When retired Seattle police detective Myrle Carner was approached with the idea of hosting a drive-time talk-radio show, he was taken aback. Carner, 60, remembers wondering whether...
When retired Seattle police detective Myrle Carner was approached with the idea of hosting a drive-time talk-radio show, he was taken aback.
Carner, 60, remembers wondering whether anyone would listen to two former cops — he and friend Ron Conlin, a retired New Orleans police officer — drone on about law-enforcement work. They worried that fellow officers, who are often media-shy, would refuse to appear as guests. They feared they’d get on-air phone calls from people with an anti-police bent.
But 19 months later, “Cop Talk” is a hit among local police and civilians, and with out-of-state listeners who hear the show over the Internet. Executives at Bellevue’s Sandusky Radio, which carries the show and came up with the concept, say a loyal audience tunes in to KKNW-AM (1150) for “Cop Talk.”
“When they’re on the air, their phones are hot,” said Marc Kaye, general manager of Sandusky Radio. “We know we have hundreds of people who are streaming [over the Internet] all the time.”
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Conlin, 55, and Carner met in 1987 while working to get Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound off the ground. Though much of their week is spent preparing for the radio show, Carner and Conlin still put in long hours in their Crime Stoppers office in Seattle.
“It’s a show that provides the general public a chance to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of law enforcement,” said Conlin, who spent 15 years with the New Orleans Police Department.
Carner, who spent more than 30 years with the Seattle police, said the two devote more than eight hours a week preparing for “Cop Talk” shows, which air from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and are rebroadcast during the same hour Fridays. They book their guests, compose all interview questions and even sell airtime to advertisers. Neither gets paid for their work on the show.
“It is quite a bit of work,” Carner said. “I think it gives us a vehicle you never get, and you get to tell a side of a story that never gets told. There are so many misconceptions about what [police] work is all about.”
Since debuting in May 2003 with King County Sheriff Dave Reichert as their guest, Conlin and Carner have had true-crime writer Ann Rule, Lynnwood Mayor Mike McKinnon and Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske on the program.
“We try to keep it even-keeled,” Conlin said of the show’s format. “Maybe that’s made a difference, because we’ve never had anyone call in and be ugly to us.”
Kelvin Crenshaw, special agent in charge of the Seattle field division for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was on the show in July.
“It gives listeners a bird’s-eye view with what’s going on with various law-enforcement agencies,” said Crenshaw. “It fosters great relationships between federal, state and local agencies.”
Every week, Carner reads a handful of crime stories from around the world for his “lighter side of the law” segment, which focuses on silly things done by cops and criminals. Conlin selects crimes involving animals for his “wild kingdom” segment. They always read a Crime Stoppers item in an effort to draw potential witnesses to call the crime-tips hotline.
Carner and Conlin banter about police work, offering their opinions on officers’ decisions. They also read community-calendar items and personal-safety tips.
“Thirty-one years in the radio business and I’ve never heard of this being done anywhere else,” said Kaye. “You can go to any radio station and talk politics, and people beat the crud out of that stuff every day.”
Kerlikowske, who was on the program in November 2003, said “it seems they [Conlin and Carner] cover an awfully broad range of things that have to do with policing.”
Describing his appearance on the show in September, Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf said Carner and Conlin asked him to elaborate on his background in law enforcement and why he went from being Snohomish County sheriff to Everett chief in 1995.
“It’s a good way for those who are interested in the specifics of law enforcement to acquire information,” said Scharf.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org