John Temple Melts Down

Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple (pictured) is typically calm and measured in public -- but he put his combustible side on display during a riotous morning drive-time argument with KHOW yakker Peter Boyles on June 18.

The spur to this confrontation was Temple's June 16 column "Papers Still Drive the News." In it, Temple recalls hearing KHOW afternoon host Dan Caplis claim that people today tend to get their news from talk radio. He then passionately refutes this assertion (and champions the continuing primacy of newspapers) with a little help from Radio Station World, a site that describes itself as "your global radio station directory," and Scarborough Research, which specializes in measuring "the lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors, and demographics of American consumers" for media advertisers.

Here's the crux of Temple's argument, which he presents after pointing out that the Denver dailies reach more than one million readers on weekdays, and 1.3 million on Sundays:

According to Radio Station World, there are seven talk radio stations in Denver that are measured by Scarborough.

All of those combined have an average workday morning drive-time audience (6 -10 a.m.) during any given 15-minute period of 79,000. That's 4 percent of the metro market during the period with the most listeners.

The total combined net audience for all of morning drive time for those talk stations is 289,200 adults. That means 14.8 percent of the metro market tuned in to at least one talk radio station for at least one of those 15-minute periods.

The local NPR stations combined have an average morning drive-time audience of 36,200, or 1.8 percent of the market during any given 15-minute segment.

And KHOW? Why, KHOW snags a morning drive-time audience of 20,500 - 1 percent of the market - or 67,600 during the entire morning drive time.

Even though Boyles isn't mentioned in the column, he took it personally anyhow, which is no surprise; anytime there's potential offense to be taken, he usually does so. On the June 18 program, he repeatedly attacked Temple for drastically understating the size of his audience. As the conversation grew more contentious, Temple lost it, calling Boyles ridiculous and egomaniacal amid gasps and heaves that made it seem as if he was speaking while running laps. Hopefully, the Rocky had a medical staff on high alert by the time he reached the office, because his heart seemed ready to leap from his chest like the slimy creature in Alien.

That afternoon, Temple graced KHOW's airwaves again in the company of Caplis, and this time, he was back in control; not once did he seem in danger of hyperventilating. Nevertheless, his performance earlier in the day demonstrated why so many people are addicted to talk radio. His session with Boyles generated little light but plenty of heat. -- Michael Roberts

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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