New Host Begins Tuesday
Reynolds Firing Triggers Protests

  copyright 1996, Electric Nevada

For executives at Reno's long-time number-one radio station, 50,000-watt KOH, it was just a basic business decision.
But for lots of fans of afternoon talk-show host J.R. Reynolds, his Aug 2 firing was betrayal, or worse.
Some fans and friends of Reynolds went so far as to track down the president and operating officers of KOH-owner Citadel Corporation, in Montana and Utah, to complain.
Reynolds himself said he didn't expect the response he received Wednesday when speaking at the weekly meeting in Carson City of the Nevada Freedom Coalition.
"I was so surprised at the tremendous warmth that these people exhibited, saying, 'What can we do? Whatever you want us to do, we'll do it. How can we get you back on the air? You are our voice. You're the only one we can depend on.'
"That really made me feel quite good," said Reynolds. "It's a nice thing to be wanted, but when you're needed, it's kind of special."
Speaking of KOH management, Reynolds said, "The only thing that these people don't understand right now is that firing a DJ is one thing. The people will miss him for a little while, but the music still remains.
"But when you fire a very popular talk show host, now you've got people -- I didn't realize it but -- you've got conspiratorial theorists coming out of the woodwork, saying, "Omigod, the Voice of Freedom has been SILENCED! Pick up your guns!" They're going nuts out there."
From the point of view of KOH, sources tell Electric Nevada, the basic problem was simply that Reynolds' three-hour weekday afternoon slot was not pulling in the number of listeners desired, keeping advertising revenue from the show low.
Reynolds acknowledges that his Arbitron audience ratings, "from the beginning, have been pretty much of a rollercoaster ride.
"I tend to think that in talk radio, it goes [that way] until you stabilize and then you stabilize hopefully [in] a little bit of an upward trend."
He also argues that ".. the fact of the matter is, this particular radio station in this market time slot, has never done anything.
"Nobody's ever been able to sustain this show. My show, for this two-and-a-half-year period, is the longest-running show in the history of this radio station. They go back to, like, 1928."
KOH Program Director Dan Mason would only say "With J.R. there were philosophical differences in how the show should be done that we were unable to resolve. And we chose to part ways."
Reynolds said when he was fired Mason had referred to a job performance report Reynolds had been given earlier, on July 22.
"In that report were some pretty ridiculous things," said Reynolds, "like I had booked Harry Browne, Libertarian candidate for President on
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my show without prior approval. Pat McMillan was another one; he's running for Congress. It mentioned him in the same breath.
"And they also mentioned one day when I was talking about the gay marriage issue, I mentioned that I personally find a woman's vagina extremely pleasurable, or something to that effect. And I said it for shock value. I mean, it was just something you do as a talk show host, and certainly I could have said it any number of different ways, but it wouldn't have had the impact."
Reynolds also said he had sensed a shift of attitude in KOH management back around the end of May.
"Things got a little bit weird about three months ago. That's when I got the feeling they were trying to wrench editorial control of the show from me. They started [saying], "Well, we've got to approve guests" and that sort of thing. And slowly but surely, rather than suggesting news items and things that are hot to be talked about, it was more of a dictatorial attitude."
"I could almost go along with to a certain extent," said Reynolds, "except that, as a talk show host, when [doing] preparation for a show, you have to have a certain degree of autonomy, as to what you're going to talk about. I have to be comfortable, as a talk show host, where I'm coming from, and how I'm going to present that."
Mason declined to respond to Reynolds' statements, saying "I'm not going to engage in a debate with J. R. in the press."
He did say station executives are sticking with the basic concept of a conservative-hosted talk show.
"Basically, the show isn't going to change; we are just getting a different host," said Mason.
"It's still going to be an issue-driven, caller-driven program. The premise or format of the show will not change."
He said the new host will start on the air Tuesday, August 13, and his name is Brian Maloney.
Coming to Reno from Santa Cruz, California, Maloney "is a real conservative," said Mason.
"He's been officially condemned by two Democratic Party organizations in Santa Cruz, [and] he has managed political campaigns in California."
A former securities trader, Maloney trained for the Olympics in the hammer throw until 1989, when he had to quit because of an injury, said Mason.
Maloney, until recently, was doing a Saturday afternoon show on a Santa Cruz station.



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