John Murphy was a cohost of a talk radio show on WAYY on AM 790 and FM 105.1 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I said he was one because on Thursday, the hateful, over the top rhetoric surrounding politics this year, especially regarding the presidential race, was too much for him, and he quit on air with 15 minutes left in his show:
The nastiness of today’s political debate finally became too much for John Murphy on Thursday morning, when the longtime Eau Claire talk radio host abruptly walked out of the WAYY studio during the middle of his morning show.
The stunning move came about 15 minutes before the end of his show, which runs from 6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on AM 790 and FM 105.1.
Contacted Thursday afternoon, Murphy recalled saying live on the air that he refused to be chased out of the industry he loves and then declaring, “I’m through doing this show as it is,” before sending it to a commercial. Luc Anthony and Dan Kasper then started their “Luc & The Captain” sports talk show early to finish the hour.
Murphy, 57, has been doing Eau Claire radio for 34 years, including the past nearly 14 years as co-host of the “WAYY Morning Show,” a call-in program in which hosts and callers discuss local, state and national news.
The problem, Murphy said, is that the talking gradually has become less of a conversation and more of an exchange of insults.
“It started with a lot of Trump and Clinton stuff, but now that same kind of vitriol is starting to permeate our local races and local issues,” he said. “After a while, day after day and week after week, that starts to wear on you.”
The trend is particularly disconcerting, Murphy said, because he knows many of the callers trading insults “are educated, wonderful people who have become caught up in this hurricane of hate.” He emphasized the rage comes from both liberals and conservatives.
Murphy went on to describe the toll the incessant exposure to all that vitriol had on him:
Murphy acknowledged the frustration has been building up inside him for months, and he started to realize it was affecting him this summer when some old friends who had been listening to the show asked what had happened to the fun-loving, joyful guy they used to know. The friends suggested Murphy was starting to get short with callers and engaging in some of the behavior he despised.
“If I’m an enabler, even inadvertently, to this toxicity through the show, that troubles me,” Murphy said, noting that he didn’t believe he could be an agent of change without putting his foot down and saying, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.”
The degeneration of the dialogue on talk radio — and its potential impact on him as a person — saddened Murphy and caused him to worry about what he might say some day.
“What happens if in this poisonous atmosphere I go too far and say the wrong thing to a listener, a sponsor or even a co-worker?” said Murphy, who is active in a variety of community groups and on behalf of several charitable causes. “You don’t want to get to that point.”
Instead, he walked away. And he’s not sure what will happen next.
I hope that management is able to find some role for Murphy at the station. Not only is he a valuable member of their team and the community, working with several community groups and charitable organizations.
Besides, Murphy shouldn't be punished for being human and having a moral compass. If anything, they should learn from Murphy. They also have a responsibility to the community they serve.
They can still protect everyone's Freedom of Speech, but while hate - like sex - sells, they need to acknowledge that not only is what being said important, but so is how it is said.