Radio talk-show host fired for on-air remarks Dismissal of C. Miles follows unsupported comments about mayor

September 30, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Gregory P. Kane and Gerard Shields contributed to this article.

Controversial radio talk-show host C. Miles Smith was fired this week for taking his stinging commentary too far when he made unsupported allegations on the air about Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's politics and sex life.

During his regular program Thursday, Smith, the host of a morning talk show on WOLB-AM (1010), criticized Schmoke for defending city police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who was under fire for miscounting the city's shootings.

Smith said on his program that Schmoke was defending Frazier because the commissioner perhaps had pictures of the mayor in compromising situations.

In addition, Smith, who espouses black nationalism with a conservative bent, prompted angry phone calls from some listeners by suggesting that Schmoke was in the pocket of the Jewish community.

The comments touched off a series of complaints to City Hall and led radio station owners Cathy L. Hughes and her son, Alfred Liggins, to suspend the popular "C. Miles" on Friday.

" 'Your show yesterday crossed the line,' " Smith said Liggins told him.

Liggins told Smith to call him Monday morning. It was then that Liggins told him he was fired, Smith said.

Neither Liggins nor Hughes, who own several stations under the banner of Radio One Inc., returned repeated telephone calls yesterday for comment.

"The Thursday show was the straw that broke the camel's back," Smith said. "That and the fact that I was 'insensitive' to the rape of the St. Mary's College students in Guatemala. The [Anti-Defamation League has] been calling. [Management] was saying certain sponsors wouldn't go on my show."

Smith said he plans to go to Atlanta "to be with my two lovely daughters."

He said he has job offers in Chicago and New Orleans and expects to be working again by Christmas.

"I feel free," he said. "I'm fine. I'm happy."

Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a Baltimore Democrat who also has a program on WOLB, defended Smith yesterday, saying that Thursday's comments were no different from some of the show's usual banter.

"There have been things said by Mrs. Hughes that were worse than the statements made by C. Miles," Mitchell said. "I have an understanding that attorneys from the mayor's office contacted Radio One, so I believe there is political pressure."

Clinton R. Coleman, Schmoke's spokesman, said he left a message for Hughes after being told about the broadcast, but that no one from the mayor's office spoke with her about the show.

"The comments were inflammatory and bordered on slander," Coleman said. "We did get complaints. I thought if the VTC [complaints] were true, they were below the usual comments."

Coleman said he was particularly concerned about suggestions that Frazier might have "pictures of the mayor. I did find that to be offensive."

But Coleman said there was no political pressure on Radio One to fire Smith and stressed that Schmoke and Hughes are friends.

"I don't know of any political pressure that can be brought to bear on Ms. Hughes or her radio station," he said.

Smith has been a lightning rod since he hit the local airwaves in June 1996.

He has skewered Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

But he didn't criticize Hughes' and Liggins' decision.

Smith praised Hughes, who plucked him from his job in an Atlanta restaurant, set him up in a rent-free apartment on Liberty Road and put him on the company's Baltimore and Washington stations.

Smith's only negative comments about Hughes included regret that she never invited him to her home, and that she backed

former state Sen. Larry Young in the scandal that forced the Baltimore legislator from office.

"I wanted to slam him," Smith said.

He said he went to Hughes and expressed his misgivings about Young, especially his credibility.

" 'Well, if you're not on the air, you won't have any credibility, will you?' " Smith said Hughes responded.

But Smith used his "take-no-prisoners" approach to doing the talk show the rest of the time.

"I brought it strong every day," Smith said with pride. "I did every show like it was my last, because I knew one day it would be my last."

Pub Date: 9/30/98

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