By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
If Montini's spy is listening," John Dayl says as he opens one of his weekend radio programs, "he's going to be disappointed, because I probably won't say anything today that will result in a Montini column."
The KFYI-AM (910) talk-show host then launches into one of several topics, none of which, he says, will devolve into the kind of scandalous remarks that have brought denunciations of Dayl by public figures, satirizing by political cartoonists, and half a dozen scathing treatments by the Arizona Republic's columnist E.J. Montini.
Today, Dayl says, he's going to avoid all that.
But as he's always done during his three hours on the air, Dayl will eventually, and perhaps inevitably, migrate into controversial territory.
And just as inevitably, from his fastidious living room in north Phoenix, Montini's spy will take notes.
The man who has tormented Dayl so persistently for nearly a year sits at a glass table in his living room explaining what has motivated him to tape, monitor and study Dayl in detail since last July.
His name is David Winkler, and he doesn't want John Dayl censored or fired. He wants that clearly understood right from the start.
Winkler has on several occasions sent tapes of Dayl's utterances to Montini and others who have in turn made Dayl notorious, particularly for his comments last year that the federal workers who lost their lives in the Oklahoma City bombing weren't innocent victims since they were part of a "system that moves against you and I [sic]."
More recently, Dayl came under fire for dismissing the seriousness of an 18-hour gang rape of a 15-year-old girl which took place in Phoenix. "These are things I really can't get too excited about," Dayl said, "because it's just one or two of the things that boys will be boys."
In both cases, Dayl's comments reached larger audiences through the efforts of David Winkler.
But even though he's succeeded in getting Dayl into hot water--he's brought the talk-show host some negative press on a national level--Winkler continues to learn what he can about Dayl, gathering tidbits here and there to complete his already abundant dossier on Dayl's thought, life and history.
Meanwhile, Dayl seems intrigued by Winkler as well. "I was hoping that Dave Winkler, who listens to all of these programs and monitors them for this rinky-dink outfit apparently that he's got, I was kind of hoping that he would call in, but he hasn't made it yet," Dayl said last July.
Winkler still isn't calling. And he wouldn't bother to listen to the Dayl show, either, he says, if there were only an alternative.
Spreading out various papers on the glass table, Winkler shows that his "rinky-dink outfit"--he's president of Arizona Media Action, an organization with about a dozen activist-minded members--has a considerable history of monitoring the Valley's media outlets. He and his colleagues have been studying and writing about the area's newspapers and radio and television stations for several years.
His biggest complaint: that the Valley's media commentary is almost completely dominated by conservative voices. It's a domination, Winkler claims, that results from the corporate interests who support stations and mainstream newspapers through their advertising and from the political interests of media owners, who tend to be conservative.
The dearth of liberal voices on radio and in the editorial pages of newspapers such as the Republic, Winkler explains, cannot be rationalized as simply a consequence of Arizona's listening and reading public.
That's the same public, he notes, that voted for Bill Clinton in November.
If the voting public is diverse, however, Valley radio talk is not. For the most part, listeners can choose between right and further right--and, in Dayl's case, the peculiar.
From his collection, Winkler hands over a dozen tapes which he says will show that Dayl consistently makes extremist and irresponsible statements, many of them racist, on a weekly basis.
Dayl, defending himself on the air, counters that his words have often been taken out of context.
A careful listening to the tapes reveals that, to some extent, both claims have merit.
To date, there seems to be little indication that Winkler's efforts have had much effect on KFYI. Station owner Fred Weber strongly defended Dayl last year, citing free speech, in the face of outrage over Dayl's comments about the Oklahoma City bombing victims. After the "boys will be boys" comment and its ensuing uproar, however, Dayl was given a less favorable Sunday time slot. Winkler wonders if the time change was a direct result of complaints about Dayl.
KFYI won't say. Repeated attempts to discuss Dayl's show and KFYI's conservative lineup with the station's management were turned away.
Weber declined to speak with New Times, program director Ed Walsh denied a New Times request to observe a Dayl show, and Dayl himself says he was instructed not to grant an interview (last week, Dayl relented when he was encountered at a public appearance).
Others, such as nationally syndicated talk-show host and former KFYI employee Tom Leykis, are more willing to describe the evolution of Weber's station into an all-conservative format.