Friday, Thorp at odds over Limbaugh

Posted March 6, 2012

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp and longtime system president Bill Friday seem to be at odds over an alumni petition asking the school to take its sports broadcasts away from stations that air Rush Limbaugh's show.

Several hundred UNC alumni have signed an online petition asking the university to pull its "Tar Heel Sports Network"  from stations that also carry the controversial conservative talk show.

Limbaugh is under fire for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she testified at a Congressional hearing on mandated insurance coverage for birth control. “If we’re paying for all that sex, she has to post the video for us," Limbaugh said last week. 

Limbaugh has since apologized for his comments. But some angry alumni say stations that carry the school's sports broadcasts should have to choose between those broadcasts and Limbaugh's show. Seven stations in the Tar Heel Sports Network currently carry both, including Raleigh's Rush Radio, WRDU 106.1 .

UNC president emeritus Bill Friday told WRAL Tuesday that the university's mission is to expose students to all viewpoints and help them learn to evaluate them. But if the decision were up to him, Friday said, he would take UNC sports off stations that continue to air Rush.

"Using those words that were used to characterize that individual [Fluke] come pretty close to being fairly abusive of character and integrity. And that, I don't have much patience with, myself," said Friday, arguing for a return to civility in public discourse. 

Asked for comment on the petition and Friday's comment, Thorp's administration responded via Associate Athletic Director for Marketing Rick Steinbacher, the contract manager for the Tar Heel Sports Network. 

In a written statement, Steinbacher pointed out that the network has more than 50 radio affiliates providing radio coverage for men's basketball and football broadcasts across the state. 

"They look for the stations that will agree to carry their radio broadcasts that cover as much of the population in any particular geographic area as possible," Steinbacher explained. "In this regard a 100,000 watt FM station such as WRDU 106.1 in the Triangle provides excellent coverage for the Triangle Region and surrounding counties in North Carolina."

Steinbacher said stations in the Tar Heel Sports Network provide "an assortment of non-game time content including rock, country (which WRDU 106.1 was when they first became an affiliate), liberal, conservative, Spanish and many other types of programming."

"The University, the Athletics Department, and Tar Heel Sports Properties does not control or in any way endorse the normal programming of any of the stations that air the game broadcasts including the recent comments by Rush Limbaugh aired on WRDU 106.1," he concluded.

Pressed again on whether Thorp would weigh the issue in renewing contracts with stations, UNC officials wouldn't say. 


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  • LSH247 Mar 14, 2012

    Let's see...UNC sports or the most popular and listened to radio program on the planet? I'm betting that UNC would loose that battle.

  • driverkid3 Mar 12, 2012

    Pulling advertising is not censorship; it's not wanting to be associated with vile language. Free market at work. Idol worship makes for mushy brains and poor morals.

    So THAT'S what's wrong with people that worship at the feet of Bill Mahr, and the others that talk garbage about the right? Thanks for clearing that up for me.

  • scnewton Mar 11, 2012

    Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me!

  • kimincsu Mar 10, 2012

    What Limbaugh said was slander. To suggest that she post porn to the internet is more an indication of what Mr Rush thinks about all day. He is a sad individual. I would not want my kids to hear that after a game.

  • gmiller2 Mar 10, 2012

    Liberals and their selective moral outrage...pathetic.

  • ronjohnsonson Mar 9, 2012

    Even if rush is your ideal man, one thing that can't be denied is that any station that sprays its community with his scat is working for the Republican Party.

    All his stations are purely partisan and effect local elections of university regents and influence the choice of university chancellors and presidents. They attack unions and teachers and professors and education in general. They call for defunding and privatization of public education and universities, and deny global warming science and science in general.

    Broadcasting on limbaugh stations makes a joke of the UNC mission statement. Here's how it ends: "With lux, libertas—light and liberty—as its founding principles, the University has charted a bold course of leading change to improve society and to help solve the world’s greatest problems."

  • heisenberg Mar 9, 2012

    Right on gmjunk! What is Thorpe going to do - ban broadcasts from all stations that carry Bill Maher - who has said things far more outrageous than Rush.

  • N8 Mar 7, 2012

    Folks this is not a "free speech" issue. Limbaugh, of course, has every right to say every disgusting thing that comes to mind.

    And UNC alums, of course, have every right to say that they feel that doesn't reflect well on the university and push for the administration to remove their sports programming and advertising from stations that promote that sort of language.

    There is no constitutional crisis here. There is no censorship. This is the free market at work.

  • gmjunk Mar 7, 2012

    How does Thorp justify the same type of comments made by Ed Schultz, Bill Maher , RFK jr. etc Why didn't he propose the same restrictions for them or because he agrees with there political views so it is alright ,wink wink. What is happening is that groups or people are trying to control free speech by going after news show or radio hosts using personal degradation or trying to remove there advertisers. What would Thorp and his followers going to do when there views are being forced off the air. This is a dangerous game that is being played. I am surprised that a Universty doesn't understand this and one that hails free speech but I guess only if there is THERE free speech !!!!!!

  • batcave Mar 7, 2012

    hypersensitve tarheel cry babies, love symbolism and hate free speech. does someone want their mommy?