In June, Michael Kain, the Grand Knight-Elect of the Glenmary Knights of Columbus in Cincinnati, was driving home late at night listening to WSAI, Cincinnati’s “Original Hits Station.” He was startled to hear a lengthy attack on the Catholic Church being conducted by a preacher, Brother Stair. Kain wrote the station manager and also contacted the Archdiocese of Cincinnati; the Archdiocese kindly referenced Kain to the league.
The letter that Kain received from WSAI was mixed. He shared it with us, asking for assistance. The league wrote to station manager Peter Zolnowski requesting that he make some tough decisions.
William Donohue praised Zolnowski for refusing to grant Brother Stair the right to purchase additional air time, but he chastised him for not doing anything about the current situation. Donohue asked, “Is there nothing in the contract that allows you to discontinue your relationship with someone who defames a large segment of the population?”
Zolnowski tried to make a First Amendment defense of his inaction. Donohue wrote saying, “As to the issue of the First Amendment, you are mistaken: no one has a First Amendment right to voice his or her opinion about anything in any privately-held medium. The First Amendment puts restraints on government from engaging in censorship, but it says absolutely nothing about the obligations of the private sector to disseminate ideas.”
The weakest argument that Zolnowski made was his pitch that Brother Stair was “not anti-Catholic,” it was just that Mr. Kain “happened to tune in on a night when he [Brother Stair] was on his Catholic-bashing soap box.” To which Donohue replied, “So, Mr. Zolnowski, which is it? If Mr. Kain just happens to listen to a notorious white racist will you defend the racist as not being a bigot against blacks merely because Mr. Kain just happened to tune in at the wrong time?”
Donohue recommended that WSAI review its contract with Brother Stair and “find a way to drop him.” Failing that, it was urged that the station put Brother Stair on notice that his contract will not be renewed. Members can write to Zolnowski at: WSAI, 1111 St. Gregory Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.