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Steve Bailey | Downtown

At home, and all alone

Jay Severin, WTKK radio's libertarian loudmouth, is hurt - wounded really - and Emily Rooney, WGBH-TV's thermally challenged queen bee, is off his show and his station. Says Rooney: "I didn't think the punishment fit the crime."

Rooney's crime? Inadvertently leaving Severin off the invitation list for WGBH's party last week marking the 10th anniversary of her show, "Greater Boston." Everyone was there, even me.

"Dear Emily," Severin e-mailed Rooney on Wednesday evening just minutes before the big event was to begin.

"As I imagine you well know, I do wish you congratulations on the most impressive achievement of ten years on the air choreographing your own presentation. Extraordinary.

"And please do not misconsture [sic] what I ask as mitigating in any way the earnestness of my best wishes.

"However: I am very personally disappointed (although from what you have frankly told me of WGBH's attitude toward myself, not necessarily greatly surprised) not to have been among those from 96.9 to have been invited to the WGBH celebratory event. After all, we are, I think, friends; and we do broadcast together here weekly, for an audience which is very considerably larger than even your television audience, correctr? [sic] It thus strkes [sic] me as fairly appropriate that I might have anticipated being included - especially considering others here at 96.9 were.

"Am I wrong and/or presumptuous to wonder why, under the circumstances, I am not included?"

Since January, Rooney has done a weekly (paid) segment with Severin, discussing the media. But on Friday, Rooney got a call from WTKK's program director, Grace Blazer, telling her not to bother coming to the station. The segment was being canceled; she cited "budgetary" issues, Rooney says. (Disclosure: I occasionally appear on Rooney's "Beat the Press" show; I hope she was getting paid more from WTKK than the $100 I get from WGBH.)

"I feel terrible about this. I honestly do. I literally lost sleep over it," she says. As for Severin's snide remark about ratings or the lack thereof, Rooney says: "I didn't understand how that was relevant to the issue."

Neither Severin nor Blazer returned my calls or e-mails.

In Severin's world, Hillary Clinton is "a lying [expletive]," Ted Kennedy is "a fat piece of lying garbage," and Al Gore is "Al Whore." All things considered, it's surprising the guy is asked out at all.

. . .

Neighborhood news: More turmoil at the state's obscure Outdoor Advertising Board.

William Bickley, whose opposition to a billboard at the Boston Herald was chronicled in this space last month, has been fired from his longtime job at the state Highway Department. Bickley, the board's executive director, was transferred to the department's Northampton office and then fired from his $76,000-a-year job three weeks after the column.

Bickley declined to comment, but in an e-mail to colleagues he said he had been fired for alleged "flagrant abuse of time and attendance policies." He denied the charges and said his firing "shows an elaborate attempt to get me out of the way and to slander my name."

In an interview, highway commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky said Bickley's firing had nothing to do with the Herald billboard, but would not discuss the specifics of his dismissal. She did say, "I need people with a strong work ethic, especially among managers."

Paiewonsky has now replaced the executive director, the board's lawyer, and her own board representative. In a statement at yesterday's regular meeting, Marlo Fogelman, board chairwoman, said "the board has lost serious talent" and, extraordinarily, apologized to the advertising industry "for the way these recent changes have disrupted your business."

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at or at 617-929-2902.

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