Agent: Lions wanted opinionated 97.1 host Valenti fired
Detroit — Was Mike Valenti, the popular sports-talk host who pulls no punches, the reason the Lions are moving from 97.1 The Ticket to WJR 760?
Depends who you ask.
The Lions say 760 simply won the bid, but Valenti's agent says there's more to the story.
Mort Meisner, the agent for Valenti, who co-hosts 97.1's drive-time show with The Detroit News' Terry Foster, said the Lions demanded Valenti be fired as part of any new pact between the team and its longtime flagship station.
"I found this as ludicrous that representatives of the Detroit Lions would constantly call market manager for CBS (Detroit), Deb Kenyon, and harangue her to silence Mike and tell him what to say and what not to say," Meisner said in an email to The News. "Mike is a clever and creative talent who speaks his mind and that is why he is so spectacularly successful.
"To Deb's credit, she stood firm and let the Lions walk as opposed to surrender to a ridiculous form of censorship."
Valenti, 35, a Michigan State graduate, and Foster host the top-rated sports-talk show in the state.
He has a history of being critical and brutally honest when discussing Detroit's sports teams, and the Lions have been a frequent target.
Valenti kicked off his Friday show with a 30-minute rant about the story of the day, calling allegations the Lions wanted him fired "absolutely true."
"And anything you hear to the contrary, I challenge," Valenti said. "This is an organization that has systematically made our lives miserable at the station. I don't fear them. I don't care about them. I will not be sucked into being friends with them.
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"It's absolutely true, the Lions aren't here because of me. That's that. But it's always been that. It's never changed, and there are people in that organization that are bad people."
Valenti also alleged the Lions got him removed from doing television appearances on Lions game days, and he alleged that the Lions kept him and 97.1 from broadcasting an NFL/Lions show on Sundays during the season.
Reached for comment, Lions PR czar Bill Keenist said the organization would not respond to Valenti's segment.
Valenti's current contract is up at the end of March, and 97.1 has no intention of letting him walk.