Q: I listen to the Frank O. Pinion show once in a while on KTRS (AM-550), and today he was talking about leaving his “Large Morning Show in the Afternoon.” I was wondering if he found another job. He did say he stood up for someone. He will really be missed and I hope this isn’t true, but maybe you might know more than I do.
R.L., of Belleville
A: Looks like the White House isn’t the only place battling serious in-house rifts these days.
In an 18-minute monologue on his July 27 show, John Craddock (alias Frank O. Pinion) announced that as the situation stands now his reign as the station’s afternoon drive king will end next month after 20 years. He stressed repeatedly that the decision was entirely his and that it was not a friendly parting of the ways.
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“This show as it stands is over ... Sept. 14,” he said. “The station did not call me in to fire me. I resigned yesterday at about 2:30 just before we went on the air. I think they want me to come on and say it’s an amicable parting. It’s not, it’s not. It’s not nearly what I hoped it would be, and it certainly is coming before I wanted it to come.”
Probably to avoid legal or other professional trouble, he was vague about the problems that prompted the decision but wanted his listeners to know that for him they were serious enough to force his drastic move.
“For someone to walk away from what I do would take something extremely powerful, extremely big, that I felt was big enough that’s it’s time to go. And that’s what’s happened here.
“There comes a point ... where you are confronted with something you just cannot any longer participate in, you can no longer be part of it the way it is. And that’s kind of in a roundabout way what happened yesterday. We came to a point where we were butting heads and when you believe you’re right and you really believe it and you know it and in this I did, you do what you have to do. And that’s what I did.”
As you might expect in such personnel matters, the station declined comment other than saying the two parties could not resolve several differences while going on to praise Craddock’s long tenure and calling him the “Johnny Carson” of afternoon radio in St. Louis.
Craddock would probably tell you it’s been a fairy-tale career. In the mid-70s he left a radio gig in South Carolina to start work as an ad agency rep in St. Louis. Perhaps missing the on-air excitement, he resumed his radio career in 1982 as a morning host at KSD/KUSA, where he created the persona of Ed E. Torial to poke fun at commentaries by the dour-voiced Robert Hyland, who headed rival KMOX. Two years later, Craddock created his now-signature character, and, after bouncing around from WKKX and back to KSD, he finally wound up at KTRS in 1997.
It’s been an unusual arrangement there. Instead of receiving a regular paycheck from the station, Craddock is given a certain number of minutes that he can sell to advertisers. As a result, he is believed to be one of the best — if not the best — compensated radio figures in St. Louis. During his recent monologue he often repeated how proud he is that his advertisers have been with him an average of seven years, saying it proved how popular his show is.
As for the future, he hopes to have an announcement for fans like you by the early fall. At the same time, he’s still leaving the door at KTRS ajar just a smidgen.
“I’m not retiring,” he said. “I don’t want to stop doing this. This show is rock solid. In fact, I have some very good news ... and I hope to be able to share it with you, let’s say, within the next ... 60 to 90 days.
“But I also believe there’s nothing that isn’t fixable. I believe that to say, ‘Well, that’s it, I’ll never be on the air here again,’ I’m not even going to say that. It won’t be because I’ve changed my mind. It will be because maybe they took a good hard look and said, ‘You know what? See what you have to do. He’s right.’ But it looks right now like this is a done deal.”
So, if the situation does not change, his last day on air at KTRS will be Sept. 14 before he puts in a promised appearance at the second annual KTRS/Frank O. Pinion Golf Tournament the next day at Normandie Golf Club. As they say, stay tuned — and follow him on Facebook.
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