A little over a year ago, MediaMouse.org reported on an effort aimed at pressuring advertisers to pull their financial support for conservative talk radio show host Michael Savage. The campaign specifically targeted Savage’s racist comments against Muslims.
That campaign–initiated by Brave New Films’ NoSavage.org and the Council on American-Islamic Relations–resulted in several advertisers pulling ads from Michael Savage’s show. These included ITT Technical Institute, Chattem, Inc. (owners of Gold Bond, Icy Hot, and Selsun Blue), Union Bank of California, Intuit (parent company of TurboTax and QuickBooks), and GEICO Insurance, along with US Cellular, Sprint Nextel, Sears, Universal Orlando Resorts, AutoZone, Citrix, TrustedID, JCPenney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, and AT&T.
Michael Savage on the Air in Grand Rapids
At the time, we also looked at Michael Savage’s show in West Michigan, which aired–and continues to air–on WOOD Radio. MediaMouse.org prepared an online letter writing campaign that called on the station to stop airing Savage’s show. Unfortunately, it still is being aired at 9:00pm on WOOD 1300 AM (and elsewhere in Michigan).
WOOD Radio writes that Savage is:
“An independent-minded individualist, Michael Savage fits no stereotype. He attacks big government and liberal media bias, but champions the environment and animal rights.”
Aside from Savage’s supposedly unique insights, WOOD writes that the show is lucrative for advertisers:
“Give your audience a chance to hear why for the past two years Talkers Magazine named Savage as one of America’s top talk radio hosts. He knows how to explore issues, entertain, stimulate, and promote in ways that boost the ratings and profits of every station lucky enough to carry him.”
Big Dollars and Big Ratings
Money might be the real reason Michael Savage stays on air. According to WOOD Radio’s website, Savage’s show can boost ratings and profits.
Michael Savage’s show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network, with whom he has had a nine-year relationship. His contract was given a multi-year extension in November of 2008 and his show airs on over 300 stations nationwide in 42 of the top 50 radio markets.
Ratings Come with a Price: Offensive and Hateful Comments
Last year when we looked at Savage’s show, the focus was on racist comments Savage had made about Muslim people. Over the years, critics have documented examples of Michael Savage’s racism, misogyny, and homophobia.
One of the biggest controversies since we last looked at Michael Savage were his comments on autism over the summer of 2008. Savage said that autism is a “fraud, a racket” and that many suffering disease are “brats” who doesn’t have a father around to tell them to “cut the act out.” Savage’s comments were criticized by Autism United for being both ignorant and belligerent.
In response to the comments, AFLAC, Budweiser, Cisco, Direct Buy, Home Depot, Sears, Radio Shack announced they would stop advertising on Savage’s show.
Since the controversy over autism, Savage has continued to make incredibly offensive statements. These have included statements that undocumented immigrants are taking over the United States, that Muslim immigrants are terrorists, that immigrants don’t know proper hygiene techniques, that all terrorists are Muslims, and that welfare recipients should not be allowed to vote.
The media watchdog group Media Matters has a continually updated list of offensive comments by Michael Savage.
What Can Be Done
Comments can be sent to WOOD Radio expressing frustration that the station continues to air Michael Savage’s show. Comments can be addressed to:
It is worth noting that comments delivered via email or in writing will be logged in the station’s “public file” which is used by the FCC when deciding whether or not to renew the station’s license.
Michael Savage’s show can be contacted at:
Another possible avenue could be targeting Michael Savage’s advertisers, but finding an updated list of advertisers is difficult. Moreover, given his ratings, he seems to be able to find new advertisers with relative ease.
It’s also important to remember that Savage’s show is one example–albeit a particularly egregious one–of the kind of hate that is regularly found on rightwing talk radio. For those wishing to learn more, we strongly encourage you to check out Rory O’Connor’s Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio.