With the world on his fingertip, gay Latino Dallas activist Jesse Garcia becomes a radio host

Jesse Garcia (From KNON.org)

We’ve always known the nearly universally loved Jesse Garcia was bound for stardom, although we admit we assumed it would be in politics. But for now, at least, it looks like it’ll be in, of all things, radio.

Garcia, former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and current president of the city’s thriving gay LULAC council, will host The Jesse Garcia Show — 60 minutes of Latino news talk and entertainment — during the drive time on Thursdays, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on KNON 89.3 FM.

From the show’s website:

Your host Jesse Garcia looks forward to empowering and entertaining you. Garcia has spent the last decade making Dallas a more tolerant city. Since 2000, this community activist has championed civil rights causes, registered voters and built bridges among communities.

One of his proudest achievements was helping organize an effort to get a street named after Cesar Chavez in downtown Dallas. Today, he enjoys mentoring youth in Oak Cliff and serves on boards for nonprofits, as well as Hispanic and Gay civil rights organizations.

Garcia is originally from the Frontera, born and raised in Brownsville, Texas . He was educated in San Antonio, earning a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Our Lady of the Lake University and a master’s degree in communications arts from St. Mary’s University. For the last 15 years he has worked as a public affairs specialist for the federal government, promoting the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both his academic and professional careers have centered on media, which have prepared him for his next role: Radio Talk Show Host.

—  John Wright

Now that he’s screwed 200 out of health benefits, El Paso bigot Tom Brown wants to be left alone

Pastor Tom Brown

Pastor Tom Brown robbed hundreds of people of health insurance when he spearheaded a ballot measure that overturned domestic partner benefits for El Paso city employees. But now Brown wants the LGBT community and its supporters to just forget about it and stop protesting outside his Word of Life Church. KFOX Channel 8 reports:

After the council passed the ordinance, Pastor Tom Brown quickly gained enough signatures to send the decision of whether or not domestic partners should get health care benefits to the voters and the majority sided with him.

“Let’s all move on,” said Brown.

The group of protesters Tuesday, mostly composed of radio talk show hosts, said that is not going to happen.

“Don’t you think it’s a little late; the election’s over with,” said Brown.

The group said it’s never too late and this is just the beginning of what they call “Love” rallies.

“To me that’s not love when you mock other peoples’ lives,” said Brown.

The pastor said he hopes the protesters pick a better and more respectful location next time.

“This is a place where people have their particular views, and they shouldn’t be put to ridicule because a particular church doesn’t correspond to the public view,” said Brown.

Even The Wall Street Journal has taken notice of the DP benefits controversy in El Paso. The WSJ story posted Monday says the ballot initiative could eventually threaten health benefits for up to 6,000 people,, including retirees, because it was so vaguely worded. You see, Brown’s group couldn’t find an attorney to work on the initiative, so they just wrote it themselves. Now, the city’s labor unions are preparing a lawsuit, and the City Council is looking at ways to overturn the initiative:

The pastor, Tom Brown, is threatening to fight officials if they attempt to reinstate the benefits for gay partners. He has proposed another ballot initiative which would strip the city council of its power to amend or rescind voter-approved measures.

“I’m feeling a call from God to get more involved in our government,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.


—  John Wright

Farewell to ‘Dr. Laura’ as radio hosts calls it quits

As right-wing radio talk show host announces plans to end show, Dallas actvist looks back a decade to another protest against her

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

AGAINST THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE
AGAINST THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE | Dallas activist John Selig helped organize this protest in April 2000 outside the Channel 11 studios in Dallas which aired “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger’s television show. Thanks in large part to the protests over Schlessinger’s anti-gay comments, advertisers shied away from what turned out to be a short-lived program. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Right-wing radio host “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger announced this week that she would end her talk show when her contract runs out later this year.

The advice show host gained notoriety in the 1990s with statements that included calling gays and lesbians “biological errors” and blaming Mathew Shepard for his own murder.

Rafael McDonnell worked at KRLD at the time, and he said this week that Dallas made her career.

The Dallas talk radio station was the first to broadcast Schlessinger’s show outside Los Angeles. After its success here, McDonnell said, the program was syndicated nationwide. Dallas remained Schlessinger’s top market for years, and at her peak, she was heard on more than 450 stations. She ranked second in listeners after Rush Limbaugh.

McDonnell recalled Schlessinger’s visit to the station.

“Station employees were instructed not to look at her, not to talk to her, not to have any interaction with her,” he said, unlike with other celebrities who visited the station.

In 2000, Schlessinger was offered a TV contract. Local Dallas activists worked to keep her off local television.

Dallas activist John Selig was one of the creators of StopDrLaura.com, a website that MoveOn.org still uses in its training as a model of successful activism.

Selig laughed at the current publicity surrounding Schlessinger and said he hadn’t thought much about “the fake doctor” in years.

Schlessinger has a PhD in physiology, not in counseling, psychology or anything related to that. She claims that her advice is based on morality and is not psychological. She holds no degrees in ethics, religion or theology either.

Selig got involved in StopDrLaura after attending a protest in Los Angeles outside Paramount Studios, the producer of her TV show.

“Dr. Laura” Schlessinger

“Dr. Laura” Schlessinger

When he got back to Dallas, he organized a protest at Channel 11 that was signed to air the show that fall. He said that after the success of the Dallas protest, 35 other cities held demonstrations at their local Dr. Laura affiliates.

“Our goal was never to get her off AM radio,” Selig said.

He said AM talk radio was filled with right-wing talk shows, but their group felt that television presented a new threat, especially to LGBT teens who would take her message to heart.

“She went way overboard with us and she went way overboard again this time,” Selig said, referring to a call to Schlessinger’s radio show last week that received national attention and has led, apparently, to the end of her radio career.

In that call, an African-American woman called to talk about her white husband’s friends and family members who make racist comments in front of her.

In her answer, Schlessinger used the “N” word 11 times and advised the woman she was being too sensitive, and that if she was so sensitive about such things, she shouldn’t have married outside her own race.

When the caller became angry and tried to reprimand Schlessinger for her language, Schlessinger replied, “Don’t N-double-A-C-P me.”

Although she apologized for using the “N” word, Schlessinger never addressed the rest of her comments. Earlier this week, she announced she was leaving radio because she wanted to regain her First Amendment rights.

Selig had a different view.

“What she wants to do is to speak and not be accountable for her words,” Selig said.

John Selig
John Selig

Selig said that the current campaign to let Target know about the LGBT community’s disapproval of their political donation to a homophobic candidate is the same kind of effort he helped launch against Schlessinger in 2000.

At that time, Selig contacted a number of Schlessinger’s advertisers back then and convinced them to drop their support of her show. A number of those advertisers pulled their money from her radio program as well.

Weak advertising sales contributed to the early demise of the TV show.

Selig said he learned from StopDrLaura that when a company like Target spends money to harm the LGBT community, they need to be held accountable.

Selig said he learned from the fight against Schlessinger that there’s no use calling a company’s customer service line.
“Call media relations or investor relations,” he said. “Those numbers are always listed — and they’ll listen.”

In her announcement that she was quitting radio, Schlessinger acted bewildered at the LGBT community’s continued disdain for her.

On “Larry King Live” this week, she called committed same-sex relationships “a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.”

But in 2000, in addition to blaming Shepard for his own murder, Schlessinger said a vast majority of gay men are pedophiles. She also called gays and lesbians “sexual deviants” and said that people should keep their children away from gay relatives.

Her “biological error” comment was one she repeated on the air often.

Schlessinger, however, denied that she engaged in anti-gay speech.

“Unless I have hallucinated, I have never made an anti-gay commentary,” she said on her show.

Selig had some advice this week for the talk show host. He said Schlessinger should take some advice from the title of one of her own books: “Stop Whining.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dr. Laura’s demise began in Dallas

Dr. Laura

Maybe Dr. Laura Schlessinger should have stuck to bashing gays and lesbians.

The right-wing radio talk show host announced Tuesday night that she won’t renew her contract, ending her radio talk show at the end of this year.

In the 90s, Schlessinger became one of the top radio talk show hosts by becoming increasingly homophobic in her rants against callers who were seeking advice.

When she was offered a TV contract, she finally ran into trouble when activists from Dallas reacted. The Metroplex was her No. 1 market nationally.

KTVT, the CBS affiliate in Dallas, signed on to air her show. Dallas activists staged the first protest against it. Protests spread to cities around the country. John Seelig of Dallas began going after her advertisers, calling corporate executives and convincing many to pull their advertising from her program.

The show debuted with little advertising, and it sunk after one season due to Schlessinger’s terrible TV personality. After three or four format revamps, it was canceled.

Over the past decade, she continued to broadcast on radio, but on fewer and fewer stations.

In her latest high-profile rant, Schlessinger was criticized for using the N-word repeatedly while giving advice to a woman who called with a question about her interracial marriage, upset by her husband’s friends’ racial slurs. Schlessinger attacked the woman, saying that if she was so sensitive about racial issues, she shouldn’t have married outside her race.

Schlessinger apologized for using the N-word, but not for her stupid advice. In her statement about quitting the show, Schlessinger said that she’s not retiring and told Larry King that she’s looking forward to regaining her First Amendment rights.

Presumably, she sees those rights as attacking, insulting and encouraging hate. While the Supreme Court has upheld free speech for hate groups such as the Fred Phelps clan, it has not upheld the right to incite violence against a target group using public airwaves.

Although Schlessinger’s program is an advice show and she uses the title “Dr.,” she does not hold a doctorate in counseling, psychology or any related field.

—  David Taffet