Infamous Westboro Baptist Church, which makes a practice of picketing the funerals of fallen American servicemen who have been killed in action in Afghanistan or Iraq, was going to do the same for the nine-year-old girl tragically killed in the Tucson shooting spree. Communicom’s KXXT-AM Tolleson AZ was one of two stations that dissuaded the group with the offer of free airtime, as did syndicated host Mike Gallagher (see related story).
KXXT primarily serves the Phoenix market, well to the north of Tucson.
The girl is Christina Taylor Green, one of six killed at Tucson shopping center taking part in a session with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).
According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, CFNY-FM, serving Toronto, ON, Canada also offered time – that time has already been used.
Plans to picket the funerals of other victims were still in the works, but have been headed off by Gallagher’s offer of access to a national audience. A Westboros pokesperson, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said Gallagher’s offer of access to an audience estimated at 10M was too good to pass up.
AT KXXT, Phelps-Roper will be a guest for a half hour on the morning show hosted by Steve Sanchez from 8AM-10AM Saturdays. It won’t be the first time – the two are said to have sparred on the air before.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is not the first time radio operators have stepped up to keep this group away from grieving families. We personally have friends spanning the spectrum – left, center and right – and we have to say that an extreme distaste for the actions of Westboro is one thing that seems to unite us all. Thank you, Mr. Gallagher, KXXT and CFNY, for preventing this group from adding its particular accent to what is already an unthinkably horrible situation.