Lisa Baden no longer will be telling the region's drivers which roads to avoid when they tune into WTOP to get traffic reports. The voice that has been directing commuters on the region's top radio station for more than a decade signed off after Monday's morning commute. She will continue to appear on television at ABC affiliate WJLA (Channel 7) and soon will be heard on WAVA 105.1 FM, a Christian radio station. But Baden told The Washington Examiner she is devastated to leave WTOP, which has the biggest market share in a region tied for having the nation's worst traffic. She described it as moving "from the fast lane to the second right lane when I'm just not a second-right-lane kind of gal."
Her tenure ended because WTOP ended its relationship with her employer, Metro Networks, and is bringing its traffic reporting in house, WTOP Vice President of News and Programming Jim Farley said.
"It's not with any ill feeling," he said. "This was a business decision."
He said he tried to bring Baden and the other Metro Networks traffic reporters to WTOP, but they have clauses in their contracts banning them from working for competitors for one year.
"She's under contract to us," Metro Networks head John Frawley said. "We'll never let her go."
Baden's contract doesn't end until July 4, 2012. "I'm powerless," she said.
She said she has been going through the five stages of grief since she learned of the decision in September.
"I've spent an enormous amount of time, shoulders bobbing, snot pouring, on the floor," she said. "No kidding."
Frawley said they are looking for other options for her.
"As soon as we know, we'll make as big a noise as we can," he said.
Baden said she's living life one day at a time -- and continuing to wake up at 2:30 a.m.
"I'm still employed, and a lot of people can't say that," she said.
She said she's open-minded about covering another city's traffic woes, though.
"If it requires me going to another market, please make it warm," she said.