Thursday, February 13, 2003

Remark on radio jeopardizes grant

Magistrate miffed by DJ's comment

The Associated Press

WHITESBURG, Ky. - Magistrates have refused to sponsor a grant application for Appalshop, an arts and entertainment organization in Whitesburg, after a disc jockey on its radio station allegedly made an unpatriotic remark.

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted not to endorse a $300,000 grant application for Appalshop to renovate a building that would be used an exhibition hall where the public could view the organization's film documentaries and listen to old radio programs.

Magistrate Wayne Fleming said he found remarks made by Bill Andy Farley, who has a Friday afternoon program on WMMT-FM, offensive. He said that's why he urged fellow magistrates to refuse Appalshop's request for sponsorship.

Fleming, a Vietnam veteran, claims Farley told listeners that America has killed more innocent people than any other country in the world. Farley said he doesn't recall making the statement.

"I don't think I said that," Farley said. "I went back through the tapes of the past couple of weeks, and I couldn't find that at all."

WMMT station manager Cheryl Marshall said Appalshop will stand behind Farley, even if it means the organization won't be able to apply for the grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

"We celebrate our country's freedom here on this station by practicing free speech," she said.

Many local residents, including Farley, volunteer as DJs for the community radio station - which bills itself as "the voice of the hillbilly nation." Marshall said the DJs often offer their commentary on local, state and national issues.

Fleming said he doesn't object to free speech.

"He's got the right to make whatever comment he makes, and this country is what affords him that right," Fleming said.

John Cleveland, another volunteer disc jockey at Appalshop, said he was also offended by Farley's comments and turned off his radio. But, he said, magistrates should not throw out the entire organization because of one person's opinion.

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