Deirdre O'Donoghue got some good news and some bad news last week. The good news was that she was named one of the five finalists in the best-deejay category of the 1986 New Music Awards.
The bad news was that O'Donoghue, whose weeknight "SNAP" new-music show has been one of KCRW-FM's most lauded programs for the past six years, was fired.
Just why she was fired, however, is something of a mini-mystery. "It was a management decision which had nothing to do with Deirdre's abilities as a music programmer," said KCRW General Manager Ruth Hirschman. "There were just irreconcilable differences."
Meaning? "They were confidential matters. It would be irresponsible for me to discuss it further, just as it would be for your managing editor to discuss his firing practices," Hirschman replied. "We had a meeting to try to reconcile our differences . . . but it just didn't work out."
However, Hirschman acknowledged that at least part of the problem that led to O'Donoghue's dismissal stemmed from the deejay's off-the-cuff remarks about global politics and her criticism of current albums and films.
"We'd really prefer that our music programmer stick to music and not review the war in Nicaragua or for that matter, films or other records," Hirschman explained. "We told Deirdre that when she put down a record that someone else here was playing, that it created bad feelings on the staff.
"We have a movie critic. And he doesn't review music. Deirdre is an extremely talented person and she's been a major contributor to the station. But she was there to play music, not review films or discuss the world situation."
O'Donoghue disputed these remarks, insisting that she had not made any "political activist" remarks on the air.
"When I met with Ruth, she accused me of sending people to a Sandinista rally, which really startled me, because I had no recollection of ever doing that. And while I made references to movies or books I liked, I never did any long-winded reviews on the air. I don't think it's irresponsible to make remarks about the cultural life of the community--it's part of the fabric of the show."
O'Donoghue acknowledged that she had recently criticized the current Peter Gabriel album, saying it didn't "measure up" to his past work. "But I'd hardly call that slamming a record," she said. "I'd say 99.9% of the time I made positive remarks about albums."
O'Donoghue said she will continue her Sunday morning Beatles program on KMET-FM and will cover the music-video beat for Overview, a new video magazine produced by video pioneer Michael Nesmith.
As for KCRW, Hirschman said the station is searching for a suitable replacement and will audition various candidates as part of a new program, "Coming Attractions," which will air in O'Donoghue's old time slot. "We don't intend to change the musical direction of the program," Hirschman said. "But we do want a wider, more inclusive approach to the music on the show."
Is the station a wee bit embarrassed now that O'Donoghue is up for a major award at the same time she was fired? Hirschman's enigmatic reply: "No, not really. And you're going to have to figure out why I said that."