1500 ESPN cuts Jeff Dubay

January is usually the cruelest month in the commercial radio business. Christmas advertising dollars are gone, businesses have shot their advertising budget, and many stations barely pull in enough money to make payroll, if they make payroll at all. Not for nothing do you hear so many “commercial-free” hours on radio in January.

It’s also the month when stations cut staff and today Jeff Dubay was the victim at KSTP Radio, the struggling all-sports radio station that’s become the moonlight home for newspaper sportswriters.

The announcement was later made on the station’s Facebook page:

Today 1500 ESPN made the difficult announcement that we will not be renewing Jeff Dubay’s contract.

Jeff has done a great job for us at 1500 ESPN. He has done everything we asked him to do. Unfortunately, the 2014 business environment requires that we operate in a more efficient manner. This decision is not a reflection of Jeff’s performance. It is a reflection of our current operating environment.

We want to personally thank Jeff for his commitment to 1500 ESPN. He has come to work prepared, full of energy and ready to host a sports talk show every day.

Jeff’s last day is today. We will not be adding staff to fill Jeff’s position so we will be sharing a plan for Judd’s show in the very near future.

If Dubay were just another voice in the radio business, his departure wouldn’t merit much notice in an economy that specializes in showing people the door. But his rise from the depths of drug addiction made him the kind of person people can root for, even people in the sports talk world who have a difficult problem with perspective.

Dubay, a former Twins batboy, lost his job of 10 years at KFAN — another sports talker in the Twin Cities — when he relapsed during drug rehab. He tried the usual solutions but in a 2012 interview he said he found them too “God focused.”

“Don’t tell me I have a disease and then tell me the solution is to pray,” he told WCCO’s Chad Hartman. “There’s a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment that’s a little dangerous and a little sad. In the first week of treatment they tried to convince me the root of my problem is I’m selfish and egotistical.”

He said at the time he’d like to get back into radio, but what he really wanted was to tell his personal story. It was a longshot. There are a lot of industries that don’t believe in second chances, but radio is as risk-averse as they come.

KSTP, to its credit, gave him a shot at radio redemption nearly a year ago this week.

“Dubay means something in this town,” his now-former boss said at the time.

The station waived his no-compete clause, which barred him from working elsewhere in the market.