Local radio station 560 The Team cut two of its longtime hosts and programs on Tuesday. Teddy Heffner, host of the morning “Talking Sports,” and Carey Rich, host of “The Locker Room,” which followed Heffner’s show, were each terminated.
“I was stunned. It’s been almost 25 years,” Heffner said. “The people there have been great to me. I think management felt as bad about it as I did. The radio business is a strange business. I don’t know all the particulars. I don’t know what the plans are. I just know that I need a job and I’m going to be looking.”
“You know, it’s funny. Just last week, I got a few calls from a few friends who were up at SEC Media Days, asking me if was I OK,” Rich said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, why are you asking?’ They said there were some rumblings that 560 might be going in a different direction.
“This is the ugly side to corporate America, to talk radio. You know you’re never exempt.”
Rich confirmed to The State that he was fired by 560 regional programming manager L.J. Smith. He had just arrived at work when Smith summoned him for a meeting.
“I had just left a Tipoff Club Board meeting and was walking into the studio, on the phone with a college coach, and that’s when L.J. Smith – it wasn’t anything out of the norm for him to grab me, because we always chat before I go on the air – called me into a meeting,” Rich said. “I’m not surprised at the direction that 560 is going. You just look at some of the things that have taken place in the year and a half or so.”
Smith did not return a call from The State seeking comment. Since September of 2013, two more local shows, one featuring former USC football player Corey Miller and the long-running “SportsTalk,” featuring Phil Kornblut, Kevin McCrarey and Tom Hayes, were taken off 560.
Miller has joined WACH Fox TV and “SportsTalk” has resurfaced on The POINT! (95.9 FM-1470 AM). Heffner and Rich are hoping for other chances.
Heffner was emotional as he discussed the difficult nature of the situation. “I’ve got three kids, a mortgage and a car payment,” he said. He hopes that his show will get picked up by another outlet in the Midlands area. The Columbia native doesn’t want to relocate because all of his ties are here.
“I’m not Teddy Heffner anywhere else but Columbia,” Heffner said. “I’ve been here all my life. People know me. I think I have a good reputation with most people. I hope to land somewhere.”
Rich, a vital figure in Columbia basketball, promised that nothing will change on his end. South Carolina coach Frank Martin and dozens of other college coaches think very highly of Rich and Rich will continue to help out local and college players with his S.C. Pro-Am. He just won’t be on the air anymore.
“I’ll be OK,” he said. “I’ve already spoken to several community leaders and so many people are reaching out, so many people are trying to see what they can do to help. We’ll see what happens.”
Rich was with 560 for eight years, the last five doing his own show. He was appreciative for the chance.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity at 560,” he said. “They’ve given me a tremendous platform, a tremendous stage, and it was fun sharing direct insight and perspective and experience of a high-level college athlete, and also as a guy who’s been fortunate to share relationships with many people in the sports world.
“Don’t worry about Carey Rich. Carey Rich is going to be fine. I have heartfelt concern for somebody like Teddy Heffner. He’s poured his heart and soul into sports talk radio. What’s next for a guy like him?”