I’ve resisted writing about the over-the-top shock-jock trolling of Kevin Kiley, who knew exactly what he was doing when he launched into a protracted rant that started with a #hottaek regarding female football coaches and eventually metastasized into an argument that no woman should vote on candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I had no desire to advance Kiley’s obvious agenda, which is to get as many people as possible talking about him regardless of whether the vast majority were calling him a nincompoop or worse.
But there’s a new angle to be explored. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a respected journalist who holds a vote on the Pro Football Hall of Fame, explains that she wants to see 92.3 The Fan impose discipline on Kiley.
“I am actually planning to write a column on this soon,” Cabot writes in a Q&A column, “depending in part on what 92.3 The Fan decides to do about Kiley’s inappropriate and unacceptable comments about women in professional sports on his morning radio show. Specifically, in regard to new Bills assistant Kathryn Smith, the first fulltime coach in the history of the NFL, he said it’s ‘absurd’ for a woman to be a coach in the NFL. He also reiterated that it’s ‘absurd’ for a woman to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame vote — which I have again this year. When he first said that in 2012, I should’ve taken a stronger stand. But I will this time. The short answer is that he needs to be disciplined, he needs to apologize — which he refused to do the other day — and he needs to stop.”
Amen to all of that. Kiley may think that it’s good radio for him to be happily leaping over the line while his co-hosts half-heartedly try to reel him in, chuckling with instead of fuming at his remarks. Kiley may think it’s good for his career to spew cartoonish hate masquerading as the kind of strong opinions that fans want to hear, even if (hopefully) 99.99999 percent of those who heard the comments strongly disagree. The only way to show Kiley and other of his ilk that it’s not acceptable is to take away the microphone, temporarily or longer.
Given that Kiley has a history of saying this kind of stuff, maybe “longer” is the right option.
If 92.3 The Fan won’t take action, then the listeners should. Boycott the station. Target its advertisers. For members of the media and newsmakers invited to appear on the station, decline to do it and tell them it’s directly because of Kiley.
Yanking the privilege of being on the air is the only way for any responsible media company to deal with something that is far more insidious than a slip of the tongue or a misguided seat-of-the-pants riff. As to Kiley, it’s persistent, it’s deliberate, and it should have been dealt with a long time ago.
If 92.3 The Fan won’t do it, the rest of the people in Cleveland should.