News, traffic and on-air staff of radio station 1670 WTDY-AM and 106.7 WTDY-FM were laid off Wednesday, including talk show host John "Sly" Sylvester, according to a company official.
The layoffs included all news, traffic and on-air staff, with the exception of one employee, according to a company memo.
The WTDY website was replaced by a holiday message and the station began airing Christmas music Wednesday afternoon.
Randy Hawke, WTDY's operations manager, said the radio station will run a Christmas music format until after the holidays. He said managers will announce the new format then.
"It's a crowded market," said Hawke, referring to the three news-talk stations in the Madison market. He said WTDY consistently came in third in the ratings.
He would not comment on the number of employees laid off.
Personality John "Sly" Sylvester told WISC-TV that seven or eight people were laid off.
He said the news surprised him, because his show had good ratings recently and had plenty of sponsors.
"After 15 years, it's very disappointing and a difficult day for me, because I really love doing what I do," Sylvester said. "Especially during the protests, I really feel like we hit our stride. We covered something in a way that really nobody else does."
Sylvester said he would like to stay in radio if another station wanted to hire him.
Amy Barrilleaux, WTDY's news director, also lost her job. The station's decision was a surprise, but these things happen when ratings are low, Barrilleaux said.
"I think we offered a good product, and I'm sad to see it go, but obviously we weren't finding the listeners that (managers) were hoping we would find," she said.
Pam Jahnke's farm reports will continue and the new format would "complement" the farm programming, general manager Rick McCoy wrote in an internal memo to staff.
WTDY is owned by Midwest Family Broadcasting, based in Madison.