Friday, August 31, 2007

Chris Simmons Off The Air

I haven't given this nearly as much time as I should have, but some of you might remember Chris Simmons. He's a radio host on Battle Creek's conservative talk radio station WBCK, and he gets Congressman Tim Walberg to appear from time to time (most recently, on August 9th-- you can find the audio here).

Walberg must enjoy their little chats, because it's a friendly audience. It gives him a chance to complain about the "Democrat majority" without being challenged on any factual points, implying that those mean, nasty Democrats want to take away your cars and force you to ride bicycles everywhere. (Really, I'm not joking, that's what he implies in the first segment of the August 9th interview. In fact, the first caller spoke of the "socialists in our government." Yeah.)

Although he runs a biased program, Simmons is a good interviewer. He presents himself professionally as an objective reporter. But there's a problem: he's not.

Chris Simmons is also Tim Walberg's field representative in Calhoun and Branch Counties. That's right-- Chris Simmons is a member of Walberg's staff. Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?

But that's not going to be a problem anymore, at least not for a little while. Simmons has decided he wants to run for a Battle Creek City Commission seat, and his unfair advantage was immediately recognized by his opponents:

Following his filing as a Battle Creek City Commission candidate on Aug. 14, Chris Simmons announced this week he is taking a leave of absence as the host of WBCK’s radio shows “Hotline” and “The Saturday Morning Show.”

Simmons was last on the air on Aug. 18, according to WBCK General Manager and Program Director Tim Collins.

Simmons, 34, also is a field representative for U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton. Simmons is running for the nonpartisan Ward 1 seat against Robert Sutherby, owner of the Nationwide Insurance agency in downtown Battle Creek, and Jarrite Wine-Jackson, client service specialist with Employment Group.

The Federal Communications Commission requires radio stations to afford equal opportunity to all candidates in an election.

After Simmons filed as a candidate, officials with Jackson’s campaign said they filed a formal request with the station to remove Simmons from the air during the campaign.

A follow-up request for compensatory air time has not yet been filed, campaign officials said.

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Both candidates should get that time locked down soon. That is a really good boost to a campaign to have free air time. I'd bet they can even demand it be during his regular time slots.
Read today that WBCK and the other sister stations has once again sold and changed hands. Seems there is a revolving door of owners there. I think the stations have changed owners about four times in the last five years. Radio is really volatile. Apparently Right-Wing talk isn't doing so well anymore. The station is all Right-Wing windbags, pretty much from dawn to dusk.
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