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COUNTERPUNCH

Barkley's Firing Is, Sadly, a Sign of Our Times

September 30, 1996|RHODA HARRISON TUIT | Rhoda Harrison Tuit teaches music at Santa Monica College

As a longtime listener to KABC, I was disheartened by the news of Roger Barkley's firing from the "Ken and Barkley Company" ("KABC Fires Barkley as a Morning Radio Host," Calendar, Sept. 18). In a way, I saw the dismissal coming a long time ago.

It was in 1992 that I first felt that adolescent and demeaning comments were becoming all too frequent on the show I had long admired. In particular, I became exasperated with Ken Minyard's continual references to the film "Basic Instinct" and to the leading lady's lack of underwear. So I wrote a letter and complained.

"At the risk of being made fun of at worst and ignored at best, I'm writing to say how sad I am that you have gotten so much more tacky," I began my "Dear Ken & Roger" letter. "I like a little 'tack' myself but you've crossed my line lately. . . . This morning I turned you off when Ken was going on and on about the vibrator."

I ended the letter by saying, "There must be other ways to increase ratings. . . . I hope this is just an experiment or a phase and it passes."

A week later I received an answer to my letter.

"Since you admit to liking 'a little "tack" ' yourself, it's hard to know at what point we cross that fine line between what's acceptable to Rhoda and what's not," Barkley wrote.

"We certainly are not on the cutting edge of bad taste but, since it's all around us, we try to find humor in it and react to the reality of the present state of 'entertainment.'

"I hope you will find that we do more things that please you than don't. Maybe, indeed, we and the whole entertainment world are going through a 'phase' that will pass."

Since we exchanged those letters in 1992, I have listened less, gingerly turning the dial to 790 now and then, mainly because I've been fascinated by how Barkley has handled Minyard.

Unfortunately, the "phase" that the entertainment industry is going through has yet to run its course. Barkley's firing is only the latest evidence of that.

I certainly hope he chooses to continue on another station because he is a refreshing delight in this world progressively filled with tack and sleaze.

He wasn't afraid to be wholesome but he had to pay a price. I find that scary.

Sorry if I sound so grandiose, but it's painful to see the good guys get hurt, especially when there are so precious few heroes in the public eye.

I thank Roger Barkley for all of his goodness. Anyone who is in contact with him is the better for it. I am for having heard him over these six years.

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