does Deb, so does Mark, and so does Patrick. Proud FM hired us for our brands, brands that we built.”
Wigmore says each host was getting contradictory answers from Proud FM operations manager Bruce Campbell, so the foursome decided a group meeting would clear everything up. But after three requests, Pearce says, they were fired via email.
“It all happened over a grand total of 48 hours,” says Wigmore.
Campbell says there were “significant differences between management and the affected individuals as to how the business and administration of the station — both on-air and commercially — should be conducted.”
This, says Pearce, is not the case.
“They’ll never know what we wanted to meet about because no one ever took the time, respectfully, to meet with us,” she says.
Respect, Pearce continues, is at the heart of this story. She says she felt betrayed when station management ignored a two-week deadline to endorse her nomination for honoured dyke at this year’s Pride festival.
The station, “that in theory said, ‘I support you,’ now would not endorse it or do anything publicly,” she says.
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