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Cities 97.1 radio personality Brian Oake was summoned to his program director's office for "an all-staff meeting." When he unexpectedly saw iHeartMedia's market president standing by the office door, he knew what was about to happen: He was going to get fired.

"It did come out of nowhere," the 30-year radio veteran said last week, eight days after he was dismissed. "I have zero idea what the rationale was. Both [bosses] were tight-lipped and said, 'We're moving in a different direction.'"

The fateful meeting on Feb. 21 with iHeart executives — Cities 97.1 program director Rich Davis and market president Greg Alexander — lasted about 11 minutes, according to Oake.

"They weren't severe about it. I wasn't thrown bodily from the building. I was sat down and given all the information they were willing to impart."

Oake turned in his key card, took his coffee mugs and left for a previously planned vacation scheduled for the next day.

In the meeting, the radio host pressed for answers: "What did I do wrong? What didn't I do that I should have done?" Was it internal machinations? Was it "they didn't want a 55-year-old guy pitching Taylor Swift"? Was the station about to change formats?

"I honestly don't know why. Getting fired is commonplace in my line of work," said Oake, who had been let go at three previous Twin Cities stations.

When asked to explain why Oake was fired, iHeartMedia offered a standard corporate response to the Star Tribune.

"It's company policy to not comment on personnel moves," said Gregg Swedberg, senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Minneapolis/St. Paul.

A perplexed Oake — who last year reupped on his second two-year contract since returning to Cities 97.1 in 2021 — still can't figure out why he was axed.

"I can't believe it's financially motivated," he said. "I came back for less than half of what I'd been making when I'd been working there before. I love doing radio."

Oake was rehired three years ago at Cities 97.1 to host its morning show but in November he was quietly moved to afternoon drive shift, and Paul Fletcher switched to mornings.

From 2001 to '15, Oake was a mainstay on Cities 97.1, an adult-alternative pop/rock station, before joining Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3 the Current.

Oake left the Current in 2019 after he was suspended over social media posts. The last ones involved him complaining about Palace Theatre staff for kicking him out of a concert there after his daughter, then 20, was seen drinking from his cocktail glass. (Oake claimed it was empty except for ice.)

"I never got the full story," Oake said last week of his Current firing. "I was told I acted inappropriately."

The Coon Rapids native was previously let go from alt-rock outlets REV 105 (the station was sold) and Drive 105 (which changed to a soft-rock oldies format).

On Feb. 22, Oake was replaced on the Cities 97.1′s afternoon slot by Zach Dillon, who had been the afternoon co-host on KDWB, another iHeartMedia station in the Twin Cities. Dillon will continue as assistant program director of KDWB and picked up a similar title with Cities 97.1, as well.

iHeartMedia operates seven stations out of its St. Louis Park offices, including the sports talker KFAN, country mainstay K102 and oldies outlet KOOL 108.

As called for in his iHeart contract, Oake is receiving severance pay. While he is collecting that money, he is not eligible to be hired by another radio station per his noncompete clause, he said.

However, in an unusual move, Oake will continue to make regular appearances on KFAN, iHeartMedia's sports talker.

"'The Power Trip' guys want to have me back every Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. I was like: 'Did you check with the powers that be?' They were like 'Yup. It's sounds like it's going to be OK.'

"Usually when you fire someone in radio, you don't get to walk back into those doors ever. It's going to be odd to be waiting for someone to let me into the building where I worked for 20 years. But I love those dudes. It's always a fun bit."

"The Power Trip" staff feels the same.

"I'm so pleased we can continue to have him," said "Power Trip" producer and personality Chris Hawkey. "He's been an important part of our show. We will begin again this Wednesday."

And apparently it's a freebie.

"I don't need to get paid for that," Oake said. "It behooves me to keep my name in the marketplace and 'The Power Trip' is a very big platform."

Meanwhile, the veteran broadcaster will clerk part time at Mill City Sound record store in Hopkins and continue his podcast, "The Brian Oake Show." He's done 375 episodes.