Kenneth Lamb responds to PNJ inquiry and WCOA witch hunt
August 15, 2006
RO NOTE: A Pensacola News Journal columnist wrote the following to Kenneth E. Lamb, who is working as a paid staffer with Friends of the Waterfront Park PAC.
We begin with the columnist’s request, followed by Mr. Lamb’s reply. Because this began as a personal correspondence between the columnist and Mr. Lamb as professional colleagues, some such personal information was redacted when the comments were personal in nature and irrelevant to the overall purpose of the memos.
PNJ columnist wrote:
Please give me a call or e-mail a response to an awkward but necessary question I must ask:
The latest campaign reports show you getting $16,000-plus from the pro-park folks. How is this not a conflict of interest when you do radio shows that promote the park. Does your show include a periodic disclaimer that you are being paid to work for the park proposal?
The column is due Tuesday afternoon so please respond as soon as you can.
Kenneth E. Lamb replied:
First, I am copying this to the PNJ staffers because I mention their name, or your question about ethics will be of interest to an editor I may string for after the campaign is over.
I think your questions are perfectly legitimate. Actually, it will be good to have it put into the record.
Before I accepted a contract from Friends of the Waterfront Park PAC, I told Tom Ninestine, Carl Wernicke, and Cindy Hall that I was thinking about accepting their offer for me to be a paid consultant for the campaign. We all agreed that if I accepted, that would take me out of the stringer business with the PNJ and the PBJ, and the Viewpoint columns, during the campaign.
I accepted, informed them of such, and as you can see from the dearth of articles and columns, I don’t string for the PNJ or the PBJ, or get Viewpoints published.
As for WCOA . . . the PNJ . . . no longer cared to participate on the Sunday Morning program, and so I terminated my hosting of the program prior to my accepting a contract from Friends.
Any other host has not aired the program since I resigned. I should note, by the way, that I was an unpaid program host. I set the program up under the guidance of Tom Ninestine, with approval from Randy Hammer, to give PNJ journalists real-world experience in crossover media, and to build bridges between the PNJ and the community – aka, build circulation.
Before that end occurred, and before I was contracted, I set the standard for interviews on the Park situation. I reclused myself when Charles Fairchild interviewed on the Sunday Morning program with Alvin Peabody. That led to the decision to move Luke McCoy out of the host’s chair and replace him with Don Parker when the “Pensacola Speaks” program interviewed Mort O’Sullivan, and whoever it was that represented SOC.
Bottom line: I was off the air before my contract began.
As for CyberSmart Saturday, I’ll repeat Ronald Regan’s famous quote: “I paid for that microphone.”
Each week I pay $300 for the block programming time. If I want to play the harmonica the entire hour, that’s my business.
I should also point out that my infomercial doesn’t require the approval of anyone other than myself. I pay for it, and it’s my time to use as I see fit.
Regardless, I have been totally upfront about my support of the Park on the CyberSmart program. I regularly tell people I support the Park, and if anyone asks, just as you are doing now, I tell them my background working in winning campaigns for the US Senate (Lawton Chiles in 1982), the governor’s mansion (Press Secretary for the Alabama Republican Party in the successful re-election of Guy Hunt in 1990), and a host of others that qualify me to offer my services as a paid political consultant – which I accepted in this case.
That leaves me with the “Your Turn” program on WEBY AM-1330 that I host from 4 p – 6 p every Thursday.
First, it is an unpaid hosting opportunity. The station doesn’t pay any of the “Your Turn” hosts. All five of us who rotate through the week do it pro bono publico – and, in my case, to counterbalance the droning Luke McCoy and his thoroughly tainted program.
Mike Bates, the station owner, is fully aware of my work with the Park. I make a point of flatly stating at the beginning of each program that I support the Park, and that I am spending each Thursday from 5 p – 6 p to try and counterbalance the unfair way Luke McCoy has dissed the Park. This Thursday I will host Nancy Fetterman to discuss the admiral’s dream for the Maritime Museum.
Why Nancy? Because I have a problem with Luke McCoy telling his listeners that the Park deal is, in his words, “shady,” “underhanded,” and that it has “under the table” aspects. If what he says about the deal is true, that means the admiral was pushing a deal with those as its characteristics. Who does Luke McCoy think he is to smear the admiral’s legacy by making statements linking those descriptors to the admiral’s dream?
It equally smears the legacy of Mayor Whibbs, and the living acts of Judge Collier.
Yes, countering Luke McCoy is probably the greatest public service anyone could do for this community.
I told listeners back at the end of June before this contract began that I was taking the contract, and that the Friends PAC pays me for my time.
Typically, what I say now is along the lines of, “You know I support the park, and that I’m being paid to help the campaign. There, now that we’ve got the full disclosure out of the way, my guest today is . . .”
You used an interesting phrase: “Does your show include a periodic disclaimer that you are being paid to work for the park proposal?”
That is a highly subjective question. How “periodic” does it have to be to meet your definition of “periodic?”
In my mind, telling listeners at the beginning of each program what I wrote above, and readily acknowledging it if I am asked during the program, meets my definition. I’ve informed all my editors, and the radio station’s management. If I wrote a column, all an editor would expect to see is a disclaimer at the bottom one sentence long. What I say on the radio programs certainly meets that definition applied to a different medium.
Now it is philosophy time: I have too much to lose by trying to hide anything from anybody. I learned a long time ago if I tell everybody the story before they read it in the newspaper, the newspaper story won’t be a story to those I’ve already told.
Your column is in the same boat. My listeners already know the story – they’ll read what you write and say, “I already knew that.”
Sorry to scoop you on this, but being open is the only way to be in today’s world. And I don’t know anyone who walks away from a conversation with me and says, “Gee, I wonder what Kenneth really meant?”
But just the same, thanks for the free publicity. Please spell my name right . . .
Let me close with one final thought: I am proud to be on the Friends staff. XXXX, I truly believe allowing people like Charlie Fairchild and his band, which I facetiously call the Nihilistic Horde, and the anti-everything WASPO Luke McCoy, to take over Pensacola will be the biggest disaster imaginable. They lie like there is no tomorrow – sometimes through innuendo, sometimes outright. Start reading the Donovan memos on the Independent News site.
I also want to note it has given me the opportunity to challenge the lies of Luke McCoy. Leaving him on the air at WCOA is like having an editor who regularly prints untruths and could care less about correcting them. He is an irresponsible person who needs to be retired.
I’m privileged to be in a position in life where I can point out his lies. The flood of favorable comments and calls I get make the hate and venom spewed out on “Pensacola Speaks” by his supporters well worth it. The one thing that strikes me harder than anything else about them is that not one has ever asked him if he said what I said he said, and then ask if what he said was the truth.
They don’t care about the truth. Truth is irrelevant to them.
Like him, his listener supporters could care less about the truth – they just want to bellyache and blame everything on someone else. They take everything from the community, and give nothing in return . . . nothing that is, but complaints and discontent. What a sad way for all of them to end their lives.
Frankly, I would never want them as customers because I would never want to service a person who thinks lying is OK.
Call me if you have questions.