Updated 7:10pm -- UTICA-ROME -- The fans spoke, and Galaxy listened. After being fired last Friday, longtime radio sportscaster Ed O'Brien is back on the payroll at Galaxy Communications. That's according to Galaxy CEO/President Ed Levine this morning.
Levine tells CNYRadio.com "Ed has been fully restored by Galaxy as of this morning, I'm happy to say!"
Levine's note comes in response to questions about two recent articles published by the Rome Daily Sentinel in recent days. On Saturday, the newspaper reported that O'Brien was fired by telephone on Friday morning, after the broadcaster announced he'd be volunteering his time to provide play-by-play of that night's Rome Free Academy football game for a webcast operated by the Rome City School District.
According to Saturday's article, O'Brien said his participation in the webcast was "in conflict with the broadcast [Galaxy was] doing of that game." O'Brien admitted he had not asked Galaxy's permission to participate in the webcast, explaining, "I never thought I had to."
In another Sentinel article on Monday, O'Brien stated he had four other job offers already on the table. The paper interviewed a Rome City School District board member who said "we feel horrible" about O'Brien's dismissal, while pointing out that the school district did not sell any advertising for its webcast, and did not intend to put O'Brien into a position of conflict with Galaxy.
A Facebook page titled "We support Ed O’Brien in Rome, NY" had more than 930 fans as of Tuesday morning.
Again, as of this morning, Galaxy Communications CEO/President Ed Levine says O'Brien's position "has been fully restored" as of today.
That means you can expect to hear the longtime broadcaster back in the booth for his weekly show, "In This Corner with Ed O’Brien," on Saturdays from 9-10am on ESPN Utica-Rome. This past weekend, O'Brien's timeslot was filled by ESPN Radio network programming, according to the Sentinel.
Levine provided no further comment regarding his company's decision to restore O'Brien's position.
Added 7:10pm -- In this evening's edition, the Rome Sentinel reported that O'Brien's Friday firing came at the hands of "other company officials" at Galaxy, while Levine was "out of town on business." Levine told the newspaper he received dozens of emails protesting O'Brien's exit, and, after reviewing the circumstances, he determined the firing was "unwarranted." There was no indication as to specifically who within Galaxy made the initial call to dismiss O'Brien.
In the article, O'Brien is quoted as saying the response from fans was "just staggering," and he said it was "very big" of Ed Levine to invite him back.
O'Brien has worked with Galaxy ever since the company's 2007 takeover of the former Clear Channel Utica-Rome cluster, where O'Brien worked on that company's four-station "Sports Stars Network." Two of those stations -- WIXT and WRNY -- stayed with Galaxy after the sale and continue to offer sports programming. O'Brien called his first RFA football game on WRNY in 1973, and continued to broadcast the games through 2008.
Galaxy's ESPN Utica-Rome stations are 1230 WIXT/Little Falls, 1310 WTLB/Utica, 1350 WRNY/Rome, and translator W256AJ at 99.1FM out of Utica.