By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

DePetro blames it all on his wife

Former Boston radio talk-show host John DePetro, class act that he is, has decided to blame his wife for the book-cooking that resulted in his meteoric — and, as it turns out, fraudulent — climb in the Providence ratings.

It’s embarrassing all the way around,” DePetro tells Alisha Pina of the Providence Journal. “I don’t have a lot to add. My wife was asked to take part in a radio survey, she did and she shouldn’t have. It was wrong.”

Ratings for DePetro, the morning host on WPRO Radio (AM 630), had showed him zooming from 11th to fourth place recently. Now we know why. The six ratings diaries submitted to Arbitron by Kristen DePetro represented more than 3,800 listeners, according to the ProJo.

DePetro was canned by Boston’s WRKO (AM 680) in November 2006 after he referred to independent gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross as a “fat lesbian.” Worse than that is heard on WRKO every day, of course, but DePetro’s problems were compounded by his minuscule ratings. (DePetro’s bio on the WPRO Web site says that he “left Boston with much fanfare, and returns to Rhode Island as a well known name.”)

Looks like he — or at least his wife — tried to fix his ratings problem in Providence, and I mean that in both senses of the word.

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  1. jvwalt

    “My wife was asked to take part in a radio survey” — so she filled out SIX diaries? Doesn’t each surveyed listener get one diary to fill out? Maybe someone with more inside knowledge about the ratings can provide some insight.

  2. Aaron Read

    It’s not uncommon for the head of the household to do all the actual filling-out of the diaries…the theory is that dad (or mom) asks all the kids what hey listened to that day and writes it down for them.It’s a system that’s ripe for abuse, but honestly, what part of the Arbitron diaries isn’t? (shrugs) And it’s been around for decades.Still, you’ve touched on why everyone is so eager for the Portable People Meter.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Dan, we’ve been hearing a lot from you about the Muzzle Awards lately. Did you nominate WRKO for a Muzzle when they fired DePetro for calling morbidly obese homosexual Grace Ross a “fat lesbian?”I hope you did, for credibility sake anyway.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: I didn’t realize that (a) WRKO is owned by the government or that (b) DePetro had a First Amendment right to make large amounts of money while spewing insults to a listenership of thousands (well, OK, dozens) of people. Please enlighten us.I will defend to the death DePetro’s right call Grace Ross a “fat lesbian” on his blog, if he gets one, or while selling pencils on any street corner of his choosing.And come on, now … do you really think he’d have been fired if anyone had been listening to him? I wrote that he was fired “after” his remark about Ross. I deliberately did not write “for.” It was a convenient excuse.

  5. O-FISH-L

    Dan, let me be the first to inform you that 680, like the rest of the slots your AM dial, is owned and regulated by the federal government, all the more reason that the present operator of that space, WRKO, be nominated for a Muzzle Award for firing DePetro for telling a painful truth on OUR airwarves. By all means, WRKO had cause to fire Depetro for low ratings, so why fire him for telling the truth?

  6. Aaron Read

    Give us a break, Fish…and do your homework first: number of inquiries received at the Commission are from persons or groups who believe that there is a First Amendment, constitutionally protected right to broadcast. However, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled on this subject and concluded that no right to broadcast exists.The FCC (and by extension, the US Gov’t) does not OWN the airwaves, it REGULATES them. A substantial difference. Much like how the government does not OWN your house, but can regulate it in the form of zoning laws, local taxes, etc.Granted, this typically applies more to pirates trying to operate an unlicensed radio station, rather than an employee fired for saying things his employer doesn’t like. But the fundamental concept applies equally.I think you do have something of a case here: DePetro said something unpopular (not to mention, IMHO, pretty moronic; without even being something cleverly controversial) and his boss – WRKO – smacked him down for it. I also agree that WRKO’s timing smacks of “looking for an excuse…any excuse” to fire DePetro because his ratings were weak to begin with. OTOH, I think DePetro’s comments aptly demonstrate his lack of skills in being a conserva-talker. He never got good ratings because, frankly, I don’t think he’s that good. I hate Rush Limbaugh to the core, and I largely despite Howard Stern, but I don’t deny that both of them are masters at their craft. DePetro struck me as a wannabe fumbler who never would’ve gotten on a signal like WRKO’s in a market as big as Boston if WRKO hadn’t been flushed and swirling so badly in recent years.And while Grace Ross was not slim and, yes, a lesbian…pointing out two facts that really have zero relevance to her campaign, in such a childish manner, does not compelling radio make. Perhaps it was the final straw in a string of poor performances?(Yeah, I’m kinda kicking DePetro while he’s down, I know…but frankly, nothing I’ve ever seen or heard him do inclines me to stop kicking. Given what it does to my industry as a whole…this Arbitron nonsense makes me feel I should buy steel-toed boots while I’m at it!)To take another track: I think a little perspective is in order here: when there’s so many other cases of flat out government censorship occurring on a regular basis (hello MBTA!) and with consequences far greater and reaching far more people than DePetro ever did? Why exactly are you so bent out of shape on this one?

  7. Aaron Read

    Oops, I meant I despise Howard, not despite him. Typed too fast! 🙂

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: I don’t mean to disagree with you when you’re on a roll. But the whole theory behind regulation is that the airwaves are a scarce, publicly owned resource, which is almost the same thing as saying they’re owned by the government.I do look forward to the day when radio is delivered mainly over the Internet. With the scarcity rationale gone, there will no longer be any excuse to regulate what we hear (or see).

  9. hocky201

    Poor Johnny Deeps…..not since Randy Savage pulled Miss Elizabeth in front of him while running from Hulk Hogan has a guy showed so much cowardice. Anyone who partakes in an arbitron survey knows they call several times before, during and after your week……..we are supposed to believe Johnny at no time knew this was going on? They also send several mailings (usually stuffed with a few bucks), again…no knowledge? The Pontius Pilate routine doesn’t fly.Time to pack your bags, Republic….er…Independant Man.

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