PEORIA — Doc Watson was supposed to finish up a furlough at WGLO-FM 95.5 next week.
But the Cumulus Media classic rock station told him Friday he won't be coming back, parting ways with the veteran broadcaster.
The layoff was amicable, and Watson will continue to do the station's Red Zone high school football show, but as an independent contractor. He's done 130 prep games for WGLO and sister station 97.3 over the years.
These staff moves have become common in the industry as print, radio and TV media deal with the way audiences consume news, and with a COVID-19 pandemic that has crushed the current economy.
"I hold no grudges," said Watson, 58. "My longest job in radio or TV was with Cumulus, and I loved being there. I worked for WGLO for just short of 10 years."
Watson is no ordinary broadcaster. He initially wanted to be a sports writer, once skated a shift with the Peoria Rivermen in an ECHL preseason game against Toledo, and once kicked a point-after for the Peoria Pirates in an Indoor Football League game at Carver Arena.
"I went -1 on that shift with the Rivermen, we gave up a goal and they wouldn't let me play anymore," laughed Watson. "But with the Pirates, hey, the professional kickers in that game (May, 2000 vs Mankato in the Indoor Football League) missed three PATs, but I made mine.
"I liked making voyages into things like that."
His voyages on the air were just as varied.
"I've been heard on at least nine radio stations, seen on a TV station in this market over 25 years," Watson said. "I'm sure that's got to be a record."
He was filling WGLO's afternoon slot at the time of his departure Friday.
He was on the Morning Mix show on WMBD-TV 31 from 1996-2003. He was part of WMBD 1470 radio's 3D Morning Show. He filled a slot on ESPN-FM 96.5 in 2007 and was a morning jock on Hippie 101.1, an oldies format.
The Allen Park, Mich., native has served as production director assistant, worked in formats from country to rock, written and managed most of the content on WGLO's website, written content for DJ's to read on the air, scheduled music, and done voice-over commercials.
Not bad for a guy who was voted "Most Humorous" in high school, once interviewed Obama, and has been working on writing a book about his career for 10 years.
"In 1988, when I started, most stations had live DJ's on the air for 20 of 24 hours," Watson said. "Today, it's more like four hours, filling morning and afternoon slots.
"It's a different business."
His favorite highlight from WGLO?
"I got selected to be on the first Peoria Honor Flight," Watson said. "It was such a wonderful experience, the way those veterans were treated. They gave them a water cannon salute. Everyone in the airport stopped and applauded them. When we returned, there were thousands of people waiting for them. It was unforgettable."
He's been devoted to his sobriety for more than four years now. And he says he is staying in Peoria, has no intentions to move.
"Can I get another job in radio, that's the question for me," Watson said. "I'm sure going to try. If nothing else, I'm versatile."
Onward. For the moment, at least, the doctor is out.
"Those who listened regularly -- thank you," Watson said. "Classic rock fans kept me employed and let me stay on the air.
"I never went through the motions. I tried to do a different show every day."
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.