Friday, May 05, 2006

Brian Sussman Should be Fired

The President and General Manager of KGO/KSFO, Michael "Mickey to my friends" Luckoff, wants to meet with ol' Spocko. Last week the general sales manager for KSFO, Michael Black, sent me an email. It appears he was acting as envoy for Mickey.

The letter was odd. It started with the strange comment, "Against my recommendation, Mickey wants to meet with you." What was that about? Was it referring to a conversation they had?

"Don't meet with this punk Mickey, if you do, the terrorists win! If you meet with him, he'll know that we are getting pressure from ABC/Disney to can Sussman. Keep backing Sussman's hateful speech just like you did Savage in the good old days. Remember, like Lee Rogers said, here at KSFO we don't "ass kiss every Muslim cause that comes along"

Maybe Mickey will seat me in a big board room with a couple of henchmen outside the door and give me the speech that Howard Beale got from the head of the network, in the movie Network "YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And YOU WILL ATONE."

Maybe Luckoff wanted to arrange a meeting but will cancel it with some lame excuse like the time they didn't want to meet with the Marin students of The Branson School in Ross, after Michael Savage (then with KSFO) said that female students who come from Branson to feed and provide services to the homeless "can go in and get raped by them because they seem to like the excitement of it..."

They even offered me a chance to debate Sussman. Wow. Fame. It would be like getting on Survivor! Who could resist the shot at KSFO's huge audience!? Surely someone with 21 readers would jump at the chance to be bullied by the bestest used car salesman debater Brian Sussman! The ratings would be huge!

Thanks, but no thanks.

As Jon Stewart said to Tucker Carlson, "I'm not going to be your monkey". With talk radio the game is always fixed and the playing field is never level.

Maybe Mickey just wants to know what my "demands" are so he can appease me so Spocko's Brain readers and I will stop letting advertisers know what they are supporting when they advertise on the Sussman show. Perhaps he wants to tell me about all the "stern warnings" he and KSFO's Operations Manager Jack Swanson (who by the way is married to Melanie Morgan who is the occasional co-host with Sussman on the morning show) have given Sussman. You know, the ones have had absolutely no impact.

I guess I should have made my opinion clear months ago. Brian Sussman should be fired.

Frankly, it should have been obvious to KSFO's management and any civilized person, that his comments were beyond the bounds of decency and he shouldn't be on commercially supported broadcast radio.

At first I naively thought Sussman was being controversial just for ratings and he didn't REALLY believe what he was saying. I couldn't fathom a man so hateful and a management team so complicit that he wasn't yanked off the air before the end of some of his shows. Then I thought maybe I misunderstood his views. But as I listened to him and wrote to him and heard more from him I realized he really meant what he was saying, he isn't joking and I didn't misunderstand.

Sussman is serious about his views so he can't use the, "I was just joking" defense. He stands behind his frequent outrageous statements and, based on the fact that he has not been fired, KSFO management also stands behind his comments. Maybe he was reprimanded, maybe he was fined, but that doesn't appear to be the case since Sussman has said on more than one occasion that management supports him.

Management supported him during:

- his morally repugnant statements in support of torture
- his demand that a caller say, "Allah is a whore" TWICE (audio link)
- his description of how he would torture Iraqis by cutting off their fingers and then their penis
- his call for killing 10 million Muslims that he has determined are out to kill us

Since none of those comments were firing offenses or even APOLOGIZING offenses it tells you something about KSFO's guidelines and what is acceptable to management. And the "say Allah is a whore" comment wasn't even a slip of the tongue like that sportscaster who called Condoleeza Rice a coon, and then instantly apologized for it. That DJ was instantly fired.

Now contrast the sportscaster accidental comment with Sussman's comment demanding a caller say "Allah is a whore" TWICE. And he didn't apologize afterwards. Later his comment about the incident was to whine about how that call "got him in trouble." What did this trouble look like? A stern talking to? A negative letter in your permanent record? A fine? Or was it ignored, chucked about and forgotten when the ratings book came out? Maybe even a raise was in store. The "trouble" certainly didn't take the shape of a pink slip.

Management is clearly fine with comments like this, as I wrote earlier, his colleague Lee Rogers best described managements sensitivity to other faiths when he said, "We won't ass kiss every Muslim cause that comes along."

When statements like Sussman's and Roger's get made and nothing of consequence happens, management is either in agreement with the comments or complicit. Although the station management seems to think these comments are swell, some of the advertisers have wisely decided not to be associated with them. And sometimes it spills over to the rest of the shows. When Bank of America instructed its agency to, "pull all advertising not just from the Brian Sussman Show, but from all programming on KSFO", that must have hurt the precious bottom line. Maybe that was when ABC/Disney noticed.

Or maybe they finally noticed when Roxanne Robert, Guest Communications Manager of Disneyland, heard about what Sussman was saying and said "The situation mentioned in your correspondence has been addressed." Maybe THAT got through to management. But I doubt it.

Their response? Offer me a debate. Wheee! How Rove like, try to co-opt the critics, but don't address the problem.

You see some advertisers DO have values. Sometimes they just value staying away from controversy. But sometimes they are decent humans who don't like to be associated with morally repugnant hate speech. Good for them.

A few Words About Commercially Supported Broadcast Radio vs. Ranting on the Sidewalk

What you can say on a commercially supported broadcast radio is not the same as what you can say on the sidewalk in front of the federal building. Commercially supported broadcast radio (and TV for that matter) have agreed upon language guidelines that have been in place for years. In addition, owners of multiple stations like ABC, Citadel or Clear Channel have OTHER guidelines that might be even MORE strict than FCC official guidelines.

For example in 2004 Clear Channel instituted a zero tolerance policy for indecent content.

And finally, addition individual stations have standards and guidelines that spell out what is acceptable and what isn't. So for example at WMAL (another radio station owned by ABC Radio Disney), Chris Berry the president and general manager fired Michael Graham for anti-Muslim statements.

Jeff Katz was fired from KTSE-AM in Sacramento (owned by Clear Channel). He urging listeners to use their cars to hit illegal immigrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico.

Beau Duran was dismissed from KUPD-FM for calling the widow of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile a few months after his death, telling her she was "hot" and asking her for a date on the air (link). So clearly there is a precedent for firing talk radio hosts for multiple reasons.

Sussman can harrumph about his "free speech" all he wants but he knows very well that there are and have always been rules and restrictions on his speech on commercially supported broadcast radio. And if management keeps looking the other way when even the most minimal guidelines have been breached time and time again perhaps they should be removed as well.

So sorry Michael, but I won't be meeting with you.


Blogger PTCruiser said...

Oh HELL YEAH !!!! You rock, Spocko!

I am so proud to call myself one of Spocko's Brain Surgeons. I feel I should let all of Spocko's regulars know that Spocko was the inspiration for me starting my own blog. I did a search one day on Brian Sussman because I was so disgusted with what I heard on the air and stumbled across the Suss Man's worst nightmare, Spocko's Brain. I read our favorite wordsmith's observations and thought, "That is so cool. I wish I could do that."

With a lot of help from our Vulcan friend, I was soon off and running my very own blog.

Spocko, as much as I would love to hear you give Brian Sussman a verbal thrashing on the air, I'm glad you decided to take the high road.

You're far more powerful against him just being who you are and doing what you do.

I also liked the links that showed how Mickey "Mouse" Luckoff is just another member of the good-old-boy network who sweep everything under the carpet in the hopes that profit will prevail over all. And it has, as we have seen.

Outstanding work as usual, Spocko.


10:27 PM  
Anonymous justatought said...


spocko, you should whore this all over Eschaton on sunday or monday.

You're pressure ontheir advertisers gives you way more leverage than engaging in any faux "debate".

This way, you're in a position of strength.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

Came from PT Cruiser's again, and what a good post to trip on while coming in here!

Excellent, Spocko.

I'm tired of these hatespewing asses.

7:17 AM  
Blogger dave said...

Spocko, I had no idea you were in the Bay Area.

All the Bay Area Eschatonians should meet at a Drinking Liberally - and plan a West Coast Eschacon!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your decision to avoid debate is not surprising. It shows your cowardice. If you have nothing to hide, call in, identify yourself as Spocko and offer your opinion. Maybe you can actually change some listeners' minds politically.

Most multi-national corportations support the conservative agenda with millions of dollars aimed at special interest groups.

Do you really think that getting one or two off KSFO temporarily has any lasting effect? They just move their money to another radio group like Clear Channel that supports the conservative agenda.

Big corporations make massive investments in nations around the world with less than questionable human rights. By targeting corporate divestment you can affect actual change.

Sadly, you're only speaking to the converted on your blog.

Michael Black

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I applaud your efforts, Michael's right. The advertisers you've been able to get off of KSFO are only moving these small amounts of money elsewhere that support some other multinational corporations conservative agenda.

Couldn't your hard work and dedication be better served by targeting international divestment by corporations who violate human rights? Think about what we did to help end Apartheid. It stopped because massive numbers of people would not invest in companies who had investments in South Africa.

Consider that the collective mind of KSFO's relatively small conservative audience has already been made up, you're wqasting your time. Fry bigger fish is you want to make a difference.

The only people you end up hurting are the hourly wage earners at KSFO who are trying to eek out an existence becuase it's their jobs that get cut when revenues go down. Fry bigger fish Spocko.

And why not debate Sussman? Maybe you can change sone listeners' minds. By refusing, you come off sounding scared. Hell I'll call in tomorrow to debate this bastard.

Your focus is so narrow that you really sound like a disgruntled ex KSFO employee or a radio station competitor who is afraid of being identified.

The Disney attorney's will end up coming after you anyway for defamation of character, slander, using audio clips without full context etc etc etc. I can only imagine how many they've lined up already so they'll out you eventually. Then the jig will be up. Move on while you still have some credibility.

In the end, if you pay taxes in the US, you too Spocko support the war in Iraq and the conservative agenda.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>The only people you end up hurting are the hourly wage earners at KSFO who are trying to eek out an existence becuase it's their jobs that get cut when revenues go down. Fry bigger fish Spocko.>>

We should NOT throw Sussman back until he gets to the size of a Savage. Hate speech is hate speech and can't be condoned--even for small frys who only make 6 figures.

Hey Disney/Citadel lawyers: get rid of foul-mouthed FCC-rule-breaking hate-spewing weathermen before they really cost you.

And the last Anonymous sounds like he's a clean-up man for Michael Black of KSFO. Why do you folks have such hard hearts?

You can't con the real Theos, man. So get straight; we all have to, before we bite the dust.

Don't suffer the fate of those who are anti-christ!

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical faulty thinking. I don't agree with what I hear on the air so I want it gone. Just Great...

8:19 AM  
Blogger The Liberal Avenger said...


8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was immediately reminded of the firing of Opie and Anthony for encouraging a couple as they had sex in a confessional at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, which many Catholics considered extremely offensive. Yeah, after several years in the wilderness they're back on the air on another station now, but you'd better believe they won't try another stunt like that.

As far as "debating" these right-wing bullies, the only way to do it is in a venue where they don't control the on/off switch on the microphone. The Al Franken/Bill O'Reilly dustup at the L.A. Book Fair comes to mind. Debate is not possible on a right-wing talk show, where guests and callers are always the host's monkeys.

6:52 AM  

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