Dan Fagan, the conservative talk show host who lately spends much of his three-hour radio show slamming U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and extolling the virtues of Republican Joe Miller, has been yanked off the air.
About halfway through Fagan's show Thursday afternoon a caller phoned in to say he had just registered as a write-in candidate in the Senate race, which includes Miller, Murkowski, and Democrat Scott McAdams. The caller's provocation -- and the reason Fagan liked the idea -- was the Division of Elections' decision to provide voters who ask with a list of the write-in candidates. The Alaska Supreme Court is currently looking at the legality of that decision. Flooding that list with 150 names ranging from Michael Ames to Kathy Jo Zurek, Fagan figured, would mean fewer votes for Murkowski.
Fagan gave the addresses of the Anchorage and Wasilla offices of the Division of Elections and urged his listeners to drive over and register as write-in candidates.
Branch Haymans, an Anchorage financial advisor, was angered by Fagan's show Thursday afternoon. Haymans is a close friend of Murkowski's and has volunteered for her campaign, but is not part of her paid campaign staff.
On Friday morning, Haymans called KFQD and spoke with Joe Campbell, KFQD's program director. Haymans said he told Campbell that he thought Fagan's on-air behavior bordered on election tampering, but didn't threaten legal action or ask for Fagan to be taken off the air.
Campbell did not return a message requesting comment for this story.
"To send people with no legitimate reason other than to create confusion and chaos in an election seemed, to me, to be over the line," Haymans said. "He was no longer a talk show host. He was just a mouthpiece for Joe Miller."
Haymans also said that his phone call to KFQD was not coordinated with the Murkowski campaign in any way.
"If the campaign is having heartburn over Dan Fagan, they haven't told that to me and I haven't asked," he said.
John Tracy, longtime news director at KTUU and current president of Bradley Reid and Associates, an Anchorage public relations and advertising firm, told the Anchorage Daily News that he called KFQD to complain about Fagan's show Friday morning, and that he checked with the Murkowski campaign first.
Fagan said the station's general manager, Dennis Bookey, told him he was off the station Friday and they would evaluate the situation Monday.
Diluting the list of write-in candidates isn't solely a conservative idea. Kelly Walters, a McAdams supporter, walked into a polling place during early voting last week and was surprised and angry when an elections worker passed him a list of the write-in candidates after he asked for assistance. Walters said he e-mailed Fagan to ask him to tell his listeners to register as write-in candidates.
Walters' partner, Shannyn Moore, hosts a popular left-leaning radio show in Anchorage. Walters helps with Moore's radio show and also co-created her weekly television show. On Thursday morning Walters faxed the Division of Elections his application to be a write-in candidate. But later that day, listening to Fagan on the air, Walters said he thought the conservative talk show host was taking the idea too far.
"I thought he was over the top," Walters said. "It got to the point where I was questioning what I had done."
Walters said he had tried to convince Moore and popular liberal blogger Jeanne Devon to tell their listeners and readers to register as write-in candidates, but they both thought it was a bad idea.
Fagan broadcasts on KFQD 750, which is owned by Morris Communications, a media company headquartered in Georgia.
"Bottom line is that Lisa Murkowski is a very powerful person, and she has succeeded in taking me off the air the Friday before the election," Fagan said. "It's impressive."
Fagan is sure Murkowski is behind his getting yanked, but Murkowski campaign spokesman Steve Wackowski said they didn't have anything to do with it.
Contact Joshua Saul at jsaul(at)alaskadispatch.com.