Morton Downey, Jr. Biography
Morton Downey, Jr.-7-10 PM –“Nightline”-Talk 1982-1983
Radio talk show host quits over on-air tiff with guest
©The Orlando Sentinel, Friday, July 15, 1983
By Sara Roen
Radio talk show host Morton Downey Jr. was not fired from WDBO-AM (580) Wednesday but did resign Thursday, the station's general manager said. Gary Eaves said Downey, who is the "Nightline" host, left because of "philosophical differences" between Downey and the station's management. Eaves said the resignation resulted from Downey's tussle with a guest during a show last week. Audience ratings were not an issue, Eaves said. On Wednesday, sources who asked not to be named said Downey had been fired. Downey was not the host for the show that night and was replaced by another announcer. Eaves said the station will broadcast a talk show produced by: the National Broadcasting Co. until finding a permanent replacement for Downey. Downey, the 50-year-old son of former singer Morton Downey, said Thursday he was asked to resign because he used obscene language and tried to hit his guest, New York abortion clinic operator Bill Baird. Downey got involved in name-calling and "fisticuffs" with Baird and eventually had him evicted from the show. Also on the show was a representative from a California anti-abortion group. He would not discuss the settlement of his three-year contract with WDBO, but said he was treated fairly and that a "financial arrangement" had been agreed upon. Downey said he understood the station's position and conceded he had gotten carried away on the air. But he added he did a good job as a talk show host and would like to return to WDBO when the situation "cools down." Baird said Downey phoned him in New York on Thursday and told him he had been fired. Baird said Downey wanted him to help him get his job back. Baird said he felt sorry for Downey but agreed with the station. "In their judgment they did what was right. They castigated him," he said. Baird said he is "appalled" because WDBO management has not apologized for Downey's actions on the air. Baird repeated his comments on Gene Burns' talk show on WKIS-AM (740) Thursday afternoon. Baird called and told Burns what happened last week and asked for an apology from WDBO management. Downey, a political conservative, said he was hired to do the weeknight show last September with the agreement that he could express his opinions. But that changed a few months ago when the station went under new management, he said. "That's when I knew problems started," Downey said. "They told me not to play my father's records anymore."
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