"I guess they looked at it like they were one player away from the Super Bowl, and maybe it was the coach they needed to replace," Laird said Friday.
His boss, Jim Keating, a top executive with parent company Beasley Broadcasting Group in North Carolina, concurred. "Jeff leaves here with his head high," Keating said Friday. "It's a matter of more experienced leadership to take the station to the next level."
Local radio insiders say Keating, new in his job, may simply want his own man in place at 'XTU. Also, they say, Beasley is highly leveraged and needs more profit from the station.
In another departure, Jhan Hiber, vice president of marketing and research at WEAZ-FM (101.1), has resigned after six months to return to his own consulting firm in California and to try launching his own radio group.
Hiber, a player on the national radio scene, arrived at EZ-101 amid much fanfare and word that EZ-101 owners Jerry Lee and Dave Kurtz were going to begin buying other stations. Hiber was going to be their point man.
But those expansion plans have been postponed for at least another year or two, so Hiber has opted to try it on his own.
FORMAT CHANGE. WTEL-AM (860), which caters to the 250,000 Hispanic listeners in the area, last week dumped its 20-year-old hodgepodge of music, religion and other ethnic programming in favor of a more youthful format, Latin Top 40 or contemporary-hit radio.
"We'd been programming to the older audience," says Javier Suarez, program director and sales manager of the daytime-only station. "But 75 percent of the Hispanics in the area are between the ages of 12 and 49.
PROMOTION. Doug Fearn, who as technical director helped put WKSZ-FM (100.3) on the air seven years ago, has been named operations manager at the soft-hits station. He'll be the No. 2 man to owner Dan Lerner.
Fearn will also take over the duties of program director Lou Patrick, who has resigned from Kiss 100 to join Bolton Research in Paoli, one of the four major radio-research companies in the country.
TOWER POWER. Classical station WFLN-FM last week announced plans to improve its signal by the end of the year.
'FLN owner Woody Tanger says he has reached an agreement in principle to move the station's antenna from 8200 Ridge Ave., where it has been since the station was founded 41 years ago, to a tower in the Roxborough antenna farm. In doing so, 'FLN will almost double its present 500-foot height.
Although the move will give the station more coverage area, the real benefit will be in improving the signal to the city and suburbs.
STATIC. Top 40 station WEGX-FM (106.1) wants to help fight crime on the subway system. Hence, the new "Adopt an Angel" program, aimed at buying $55 monthly SEPTA Transpasses for members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Guardian Angels. The station will match listener contributions up to $1,006. Mail donations to the station at Suite 580E, 3 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004. . . .
Say so long to Michael Tearson's Psychedelic Psunday Psupper, which has aired the last six years on WMMR-FM (93.3). Last Sunday was its final run. ''It was a great show, but it's run its course," said program director Joe Bonadonna. The station plans to run regular programming and occasional specials in the time slot. . . .
Temple's jazz station, WRTI-FM (90.1), has produced its first series for National Public Radio, Bass Lines: Reflections of Milt Hinton, to air over 100 NPR stations during Black History Month . . .
Anybody notice that WYSP-FM (94.1) jock Ed Sciaky got another public pat on the back from his old buddy Billy Joel during Monday night's concert?