At Vermont Stations That Carry Rush, Owners Shrug Off "Slut" Comment | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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At Vermont Stations That Carry Rush, Owners Shrug Off "Slut" Comment 

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Paul Goldman says he's "appalled" that Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" last week after she told lawmakers in Washington that insurance should cover birth control. But Goldman has no plans to take Rush off the air at the radio station he owns, WVMT 620 AM in Colchester.

"The majority of people who are asking me to take him off the air don't even listen to him," said Goldman. "The listeners still want Rush and that's my job and my business — to satisfy the listeners. It's America. It's freedom of speech. He's paying a financial price for what he said."

Limbaugh made a public apology to Fluke last weekend, saying "those two words were inappropriate." But that hasn't stopped dozens of advertisers — anywhere from 28 to 43, as of Wednesday — from fleeing his show.

At WVMT, Goldman says he received a few calls and emails complaining about the comments, but he said they were part of a coordinated campaign that would not influence programming decisions at the station. It might be different, Goldman said, if regular Rush listeners had complained.

"I get more heat when I pre-empt Rush for a baseball game. I get as many phone calls," Goldman said.

Goldman said none of the station's advertisers had complained to him, nor did anyone who identified as a regular listener of the show, which airs noon to 3 p.m. in the Burlington area.

"It would be different if somebody who personally worked for me did this, but he doesn't work for me," Goldman said.

At WNTK in the New London, N.H., which broadcasts Limbaugh's show over 99.7 FM the Upper Valley, it appears to be much the same story. Station owner Bob Vinikoor told the Valley News he was satisfied with Limbaugh's apology and added, "It was still a pretty poor choice of words and the wrong thing to say."

Goldman, who also owns pop station 95 Triple X, stressed that he's not defending Limbaugh, adding, "It's not my cup of tea. I probably never turn on the show.." Rush is the most listened-to talk radio show in America, Goldman said, before adding, "It's not about the ratings. It's about what I can impact."

Goldman said the station's local morning hosts, Charlie Ernie & Lisa, tackled the controversy on their talk show. Beyond that, the station has not addressed the matter over the air and has no plans to, Goldman said.

"I'm sure people were offended. I'm not trying to downplay that," Goldman said. "I think most people who would hear him say it wouldn't be absolutely shocked. That's who he is. Most people who would be shocked and offended wouldn't be listening to him in the first place."

The social media campaign that has fueled Limbaugh's advertiser exodus has been visible in the Burlington area — but just barely. Melinda Moulton, a business woman who also serves on the board of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE), posted a list of Vermont stations that carry Rush on her Facebook page and urged friends to complain. Elaine Young, a professor at Champlain College, has also posted about local radio stations carrying the show — and named their advertisers.

As it happens, Moulton was headed to a PPNNE's quarterly board meeting in New Hampshire on Friday and tuned into Limbaugh's show "for the first time ever in the history of my life" on the drive down. When she arrived at the meeting, she learned that several fellow board members had done the exact same thing.

"We felt we really had to listen to him for ourselves to believe this was real," said Moulton, the CEO of Main Street Landing in Burlington. "I'm absolutely outraged that this kind of attitude still prevails in our country. I thought this was over decades ago."

But outrage makes for good fundraising potential. On her Facebook page, Moulton urged friends to respond to Rush by making a donation to Planned Parenthood.

"It really helps Planned Parenthood to be able to fundraise so they can be at the front lines of this," Moulton said. "How else are we going to speak out about this?"

So, in a strange way, maybe this whole thing is a mutually beneficial: Rush gets to say remarkably offensive things and drive up his ratings. And opponents such as Planned Parenthood get to fundraise off the ensuing outrage. The only one that loses is Sandra Fluke herself — until she lands her inevitable book deal, of course.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Andy Bromage

Andy Bromage

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Andy Bromage was a Seven Days staff writer from 2009-2012, and the news editor from 2012-2013.

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