The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

11 January 2005

Update: My Rathergate Connection

It occurred to me today that I haven't been writing about radio hardly at all to this point, I've been so caught up with politics recently.

But with the new release of the CBS/Rathergate report, I thought I would update readers on what happened with my own Rathergate flap in September, as I still hear from people wondering whatever became of it.

At the time I had a strong sense that I was removed from Seattle's KIRO radio, a CBS affiliate and regional newsroom, because I had sharply and harshly criticized Dan Rather on the air. All of the signs pointed to this being the reason, but there was no smoking gun. I was clear about that to the AP, Fox News, and to the dozens of interviewers during that crazy week back in September.

What made it a story was the station management's strange and ever-changing reactions to questions they were asked by reporters about the allegations. It destroyed their credibility and
attracted the media's attention.

The central management contention, after two days of scrambling to figure out how to deal with the controversy, became to say that other hosts on the station had also attacked Rather and they had no problem with it. Then the excuse became that it was all about football scheduling conflicts (that's when I really started getting mail from people who said they looked like liars).

KIRO received at least 1000 email complaints about my firing that I can confirm, there may have been more and I know there were hundreds of phone calls as well.

Later, the smoking gun did emerge and several inside sources let me know: that is, that management had no idea others had attacked Dan Rather and went around their building asking if anyone was aware of other on-air people doing so. They were looking for "evidence" to back up their assertion that they knew all along several people were going after Rather.

They huddled in their offices on a Sunday, because the story broke on a Saturday, and tried to figure out what to do. Meanwhile the phones were ringing off the hook all over the facility. The most clever strategy they came up with was to have "conservative" hosts (worried about being the next to get canned) go after me in public.

It didn't work, for a number of reasons, and I base that on the feedback I got from listeners and conservative activists. Number one, it was about three days into it that they finally got that act together and the story was starting to cool down.

Second, a couple of the people they sent after me weren't even KIRO co-workers, they were from another station. One was primarily a producer. They didn't have first-hand knowledge of the situation, so it was easy to shoot them down.

The supervisor who canned me, Ken Berry, was himself terminated about 10 days later. Was it because of the bad publicity? It isn't clear.

I learned a lot about the media, the lifespan of a news story, how people arrive at conclusions about you and your credibility and the dirty tricks of the liberal media. I thought I knew plenty about all of those things previously but I know now that wasn't the case.


  • Maybe KIRO management was looking to make changes after they saw the summer Arbitron ratings. Maybe that's why Maloney got canned, then Ken Barry. As for the flap supposedly caused by Maloney for attacking Rather, I thought radio stations liked controversy to generate ratings?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 January, 2005 03:54  

  • Station management never cited ratings as an issue at any point.

    Stations do like publicity but not this kind. Does CBS enjoy the attention it's getting over Rathergate? No.

    Thanks for your comment.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 11 January, 2005 04:21  

  • Hope that you have a radio niche or find one soon in a more conservative-friendly area. You know about the Governor-gate flap going on in KIRO's backyard and other conservative talkers have been taking up the slack for you on this one. There are several other local talk stations that are more successful than KIRO - one is a sister station.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 January, 2005 11:22  

  • I learned a lot about the media, the lifespan of a news story, how people arrive at conclusions about you and your credibility and the dirty tricks of the liberal media.

    You've got to be kidding. I don't have any idea why you were canned, but I think it is really stretch for you to blame the "liberal media." With conservatives accounting for 95% of the talk radio shows on the air, it's hard for me to think of you as a victim of the liberal media.

    By Blogger barooosk, at 11 January, 2005 13:53  

  • I don't have any trouble seeing a CBS affiliate getting panicked by having an on-air employee criticize CBS. Radio stations love what they call 'controversy' but it has to be about something other than themselves.

    I don't know how you went after CBS on this---if it was a Savage-type rant that veered in and out of sanity, or if it was a reasoned and analytical take on the responsibilities of CBS and Rather, etc. and how they were unethical. But if it was the first, they already knew you were a mouth, and if it was the second, they were just terrified of CBS coming back on them because you pointed out the elephant in the room---that they are biased, unethical, and unscrupulous. You bit the hand that feeds you, and you had to be punished. Ignoring, of course, the fact that your job is to present and comment on the news of the day, not sugarcoat an ugly truth.

    I commend you for saying what was really going on, in spite of the risk, and I hope you find a new position soon.

    Almiranta, choosing not to register because the eblogger registration is a pain.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 January, 2005 14:38  

  • Oh Brian..when will you move on??? You wern't canned because of your Rather were canned because you were a one trick pony who never connected with his audience and pissed a bunch of people off around you.

    On your next gig try to spend more time doing what you do best and less time stabbing people in the back. Listen to your own air check more than you listen to others. You might get another shot.

    I don't think you will have learned though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 January, 2005 20:29  

  • Brian,I thought you fell off the earth!Monson really went after you,I lost respect for him when that happened.Your damn good radio!!! The line up on KIRO is pure crap.Are you doing any radio? Greg

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 January, 2005 20:46  

  • You got fired for a significant dearth of talent and a rude attitude towards "underlings." Unpleasant demeanor is a sign of insecurity.
    I hope you can learn to like yourself, and not base your value on a job in a radio station. I hope you will look to other career options.

    Your voice is grating. You treat callers badly, not appreciating the agreeing callers enough (trundling them over and ignoring good points to make your own case again) and attacking disagreeing callers. You're just not a pleasant listen.

    Knocking Dan Rather might have been the straw that broke the camel's back, but I doubt it. You're just not worth keeping when your ratings are so low, and they can use that precious airtime better.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 January, 2005 13:30  

  • It's funny to watch a couple of the same inside people who went on the attack against me after I was fired, posting here, taking more shots, months later. Somehow I still matter to you. Why is that?

    I received an avalanche of listener emails after I was fired, and guess what guys? They didn't agree with you!

    If I was nearly as insignificant as they claim, I wouldn't have the ability to rile them up so much.

    I agree with the listener above who mentioned how much one host hurt himself by going after a fired person on the air, it only revealed his true nature to all who were listening. It doesn't look good to kick people when they are down. Now there's a "lesson" a couple of our friends will never learn. I love hearing about "backstabbing" from people who wrote the book on it.

    Again, ratings were never cited as an issue by management at any time. Had it been an issue there would have been ample opportunity.

    I'm very glad I chose to make this an anonymous forum. It draws in the insurgents, like al-Qaeda operatives right into Iraq.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 14 January, 2005 23:17  

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