2:30 p.m. Monday Sept. 11 update: Tracy Jones was let go from WLW-AM Friday afternoon in "a corporate decision over which no one (at the station) had any control," said Bill Cunningham on his show Monday afternoon.
Cunningham told listeners several hours after my blog post Monday that the decision to lay off Jones, the afternoon co-host for nearly 10 years, "had nothing to do with Tracy Jones."
The 34-year radio veteran told listeners that "for reasons that are unclear to me… I was told Friday that he was no longer with the company."
Cunningham said he spoke to Jones Saturday. He noted that Jones had been traded and released by teams during his six-year Major League Baseball career. "Tracy Jones is alive and well," Cunningham said.
Original post 11:30 a.m. Monday Sept. 11
Tracy Jones, the former Reds outfielder who has co-hosted afternoons on WLW-AM (700) for nearly 10 years, was laid off Friday by iHeartMedia, multiple sources tell me.
In early 2008, Jones was paired with WEBN-FM morning host Eddie Fingers to do the "Eddie & Tracy Show" 3-6 p.m. several weeks after humorist Gary Burbank retired.
Jones, 56, also did a weekday feature called "Brennaman & Jones on Baseball," a recorded conversation with Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman that airs twice a day on the station.
Jones, who played six seasons (1986-91) for five Major League Baseball teams, had hosted WLW-AM's "Extra Innings" Reds post-game shows on weekends for more than 10 years -- and worked as an investment advisor and financial broker -- before moving to afternoons.
Fingers did Friday's show with help from Meat, a WEBN-FM DJ, and Fingers' wife Deb Haas, a former WCPO-TV reporter who does public relations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati. I'm told Jones learned he was being laid off early Friday afternoon from iHeartMedia corporate executives in town for meetings.
Jones has not responded to my text. WLW-AM operations director Scott Reinhart has not responded to my email.
The lay-off came one day after Nielsen reported that WLW-AM had won the August monthly ratings, after finishing second to classic WGRR-FM (103.5) seven of the eight months so far this year.
Jones is the third high-profile iHeartMedia person to be let go in a budget move in 4-1/2 months. In May, the company laid off Chuck Fredrick, Cincinnati market manager and long-time WLW-AM/WEBN-FM general manager, and Bo Matthews, senior vice president for programming and program director for WEBN-FM (102.7) and Top 40 WKFS-FM (KISS 107).
Although "Eddie & Tracy" hit the airwaves in 2008, they have not always worked together since then. Jones did afternoons with Scott Sloan for 15 months after Fingers' was fired by corporate executives during contract negotiations in September 2010. Doc Thompson did 9 a.m.-noon until January 2012, when Fingers was rehired and Thompson was fired while on his honeymoon.
Jones, drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 1983 January secondary phase draft, made his major league debut for manager Pete Rose's Reds in 1986 at age 25. He played 2-1/2 seasons for the Reds, then was traded to the Montreal Expos during the 1988 All-Star Game break with pitcher Pat Pacillo for outfielder Herm Winningham, catcher Jeff Reed and pitcher Randy St. Claire.
He hit .273 for the Reds, Expos, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners from 1986 to 1991.