Lapointe: Is MSU football coach Mel Tucker the real victim here?

Detroit’s new 910AM talk radio station rebuts allegations of sexual harassment

click to enlarge Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker. - ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker.

Even if Mel Tucker forced phone sex on that rape counselor, she has no right to complain. No, the real victim here is Tucker himself, the suspended football coach at Michigan State University.

This opinion may be rare in the Great Lakes State. But you could hear it loudly and clearly this week on 910AM Superstation, Detroit’s newest and most strident “conservative” media outlet. Also known as WFDF, it plans to out-shout WJR (760-AM) on local radio’s right wing.

For instance:

After bragging that billboards around the Motor City are promoting himself and his partner, Buck Sexton, afternoon co-host Clay Travis this week defended Coach Tucker, who could lose more than $80 million if his university fires him from his long-term contract after disciplinary hearings in October.

“He says she enjoyed it,” said Travis, speaking of the sex talk, which both sides acknowledge. “I think she liked it. She turned him in. She claims she panicked and couldn’t hang up the phone . . . It’s a total sham.”

Travis didn’t mention that the alleged victim – Brenda Tracy – said she was gang-raped by athletes while in college and uses that as the basis for her campus cause. And he barely mentioned that she’d lectured the Spartans and other athletes about boundaries for sexual behavior. He downplayed the coach’s masturbation.

Instead, Travis said, Tracy ratted out Tucker because Tucker didn’t invite her back to his East Lansing campus for another paid speaking engagement. According to Travis, Tracy and Tucker had 27 different phone conversations that averaged 30 minutes each.

Travis cited no source for this. He said allegations against Tucker will not be contested by most reporters and commentators in the news media because they are too intimidated by “Me Too” allegations of sexual abuse from women.

Although they spoke of this Michigan issue last week, the Travis & Sexton show (noon to 3 p.m.) is nationally syndicated, as are most of 910AM’s hosts. The station switched format two weeks ago after a brief summer fling with syndicated sports, which replaced Black talk and “urban” issues programming.

It will take a lot to challenge WJR, the haughty “Hate Voice of the Great Lakes,” a passive-aggressive propaganda fountain where the major question every day seems to be “Is this news good for the Republican Party or is it bad for the Republican Party?”

But owner Kevin Adell of WFDF said WJR made a major mistake by jettisoning syndicated programming like Dan Bongino and replacing it with local hosts, at least from morning through evening.

“It’s a great station,” Adell said of WJR. But he also said he wants 910AM to be a top ten station, the way WJR used to be. “They went down,” Adell said. “Now they’re a top 17 . . . They’re not really conservative. They changed their format. They went more to middle-of-the road.”

Due to that tone shift, he said, 910AM will fill a void with proven, right-wing audience grabbers like Glenn Beck (9 a.m-noon), Sean Hannity (3-6 p.m.), and Bill O’Reilly (9-10 p.m.).

Between Hannity and O’Reilly comes Jesse Kelly (6-9 p.m.), who blends grievance and paranoia with the polished elan of a man hearing voices in his head and talking in tongues.

He said the female “nutball governor of New Mexico” – seeking to ban guns in Albuquerque – would have “triggered a lynch mob” in the era of the Founding Fathers. He said “liberal white women are the most evil creatures on the planet.”

He also said imprisoning Jan. 6 rioters is “a disgusting injustice.” In one of his most famous quotes, Kelly – a former Marine and a veteran of the Iraq war — explained to Carlson on Fox News Channel how soldiers should think.

“We need a military full of Type A men who want to sit on a throne of Chinese skulls,” Kelly told Carlson.

Last week, Kelly teased a random story with “Why are there drag queens in Oklahoma?” and said liberals “Cook up a bunch of race crimes that don’t really exist in America.” (All hosts on 910AM appear to be white males).

By contrast, WJR’s most extreme host is the syndicated fire-breather Mark Levin, who still rants on weeknights against President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Perhaps WJR should just run recordings of Father Charles Coughlin, the “Radio Priest” from metro Detroit whose hate-radio DNA lives on a century later in the “Golden Tower of the Fisher Building.”

Curiously, 910AM offers only one local show on weekdays, hosted from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. by Justin Barclay, most recently with WOOD in Grand Rapids. Adell said Barclay will continue broadcasting from West Michigan for now and will be the only “local” show.

Last week’s editions of the morning show included Barclay’s imitation of Dr. Anthony Fauci (“I’m as giddy as a school girl” over the new COVID vaccine); a long audio clip of a Tucker Carlson speech in suburban Detroit; sound effects and other “shock jock” noise gimmicks; and a long interview with Pastor Ralph Rebandt, who ran for governor of Michigan as a Republican last election and said he reads the New York Times and the Bible every day to see who is winning.

“Satan is deceptive and smart,” the preacher told the 910AM audience.

A regular guest who also files news reports to the Barclay show is Henry Payne, an automotive reporter for the Detroit News. Payne assessed the transition away from gasoline-powered cars and their political ramifications.

“The Democratic Party and the Environmental Protection Agency want to turn the automobile industry into a utility,” Payne said. “The Democratic Party has been taken over by a religious cult.”

Speaking of religious cults, host Barclay steered a different conversation about abortion funding into a piano-backed parody of a “Pure Michigan” commercial. He attacked Governor Gretchen Whitmer (the “Wolverine Queen”) for supporting a woman’s right to choose.

“You can kill your baby on demand,” he said. “Come to Michigan, where the lakes are great and you can kill your baby at any time. Stop at Dr. Death’s office. Let your freak flag fly. Pure Michigan.”

Others could share the “Pure Michigan” sarcasm by saying the slogan should include suspensions of football coaches at both Big Ten schools, declining population, timid and disappearing news media, falling test scores for school kids, and a dangerously deteriorating infrastructure. Oh, and what about those damn roads? Choose your side, choose your station; there’s lots to talk about.

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About The Author

Joe Lapointe

Joe Lapointe is a Detroit-area freelance writer who is a former reporter for the New York Times and Detroit Free Press. He is working on a sports reporting memoir to be titled either The Fire-Balling Flame-Thrower Threw Bullets to Slam the Door or Local Team Hopes to Win Next Game...
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