Beware of the Dogma

When KFYI radio host John Dayl spews mindless hate, David Winkler listens

People taking his words out of context, listeners misinterpreting his sarcasm: Dayl says these are constant hazards in his profession. Some people, he explains, make conclusions about his words and then can never be convinced that they've misinterpreted him.

"You can beat the living crap out of them, and they won't let go of that idea," he says as another of his fans arrives at his public appearance to pick up a bag of breadcrumbs.

When it's pointed out that his statements about the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing were far less equivocal--that Dayl stated plainly it was his own opinion such government workers were like enemies in a foreign war--Dayl appears uncharacteristically shy.

"That issue is dead as far as I am concerned. There's no point in dealing with it." He says that no matter how he answers that question, he'll just get himself in trouble all over again. "I'll just throw my hands up," he says as he literally raises his hands over his head.

He's asked if he's surprised that his words have taken on such a life of their own. "I'm reluctant to discuss that. I can't be as candid as I would like to be," he says, and indicates that he's on somewhat thin ice with the station's management.

He's vague about his purpose on the air and how seriously he should be taken, answering that he simply wants his listeners to think about what he's said.

One listener, however, seems to be thinking too much. It's clear that Dayl's silent monitor, David Winkler, has gotten under his skin. Especially since Dayl's experience in Oklahoma City.

"Why doesn't Winkler come to me? Why doesn't he call up and ask me to broaden my show himself? If Winkler's got a problem with me, he should come to me. Hell, I'll give him a shot on the air," Dayl says.

Winkler had made sure that when Dayl arrived in Oklahoma City last August to quell the controversy surrounding him, tapes of his Phoenix shows were already in the hands of Carol Arnold, the KTOK host who would interview Dayl.

She cordially welcomed him back to his old station, mentioning that not a week went by when a listener didn't ask what happened with old John Dayl, and then she played the first of two excerpts that Winkler had sent.

Dayl sounded caught off guard. After several digressions, he eventually told Arnold that the entire thing was a nonstory which had been misreported. But she answered that he had said these things and they offended her.

"You said these things," she said.
"I said those things," he responded, but then he claimed to be taken out of context, that his words had been spoken sarcastically.

That's when Arnold played the second excerpt. It contained the caller who asks Dayl if he really doesn't consider the people in the building innocent victims.

"I don't consider them to be innocent victims, no. They're part of the system," Dayl replies without the least hint of sarcasm. Then he compares government workers to enemy soldiers.

Arnold asked him if it made sense to compare federal employees to wartime foes.

Dayl said sure, but then backtracked. "I say things on the air I don't believe," he admitted.

"So this is all just shtick?" she asked.
"No, no," Dayl insisted, saying that it's not all one thing or another, and then he became completely confusing.

She said he was tap-dancing.
The next three callers she took said he was doing much worse. The last was Dr. Paul Heath, a bombing survivor.

"I want to say this to you very clear and very concise," says Heath. "You are neither informed about the significance of this terrorist event, or the effects in the lives of Oklahoma City and others in the United States. And I pity you for being so insensitive and ignorant."

Dayl dismissed Heath's statement as name calling.
Then, during the news break, saying that he had a phone call to make, he bolted.

"John Dayl reminds me of an old hooker. I hope I'm not 60 years old and have to hike up my skirt one more time to make a living," says Tom Leykis from his Los Angeles home. He says it's obvious to him that Dayl is merely lobbing bombs in an effort to get his full-time job back.

Leykis, a nationally syndicated talk-show host heard on about 225 stations across the country, says he's very familiar with Dayl's show, the statements that have caused controversy, and what it's like to work at KFYI.

In the late Eighties, Leykis was Fred Weber's program director.
"Back then Fred didn't know anything about radio programming, not that he knows more now," Leykis says.

In 1986, Leykis says he constructed a diverse lineup: Charlie Van Dyke in the morning. Conservative Stan Major late morning. A liberal feminist early afternoon. Left-leaning libertarian Leykis late afternoon. And a series of syndicated conservatives in the evening. It was a mix, Leykis says, that allowed the same news to be discussed several different ways. He says Weber made several changes, but generally approved of the diversity in Leykis' lineup.

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