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Posted: Friday, Mar. 23, 2012

UNC distances itself from Rush Limbaugh

By Brooke Cain
Published in: Entertainment
  • UNC’s statement

    Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently made rude, inappropriate and offensive statements. And we at Carolina found ourselves unfortunately and awkwardly connected to Limbaugh.

    Limbaugh’s show airs locally on a station that also broadcasts UNC basketball and football games. That connection spurred many people to email us and prompted a petition campaign, both with the goal of urging us to drop our broadcasts from the station.

    As background, Carolina Athletics has a contract with Tar Heel Sports Properties, a division of Learfield Sports. Learfield owns and operates the Tar Heel Sports Radio Network as an independent contractor of the University. The radio network includes over 50 affiliates, and that network enables people in almost all of North Carolina to listen to the live broadcasts of our football and basketball games. That’s our goal … for Carolina fans to be able hear our games.

    We have not affiliated with or endorsed Rush Limbaugh or any other radio personality or politician. We have asked – and the local station has agreed – to end the practice of referencing the Tar Heel Sports Network or the University’s name while promoting the Limbaugh program and vice versa.

    Beyond that, the University does not plan to take any additional action at this time.

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    UNC-Chapel Hill has asked WRDU 106.1, a Triangle station also known as “Rush Radio,” to stop referencing the school or the Tar Heel Sports Network during the broadcast of Rush Limbaugh’s daily talk show on the station.

    The new practice, announced in a statement from the university, also prohibits mentioning Limbaugh’s show during the broadcast of UNC football and basketball games on Rush Radio.

    WRDU agreed to the changes.

    The action was taken in response to comments Limbaugh made on his show recently about a Georgetown University law student named Sandra Fluke, who was advocating for insurance coverage of contraceptives. Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He later apologized, but his show has reportedly lost more than 100 advertisers in the fallout.

    The statement from UNC described Limbaugh’s comments as “rude, inappropriate and offensive,” and said the school found itself “unfortunately and awkwardly connected to Limbaugh” during the controversy.

    Chancellor Holden Thorp told a student reporter for Carolina Connection, a radio news magazine affiliated with the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, that UNC faculty and others outside the school were bothered by Limbaugh’s comments, so the move was a compromise.

    “We do understand why people are upset, so a compromise that (UNC) athletics was able to work out was that the radio station would avoid promoting Carolina sports during Rush Limbaugh’s show, and vice versa,” Thorp said.

    The university says it does not plan to take further action. co-founder James Protzman, who had been outspoken in his criticism of the university’s connection to Rush Radio said, “UNC’s response is more than I’d hoped for, but less than it should have been.”

    “I see the university as a powerful force for strengthening the fabric of our democracy,” Protzman said. “UNC missed the chance to make the most of this teachable moment.”

    Tar Heel Sports Properties, which owns and operates the Tar Heel Sports Network, is an independent contractor of UNC. Tar Heel Sports Properties has more than 50 affiliates, including WRDU, that air the games.

    Cain: 919-829-4579

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