N.C. college boots radio show after it criticizes state representative

NC Policy Watch | The Rant
A North Carolina radio show pulled off the air by its community college sponsors after a complaint by a state representative earlier this month plans to return as a podcast, Sarah Ovaska reports.

Central Carolina Community College in Sanford told the three hosts of “The Rant” they would no longer be welcome to use campus facilities to record their show, which aired on the college’s FM radio station, WDCC. The move came after one of the three hosts posted criticism of state Rep. Mike Stone on the show’s Tumblr blog, which was later discussed on the show the same day.

In the April 3 post, “Rant” co-host Gordon Anderson lambasted Stone for introducing bills that would make some local races partisan.

Stone’s office contacted college president T.E. “Bud” Marchant, featuring a link to the Tumblr post and asking how the show was affiliated with the college, what the show’s budget was and how it received funding, among other questions. The college is dependent on the state legislature for funding, Ovaska points out.

On April 5, Marchant suspended the radio show. Station manager Bill Freeman told “Rant” host Billy Liggett in an email that the show was being suspended because of “some recent issues discussed on the Rant (WDCC 4-3-13).” Marchant told the college’s board the suspension was because the show’s hosts no longer work at the Sanford Herald, which they did when the show started in 2008.

Rather than fight the suspension, Liggett and Anderson have elected to turn the show into a podcast. Co-host Jonathan Owens has decided not to take part. They described their ouster on Tumblr:

It appears we upset the wrong person, though. Nothing we said or wrote was inaccurate or offensive. It’s far from the most controversial subject we’ve touched on. We’ve even heard from friends who in disagreeing with our take said it was fair, well-researched and well-presented. That such a topic would draw the ire of a sitting legislator, if that is what happened, is puzzling at best.

Via email, Liggett told Poynter he doesn’t think Stone demanded the show be taken off the air, but “I think it’s obvious that his inquiries and the content of that week’s show are related.”

“The Rant” is “not a political show,” Liggett said. “We do talk politics, but we talk movies, sports and music just as much. The show was created so we could talk headlines and discuss headlines back when we were working for the newspaper. It was a hobby and something we loved doing. We’ve had Republicans and Democrats on our show over the years.”

The podcast remains in the planning stages.

“We’ll miss our in-studio sound-board, mics and headphones, but we’re gathering the right equipment and software to do this right. We’ll be back online as early as this week, and I imagine this whole ordeal will be a pretty big topic on our first show,” Liggett wrote. “That said, I hope we talk about the new Superman movie, too. It was a hell of a trailer.”

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  • http://www.DumpThePicayune.com/ TPWatcher

    Now that Republicans control the
    governorship and both houses of the North
    Carolina legislature, it appears they think they’re
    entitled to suppress the Fourth Estate
    through intimidation. Disgraceful.