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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Free speech?

Speech isn't free. Just ask Jason Wolfe.

Faced with awful ratings and angry advertisers, the executive vice president of Entercom Boston, owners of WRKO-AM had probably been looking for an excuse to can John DePetro. And the morning show obliged with his mean-spirited reference to Grace Ross.

So Wolfe stands up for civility and shows DePetro and his engineer the door.

Nice story line if it were true.

This is not a defense of yet another foul-mouthed, mean-spirited right-wing wind bag. It is a question about what makes this one different from Howie Carr. Or Rush Limbaugh. Or Michael Savage, gay baiters all.

The answer is ratings. Don't believe the protests that DePetro wasn't that bad, 10th in the market of 30. For a medium that relies on outrageous talk to fuel listeners who in turn buy sponsor products, 10th might as well be 100th. No player in the market can accept a midday show running that low.

And don't buy the high-minded academic thoughts that "people have had enough of the mean-spirited nastiness." Despite the views of Janet Kolodzy, chairman of the journalism department at Emerson College, listeners to right-wing radio (talk about redundant!) revel in that stuff.

No, a more logical explanation for WRKO's "stand for decency" is that DePetro's numbers were in the toilet. I'm more inclined to buy the pragmatic words of Alex Jones, journalist turned academic.
"That seems like well within what has come to be acceptable language on talk radio. Certainly it's uncivil and rude, but when was that not what they were looking for?"
Yes, and for somebody to be listening. They weren't until he stepped over the line -- again. This wasn't about justice (though I shed no tears for DePetro). It was about the cash.


Blogger T-Bone Jankowski said...

amazing. I sit in an area I call "one mile to freedom" on the NH border, and continually hear how Massachusetts loves the freedom of speech, that is except when it comes to radio, more importantly WRKO. When people say there is no room for this "hate" I will always say that there is always room for hate. Unfortunately the point is clearly going on deaf ears when it comes to people who disagree. I'll break it down so liberal minds don't spin out of control. When liberals say something conservatives disagree with, we argue the point. When Conservatives say something liberals disagree with. . .it calls for firings, and more namecalling than John DePetro has ever done in his radio career. Grace Ross, is fat. . .and ::SHOCKER:: a lesbian. If you would like to argue that, I'd be more than welcome to throw a few slurs your way as well. . .fitting, and hateful at the same time. But I do love your page, much like I love Robin Williams. . . they both always make me laugh.

November 24, 2006 12:31 PM  

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