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First Published Wednesday, 30th July, 2008.

by Marissa D’Orazio

WINA decided to remove the Savage Nation.

After comments blasting autism as just another over-diagnosed American problem, controversial radio personality Michael Savage has been dumped by a Charlottesville station. And for at least one local talk-radio host, the dismissal of “The Savage Nation” comes none too soon.

“As the father of a six-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with autism,” says WINA personality Coy Barefoot, “I was outraged. He clearly is spreading what I know to be outright lies about autism.”

“I’ll tell you what autism is,” Savage boomed in his July 16 broadcast. “In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’”

“Quite honestly, it came down to common decency,” says WINA program director Rick Daniels. “Although he was trying to make a bigger point, he didn’t clarify it at all. We took into account our listeners and some feedback we’ve gotten, and we wanted to do what was best for our community.”

While Savage’s syndicator, Talk Radio Network, found the comments merely “inartful,” Media Matters, a D.C.-based organization “dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation” agrees with WINA that the comments were out of line.

“I think he and the people who use the airwaves have an ethical responsibility not to be lying and not to be so hatefully offensive that they cause this much controversy,” says Ben Fishel, a spokesperson for Media Matters.

However, Charlottesville resident and long-time “Savage Nation” listener Linda McRaven disagrees. “Media Matters is looking for bombs,” says McRaven. “They’re not really valid critics.”

McRaven says that she’s a fan of Savage because of his fearlessness. “I call him a flame-thrower because he’s so passionate about what he feels,” she says. “He pulls no punches, and I really admire that. We are entirely too politically correct, and he just says what he thinks. In my opinion, a lot of things he says are right on.”

Both Aflac Insurance and Home Depot have reportedly pulled their sponsorships of his show in reaction to Savage’s comments, but according to Daniels, none of WINA’s local advertisers had made such a move— or even any comment— by the time of Savage’s removal.

Fishel is especially baffled by the way Savage’s comments might come across to parents of autistic children.

“Disciplining your child can cure autism?” he asks. “That is absurdly false and hateful, especially to these parents who have committed their whole lives to children with special needs.”

“Where do we draw the line with what is done with our public airwaves?” asks Barefoot. “What’s next, these kids with cancer should get up and walk it off?”

On his afternoon program “Charlottesville, Right Now,” Barefoot played excerpts of the controversial comments and shared his perspective. But the decision to remove Savage was the program director’s, not his.

“I think they did the right thing,” Barefoot says, noting that since Savage’s removal, WINA has received emails from around the country applauding the action.

In an email of his own, Savage tells the Hook, “The drug companies are very powerful and have worked very hard to silence any voice critical of the misdiagnosis of our children and the drugging of vulnerable minds. Sad the station manager is such an ignorant man.

Daniels says he has received what he called “overwhelmingly positive” reactions to the ouster, and only a handful of complaints, most of which he characterizes as freedom of speech concerns.

“There are hundreds of syndicated talk shows out there,” says Daniels, “and each one has the right to be heard, but we can’t run them all. We pick the best ones for Charlottesville, our listeners, and the community.”

On WINA– at 1070 AM– Savage’s program has been replaced with David Ramsey, who deals with get-out-of-debt and money management issues. “I think just about all of us,” Daniels says, “could use good financial advice these days.”

Savage added in his email that Charlottesville listeners could soon continue to hear his program on a station “across the street,” though Julian Hudson, Talk Radio Network’s affiliate director, could not confirm that any Charlottesville station is poised to pick up “The Savage Nation.” Dennis Mockler, general manager of Monticello Media, the other major radio group in Charlottesville, says his stations have no plans to pick up the show.

  • Jim July 29th, 2008 | 1:16 pm

    WINA was looking for a reason to dump Savage for awhile. He didn’t come on until 8 most nights, and was pre-empted for anything and everything. I hope 1260 picks up the show.

  • Music Lover July 29th, 2008 | 1:56 pm

    Good riddance of some really putrid garbage. No excuses or defense for him or his outright and unapologetic racism and bigotry.

  • Bill Bowman July 29th, 2008 | 2:52 pm

    Free speech has nothing to do with it. Savage has all the right in the world to stand on his corner and spew his filth, but he has no Constitutionally protected right to do it over the public’s airwaves. If that were the case, then we could all sue Clear Channel for our three-hour time slot.

    And I find it ironic that the same man who claims his “freedom of speech” is being violated is the one who would have what he brands as “liberal” or left-leaning journalists and politicians deported. I guess it’s only free when it’s Savage speaking.

  • Jean, Mom of an aspergers daughter July 29th, 2008 | 6:56 pm

    Way to go to your programming director! So many company executives just want to minimize things to avoid controversy. As a Mom of an aspergers daughter, I just want to say thanks and keep up the fight for all our kids afflicted with this lifelong disability.

  • TheSaneOne July 29th, 2008 | 7:33 pm

    It is about time that WINA gets some balls. Spewing has no place in radio and that is exactly what exists at WINA. From Rob Schilling to Savage, it is just plain irresponsible.

  • JRR July 29th, 2008 | 9:37 pm

    his is an appropriate move. I hope program directors across the nation will follow suit. Savage’s show is second only to Limbaugh’s in audience size. But, just as Rush has time and again been shown to be a less than honest and less than stellar person (I recall his rant on Michael J. Fox and his Parkinson’s disease), Savage should be left with declining ad revenue and an audience comprised of fools who will believe what he says. I challenge any program director anywhere to defend keeping Savage on the air for any other reason than a lousy buck.

  • Nancy July 29th, 2008 | 10:40 pm

    THANK YOU FOR SHOWING DECENCY AND COURAGE!! Good riddance to hate radio and Savage ignorance.

  • Wendy Pendarvis July 29th, 2008 | 10:53 pm

    I have a saying, Autism is not contagious but ignorance is. It is a shame to know that one individual who has the power of voice through radio uses it so wastefully. Autism is a brain development disorder which is not “over diagnosed” or “made up”. Over the last five years Autism has finally been made aware to the public. We are now being educated on the disorder and yet there are still people who are just plain ignorant to the reality that we have an epidemic and that simple understanding and knowledge would be greatly appreciated to the parents who are having to raise these children. It angers me that individuals who have the power of voice do not use it in a more positive manner. I bet Savage would think differently if he were personally connected to someone with Autism. I am glad to see that he is now out of a job. Maybe he could use his spare time educating himself instead of running off at the mouth trying to make a dollar.

  • Doug July 30th, 2008 | 1:15 am

    Savage is what he looks like; a sneering fat slob, mouthing off.
    I say shut him up, but good.

    Only thing that distinguishs him from a windbag barfly hollering over a pint,is that he is hollering over a microphone, inexplicably placed in front of him, -inexplicable as in; WHY?

    Like a bouncer must do with idiots that don’t know when to shut up, he was ‘escorted from the premises.’

    Problem is, there are many, many idiots like him. It could be said that, if it weren’t for the hordes of mental midgets like him populating offices of power and media, the real solution to autism wouldn’t be suppressed like it has.

    Remember, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Case in point? Bush was elected. TWICE.

    Savage is savagely stuuupid. Hit him with a shovel.
    It would be an improvement, however temporary and unsatisfying.

Source:  http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2008/07/29/wina-drops-show-over-autism-cracks/

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