With apologies and saying he was praying for healing, controversial radio afternoon host Dori Monson was back on the air Tuesday.
Monson disappeared from KIRO Radio 97.3 FM for 2½ weeks after a tweet he sent mocking transgender people.
In a statement posted on the station’s website, the top-rated Monson said that his tweet on Oct. 7 — during the Washington gubernatorial debate between Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Loren Culp — “didn’t hit the mark.”
The tweet said: “Inslee: we follow science in WA. The state where I could go to Olympia tomorrow and change my birth cert to say I was a girl on 10/2/61. HAHAHAHAHA.”
The reaction was swift.
By Oct. 9, he was suspended indefinitely from hosting the Seahawks’ pregame and postgame radio shows. And remains suspended.
Also by that day, he wasn’t appearing on his noon-3 p.m. show. There was no comment from station management.
And by then, too, Seattle Pride executive director Krystal Marx asked Monson “to issue a sincere apology and take actions to build empathy and understanding toward our transgender community — and that he realizes the harmful impact of his words by taking actionable steps towards addressing his history of homophobic and transphobic remarks. If he is unwilling to take these important actions, Seattle Pride will continue to call for his immediate termination.”
Monson began his show shortly after noon Tuesday with what sounded like a sigh of relief. “How you doing! Welcome to The Big Show. My thanks to you my listeners. You’ve been absolutely awesome,” he said.
Then Monson basically followed the 600-word statement that had been posted on the station’s website at 12:10 p.m.
After that, it was back to his regular talk show.
Monson explained the tweet in the statement on the station’s website. He declined to comment for an interview.
“I was on Twitter and wrote a comment about what I saw as a disconnect between what Jay Inslee calls ‘science,’ and the way Washington state allows a person to change the sex on their birth certificate decades after they were born,” he wrote.
But instead, he said, “it was painful for some of our listeners and many in the Twitter-sphere. For that, like I said on the air the day after the tweet, I apologize. On that Thursday, I said, ‘I’m sorry. That was not where I was going. That was not my intent on that.’ Hours before that show, I shared a more personal apology by phone with a couple I know — a couple who was angry because they have a transgender adult child.”
In ratings going back to January, Monson has had the No. 1-rated show in his time slot in the advertiser-friendly adults 25-54.
“No question the result might have been otherwise if he wasn’t as popular as he was,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, a trade publication for talk radio. “Radio is a business.”
He said radio companies have a long history of deciding that a controversial personality was worth the cost. Talk radio, especially, said Harrison, “Is used to controversy.”
Stations that carried Howard Stern, when he was on terrestrial radio in shock-jock days, had accumulated $2.5 million in fines from the Federal Communications Commission, according to the Center for Public Integrity. For that, he was nicknamed “The King of All Fines.”
Harrison said he does think that Monson’s apology “could have been stronger.” Still, he said about the controversy, “It’s going to pass. It’ll be fine.”
He said, “We live in a weird time. Everybody will jump on you for being politically incorrect. On the other hand, it seems we’re extremely tolerant of character flaws.”
On Tuesday, Monson continued with his explanation.
“They said I was making fun of transgender people, which honest to goodness didn’t even cross my mind then. But people called me transphobic. The Seattle Times called me transphobic. Websites called me transphobic. The truth is, I couldn’t care less if an adult wants to adopt a different gender. At the time, I was commenting on our governor and changing official state documents,” he wrote. ” … As a Christian, I pray for forgiveness if my words caused you pain. On top of that, I’m praying that each of us uses diversity of thought to get to a greater strength.”
Monson alluded to another price for his tweet. “Since October 9, advertisers on this show and our station have felt the pain. I accept responsibility for this. Not only do I value and respect the relationships that I have with our advertisers, but I cherish them,” he wrote.
Marx on Monson’s statement: “It was a very generic apology. He spent more time on his corporate sponsors and KIRO employees, and didn’t mention the transgender community.”
Monson’s fan base, meanwhile, was exultant.
The Facebook page “Support Dori Monson,” started after he was off the air, is up to 10,300 members.
A “Bring Back Dori Monson!” page on change.org was at over 8,000 signatures on Tuesday afternoon.
Jan, of Puyallup, wrote, “Bring back Dori. Stop the cancel culture!”
Well, he’s back.