Radio Station Owners Like Allan Weiner Broadcast Hate, Claim they Love Free Speech
Behind shortwave hate radio is a group of entrepreneurial station owners who claim they love free speech
By James Latham
Though shortwave radio beams in under most people's radar in the media-saturated United States, it is one of the most powerful tools for communicating with a worldwide audience.
Exact audience numbers are hard to come by, since there are no Arbitron ratings for shortwave. But Groupe France Telecom, the communications arm of the French government, published a report last year estimating that at any given moment, over 200 million receivers are tuned in to shortwave broadcasts.
With much of the world unwired for the Internet, the agency concluded, "Shortwave remains the only means of reaching a broad audience anywhere in the world."
Thousands of people tune into shortwave broadcasts as a way to learn English. Thousands of others, living in countries with authoritarian regimes, look to their shortwave receivers for an even more pressing reason: They want objective news sources.
What they will get, if they dial up WWCR out of Nashville, Tenn., might be the peculiar spin of Brother R.G. Stair.
A self-proclaimed "prophet of God," Stair sends out doomsday scenarios from the otherwise sleepy town of Walterboro, S.C., twenty-four hours a day on one of WWCR's four 100,000-watt transmitters.
Much of Stair's airtime is devoted to claiming that disasters — both natural and terrorist — are being caused by America's growing acceptance of homosexuality.
In 1999, he gave this example: "The last two Gay Pride days have resulted in an awesome earthquake that shook the entire Western area of the country and a flood that devastated the entire Midwest."
George McClintock, general manager of WWCR, told the Intelligence Report that Stair's views on homosexuality "are from a Biblical point of view. And according to the Constitution, he has a right to that point of view."
Stair doesn't stop with gay people. He has also targeted Catholics, calling them "Mary worshippers" and labeling the pope "the great whore."
That doesn't seem to phase McClintock, either, despite the fact that he is himself a Catholic.
"Those programs are a relatively small portion of what we do," he said. Besides, McClintock said, "Our job is not to make judgment calls."
What Would Ross Say?
Judgment calls abound on some of WWCR's programs. While Stair rains hellfire on gays, Catholics and those who tolerate them, Pete Peters preaches the anti-Semitic, homophobic word of Christian Identity with even more authority — and fire — than Pastor Bob Hallstrom.
Peters, who founded the La Porte Church of Christ in Colorado, hosts two shows on WWCR-3, "Healthy Trinity Today" and "Scriptures for America."
On the latter, Peters instructed a caller in 1997 on the proper etiquette to follow: "If you're going to talk about Jews on my program, talk about them as Antichrist Jews."
Though Peters has been a leading figure in the movement for more than two decades, McClintock insisted that Peters "does not" preach Christian Identity.
"He lives out in a ranch in Colo... whatever it is out there in the Midwest, kind of isolated, and I think the worst you can say about him is he's living in the 1950s, kind of a Ross Perot individual."
Perot might not relish the comparison.
Peters' Colorado church first came to national notice in 1985, when it was revealed that several members of The Order, the most violent far-right terrorist group of the '80s (see The Firebrand), had attended during their criminal heyday.
Presumably because of the negative connotations attached to the term "Identity," Peters has recently disavowed the word — but he hasn't changed his message in any discernible way.
"Certain Jews of this day attempt to take the Israel truth labeled Identity and make it into racism, violence, Nazism and hatred in the minds of the populace," he wrote online in 2000.
"Now that the meaning has been transformed by our enemies, it is now foolish for one to call himself an 'Identity Christian.'"
For lack of a better term, Peters has taken to calling himself part of "the restoration movement now underway."
While McClintock is unruffled by Peters' hate-mongering, one of WWCR's most famous clients, the conservative religious group Focus on the Family, professed shock when they learned of the views that Peters espouses on air.
"Gosh," said press officer Paul Hetrick, "the Bible teaches just the opposite. That is unbelievable."
Hetrick said he intended to check into WWCR's programming, since the Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was airing his daily 30-minute show in English and Spanish on WWCR-1. Less than a week later, Hetrick called to say his research was done.
"We are sending a letter asking them to stop or discontinue airing our program," he told the Intelligence Report. "We want to express our appreciation to you for calling this to our attention."
If station owners conveniently discount the impact their hate-filled shows can have on listeners, then they might want to talk to Pete Peters.
The pastor from Laporte credits radio with indoctrinating him into Christian Identity. As he tells it, it all started on a drive one lonely night, when a young Peters turned his dial to the blaring voice of a preacher.
That voice happened to belong to Sheldon Emry, who carried the torch for Christian Identity over AM radio stations from the mid-1960s through the 1970s.
Hearing Emry on the radio that night changed Peters' life forever.
Another radio fan, Timothy McVeigh, might tell a similar story if he could be reached for comment.
Most people know the Oklahoma City bomber was a big fan of William Pierce, who in addition to his broadcasting efforts wrote The Turner Diaries, the pseudonymous novel that helped inspire McVeigh's mass murder.
Fewer know about McVeigh's other shortwave hero, William Cooper, whose "Hour of the Time" served up global conspiracy paranoia, complete with UFOs, most nights on shortwave stations including WWCR and WBCQ.
When he wasn't concocting a conspiracy, Cooper was recommending remedies: "I think the American people ought to go there bodily, rip down the United Nations building and kick those bastards off our soil," he once proclaimed on WWCR. "We're at war and I don't really care."
Supposedly quoting the Clinton White House, Rush Limbaugh called Cooper "the most dangerous radio host in America" after the Murrah Building was bombed.
James Nichols, brother of McVeigh's co-defendant Terry Nichols, said during a 1996 court proceeding that McVeigh had regularly tuned in to Cooper's programs in the months leading up to Oklahoma City.
"Hour of the Time" came to a halt last November, when its host was killed in a shootout after critically wounding an Arizona sheriff's deputy.
Cooper had holed up in Eagar, Ariz., since 1998, broadcasting relentlessly and claiming on the air that he had been pursued by "Nazi jack-booted thugs" ever since he failed to appear in court on charges that he paid no taxes from 1992 to 1994.
His death came when authorities tried to arrest him on another warrant — this one accusing him of aggravated assault on a passerby.
For more than a month after the death of the shortwave extremist, Allan Weiner aired selections from Cooper's old programs on WBCQ.
While that didn't do much for his reputation as a purveyor of "peace, love and understanding," it did provide still further proof of Weiner's unguarded view of shortwave radio: "You can just about get on the air and say anything you want."
James Latham is the co-founder of Radio for Peace International (RFPI), a shortwave radio station based outside El Rodeo, Costa Rica, since 1987. He is also the host of "Far Right Radio Review," a show that seeks to expose extremists and their hateful programming on shortwave radio.