Hookers, Media Feuds, and the Ego that Binds Them

Long before Mitch Levy allegedly plunked $160 in cash upon a bedside table in anticipation of a good old fashioned happy ending, The Seattle Times had already determined they’d be severing a long-standing association with Levy’s employer, Sports Radio 950 KJR.

The newspaper and the radio station had no real reason to be on the outs were it not for Frank Blethen, the publisher and CEO of Seattle’s paper of record. Blethen, who has been at the Times’ helm since 1985, was done with the relationship for various reasons – chief among those being a certain level of frustration over KJR’s criticism of the Times’ controversial stance on two different Seattle arena proposals, as well as perceived criticism of the paper itself. As a result, Blethen chose to enforce a moratorium on Times writers appearing on both Sports Radio 950 KJR, as well as “competing media” in the local Seattle area. The Times would later clarify its stance, singling out KJR as the sole outlet from which writers were explicitly forbidden, while also adding that some semblance of managerial permission would be required for employees to appear on-air with other local entities. Previously, this lack of autonomy had not existed.

By now we know that the Times cited “off-color” and “sexist” remarks from KJR radio personalities as the reasoning behind their imposed operational changes. However, that language didn’t emerge in an official statement until Thursday, August 31st, which might not mean much if it weren’t for Levy and his fateful blunder nearly a week earlier.

***

He certainly couldn’t have known that he was being set up. No one walks into a room in anticipation of being taken into custody. If he knew a trap had been set, he surely never would have arrived at the Bellevue condominium where he ultimately met law enforcement officials. But he likely knew none of this, of course, and so it came to be that on Saturday, August 26th, Mitch Levy found himself not in the presence of a “masseuse,” but rather arresting officers who whisked KJR’s morning show host off to prison shortly thereafter.

By this time, personnel at both the Times and KJR were well aware that their affiliation with one another was coming to an end on Tuesday, September 5th. Writers at the Times had already been informed that a split was coming. Meanwhile, KJR program director Rich Moore had been notified by a Times editor that the 5th would signal the end of the working agreement. Regardless of how any of the parties involved felt about the matter, the deal was done, and everyone knew it.

Levy was booked into King County’s South Correctional Entity, a prison built for misdemeanor offenders, on the afternoon of the 26th. In the hours that followed, word slowly began to trickle out that the radio host had been caught. By nightfall, at least one major news outlet in Seattle knew about Levy’s incarceration. Media was encouraged not to reveal any details of the arrest or others like it, however, since Bellevue Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office were planning to carry out the prostitution sting over a seven-day period. Hence, Friday, September 1st became the first day upon which information about any of the details involved would be released.

Somewhere between the date of Levy’s arrest and the date the Times published an article about the bust, the newspaper became aware of the incident involving Levy. In all likelihood, that date was prior to the afternoon of Thursday, August 31st, when an official statement on the breakup between the paper and KJR was unveiled.

Levy’s misstep was certainly ideal for the newspaper, which, in the court of public opinion, now found itself with a leg to stand on in justifying its breakup with the radio station. For KJR, on the other hand, such a transgression could not have come at a worse possible moment. All of which led to the coincidental timing of the statement on the broken relationship between two bastions of the Seattle media landscape: five days after a KJR host found himself in jail, but a day before the entire world knew.

***

As always, public perception rages on. One could reasonably understand how an onlooker might find a cause-and-effect association between Levy’s arrest and the Times’ embargo of KJR.

The one thing we know for certain, however, is that The Seattle Times did not end its partnership with Sports Radio 950 KJR because of Mitch Levy’s alleged involvement in a high-end prostitution sting. The timeline of the above events ensures that, and the paper even went out of its way to call attention to any potential misconception, stating in an article that the “decision [to sever ties with KJR] is not connected to Levy’s arrest.”

From KJR’s standpoint, the hits just keep on coming. Losing valued on-air guests at a Times executive’s behest was bad enough; losing the marquee voice of the radio station to a stupid mistake is much worse. With Levy absent from his own show on the morning of Monday, September 4th, it seems evident that iHeartMedia, KJR’s parent company, may be preparing to forge ahead without its morning show host until the legal process brings forth a resolution.

For the Times, it’s business as usual – business which now precludes writers from appearing on KJR. The future of cross-promotion between writing staff and other media entities is now firmly in the hands of Blethen, who appears content to impose restrictions on his employees for an indeterminate amount of time. It may not be good PR, and it may not work out in the end, but frankly, if newspapers had made all the right moves in the past, they wouldn’t be suffering the way they are now.

If there is one thing uniting each of these circumstances, it is this: ego. It’s what ultimately led Levy into a situation that has cost him his reputation, and it’s what has compelled Blethen to shackle the people who have helped make him money.

As for those of us who take a sliver of joy in reading the paper or listening to the radio, we are simply collateral damage in a game being played amongst men who have sacrificed their character for whatever it is that guides them. And that, unfortunately, is all too common in the world in which we live.

56 thoughts on “Hookers, Media Feuds, and the Ego that Binds Them”

  1. The whole thing is advertising — why would Blethen want his guys going on KJR so that the radio station gets the advertisers/sponsors? Blethen wants their ads. The Times hired the talent, moved them here, gave them the office, desk, phone, note pads, computer, per diem, flights, hotels, mileage, newsprint, website, vlogs, so they could be paid radio pundits? On a station that had a babe bracket? No.

    Other reporters don’t have paid, scheduled shows on competing media, why should the sports guys?

    Also Alex, you keep calling it a “newspaper of record,” as if you know what that means. Look it up, man. There hasn’t been a newspaper of record in most towns since the 1980’s.

  2. I work at Boeing as a mechanical engineer, with a bunch of colleagues who have known David Mahler since junior high and high school.

    One of them came up with a great zinger: “Mitch in the Morning, John at Night!

    LOL LOL!!

    MITCH is BANNED….from MITCH (Dick?) in the Morning!!

    LOL LOL LOL!!

  3. Curtis, I don’t think he loves his children or his wife…actions always speak louder than words. The things people do, when they don’t think anyone is watching, is a damn good indicator of who they are.

    While the crime of patronizing a prostitute is a misdemeanor, it is a form of contributing to the purchasing and sale of people…a form of slavery.

    If he loved his children and wife, he would not set an example that says “its okay to purchase woman for your own sexual pleasure.” If he loved his family, he would not expose them to the devastating financial and social repercussions that are likely to follow.

    He doesn’t love his children or wife. He’s simply another selfish ass that only cares about himself, not his family.

  4. 2 different topics here: Mitch, and the “newspaper’s” relationship with KJR.
    I listen to Mitch in the morning and it’s probably 1/2 sports news 1/2 entertainment. I do believe there is some karma involved here because Mitch has always had an air of arrogance, of being better than everyone else, and acting like his s*** doesn’t stink, but I’ve always felt there was a sleaziness about him. When a friend sent me the link as the news broke about local sports radio host busted in prostituion sting, my first thought was that it was Mitch. Not surprised at all…
    As far as the “newspaper”, and yes I put that in quotes because the Times at least as far as the arena issue is HORRIBLY biased, their hatred for the Hansen group and lack of unbiased, FACT-BASED reporting is laughable.
    The author states it perfectly when he says: “but frankly, if newspapers had made all the right moves in the past, they wouldn’t be suffering the way they are now.” The fact is that The S.T. is like a spoiled little child who wants to take their ball and go home because their BIAS was called out as well it should have been. The decision to sever ties with KJR is another example of their stupidity. It’s only a matter of time before they die the same death as the P.I.

  5. Watch the movie Network, I heart
    Radio is near bankruptcy and they
    Pass on monster ratings because of
    Their self righteous indignation

  6. This is a classic Mitch, taking 10 minutes to make a 20 second point: “The Seahawks…this game on Sunday..this game on Sunday…The Seahawks must at Green Bay…At the Green Bay game on Sunday…they must get better play….they MUST get better play…out of that, out of that offensive…offensive line of theirs. They MUST, they MUST get better play…out of their offensive line.”

    Mitch is basically like Foghorn Leghorn, without a Southern Accent, and the “I say, I say” in there.

    Hope this is the last we’ve seen of Mitch. What a poor example to set for his kids.

  7. It’s also another example of an entertainment type being in their job too long, feeling privileged and becoming a primadonna, which in Mitch’s case happened about 1996.

  8. What’s so awesome, is that we can now hear people write and say much more freely, how much and how many of us hate Mitch, and have hated him for years. Perhaps, even for more than a decade.

  9. I think Mitch is a great morning host. He certainly provides better insight into the news of the day than most Seattle sports personalities.

  10. What a bunch of haters. Mitch is obviously a flawed human being. I guess all of you live in glass houses. Whatever you think about the man, the critisism of him as a morning host is off base. You try to fill 4 hours of content 5 days a week. Some of shit is annoying, no doubt, but it’s way more interesting and informative than most, especially Softy (the afternoon commute host for all you noobs) who is really nothing more than a homer mega-fan. I hope KJR doesn’t overreact and fire the guy. If I have to choose between Dick Fein or Brock/Salk I will listen to NPR.

  11. Has KJR came out with a statement? I hate when they just ignore it. They did that with Steve Sandmeyer and Elise Woodward. They were just gone, no explanation. Of course this is different. I have listened to Mitch in the Morning for 15 years. Love him or hate him, he is one of the best interviewers in sports radio. I feel awful for his family. Very sad situation indeed.

  12. Not “hating on Mitch”, dude did this to himself. Jeopardized his family, income, reputation and health. Karma’s a bitch.

  13. We take the T&A talk, the Sue Bird story, and the ever-offensive Bigger Dance. I even remember that a local HIGH SCHOOL boy got in trouble, for creating brackets of girls at his HIGH school. Believe me, I hate all of this stuff.

    But, what happened in Bellevue, unlike the above stuff, resulted in an ARREST. This got Michie booked into JAIL. And he had to come up with money to BAIL himself out of jail.

    That’s why THIS should finally push him out. Nobody else did it to him. He did it to himself.

  14. Mitch got what he deserved. The setup, the trap, $160.00 “fun $$$”, finger prints, the mug shot front/side, $500.00 bail, the steel door slamming shut behind him, The P.O.I. ( Person of Interest) “rap sheet,”
    For every Tracy Taylor he verbally abused on the air for 15 years, I was shocked he wasn’t fired, but then it wouldn’t bring the BIG BUCKS.
    On and on it went…..
    So Mitch:,” Your oldest son is 15 years old and a FNG in high school. So how is this going to work? Kids can be very, very, cruel. Not only his classmates but smart a**’s from other schools will tear him up.”
    He doesn’t deserve this, but you obviously weren’t thinking /w your vertical head.
    Wife had the divorce papers served up yet? Youngest son getting bullied too?
    Sad Mitch sad…….
    Logged on to Daniels Broiler website under CAREERS:
    FT Dish Washer…Quiet work area….
    Got your name on it….. Stud Muffin….

  15. @Kimberly my thoughts exactly! It’s absolutely maddening, anytime something major happens KJR completely ignores it and pretends like nothing is different. They owe their listeners some type of statement and they need to stop pretending like nothing happened. Even it’s as simple as we cannot comment and we’re letting the legal situation play out.

    It doesn’t appear as if they’ve fired him because the show still has his name on it and his show is still listed on the site, but they may have no choice in the matter, because he’s likely going to lose his sponsors, and I think him returning to the airwaves would be completely awkward, hell he may just resign for that reason who knows.

    The suggestion earlier that the guy doesn’t love his family is a really shitty thing to say. He made a pretty gross mistake and he is an arrogant ass but my god one thing you can be sure of is the guy loves his boys, that’s always been very clear. You don’t know the circumstances between he and his wife and what may have led to this bad choice.

    Hope he can work things out with his family because you never want to see a family destroyed.

  16. I’m a Mitch Levy fan. Proud to say it. He’s the reason I started listening to sports radio 15 years ago. I don’t have a problem with him on-air. However OFF-AIR if he’s found guilty of this that’s pretty shitty for him and his family, and his kids. It’s too bad. People make mistakes EVERY day, but this is a pretty hard one to come back from. I hope for the best for his kids and family, times are going to get tough… I’m not sure I can listen to Dick Fain for 4 hours…I like him as Sideshow-Bob…but full time hosting the show daily??? I’m probably going to have to mix it up and jump over to 710. KJR should bring back Steve Sandmeyer…

  17. Judge Richard Jones: “How, do you, Mr. Mitchell James Levy, plead in Count Bellevue, for solicitation of Destiny?”
    Mitch Levy: “Guilty.”

  18. Hell no!
    Hell no!
    Hell no!
    You ain’t pinning no fucking soliciation charge on Mitch Levy!

  19. There was a time, a former military guy came into a bedroom. He said, “This room got the smell of a guy who masturbates a lot!”

    Carl, THATS what that smell is, in your room!

  20. Bring him back bar NONE immediately!!!! Please hurry cuz if Dick don’t have Mitch than his Dick is out! Don’t know what KJR would be if they didn’t have Hugh Millen at a time like this. The cohesiveness of Mitch and Hugh and Holmgren is so huge and Dick fits perfect into that bring it back or I don’t know who’s going to pick up the pace like that piccanti let’s go bring him back I feel bad for his wife and kids but everyone can find Dick again!!! Hahaha sorry but true!!! If I had his wife I not only wouldn’t be getting a massage uless it was from her but you never know what’s going on behind closed doors I pray for everybody bring his ass back or I’m done with sports radio. Listener since 1995.

  21. Love Mitch’s show and have listened since he arrived. I feel bad for his family, but he shouldn’t be fired. He’s a radio host, not a saint and if you don’t like his show, you can always turn it off. Mitch is a Seattle sports institution and I hope he’s back on the station soon….Would love a status update.

  22. Pardon my language. But you all know Jason Pickett of KJR? Somebody told me that he was “fit as a fiddle.” I’ve seen him at Mariners post game shows and tailgates and other appearances, and he’s NOT “fit as a fiddle.” He’s more like “fat as a cello.”

  23. Who the hell ever said Puckett was fit?! Puckett likes a good sandwich or burger, and he owns that shit.

    I’ve heard Tamaela spots in iheart over the last few days.

  24. ML I agree just because he made a mistake one that has nothing to do with the business he is in doesn’t mean he should be fired. There on people in media that have done the same if not worse and are still on the air.

  25. Randy how did he abuse Tracy Taylor? There is nothing she did that she didnt consent to. Pizza and Porn might have been his idea but maybe it was hers. Point is she did it to try to get a name for herself. There are plenty of traffic people that don’t do that. Or are you so uptight that the Bigger Dance upset you so much. Were you feelings that hurt?

  26. Kimberly and Ryan why is it an obligation for the radio station to say anything? They might not and probably dont have the legal right to say anything. As far as Elise goes do you not pay attention to anything? KOMO got the Husky contract and she jumped ship to be the sideline reporter for them. As far as Sandmeyer who cares he sucks ass anyways. Though he got laid off like many people do. KISW let go of 3 or 4 people a couple years ago and though people asked why they weren’t allowed to say why. Its a business and people come and go all the time. Stations think they need to cut cost and let people go. Have a problem with it call the station and voice your opinion.

  27. Before this happened if asked about Mitch Levy, I would say that I love his show except for the adolescent sexual content. His insights were usually right on spot and he was a great interviewer. He had great rapport with Hugh Millen, Mike Holmgren, Beno Cook among others. He had a way of providing great analysis without pretending like sports was all that too important (unlike Brock Huard who talks as if he is solving the enigma code) . I could barely stand listening to Dick Fain when Mitch is hosting the show. Now it is just unbearable.

    Whenever talking about his boys and his family, it appeared that he was really a good family man. However, there are consequences for actions, I could never listen to Mitch again. I could put up with or change the channel when they were doing the Bigger dance or the Kitten segments, etc. But now he will always be thought of as a cheater and a scum who never really grew up. The whole thing is really sad. I hope that he might find reconciliation with his wife over this and the best for his family.

  28. you know this probably not the first time he did this. he loves to play golf then getting a “massage” afterwards. Getting away with it until finally got caught. So been selfish for a while, wife and kids suffers and that sucks. If i’m wife, i’ll leave his ass.

  29. Is he sorry? Yes he’s sorry: Sorry that he got CAUGHT.

    Does ANYBODY believe that this is the ONLY time he did this?

    So, the ONE time he partakes in this, happens to be a Police Bust setup? If so, he’s either super unlucky, or just freak bad timing.

    Yup.

    Uh Huh.

    Uh Huh.

  30. Oh I completely agree with both of you, there’s been nothing to suggest this was his only offense and I certainly can’t believe it would’ve been. Like the article says there were two previous brothels operating in the area that were shut down so they started this undercover one so as to make it a “seamless” transition. I’m sure he probably visited the previous ones.

  31. I have always enjoyed Mitch. He has an undeniable talent, is quick witted, and highly entertaining. I can’t speak about or for him as a person, but I am sorry for his family and for him. Some are debating his mindset, whether he loves, or could possibly love, his wife and children, having done what he is accused of doing. Prostitution is horrible and demeaning and wrong on every level. If Mitch was soliciting prostitution, that was flatly wrong. It doesn’t necessarily mean he is callous toward his family, or even that he doesn’t love them. I suspect he loves his family deeply. I hope he is brokenhearted and truly sorry. He is a flawed person, like the rest of us. He operates in a realm in which he gets the last word and is pandered to and held up as a celebrity. He may be particularly vulnerable to temptations. I am not making excuses for him. These actions, if proven, are reprehensible. They could result in the collapse of his marriage, and no one would fault his wife were that to happen. But he is not beyond forgiveness. For the sake of his family, and especially his children, I hope the family is not torpedoed by all of this. That would be the most sorrowful outcome of all.

  32. Apparently Mitch is a real smug arrogant guy. Sandmeyer and I tweeted back and forth sometime ago and he said that Mitch never said a word as to why he was fired, that he never returned his calls etc. You think Sandmeyer isn’t chuckling? I would be and I would be lying if I said no

  33. Too, I was tired of his shit Dolphins and Syracuse. Don;t need that in this town Don’t need his personal nonsense. I despise Mike Sulk (Salk) at 710. He TOO came hat in hand after he couldn’t get a gig in Beantown and now he pretends to be the most ardent supporter of Seattle sports. A fake fraud and a fool. Remember- Bitch tried to bolt to Miami in 2001? He too failed- like sulk and humbled came back. I guess we suck as a radio market that only losers shine here. That detroit guy Grey failed here and there but that’s detroit

  34. Lastly, I’m single, and if I were desperate I’d hit a whore. It’s the marketplace. I think it should be legal anyway, like weed, throw out the hustlers make it regulated like in the Netherlands.
    But married?
    The excuse is. “But honey, it wasn’t emotional, I LOVE you -only YOU! I don’t love that whore, I don’t know the person, I can’t remember what her name was or her ethnicity. I just needed a pick me up, to get me energized so I can work and support you”

  35. Mitch Levy reminds me of that asshole who used to do the overnight show on ESPN named Todd Wright All Night. Both don’t spend enough time and energy on sports, and they just tire us out with this Tits and Ass shit. Both have big egos, and get a thrill out of having hot women as guests on their shows. And, both LOST THEIR JOBS because of their off-air issues. Mitch lost his job for patronizing Chen Chen, and Todd lost his job because he couldn’t lay off the Lynchburg Lemonade before getting in his car. Serves them both right.

  36. Well well well, seems ole Mitchey the kid got his wise ass in a bit of a pickle, eh? What a dummy….I mean really. This is karma coming back to bite him big time. He totally rakes Phil Mickelson over the coals for being a phony, and look who the phony is….idiot. I never wish ill will on another man, but when you go into a condo with $160 for a “massage”, you better be ready for some consequences of some kind, i.e. arrest–std’s–your wife finding out–your employer finding out—-the whole city finding out. I’ll bet John Feinstein is laughing into the radio right now!!
    Too bad Mitch, you got caught thinking with your little dummy head.

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