In the 2010–2011 General Catalog of CSU Fresno, under the headline “Diversity,” University President John Welty wrote that Fresno State “is not immune to issues of racial intolerance or gender and sexual orientation intolerance that have surfaced across the country…As a university, we have the clear obligation to ensure equal access and opportunity for all to participate in education and university life…We need everyone’s participation in our efforts to promote an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation that is free from bigotry and intolerance.”
He further refers readers to a quote from an internal report that states, in part, “The University is therefore committed to maintaining an environment free from discrimination and harassment.”
These statements represent an ideal that the university, as a center of cultural and intellectual life for the whole Fresno area, rightly espouses.
Meanwhile, we at Citizens for Civility and Accountability in Media (CCAM) have been working for more than a year to bring to public awareness the antithesis of this ideal as enacted on the large stage of KMJ radio. We have been highlighting the 90-plus hours a week of prime-time commentary they air featuring a one-sided, nonfactual rhetoric that ridicules many minorities and teaches that anyone opposing their endorsed viewpoint is not worthy of respect or attention. It is the kind of rhetoric demonstrated to be capable of inciting unbalanced people to hatred and even violence.
So it amazes us of CCAM that KMJ is, in essence, being supported by the very university whose mission statement opposes the intolerance practiced on KMJ’s airwaves. For the fact is that all Fresno State’s major sports are licensed out for broadcast on KMJ, which in turn publicizes itself as “the home of the Bulldogs.”
We, along with other groups and individuals, have approached President Welty with our concerns about this anomaly. In his response to a letter I wrote on behalf of the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, Dr. Welty wrote, “I have expressed my displeasure with the quality of some of KMJ’s programming and I will continue to do so in the future as appropriate. Unfortunately, talk radio has become very irresponsible.”
Equally unfortunate, however, is Dr. Welty’s stance that the university’s hands are tied in this matter because a long-term contract was entered into through an intermediary, Bulldog Sports Property, based solely on financial considerations. In contrast, we believe that, at the very least, the university should be actively and publicly distancing itself from KMJ’s main programming and insisting that the incidental connection not be exploited as a selling point for the station’s other programming. And the university needs to tell Bulldog Sports Properties that it cannot sign a contract on behalf of the university that contradicts the very policies and core values of the university with regard to diversity and fairness.
Therefore, we urge students, staff, alumni and members of the public to let university officials know that Fresno State is a public institution—our institution—that must not be affiliated with the content of KMJ’s commentators. And if there are any lawyers out there, can a contract found to be detrimental to the very mission of the university be subject to renegotiation or rescission?