WTOP's Mark Plotkin on his firing: 'Things happen.'

January 26, 2012 - 01:58 PM
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(Photo: WTOP)

WTOP political analyst Mark Plotkin has been removed from his perch at D.C.’s leading all-news radio station, though the circumstances surrounding his ouster remain murky.

Reached by phone shortly after the Post's Erik Wemple broke the story, Plotkin would only say, “Things happen. But I’m fine. Really, I’m fine.”

The station's top news manager, Jim Farley, told Washingtonian's Carol Joynt that "personnel issues" were behind the decision to sever ties.  What kind of issues?  "The kind you can't comment on," he told Joynt, adding that the issue had been "brewing" for a while.

He "was doing a fine job," Farley said.

The news of Plotkin’s firing ricocheted around the Internet. “Mark Plotkin” became a trending term on Twitter, and reporters covering a heated D.C. Council hearing on iGaming momentarily lost interest in the proceedings.

Reporters at online gambling hearing completely distracted by news of Mark Plotkin's departure from WTOP.
Jan 26 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Plotkin has been a fixture at WTOP for nearly a decade, mixing analysis of national and local politics with an obsessive focus on the District’s lack of representation in Congress.

This reporter bumped into Plotkin at last night’s Wizards game and was bombarded with a scathing critique of the strategy that DC Vote and the city’s elected leaders are employing to gain a vote in the House. “There’s no strategy!” he said, his voice rising in trademark fashion. “The Mayor should be on the Hill meeting with Republicans every day,” he said of college classmate Vincent Gray, who leaves for New Hampshire tomorrow to lobby state lawmakers there.

There was no indication last night that anything was amiss. He peppered me with his usual questions — “Who’d you have on today?” and “What’s going on at Channel 8?” — and a source at the station confirms that whatever led to Plotkin’s firing happened this morning.

Farley told the Post that Plotkin’s Friday morning program has been canceled, effective immediately. It’s unclear whether tomorrow’s scheduled guests — former Congresswoman Connie Morella, political operative Craig Shirley and Peter Teeley, press secretary to then–Vice President George H. W. Bush — are aware that they’re not needed, since Plotkin operates very much within his own sphere, rarely consulting with coworkers.

Plotkin is almost as famous for his unwillingness to embrace technology as he is for his pursuit of voting rights. He can only access voice messages on a good day, can’t operate a cell phone and refuses to record interviews or take pictures, a known source of friction with management. Following a management edict that he enter the modern world of computers and the Internet, he recently took to Twitter, though it is believed someone else does the actual typing.

He told me he’ll continue to provide commentary for Fox 5 and the Canadian Broadcasting Company, joking, “I’m very big in Canada, perhaps I’ll move to Canada.” (Plotkin was briefly a paid commentator at NewsChannel 8 approximately six years ago.)

Speculation immediately surfaced that he’s being wooed by WNEW, the new CBS all-news station that launched this week at 99.1 FM. Station executives there have stressed in public comments that they want to steer clear of “process” stories, suggesting that Plotkin, a notoriously long-winded aficionado of political minutia, might not be a good fit.

Mark Plotkin first came to fame as an analyst on WAMU radio, first with Derek McGinty, then with Kojo Nnamdi. He jumped at the chance to go to WTOP, because he felt the public radio outlet was slow to react to breaking news. He has remained very close friends with Nnamdi, and the two often rib one another on the air.

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