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A protest on the door of a faculty office at the

University of Central Missouri.

In the classic 1947 movie by the same name,a reporter decides to pass himself off as Jewish in order to ‘get the story’ on anti-Semitism in post-war America. In short order he comes to realize that labels do matter.

What is going on at UCM looks like an agreement is in place, but to say that any of the parties involved are ‘gentlemen’ might be quite a stretch.

Aaron Podolefsky, the President of the University of Central Missouri (the first step I took on the way to an interesting adulthood) is out of a job on June 30 after his contract was not renewed by the Board of Governers on October 2 on a 4-3 vote. Several of the board members voting not to renew were appointed by Matt Blunt. (Remember him?)

There have been rumors since Podolefsky was hired in 2005 that before the room was even cleared at least one person asked “Why did you hire the Jew?” and there has been an undercurrent of that ‘subtle’ bias ever since.

One person who has been against Podolefsky practically since the moving van pulled away from Selmo Park, the President’s residence at UCM, is the aptly-named KOKO radio host Greg Hassler, a part-owner of KOKO radio in Warrensburg. KOKO is the station that holds the contract to broadcast UCM sporting events.

Hassler finally got his way when the board failed to renew Podolefsky’s contract, and yesterday he couldn’t help himself – he had to gloat just a little and he crossed the bias line on the air:

Greg Hassler: …The University of Central Missouri. End of an era.

Marion Woods: Uh, huh.

Greg Hassler: Aaron Podolefsky. Out. We’ve talked about it for a long time….

….The, the thing that really upset me, that kind of got [garbled] going originally was, for years there was a Christmas tree lit at Selmo Park. Remember that?

Marion Woods: Yep.

Greg Hassler: Drive by. He stopped that. I mean I think every religion should be able to celebrate, uh, in their own way, but, I mean we do live in Warrensburg, Missouri. This is America. You know. Let’s bring that back. How ’bout that?

Marion Woods: Wasn’t that the Christmas tree at the quadrangle?

Greg Hassler: No, there was also one at Selmo Park.

Marion Woods: Oh, okay.

Gregg Hassler: In the, in the yard, area there, so. I mean, I don’t know, it’s jus… It, it was a bad fit from the get go. It’s, it’s over…

Over? Maybe not just yet.

I contacted Mr. Hassler at the station this morning and asked him if the transcript I cite above was accurate, and he confirmed that it was, but dismissed the comments as made “just in passing.” I also asked Mr. Hassler if he was a part-owner of the radio station, and he confirmed that yes, he is, but stated that his share is “minor” and he confirmed for me that the station does indeed hold the broadcast contracts for UCM sporting events.

The FCC filing for the sale of the radio station to D&H Media LLC reads as follows:

KOKO Warrensburg, Mo.

Price: $435,000

Buyer: D&H Media LLC, Warrensburg (Loree and Vance Delozier, each 37% members); no other broadcast interests

Seller: Bick Broadcasting Co., Hannibal, Mo. (James E. Janes, president); no other broadcast interests. Note: Bick acquired station for $310,000 in 1999

Facilities: 1450 kHz, 1 kW

Format: AC, news/talk

From that information, I glean that Hassler is the “H” in D&H and that he owns, at most 26% of the station, which is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars.

A great deal of the stations net-worth is no doubt  derived from the contract to broadcast UCM sporting events, and there are also rumors flying around that the Athletic Director signed a multi-year contract with the station, but the AD does not have the authority to sign multi-year contracts, only the university president has that authority – and we are looking into that too, with a sunshine request.

This just doesn’t smell right – there is the religious bias that any non-Christian in Warrensburg knows you don’t have to scratch very deep to find, and in this case it seems to be coupled with some  old-fashioned Missouri backroom bidness dealings.

The next question I want an answer to is why was Hassler really so dead-set against Mr. Podolefsky?

Was it really all about a Christmas tree? Is he really that petty and/or prejudiced? Or is it really about the contracts to broadcast UCM sporting events, and he feared Podolefsky because he was the man with the power to take that away?