Station to Station

Denver's two public-television stations get together, technically speaking.

Smile when you say that, partner.

Looking to the future: Channel 12's Wick Rowland.
Brett Amole
Looking to the future: Channel 12's Wick Rowland.

The September 17 exchange between Peter Boyles and lightning rod Sam Riddle on KHOW made for some of the month's most entertaining radio -- but that didn't prevent it from being unfathomably moronic.

Boyles spent much of his program painting Michael Shoels, the stepfather of murdered Columbine student Isaiah Shoels, as a deadbeat dad because of his alleged failure to support the fruit of his first marriage -- an accusation made by his ex-wife. In the midst of this harangue, Riddle, a Shoels family spokesman who helped hook up Michael Shoels with former Jack Kevorkian lawyer Geoffrey Fieger and New York-based provocateur Al Sharpton, called in to Boyles's show and started dropping verbal bombs. He angrily denied Boyles's suggestion that he would profit financially from his relationship with Shoels, referred to the host as "a lowdown racist hound" and asked Boyles, "How long has it been since you had a snort of cocaine? It's hard to get rid of that itch, isn't it?" After a livid Boyles replied that he hadn't used cocaine for fifteen years, Riddle (who is eyeing the city council seat recently vacated by Hiawatha Davis) huffed, "Yeah, you and George Bush." Boyles then said, "You come down here and call me a cokehead and I'll knock you on your ass," precipitating a flurry of fistfight challenges and accusations by each man that the other was a "punk." Later, Boyles unwittingly played into Riddle's charges of racism by asking, "Are you calling me a liar, brother?" and saying, after Riddle hung up, "I'm going to straighten the boy out."

Boyles didn't put any bigoted emphasis on the words "brother" and "boy," but they stood out because of the frequency with which he's pilloried Shoels, whose stepson was the only African-American slain at Columbine. Discussing Shoels's activities since the shootings is fair game, given how eagerly he has thrust himself into the public eye, and suggesting that some of his actions have the scent of opportunism isn't prejudiced in and of itself. But if Shoels's behavior has turned him into a Columbine sideshow, there's no arguing that Isaiah died in a particularly horrible way. It's no surprise, then, that even some people who agree with Boyles about Shoels still feel uncomfortable with Boyles's need to revisit the subject over and over again.

To his credit, Boyles seemed to realize his clash with Riddle had undermined his credibility on the issue: When Riddle visited KHOW on September 20 in the company of Michael's sister, Boyles was on his best behavior. Riddle, too, was magnanimous, and his comments about race made him seem positively reasonable -- which is likely the last thing Boyles wanted. That's what happens when you kids don't play nice.

Some Denver broadcasters think you are really upset over the terrible start of the Broncos season. On Channel 9's September 19 afternoon broadcast, sportscaster Tony Zarrella's report about the team's embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was followed by a long shot of the news desk and a slow, music-free fade to black -- the same visual device used after stories about a beloved figure's death. Two days later, radio yakker Mike Evans tried to comfort those tuned to the Fan by pointing out that earthquake victims in Taiwan have it worse. If the Broncos lose again, what's next? Suicide counseling?

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