NEW: McKee Agrees to Appear on WPRO Debate

Thursday, August 07, 2014


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Dan McKee

Cumberland Mayor and Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee has announced he will take part in a scheduled debate on WPRO -- and has urged his Democratic opponents to participate.

McKee says he intends to appear on air on August 21 at 5 PM on WPRO, which is currently subject to the "For Our Daughters" boycott over John DePetro. 

"Today, the McKee campaign was contacted by station management at WPRO to acknowledge candidate McKee's prior acceptance of an invitation to debate," said campaign spokesperson Mike Trainor, who said the campaign accepted three weeks ago.  "The debate will still be held on Thursday, August 21 at 5 PM on WPRO."

Trainor noted moderators will be Kim Kalunian and Bill Haberman.

"We want to urge our opponents to reconsider their decision not to participate in this debate.  Mayor McKee feels that voters should have every opportunity possible to make an informed choice in the voting booth," said Trainor.

McKee said that while he agreed with the station boycott, at the time he accepted the invitation, For our Daughters head Maureen Martin said a debate didn't violate the boycott.

"I called Maureen to confirm the quote I saw in GoLocal, and she told me there was going to be a strong advisory sent out against participating in debates," said McKee, referencing the July 23 GoLocal article -- and message sent by Martin on July 25. "I let her know at that time I accepted the invitation, and confirmed it wasn't violation."

Opponents Fire Back

McKee's opponents in the Democratic primary -- Secretary of State Ralph Mollis and former State Representative Frank Ferri -- said they viewed a debate appearance as a violation of the boycott. 

"We will be honoring our commitment to the WPRO boycott, and therefore cannot participate.  We look forward to debating with the candidates in other forums," said Mollis campaign manager Nick Cicchitelli.

Ferri released the following statement in response.

"My family taught me that your word only matters if you keep it. To my knowledge, every campaign received the same request from Ms. Martin with the For Our Daughters organization asking us to refrain from appearances on WPRO as long as John DePetro remains on their air. I made that commitment, and I intend to honor it.   It is simply unacceptable to label women as "whores." No matter what our political differences may be, we cannot allow the public airways to turn into a place where individuals are dehumanized and degraded. I look forward to meeting my opponents at other debates in the future, including the one being hosted by the League of Women Voters later this month."


Related Slideshow: Infamous Talk Radio Controversies

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Arbitron Ratings Scandal

In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy.  The Boston Herald reported,

The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.

In the 6 to 10 a.m. weekday slot occupied by the self-proclaimed “Independent Man” on WPRO-AM (630), “the reissue ranked WPRO at number nine” among valued 25- to 54-year-old listeners, “down from the number four rank in the original release,” program manager Paul Giammarco and station market manager Barbara Haynes announced in a joint statement.

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Candidate Name-Calling

DePetro was fired from Boston radio station WRKO in 2006 for calling then-gubernatorial Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." 

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Office Scuffle

The Providence Journal's Mike Stanton reported on an altercation in 2009 between DePetro and radio host Ron St. Pierre.

DePetro said he was hit -- and scratched -- in the eye with a balled up paper with a staple thrown at him by St. Pierre.  

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Buddy's Return - to Radio


After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.  

While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.  

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Chafee's Talk Radio Ban

Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.  

Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.  

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Dennis and Callahan

WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.

Boston's" target="_blank">WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.  

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Severin Suspended

WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.  

Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.  

"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.

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Imus' Racial Remarks

in 2007, nationally syndicated talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."  Imus was suspended -- then fired -- by CBS Radio.  

Five years later, Imus was back on the national radio circuit, as reported by New

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Rush Limbaugh

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women." 


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