March 27, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Ruckus cancellation by KCPT seems related to conservative censorship

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Kansas City public TV station KCPT announced today the effective cancellation of Ruckus, seen by many as the gold standard of public affairs programming that examines diverse viewpoints of local and state issues.  The station’s press release says Ruckus is being put on hiatus, but that’s often a term used to soften the blow of a cancelation.

The official reason provided for ‘removing Ruckus from the program schedule’ is “a result of viewer feedback and a need to re-evaluate resources invested into the weekly program,” which is in its 23rd season on the air.

The real issue, however, seems to be that the station is censoring conservative viewpoints in response to pressure from progressives.

In a series of emailed replies to the Sentinel’s questions about viewer feedback, KCPT Director of Marketing and Engagement Kalie Hudson said, “At issue is how we choose to engage a wide spectrum of political opinion that does not demean but rather encourages productive discourse.”

Asked if she meant that some viewers found the show to be demeaning, she declined to directly respond.

Host Mike Shanin was caught completely off guard by the station’s decision.

Mike Shanin, host of Ruckus

“I remain baffled by KCPT’s decision to bring Ruckus back after a three-month absence, air one program, and then abruptly conclude one of the station’s signature local programs.  I will miss Ruckus, the Ruckettes, the crew, and the loyal audience members who sustained the program throughout its 23-year history.  The wit and wisdom of the “Ruckettes” prompted important discussions of local, regional, and national issues.  I suspect those discussions will be missed!”

Hudson said, “Conservative voices are a critical part of KCPT programming.”  But asked to identify any local conservative viewpoints shared by the station currently or in the next few months, she again demurred, and only provided a link to the station’s schedule.

Rave reviews for Ruckus and Mike Shanin

Kansas City attorney Steve Mirakian, one of the show’s two dozen or more rotating ‘Ruckette’ panelists, has high praise for the show and host Mike Shanin.  In a note to his fellow Ruckettes (including this reporter), Mirakian cited universal respect and appreciation for Mike Shanin and his ability to address multiple issues each week.  He called Ruckus “arguably the best, if not only, political and social issue program in the bi-state area.”

“It has been my honor and pleasure to work alongside Mike Shanin for about 30 years as his co-host on radio and a Ruckette. Mike is not only an extremely professional and well-informed journalist and commentator with a deep knowledge of history but, also, a true professional and gentleman.

“In a time when civil and courteous discourse are in short supply and the forces of censorship and “thought police” seem to be running rampant, Mike Shanin’s moderating voice and influence are desperately needed and will be sorely missed.”

Mirakian also said he’s received very positive feedback and comments “from folks of all ages, sexes, and races throughout the metro area in shopping malls, medical and business offices, from lawyers and judges and even in airports outside of KC.”

Patrick McInerney, another Ruckette and Kansas City attorney, also has high praise for Ruckus.

“The show stood out because it was a good model for political discourse – issue-based, engaging, and even though loud at times, always respectful. Plus, arguing with smart people is always fun.”

Kansas City activist and attorney Arthur Benson echoed the need for diverse viewpoints.

“Kansas City needs a show with contested opinions about local and regional issues. Public television is the perfect place for that show. Old folks, including me, should give up our seats for younger participants if the show ever resumes. But it should not give up candid discussions even if they occasionally ruffle some feathers.”

Ruckette Danedri Herbert says this is a loss for the Kansas City metro and for civic and civil discussion.

“There aren’t many places left in the public square where opposing voices can have meaningful conversations on important topics. The newspapers are one-sided. Local TV news provides only soundbites; national news features pundits trying to outshout one another, and social media is garbage. Mike Shanin did an extraordinary job of keeping debate clean and thoughtful.”

McKellar Group founder Annie Presley, another Ruckette, also expressed high praise for Ruckus and host Mike Shanin.

“Mike Shanin has been a steady voice on KC airwaves for many years. He has brought news, far and wide, to listeners and viewers, through varying opinions. The community has enjoyed the banter as his most recent show, Ruckus on KCPT, was consistently ranked at the top of their local programming. Mike’s wry humor expert political knowledge gave all participants the opportunity to provide their wisdom on topics of the moment- churning up the occasional fiery conversation. This was the program designed specifically for opinions. This was the program where opinions were appropriate and requested. This is where a variety of opinions will be missed. Thank you Mike for making friends across the aisles. That is a true talent. You will be greatly missed.”

James Franko, president of Kansas Policy institute (which owns The Sentinel) says our constitutional republic needs more, not less, of programs like Ruckus.

“People can watch MSNBC or Fox News to have their biased confirmed but Ruckus provided something unique – competing opinions on local issues. The fact that Ruckus-type programming cannot exist is a symptom of the significant problems facing our society. We need more opportunity to hear from the other, have our viewpoints challenged, and remember that our political “opponents” are humans as well.”

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