Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Talk Radio Rules: Shorter Leashes, Quicker Hooks

Jessica McBride's firing from 620 WTMJ-AM shows that in the post-Don Imus talk radio era, gaffes and offensive speech lead station officials to quicker action.

Tim Cuprisin, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's radio and TV critic chronicles McBride's rapid removal, and mentions also the fast indefinite suspension by Jerrel Jones of WNOV-AM's "Word Warriors" host Mike McGee.

McGee had gone on a disgusting and cruel rant about the tragic death of Katherine Sykes, the mother of rival talk show host Charlie Sykes.

I praised Jones on this blog for his swift action.

And I made this point, which relates also to why McBride was removed:

"The airwaves are already too full of intolerance and degrading talk. Let's hope that [McGee's replacement] makes use of his air time without making a sometimes nasty radio format even worse."

I've also posted about other offensive local talkers, such as WISN-AM's Mark Belling, who equated breast-feeding in a long segment with "taking a crap" (his words) in public.

But back to McBride and McGee: What is interesting about their cases is that both involved insensitive talkers using the death of innocent people to make irrelevant, politically-tinged, tone-deaf commentary when the only thing called for in that circumstance was respectful silence or expressions of condolence.

In the end, it's all about the station and not the talker.

Station managers and owners at WTMJ and WNOV made the right decisions - - because they are the ultimate arbiters of what goes on their air.