Hearne: The Strange Case of the Disappearing KCUR Radio Host

jabulaniIt’s the most highly reported mystery this week…

The dramatic, totally unexpected, on-air resignation Wednesday of  KCUR-FM host Jabulani Leffall was the talk of the town. In the local media anyway.

Yet outside of regurgitating Jabulani’s resume, quoting an unnamed source on his cryptic, final on-air utterance and lifting KCUR’s reaction to his departure off its website, precious little was actually learned or reported.

So let’s take a look, shall we?Starting with the reaction of KCUR staffers at Jabulani’s odd choice of breakup techniques.

“The staff all says the same thing,” says a source. “That he basically quit without anyone knowing he was going to quit. It was a total surprise. It was a totally left field deal.”

As for the station wishing Jabulani well on his future career path, “They don’t know what he’s going to do,” says the source. “Nobody knows what he’s going to do.”

Nobody?

kWwVe.St.81That’s probably an overstatement because at least two people probably have a pretty good idea, but neither is talking.

Jabulani did not return a Facebook message request for an interview and new KCUR general manager Nico Leone is – as Bill O’Reilly likes to say – “hiding under his desk.”

nicoI placed a call to Leone Wednesday and was intercepted by a KCUR staffer who proceeded to 3rd degree screen me as to what I wanted to speak Leone about.

Finally I said, “Look, we both know what I’m calling about can you please just tell him I’m here and would like to speak with him.”

Needless to say, my voice mail message to Leone went unreturned.

So let’s spell it out.

Clearly Jabulani would not have quit like this were he not unhappy with the station and/or someone at the station.

And probably someone fairly high up.

“It’s like, what’s the matter with the guy? You just don’t do that,” says the source. “The vibe I got is he lost his fucking mind. He obviously has a problem, because you just don’t leave like that. There’s something wrong, people just don’t do that.”

waltbodineJabulani’s forebear – legendary Kansas City broadcaster Walt Bodine – was stunned to hear of Jabulani’s departure.

“I didn’t know that,” Bodine says. “That’s a crock.”

Longtime listener and Jabulani fan Roger Peugeot has a theory on why he quit KCUR so harshly.

“Maybe he had a conversation with them and he wanted more money or something and he wasn’t going to get it and he just decided to move on,” Peugeot ventures. “You know, maybe four days a week on an NPR station doesn’t cut it.”

Another possibility:

Jabulani was hired on longtime general manager Patricia Cahill‘s watch and Leone only arrived on the scene from St. Louis last August.

Making for a reasonably good possibility that the two did get along.

Why else would Jabulani leave KCUR in the lurch and Leone be so paranoid about taking phone calls?

“The rest of the staff at KCUR is stunned,” says the source.

The one guy that would most likely know the reason for Jabulani’s awkward exit – outside of Jabulani himself – is Leone.

And at this stage of the game, he obviously ain’t talking.

 

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29 Responses to Hearne: The Strange Case of the Disappearing KCUR Radio Host

  1. Jim says:

    Two Questions:

    1. Who?
    2. Who cares?

  2. legendaryhog says:

    I liked his show. Lots of interesting topics… Really shitty theme music though. He was good. Too bad, local talk radio around here is super, super shitty. The choices usually consists of two fat-asses who don’t know shit endlessly talk about the Chiefs and bang phone calls from local homers who also don’t know shit.

  3. TJ says:

    Pot meet kettle, where’s Craig Glazer, do we have an article on that or are they reporting it on KCUR….

    • admin says:

      That is such a tired cliche. Best you can do?

      Look, for one thing Craig did not go on the air – or on this site – and quit with no explanation. Second, the entire local media world didn’t erupt in a series of reports wondering as to what did or didn’t happen. Third, probably about maybe a dozen people have come and gone on KCC in the past four years and I can’t recall us reporting on any of them.

      And finally, Craig is alive and well and still very much in the public eye on radio and TV and at Stanford’s. If anyone wants to question him, he hiding in plain sight – in other words he’s not hiding at all. Which Jubulani is.

      Nor am I ducking phone calls like Leone. I’ve had many discussions with whomever has called.

      Nice try though.

      • Jess says:

        So why not just come out and say what happened? Instead of dancing around it? I for one am glad he is gone, but would like to know why.

        • admin says:

          Let me count the ways…
          He isn’t talking. The station isn’t talking. The underling staffers don’t know. Or didn’t at first anyway.

          The only interesting part left at this stage is how stunned the station was, how clued out and how obviously spiteful Jabulani’s exit strategy was.

          That and that the one guy at KCUR who probably knows is paranoid beyond belief about having to answer questions or explain what may have happened.

          That’s not unusual when white bosses run afoul of black employees. Look how the Star went out of its way to explain away firing Steve Penn.

  4. paulwilsonkc says:

    Heres the extent of my concern over KCUR; DO NOT change the Saturday and Sunday line up! I’ve enjoyed my “NPR Weekend” for years. I dont care what you do through the week, just dont go jacking with my weekend programming! From 7am on Saturday till, oh, about 5 on Sunday….. leave it alone!

  5. annon says:

    wait — so because Jabulani’s former employer won’t share personal information about him, they clearly must be hiding something? i don’t think that’s how things work. what could they legally/ethically say other than what’s on their website now?

    • admin says:

      I didn’t say he wouldn’t share “personal information.”

      Or did you mean, personnel information.

      My remark had to do with how scrupulously he was having his calls screened. He’s a big boy.

      Big boys take phone calls and decline to comment and/or explain things in part off-the-record or on background.

    • admin says:

      You’d be surprised what people legally and ethically can and do say each and every day of the week.

      Patricia Cahill, for example, was very forthcoming several years back when she laid off Walt Bodine. She paid a price in the court of public opinion and the uproar resulted in KCUR hiring Walt back but…

      Look, obviously there are some things – depending upon what those things are – that probably would be unwise for KCUR management to say on the record.

      But not to even take calls and find out what the questions are and then decide whether to comment or not is cowardly. KCUR is in the media, dealing with the public and reporting news every day.

      They don’t have to hide. There are probably some things they can say and some they can’t (or maybe shouldn’t). But to have a high profile incident like this take place on their airwaves and then go into hiding is bogus

  6. the dude says:

    I personally liked the show when I caught it but it seems to me management probably kept him from covering topics he really wanted to. Like Chuck said bring Tony on to fill his shoes, he would do OK in that role.

  7. pianodan says:

    I liked Jabulani. His show was a breath of fresh air, and he was highly intelligent with a great sense of humor. His guests were often edgy, and he explored topics no one else would touch. Wherever he lands, I wish him the best.

  8. chuck says:

    A Whitlockian career move at best.

    On Air, impromptu desertion of your station has just gotta be the kiss of death when you apply for another job in the industry. Internecine quarrels, renumeration dissagreements, personality conflicts, work schedule and the usual bumps in the road we all encounter, are multiplied and exacerbated on the public stage.

    A breach like this, no matter how grievous mangement’s sins, will follow this moron his whole life.

    Another media diva with a 10 cent head, soon seen delivering pizzas.

    • admin says:

      Well, this was his first radio gig, I understand, so unlike Whitlock he maybe is unlikely to pursue another one.

      Plus, as I recall, his area of expertise was something like international business.

      • chuck says:

        International Business. Yeah, great.

        I hope the details on that are more thoroughly explained.

        Is he the guy that keeps sending me e mails from Nigeria?

      • chuck says:

        Ok, I found him. Here is where he went, out to Las Vegas to deliver pizzas for International Pizza.

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/international-pizza-las-vegas

        International Pizza
        5660 Boulder Hwy
        Las Vegas, NV 89122
        Neighborhood: Southeast

        (702) 456-7477

        Add Photos

        Price Range:$
        Accepts Credit Cards:Yes
        Attire:Casual
        Good for Groups:No

        Good for Kids:No
        Takes Reservations:No
        Delivery:Yes
        Take-out:Yes
        Waiter Service:No

        Outdoor Seating:No
        Alcohol:Full Bar YES!

        Sounds like my kind of place Jubulani, NO service, NO kids, NO reservations and tons of booze.

        Gimme a beer gargoyle.

    • expat says:

      It’s a chimpout plain and simple.

      • James says:

        I was unfamiliar with the term “chimpout” until I took the time to google it. According to the Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=
        Chimp%20Out), “chimpout” is: “Used to describe the bad behavior of black people, especially when they behave like animals.” Expats’ comment is racist and should be removed.

  9. gerald bostock says:

    “The most highly reported mystery of the week”
    All those chumps writing about Manti Teo don’t know what they’re missing.

    • admin says:

      LOCAL

      C’mon G Man. But just to make you happy, allow me to concede that yes Lance Armstrong and many more national stories have been far more widely reported than a four-hour-a-day NPR jock quitting on the air in KC.

      Happy?

  10. aerosquid says:

    So… what exactly did he say when he quit? I missed it. Does anyone have transcript or better yet an .mpe of it? I can’t imagine him just leaving… I thought he was a much needed breath of fresh air. Email any deets to aerosquid@hotmail.com PLEASE!

  11. FeralPrince says:

    Unfortunately, behavior has the signature of an acute psychotic break. Reluctance to address on behalf of KCUR might be fear of incurring a HIPAA violation.

  12. Dave says:

    Jabulani put on a great show . I will miss the edgy,energentic,creative bus ride down Troost.Who else covered the air guitar scene? The man was talented.Hope he prospers wherever he is.

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