The Des Moines lightning rod that is J. Michael McKoy is proving to be just that. This week, six weeks following his ouster from his afternoon talk show at Citadel Broadcastings 98.3 WOW-FM, he was booted off the air at Saga Communications station Praise 940AM.
He had been on for less than thirty days.
When Mac contacted me early on Thursday morning I asked him what happened. He said, "More than anything I am embarrassed."
Embarrassed? What? Was there a story about a goat and Jim Beam I might have missed? No. He was embarrassed because the two hours that he purchased, for more than $40,000 a year so he could be "in control and chart his own course", was taken away because...according to McKoy, "They thought I was going to do a Christian radio show and because I had people on that were not Christian and who might have said some thought provoking things the powers at Saga Corporate told the local general manager to boot me."
And, that is exactly what Jeff Delvaux of the Des Moines Radio Groupdid. I contacted Jeff for his side of the story. Delvaux said, "He had a thirty day agreement, we made the choice not to extend the agreement."
That, we think means: "We have no comment." But does that also mean that McKoy was being truthful. I asked Delvaux. He repeated the corporate line and wished me well.
All of this brings up the uncomfortable reality that three companies control all (except one) of the 17 radio signals in the Des Moines market. And, guess what...none of them call Des Moines home. It's the same with the television market and the local daily newspaper.
But the deeper problem is this "Christian angle". IF McKoy is being honest in his assessment that he was booted because he had guests that were not "Christian" who talked about things other than Jesus... That is scary. Very scary.
Sure, any business has the absolute right to deny some aspects of conduct in their workplace. BUT...if McKoy is right and Saga dismissed him (and $40K...of income) because of being uncomfortable with other faith groups discussing religion. Ouch.
We think all of this points to the need to increase signal availability for this country and really start to take a look at the monopoly given to corporate broadcasters. Not to mention the issue of being in the business of censorship. It's not like the Des Moines Radio Group didn't know WHAT type of show McKoy did...after all he had been in the market for years.
There is an interesting twist to this story. Mac is still on the air at Impromptu Studio and UStream with Dan Shipton and Doug Mitchell. Sure you have to use your computer to watch and listen...but this form of broadcasting, as primitive as it may be, is something corporate broadcasters should take with more than a grain of salt. No longer does a bean counter at some HQ control all the content. And that my friends is a good thing.
What say you?
Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications