UPDATE: Texas' KTBB & KETK Take Responsibility for Airing Anti-Gay Segment
In response to GLAAD outreach, KETK, the NBC affiliate in Tyler, Texas, is taking responsibility for re-airing a local KTBB radio segment in which listeners were invited to call in and debate an appalling question: "Will the acceptance of homosexuality be the fall of America?" (Listeners were also invited to take part in an online poll by responding to the question "Yes" or "No.") GLAAD also reached out to KTBB and demanded an apology from the host who initially posed the question. Subsequently, the owner of KTBB intervened and issued this apology.
News sites, including Joe My God, as well as GLAAD, first shared the news of this disturbing incident yesterday. Since then, we have spoken with KETK General Manager Dave Tillery and News Director Neal Barton. After we shared our concern that a reputable news organization would even think to re-air the debate of such a preposterous and potentially harmful question, KETK quickly responded to say "we hear you."
(Note: Texas radio station KTBB 92.1 FM - specifically, host Garth Maier - was the first to pose the question to listeners of yesterday's Talkback segment. The segment then re-aired later that morning on KETK. GLAAD also contacted Maier with our concerns, but he has yet to take personal responsibility for the segment. KTBB President Paul Gleiser did offer this apology on the KTBB Web site.)
In response to GLAAD's outreach and community outcry, here's what KETK plans to do:
--For starters, at GLAAD's request, KETK has removed from their Web site the eight-minute piece that ran yesterday - the re-airing of the KTBB segment and accompanying video.
--GLAAD pitched Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns to do an interview with the station. Burns, who has garnered significant media attention and praise for his advocacy against anti-LGBT bullying, will appear on KETK newscasts tomorrow to discuss why potentially harmful questions like Maier's should not be asked - and certainly not broadcast over public airwaves - in the first place. (Please note that this blog will be updated as more time-specific information becomes available about when you can see Joel on KETK.)
--In addition to Joel appearing on KETK, General Manager Dave Tillery has also responded to our request that he appear on-camera to speak on behalf of the station. Dave realizes how important it is that the station acknowledge in front of their viewers what they've acknowledged to GLAAD over the phone - that a segment like Wednesday's has no place on the airwaves of a reputable news organization. Furthermore, Dave plans to acknowledge the potential harm that could be caused by Wednesday's report and will commit, on behalf of the station, to being more careful in the future.
--Lastly, KETK is rethinking how they will repackage KTBB Talkback content for future newscasts. KETK General Manager Dave Tillery shared with GLAAD that he will be meeting tomorrow with Paul Gleiser, KTBB's owner/general manager.
GLAAD appreciates KETK's response to our outreach and we applaud their willingness to learn from their mistakes. We look forward to watching tomorrow's follow-up and to recognizing the station's improvement in days to come.
GLAAD also appreciates the apology issued by Paul Gleiser at KTBB. We hope the station will learn from this mistake and be more responsible in the future by not asking questions that not only offend, but questions that also have the potential to cause harm to listeners.