FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 4, 2003
Contact: Ward Mullens
734.487.4400
ward.mullens@emich.edu


WEMU FIRES RADIO SHOW HOST

YPSILANTI - WEMU-FM, Eastern Michigan University’s public radio station fired radio host Terry Hughes, also known as “Thayrone,” April 2 for violating station policy and refusing to follow the station manager’s directions.

Hughes, host of The Bone Conduction Music Program (BCMP) refused to air segments of National Public Radio news during his show and repeatedly voiced personal political opinions despite management’s warnings that by do so he was directly violating station policy.

“We respect his right to his opinion, and have defended him in the past,” said Art Timko, WEMU station manager. “But refusing to air the news and remaining defiant in his position put us in an untenable position.”

“There are standards that every person in the media must follow and he simply did not do that. He refused to air news segments and inserted his opinion into a music show,” said Timko.

WEMU postponed its spring on-air fundraiser over concern that listeners were appropriately focused on the world situation. Part of WEMU’s decision to make this adjustment was to include five-minute news updates during all local programs. This included BCMS," Timko said. “It is the obligation of staff to broadcast those items which are included in the station’s official schedule,” said Timko. “Not only were the newscasts not broadcast during the program, but listeners were also encouraged to watch Fox News in place of listening to NPR news.”

The policy of limiting commentary by reporters is not unusual. Recently, Peter Arnett, a foreign correspondent for NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic, was fired because he stated personal opinions about the war on Iraqi television.

According to a statement released by National Public Radio, “NPR adheres to the journalist standards of presenting accurate, fair and objective reporting of all events that shape the world. We firmly believe that news coverage should be aired separately from personal opinion. It is unfortunate that Mr. Hughes stepped over that line and used public radio as a vehicle to air his own political opinions. We stand behind the station’s right to uphold its appropriate journalistic practice of keeping personal opinions separate from objective news reporting.”

“We are a public radio station so we must be balanced in our presentation of the news and objective in its delivery. If we do not do that, it compromises not only our integrity, but that of National Public Radio,” Timko said.

“It unfortunate that Hughes is attempting to make this a first amendment issue when it is clear that this is about his on-going refusal to follow station policy,” said Timko.


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