By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
part 1 of 2
As a professor of education for twenty years at the University of Northern Colorado, Norm Resnick specialized in training prospective teachers how to handle the emotionally disturbed. And in light of that, his new career as a radio talk-show host makes strange sense: His callers worry about Chinese troops in Montana, Luciferian schemes to burn Jupiter's atmosphere and mysterious black helicopters that fly unusually low over Colorado's Front Range.
Fans of KHNC/1360, an AM station in rural Colorado that barely reaches Denver, know "Dr. Norm" as the guy who rails against the "New World Order," calls Bill and Hillary Clinton "socialist Marxists" and muses about sending liberal politician Howard Metzenbaum to jail. What Dr. Norm does most, however, is rouse the rabble, like the guy in the lynch mob who says, "Yeah! Let's do it!" every time someone else names a potential victim.
Although Dr. Norm likes to think of his new career as a dangerous gig, some of his former friends think it's nuts. This deeply religious Jew who keeps a kosher home and studies the Talmud caters to an audience of self-described "patriots" that he himself admits contains a sizable number of racists and anti-Semites.
But then, Resnick is no Alan Berg, the abrasive, liberal, Jewish talk-show host murdered ten years ago this week in Denver by far-right extremists. Berg baited "patriots" and mocked religion; Resnick describes himself on the air as a "traditional Jew" defending the "Judeo-Christian heritage and ethics." At the same time, though, he parrots advertising copy about "international bankers," an anti-Semitic euphemism for Jews.
And he's no longer just a voice in the media wilderness of northeastern Colorado. Since February Dr. Norm has been beaming his "USA Patriot Network" agitprop across the continent via shortwave giant WWCR, World Wide Christian Radio.
Death threats now prompt him to carry a concealed gun, he continually reminds his audiences. His .45 also works great as a prop--especially when a reporter suddenly invades his air space by walking into the broadcasting booth.
Interrupting his on-air guest for the thousandth time, Dr. Norm seizes upon the reporter's presence to ask his listeners for advice: "Should I bare my soul? Should I trust Westword? Give me a call." A few minutes later he has his answer: "Laura, you're on the air...I should keep my gun really close?...Shoot him?"
Dr. Norm laughs. Fifty-one years old but still rumpled in T-shirt and jeans, he has the wiseass humor and adenoidal delivery of somebody born in Brooklyn, which he was. During his next commercial break, he grins at his visitor and says, "We'll go out for a sandwich afterwards. Think I'm too crazy?"
Toward the end of his tenure at the University of Northern Colorado, Norm Resnick was accused by campus police of trying to run over his department chairman.
"I was always controversial at the university," Resnick says between bites at a sub shop across the street from KHNC's studios in Johnstown, fifty miles north of Denver. "My doctorate's in the area of the emotionally disturbed, and I've always expressed my opinion."
Resnick, who did most of his growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1971. The rest of his career was spent as a special-ed professor at UNC.
His supporters there say Resnick was courageous in standing up for other faculty members and advocating new methods of evaluating teaching performance. His detractors say he was an occasional hothead whose career was never very successful and who finally got the boot.
The way Resnick tells it, "They evaluated me as being worse than poop." At that, he slapped the university with an official complaint.
"The next thing I know," he recalls, "the campus police called me in and said they were investigating me for attempted murder and second-degree burglary--and that got my attention. They said that I tried to run over my department chairperson in the parking lot with my automobile. As a matter of fact, the story got around campus so much that a couple of weeks later another faculty member was accused of trying to murder his associate dean by allegedly running her over with a supermarket cart in a supermarket. The attempted burglary was supposedly stealing files from a department chairman's office. Obviously, the allegations were dropped immediately. It was just that chicken-shit kind of behavior for speaking out. I didn't fit in."
On that point, his critics agree.
"During his time at UNC, he always assumed he was being persecuted," says Richard Bear, a UNC psychology professor emeritus and former associate dean. "It didn't matter whether it was by people in supervisory positions or by students. Part of the time he attributed that to being Jewish. But we had other Jewish professors who didn't have that problem."
One of those professors, however, praises Resnick for his willingness to speak up for other faculty members. "In my opinion," says UNC education professor Rick Silverman, once a close friend but now estranged, "Norm had pretty legitimate grievances with the university. He did not have access to due process."