Neal Boortz May Be Pulled from Virginia Radio Station
David Grant reports for the Collegiate Times that nationally syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz’ show may be pulled from Pulaski, Virginia’s WFNR AM for some controversial remarks he made in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.
Boortz echoed a theme expressed by many that the victims were “standing in terror waiting for (their) turn to be executed.” Station manager Scott Stevens was appalled, as were some Democratic members of the Virginia legislature. Delegate Stephen Shannon stated, “I feel (Virginia radio stations) have a sense of public responsibility in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy to exercise some restraint. What they did was let this broadcaster peel off outrageous assertions that somehow it was the fault of the students and the faculty members who were killed or injured…There’s simply no place for this out-of-state radio host to make such claims on Virginia’s airwaves immediately after this tragedy has taken place.”
Now, I find Boortz’ insinuations here outrageous because I don’t expect untrained, unarmed teenagers to do anything other than panic when confronted with such an unexpected and horrifying situation. Still, the point was well within the legitimate sphere of public debate, even if the timing was unfortunate.
I have only heard snippets of Boortz’ show, mostly by accident when scanning for something to listen to on road trips, and have no strong opinion of him as a commenter. Presumably, though, he’s interesting enough to draw an audience consistently not just in his hometown Atlanta but in a variety of stations that syndicate him across the land. And the idea that a show broadcast nationally can somehow be tailored to local sensitivities is just bizarre.
As with the Don Imus situation, it’s absolutely within the right of businessmen to decide what programs to air and hosts to employ. If Grant believes taking Boortz off the air and replacing him with another host is the thing to do, it’s his call. But I find firing people who are hired as controversial commentators for making controversial comments troubling.