The union-led coalition to drive Cumulus Talk WPRO-A-WEAN (NEWS TALK 630 WPRO AND 99.7 FM)/PROVIDENCE radio midday host John DePetro off the airwaves has garnered support from several political leaders, including Governor Lincoln Chafee, General Treasure Gina Raimondo, and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares.
Lincoln Chafee's spokeswoman Chrstine Hunsinger announced that the Governor (who is not seeking re-election) will not partake in any interviews with the WPRO show as long as Depetro keeps his post on the station. Eric Hyers, spokesman for General Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo, also added that the she, too, “will not go on any WPRO talk show until WPRO ends their relationship with John DePetro.”
Providence Mayor and democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Tavares joined the boycott on Twitter with the following tweet:
@ForRIDaughters I stand with you. I will not be on @wpro until @JohnDePetroshow is off the station for good.
Additionally, Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung voiced his decision to back the boycott of Depetro's show earlier today, tweeting:
John DiPetro’s comments were quite offensive and denigrating of women. I will not appear on his show.
John Depetro's controversial on-air criticism of labor unions protesters who paraded General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's "Women Changing Rhode Island" fundraiser at the Roger Williams Park Casino, sparked the boycott. On September 27, 2013, the use of hateful and mysogonistic terms such as, “W-H-O-R-E-S” (as well as other derogatory terms, including “cockroaches” and “hags”) on the air, led to a petition by the union movement "For Our Daughters RI" chaired by the AFL-CIO’s secretary treasurer Maureen Martin calling for Alex and Ani - a Rhode Island based company who's mission it is to promote the power of positive energy, inspiration, and charity, especially among their female clientele - to withhold advertising with WPRO.
The union protest at Roger Williams Park was initially ignited by a Raimondo-led pension overhaul package intended to reduce Rhode Island's unfunded liability by $3 billion and also hundreds of millions of dollars off the annual taxpayer bill for public-employee pensions.
John Depetro has since apologized for his use of words and has been on vacation, according to WPRO. Further, on December 3rd, two men allegedly threatened him outside the studio due to his recent comments about labor unions.
Many other politicians have joined the boycott. For instance, State Republican Chairman Mark Smiley asserted:
"Although we don't always agree politically and ideologically with Democrats in Rhode Island we fully agree on this matter. The John Depetro Show is demeaning to women and minorities and this kind of behavior can't be tolerated...The Rhode Island Republican Party will be boycotting WPRO indefinitely until the John Depetro Show is terminated. In addition, we call upon WPRO management and their parent company Cumulus Media Inc. to take action immediately."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block also joined the campaign to force DePetro's termination. In a recent statement, Block stated:
"Helen Glover, Dan Yorke, Matt Allen and many others have delivered conservative viewpoints to their listeners without using vulgar words...There is no place on the Rhode Island airwaves for discourse that disgusts."
U.S Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, House Speaker Gordon Fox, and U.S. Rep. James Langevin have also jumped on the WPRO-boycott bandwagon until DePetro is fired.
Tim Dodd, DePetro's attorney added, "It is no surprise that certain union activists, now joined by the Governor, simply want a critic with a microphone and an audience to be silenced. The Governor is joining forces with those attempting to suppress the free speech of a radio talk show.”
WPRO program director Craig Schwalb has yet to comment.