The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

29 December 2005

New Details On Liberal Seattle Host's Removal


Webb's Many Flaps, Paper Reworks Story, Rhodes Parallel

For those regularly keeping tabs on the mainstream media, it's downright comical to see what a liberal radio talk show host must do to reach the point of career suicide.

After all, it's exceptionally rare to see a "progressive" talker fired over the show's content, as left-leaning managers often appear ready to swoop in and play defense. As much as it is terribly bad for business, many in radio unfortunately do sometimes let their own political stances interfere with good programming judgement.

When could a conservative host get away with any of this?

For exhibit "A", here's a Randi Rhodes flashback:

A spoiled child (Bush) is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little b*stard. [audio of gun being cocked].

No matter the cost to Air America Radio in the form of sorely-needed advertising revenue, the liberal outfit stood by Rhodes. Randi's outbursts have not been good for the network, as national sponsors ran for their lives during 2005.

For Seattle's Mike Webb, calling for President Bush's "execution" had no effect on his position. In fact, his show was subsequently expanded by an hour. Nor did his on-air hope that Ronald Reagan had "really suffered" before his death make any difference.

While it's hard to imagine conservatives getting away with similar rhetoric, somehow one of America's most extreme, hate-filled radio programs managed to remain on a major radio station in Seattle for years, despite marginal ratings performance. To find something similar on the extreme right, one would have to look to shortwave radio broadcasts.

Mike Webb was to the left of Air America's programming (even if his rhetoric sounds much like that of Rhodes) and once told me that San Francisco was too conservative for him. Even moonbats as extreme as Oakland's Rep. Barbara Lee and Seattle's Jim McDermott just barely met his approval.

In fairness, since I have a great deal of personal familiarity with the situation, I can say many KIRO managers over the years wanted to do something about Webb and tried to bring him under control, but failed. One reason: fear, given his loaded gun, erratic behavior and history of litigation against employers. Wasn't it safer simply to leave him in place?

Even after his arrest on insurance fraud charges, it was not clear he would be sacked. Would the station feel compelled to keep him in place until after the trial?

Funny enough, Webb's undoing began with the now-infamous June traffic accident that actually happened during his talk show. How is that possible?

It was due to his astounding regular habit of leaving mid-program to get drinks and snacks at a nearby convenience store while board operators ran 10 to 15 minutes of commercial spots to fill the gaps.

In the history of broadcasting, I'm not sure anyone else has been crazy enough to make personal munchie runs during a radio talk show.

Now, a real question that must be addressed is whether Webb is capable of hurting anyone. Yesterday, I heard from a worried station staffer and after my own observations of his erratic behavior, I'd say this is a question that must be addressed.

Especially instructive has been monitoring newspaper coverage of his arrest and termination, where a curious reworking of a Seattle Times story seemed to downplay use of the word "liberal" to describe his program.

In the earlier version, it's featured in the first sentence:

Local radio talk show host Mike Webb fired

By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter

Liberal radio talk-show host Mike Webb has been fired from his job at KIRO radio after he was charged earlier this month with making a fraudulent insurance claim.

A spokesman for KIRO confirmed today that Webb, who pleaded not guilty to the felony charge last week, is no longer with parent company Entercom and will no longer have a show on KIRO.

Attempts to reach Webb or his attorney for comment this morning were unsuccessful.

Webb was charged with making a fraudulent claim after an accident in June 2005, when his Lexus was struck by an uninsured driver.

In the subsequent
reworked version, note the changes:

KIRO radio host is let go after felony charge filed

By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter

Radio talk-show host Mike Webb has been fired from his job at KIRO radio after he was charged earlier this month with making a fraudulent insurance claim.

A spokesman for KIRO confirmed Wednesday that Webb, who pleaded not guilty to the felony charge last week, is no longer with parent company Entercom and will no longer have his liberal show on KIRO-AM (710). The spokesman did not provide further details.

Attempts to reach Webb or his attorney for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. Webb allegedly made a fraudulent claim after an accident June 28, when his Lexus was struck by an uninsured driver.

According to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court, Webb allegedly produced a forged document indicating he bought an insurance policy with Geico before the accident.

Even a watered-down story, however, beats ultraliberal rival the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has so far totally ignored it, save a mention in today's radio column.

Another reason to thank the Times: they finally gave credit to the liberal blogger who broke this story, Michael Hood of Blatherwatch. Without Hood, this news may never have emerged in the first place.

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  • No vending machines at Entercom's KIRO? Geez, their WRKO has vending machines so Howie Carr can get his Cheez-Its. My guess is that Webb
    may try to get on Air America or
    do a Net-only show (World Wide Webb?)

    Webb fired. But there is good news.
    He _almost_ saved a bunch of money on his car insurance by switching to

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 30 December, 2005 03:30  

  • I do know that legends have that Rock Jocks used to make rest-room runs while playing Inagaddadavida.

    During my collegiate broadcast experience, I used to run downstairs to the Rathskellar for a beer, I mean soda, but that's another story altother....

    By Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike, at 30 December, 2005 10:29  

  • You neglected one of Webb's Greatest Hits, Mr. M. In early 2001 he referred to President Bush's national security advisor as "Jemima" Rice. My complaints to Entercom, Webb, Hart, Ross, and the P-I's Paynter were ignorred.

    (Why Paynter? Ten years ago she was in full knickers-twist mode about Mike Siegel's retailing of rumors about Mayor Norm Rice. Sounding & looking like George Clooney, Paynter sputtered & spewed: 'Have you at long last, sir, no sense of decency?' Imagaine her reaction if Siegel had referred to the wife of Mayor Rice as Jemima. Now imagine her reaction to Webb; it's the same reaction shown by the P-I to Webb's current spider web.)

    I started the Lexus Liberal thread (this GEICO thing don't make a lick of sense) at Webb's Web site, and reminded inattentive readers about the Jemima episode. One helpful contributor posted the link to Webb's docket so we can follow the play-by-play & the instant replays. Another contributor assured us that Webb was set up by SPD because officers, who smile indulgently while Pride people simulate sodomy on flatbed trucks on Broadway, hate gays. Another said he was set up by the Bush Crime Family, a variation on the theme of the Marion-Barry defense.

    I noted that Webb is unlikely to find the BCF's one-armed man with the bloody glove on the grassy knoll because Johnny Cochrane is employed elsewhere.

    All sane posts to Webb's site, including mine, stayed up a miracuous few days during the miracle of the C*****mas H***day, then were swept aside by Benny the Broom, Webb's Website goon, who hates dissent & diversity. Like Webb.

    By Blogger sandalista, at 30 December, 2005 12:55  

  • Speaking of why one shouldn't make a munchie run during one's show, Notorious N-I-K of the Boston radio-info board gives another example, about a guy at K-Rock
    in NYC:

    "The building is an office building/sky scraper type typical NYC building. Krock is on the 14th floor, to get in you have to show an ID badge, downstairs with the guard, and then there are two electronic doors on the 14th floor both operated by card key. The first gets you into the lobby, the second gets you into the actual station facility.

    "One Sunday afternoon, Logan was on air, set up the audio vault to run the next 20 or so mins worth of elements and decided to go get a snack. Left the building without his card keys, could not get back in, called the FDNY who showed up with about seven trucks. Meanwhile there is dead air on air..."

    So FDNY gets him back into the station and said jock would have gotten away with it, only the _son
    of Infinity CEO-at-the-time Mel
    Karmazin_ is walking by and calls Dad.

    "Hey dad there's a bunch of fire trucks in front of Krock, do you know what's happening"?

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 30 December, 2005 13:10  

  • Rush Limbaugh's Oxycontin Runs have his millions of dollars in protection money. Nice to see Tom DeLay running in to the arms of a DEMOCRAT Lawyer to try to wiggle out of his misconduct, hmmmm....Raccoon mentions Nik Carter - didn't he get suspended for getting caught on the sex lines? Shades of Kenny Rogers (the singer, not the ballplayer, though both need to go to the back of the class), and Bill O'Reilly could only WISH he was caught on the sex lines instead of having to pay out lots of cash for his inappropriate behaviour. Why aren't the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush covering these stories?

    By Blogger wri, at 30 December, 2005 15:16  

  • ....yawn....

    By Blogger wise_n_texas, at 30 December, 2005 16:39  

  • Heck, I used to throw on a seven-minute song at Radio K to take a bathroom break. of course, that was my eventual undoing... Tough to get away with what that Webb guy pulled on non-profit radio. If I ever get back into the business, I'll have to remember to carry around my nickel-plated .45 for job security.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31 December, 2005 19:40  

  • Radio K?

    As in 770 Radio K in Minneapolis?

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 01 January, 2006 05:43  

  • Real College Radio, 770 Radio K, you bet. Boy do I miss it, I was really learning a lot, but made some stupid mistakes.

    I still like to listen to them online.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 January, 2006 11:17  

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