The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

11 November 2004

The Belling Situation Deteriorates

Mark Belling, the suspended WISN/Milwaukee talk show host I wrote about a couple of days ago, has seen his career situation take a turn for the worse. Belling, who remained on the air for a week after using the term "wetbacks" on his show, has now seen a local TV station pull the plug on his weekly show. For now, his newspaper column remains, but that could be just as shaky.

More and more the situation looks to be very disturbing for talk radio hosts nationwide. Belling apologized for his on-air slur but the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been relentless in pressuring advertisers to drop any associations with him or his programs.

Aren't Chambers of Commerce specific to race or ethnicity just as unnecessary in our society as the language Belling used on the air in the first place? Dividing businesses in such ways is exclusionary and injects a negative tone into community relations between groups.

Meanwhile, for Belling, it is unclear when he will return to WISN. Clear Channel said Wednesday that he would not be fired but they would not say when his suspension would end.

A talk radio progammer I spoke with yesterday about the situation said that Belling is not known for careless language or behavior on the air. If so, the programmer told me, he wouldn't have been invited to fill-in for Rush Limbaugh on several occasions.


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