DB

No one from KNBR or Cumulus has, at least up until now, given an official statement on anything in regard to Damon Bruce. It’s hard to believe since it’s all people seem to be talking about, but the powers that be at 55 Hawthorne have responded with … radio silence.

If actions speak louder than words, the presence of Ted Ramey — who kicked off today’s noon-to-3 program on KNBR 1050 by calling it “The Ted Ramey Show” — in Bruce’s time slot on Monday is a statement. What it means is anyone’s guess, because it’s unclear what KNBR will do from here. Two-week suspension? Termination? Back tomorrow with a nooner, Al from San Francisco and the “Tuesday Trifecta”?

Bruce’s diatribe against the “feminization” of sports on Thursday was premeditated, which sounds harsh because that word is generally used in the context of crimes like assault and murder. In any case, Bruce definitely had that bit ready. At the end of his first segment on Thursday he teased, “By the way, I am re-masculating sports. I am taking it back. I am planting a man flag in sports, and we’ll explain to the ladies what that means a little later on.”

His comments in the now-infamous third segment of that first hour sounded rehearsed. While the message wasn’t polished, his delivery and cadence were focused and powerful. That, along with a lot of juicy quotes, led to this situation getting out of control — both for Bruce and his employer.

Some people, both fans of Bruce’s show and others who don’t listen but don’t think his initial comments weren’t that bad, think Bruce is the victim. However, he botched four things that were completely under his control.

1. The rant

We’ve covered this part pretty thoroughly.

2. The tweets

3. The Podcasts

Every minute of Bruce’s program is uploaded to iTunes and KNBR’s website in hour-long segments. No other show on the station preserves every segment, phone call and off-color joke. Podcasting the entire show makes it easier for listeners in other markets to listen to Bruce without having to stream in real time, but it also provides an opportunity for sites like Awful Announcing to take a audio clip that would’ve otherwise slipped harmlessly into the ether and make it go viral.

4. The “apology”

If Bruce had stayed home on Thursday night instead of attending the Stanford/Oregon game, and spent as much time carefully crafting an explanation for his comments as he did on Thursday’s 9-minute bit about re-masculating that got him in hot water, he may have escaped from this relatively unscathed.

Instead, Bruce sounded incredulous, angry, and wholly unprepared during Friday’s opening segment, which wasn’t really an apology at all. He dug deeper into his stance on Jonathan Martin. He dismissed the importance of his comments 24 hours earlier by using the phrase “outrage du jour” three times. The “if sports were a newborn baby” analogy was clumsy at best, laughable at worst. He questioned Wendy Thurm for transcribing his comments (even though he brought her into this in the first place), effectively telling his fans to blame her and the rest of the “outrage” police if the backlash — which got even louder after Friday’s show — eventually led to Bruce losing his job.

We aren’t quite there yet. However, it doesn’t bode well for Bruce’s chances that at noon, U2’s “Even Better Than the Real Thing” played instead of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” from The Killers. Today’s intro included nothing from KNBR’s voiceover guy, and Ramey (probably under orders to keep quiet on the situation, like everybody else) didn’t mention Bruce’s name. However, Gary Radnich couldn’t help but giggle and not-so-subtly hint at the elephant in the room when Tony Salvadore walked by the studio an hour earlier.

“Oh, what do you know…Mr. Salvadore is here. Tony Salvadore in studio, he must smell blood in the water…”

Gary has to be so drunk on schadenfreude right now.

***

How did we get to this point? Not many, but a few of Bruce’s biggest fans have accused me and other BASG contributors of staging a crusade to get Bruce fired, which is ridiculous. Nowhere have I called for KNBR to do anything (although it’d be smart if they released some sort of statement instead of hoping the whole thing will just go away), and no one else affiliated with the site has called for his job. Awful Announcing posted the audio before I wrote anything on the subject, and nearly every major media outlet who has covered the story has linked to Awful Announcing, not this site.

A lot of “free speech” references have wiggled their way into this — in most cases as a defense for Bruce or others who say controversial things. Here’s the problem with this stance: if radio hosts or anyone else have the right to utter words that offend, those without that platform also have the right to critique those words in the manner they choose.

Are those who respond angrily trying to silence radio hosts or other public figures with controversial viewpoints? Perhaps, but the chorus of those shouting down Bruce’s detractors are trying to silence those without a microphone. “Free speech” is about government, and doesn’t give anyone the right to spew whatever vitriol he or she likes without anyone questioning; it’s also completely irrelevant in the case of a radio host working for a private company.

Until the Keith Olbermann thing, I was close to certain that Bruce would keep his job. Now it’s in the hands of Cumulus Media, and anyone who’s familiar with that outfit knows the decision on Bruce’s future will be based on money. Money (the San Francisco Giants) was the reason why Larry Krueger, Tony Rhein and Bob Agnew lost their jobs in 2005. Money (a high salary) was the reason why they sent Ralph Barbieri packing in 2011. Now Bruce is at the mercy of the station’s advertisers, but he isn’t the victim here. If he would’ve done things differently at any point in the four areas listed above, there’s a good chance Ramey would’ve been doing sports updates today on “The Damon Bruce Show.”