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Friday, October 11, 2013

WNXT's Larry Dale Fired -- Hayes Upset With "740"

It has come to my attention that following airplay of a "clean" version of the song "What the Hell You Know About That 740?" by locals Big Mung, D' Gree and Random (known as RWR), Operations Manager Steve Hayes fired 99.3 WNXT Radio personality Larry Dale Mullins.

Mullins played the song as part of an interview with Portsmouth public health nurse/Scioto Drug Action Team leader Lisa Roberts and SOLACE Director Jo Anna Krohn to help publicize a concert by RWR and Farm Click on October 12 at the 17th Street Armory in Portsmouth.

The concert, dubbed the "740—Revive our Greatness Concert" was planned because of the high praise RWR's song "740" has received from the public. Krohn, herself, acknowledged the song has received its fair share of criticisms because of the way it portrays the area.

“The song is very powerful and critical about our community. The song is done in a way that’s inspirational and the core message is that, we as a community need to revive our greatness and have unity in the community,” Krohn said. There are two versions of the song, one clean and the other not so clean.

“Some people are not going appreciate the words of the song because it paints a bad picture of the area, though it is unfortunately true. We are the second poorest county in Ohio, we do have a high hepatitis rate and a number of other things that are not good,” Krohn said. “What these guys are doing is acknowledging the truth of the area and inspiring people to come together to do something. The words are powerful and I think its an awesome song. I really think this might be the next thing we need to unite us again to do something more about our problems.”

She said the event is more than the groups that will be performing. She said throughout the event there will be speakers telling of their inspirational stories. “We are also going to talk about what our next steps should be, to further make positive changes in the community,” Krohn said.

Allegedly, Steve Hayes, who was out of town at the time, took exception to Mullins playing the song without his permission. Hayes supposedly accused Mullins of attempting to become a "hero" and aggrandize his status in the community by simply airing the song one time. Reports say Larry Dale has be "unofficially" terminated from employment by WNXT.

Steve Hayes

My Take

First of all, those who know Larry Dale Mullins understand that he is not the type of person who wants glory or celebrity. He is kind, selfless, and courteous to a fault -- a person who lives a quiet life but who contributes greatly to his community. I and many others in Scioto County admire Larry Dale and respect him for his work. Doesn't Steve Hayes know how many people are friends with Mullins and see him as an all-around "good guy"? I believe Larry Dale makes no attempt to glorify his persona.

Second, I believe this is not a singular incident but, instead, part of a long string of negative reactions to broadcasting the truth about the drug epidemic in Scioto County. A stigma concerning any grain of negativity associated with promoting efforts to fight drug abuse exists. Many of the "who's who" and the "good old boys" of the enduring Scioto past do not want to hear the truth about the state of drug problems here. They see carrying the flag of leadership against abuse as a potential "black eye" for commerce and, in this case, a "shiner" for generating advertising revenue.

To these indifferent attitudes I say: "Be a part of the solution, not a part of neglecting priorities." I know that WNXT has had ample opportunities in the past to assist local efforts. To be honest, their track record is dismal. They chose to use kid gloves with efforts to end abuse because they fear that some of their listening audience doesn't want to hear any mention of "d-r-u-g-s."

Instead, the station could lead the fight with confidence that drug abuse radio spots and honest reports will reduce addiction. They have not contributed much to events sponsored by the Action Team or by local nonprofits. To influence real change, WNXT could do so much much to assist those trying hard to make a difference.

Next, let me assure you from my experience of the last five years or more that NO ONE does more good to stop drug abuse in this county than Lisa Roberts and Jo Anna Krohn. I know both well, and I have worked with them extensively. I am witness to their tremendous work. The state of Scioto County would be deplorable without the industry of both of these strong, courageous, well-spoken women. Kudos to Larry Dale Mullins for having the guts and sense to play "740."

In addition, many people in the area want WNXT to play "740." I have, myself, heard scores of positive reactions to the station's airing of the song during the interview. Most reflect the attitude of "it's about time we hear the truth." If Steve Hayes is upset to the point of firing Mullins for simply playing the song, perhaps he is jealous that he is not getting praise to speak honestly against abuse. Steve Hayes may believe that any prestige should be attributed to him.

And, it's not as if Hayes hasn't made controversial comments and editorials on his own radio broadcasts. He should know this. He is often political and opinionated about causes that he supports, sometimes to the point of offending listeners. Perhaps the skewed judgment that Mullins made a mistake by playing "740" rests in the brain of Steve Hayes. He seems to relish being "large and in charge."

I praise RWR for recording and promoting "What the Hell You Know About That 740?" I praise Roberts and Krohn for their tireless work in saving lives in my backyard. I, despite protests from Steve Hayes and WNXT radio, praise Larry Dale Mullins for playing the controversial song. He has  unknowingly lit a fire in a tinderbox begging for ignition -- he chose to expose the truth in its deplorable state.

By releasing "740" to the 740 area airwaves and getting terminated for doing so, Mullins has successfully fired a shot that will help destroy the status quo, "good old boy" hold and mentality. I feel sorry for Larry Dale. He should never have been given such a severe penalty by Hayes for merely doing what is right.

Shame on you, Steve Hayes. You may have fired an employee, but I believe you have also injured your radio station with your gigantic ego. As far as beloved radio personalities and well-deserved credit go, you should just look towards a true icon -- "Mr. Deejay USA in 1959" Zeke Mullins. And, Steve, the seed fell right beside the sturdy oak. Larry Dale Mullins is a fine person, a superb radio personality, and a gutsy man. Thanks for everything you do, Larry Dale.

Zeke Mullins


Tickets for the "740—Revive our Greatness Concert" can be purchased for $10 at the SOLACE office on 11th street, Hilltop Market on Grandview Ave. and the Sixth Street Carryout.

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