A radio talk-show host who aired an unsubstantiated sex rumor about Seattle Mayor Norm Rice was fired Wednesday, a Fisher Broadcasting executive said.
“Hot talk” jock Mike Siegel’s contract has been terminated, Robert I. Dunlop, vice president for operations, said in a statement read on KVI radio at 3 p.m.
“Although Mike’s action initially impacted only KVI radio, it has become a companywide issue, damaging the reputation of both KVI and Fisher Broadcasting,” Dunlop told listeners.
“Again, this decision was based on the damage to the reputation of KVI and Fisher Broadcasting, not on politics or external pressures.”
Siegel could not be reached immediately for comment.
He was suspended on May 20 while Seattle-based Fisher Broadcasting reviewed the circumstances surrounding the airing of the rumor on his program.
The rumor was raised by KGA radio host Richard Clear of Spokane in an April simulcast of his show and Siegel’s show.
On May 13, Rice called a news conference to condemn the airing of the rumor, which he said was a “vicious lie.” He also referred to “hot talk” radio as “hate talk” radio.
Siegel subsequently apologized.
In Spokane, Clear has stood by his decision to air the rumor, a move that has been defended by KGA program manager Dean Allen.
“We didn’t ask anybody to believe it,” Clear said last week.
“What we did ask is: ‘This (rumor) has been out there for two years. Does anybody think it ought to be answered?”’
The Rice rumor first was published in a newsletter by Kurt Hettiger, who was fired from his job in the Seattle Water Department in 1993.
Several major media outlets investigated the rumor and dismissed it as unfounded.
Rice issued a statement to KIRO-TV from the campaign trail on Wednesday:
“I think Fisher Broadcasting has taken a responsible position. They’ve assessed their image; they’ve decided they need to have this kind of policing action.”
Siegel had worked for the station since November 1991, but Fisher Broadcasting would not say how long he had left on his contract.
In winter ratings measured by Arbitron Co., Siegel’s noon-to-3 p.m. weekday program ranked 10th among all listeners 12 and older in the Seattle radio market.
The show that preceded Siegel’s - Rush Limbaugh from 9 a.m. to noon - ranked KVI first among all listeners.
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