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Fuhrman show goes off the air

Fri., Nov. 16, 2007

One of Spokane’s few talk-radio programs, “The Mark Fuhrman Show” on KGA-AM (1510), went off the air Thursday.

Fuhrman and Rebecca Mack, the co-host and producer, said they were dismissed by station management Wednesday. A California radio conglomerate, Mapleton Communications, is buying KGA-AM from Citadel Broadcasting Corp.

“They said our show just wasn’t part of the buy,” Fuhrman said. “Obviously, it became a condition of the sale.”

Mack said management cited the show’s “failure to monetize” – i.e., make enough money – as one reason for the decision.

A call to KGA-AM’s general manager was not returned.

“If it was money, we’re not knocking down Fort Knox when our checks are paid,” said Fuhrman.

Mack said that live local programming can be expensive when compared with the alternative: nationally syndicated shows.

Fuhrman said his show ranked third in the ratings for talk shows in its time slot among its target audience because it was up against national hosts Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Miller.

Yet he said his show was essentially the only talk show in Spokane that “hit hard on the issues.”

“I think it’s very regrettable to the community,” said Mack. “Hate us or love us, we tried to keep the pot stirred and keep the community informed and engaged.”

“If it (information) comes to me, there’s only one way I can tell it,” said Fuhrman. “People highly influential in Spokane are apparently not comfortable with that attitude.”

Fuhrman, the former L.A. police detective known for his role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, began his talk show in 1999 on KXLY-AM. The show was canceled in 2004 and was picked up shortly afterward by KGA-AM.

Over the years, the show featured talks with and about local politicians. In recent elections, it offered numerous candidate interviews, often with lower-profile candidates who received little media attention, like those running for district court judge.

In recent months the show also has been a forum for critics of the River Park Square parking garage, which is owned by the same company that owns The Spokesman-Review.

Some leaders were consistently criticized by Fuhrman, such as former Sheriff Mark Sterk and former Spokane Valley Police Chief Cal Walker.

A few were consistently praised, especially Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has been a regular guest. Knezovich said the show could be tough on politicians, but usually it was for good reason. “If you didn’t articulate it or you hid behind an issue or tried to hide your true sentiments, he would challenge you,” he said.

But Spokane City Councilman Brad Stark accused the show of spreading untruths.

“I obviously believe they have some pretty big credibility issues, but I harbor no ill will,” he said.

Stark faced an ethics complaint over the summer after he read some of Mack’s notes in the studio before she interviewed him. The Spokane Ethics Commission ruled it didn’t have jurisdiction and tossed out the complaint.

Stark said he hopes the new owners continue local programming that provides “positive, productive and engaging dialogue.”

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