Says she is "humbled" by outpouring of support from fans and listeners.
It wasn’t 40 days and 40 nights but Carole Caine’s exile in the wilderness ended Tuesday when she spoke out for the first time after being told WKLH-FM was not renewing her contract.
On June 29 she did the morning show with co-host Dave Luczak “and I was driving home without a job by 10:30 a.m.,” she said, ending an association that lasted 29-years.
Her comments Tuesday came after reaching agreement on severance issues with station owners Milwaukee Radio Group and Saga Communications. Her contract expires in September.
Surprisingly, the agreement does not include a non-compete clause meaning she can work for another station in the market.
“That was very nice of them,” she said. “They are allowing me to go wherever I want when I find the right fit.” She added: “I’m a free agent. Anybody who wants me can have me.”
She has been contacted by other stations but “has nothing in store at this point.”
The agreement does contain a non disparagement clause that prohibits her from speaking ill of the station or associates. She offered “no comment” when asked about Luczak. And she only would say of events leading to her departure: “I can tell you it was interesting the way things worked out.”
She knew the station was “tweaking” the music, and switching its brand from Classic Rock to Hometown Rock. And while it might affect her “I didn’t think I would be completely out of it.”
When asked why she was let go she would only say: “They were moving in different direction and I wasn’t part of that.”
For a week afterward she shut off her phone, because the calls and texts “were overwhelming. I finally got the courage to turn my phone back on. Thank God I did. My poor family, my sisters and brothers.”
“I think they thought I would be laying in a bloody mess in the kitchen,” she said.
At her low point she had “a major panic attack” while at a store. She got back in the car, “but I don’’t remember the drive home at all. I just sat there crying and laughing. That’s when I decided ‘That’s enough.’”
You can take the girl out of the morning show, but you can’t take the morning show out of the girl. For 29-years she got up at 3 a.m., was at the station by 4 a.m., checked websites, Facebook and Twitter for things to talk about and wrote her newscasts. Her old pattern is like a phantom limb, “but I’m getting better everyday. I do still wake up at one or two in the morning and have to force myself back to sleep.”
The road to normalcy is paved with exercise. She walks her dog three miles every day, rides her bicycle and goes to exercise “boot camp. At some point with lack of eating I’m going to look like Christy Turlington.”
She said that the “most unbelievable part” of the experience was the public outcry related to her departure.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around it,” she said. “I’m just Carole. There’s nothing … special about me at all. I’m just so humbled by this outcry, by this outpouring of love and support. It was — I tear up when I say this — like I wasn’t alone. I had all these people whether I met them or not. They were in my corner. They were fighting for me. It was genuine, heartfelt and humbling.”
She said she had “no part” in organized protests or calls for a boycott of the station. And she defends the station agains accusations of gender or age bias.
“I know this has been brought up and that’s something I want to make very clear. That has not been a part of this at all.”
Anyone who listened to Caine knows that what you heard on the air is who she was and must have wondered how she could keep her feelings quiet for so long. “I am an open book,” she said.
And true to form her emotions were close to the surface when talking about the families she met through the Miracle Marathon, a telethon the station holds to support Children’s Hospital.
“I’ve been to that hospital so many times and gone into the intensive care unit and sat with the kids. Had lunches with the moms. And been to more funerals than you can count. But I’ve also seen some of these kids grow up. And its important they know how much I appreciate being allowed into their lives.”
And she teared up when she said it.