Writings and observations

The Code of Deseret Media, and KTTH

Under orders from Deseret Media chief executive Mark Willes, Deseret Media Companies of Salt Lake City has adopted a mission statement which, from word circulating, is intended to be not put in a back cabinet but actually lived up to. Its provisions include this: “I promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.”

Why is this significant? Lots of companies and other organizations would (and many do) include statements that say much the same. But this is a company that owns talk radio stations, those bastions of fierce incivility and disrespect for so many people.

Desert, strictly, operates just one radio station in Salt Lake City (KSL), and a few other properties. But it is effectively owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as is the for-profit Deseret Management Corporation, which in turn owns Bonneville International Corporation. And Bonneville owns 26 radio staitons in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, St. Louis, and Cincinnati markets – and in Seattle, where it owns the talk stations KTTH and the two KIRO stations.

Strictly, Willes’ order doesn’t apply to Bonneville, though he’s highly unlikely to have given it in contravention of church leadership. That suggests it may spill over to Bonneville too.

What might it mean? Salt Lake Tribune blogger Glen Warchol says it likely will mean that the conservative lineup of talkers at KSL might be in for a paring: “Deseret Media chief executive Mark Willes’ new mission statement, some might call it a creed, includes pledges like: “I seek to lift, inspire, and help others find enduring happiness” and “I promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people,” and “I seek to instill light and knowledge in my work.” As you can imagine, Sean Hannity, who is beloved by his listeners for saying things like, “I’ll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo – every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress,” has a large problem in the civility-respect area.”

So, what about KTTH and KIRO? Well, the Blatherwatch blog in writing about this, speculates “It may be why Michael Savage was quietly dumped from KTTH a few months ago.”

KTTH also currently airs a hard-conservative lineup including Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh; their civility and respect meter rankings wouldn’t rate much higher than Savage’s. Could they – strong ratings draws though they are – be bounced next?

Blatherwatch is skeptical of that, and reasonably. Still, as it adds from Warchol’s post, “However the Hannity issue comes out, it will be an acid test of values-over-profit for church-owned media.”

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