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.