It was 11 months ago that KSCO 1080 AM owner Michael Zwerling announced new rules for his Santa Cruz radio station. In an on-air editorial, he banned “toxic subjects”—namely “race-baiting” and allegations of anti-Jewish conspiracies or white genocide—and inciting violence.
Zwerling made the announcement in response to GT’s coverage of Georgia “Peach” Beardslee’s controversial twice-weekly broadcasts. But given what Beardslee’s been saying lately, it appears that either Zwerling’s ban was just talk, or he’s found his own station too difficult to police.
To open up the second hour of her Friday, Aug. 10 show, Beardslee called the burning of black churches in the 1960s “a hoax” and then referred to Hollywood as “a massive anti-white crucible.” She spewed made-up statistics about crime, claiming—without evidence—that there are 35,000 cases of “black-on-white rape” a year, while also suggesting the whites seldom rape black Americans.
Beardslee, who hosts on Wednesdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., proceeded to call both Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama racists. “You are an ungrateful woman, Oprah,” Beardslee said. “When will these blacks—who became rich and famous in America, and could have never done it in any other country—have gratitude? Well, I’m not gonna hold my breath. Oprah, why aren’t you living in the hood with your soul brothers and sisters?”
And all of that was over the course of about five minutes.
Later in that same show, Beardslee lamented a “genocide” of whites with an angry caller sympathetic to her world view.
“My critics hear what they want to hear,” Beardslee tells GT via email. “They take what I say out of context and spin it to fit their narrative and what they think they hear. I will have plenty to say after I read what you write in the Good Times.”
On top of all that, Beardslee may have violated Zwerling’s rule about not inciting violence. Earlier this month, she called for then-FBI agent Peter Strzok to “be hung with the rest of the treasonous swamp rats” and additionally threatened Michael Folk, one of her critics, over the air, screaming, “You’d better watch yourself, buddy, and that’s a warning!” She’s repeatedly defended white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, too.
It would appear from this hate speech that anything goes on KSCO, no matter how controversial.
Well, as long as it’s right-wing, anyway; Zwerling has recently fired two long-standing liberal hosts.
Billy “Sunshine” Gorson was fired from his unpaid gig when he called in to Zwerling’s Saturday morning show and referred to Beardslee as a “Nazi.”
Looking back, Gorson says what bothers him most is that Beardslee “gets to keep talking.”
“That’s troubling a bit,” says Gorson, who Zwerling had fired twice before. “I’m not going to let them inject that intolerance into our community. Racial purity talk only leads to death and destruction. If we hadn’t had the Holocaust, maybe this would be okay, but we should know better.”
Brad Kava, who also got fired recently, had told one of his guests that not only does the station owner support President Donald Trump, but “he probably loved Hitler, too.” Kava says it was a joke, but he doesn’t regret it given the context: Trump had just started his border separation policy and had begun putting refugee kids in cages.
Zwerling says that neither Kava nor Gorson is welcome to even call in to the station in the future.
Station manager Michael Olson says that both Gorson and Kava broke a longstanding rule against bad-mouthing colleagues—a rule that he says dates back several years to the days when KSCO had two hosts get into a fight in the parking lot after passive aggressively feuding over the air.
“It’s a very simple rule, and yet it’s a vital rule,” Olson says. “That was the rule Billy broke. What Brad said about the owner of the station—if you were a Jewish person, that would probably flabbergast you as well.”
Zwerling, Gorson and Kava are all Jewish.
When it comes to hate speech, Olson says he welcomes people to report portions of a show that are “out of bounds” on KSCO.com, as listeners sometimes do. But Olson contends that he’s never heard Beardslee cross the line. “What I’ve heard Georgia do is advocate for the white race,” he says.
Zwerling encouraged GT to submit a complaint online to KSCO about Beardslee. That way, Zwerling says, he can put “Georgia on trial with our entire KSCO audience” during his Saturday morning broadcast—almost like a game show. But why doesn’t Zwerling take a personal stand himself?
“I’m not gonna decide what’s hate speech,” Zwerling tells us. “I don’t think I’m that smart.”
Kava says he always liked the idea of trying to reach conservatives. But he and Gorson say they’re now hoping to land a spot on the local public radio station KSQD that’s launching soon.
“I’ve been fired for lots of jobs because I’m an asshole,” Gorson says. “This is my proudest firing yet. I always tell the boss what I think.”
Update — Sept. 11, 2018: The original version of this story misreported the date of a broadcast on KSCO.