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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Racial Justice
Groups Demand End to 'Hate Radio'
Home grown radio host under attack in Portland.
Michael Savage's nationally syndicated radio show is so filled with hate and bigotry that it could incite violence against immigrants and minorities, a coalition of area church and civic leaders contended Wednesday.
The coalition demanded an end to what they call "hate radio" and called on radio station KXL, owned by billionaire Paul Allen, to drop Savage's show, called "Savage Nation."
"We urge those who have the privilege of shaping public opinion that ... words can indeed hurt and can incite people to actions that result in injury and even death," said David A. Leslie, director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, one of the coalition's members.
Button worn at news conference by opponent of a program on KXL Radio. (KGW Photo)
Tom Nelson, another spokesman for the coalition, called Savage Nation's contents "an unbroken stream of hate and chauvinism directed against women, people of color, liberals, immigrants and in particular people of Middle Eastern heritage and people of the Muslim faith.
"We condemn this message of hate," he said.
Savage said the coalition's descriptions of him as a racist and a bigot are nothing but an attempt to shut him up.
"If they are calling me these names ... they are interfering with my ability to earn a living, and I may sue them," he said in a telephone interview from his home in northern California.
"I don't cave in," Savage said.
The Coalition Against Hate Radio consists of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Interfaith Councils of Greater Seattle and Greater Portland, the Islamic Societies of Southwest Washington and Portland, the Multnomah County Democratic Party, the Muslim Educational Trust, Oregon Friends of the Middle East, Jews for Global Justice, the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Centro Cultural and several other churches and groups.
Wajdi Said, executive director of the Muslim Educational Trust, said the coalition would hold Savage legally responsible if any views broadcast on his show incited listeners to acts of violence.
Savage called his critics "radical leftists" who themselves are filled with hate.
"They have every right to hate what I say. That's what talk radio is all about: disagreement," Savage said. "That's what the Bill of Rights is all about: disagreement."
Savage, who has worked as an ice cream factory worker, busboy, lifeguard, writer and scientist, is the most popular radio talk show host in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is heard on more than 350 radio stations across the nation. He would not say how old he is.
His Web site, http://www.paulreveresociety.com, says he holds master's degrees in medical botany and medical anthropology and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in epidemiology and nutrition science. He has written 18 books, including The Savage Nation and Herbs That Heal.
In Portland, Savage's show is featured on KXL during afternoon drive time. KXL broadcasts news, talk, weather and traffic 24 hours a day to an audience from northern Oregon to southern Washington.
Tim McNamara, the station's general manager, said he had received seven letters of complaint about Savage's show 5 of which were identically worded, along with hundreds of letters of support. "I have absolutely zero advertiser resistance," he said.
McNamara said he offered Savage's critics air time but they declined.
In addition to KXL, Paul Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks, the Rose Garden in Portland and Portland's hometown team, the Portland Trail Blazers.
"That is one of the main reasons for going after KXL," said Mona Goode, a spokeswoman for the coalition.
She contended that by broadcasting Savage's show, the message KXL sends to minorities and immigrants, "in particular to all people of Middle Eastern ancestry and to Muslims, is that you are not wanted in this country, that you have no value and that you should not expect any respect here."
Members of the coalition said they will ask corporate advertisers to withhold their support from KXL until the station drops Savage.
"We're going to engage with the corporations that advertise on the radio station and appeal to their sense of corporate responsibility," Goode said.
"In a sense, Michael Savage has done us a favor. He's kind of united the coalition in and of himself," she said.
Michael Nank, a spokesman for Vulcan Inc., Allen's Seattle-based holding company, said Tuesday that Savage's views are his alone, and do not represent the station or its corporate owners.
Other than that, he said, "KXL is the broadcaster, and any day-to-day decisions are addressed by the station there."