Officials with 910AM Superstation announced Tuesday that they've indefinitely suspended the radio show of the Rev. W.J. Rideout III.
The decision follows a press conference the reverend held last week in which he accused three Detroit journalists — two from WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and one from the Detroit Free Press — of sexual harassment but failed to give any evidence or supporting facts for two of the allegations and had no victim names or testimony for any of the three.
"Rev. Rideout was making these accusations and I asked, where are the victims? He had no victims," station founder and CEO Kevin Adell told the Free Press Tuesday, explaining that he made the decision earlier this morning after hearing that Rideout was planning a protest outside of WXYZ's station.
"My question is where are the standards? What are the journalistic standards? Where are the victims? Former victims? You have to have journalistic standards," Adell continued, noting that he trusted WXYZ — and its owner, Scripps — to investigate. "I don't want people to use my airwaves to feather a nest for media attention."
On Dec. 6, Rideout, pastor of Our God's People Church in Detroit, held a press conference where he claimed management at WXYZ — including Vice President and General Manager Mike Murri — were informed of sexual harassment allegations against anchor Malcom Maddox but failed to address the issue, instead promoting Maddox and moving the female victim to a new assignment. At the same news conference, the reverend name-dropped two other Detroit journalists as predators but with no specific allegations.
Following the press conference, WXYZ put Maddox on administrative leave.
"WXYZ is actively investigating the allegations that were made in the press conference. As we continue our investigation, Malcom Maddox has been placed on administrative leave," Murri said in a statement that afternoon.
Following the news conference, however, 910AM — where Rideout has had a show for a little under a year — continued to be hub for discussions on Maddox and the other journalists that he named.
The afternoon of the news conference, 910 AM Superstation radio host Steve Neavling said on air that he had heard of claims against three journalists in Detroit. He declined to give names, saying he wanted to give the alleged “predators” the opportunity to come forward, but spent the entire hour segment flicking at the allegations, saying he was up at 3 a.m. calling sources to work the story.
"Two are television reporters and one is an editor at a newspaper,” Neavling said, noting that they are the same people Rideout had called out.
Adell said he is not suspending Neavling, because Neavling did not name any of the alleged media harassers. But Adell said he told Neavling to drop the story until someone actually came forward.
"If you're going to use our airwaves to talk to 11.9 million people, you got to have the facts right," said Adell, who notes that his wife used to be a journalist at WXYZ and while he has no stake in the company, he admires the work the station does and trusts them to do a proper investigation.
Rideout, when asked about his suspension, said he did not have anything more to add.
"There is nothing I can say if that's what Kevin chose to do. He's the owner, he can do what he needs to do. We have to respect that," Rideout said, noting that he still planned to hold a protest in front of WXYZ this afternoon.
When asked if there would be any victims in attendance — something his campaign has been lacking, and contributed to his suspension — Rideout was vague.
"I can't discuss victims right now, I can tell you people will be there," he said.
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