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KLSX Fires Talk Show Host Over Office Scuffle

September 11, 1997|JUDITH MICHAELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Riki Rachtman, the KLSX-FM (97.1) talk show host who faces a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly punching station colleague Doug Steckler at the office Monday, got his own one-two punch Wednesday.

He got fired. And the firing, Rachtman said from home, came without severance pay.

KLSX general manager Bob Moore said that Rachtman was "terminated today for misconduct. . . . By no means do we condone violence."

On the matter of severance, Moore said that Rachtman has a "contract that [was] taken care of." On Tuesday, Rachtman, 35, who came to KLSX last year after a successful two-year run as host of "Loveline" on KROQ-FM (106.7), said he had been told by station management that "it doesn't look good" for keeping his program, which aired weeknights from 7 to 10.

On Wednesday, after hearing from colleagues that "my things were being boxed up early in the morning," he finally called program director Jack Silver, who gave him the news.

"I feel horrible," Rachtman said of the dismissal. "I love doing talk radio."

"I'm not angry toward the members of KLSX because I understand I did something that was stupid," he said, referring to the fight with Steckler. "I'm not justifying what I did."

But he also suggested that the dispute between him and Steckler, in which the two traded on-air insults about one another, escalated when Steckler verbally attacked Rachtman's girlfriend, an adult-film actress, and when Rachtman's desk was "vandalized."

Moore indicated that he does not believe the station bears responsibility for Rachtman's actions.

Rachtman said earlier that the confrontation began when he went to KLSX on Monday to talk with Silver. He said Steckler approached him and said, "Get out of my face." Rachtman said that he was afraid for his own safety because of "vicious threats" Steckler had made on the air.

Steckler, who reportedly suffered a black eye in the scuffle, was recovering at home this week. Moore said he expects that Steckler and his partner, Tim Conway Jr., will be back on the air Monday for their 11 a.m.-3 p.m. show.

He said he expects to name a replacement for Rachtman next week.

As for his future, Rachtman said his staff of six was "at my house right now. We're going to go out there and we're going to create a great radio show. The only thing that's missing is a radio station."

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