Steve Hayes' Knockout?
If Steve Hayes believed he had good reason to terminate Mullins -- playing the song without approval, breaking station conduct rules, showing lack of concern over FCC regulations, airing improper subject matter, aggrandizing his status -- Hayes should weigh that reason(s) against Mullins' good intentions and excellent track record. Taking a person's livelihood and trashing his good standing in a profession are very serious actions.
As operations manager, Hayes must be sensitive to impropriety; however, his overreaction proved his own detachment from comprehending humans and emotions. While Hayes first concern should be fair treatment of his staff, he, instead, chose to act with a "company man" mentality. He acted rashly without proper compassion about his employee. Even if Hayes believes Mullins did a major "no no," the manager must render retribution fairly without concern for his personal gratification.
I happen to believe Larry Dale Mullins made no mistake playing "740." WNXT and Steve Hayes may disagree, but I think I have a little perspective about selfish concerns of the station. I remember an afternoon call-in show that WNXT conducted soon after national attention had been drawn to Scioto County concerning its glut of pill mills. The station decided to weigh the fallout to the community's efforts to expose drug addiction and the illegal drug trade. At the time Scioto County was one of the epicenters of the prescription drug health epidemic.
During the call-in, positive and negative reaction to exposing the drug problem poured into the radio station. It was evident that the subject was extremely popular and controversial. I believe after seeing that some residents expressed the opinion that exposing the problem was giving Scioto County a "black eye," the station became hypersensitive to airing anything about drug abuse.
Indifference? No, not exactly -- as long as the news about abuse was deemed "vanilla" and unruffled, it passed station muster, yet if something was true but the slightest "ugly" or potentially contentious, WNXT took a pass. Give credit to Larry Dale for having the fortitude to play "740" despite its arguable nature. In retrospect, why can't the station simply release a statement saying "the opinions expressed in the song are not necessarily those of the radio station" and be done with the matter.
I will tell you why I believe Larry's simple actions resulted in an unfair reaction by the operations manager. Our area is too used to following rigid custom and control exerted by a faction of the population living in the past. This "good old boy" faction does not want to foster improvement that requires controversial change.
Scioto County is the unhealthiest county in the state of Ohio -- change for the better is imperative. RWR makes a dramatic statement in their song. Controversial -- yes. But true -- I think yes. If WNXT wants to lead the way to a healthier, more productive area, they must understand that "business as usual" might not be the answer. People on the front lines fighting problems here are suffering the bruises and cuts that come with protecting our homeland.
Should a man be fired for playing a song of protest? God knows playing Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind," Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," CSNY's "Ohio," or Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell," would evidently cost a DJ his WNXT paycheck.
My take: get over your groundless fears, Mr. Hayes. Open your eyes and see your county as it really is. Illusions are fine for Disneyland, but here in Scioto, we deal daily with stark reality.
Steve, you made the "mistake." We all make them, but you must be "man" enough to admit your error and correct it. Instead of killing the messenger, read his message and thank him for delivering it. Take out any aggression you may have not by firing Larry Dale but by fighting drug abuse.
Some people here named Roberts and Krohn and Maloney care about you and yours, Steve Hayes. And, don't tell me you don't have friends and family suffering with the pains of dependency and addiction. That is, unless you want me to accept a lie. You see, in the "740," we all have loved ones suffering with this disease.