In what is being described as a ‘dumpster fire’ at Western New York’s most listened to talk radio station, WBEN Newsradio 930 AM, removed David Bellavia as a co-host of the region’s leading Baurle and Bellavia program. Sources say that he was removed from the station’s flagship drive-home program at the behest of his co-host, Tom Baurle.
Bellavia is a war hero and recent recipient of the Medal of Honor.
The station has made no public announcements about the programing change but has already removed Bellavia’s name from the show’s promotional spots and social media page.
A spokesperson for WBEN says that Bellavia is still with WBEN.
“David Bellavia is still with WBEN. We have adjusted his duties to allow him the flexibility to continue with his Medal of Honor duties. We are incredibly proud to continue our relationship with him and will soon be announcing a new venture with him,” the spokesperson writes.
Some have speculated that the station could be preparing to announce that Bellavia will replace longtime personality Sandy Beach in his three hour morning timeslot. It’s been rumored that Beach has been considering retirement in recent months — or, a more likely scenario, moving his morning show to Saturday and Sundays.
Bellavia has not been on air with Baurle since he received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House. Ostensibly, the on-air reason has been that Bellavia was temporarily recommissioned by the military for recruitment programs.
A source tells The Chronicle that the actual reason for Bellevia’s absence has been Baurle’s refusal to appear with him on-air. Bellavia asked the Trump White House to pull Baurle’s security clearance so that he would be unable to attend the ceremony. He later found out and has been irate with Bellavia ever since.
In recent weeks, Baurle has been lashing out at members of his audience, even leveraging law enforcement contacts to have charges laid against a caller to his show. After sexually harassing the man’s wife, Baurle claimed that the caller’s social media posting was ‘hostile’ and that he perceived it as a threat — despite language that clearly indicated that the banter in question was merely figurative juxtaposition.
Legal experts say that Baurle has opened up Entercom, WBEN’s parent company, to serious legal damages. Observers speculate that a civil lawsuit is likely to be filed in the matter. It is less clear whether or not a federal civil rights lawsuit will accompany that lawsuit, which could stem from a discovery process that probes the nature of Baurle’s private communications with the law enforcement officials who initiated official actions against the caller.