590 AM WMBS in Uniontown (in southwestern Pennsylvania) claims he was fired last month over views aired on his show that criticized the health and environmental impact of natural gas drilling in the area, according to a story by Jacqueline Feldman, at post-gazette.com.
Robert Foltz, host of the show "Let's Talk" for 10 years, said he was terminated on April 20, after a guest on his show, Dan Bailey, president of the board of directors of the Carmichaels Municipal Authority, said that bromine, a byproduct of natural gas drilling, had contaminated the area's public water supply.
The station's general manager, Brian Mroziak, at first declined to comment on the reasons for Mr. Foltz's departure, saying he could not discuss personnel matters.
The station's Facebook page, however, described Mr. Foltz's departure as a "leave of absence."
But Foltz said he never asked for a leave of absence from the show.
Minutes after the April 20 program aired he received a letter signed by Mroziak and Robert Pritts, president and owner of the Fayette Broadcasting Corp., which owns the station.
"This letter acknowledges that, by mutual agreement, you have agreed to terminate your at-will status with Fayette Broadcasting Co. Inc," according to the letter. At-will agreements allow employers to terminate employees legally at any time.
"Also," the letter continued, "by your choice, you have decided to let your listeners know ... that you have elected to 'take a personal leave of absence' from WMBS Radio."
Station managers replaced Foltz with Mark Rafail, an alternate on the Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board, which, among its duties, approves or rejects drilling permits based on whether they meet the zoning code.
Just a month earlier, the station began airing a weekly, two-hour show called "Natural Gas Matters" on Fridays in the slot following the show Foltz used to host. The show answers listeners' questions about Marcellus drilling. Its major sponsors are McDonald Land Services, which surveys land for drilling companies, and National Brokerage, a financial services firm that helps landowners manage leases.
The show's hosts "talk about the positive impact of natural gas, the jobs it creates," Mroziak said. "They let people know what they can do with their newfound wells."