In the midst of controversy, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, one of the top-rated radio personalities in the U.S., has decided to call it quits. Schlessinger made the surprising revelation Tuesday night (Aug. 17) on CNN’s Larry King. She’ll end her syndicated radio show when her contract with Talk Radio Network is up at the end of the year.
Schlessinger has been under fire by critics since Aug. 10 when she used the N-word on-air during a call about race with an African-American caller. The discussion was about how to deal with racist comments from the caller’s white relatives and friends and whether the use of the N-word was ever appropriate. Schlessinger argued the word was used all the time on TV and by comedians. She apologized the next day. “I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the N-word all the way out, more than one time. And that was wrong. I’ll say it again, that was wrong,” Schlessinger said.
On King, Schlessinger said she feels that her First Amendment rights were violated and she wants to “regain” them. She said she would focus on her Web site.
“I want my First Amendment rights back, which I can’t have on radio, without the threat of attack on my advertisers and stations. I would like to make it clear that I am not retiring, I’m too young for that, and I’m not quitting. I will be stronger and freer to say my mind through my books, my YouTube Channel, my blog and my Web site. And I’ll be on TV more, because I’ll have the freedom to speak my mind,” Schlessiger said.
Even after her much-criticized comments, Dr. Laura added five affiliates. Still, her exit will leave more than 250 radio stations with a three-hour block to fill.
Schlessinger began her show in the 1970s and soon became one of the most high profile radio hosts. Advertisers, looking to target women, particularly welcomed her show.
“When I started in radio and you said something somebody didn’t like, they argued with you. Now they try to silence you. They try to wipe out your ability to earn a living and to have your job. They go after affiliates. They go after sponsors,” Schlessinger told King.
A handful of advertisers reportedly pulled their advertising after her fateful comments such as Motel 6, Netflix and OnStar.
Schlessinger has been nominated for the National Association of Broadcasters’ Marconi Award for network/syndicated personality of the year.