TIMES-NEWS STORY ON RUSH LIMBAUGH BOYCOTT

SO FAR, NO BOYCOTTS:  LISTENERS, SPONSORS, ADVERTISERS HAPPY WITH RUSH ON WHKP   

 Rush4

ARTICLE BY DEREK LACEY...HENDERSONVILLE TIMES-NEWS:

Advertisers on Hendersonville radio station WHKP are the target of a boycott from a local citizens’ group that is asking those businesses to withdraw their ads from the Rush Limbaugh Show. The group says the radio host has coarsened American political discourse and mainstreamed racism, sexism and homophobia.

A letter, sent by the group Citizens for Responsible Radio to area business that advertise during the Rush Limbaugh Show on WHKP, which runs from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays, says “As principled conservatives and liberals, Democrats, Republicans and independents, we have a moral duty to condemn this dangerous, divisive rhetoric.”

The unsigned letter does not include any names and lists only a Post Office box for an address.

WHKP President and General Manager Art Cooley says the only reaction the station has received from businesses and listeners has been positive. He added that none of the roughly 50 advertisers with ads that air during the show have made any changes to their relationship with WHKP.

The letter, he said, wasn’t mailed to the station, but to advertisers, including some who don’t advertise with the station at all.

Citizens for Responsible Radio does not have a Facebook page or website, and a web search did not yield any results.

In an editorial, Cooley says “WHKP is being attacked for freedom of listening choice. This is wrong. This violates the very fabric of our Constitution, which obviously includes freedom of speech.”

The radio station began carrying Limbaugh’s show after hearing about the broadcaster at a state broadcast convention 30 years ago, Cooley said. Limbaugh was described then as a politically conservative radio voice making a name for himself in talking national politics.

“We signed up to carry his daily three-hour radio show and his ratings literally went through the roof here in Hendersonville,” Cooley’s editorial says, adding that Limbaugh has become the most-listened-to voice in American talk radio with 25 million listeners a week. The show is also one of WHKP’s most listened to.

The letter says the group will vow to not patronize any businesses that continue to finance Limbaugh through advertising dollars. Limbaugh’s “angry tirades” have incited followers to bully and abuse his targeted populations, the letter says. It asks businesses to respond by returning an included self-addressed postcard.

In the letter, the group also says it will communicate to “neighbors, friends, relatives and all who will listen,” including on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

“The statement will be simple: This company finances the Rush Limbaugh Show on WHKP,” the letter continues. “The demographics of Hendersonville are changing. It is time WHKP and its sponsors consider compassionate, productive programming that acknowledges a diverse community, one more interested in finding responsible solutions to difficult problems than the misinformation heard daily on the Rush Limbaugh Show.”

Statements by Limbaugh listed on the letter include comments the radio host made mocking Michael J. Fox by saying the actor exaggerated the effects of his Parkinson’s Disease in a commercial, in saying that no “official data” shows a dangerously warming climate, and that “Climate change is one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on the people of the world.”

“Unfortunately, our First Amendment free speech guarantees allow deception, misinformation, and outright lies to be broadcast on our airwaves,” the letter concludes. “Companies who provide financial support through their advertising budget are complicit in spreading these lies. They are catering to a dying demographic. It is time to demand sane, sensible, positive programming at WHKP. Boycott these companies now.”

This is the first boycott the station has experienced, Cooley said, and so far it’s having no effect. He said the only feedback the station has received has been from listeners wanting the station to continue broadcasting Limbaugh’s show.

Over the years, he added, the station has conducted listener surveys, which have also given positive feedback about the show.

His editorial concludes, “We will never be bullied by the cowardly unidentified enemies of conservatism. WHKP stands by our listeners — our sponsors — and we stand by Rush Limbaugh.”