Freedom Folks Exclusive: Interview With Larry Wachs/Regular Guy
Larry Wachs and his partner have been Regular Guys radio team in Atlanta for the last eight years. Recently they were sued by two Hispanic co-workers who felt that the Regular Guys had "disrespected their culture."
We were able to interview Larry on the ongoing situation, here's what he had to say.
Jake: Can you give us a quick recap of what's happened up till now?
Larry: Go to www.regularguys.com. The entire story is up there as well as musings on other topics. The story's a bit scattered over different blogs, but it's all there. To sum, these Hispanic hosts, who worked down the hall from us, had been trying for sometime to pressure the Clear Channel to give them more stations and money.They had been complaining about our on-air satire of them for quite sometime. They took one isolated incident where they were shouting epithets in Spanish at me in a public place and tried to frame it as an invasion of privacy and show a pattern of harassment.
Jake: From your earlier report it sounded like Clear Channel was in your corner. Has that changed? Why have you been suspended?
Larry: They were in our corner until the Hispanic hosts filed suit against them in civil court, and then everything went 180 degrees against us.
Jake: We have a theme we explore on the blog called "Mexitude." In your opinion is this another example?
Larry: I think they are using a culture of grievance for an ulterior motive, which is to get syndication from the radio company. It's an unorthodox strategy, to be polite, and one that demands that it's practitioners do great damage to the truth and other people. I believe my rights under my contract were sacrificed by Clear Channel to appease these people's grievances.
Jake: When Yogi and Panda talk about the "honor of their culture," what culture do you think they're talking about?
Larry: It's rhetoric that they think plays to their audience and can be used as a lever to get what they want from a big company. We'll see if their calculations are correct very soon.
Everything we've ever said about them was on the air, never in the "workplace," and it has been made explicitly clear in company HR policy over the past few years pre-dating their arrival in 2004, and to them as individuals on more than one occasion after that, that on-air commentary about other hosts is supported by the company and does not fall under the definition of workplace harassment. They have not only failed to show any examples of harassment as defined by law and company policy, but they leave out the context wherein we poke fun at virtually every host in and out of the company, and they usually take shots back. I'd estimate that we made more jabs at two other hosts than them on the whole. That, and we routinely mock ourselves. It's the competitive nature of the business we are in and it happens in every market. This is akin to rappers going to court because another rapper hurt their feelings on a CD. Actually, that might be a step toward civilization there, but still not acceptable practice in the entertainment industry.
Jake: Where do things stand now legally? And jobwise?
Larry: I have a hearing this week as to the merits of their criminal charge, which is quite bogus, and we have reason to believe they lied about the events on the criminal affidavit. There is also civil action pending against me and Clear Channel to which we are responding with counter and cross claims of our own.
Jobwise, it's early but there has been interest in the show from satellite and broadcasters. I have a good representative who has dealt with these issues before and knows how to cut through the noise, but naturally, once the legal issues are resolved, the inquiries will accelerate. There are a lot of channels out there, and very few skilled people available to fill them. Doesn't matter how big a company gets, they still need good content to drive it, else they are just an empty pipe. Broadcasters are slowly realizing that it's not enough to play music despite how well researched it is.
The show had the best 25-54 ratings of the CC cluster in Atlanta and became a cultural touchstone locally over the 8 years we've been around in the Atlanta metro area. It's a very mainstream, funny show that people of all social strata enjoyed, but targeted, mainly, men 30-45. Our approach was not reinventing the wheel, but it did stand out amongst the crowd for it's sharp commentary. The demographic was way more upscale than the lazy press and jealous rivals like to characterize it, and it wasn't a poop and boobs show either. The emphasis was on entertainment and humor as opposed to the hard core politics of AM talk radio. The show was and will continue to be a distillation of what's happening in our world through the eyes and ears of me, it's anchor.
Jake: How can regular folks and bloggers help?
Larry: I thank you for the opportunity here to get my side of the story out, but I'm not interested in disparaging any group of people or individuals that have nothing to do with it. I think what we have here are some individuals who hopped aboard a negative cultural trend to illicitly enrich themselves at the expense of others and that's what I'd like to discuss.
Jake: Is there anything you'd like to add?
Larry: I think this has less to do with illegals and immigration than the on-going appeasement of people who wish to carve our country into tribal districts and weaken the common cultural foundation that allows us to remain strong and free to pursue our individual goals.
I want to thank Larry for taking the time out to give us this interview. I imagine calls and emails to Clear Channel in support of the regular guys would not be remiss, perhaps a knowledgable reader could let me know what CC station they were on in Atlanta.
I have some thoughts on the intersection of a "grievance culture" and illegal immigration that I will write up later.
Ms Underestimated has an interview as well...here.
And Wild Bill has been a clearinghouse on this...here.
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