Bye, Bye, Marty

June 22, 2005

I still get a number of hits to my post about the firing of Christian talk show host Marty Minto. I never quite finished it because I got tied up in more important things, so I decided to come back and do just that. For those interested, the original entry can be found in its entirety (misspellings, bad grammar, and all) here.

04/14/05: Marty makes the AP newswire

Marty Minto, winner of the 2004 Pittsburgh Achievement in Radio Award for Best Afternoon Show on a News Talk, Personality or Sports Station, has been fired by Christian radio station WORD-FM (owned by Salem Communications) for “alienating listeners”. In addition to working for three years as host at WORD-FM, Marty is senior pastor of Turning Point Community Church in New Castle. Readers of this blog may have read posts about or inspired by his show. “Marty Minto Show” producer Shaun “Powerball” Pierce announced the news on PowerBlog.

“It is with mixed emotions that I inform all of you that the Marty Minto show is no more. Marty is no longer employed with WORD FM.”

“I have produced the show for 3 years now. I owe Marty a debt of gratitude for the challenges he presented. He caused me to search the scripture and grow stronger in my own personal faith. For that I will always be grateful, despite the fact that we disagreed on many issues. I consider Marty a friend and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

“As for the program, I will still be producing the show. The same time, same station. We will have guest hosts for awhile as we develop a brand new and exciting program.”

“PowerBlog will be here for you. As things continue to develop, I will keep you informed. I ask all of you for your prayers and continued support and we embark on new journey together.”

The news was surprising but not a complete shock. Marty upset a lot of listeners with his controversial – and lopsided – discussions about Catholic theology. He also made enemies among his listeners by criticizing The Purpose Driven Life for its shallow and deficient theology (something I actually agreed with him on). I contacted WORD-FM via email on Tuesday to find out if there would be an official press release regarding Marty’s departure. Operations manager Kenny Woods replied in the negative.

“Thanks for your email. Marty is no longer with the station. The search for a replacement show or host is now underway. Please keep us and our future host in your prayers as we begin looking! There is no official press release scheduled at this time.”

“God Bless, and thanks for listening to 101.5 WORD-FM.”

I suspect Mr. Woods and the remainder of the WORD-FM administration may now wish they had made an official statement. AP picked up the story and as of today it has gone national. The fact that The Drudge Report highlighted it certainly contributed to that. The AP article may have been based on one published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, which contained lengthier (and more contextually rich) quotes.

“‘I was called into the office after my show Friday and told that I was being let go because I was alienating the listeners,’ said Minto, 39, of New Castle, Lawrence County, who previously did talk-radio shows in Albany, N.Y., Phoenix and Denver. Minto also is senior pastor of the 100-member Turning Point Community Church in New Castle.”

“‘As far as I’m concerned, I was doing what I’ve always done on the radio — look at events around the world from a biblical perspective,’ said Minto. ‘I’ve always been willing to talk about controversial subjects.'”

“Chuck Gratner, general manager of WORD-FM for the past 14 years, said the station does not dispute Minto’s account of events.”

“‘We ended our relationship’ with him because of differences in how he conducted his show, Gratner said.”

“‘WORD-FM needs to function in this city in support of the entire church — that means everybody — and not focus on denominational issues,’ he said.”

Marty has been interviewed by Pittsburgh ABC affiliate WTAE-TV 4 and had the following to say.

“I have never been fired, never been let go. I just don’t understand. I haven’t done anything like a Howard Stern or went against any FCC rule or regulation.”

“I asked listeners if they’re getting too much or not enough of the 24/7 coverage”

“I find it hard to believe I’m alienating people. My lines have been jammed all week. Hundreds of e-mails. I believe I had a right to share. It’s a talk show. It’s controversial because of the topics we talk about. I am appalled that, all of a sudden, my so-called brothers and sisters in the world have now said, ‘You are no longer allowed to say anything; we’re firing you. We’re quenching your speech because you went too far.'”

BTW, he’s thinking of speaking with an attorney. Good luck, Marty. Pennsylvania is a “hire and fire at will” state. Unless he can prove that WORD-FM fired him for illegal reasons (race, age, sex, religion, etc), he’d just be wasting his time and money taking them to court. The station was merely looking out for its best interests. If he was alienating investors and advertisers, the station’s ability to broadcast at all was threatened. It’s better to cut one controversial show loose than to lose the whole station.