Radio 550 trying to “make good” for keeping their campaigning morning host on the air

As you may recall, Wausau’s leading purveyor of right wing dogma, 550 Radio, made the choice to keep conservative windbag Pat Snyder on the air through the end of August while he was running his own Republican campaign for the 85th Assembly District.

As Operations Manager Chris Conley said in his tortured rationalization of the move last February, “We cannot talk on-air about Pat’s candidacy except in our regular news coverage. If you are a regular caller to the WSAU Feedback program, you can’t talk about Pat’s candidacy on-air either. We’ll be conducting a nationwide search for WSAU’s next morning host. We expect to have that person hired before Pat’s time with us ends, and we expect an orderly transition. We’re glad that we the luxury of time to find the right person, and for a long ‘goodbye’ with Pat.”

And so it went on, month after month, with 550 Radio putting announced partisan candidate Snyder on the air every weekday morning. Ostensibly, WSAU would have had us believe that they were complying with the law. As I pointed out at the time, their cover seemed like a fig leaf and they should let all of us know if they ever become mildly interested in the subject of ethics.

Well, apparently and in retrospect, they may now have some concerns about how they behaved in this matter and their “long goodbye” may well have been a little too luxurious.  An attorney who specializes in this sort of thing was contacted. She took an interest in the situation and had some discussions with 550 Radio.

To make a long story short, WSAU Radio isn’t necessarily admitting to any wrongdoing – (and neither did O.J. Simpson) – but they have agreed to give 85th Assembly District Democratic candidate Mandy Wright approximately five hours of airtime in the form of one-minute ads over the next few weeks.  The ads began Saturday morning and will continue for 19 days on 550 Radio.  They will run 12 times daily on weekends and 18 times daily on weekdays, between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight. (They won’t run during sporting events, since there was no remaining ad inventory available.)

“The decision to allow a candidate for public office to continue to host a program resulted in a significant liability for the station,” said Rebecca Mason, one of only a few attorneys in Wisconsin with extensive experience in political and broadcast law who successfully negotiated for Wright’s compensatory ad time. “Although not necessarily unprecedented, the amount of free air time originally given to Mandy Wright’s opponent is astonishing.  We are pleased that the station now recognizes its obligation under federal law to afford equal access to ALL candidates for public office.”
Whether Mandy Wright’s messages will be well-received with some in the conservative audience that Snyder and the station have cultivated and pandered to over the past decade is beside the point. Wright strikes a “working together” tone in her first ad. What is important is that the station is conceding thousands of dollars in air time to Snyder’s Democratic opponent in the run up to the general election. It is inventory that they might well have been able to sell and it’s not the kind of thing that people tend to do unless they think they have a real problem. These would be the same folks who took such pains to tell us how they were complying with the law while they were flaunting it to benefit their grossly biased on-air host who played out his conflict of interests on the air.


Last February’s blog entry on this subject here:

Pat Snyder’s show was a GOP infomercial, (from September 2010):

And after missing the news cycle on this one, WSAU decides it’s time for some spin:

Wisconsin Public Radio:


12 Responses to “Radio 550 trying to “make good” for keeping their campaigning morning host on the air”

  1. The “plays well with others” approach definately hits home with me. However, the more research I do, the more it appears that more and more of the population doesn’t want people with open minds, people who are willing to listen to differing points of views, people who are willing to compromise for the greater good.

    More and more people want a representative that is going to plant their flag, draw their line in the sand, and strongly defend their “we” side of the “we versus them”, “good versus evil” that is partisan politics.

    Time will tell if a “plays well with others” platform touches anyone but me. I hope it does. I will be disappointed if it doesn’t. Disappointed, but sadly not surprised.

  2. “What is important is that the station is conceding thousands of dollars in air time to Snyder’s opponent in the run up to the general election.” EXCUUUUUSE ME! Am I invisible? Snyder’s opponent, singular?

    My name qualified for the ballot and my signs, website, and FB page have been up since before the primary. The last ones I expected to be unaware of that are Jim Rosenberg and Dr. Rent.

  3. Duly noted and modified to reflect “Democratic” opponent.

  4. Just for a bit of context…

    1. Who is Rebecca Mason married to?
    2. Was a complaint filed with the FCC?
    3. Did the FCC make a ruling that the terms of the broadcast liscense was violated?

    I do not think in this case, that making a long story short is a good idea. Sure, I might have a strange love and professional interaction with the FCC and the terms of a broadcast license, but I do not think we should make this long story short.

    • Rebecca Mason is married to State Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine.) I’m not willing to concede that this fact provides any context or if it might more fairly be considered as an immaterial distraction to what is being discussed here. (When Mary Matalin does or says something, I don’t think much about whether James Carville has influence in it; I presume that he didn’t.)

      I don’t know if a complaint was filed with the FCC I would therefore not know if a ruling was made. My impression is that this would be an informal, voluntary agreement.

  5. I was kind of internally wondering if Jim Maas was going to get a truck load of free ads as well, or does he need a Madison (assuming Madison but I don’t know) attorney to get that?

    However, it has been a long and stressful weekend, so I completely missed the opponent (singular) in Jim’s post.

    (By the way, when a band saw blade breaks, there is a 95% chance it will do it safely within the housing of the machine… that other 5% leads for excitement and tends to cause you to overlook other things for a while afterwards)

  6. David B Keeffe Says:

    Jim Maas should definitely get an equal amount of time. Seems fair and balanced.

  7. Dino Corvino Says:

    Then what is Jim Maas going to ACTUALLY DO to get himself free air time? Seems like the ball in his court.

  8. He’s out of luck because he didn’t file within seven days, according to this report on WSAW-TV:–170366906.html

  9. Dino Corvino Says:

    Not to be a curmudgeon here, or a smug jerk…but man do I hate the reportage about this.

    Jim Maas, or any citizen in America, is free to make a formal complaint to the FCC if they feel a licensee has violated the terms of the license.

    This is in no way dependent on any settlement between other parties on any other matter. If Maas wants to file a complaint with the FCC, he is free to do so.

    This whole thing is so frustrating.

  10. David B Keeffe Says:

    I love it how Conley poses regarding how hard they are going to have to work to find someone to fill Snyder’s amazing shoes. Right. Guess who will be back on the air doing the same tired old schtick on Nov …. 12th maybe?

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