The firing of Keven Cohen

Somehow I missed this this morning, until Silence brought it to my attention on a previous thread:

Keven Cohen, the longtime afternoon drive host on WVOC-FM 100.1, was fired Thursday afternoon before he went on the air.

Cohen had been hosting the 3-6 p.m. slot since 1999.

“I had a great run at WVOC,” Cohen, sounding gracious, said when reached at his home Thursday evening. “It will always have a special place in my heart.”

Removing Cohen, who peppered his talk show with news and opinion, is a curious decision by the Clear Channel-owned station, especially with a momentous presidential election just four days away. Cohen also anchored the station’s pre- and post-game coverage of USC Gamecock football.

“It’s a scary and confusing time,” Cohen said. “It’s a very challenging time for me emotionally to not know what I’m going to do when I wake up tomorrow morning.”…

From what I’ve seen, radio is more abrupt than print is about these things. I had a couple of weeks to clear my stuff out of the editorial suite; this seemed to hit more suddenly.

For my part, I always thought Keven did a good job. I didn’t hear his show much because of the time of day, but I was a guest on it a few times, and always thought he was a considerate host and a thorough professional. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I recall walking around Madison Square Garden with Lindsey Graham during the 2004 Republican National Convention (I was doing a column on the way he was working the media), and between chatting with Tim Russert and Biff Henderson of the Letterman show, he paused to take a call from Keven.

There was no one else like him in this market, to my knowledge. He will be missed in that role. I hope he finds another one, just as fulfilling, as soon as possible.

28 thoughts on “The firing of Keven Cohen

  1. Steven Davis II

    What does he expect, it sounds like he only worked 3 hours a day for the past 13 years. In the radio business, 13 years in one spot is an eternity.

    Brad Warthen, Lindsey Graham, Tim Russert and Biff Henderson… now there’s a group nobody ever thought about having meet up.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    It sounded like he showed up for work and was fired right before he went on the air. Sounds cold.

  3. Doug Ross

    The article says Jonathan Rush and another guy will be moving into Cohen’s slot. Haven’t listened to Rush since he moved from WNOK but it seems like an odd choice for that slot if he’s going to do political talk.

    Can’t really comment on Cohen. Heard him enough over the years to know that he didn’t seem to bring much to the table. My recollection was that he was reluctant to take any strong positions back when I was listening to him. More of a “what do YOU think?” host.

  4. Brad

    Kathryn, I have one friend in radio who was called out of his booth DURING his show and laid off. Not fired for cause or anything, just laid off, just like that.

    Radio is an interesting business.

    Of course, print can be as bad. While Robert Ariail and I had plenty of time to pack up and leave, Bill Day of The Commercial Appeal told me he was told he was laid off, and almost immediately escorted out of the building. He told me months later that the paper still had some of his stuff…

    1. Sheldon

      Brad Keven was fired because of potty mouth and some other nuances that finally annoyed CC though some tried to blame me partly for his dismissal due to my FCC formal complaints! Now Kelly and Rush have been sacked (as they say in Great Britain) I wonder if I will get blamed again(lol) Maybe I should start my own show on WVOC!

  5. Ralph Hightower

    Nothing surprises anymore me about layoffs or firings.

    1) Company changed all the computer passwords overnight for everybody; which was a pretty big undertaking since it happened at a computer manufacturer that had its products everywhere. There were about 500 or so people doing nothing that day, just waiting for 50 or so to get that tap on the shoulder.
    2) Employees to be laid off were escorted to the VP’s office. The VP had a list of employees. Those to be laid off had their names in 30 point bold font. When the name’s that big, it’s not hard to read upside down and see others in my layoff group.
    3) At another company, our group were called into the break room for a conference call, including the VP of our group. The VP of the other group called from Colorado telling us that our product was terminated. One of the programmers asked “Why aren’t you telling us this in person?” The VP said “I broke my back in a skiing accident in Colorado and I’m calling from a hospital bed.” The odd thing is that he managed to fly to South Carolina over the weekend to assume his new role as President.

    He must have had a remarkable recovery. Oh, but then, jellyfish don’t have spines!

    Keven will be missed. He was civil to callers regardless of their opinions.

  6. obiewankenobie

    He was always cordial, even when talking to borderline mental cases.

    The last of his shows I remember listening to was when he was coaxing a fellow conspiracy theorist out of her belief that the flu shots of the early Obama Administration were actually population control measures. Very calm was he — she, not so much.

    Classless way for his employer to do the dirty deed, but he can and will recover.

    Best wishes to him in his new endeavors.

  7. Dixieviking

    Just to set the record right, Kevin DID have opinions. He was man enough to voice them directly. Not just slanting the news. Though I did not always agree with what he said, I did appreciate hearing him voice his thoughts and then giving ample, yea, even more than ample time to the opponents who called in with her differing thoughts. I am, like him, a conservative, but Kevin brought new insights and did wonders in giving us interviews with VIP’s.
    Firing somebody like him like that may be the rule of thumb for that industry, but on the other hand, I have removed WVOC from my car radio selector. CLEAR Channel may believe that I shall forget in time and resume listening to them, but they are wrong in that kind of hopeful thinking. WVOC? Dead Meat.

  8. Silence

    Kevin was opinionated and wasn’t shy about telling you how he felt, but he was always considerate to his callers, no matter how ridiculous they were. I didn’t listen to Jonathan Rush before, and I’m not going to start now. I hope Kevin finds a new radio home in the Columbia market.

  9. Macman

    Keven was much more palatable than wvoc’s other talk shows. I don’t agree with his views. What I can liked about him was his attention to local issues. Maybe there’s a a future for him In pod casting. Take care Kev.

  10. Barry

    I hate the way radio treats their employees. Radio treats them like trash. Ironically with the way radio handles firing people like this, they show the disdain they have for their own listeners. I emailed WVOC and told them that. I also will no longer listen to WVOC

    While I did not always agree with Keven, I respected his viewpoint and his attention to local issues and local candidates by offering the airwaves to any candidate that wanted to talk.

    My favorite moment with Keven was around 1999. Columbia had a decent afternoon snow one day And Keven stayed on the air until probably 10 o’clock that night offering callers a chance to call in to give road conditions and make announcements for any help that they needed. I will also appreciate that show.

  11. Ralph Hightower

    I suspect that it is actually a RIF, a Reduction in Force. Clear Channel must be sucking in money just to survive.

    In typical RIF fashion, or in this current economy, it’s “Doing More with Less”.

    Clear Channel have these two disc jockeys in their stable for the mornming. Why not have them do an afternoon show?

    I don’t know who Kelly Nash is; I doubt that he’s local. But Clear Channel would have a firestorm if they fired Jonathan Rush. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but Rush is the “Mr. Knozit” of Columbia radio; he was on WNOK for a long while before going country on WCOS.

    I do think that Clear Channel is getting an earfull of Cohen’s firing. I don’t know if anyone is picking up the phone.

  12. Burl Burlingame

    ClearChannel is the Gannett of the radio industry — they own a lot of stations and wring every penny out of them, to the point at which they fail. They also have a very right-wing agenda. If you’re not a True Believer, you get the boot.

  13. @TheRev78

    Most radio personalities are fired in this way. Happened to a guy named Dan Scott in Greenville a few months ago. Stations do not want to put hosts on the air with time to say whatever they want.

  14. Ralph Hightower


    I hate the Gannett paywall that they implemented, which I hear from Free Times, Columbia SC, that The State will implement.

    I used to be a daily reader of Florida Today, a Gannett newspaper, to read their coverage of NASA.

    Since the Space Shuttles were retired last year, I don’t have to read FLAToday as much.

  15. bud

    Keven was hard right politically but he had many Democrats on his show including Jim Clyburn. He even had several shows hosted by the liberal team of “Ed the Infidel” and “John the Democrat”. Sorry to see him go. Hopefully more will come out about the cause of this sudden dismissal just a few days before the election.

  16. CATHY

    Keven is the first political talk show host that ever caught my attention. He had a very fresh way of looking at politics, and breaking it down so that even I could understand. I hope he finds a new outlet for his very needed and respected veiws about our state and politics.

  17. Critic #2

    My opinion of Cohen is that he was too yellow to ask his guests tough questions, and had “small-market” talent. Being nice to callers and guests is not what makes a credible radio host. And he was just terrible hosting the USC post-game call-in show. Just a no-talent everyman, but most in this area don’t have a clue what a legitimately talented talk show host sounds like because they have never heard one.

  18. McDougall fan

    I always thought Dave McDougall sounded much more professional on-air than Keven Cohen did. I like the new show with Jonathon Rush better.

  19. Kev okay

    Kev was okay, sometimes he pitched softballs, other times seem rigid. Overall enjoyed his show. Better than what is on his old slot. Came across as neo-con, I’m more Libertarian. Think he made the local pols nervous and he was not afraid to call them out! Charlotte WBT did the same to Terra S. 1+ year ago; made the local pols anxiously when she called them out!

  20. I'm glad he's gone

    Keven was a total Neocon and not polite at all to Libertarian leaning call-ins. He treated Democrats far more nicely, which is an irony itself.

    I’m glad he got canned. I agree with some of the commenters above about his softball interviews. He always gave Miss Graham carte’ blanche as well as a host of others. He also never really treated any of Nikki Haley’s mistakes with much fairness either…he always railed to her defense regardless of the facts.
    Another Neocon/statist cheerleader bites the dust, yay.

  21. Brad

    What you just said didn’t make a bit of sense.

    He always rallied to Nikki’s defense, yet is a “statist” and anti-libertarian? How do you figure?

  22. Brad

    By the way, did y’all see Keven Cohen’s op-ed piece today, essentially a love letter to this, his adopted community?

    An excerpt:

    “I used to remind all the people who called me ‘Gator Boy’ or a Yankee that they were born here; I made a conscious choice to come and live here. Subsequently, when I’ve been called out on how I feel about our state capital, I’ve reminded them that after I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with a girl from this city, and we’re raising our children here. In fact, I loved Columbia so much that I talked my mother and my brother into moving here. I’ve been a virtual mini-Chamber of Commerce when bragging about this place. Why? The people.”

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