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| Culture |

WLRN Whistleblower Bob Grabowski Gets the Ax

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Bob Grabowski, the assistant DJ who criticized WLRN's plans to replace jazz guru Len Pace's show with a computer, was fired Thursday night by the station. Via voicemail no less.

Grabowski sent an email to some 100 friends Sunday complaining that once Pace left his show, Evenin' Jazz, the station would replace him with an automated feed.

Soon, his email was on local musician Mo Morgen's popular music listings newsletter, and listeners began complaining on Twitter and Facebook.

Our own story was up by 10 a.m., and by 6 p.m., Grabowski was gone. Who knew an NPR station would be so much like a whistleblower-averse corporation?

The 53-year-old says he has no doubt that the station fired him because he talked to New Times and the Sun-Sentinel.

During 30 years at the station, Pace -- Miami's own version of Bleeding Gums Murphy -- became an institution for local jazz musicians. Evenin' Jazz was the show where they would go to promote upcoming gigs.

Ted Eldridge, the station manager, would only tell Riptide: "We're working through personnel issues, and [Grabowski] won't be on the air next week." Earlier this week, general manager John LaBonia told listeners in a formal letter that Pace's show would be replaced by the automated feed Jazz Works.

"Our commitment to jazz programming continues. But we are not free of consequences from the Great Recession. With deep cuts from the state and federal government we are currently unable to hire any new employees."

Pace might have even been the station's last full-time on-air personality, Grabowski says. Everyone else was part-time because the station is looking to save money. Eldridge wouldn't confirm this. Grabowski, who's also an adjunct professor at FIU, earned $72 a show -- "grocery money."

"It's not about the money," he says. "I just really like the music. You can sit in shorts and T-shirts and play the music. It's a retreat for seven hours."

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