Radio host Neil Sperry's gardening show on KRLD-AM to be canceled
04:06 PM CST on Thursday, February 4, 2010
By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio host Neil Sperry has announced that KRLD-AM (1080) will pull the plug on his weekend gardening program after its July 4 show.
Neil Sperry Sperry â€” whose name became synonymous with North Texas gardening during his 30-year relationship with the Dallas station â€” said CBS executives in New York made the decision.
â€œThere is pressure from the accountants,â€ he said today, â€œand I understand that and I respect that.â€
Allison Mandara, a CBS Radio spokeswoman in New York, said the corporation does not comment on programming issues. She said such decisions were made at the station level.
Brian Purdy, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Dallas-Fort Worth, said KRLD made "a very difficult business decision" to let Sperry go.
"Neil has been a fixture at KRLD and in the Dallas-Fort Worth community for 30 years and has done a terrific job," Purdy said. "Itâ€™s a difficult parting, and we wish him the very best.â€
Sperry, 65, said that during a three-minute phone call last month a KRLD official notified him that his contract would end in 180 days.
He remains amicable about the decision but said heâ€™s confident that he will be on another station the weekend after his departure from KRLD.
â€œI flat out intend to be on the air that Saturday,â€ he said.
Sperry is the second KRLD mainstay to be jettisoned from the station in the past year. Last summer, the station fired Brad Barton, its meteorologist for 31 years. He said he was dismissed as part of cost-cutting.
But two months after leaving KRLD, Barton was back on the air as meteorologist for WBAP-AM (820). For the past eight years, Sperry has purchased his Saturday and Sunday time slot for the program.
â€œThatâ€™s pretty much the only way you can be on the air on the weekend, on radio anyway,â€ Sperry said.
In the January call, a station manager said KRLD was exercising its out clause to sell the time at a higher rate, Sperry said.
He said the station did not allow him to negotiate a new deal.
â€œWe asked if we had any negotiation room and were told, â€˜no,â€™â€ Sperry said.
Sperry does not know the fate of his daily and weekend programs that are carried by about 50 stations by the Texas State Network, another CBS property.
â€œIâ€™ve got the greatest job in the world,â€ he said. â€œI get to talk about my hobby for a living.
â€œItâ€™s as good as it gets.â€
Sperry is a native Texan who grew up in College Station, where his parents were faculty members at Texas A&M University. He attended A&M but received his bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees in horticulture from Ohio State University.
In 1970, he returned to Texas to be a county extension service horticulturist.
In Dallas, he heard a KRLD program, Speak to the Experts, which he thought was â€œa crazy way to make a living.â€
Sperry entered radio during his seven years with the extension service. He joined WFAA-AM (570) in 1978 and moved to KRLD as an employee in May 1980. He was switched to his current contract arrangement eight years ago.