Why did Mississippi Public Broadcasting drop Fresh Air from its radio schedule? The blog "A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South" set off a blogosphere chain reaction yesterday by speculating that the "recurring inappropriate content" cited by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell must be the show's willingness to treat homosexuals as normal people, not the "evil incarnate bent on destroying the American dream, baseball and apple pie, too."
MPB Executive Director Dr. Judith Lewis didn't get into the details in a statement issued late yesterday, after Gawker and the Huffington Post had picked up on the story. "Too often Fresh Air's interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues," she said.
Fresh Air didn't receive any specific complaints from MPB prior to the cancellation, according to Danny Miller, e.p. "Of course, we are following the speculation on different blogs, but to comment further would just be speculation on our part. In any event, we hope we are back on MPB soon."
The Maddow Blog put former NPR staffer Laura Conaway on the story, and she reported that host Terry Gross's recent interview with Louis C.K. prompted the cancellation. Gross asked the comedian whether he always had sex with his shirt on. A complaint about the exchange came not from an MPB listener, but a caller who heard the show over the phone system of the Mississippi state college and university system, after they had been placed on hold, according to the story.
MPB posted a link to the Maddow Blog report on its Facebook page early this morning, with this blurb: "Here's the article explaining why MPB removed Fresh Air from our line-up." An overwhelming majority of MPB listeners who have reacted to the decision on Facebook have objected.
CLARIFICATION: The July 7 edition of Fresh Air, which included Terry Gross's interview with Louis CK, was the last to air on MPB Radio, but it wasn't the first program to prompt objections, according to an MPB statement issued this afternoon. "Complaints from listeners about Fresh Air have built up over time, so following complaints about [the July 7] show, MPB’s Executive Director made the decision that it was best for MPB to stop carrying the program."