I agree with Kevin Kiley. No, not about his thoughts on how women should remain largely on the sidelines in men’s sports. I don’t agree with those sentiments, but I do agree with his thoughts on censorship in radio. According to Kevin Kiley, CBS radio censored him after he made controversial statements about the Buffalo Bills’ hiring of Kathryn Smith to their coaching staff. Kiley told Tony Zarella on Sports Extra that he received a letter threatening his job if he continued to talk. It’s this alleged letter and all that it represents that drove me to bother talking about this at all. Kiley announced his resignation, effective at the end of February and was off the air a day later. As Kiley tells it, with each piece of criticism that he received after his sexist diatribe he was denied the opportunity to defend his point or himself. He received criticism from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to name two. Kiley says that he wanted to continue to discuss it and CBS wouldn’t allow it. Even if you think Kevin Kiley is a villain in this story, I don’t think he’s alone.
“You shouldn’t accept censorship ever. You should make sure the people on the radio are telling you the truth as they see it.” – Kevin Kiley on Channel 19
I know it’s a dichotomy because I simultaneously disagree with what Kevin Kiley said, but I also think he’s right when he says program directors and executives from New York shouldn’t shoot their censorship guns on down the organizational chart at employees and talent. Even when I find an opinion wrong and antiquated as Kevin Kiley’s, I think it should be spoken aloud rather than kept in his head. Are we better off if someone just thinks something like that and keeps it to himself? Are we so afraid of sexism or any other views that we find wrong that we’re better off not knowing – or worse pretending – that they even exist? I don’t think so. To keep it shuttered is delusion, not progress. To root for lawyers and middle managers to shut up talent is not something I’m ever going to do.
Are we so afraid of sexism or any other views that we find wrong that we’re better off not knowing – or worse pretending – that they even exist?
I know the world doesn’t always work like this, but I’d like to think that we could skip the active censorship of people paid to perform their opinions. I am a big Ken Carman fan, but I just couldn’t listen to him all the time since he got matched up in the morning with Kevin Kiley. I voted with my listenership, and I didn’t always feel good about it because I wanted to listen to Ken Carman, but that’s what I decided to do.
And that’s the fairest thing. If someone has backward thoughts on a topic, it should be greeted with argument, debate, and more conversation. If it goes so far that the audience goes away then it’s an easy business decision. I am far more comfortable with that as a process, unless a host incites a riot or something that could be considered criminal. What Kiley was spouting was obnoxious and I think wrong, but certainly never criminal. His opinion was easily debated, and it was debated widely and loudly all across the country via the Internet after Ken Carman chided his co-host live. So, really, what’s the problem?
Even as Kevin Kiley exits and even though I’m not a fan of his, I appreciate his sentiments on Channel 19 with regard to censorship. I know many were mocking him for invoking Howard Stern’s name and I get why. Kevin Kiley talking about Howard Stern is like Dion Waiters calling LeBron James his peer. Our principles about management, talent, and censorship shouldn’t be judged based on whether you have all-world talent. I get that there are superstar calls in media just like in the NBA, but let’s at least generically agree on the rulebook. I think we should agree that none of us should root for the referees no matter how much we dislike the player with the ball in his hands.
In the end I refuse to paint Kevin Kiley as some sort of hero in this. I don’t even care enough to give him any hint of victim status, but I think he’s right just the same. And by “right,” you know I mean the opinion about censorship. He’s still dead wrong about women in sports. The thing is that I’m just not that afraid to hear it. In fact, I’d rather hear it than allow it to fester in the background where we’re all supposed to pretend like it doesn’t exist.