John DePetro is still on the air

The Providence Journal on “unapologetic” John DePetro:

The WPRO personality returned to the air Monday morning, sounding unapologetic and characterizing the criticism against him as an attempt by politicians and unions to stifle free speech.

“It’s very simple,” DePetro said. “Politicians and unions should not interfere and try to silence public opinion. Period. That’s it. … The last time I checked, this is still America.”

The “opinion” of one cynical talk radio epithet-flinger is not public opinion. Public opinion is the opinion of many; of the public; of everyone; it’s not the opinion of one opportunistic shit.

DePetro came under fire in November for his language in criticizing female protesters outside a fundraiser for General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo. The Providence Democrat and gubernatorial candidate has drawn the ire of organized labor for authoring the 2011 state pension overhaul that unions are challenging in court.

Talking about the protesters on his show, DePetro said: “What a disgrace. You are an embarrassment. …You are parasites. You are cockroaches. You lie. You are union hags. There’s another word I’d like to use … it begins with a W. and an H. and an O. and an R. and an E. and an S. See if they can spell that.”

He has a legal right to say that; saying that is not a crime. It does not follow that he has a right to say it on a particular radio station.

Following his comments, a union-backed group called For Our Daughters RI created a petition on asking that local jewelry maker Alex and Ani pull its advertising from the radio station until DePetro was fired. The company declined, though at last count almost 6,700 people have signed the online petition.

I just signed it. It’s here.

In addition, political leaders from both parties said they would not appear on any WPRO show unless DePetro were removed. Some others, including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, said they would not appear on DePetro’s show, but would appear on others on the station.

The drive to remove DePetro will continue in earnest, with more advertisers being asked to boycott the station until he is removed, said Maureen Martin, chairwoman of For Our Daughters RI, who is also political activities director of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals.

“We’re rolling it out,” said Martin, “as long as this misogynist is on the air.”

The station “made some sort of business decision, I presume” to keep him, she said, “but I think he’s bad for business, and he’s going to be worse for business.”

Martin said For Our Daughters will also mount a campaign to get political candidates not to advertise on the radio station.

Noting that DePetro’s contract is set to expire in March, “clearly the timing couldn’t be better,” Martin said. “Maybe it gives a time span to work with.”

It’s late April and he’s still there, so that means his contract was renewed. That’s disgusting.



  1. dmcclean says

    There seems to be a hell of a lot of money in the professional broadcast asshole market. I don’t quite understand why that is. Are people really buying a lot of gold and commemorative coins and “male enhancement” pills from the weird companies that advertise on this crap? (or the ones that did when I used to live in nowheresville, PA and had to switch radio stations every ten minutes because of mountains?)

  2. Pteryxx says

    There seems to be a hell of a lot of money in the professional broadcast asshole market. I don’t quite understand why that is.

    I’ve found it instructive to go digging into the ownership of these stations. Pulling advertising from one particular station when its local asshole goes viral doesn’t matter to a broad investment network with national airwave presence.

    WPRO is owned by Cumulus Media.

    Wiki list of stations owned by Cumulus

    The following is a listing of radio stations owned by Cumulus Media. Cumulus is the second largest radio station operator in the United States, owning or operating 505 stations in 120 markets as of September 16, 2011.

    From Cumulus’s own company page: Source

    Since its founding in 1998, Cumulus has continuously grown through approximately 150 M&A transactions and is presently the fastest-growing radio company in the US. We are the second largest operator of radio stations, currently serving 110 metro markets with over 525 stations. Our Q3 2011 purchase of Citadel Broadcasting added over 200 stations and increased our reach in 7 of the Top 10 US metros. In addition to the station group, Cumulus acquired the Citadel/ABC Radio Network, which serves 4,000+ radio stations and 121 million listeners, in the transaction. Cumulus Media, Inc. is listed on NASDAQ under CMLS.

    Then have a look at the names and bios on their Executive and Director page. Starting at the top

    A second generation broadcaster, Lew founded Stratford Research in 1985 and built the company into a leading provider of market research and strategy consulting to the radio and television industries. He is also the author of The Franchise – Building Radio Brands, published by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in 1994 and is one of the industry’s leading texts on competition and strategy.

    As Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Dickey is responsible for Cumulus’ company’s sales, programming, marketing, promotion and engineering. Prior to joining Cumulus in 1998, he served as Director of Programming for Midwestern Broadcasting from January 1990 to March 1998. Mr. Dickey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University. Mr. Dickey is the brother of Lew Dickey.

    Since January 2007, Mr. Everett has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a national, nonprofit research and public policy institution located in Washington, D.C. Prior to 2007, and for more than eighteen years, Mr. Everett had been a partner with the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Paul, Hastings LLP, where he headed the firm’s Federal Legislative Practice Group. He had previously worked in the U.S. Senate for more than a decade, including serving as a staff director and chief counsel of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

    Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Denning was an attorney with Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC (“DL&A”) within DL&A’s corporate practice group in Atlanta, advising a number of media and communications companies on a variety of corporate and transactional matters. Mr. Denning also spent four years in DL&A’s Washington, D.C. office and has extensive experience in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission.

    Mr. Marcus joined Crestview Partners, a private equity firm, in 2004, and currently serves as head of the Crestview Partners’ media and communications group. Prior to joining Crestview Partners, Mr. Marcus served in various positions in the media and communications industry, including as president and chief executive officer of AMFM Inc. (formerly Chancellor Media Corporation), one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasting companies, and as founder and chief executive officer of Marcus Cable Company, a privately-held cable company.

    Found one woman on the board:

    Alexis Glick was Vice President of Fox Business News, where she helped launch the largest cable news network in history and anchored “Money for Breakfast” and “The Opening Bell.” Glick has interviewed some of the world’s most recognized leaders and newsmakers across politics, business and sports, including President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Ken Chenault and Tiger Woods, among others.

    Read through the entire list. Political positions, equity firms, investment banking, aggressive acquisition, corporate law. Also note that out of 17 executives listed, only one is a woman, every single photo is of a white man, and all of them appear to have classic white-exec sounding names. Some mention hiring each other as friends. Their Careers page says they’re an Equal Opportunity Employer.

    This is typical of radio stations these days, because of slack FCC rules allowing a few giant companies to buy up radio markets. It’s also typical of investment fund based business in general, where it doesn’t matter what the business actually *is* as long as it can be consolidated, dominated, and milked for financial instruments.

    from Eric Garland’s article Parasite Economy:

    In the final analysis, this is less about business sense and more about business domination. There are dozens of industries that have been locked up by a few players in this way: mortgages, cars, pharmaceuticals, retail, you name it. Since the chances of antitrust suits under “leaders” like George W Bush and Barack Obama are so low, the tiny tranche of society with all the money can run a time-worn playbook – consolidate companies, squeeze vendors, push manufacturing overseas, lower wages, wash, rinse, repeat, discard. The numbers of the business – which suck in GC’s case – do not matter as much as control of yet another industry.

    In the case of radio, there still appears to be an operative purpose to the industry – providing advertising, particularly political advertising, across huge swathes of the country. Dark-money PAC networks pour money into those ad campaigns, which makes earnings for the radio and TV stations.

    Given that board and that situation, I don’t expect receptiveness to any sexual harassment or employment discrimination complaints beyond the lowest levels, if that. Much less allowing their stations to have programming or personalities with anything good to say about liberal or progressive concerns. They do mention hands-on oversight of local stations as a selling point for the company, so it’s not like they don’t *know*. Obviously they have some editorial control.

    IMHO, the public outcry needs to be about more than local advertisers. The politicians refusing to appear on the station should pull their parties’ advertising, too, and THEY should put some pressure on the station’s corporate leadership. Outside of investment funds, local politicians are the customer base.

  3. Pteryxx says

    (I put too many links in my previous again… Ophelia, if you would?)

    Also, something Steve Ahlquist said in his article that Ophelia linked yesterday:

    There is no meaningful distinction between WPRO news and talk

    Maybe I’m slow, but one day I realized what was really going on: The news side supplies audio clips of interviews to the talk side for use during their shows. I can decide to only speak to the WPRO news reporters, but there’s nothing stopping John DePetro, Buddy Cianci or Matt Allen from taking clips from the interview and using it on their program. People can make the talk side/news side distinction all they want, and it certainly saves the news side people some embarrassment to make the distinction, but in truth there is no distinction at all. You can’t appear on WPRO without the possibility of John DePetro using your words against you in some unsavory and misleading way.

    Again, given the corporate selling point that they exercise hands-on management of local markets, it’s very unlikely that they don’t know this practice is going on, or have opinions about it. There used to be an FCC regulation called the Fairness Doctrine:

    The Fairness Doctrine, as initially laid out in the report, ”In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees,” required that TV and radio stations holding FCC-issued broadcast licenses to (a) devote some of their programming to controversial issues of public importance and (b) allow the airing of opposing views on those issues. This meant that programs on politics were required to include opposing opinions on the topic under discussion. Broadcasters had an active duty to determine the spectrum of views on a given issue and include those people best suited to representing those views in their programming.

    Additionally, the rule mandated that broadcasters alert anyone subject to a personal attack in their programming and give them a chance to respond, and required any broadcasters who endorse political candidates to invite other candidates to respond. However, the Fairness Doctrine is different from the Equal Time rule, which is still in force and requires equal time be given to legally qualified political candidates.

    The FCC revoked the rule in 1987 and, under Obama in 2009, scrapped it permanently.

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