The Disney years (beginning 8/5/95) at KABC radio were not a happy time for Dennis Prager, nor almost anyone at the station. New program director Maureen Lesourd called him in to reprove him for using the word “thesis. Use view, theory, not thesis.” He had similar run-ins. He was ordered to talk about the Eddie Murphy picking up a transvestite hooker story and he refused, saying it was gossip. A religious Jew is not allowed to gossip.
“Everybody hated it when Disney took over,” said a former KABC employee to me. “[Program director] George Green left after running the show for about 35 years. Maureen Lesourd came in. Nobody liked her. She lasted 18 months. ‘Synergy’ is the word for Disney. It means that everybody supports everybody. It means that everybody is a tool for everybody. Disney only bought ABC as an outlet for their programming.
“It was a smaller, more friendly company, before Disney bought it. Then it became just another arm of a huge corporation.”
On his radio show April 26, 2010, Dennis said: “I have a story about the word ‘thesis.’ This is a true radio story. I’m not sure that even my two spouses (Sue and Prager’s producer Allen Estrin) know this.
“When I was with my first station, I was with ABC in Los Angeles for 17 years. I have only warm feelings for those years.
“When Disney took over ABC, it decided that the only thing that mattered were ratings. And so they put in a general manager at the station who said, ‘None of this high-quality talk stuff. We’ve got to go down in the gutter.’
“It was a very bad period. I thought I’d be let go because I wasn’t prepared to do everything this woman wanted me to talk about. It was a very tense time. She left eventually. I stayed.
“I once used the word ‘thesis’. I was called in to the program director’s office. He said, ‘Dennis, I was listening to you today and you used the word ‘thesis.’
“I remember thinking, what could possibly be wrong with that? Did he think I used the word ‘feces’?
“He said, ‘Dennis, that is too highfalutin a word. If you want really high ratings, you don’t use the word ‘thesis.’
“Whenever I have used the word on the radio since then, I see this program director in front of me. ‘Dennis, no, don’t use the word ‘thesis’.”
On his show Aug. 29, 2011, Dennis said: “I am surrounded by good men, folks. I’d rather be surrounded by good women but you can’t have everything. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t have a preference.
“I think that both men and women would rather work with men…
“Who would you rather work with and for? I had a female boss once in my life. She was the head of a previous station. It was a horror. She wanted me to lower in every way the level of the show. To speak about sex scandals in Hollywood. That was the big one. I’ll never forget. It was the only time in my life in 29 years of broadcasting that I thought I might be fired because I said no.”