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KMJ, Rush Limbaugh, conspiracy theories and reaction to the reaction

In the past 10 days, I’ve talked far more than I ever expected to about KMJ losing shows from popular conservative talk radio show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Just how much fuss this would cause didn’t hit me initially.

You see, the day the news broke — that Premiere Radio Network (which owns all the shows) would sever its ties with top-rated KMJ and take its shows elsewhere — was the same day Justin Bieber came to Fresno. I was up to my bangs in Bieber Fever. KMJ, Limbaugh, etc. were just an afterthought. Well, until the next morning, when I woke up to way more e-mail responses to the KMJ story than my Bieber story.

Even then I still wasn’t prepared for what awaited me in the office Monday morning. Not just a full voicemail box, but quite a few doozies. I called people back, one by one, trying to help them understand the circumstances — that it wasn’t KMJ’s decision, that it wasn’t a conspiracy to silence conservative viewpoints, that Obama wasn’t behind it all.

Calls kept coming all day and by the time they stopped, I learned that the Bielebers and Limbaugh diehards had a few things in common: Undying fandom, a dose of delusion, regurgitated viewpoints and a knack for losing control of their emotions.

More than a week — and countless conversations — later, a few things stand out to me about the public response to this fiasco:

1. SOME OF THE STEREOTYPES ARE TRUE
I’m not one of those people who thinks people who don’t like Obama are racist. I also don’t believe that all liberals live off the government. I don’t believe in a world where all issues are black or white, where you align yourself with one party’s talking point or the other’s. I don’t believe we can paint all people who believe _____ based on the stereotypes that correspond with those beliefs. But I’ll be damned if some of these Rush Limbaugh fans didn’t have me re-thinking some of that.

Memo to Rush fans, please don’t try so hard to live up to the stereotypes about you. One angry person said to me, “Who made this decision? Was it a WOMAN somewhere?” Another decried this as the end of free speech and proof that a dictator runs our country. Between this and “Cougar Town” changing networks, obviously.

One gentleman continuously interrupted me as I tried to explain the behind-the-scenes radio stuff that contributed to this move — that Premiere is owned by Clear Channel, the radio equivalent of McDonald’s, and is likely putting the shows on a local Clear Channel station instead of a competitor. His every interruption had something to do with Obama.

Eventually I stopped talking and the guy ranted about about how we in the media want Obama to win the election. So much, in fact, that if we had proof of Obama raping a 6-year-old girl, we’d bury the story. His words. Someone else went on a diatribe about how we in the “lamestream” media are communists. Ya know, while I was being nice and helping him out. Which brings me to the next thing I learned …

2. SOME PEOPLE REALLY AREN’T INTERESTED IN THE TRUTH
I was amazed not just by how many people thought this was a huge conspiracy, but by how many of them almost refused to believe a narrative that didn’t include a conspiracy. Here’s an example of an e-mail I got:

I am sure you will be bombarded with letters such as mine from people who are informed of what the real reason is for this decision.  GEORGE SOROS and Multi-Media plus the evil leader of this country have wanted to get Conservative Talk Radio Hosts off the air so only the evil leader of this country will have the only voice…like Nazi Germany having Hitler being the only voice.  I am ashamed of you, the owners and management of this radio station that you would acquiesce to this kind of dictatorship.

Guys, this stuff scares me. It scares me as much as about anything currently going on in this country. Have we gotten so divided, so paranoid by that divide and so dedicated to believing in the divide that we fail to even accept the truth when it’s staring at us in the face?

This move was about one thing: money. Rush Limbaugh, being the top talent in AM talk radio, brings in it. So do Hannity, Beck, etc.

Premiere Radio Networks and Clear Channel are simply trying to make sure more of that money is funneled into its pockets. Especially in this era where media companies are finding it harder and harder to survive. In fact, if these angry people were true to their conservative ideology (instead of the fear-pushing talking points of their favorite hosts), they’d applaud the move as an example of a free-market economy at work. Right?

3. LOYALTY COMES AFTER LIMBAUGH IN THE DICTIONARY
I felt bad for KMJ. Legitimately. Which is weird, when you consider that KMJ and The Bee aren’t exactly friends. We’re competitors. KMJ takes shots as us on the air from time to time. So I could have very easily thought, “ha-ha, KMJ, sucks for you.” But after talking to a couple dozen people and reading about the same number of angry e-mails, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the station.

Mainly because of how matter-of-factly people proclaimed they’d ditch KMJ when Rush, Sean, etc. leave. “When Rush leaves, I leave,” was the general sentiment. Geez, what happened to loyalty? Maybe I’m in the minority here, but if a business did right by me for years and years, I wouldn’t be so quick to kick it when down. I have to imagine these same people, just a few weeks ago, would have called themselves KMJ loyalists.

If I can attempt a comparison: Let’s say you had a favorite restaurant. You went there every week. You proudly told people it was your favorite place to eat. You even knew some of the employees. But one day, you found out it wouldn’t be serving Pepsi anymore because Pepsi decided it was only going to serve its products in restaurants owned by its parent company. Would you automatically disavow the restaurant? Now, I realize that some people tuned to KMJ just for Rush and people don’t often go a restaurant just for the Pepsi — but still.

Who cares, you might ask? Well, think of it in broader terms. The situation reminds me of the Pat Hill saga at Fresno State. Remember how quick people were to turn on Hill? Remember how some people villainized him instead of at least celebrating what he did for the football program at Fresno State?

Let’s go even broader: This is symptomatic of one of Fresno’s unfortunate habits. We’re a city of front-runners and what-have-you-done-for-me-latelys. We flock to whichever chain restaurant comes to town, but let our mom-and-pop shops struggle. We celebrate big names like Rush Limbaugh, but shrug off the local guys who actually have something to say about this community.

In the case, we’re talking about KMJ and its parent company, Peak Broadcasting. While Peak is certainly not mom-and-pop radio, it’s not Clear Channel either. I’ve heard some KMJ listeners call the station and say they’d still listen. Good for them.

But the rest? Good luck not getting jerked around by Clear Channel and whatever plans it has for these radio shows you love so much.

Responses to "KMJ, Rush Limbaugh, conspiracy theories and reaction to the reaction"

floyd says:

f***in a at least they still have michael savage

AgendaBuster says:

AH…….. no one has Michael Savage. He is off the air due to a contract issue. Look for Savage to return soon.

Al_Bondigas says:

You’re kidding. Right Mike?

Most of these morons do hate Obama because he’s black. You ask them to give you a policy that they disagree with and they can’t. Your stereotypes are right on the money.

Good riddance to all of these right-wing hate-mongers!

Conlan says:

These listeners can’t fathom how their favorite shows could change stations unless there was a massive conspiracy, and people like Al here can’t fathom why anyone would oppose Obama unless they were racists (come on, even the *actual* racists are able to come up with some policies they disagree with by now). The state of American politics, ladies and gentleman.

Duke Basil says:

Milk the race thing…his almighty blackness (he is half white too you know) has nothing to do with it…his lies, his ineffectiveness, his arogance, the way he talks, doing TV shows before he does his job. …..and of course………LIES

Derek says:

I don’t get how people are worked up over a station and whether they’ll listen to it or not. Maybe I’m alone, but I listen to programming, not stations. If I like Rush, I’ll listen to him on whatever station he’s carried. Personally, I listen to a lot of talk oriented programming in the Bay Area and in L.A. via streaming. It’s not because I’m anti any Fresno station or show. It’s what entertains or interests me. Period. Why would someone get mad at KMJ or KVPR or any other station.

I try to find programming I want, and I will check local first, but after that, radio is wide open with streaming. People need to cool off. (And I don’t think it’s fair to paint a group of listeners or ideologies into one pattern. You didn’t hear from the Rush listeners who shrugged and know he’ll be on another station when he’s off of KMJ.)

Famous Whitewater says:

Best blog post I’ve read in a long while. Good job Mike.

Ernie says:

This is a great post, Mike.

I find it funny that people think the President is using his power to clear the airwaves in Fresno of conservative talk shows. “MWAHAHA! Take that, 5th largest city in California! Surely I’ll win this election now!” As he pets his evil-looking cat a la Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget.

Amy Querin says:

Well written. Great piece Mike. In other news, “I was up to my bangs in Bieber Fever” is one of the funniest things Ive read all week:)

Monica says:

Great post. You have to remember, Mike, these people ranting at you are the extremists, not the majority. And they exist on both sides of the argument. Conservatives have a few voices to rally around; the liberals have the rest of mainstream media to rally around. As one of the very few conservatives working in mainstream media today, I know what I’m talking about. So, yeah, right-wingers get a bit too riled up when it seems like their voice is being snuffed out.

I agree with you, Mike. The hate and partisan culture that has developed in this country is scary stuff. Well said: “Have we gotten so divided, so paranoid by that divide and so dedicated to believing in the divide that we fail to even accept the truth when it’s staring at us in the face?” Both sides are guilty of that. Hate and ignorance never accomplishes anything good. And yet, those are the two qualities that drive many extremists.

Aaron C says:

You REALLY see that all things are equal, that, on the left, some countervailing and prevalent extremist faction exists that is in any way equivalent to the rabid and legion right wing? What equals the Right’s widespread paranoid response to the daily torrent of racist, homophobic, anti-poor propaganda coming from the likes of Fox, Clear Channel, Premiere, etc. that the Right laps up like gluttons? Really?? Where goeth this extreme left full of mendacity and fabrications that have nothing to do with reality? Your comment is designed to sound oh-so-fair-minded but it’s a myth.

JJJ says:

Yeah, conservatives have it tough. They only have their top rated news channel and top rates talk shows to turn to. They also barely have a presence in the print world, with small fry like the WSJ barely getting the word out.

Kent says:

Amazing that people think it’s a conspiracy. Clear Channel could have done this anytime in the last 10 years. It’s unclear why they decided to do it now but Peak Broadcasting is coming out of bankruptcy and perhaps Premier Networks thought it was time for a change. Radio in the Fresno DMA is a $50+/- million market, and roughly $0.50 of every $1 is spent on KMJ. Clear Channel is absolutely betting on the fact people will follow these formats wherever they go and the advertising dollars will follow.

Aaron C says:

Good piece, Mike. It’s worth noting that Clear Channel is owned by none other than Bain Capital, Romney’s vulture capital firm, which has saddled Clear Channel with billions in debt. Since Clear Channel is hemorrhaging red ink, maybe that’s what underlies Premiere’s diversion of its programming to Clear Channel?

Lisa says:

How anyone can listen to hours of talk radio is beyond me. If a show spends more than two minutes talking I switch to another station that’s playing music I like.

AgendaBuster says:

~~~
How anyone can listen to hours and hours of records is beyond me. If a station spends more than two minutes playing records I switch to another station that I can learn something from.

Different strokes for different folks, I hope this person doesn’t vote! Can you just imagine someone who makes their decisions from 30 second sound bites.

Likewise, I hope people don’t vote based solely on what they hear on the radio.

Duke Basil says:

I voted based on the records of the persons involved…Obamas record is terrible…
…oh…and his constant lying.

Talk shows are good if they keep you interested in the subject matter. I like Hugh Hewitt….and was sorry to hear he is not available in the area…

Lisa says:

Lucky for you, I do vote. I also can make my own own decisions without parroting what a few people say on the radio. I actually make my own decisions on my own. Shocking to have a mind to oneself.

Stephen says:

I’m not surprised you spent so much wasted time on the phone with these people. You’re still just a young naive man, freshly fathered and still honeymoon-married. Your cynicism hasn’t set in yet.

Soon (VERY soon) you’ll be the next David Hale, gruff and barking all over the newsroom. People will still talk about your heart of gold and your talent, but they’ll fear you a bit when you answer the phone with a “THIS IS OZ, WHATTYA WANT??!”

wendy wilke says:

Thank you for your blog. I feel your coverage was not biased. I have a friend who believes all the things you stated about the right wing. I am sixty eight years old and I have never felt such derision and vitriole in the political arena. I hope that enough Americans can see the truth before them.

JJJ says:

Obama was in the valley right around the time the news was released. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. He clearly came to personally shut the talk station down.

In fact, you know what else was in town? The fair. You know what was missing? The fried stand thing. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. Obamas nanny state at work.

And now I read about a coffee shop closing? Must Obama ruin everything?

OMG, didnt the be blog system go down around the same time? Obama is everywhere!

Ryan says:

Mike, this is a reasonable and insightful piece of blogging. Thanks for your willingness to cover Fresno media so thoroughly.

Sharon Jackson says:

This decision for Rush to leave KMJ was made over an year ago. I love listening to Rush, so I will listen to him on whatever channel he is on. I still listen to KMJ. I believe that the Fresno Bee is a left leaning paper and subscription to the Fresno Bee are proof of it. Not wanting Obama to be president because of his race but his policies of changing America. I do not believe that he wants what our forefathers wanted America to be.

wendy wilke says:

the fresno bee is not left leaning. Again, Mike was only reporting something that had nothing to do with politics.

ed says:

you’re right, president obama doesn’t want this nation to be just like our forefathers did. he doesn’t believe that blacks aren’t equal. he doesn’t believe that we should own slaves. he doesn’t believe that only property owners should have the right to vote. he doesn’t believe that women are not equal to men. he doesn’t believe in denying women their right to vote, or control their own bodies. that obama, so crazy.

Susan says:

Well said Ed. Some people need to move into this century and stop being bigots. I, for one, am glad these hate filled shows are off KMJ. Maybe I will tune in again.

Michael Douglas says:

Susan, you and Ed are the real problem. You see racist bogies under every bed. Ironic because you of the Left used to accuse conservatives of seeing Commies under every bed! Aside from a tiny minority of wacko racists, such as neo-Nazis and KKK, the rest of us have long moved beyond race. And the sad thing is, we WOULD have a truly “post racial” nation — if only the Leftist zealots and “Civil Rights” leaders (who use alleged racism as the excuse for their power-base) would stop harping on race all the time. Know this — the One-Worlders, the International Socialists, who want to destroy America from within and take away our national sovereignty, are adept at keeping the racial fires stoked… just for bleeding-hearts like you. Susan, you and Ed are perfect examples of the type of deluded liberal who these Socialists “use” to accomplish their goal. Wake up! No one cares what race Obama is — but we deeply care that he is a hard-core Socialist of the Left, trying to destroy America and merge us into a world super-state. I say NO WAY!!! To you, to Ed, and especially your “hero” the Socialist Obama!!!

Mark Tea says:

And which party is it that insists it is absolutely necessary to keep doling out government benefits, jobs, and promotions on a racial quota basis? Go take a walk around Oakland if you want to see where this leads. Or D.C. outside of the museum piece places where they have extra federal police, enjoy the protections of “town clown” PC police.

Whites are a minority in California. They are only 25% of the youth age group relevant to entrants to the labor market. What the psychotic liberals have done is impose a new “Jim Crow” system which isn’t even based on historical precedent in the case of this state, which actually had a good record on non-discrimination until the quota-maniacs took over.

Want to take a guess what year the University of California admitted it’s first Asian American?

1892. (A Japanese from Berkeley).

First black?

1920 can be verified but there might have been earlier ones. Hispanic? 1892 also but he was actually from Colombia.

But the U.C. defended the outright anti-white quota system it imposed in 1970 all the way to the Supreme Court in the Bakke case. Then they went right back to it under the cover of “goals” and “timetables” until the voters stopped by ballot initiative (which the communists in Sacramento are now dying to kill off).

BTW:you won’t find one shred of evidence of the presence of “minorities” in the “scholarship” that is produced by the departments of Ethnic Studies at the U.C. That’s right they have failed to document their own history in the University–because the truth isn’t racist enough to suit their political demands!

Kevin says:

God drives people to do, say and think the most dispicable and inexplicable things since the dawn of time.
Keep doing what you do as long as your health and sanity allows you. We need more people calling out these f***ing yahoos. Thanks.
“Preach it” Mike.

CL says:

God doesn’t drive people to do these things…. their own low self esteem and need to be “part of something” does. So what do they do? They join a church ( many of which have very little to do with God) and then follow everything told to them by a human who can twist the bible to fit any agenda.
It’s hard to take responsibility for oneself. It’s hard to make a decision based on facts at hand. It’s much easier to have someone else tell you want to do and what to think….and then call it faith.
…..
Please don’t blame God for the evils of man….. man has done that all by himself and simply found the best scapegoat for it.

Dale Stewart says:

How does Peak with the highest rated talk show guy, Rush Limbaugh go bankrupt?

Susan says:

Bain would be your answer. They have killed a lot of companies. Ask Romney!

Michael says:

In regards to the comment that there are whackadoos on both sides, I don’t really agree. I have never personally encountered or witnessed the hate and ignorance that I have seen on the right ever from the left. As Bill Maher said.. Not all Republican’s are racist, but if you are a racist these days, you are probably a republican. Politics aside, it is scary when the obvious truth and facts are ignored for once that becomes the norm, I fear we will as a society begin to lose the what once was basic ability to differentiate up from down.

Michael Douglas says:

You must be living in a different solar system from the rest of us. I have never heard “hate speech” from Republicans or Conservatives — just plain talk on how the Left is destroying America. Yet Leftists are full of hate-filled talk, including your “hero” Bill Maher. Everything that spews from that hard-core Socialist is filled with venom and vitriol. That’s why he’s so popular to the Left. And perhaps you missed the last election, where the Left savaged Mitt Romney? And certainly you missed the 2008 election — where the Left used the most filthy hate filled speech against Sarah Palin I’ve ever witnessed in my life. You obviously have suffered a lifetime of brainwashing by Leftist-Socialists, without any real education about America, our laws, our customs, and our way of life. So how can you defend something you were never taught about. Sir, I pity you.

Kristen H says:

What I’m wondering is, where are all the people bemoaning the loss of Coast to Coast AM? This is, in my opinion, the greatest blow by far. :)

Lisa says:

I also have a bone to pick with country-music loving people. I happened to like when Alice was on 102.7. When it moved down the dial I got worst reception. Conspiracy. I tell you.

e. field says:

‘..Bielebers and Limbaugh diehards had a few things in common: Undying fandom, a dose of delusion, regurgitated viewpoints and a knack for losing control of their emotions..’

…awesome statement… (though I think Rush’s fans were/are known as ditto-heads.)

…I would also hope the two pools of followers smell different, (though I don’t want to be close enough to find out.)

It’s always gotten to me, every once in a while someone will torture me by having the local hater-radio station on, (you’d think after decades of the rhetoric and venom, I’d have built a tolerance… sadly…)

It turns out, I don’t live very far from the actual broadcast station. The realization was shocking…
I’ve stood out on the curb, just a few yards off, and yet, it was so quiet and peaceful on the sidewalk… (the contrast was gorgeous… loudest thing being the call letters on the illuminated sign.)

Amazing thing to learn about the big ‘no.
On the surface, the quiet decent order of a midwestern prayer meeting in an orchard with folding chairs… two minutes of broadcasting and it’s the smell of kerosene torches, pitchforks, and mouff-froth…
(I guess it really does take a village.)

Cedric says:

You guys are all goofballs, including the the blog writer. Rush and the Hannity’s of this world survive because of people like you. It only comes down to one thing . . . money! And any station would welcome the likes of Rush and Sean. Take that to the bank while you follow your leader down the tubes.

Tim says:

Great post Mike. As a conservative, I find it funny when some conservatives take things too far. They don’t realize that we need to learn to laugh at ourselves once in a while.

Ash says:

Thanks for this article. It’s refreshing to see someone in the area with an unbiased, logical, informed opinion. Just when I was losing hope for the area I call home and have struggled to deal with the often bigoted close-minded opinions of many in the community, someone comes along with an intelligent perspective on a conservative issue. Thanks!

Michael Douglas says:

It’s been a couple months since PowerTalk came online, and KMJ went to all local programming. Anyone have any info on how both are doing, ratings wise? Personally, I haven’t tuned into KMJ since end of December, and probably never will again. I got so sick of hearing that braggart, bloated-ego, KMJ Queen Bee Ray Appleton! Wouldn’t want to even risk hearing him doing a commercial during someone else’s show. I do somewhat miss Chris Daniels and Inga Barks, but oh, well…
PS to Al_Bondigas who made the ridiculous claim that “right-wingers” hate Obama because he’s black — YOU, sir, sound like the hate-monger. We oppose Obama for ONE reason only — because he is a hard-core, far-Left SOCIALIST who’s trying to destroy and make-over our beloved nation. All socialism is alien to America, and is incompatible with our Constitutional system — the Constitution never alloted to government the power that Socialism needs to function. Period, end of subject.

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