To the Editor:
Congratulations, John DePetro, for achieving what few other men or women in the United States have been able to do. You have managed to unite all segments of the political spectrum. United, albeit, in feelings of mutual outrage and disgust, but united anyway.
I knew John DePetro years ago at WPRO. He was a friendly enough guy, nothing like the character he became on talk radio. But who can blame him for the change?
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Reagan, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and countless others have become rich stoking the very same fires of hate and division. Rush Limbaugh once ridiculed Michael J. Fox’s symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, flailing his arms and wagging his head in mockery. He later called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating birth control in the health care program. Others are similar in their constant fear mongering and rabble rousing and they are all doing quite well.
They are all employed, making far more money than most of us ever will, so why would DePetro think the rules would be any different for him?
The talk formula is simple; find someone who can be “provocative,” give them a microphone and turn them lose. Advertisers see it as a way of reaching customers and broadcast stations build ratings by it. Truth may be a casualty and the country may be engulfed in a tsunami of hate. No problem. It’s good for business and that is all that matters.
Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce captured this attitude best when he refused to pull his advertising from WPRO, saying, “We have no dog in his fight.” Yes, tell us about “spirituality” and “inner beauty” and how you inspire customers by “revealing the beauty that resides within,” but if you discover you are buying time with someone that calls women “cockroaches, hags and whores,” as long as it’s moving product, that is not something that concerns you.
PRO remains silent and for good reason. They hired DePetro mere weeks after he was fired for exactly this sort of thing in Boston. Before that, he worked at WHJJ where his talents for whipping up anger and hate were on full display. There, the show included vicious and personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, whipping up hate against gays and others, questioning the patriotism of those who objected to the war in Iraq and deceptively editing a tape of John Kerry to make it sound like Kerry was confessing to war crimes. As a vet of the Vietnam Era, I found that reprehensible, but to DePetro and his listeners it was all great fun and laughs.
When WPRO brought DePetro aboard, they knew exactly what they were getting.
Since arriving at PRO, there have been many additional incidents, but with management’s support, DePetro survived them all.
So they remain silent, but who can blame them? Exactly what would they say to distance themselves from what they have long profited from?
Advertisers, too, knew full well what they were supporting.
Now, with few exceptions, everyone is assuring us that they want nothing to do with DePetro’s rants. But the truth is, that for years he gave them exactly what they paid for.
And the sad truth is that somewhere, someplace, he will be back.