Craig Silverman Was Cut Off By KNUS While Talking About Being Terminated

KNUS tweeted about the restoration of Craig Silverman's podcasts just shy of midnight on November 18.
KNUS tweeted about the restoration of Craig Silverman's podcasts just shy of midnight on November 18. @710KNUS
The bizarre twists continue in the wake of attorney and longtime radio host Craig Silverman being pulled from his regular 710 KNUS radio show on November 16 during a segment criticizing President Donald Trump — a story that made headlines in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other national media outlets. After a day in which Silverman's fellow KNUS hosts took turns bashing him and a teased announcement by onetime radio partner Dan Caplis failed to materialize, the station restored his home page and podcasts, which had been taken offline over the weekend. As a result, you can now hear for yourself how Silverman's mic was cut while he was talking about the prospect of being terminated.

The Silverman podcasts can now be accessed here. Prior to their return, which KNUS announced on its Twitter feed at 11:14 p.m. last night, the only available snippet from the show was a short bite provided to Westword by a station source. In it, Silverman can be heard alluding to a dispute with management over his intention to talk impeachment on Caplis's 630 KHOW afternoon-drive show — something that he was allowed to do contractually, but which KNUS vice president and general manager Brian Taylor saw as giving aid and comfort to a competing outlet.

After our publication of a story with this item, Silverman took to Twitter to excoriate the station, writing, "WTF @710KNUS? Provide tiny snip of my podcast to @Westword, but not entire 1.7 hrs.?!? Let the people hear what was said b4 you cut my mic. 3 straight great calls; then brilliant exposé connecting Trump to [Roy] Cohn, [Roger] Stone, [Paul] Manafort, & [William] Barr. #ReleasethePodcasts."

During Silverman's final moments on November 16, he'd talked about those recordings. "We have six years of podcasts," he said. "I hope they'll stay up. I hope I'll be back here next week. I'll keep doing this show for as long as I can. But I'm going to do other shows on other stations if I'm invited, because I can't stop talking about it, and my contract is such that it allows me to do it. Of course, I can be terminated just like anybody else..."

He didn't quite get the last word of this sentence out before his voice was replaced by the sound of a CBS News update. (Click to hear it for yourself. These lines begin at just shy of the 31-minute mark.)

Soon after Silverman was bounced, news outlets began asserting that he'd been fired for criticizing Trump, which KNUS disputed at a press conference late on November 17, necessitating pivots in coverage by the Denver Post and others. In his Westword interview the next day, Silverman said he wasn't sure what his status was, but he confirmed that station management had never forbidden him to criticize Trump.

Meanwhile, talk-show host Peter Boyles went after Silverman on the air with rare viciousness, even for him, suggesting that Silverman had deliberately misled reporters into believing he'd been axed for his pro-impeachment stance to generate publicity for a new team-up with Caplis, who had hinted during his November 15 show that a big change would likely be announced on the November 18 edition. That didn't prove to be the case: Caplis, who has not replied to interview requests from Westword, made no mention of Silverman in the episode, which followed its usual pattern.

click to enlarge CBS4's Brian Maass tweeted messages from CNN's Brian Stelter provided by Craig Silverman. - @BRIANCBS4
CBS4's Brian Maass tweeted messages from CNN's Brian Stelter provided by Craig Silverman.
Silverman also got the piñata treatment from KNUS afternoon host Steffan Tubbs, who appears opposite Caplis, and the tandem of Julie Hayden and Chuck Bonniwell. As noted on Twitter by CBS4's Brian Maass, Hayden and Bonniwell floated the theory that Silverman had arranged an interview with CNN's Brian Stelter before he was taken off the air on November 16. Silverman responded by providing Maass with the screen capture seen here, showing that his exchange with Stelter took place hours after the show, which typically runs on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon.

As for Taylor, he got back to us yesterday evening, shortly before the podcasts were reintroduced. He said he'd emailed Silverman to find out what his plans were for this weekend and the future, but hadn't received a reply. "I've seen some accounts in the media that he's contemplating his decision," Taylor noted. "I was hoping to hear something from him, so we could discuss it."

Regarding Caplis, Taylor admitted that "I was waiting for someone to tell me what the big announcement was." Since there wasn't one, he remained "in the dark" about a potential Caplis-Silverman reunion.

The reason KNUS staged the unusual press conference late on November 17 was "to essentially demonstrate from the host point of view that we don't editorialize what the hosts have to say," Taylor continued. "All the other hosts stood in unity to say, 'We're allowed to express our opinion,' which was contrary to the message Craig was perpetuating."

This last remark suggests ongoing enmity between KNUS and Silverman. But Taylor stressed, "If Craig wants to continue his show, I'd be very interested. The problem had to do with promoting that he wants to be on another station on our station. But I've always appreciated Craig's content. It does have a different flavor and tenor than some of the other hosts', and I think sometimes it's refreshing to get a different viewpoint. It makes for good talk radio."

When asked about his objections to Silverman guesting on Caplis's KHOW show, Taylor conceded, "As an independent contractor, Craig's agreement with us is non-exclusive. But the way I looked at it was, if he wanted to be a jock on KBPI or if he wanted to do a sports show on another station, those would probably be acceptable. But to do a commentary show on one of the two or three radio stations that are direct competitors with us wouldn't make sense. He's an asset to us, and we don't want to give an asset away to a competing station. So we probably aren't interested in continuing that agreement if that's the position he wants to take."

So...will Silverman be heard on KNUS this Saturday? In Taylor's words, "I don't know."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts