Citizens for Civility and Accountability in Media, a community group in Fresno, is calling on radio station KMJ to alter its talk radio format to allow for a wider range of opinions on the air. The group says KMJ talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Ray Appleton are damaging the social fabric of the community and they want a return to civility in public
At a press conference held on May 20, Former Fresno City Council member and west Fresno activist Les Kimber said, “KMJ radio is the No. 1 radio station in Fresno and the entire Valley. The station has some 80,000 listeners out of the 1 million residents that live in the broadcast area. KMJ programing is dominated by talk show hosts that are exclusively biased in favor of a conservative anti-government and anti-President Barack Obama point of view, which in no way reflects the vast diversity represented in KMJ’s broadcast area.”
Ellie Bluestein, representing the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, spoke about an incident on KMJ involving a local pastor who has a talk show on the radio station. Bluestein said “on April 20 Reverend Jim Franklin attacked WILPF, a 100 year- old women’s peace organization as communists and accused them, along with Peace Fresno, as promoting terrorism.”
Bluestein also gave an example of KMJ host Ray Appleton, who made a threatening remark about a government official. “Last summer, Ray Appleton stated that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar should be given a reception with a 45 the next time he visits Fresno. These are inflammatory and dangerous expressions. We hope that KMJ will consider moderating their rhetoric and bring greater accountability to the views that they present as facts to the public,” Bluestein said.
KMJ did not directly respond to the press conference, which was attended by more than 50 community activists. KMJ General Manager Patti Hixon did respond earlier to the committee in a letter, saying “you have no right to dictate what other people may believe is topical, opinionated, issue-oriented radio.”
Fresno City College professor and KFCF radio talk show host Jean Kennedy, responding to KMJ’s refusal to moderate the rhetoric of their hosts, urged them to change course before it leads to violence. Kennedy said, “We are therefore appealing to KMJ management and stakeholders to please create more balance in programming that will balance out emotions of your listening audience unless it is your intention to start a bloody revolution by using the voices of their radio hosts to incite the listening audience to action.”
Limbaugh commented on the group’s activities during his program on the day of the press conference.. Limbaugh said, “KMJ in Fresno is being pestered by a typical ACORN-type group to get rid of its conservative talk show hosts, all of them, including me.” The Citizens for Civility and Accountability in Media say they support free speech and are not trying to remove Limbaugh or any other host from the airwaves. They are also not calling for a boycott of advertisers. What they say they want is more political balance and a return to civil discourse on KMJ.
For more information about Citizens for Civility and Accountability in Media, visit www.fresnostophate.org/.
Mike Rhodes is the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.