James WhaleI’m so irritated by this story. You people living in the United Kingdom who are under the impression that you’re living in a free country are grossly mistaken.

When I was in my mid-teens I’d already wanted to be in radio for a few years. I took great interest in a new national station which came on the air across the United Kingdom; it was based upon the American talk radio format and its night show was hosted by a ‘shock jock’ called James Whale. This was some of the first opinion-based radio in the UK; ‘BBC-style’ radio had reigned the airwaves until then, along with its grand delusion that impartiality was the only virtue of broadcasting.

The station has gone through many changes since then, including the change to a sports format (new name ‘talkSPORT’) and a couple of changes of ownership. They also got rid of one of the best and most original jocks in radio anywhere, Tommy Boyd, who made waves at BBC Southern Counties a few years later and is currently the morning guy at Original 106FM. But they never got rid of James Whale, whose nighttime talk show has been on the air for 13 years…. until now.

Whale was fired a couple of weeks ago for “breaching the Ofcom Broadcasting Code regarding impartiality.” Now, I’m going to attempt to remain calm as I read this, and I know that’s going to be a stretch:

“Late night broadcasting legend James Whale has parted company with UTV Radio’s national station talkSPORT after 13 years on-air. Whale was let go by the station after broadcasting [biased] support for Boris Johnson’s campaign to become London Mayor.” [My emphasis.]

So let me get this straight: James Whale was fired because he told people he thinks they should vote for a particular mayoral candidate? What kind of asinine law is that? It’s a blatant, utter contempt for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom in general! Whale’s misdemeanor was that he dared to utter his opinion on-air about the best mayoral candidate for the voters of London? I’m speechless.

Ofcom is the regulatory body responsible for broadcast content in the UK, and it seems they have a law against radio hosts/presenters having their own fucking views on political issues. Thank God we don’t have quite the same problem in the United States, where millions of people are listening daily as Rush Limbaugh mounts Operation Chaos in which he doesn’t make any bones about his influencing the votes of rational, adult human beings who choose to listen to him and choose to vote according to their own will.

Before I put my foot through something expensive in anger, I’ll point out the silver lining here. Whale is joining PlayRadio UK! I’ve been involved at a peripheral level as PlayRadio contemplates whether or not they want to launch a full-time talk station on the internet, a concept first introduced to me by Tommy Boyd several months ago when he was hosting an uncensored show there on Sunday nights. (I’d still be interested in doing something with them if the opportunity arises.)

The value of the internet in these times is becoming clearer and clearer. As the government attempts to control more and more of what we say and do, the internet is becoming a more and more valuable custodian of our freedoms (as I noted here). Now, Whale will be broadcasting outside of Ofcom jurisdiction, outside the control and threat of government force, outside the ability of the state to shut him up.

It makes me angry that these things happen, but freedom finds a way.