Greenville's WORD-FM holds debate for protesters


Radio to the rescue, again, when it comes to Westboro Baptist Church funeral protesters: Entercom’s AM-FM News radio simulcast WORD-FM (WYRD) in Greenville, SC held a debate 3/18 at 3:00PM with local Westboro Baptist Church members who hold controversial protests at fallen military funerals in exchange for their promise not to show up at a local airman’s funeral over the weekend. Church members said they hold these protests because God is punishing America for tolerance of homosexuals.

The one-hour debate was held at the station’s Greenville County office building. Senior airman Nick Alden, from Williamston, S.C., was one of two U.S. military personnel shot and killed at a German airport more than two weeks ago, where a  Muslim extremist opened fire on a bus of soldiers and airmen carrying Alden as retaliation for the war in Afghanistan.

Alden was a 25-year-old father of two who grew up in Williamston and went to Palmetto High School. Since his death, Westboro Baptist Church members were planning on protesting Alden’s Saturday funeral. The church recently won a U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld its right to stage these highly controversial protests.

In a statement from WORD, a spokesman told WYFF-TV there that they “in no way endorse the views of Westboro, but felt it was worthwhile to make this deal to spare the Alden family the pain of having protesters at the funeral.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The last time radio stepped up to the plate was with The Mike Gallagher Show, KXXT-AM in Phoenix (The Steve Sanchez Show) and CFNY-FM “The Edge” in Toronto (The Dean Blundell Show). It seems almost a working relationship the medium has with the church. While it’s hard to believe that the church’s attention mechanism revolves around recent government or military shootings being blamed on America’s tolerance for homosexuality, these compromises do show that News-Talk radio is very important to local communities.