Editorial by John Ziegler

The Real Story Behind JZ Leaving KGIL

9/1/2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was briefly posted by the OC Register under the agreement that they would publish it in the Sunday paper. The Register took the article down and broke their agreement for no apparent reason. John Ziegler has written about the the details of that story here

 

It is rather ironic that I came out with a documentary film earlier this year called “Media Malpractice” (about the media coverage of the 2008 election) because the recent news of the demise of my talk show on KGIL radio has been butchered by the news media.

 
There was no worse example than how Gary Lycan chose to write about it for the Orange Country Register. Without even bothering to speak to me (despite me asking him to call me) he concocted quite an interesting and absurd theory that my show being removed from the KGIL lineup must have had something to do with Sarah Palin (the “star” of my latest film) no longer being Governor of Alaska and deciding against coming to the Reagan Library earlier this month to attend an event for which I was the emcee.
 
Lycan then implied that I had either stormed out or been kicked out of the studio early during my last show (I said on the program that I was simply playing in a previously scheduled golf tournament) and then proceeded bring up embarrassing issues involving my pending nuptials that could not have been less newsworthy. While thankfully the editors of the Register significantly altered this web version of the story after I issued an objection, the truth of the matter has still not been made public. 
 
Here is what I know of what really happened.
 
The little more than two months that I was on the air at KGIL could not have been more successful. Despite enormous challenges stemming from the station’s poor signal, the show broke several national news stories and had ratings increases that were extraordinary and exponential. The station put out at least two press releases praising me and the show. The station’s owner was so excited about the Sarah Palin interview I did my first week on the air that he left a bizarre voice message at my home instructing me to tell Sarah Palin that he would like to offer her the “opportunity” to do commentaries at KGIL (I made the executive decision to not pass along the “offer”).
 
Sixteen days before my last show KGIL was visited by the heads of the Talk Radio Network (syndicators of much of KGIL’s programming at the time) for a meeting which I attended. At that meeting TRN proposed syndicating my show nationwide 9 am- noon to go up against Rush Limbaugh on FM stations across the country. Even though the only reason I accepted the job at KGIL was the possibility of TRN syndicating it, I thought this specific idea was odd, but I was obviously listening.
 
The next week I was on vacation (in Alaska but having nothing to do with Palin) and on the Monday I returned just before my show word broke on the internet that TRN had pulled Laura Ingraham’s show from KGIL and put her on a new station in Los Angeles. KGIL was completely blindsided and clearly angered by the decision and after much debate decided that they were going to change the format of the station completely to music.  
 
On the morning of what would be my last show (something I suspected but didn’t know for sure when I came in that day) I was called in fifty minutes before the program and told that the station was going to an all music format immediately. I was given the option of doing my show at 6 am on the all music station until the first part of December (when KGIL could get out of the contract without paying me a dime) and as I tried to discern the details of how feasible or unfeasible this scenario would be, the owner of KGIL decided instead to just terminate my agreement and pay me out.
 
Since the station was going to all music and therefore this would not be seen as a firing or having anything to do with me, I decided to go quietly/nicely and in a few minutes with the station owner’s son we came to an agreement in principle over some minor details to ensure a friendly exit. I proceeded to do an extremely classy last show of which I am exceedingly proud. Since then KGIL has acted in a very different manner.
 
KGIL decided (without notice) to: not air the schedule rebroadcast of my last show, not change their format fully to music as they said (and still do claim) was going to happen immediately, removed the podcasts of all my shows from their website which they had agreed would stay up until December, and apparently stopped playing the ads for my film that they agreed to keep running until the same time. My lawyer is now handling this matter.
 
I have seen more than my fair share of fraud and deceit in the radio business during my long and winding career, but what I have witnessed over the last few weeks has shocked even me (something I didn’t think that was possible after my KFI experience). I have no idea if I will ever get another chance to go back on the air here in Southern California or anywhere else. Right now I am just asking myself why I ever would want to.      

 

(POSTSCRIPT: It is interesting to note that about the only person even marginally involved with this situation who has treated me with even a modicum of respect/honesty is, bizarrely enough, Rush Limbaugh. Rush has sent me several encouraging e-mail after learning of this fiasco. Also, it turns out that KGIL's final ratings under the talk format were by far the best in the modern hstory of the station)

 

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