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.”
For more than 18 years, Cohen has been waking up to go to work for WVOC. His voice was first heard on the air on Aug. 1, 1994. Cohen hosted a morning show before moving to the afternoons.
“My plan was to be here for three years,” he said. “Then I fell in love with Columbia. Then I fell in love with a Columbia girl.”
Cohen and his wife, Laney, have a daughter and son, ages 8 and 6, respectively.
“Like anyone who loses a job in this economy, we’re very concerned,” said Cohen, who turns 44 on Wednesday, the day after the election.
While Cohen’s name has been removed from WVOC’s on-air schedule, his personality page was still accessible on the station’s website. The page’s chat room was buzzing well into the evening.
“Ps. now i have NO reason to listen to VOC...yeah Glenn Beck, that’s what you keep? you are incompetent!,” wrote one commenter, posting as ginolLawnGuylander.
Anon2621 posted, “WVOC, if this is the direction you think will score for you in the demo, I think you’ve blown it.”
And Anon6101 wrote, “Why are we listening to Jonathan Rush in the afternoon?”
Jonathan Rush and Kelly Nash, current hosts of “The Morning Rush” on WVOC’s sister station WCOS-FM 97.5, were broadcasting in Cohen’s slot. A radio station source, who did not want to be identified, said WVOC planned to move Rush and Nash to the slot permanently. An attempt to reach LJ Smith, the regional program manager at Clear Channel Radio, Thursday night for confirmation were unsuccessful.
After being told of his release, Cohen posted the following on his Facebook page: "An hour ago, CLEAR CHANNEL relieved me of my duties and fired me. Obviously, I am devastated. I am not getting the chance to do so on the radio, so I want to thank all of you for the love and support you have offered my way over almost 19 years at WVOC. Please keep the COHEN family in your prayers. This will be a significant challenge. Thank you, KEV."
In an interview, he expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received on Facebook and Twitter.
“This community adopted me,” he said. “It’s the best source of comfort during a day I’ve never experienced before. The relationship being severed so suddenly is so devastating.”