"This is the most mind-boggling thing I've ever dealt with in 13 years on radio," says PK, host of the nationally syndicated Playhouse morning show on Jammin 95.5 FM.
He's talking about the controversy sparked by his Thursday, July 13 show: According to a Friday morning post on the website BikePortland.org, a biker heard PK bash cyclists on the air Thursday morning, allegedly saying things like, "When I hear on TV that a cyclist has been hit and killed by a car, I laugh—I think it's funny," and, "If you are a cyclist you should know I exist, that I don't care about you. That I don't care about your life."
Almost immediately, complaints started rolling into the station. Some bikers are now debating what action to take next, in response to what they're calling PK's "hate speech."
Tim McNamara, the station's general manager, says they've gotten around 30 calls, and hundreds of emails. "I've been threatened like you wouldn't believe, people have said they're going to kill me, my family, they've quoted my home address," he says. "I feel bad, PK feels bad. But he didn't say anything illegal, and I've reprimanded him, and made him apologize."
On Monday morning's show, PK outlined his Thursday remarks. "If you're going to act like an idiot on a bike and you're going to run stop signs and pretend you're a car, and we get into a fender bender and something happens to you, I'm not going to care about you. There's the quote, you brainless dimwit." He'd had a near miss with a biker who didn't stop, he explained, and he was venting about reckless bikers.
"I specifically said, look—if you're a biker and you go 45 minutes to work and 45 minutes back, I admire you. I wish I could go 45 minutes up and down hills," PK told the Mercury on Tuesday morning, July 18. "The [bicyclists] I cannot stand are the people that have this holier-than-god attitude that I'm a bicyclist and you should slow down for me.
"Was I being harsh? Absolutely. Was I threatening? No. Do we do a comedy-based radio show? Yes. It is a five-hour standup routine and every once in a while it touches on subjects like this," PK says. He acknowledges that listeners called in with their own tales of nearly running over bikers. "They did, absolutely. Now was I giving away prizes? No. Were we telling people to run bikers over? No."
But, PK points out, no one complained when the show first aired. Instead, it's cyclists who've read his alleged comments online—and didn't hear the show—who are complaining. "Nobody called until this jackoff posted it on his website."
BikePortland.org's Jonathan Maus—who posted the original entry about PK's alleged comments—stands by what he wrote, even if he hasn't heard the broadcast. "Someone told me they happened to be listening and they told me exactly what they heard and how it made them feel," Maus says. A second cyclist corroborated the account. "There was enough innuendo and a very insensitive tone regarding cyclists, to endanger cyclists on the road. To me that's all that matters. The damage is done."
Most of the Playhouse's shows are available online in a podcast, but the show in question is not. PK says it was online initially Thursday morning, but pulled after a few minutes due to a "client issue." He's hesitant to post it now that the issue is so heated. "I've gotten nothing but hatred, so why am I going to put more of myself out there?"