The Herald’s Jay Fitzgerald (uh, not the Jay of “Jay who?”) reports that WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) has replaced trash-talking, Muslim-bashing afternoon-drive-time host Jay Severin with trash-talking, Muslim-bashing afternoon-drive-time host Michael Graham. (The Globe runs a squib in its “Names” column.)
Severin disappeared from the airwaves several months ago after signing a national-syndication deal with Infinity Broadcasting that kicks in next year. Coincidentally, the Long Island-based “live and local” host left the Boston mediascape at the same time that Globe columnist Scot Lehigh revealed Severin had falsely claimed to have won a Pulitzer Prize.
Among Severin’s numerous notorious moments in Boston was an incident that took place in the spring of 2004, when he referred to Muslims in the United States as “a fifth column” and told a caller, “I have an alternative viewpoint. It’s slightly different than yours. You think we should befriend them, I think we should kill them.” Severin later apologized for not making it clear that he was referring specifically to Muslim terrorists, not to all Muslims. But he also enjoyed an undeserved field day because the Globe inaccurately reported that Severin had actually said, “I’ve got an idea, let’s kill all Muslims” — wrong, but also a fair approximation of his actual words.
Trouble is, Graham has had his own widely publicized problems with making grotesque remarks about Muslims — and it is, in fact, the reason he was a free agent in the first place. Graham could go toe-to-toe with Severin in an offensive-speech contest, given that he was fired from a station in Washington this past August after referring to Islam as “a terrorist organization” following the London subway bombings. (No, it wasn’t just one off-handed remark. Read Fitzgerald’s whole story.)
Graham has posted a maudlin, self-pitying take on his ordeal here. Graham writes:
It is a new day, not just for my family and my career, but I believe it is an important day for talk radio and free speech, too.
It’s been three months since the Council of American-Islamic Relations demanded my removal from the airwaves and ABC Radio capitulated to their demands. In those three months, many things could have happened: If ABC had had their way, I would have been falsely labeled a bigot. Even worse, I could have given into their pressure and issued a false apology, abandoning my principles for the sake of a job (a very tempting idea whenever the rent payment came due). I could have been banished from the talk radio industry, deemed “unhireable” by the industry — which is what several radio muckity-mucks assured me would happen.
Instead, the talk radio industry rallied. KFI in Los Angeles led the way, putting me on the air the very week I was fired, a statement more about their values than my broadcasting abilities. I have had more than half a dozen job offers from excellent radio stations across the nation. Not one station — NOT ONE — demonstrated any reluctance at all to work with me due to fear of pressure from CAIR or because of ABC’s decision to fire me.
So I’m off to Boston to a better job at one of the most successful FM talkers in the country and I’m returning to afternoon drive, my favorite time slot. My family is excited about the move, Boston is a great city and I can’t wait to get started.
Well, isn’t that special? It’s nice to know that Graham’s First Amendment right to earn a six-figure salary at a government-licensed, cartel-owned radio station has been upheld.
As for Severin, maybe he’ll prove me wrong when his Infinity deal kicks in. Maybe he’ll even pop up locally — possibly on WBZ Radio (AM 1030), which is an Infinity-owned station. But I have the feeling that he might have blown the best media gig he’s ever had.
Perhaps I travel in the wrong circles (I’m reminded of the famous if apocryphal Pauline Kael statement that she couldn’t believe Richard Nixon had beaten George McGovern, since no one she knew had voted for Nixon). But I have heard absolutely no one say, “Gee, I really miss Jay Severin.”