First, go watch this.
As many of you know, right now I live in Charlottesville, Virginia. It's a unique state -- you can't help but to feel connected to the land and to other Virginians, even if you are somewhat of an interloper from New York. There's a certain sense of being a part of the "Commonwealth" -- you connect with the land, the air and the ghost of Thomas Jefferson...
So when the Hokies suffered their loss two weeks ago, a cold and thick blanket of mourning fell across the whole state. Birds didn't chirp as loudly, flowers didn't bloom as brightly and it was cloudier than usual...
As Virginians worked to rationalize their way to emotional equilibrium, hundreds of thousands of us were confronted with a particularly odious grief-merchant that sought to profit by dancing on the graves of our fallen. Neil Boortz, the conservative shock-jock out of Atlanta, is broadcast on AM stations across the Commonwealth. On April 17th, the day after the shootings, at a time nobody really knew yet what had happened - and some parents were still wondering if their child was among the slain -- Boortz used his platform to wonder, "How the hell do 25 students allow themselves to be lined up against the wall in a classroom and picked off one by one? How does that happen, when they could have rushed the gunman, the shooter, and most of them would have survived?"
Soon thereafter, Boortz boorish and insulting musings earned him the wrath of thousands of listeners, Virginian and otherwise. As the the state exploded with indignation, Boortz got busy composing his response: a blog entry, posted the next day, entitled "The Wussification of America."
Now, by clear implication, according to Boortz, the slain Hokies were wussies. Classy guy, that Boortz.
By the third day, a message had been sent to Boortz's syndicators. Evidently, his bosses had a little talk with him, because on his show that day, Boortz apologized for his insensitive rantings. This apology seemed to assuage some of his affiliates and the issue seemed to blow over for a few days.
Until last Tuesday -- a full week after the massacre -- when Boortz wrote this on his blog: "At the center of this controversy are some of the thoughts I expressed last week in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. Since I first uttered my politically incorrect thoughts I have apologized; not for what I said, but for how I said it."
So he's not sorry for what he said... He meant to call Virginians, and Americans, wussies and cowards in a less "politically incorrect" manner.
This was finally enough for the political establishment in Virginia. Governor Tom Kaine weighed in. He was followed soon thereafter by three Virginia legislators. Virginia Tech's student paper got involved. Then the media picked it up. Letters to the editor poured in. And now, Blacksburg's Boortz carrier is reconsidering.
There are six other Virginia stations that carry Boortz.
Boortz"s continued contempt for Virginians prompted me to call the Virginia radio stations that carry his show. I spoke with General Managers and Program Directors in seven different cities. Some of these folks were pretty reasonable. Others not so much... In the end, I've compiled a fairly interesting window on the heartbeat of conservative talk radio in Virginia. I thought it incredible that he could say this - in a state that suffered through the most horrible gun shooting in Unites States history - and the state's radio stations wouldn't respond. Here's a window on one of my conversations.
This is a bit of my call to Boortz's Martinsville, VA carrier. I spoke with Jason Wyatt, the son of the station's owner.
Listen in -- you'll be shocked.