Everyone who’s ever worked in radio, especially talk radio, over the past 35 years has had three major pop-culture touchstones.
From the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati”, a young radio guy learns that Loni Anderson truly is unattainable – and that for every Gary Sandy, there are dozens of Herb Tarleks and Less Nessmans. Nessmen. Whatever. And that turkeys can’t fly (see: AM950).
More seriously? From Play Misty For Me starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, you learn that interacting with your audience can be a mighty dicey proposition.
(And of course, from Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio you learn that you’re only as safe as your least stable audience member. Apropos not much).
I’m writing this purely as an aside. Just for information’s sake.
Speaking of radio, Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, hosts of “The Late Debate“, which airs from 10PM to midnight Sunday through Thursday on a three-station cluster in Anoka and Saint Cloud, celebrated the one-year anniversary of their show last weekend. It’s a conservative talk show that specializes in the six-way cattle-call panel discussions. And, improbably (according to radio conventional wisdom), they make it work. It’s a fun show. Here’s hoping they celebrate many more.
And they celebrated their first year on the air with that greatest of radio traditions – a dust-up with a listener “filing an FCC complaint”.
And on the other side, you have Dr. William B. Gleason, a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Gleason is known far and wide for the frenetic pace and prolific output of his research work, the frequency and importance of his academic publications, his almost-suffocating work ethic, and the deep respect his fellow chemists have for him. It would be fair to say that he’s a rising star among the U of M’s tenured professors – perhaps one of the most valuable professors at the U of M Medical School, a giant on whose shoulders other giants stand, and one of the U of M Med school’s genuine treasures. 
And he doesn’t write a blog that bears a striking resemblance to one of those ransom notes pasted together from letters clipped out of magazines. .
Now, when Doctor Gleason’s not keeping up his frenetic pace at research, he tweets a bit – under his name and another sock-puppet ID. It is. And his left-of-center politics occasionally lead him into conflict with conservatives.
That’s what happened last week on The Late Debate.
Well, we’ll get back to that.
In the keen, razor-sharp analytical mind of Dr. William B. Gleason, the version of what happened resolved itself into a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission…
…which isn’t quite as big a deal as it used to be; you can do it yourself, online, If you feel like AM1280 The Patriot is beaming microwaves into your house to try to control your brain, the FCC has a site to collect the complaint.
And here’s the one Gleason filed.
There are actually three radio stations involved.
They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”
The web address of the show in question is:
Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:
link to post – click her [sic]
Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed. Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.
This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone. This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.
I request an apology for this broadcast made by station owners as well as disciplinary action by them for Mr. Tomczak’s behavior.
I have been in contact with the management of the station(s) on which the Late Debate is broadcast. They have been thoroughly professional in handling this matter. Yesterday there were three lengthy telephone conversations as well as exchanges of email.
I have made suggestions about how to resolve this matter. My understanding is that Mr. Tomczak will be making an apology. I am hopeful that the matter can be rectified. If so, I will withdraw my complaint.
Lawyer friends – place your rhetorical and legal bets!
Now, one hesitates to get into an argument with a giant of science like Gleason, a man of such airtight, impeccable logic and cool, calculated reason (as exhibited here and here during his few dozen daily breaks from his grueling schedule as a world-class research academic).
But, improbable as it seems, Professor Gleason’s FCC complaint is a lot of ado about nothing. And in the next installment of this series, at noon today, we’ll show exactly how,
But more importantly – and worse? FM 95.9 would be wrong to “apologize” to Gleason because of it.
More at noon.