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Kent, one of the station's outcasts, doesn't agree. A gay liberal attorney, he says WFTL's failure stems more from a lack of vision and poor management decisions than ratings. "The station is hemorrhaging money at every level," says Kent, who is starting a new weekend show on 1470 AM. "So they are slotting in syndicated hosts for nominal amounts of money. You don't have to hire local talent; you don't have to hire producers. It's the cheaper, easier way out."
Lapa counters that the station still has the best local news show in the morning and pointed at none other than Mitchell as a star in that regard: "She's being pushed -- well, not pushed -- she'll have a position in the morning. And when these huge news events happen, she will spearhead the operation."
Wait a second. Lapa thinks of Mitchell as a "news" person?
"Yes, she's considered news," answered Lapa, who has worked at South Florida radio stations for nearly 25 years. "She's the new world of news-news analysis. She's the local version of what's going on in MSNBC and Fox News. And the payoff for today's listener is the ability to interact with her."
And boy, has there been a payoff the past couple of weeks, as Mitchell filled in for vacationing Boortz and O'Reilly. She outdid her syndicated brethren when it came to monumental insensitivity to the suffering Katrina victims. As for interaction, some callers vehemently disagreed with her negative characterization of the black race, while others really liked what they heard.
"My father told me that when the blacks move in, everything is going to be really bad," one caller said, adding, "He was right!"
"I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're saying," Mitchell responded. "That's because there are cases in Liberty City of that happening. You see the same thing up and down Broward, and that's why you have the issue of eminent domain... You've got these places that are trash. The only explanation was that blacks were brought to America [against their will]... Their entrance into America was different than anyone else's."
The Oklahoma-bred broadcaster told listeners that her mother was once mugged by two African-American women and that if she were a poor black mother, she'd be "angry and embarrassed" at her race for its behavior. On the other hand, she pointed out that wealthier people did really well in the storm's aftermath. "I read a beautiful story about people in an upscale neighborhood" who went into a grocery story and "took only what they needed," she said.
And while defending George W. Bush's performance at every turn, she went off on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "The mayor is racist," she said of Nagin, a black man. "The mayor must be racist, because he put his people in this position and he doesn't care about them."
At one point, she compared Nagin to the September 11 terrorists, because she claimed he was the first to strike with allegations of racism involving the slow federal response.
This kind of talk went on for days. It was as if, in Kelleyland, there had been no hurricane or flood -- just criminal black people who were finally exposed as the bad citizens they so obviously are.
But don't get her wrong.
"I don't know what I'd do without my black friends," she said during one show, adding, "We have dinner parties."