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Psst, It's a Conspiracy: KJFK Gives Alex Jones the Boot

By Lee Nichols, Fri., Dec. 10, 1999

Add one more conspiracy to the list. Alex Jones -- who is either Austin's great exposer of truth or a black helicopter conspiracy nut, depending on your worldview -- has been canned from his evening talk show on KJFK (98.9FM). Jones, who hosted The Final Edition -- so named because you never knew when the government might show up at the station to force you off the air -- was instead forced off by station management last week. And the reasons for his ouster certainly have the elements of intrigue for which Jones is famous. The libertarian Jones first made a name for himself a couple of years ago (see "Media Clips," Aug. 7, 1998) with his programs on access television, speechifying about and presenting video of what he says are the violations of our freedoms and the stepping up of martial law in our country. He eventually landed on KJFK, still something of a fledgling in Austin's talk radio scene, having switched to the format in 1996.

There, he drew even more attention, especially in championing the cause of the Branch Davidians and in his insistence that they had not committed suicide in the Waco debacle but had been attacked by government agents, charges which gained some credibility once the Texas Rangers released its information about evidence from the 1993 incident. He drew attention from major national media outlets for trying to help the Davidians rebuild their church at Mt. Carmel.

By all accounts, including KJFK's own in the Austin American-Statesman (the station did not return my calls), Jones was not hurting for listeners. In fact, he won this year's "Best of Austin" poll as radio host, voted by Austin Chronicle readers. However, station operations manager Brian Billeck told the local daily that Jones' viewpoints made the show hard to sell to advertisers. (Sports show host Mike Konderla, on the other hand, was fired on the same day, reportedly for low ratings.)

Jones and his supporters contend that is bunk, and maintain that advertisers are actually pulling out in response to his being canned.

"It was purely political, and it came down from on high," says Jones, referring to KJFK's owner, the Times-Shamrock company. "I was told 11 weeks ago to lay off Clinton, to lay off all these politicians, to not talk about rebuilding the church, to stop bashing the Marines, A to Z." Jones makes similar charges in a press release on his Web site, http://www.infowars.com.

Billeck told the daily that Jones was not censored but told to "broaden" (the Statesman's word) his topics.

"Jim Loftis, the CEO of the radio division [of Times-Shamrock] patted me on the cheek -- he never talks to me, he's never around -- and says, "We want you to talk about sex and relationships,'" Jones says. "I thought it was a joke, and he said, "You've got an unscheduled meeting, go to it.' Suddenly, I'm told I've got an early meeting with the station consultant [Don Davis] who'd been doing these long airchecks with other people, and he goes, "Well, we don't need much time with you, Alex.'

"He looked at me and goes, "This will only take a few minutes. Number one, you may have a lot of listeners' -- which has been proven -- "but we are sick of the Clinton bashing. We're sick of the political politician bashing' -- I bash Bush more than Clinton lately -- "and this rebuilding the church thing, this is kooky.'"

Jones also says that KJFK general manager Mark Stacey said, "Look, you quit talking about rebuilding that church or you won't be on the station." Jones added that Stacey, an ex-Marine, was angered by Jones' criticisms of the Marine Corps.

Jones maintains that he was a major advertising draw for the station, and a source close to the station who asked to remain anonymous agreed. He also maintains that he was "No. 1 in every demographic" in the ratings. A look at the latest Arbitron ratings do indeed show that his time slot was beating KLBJ-AM, the station's only real rival in Austin, although stations in other formats were rating higher than KJFK.

Jones also charges on his Web site that he is being attacked in "an e-mail campaign we know has been launched from KJFK to spin their self-destructive and incredible behavior."

Jones says he will continue his other broadcasting ventures, including his access television shows and another radio show that he does out of his house which is syndicated to "about 35" AM, FM, and shortwave stations through the Genesis Communications network, and which can also be heard over the Internet, 11am-2pm on his Web site.

KJFK has replaced Jones with the syndicated call-in show of Los Angeles host Tom Leykis, whose style fits in much better with the juvenile and sophomoric bathroom and locker-room humor for which the station is known (KJFK is the local provider of Howard Stern).

Personally, I'm sad to see Jones gone. Although I disagree with many of his beliefs -- why would the corporate controllers of our nation impose expensive martial law on a populace of non-voting couch potatoes who are already completely compliant anyway? -- I still at least appreciate the fact that he was tackling political topics, and from a different perspective than the right-wingers who dominate talk radio (such as G. Gordon Liddy, also heard on KJFK). And unlike much of the so-called "black helicopter" crowd, he isn't racist -- he saves all his ire for government and corporations.

Interestingly, this controversy has spilled over onto the airwaves of KVET's Sammy and Bob Show. Seeking another outlet to spread their message now that Jones is not on Austin airwaves, callers have flooded Sammy Allred and Bob Cole's morning talk show with calls, usually to be ridiculed and hung up on by the cranky duo.


Daryl and Carole

Here's something we thought we'd never see: Veteran Austin political journalist Daryl Janes is now working as a writer/researcher in the public outreach section in the office of State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander. Yes, you read that right. Our Republican comptroller is now the boss of the former publisher of The Daryl Herald, the muckraking city politics newsletter which he co-wrote and published with Daryl Slusher, the former Austin Chronicle Politics editor and now City Council member.

This is also the same Janes who edited No Apologies: Texas Radicals Celebrate the '60s, a 1992 collection of essays by our state's more notable lefties, which contained a forward by Jesse Jackson. In the past, Janes also worked for the Jim Mattox for Governor campaign, wrote for the Chronicle, hosted a politics show on community radio station KAZI, and according to his bio in No Apologies, has been a Teamster since 1963.

More recently, he was employed by The Austin Business Journal, where he covered courts, government, and small businesses, and edited the paper's "Focus" section.

The Chronicle left a message at Janes' office asking for an interview, but a comptroller spokesperson said that Janes did not wish to comment.


Coronation Coverage

There has been some mighty interesting coverage of George W. Bush in recent weeks, although most of it can only be found if you already know where to look. A couple of off-the-beaten-path sources have provided illuminating looks at what we might expect from Shrub in foreign policy.

A potentially damaging one -- provided it ever appears on the mainstream radar screens -- comes from El Andar, a quarterly national magazine covering Latino issues and culture (available locally at Barnes & Noble and BookPeople). In its winter issue, Julia Reynolds, El Andar's editorial director, and Eduardo Valle, a columnist for the Mexico City daily El Universal, collaborated on an investigative report alleging that in 1991 Bush personally offered aid to a fugitive from Mexican justice by placing a phone call to his then-president father.

According to the report, Enrique Fuentes León, a millionaire lawyer wanted in Mexico for bribery related to a murder case, fled his homeland in 1989 and eventually ended up in San Antonio. When the Mexican government made an extradition request in October 1991, Texas publisher Tino Durán sat down with Bush and convinced the then-Texas Rangers baseball team owner to place a call to daddy to see if something could be done on Fuentes León's behalf. Fuentes León claimed that he was in fact a victim of human rights abuses rather than a fugitive criminal.

Shortly after Bush's alleged phone call -- which the governor says he doesn't recall -- the State Department replied to a letter from Fuentes León, but only recommended that he contact the Mexican National Human Rights Commission.

The story then goes on to outline Fuentes León's sordid past and present: He is currently back in Mexico, incarcerated on charges relating to a kidnapping and murder. He is also implicated in a 1970 murder, and is currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in relation to the murder case of José Luis del Toro, who Austinites may remember was released from misdemeanor incarceration at the Travis County jail in 1997, days before the slaying of Sheila Bellush in Florida. The article also notes Fuentes León's prosperous stay until the mid-1990s in San Antonio, where, despite having an expired tourist visa, he was a successful businessman and even attempted to buy the now-defunct San Antonio Light newspaper.

For more info, go to http://www.elandar.com.

Also in the alternative media, the best analysis we have yet heard of the guv's stands on the issues came on the Nov. 24-30 edition of RadioNation, the broadcast version of The Nation magazine. Shortly after Bush's much-ballyhooed Nov. 19 speech outlining his foreign policy, and his subsequent interview on NBC's Meet the Press, show host Marc Cooper and Nation Washington editor David Corn scathingly picked apart the candidate's statements.

When Cooper noted that Bush's foreign policy advisors are largely drawn from his father's crowd, Corn laughed that "It's very much like Austin Powers -- they were frozen a few years ago and then thawed for this campaign. -- By and large, it's what you'd expect. What would George W. Bush do except go to Foreign Policy 'R Us and go to the same people he knew who advised his dad? I was a little bit taken aback -- in that speech [when] he said that American defense must be the first focus of a president. Well, I'm not going to take issue with that one way or the other, but certainly, if that's indeed true, why would anyone look to George W. Bush to apply that focus? It's not where his talents lie, it's not where his experiences lie. It has nothing to do with baseball."

Radio Nation is not currently carried by any Austin radio stations, but it is available on the Web in RealAudio at http://www.webactive.com.

One mainstream news story that did catch our eye came from the Knight Ridder wire service, reporting that, "Under Gov. George W. Bush, Texas environmental regulators are collecting fewer and few pollution fines, even though the state leads the nation in toxic emissions."

Jay Root, Austin bureau chief for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, wrote in the paper's Nov. 21 issue that only $4 million in fines were collected in fiscal 1999, the lowest since the $3.5 million collected in 1992 during Ann Richards' reign. The highest amount collected in the last decade, also under Richards, was $9.1 million in 1993. Bush's aides and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission officials defended Bush, saying that more of the fines are being disputed in court, delaying collection. Environmentalists, however, lay the blame on Bush's "voluntary compliance" policy.

And finally, if you haven't checked out gwbush.com lately, head to your nearest Web browser quickly. The parody Web site, which mimics Bush's official site, just keeps getting funnier. Currently, the site is trying to raise money to shoot some anti-Bush television commercials, and the three proposed scripts are hilarious, respectively attacking his hypocritical stances on drugs, affirmative action, and patriotism. The site is also selling a variety of bumper stickers ("GWBush: Not a Crackhead Anymore!") and features a "book cover" of a mock biography titled "George W. Bush: Stoned to the Bone." Remember, the site is http://www.gwbush.com, not to be confused with the official site at http://www.georgewbush.com. end story

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