A radio host fired to make room for her controversial replacement earlier this week says while she knew Winnipeg was a kind community, she's amazed by the wave of support she got after leaving Energy 106 on Tuesday.
"It’s kind of making me speechless. It makes me tear up a lot," Sarah Nick, who had worked for Energy 106 for four years, told the Free Press Friday.
Nick released a video statement Tuesday after a press release spread announcing she had been let go as the station’s morning-show host and had been replaced by former 92.1 CITI host Dave Wheeler.
"I was pretty shocked when I got fired, but that’s show business, it happens," she said.
The move to replace Nick with Wheeler was met with criticism on social media; he was fired from his former morning-show radio host position in 2018 after making offensive comments regarding trans people.
Among those who spoke out against the decision was Winnipeg Pride Run co-race director Andrew McLaren, who announced Thursday that the group would no longer be doing any sponsorship work with Energy 106 after two years of working together, calling Wheeler’s "racist, sexist and transphobic comments" unacceptable.
Wheeler told the Free Press Wednesday that he planned to take a "softer" approach at Energy 106 and said he's donating his first paycheque to the Rainbow Resource Centre, a support and service agency for Winnipeg's LGBTTQ+ community.
It was after Nick’s statement in which she confirmed her firing and said there were "no hard feelings," she said, that she began to receive messages of support.
Within days, she received more than 1,000 messages, 100-plus calls and even some work opportunities — including support from an Irish radio station, also called Energy 106, which was caught up in the fray surrounding her firing.
The Belfast, Northern Ireland dance-music station began receiving messages meant for its Winnipeg counterpart about the staffing change. The Irish station later tweeted that it supported Nick and was critical of the decision to hire Wheeler.
"It’s a bit disgusting on what you have done as a radio station, you have a major role in your town, well done on losing probably 80 per cent of your listenership, your advertisers must be proud," read the tweet, sent Wednesday.
We’ve had a nosey and are now up to date with the topic, @energy106fm it’s a bit disgusting on what you have done as a radio station, you have a major role in your town, well done on losing probably 80% of your listenership, your advertisers must be proud.— Energy 106 (@Energy106) August 26, 2020
The station has since received positive messages from people in Winnipeg and is now in talks with Nick about having her do some voiceover work.
"I’m very overwhelmed, because I’ve never been through anything like this and I don’t really know anybody who has," she said.
"I’m excited to work with them, they’re excited because they want to have a Canadian on, and I think it’s an honour to be a small part of their big station. I guess they’re going viral from it. It’s just been great, really funny, cool, an ironic story for sure."
Nick studied broadcasting at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and her first long-term job in the industry was at Energy 106 — she said program director Adam West took a chance when hiring her, especially as she was only 21 at the time — and said she is not sure what the future holds.
"The Band-Aid got ripped off and the wound is still showing, so I’m just kind of taking time to decompress and chill for a minute," she said.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.