The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 November 2009

Seattle Talk Host Caught Employing Suspected Illegals


Illegal Alien Scandal Hammers Final Nail In KVI's Coffin

Is this end of a once-mighty regional talk radio powerhouse? After a controversy over the alleged hiring of illegal aliens by a Seattle talk show host, it certainly appears that way.

The flap, first reported by the Seattle Times, could prove the final nail in the coffin of KVI-AM, a onetime political force that frightened entrenched Olympia politicians, pushed tax-fighting ballot propositions over the top and most importantly, generated tremendous ratings and revenue.

Note: your Radio Equalizer was part of the station's weekday lineup in 1998 and 1999.

The latest bombshell comes just two weeks after longtime morning host Kirby Wilbur (below left image) was let go in what station owners called a ratings-related termination. But the circumstances behind his departure appear in dispute.

Now, a Times investigation reveals an alleged pattern of illegal alien hires by afternoon host Peter Weissbach, a Canadian libertarian who crossed the border himself over a decade ago and became an American citizen. From their coverage:

A janitorial company owned by a local conservative talk-radio host is among the early targets of a new strategy by the Obama administration to thin the ranks of illegal immigrants by going after the companies that hire them.

Seattle Building Maintenance, owned by KVI talk-radio host Peter Weissbach and his wife, provides janitorial services in buildings throughout the Puget Sound region, including such Seattle landmarks as the Seattle Art Institute, Pacific Place, Metropolitan Park and the Dexter Horton and Westin buildings.

The subject of an ongoing immigration audit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, the company has been clearing its books by firing some of its janitorial staff — about 100 people so far — believed to be working illegally.

The probe of Seattle Building Maintenance offers an early glimpse into ICE's approach to worksite enforcement — stealthily targeting employers rather than workers.

It's a departure from the big splashy raids that used to play out on the evening news, with large numbers of immigrants being rounded up and carted off to detention, where many faced removal.

Now, workers are quietly let go by their employers, without the direct contact with immigration agents that might lead to deportation.

Of course, the Times certainly didn't overlook the opportunity to re-brand the libertarian Weissbach as a "conservative" for its damaging political effects. But there's no denying the incredible hypocrisy destroys what is left of KVI's credibility.

As for Weissbach, what was he thinking? Did he believe the hiring of illegals would be tolerated by his radio audience?

At the moment, he remains on the station's schedule, but it's unclear whether that will continue for long.

During its heyday, KVI was built around local activism-based talk radio in a remote region of the country that favors area issues over national news. At the center of that lineup, however, was Rush Limbaugh, who brought a tremendous audience base to the station. Earlier this decade, Limbaugh moved to a new conservative station, KTTH-AM, which has since become the region's largest commercial talk outlet.

With ratings once routinely in the top five for the Seattle-Tacoma radio market, KVI has fallen to twenty-fifth place in the most recent Arbitron ratings.

While KVI still features top-tier syndicated programming such as Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others, the absence of strong local personalities and loss of listener goodwill via these recent flaps creates a particularly uncertain future for the onetime talk leader.

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  • KVI has made a number of boneheaded mistakes. Cancelling Michael Medved was the first one, which I believe led to the loss of Limbaugh. If Medved hadn't already been at KTTH I don't think they could have stayed alive long enough to get Rush. Pairing John Carlson with that jerk Ken Schram was also a loser idea and then firing Bryan Suits. That was the last straw. I stopped listeing at that point and have never flipped back. At the time I wrote management and told them they were headed for the ratings slag heap they wrote back and basically told me to F*** off. Good Riddance

    By Blogger Chad, at 25 November, 2009 02:45  

  • I remember Weissbach when he was running KOGO in San Diego. Someone should tell him that this is definitely not a nigly.

    Is John Carlson at KVI or did he move on, too.

    I think Doug Glant was on KVI. He, like Carlson, was another TalkSpot host. TalkSpot was run by James "Bo Snerdley" Golden.

    By Blogger PCD, at 25 November, 2009 21:52  

  • PCD !!!I also remember Weissbach from the KOGO days!! I still have a "I was grilled by weissbach" coffee mug that I won on free for all day's.. Brings back memories..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 November, 2009 00:35  

  • anonymous,

    I was the guy that first tipped Weissbach off to the lawsuits and investigations on Bubba and Hillary. I faxed him documents, and he actually called me at home! A big deal at the time.

    By Blogger PCD, at 27 November, 2009 09:25  

  • John Carlson is on KVi's sister station KOMO-AM, he's paired with Ken Schram and the show is called The Commentators. I must confess I never listen. Part of their show is on during Limbaugh's show.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 November, 2009 19:27  

  • We don't need conservatives fighting on radio or any fashion. We are all against the Chicago Machine now in Washington.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 December, 2009 22:53  

  • I retired from the Navy and came "home" to Whidbey Island in 2002. It was a blessing to have KVI...I enjoyed Carlson, Kirby Wilbur, then Brian Suits (with the military background), and Hannity, then Levin. But then Suits was let go, Carlson paired up with Ken, then moved to KOMO, then Laura brought on (I can't handle the sarcasm) and now Kirby is finally gone. Hannity has become too sarcastic and repetitive; Levin is articulate but on during dinner. I'm switching to KTTH. The 2002 KVI lineup was great. It feels like the libs have taken over KVI and purposely run it into the ground. Sad, but glad I was able to enjoy while it lasted. Best of everything to Kirby & Co. I will miss his clarion voice.

    By Anonymous Clay - from Whidbey, at 30 December, 2009 12:00  

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