Wayne Besen at the press conference. Photo by Amy Wooten
A coalition of national and local organizations gathered in downtown Chicago last week to denounce the Museum of Broadcast Communications' ( MBC ) plan to induct an anti-gay individual into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
On Thursday, Oct. 16, members of the Dump Dobson Coalition, including individuals from Gay Liberation Network, Truth Wins Out and Equality Illinois, called for the Chicago-based MBC to stop its plans to induct Focus on the Family founder James Dobson into the National Radio Hall of Fame. They gathered outside of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel, where the MBC plans to honor Dobson and others during an upcoming awards dinner. Representatives of the coalition said that if the museum does not rescind the award, it will protest outside the venue Nov. 8, the date of the ceremony.
According to Radio Ink, the National Radio Hall of Fame will stand by its voting process and move forward with Dobson's induction. Radio Ink also reported that in a recent letter to the Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee, chairman Bruce DuMont wrote that the Dump Dobson Coalition has 'completely clouded the issues.'
In a previous interview with Windy City Times, DuMont stressed that the 2008 inductees were voted on by the general public, as well as Hall of Fame members, broadcast industry leaders, historians and educators. He added that the National Radio Hall of Fame does not take a nominee or inductee's political affiliation into consideration, nor does it endorse or support a nominee or inductee's personal views.
Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen told Windy City Times that so far, the coalition has received a 'great response.' He added that with the upcoming election, it will take extra work to mobilize the LGBT community. He added that he has not had his calls and e-mails to the MBC returned.
This year, the MBC opened up the balloting process to the public. According to Besen, the change in the voting process allowed Dobson, through his widely syndicated Focus on the Family radio program, to 'stuff the ballot box.'
'It was a given he should win,' Besen added. 'Radio is a hotbed of controversial and discriminatory language and inflammatory rhetoric. To have a process where anybody can get in, any demagogue ... is a recipe for disaster.'
Besen believes that opening up the process 'diminishes and demeans' the museum.
Gay Liberation Network's Bob Schwartz wondered if the local museum is genuine when it says that no political consideration is made when it comes to nominees: 'If this is true, why is Don Imus [ who has made racist remarks on the air ] excluded?'
Although Schwartz and others feel that it is necessary to exclude an individual like Imus from the Hall of Fame, they believe that allowing in Dobson, who has made a number of anti-gay remarks over the years, is a double standard.
Dobson has been qouted as saying that allowing same-sex marraige will 'destroy the earth.' Over the years, he has misqouted scientific research to scapegoat LGBT people and spread myths and stereotypes. A number of scientists have accused Dobson of manipulating their research. Dobson also founded a so-called ex-gay ministry, called Love Won Out.
'This is not somebody you honor,' Besen said. 'This is outrageous and unbelievable.'
Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Rick Garcia stressed that the Dump Dobson Coalition believes that diverse opinions should be allowed on the radio. However, Dobson abuses the radio airwaves, he added.
'He is using the airwaves to spread hate,' Garcia said. 'This is an atrocity.'
Garcia added that if the museum moves forward with its plans to award Dobson, it should change its name to the 'Radio Hall of Shame.'
At the recent press conference, the Dump Dobson Coalition also unveiled its new ad campaign, which debuted in a mainstream newspaper Friday, Oct. 17. The coalition plans to launch a 'signature ad' campaign in local LGBT publications, as well.
See www.dumpdobson.com for more information.