Skip to comments.KUGN to bounce hard-line talk show (DUMPS SAVAGE IN A BOW TO LEFTIST WHINERS)
Posted on 12/18/2002 8:25:54 PM PST by Clinging Bitterly
www.registerguard.com | © The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon
December 18, 2002
KUGN to bounce hard-line talk show
By TIM CHRISTIE
The move follows a chorus of complaints from University of Oregon faculty and students who have argued for weeks that UO football and basketball broadcasts shouldn't share the air with "hate radio" commentators who defy the university's commitment to diversity and equality.
Station officials insisted Tuesday that the campus clamor had no bearing on the decision to dump Savage.
Cumulus Broadcasting, which owns KUGN and six other stations in the Eugene market, had been looking for months to replace the Savage show with a local program, said Michael Donovan, market manager for Cumulus Eugene.
KUGN, which relies on syndicated shows for much of its programming, wanted to get more "live and local," particularly during afternoon drive time, Donovan said.
But station officials had also concluded that the Savage program wasn't a good fit in this market, he said.
"It was our opinion that Michael Savage, in his desire to be noticed and compete in a crowded conservative talk show market place, was growing more and more outrageous as time wore on in order to draw attention and therefore ratings," Donovan said.
Still, he noted, university officials, including President Dave Frohnmayer, went on record that they had no desire to dictate KUGN's programming decisions.
"So consequently, there is not linkage in our suitability to be the voice of the Ducks and the primary outlet for Oregon athletics on the radio, and whether Michael Savage is heard on KUGN in the afternoon," Donovan said.
Last month, Frohnmayer publicly affirmed the university's diversity policies, but said he wouldn't use the contract with KUGN to pressure it into dropping the Savage show. To do so, he suggested, would amount to censorship.
Critics at the UO said Savage went beyond outrageous. They called his program "hate radio," and cited his on-air remarks denigrating women, immigrants, Hispanics and Jews.
Julie Novkov, an associate political science professor at the UO, was among the faculty members who objected to the university's relationship with a station that aired Savage.
She said the departure of the Savage show goes a long way toward addressing her concerns.
"I would hope that it speaks to the power of the market," she said.
"What I really object to about Savage is the gratuitousness and viciousness of his attacks on groups of people that I'm serving in my capacity as a faculty member daily," she said.
"He has the right to say whatever he wants to say, but I have no desire for the university to be affiliated with someone who was saying those kinds of things about people I'm seeing in my classroom every day."
Neither Savage, his staff, nor officials at his syndicator, the Central Point-based Talk Radio Network, returned telephone messages seeking comment.
On the Talk Radio Network Web site, Savage describes himself this way: "Those who listen to me say they hear a bit of Plato, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Moses, Jesus and Frankenstein."
On the air, his favorite targets include liberals, the news media and "Hollywood idiots." He cuts off callers who disagree with him.
On Tuesday's show, he ripped into Sen. Trent Lott for "genuflecting before the minority pressure groups."
Lott, R-Miss., has come under a storm of criticism for his remark suggesting America would be better off if it had followed the segregationist policies Sen. Strom Thurmond espoused in his 1948 presidential bid.
"I am sick and tired of pandering to minorities," Savage said. "You stole my birthright."
He also targeted CNN anchor Judy Woodruff, calling her "Judy Woodmuff," and said: "There's no liberal bias in the media - it's liberal treason."
Savage's Web site said he's on 300 stations and is the fastest-growing talk show host in the country, but Donovan, a 30-year veteran of the industry, said "everyone claims to be No. 1 or fastest-growing."
Controversial, acerbic broadcasters such as Savage, Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura may get great ratings in large markets, but they don't do so well in smaller markets such as Eugene, Donovan said.
And some advertisers simply won't run ads on their programs, he said.
Even without Savage, KUGN will continue to tilt to the right with a program lineup that features Bill O'Reilly and Michael Medved.
KUGN began looking for its own afternoon talk show host last summer, talking to candidates inside and outside the market, Donovan said.
Carlin got in touch with KUGN when he heard about the controversy involving Savage, Donovan said. Carlin knows local issues and his Rolodex is "very up to date," he said.
"It made a lot of sense, and we were delighted when he contacted us and that the timing worked out the way it did," Donovan said.
Carlin previously hosted two other talk shows on KUGN and was a reporter for KVAL-TV and an assignment editor for KABC in Los Angeles. He left KUGN in 1997 to write a book, "The Pinocchio Effect," and to pursue business opportunities.
Carlin, 37, of Creswell, described himself as "fiscally conservative and socially libertarian."
"I want to leave people alone," he said.
He plans to take calls from listeners and interview guests. As for his broadcasting style, Carlin said he won't be sure until he gets on the air.
"I can tell you what my style was five years ago," he said. "I don't know if I'm the same way I was."
But he said he's no Michael Savage. "The guy's a shock jock," he said. "I'm not a shock jock."
I emailed Jerry Allen (the senior on-air personality at the station, and also a university employee as the Ducks' radio announcer) a month or so ago when the leftists started tossing their feces around over this issue, and I told him that my radio dial is not stuck and I would be turning it if anything like this happened.
My email tonight will be to tell him that the dial has been turned.
As for U of O sports, this year I was fortunate enough to obtain tickets and attend most of the Ducks home football games at the newly expanded Autzen Stadium. I noticed that later in the season there were a lot of empty seats. My company is a huge sponsor of U of O athletics, and purchases hundreds of season tickets for all of the programs (and part of the Autzen complex is named for it), and while I don't see that situation changing a whole lot, there are those of us who appreciated that politics didn't get mixed up in at least this part of the University, and our disappointment today isn't likely to do much to fill up those empty seats. In the coming year, there'll be plenty of time to analyze the whole issue and figure out if the station's comments regarding this are on the up and up, and also decide whether or not to attend home football games.
I think KUGN has made a mistake here. In the end, the Ducks' broadcast contract boils down to money. Until very recently, it went between the top three AM stations in the area, and they were locally owned. With changes in broadcast regulations, we now have KUGN as #2 owned by Cumulus Broadcasting, and KPNW as #1 owned by Clear Channel Communications (and for all practical purposes, there is not a #3). Talk radio is the bread and butter of both of these stations, but the university sports broadcasting contract is the meat. It is the biggest thing on radio in this town, and when the radio contract comes back up for bids, it's gonna get ugly as it always does. But the university doesn't have much control over what station gets it anymore, as they have delegated that function their national television broadcats rights holder, which is currently ESPN. Somehow I don't think much will affect this beyond the bottom line.
Dave in Eugene
Can you imagine the publicity? Ratings would hit the roof.
Michael Weiner, nee Savage, is a Jew and strong supporter of Israel. Not that the truth matters in today's America.
Hey, why not write a letter to the sports director of the University, suggesting he could do better with a station with more power. This is sure to affect the recruiting power of his football program. What mother wants to send her highly touted football player to a University that has so much controversy?(send a copy of this letter to the program director at KUGN along with a reminder of how he just lost a bunch of listeners)
I mean, as long as Oregon is now more of a nationally recognized football power, the fan base would appreciate a 50,000 watt clear channel station. "Mr. Sports Director- think of the better recruiting the program could do with the larger reach of a 50,000 watt clear channel station like KPNW 1120."
Plus I think he is nothing but an opportunist. I think his act is a charade. I am not a liberal. I just don't like that man.
I've been listening to him a few days a week for over a year now. It seems he's gotten worse lately with the rudeness and insults. He makes me so mad sometimes when he doesn't give other people a chance to speak and yells nasty things at them and hangs up. What a jerk!!! I even resort to screaming at the radio sometimes.