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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 29, 2002

Host's firing has PBS fans furious

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Viewer reaction to Louis Rukeyser's abrupt departure from "Wall Street Week" after 32 years has been unprecedented in volume and venom, with fans threatening to withhold contributions, PBS stations report.

Maryland Public Television, which produces the show, told Rukeyser last week that he would no longer be host. On the show Friday, Rukeyser chewed out MPT and appealed to viewers to call affiliates.

Programming director John Flanzer at Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, N.Y., says he got a "deluge" of a dozen calls and 60 to 70 e-mails Monday.

In Hawai'i, about 80 people have phoned or e-mailed Hawaii Public Television in support of Rukeyser, station spokeswoman Kay Kasamoto said yesterday. Most callers want the station to air a new program that Rukeyser, during his last on-air appearance, said he may start.

"We feel kind of like a child caught in the middle of a divorce battle," Kasamoto said. "We've been getting strong support for him, but we've had to tell people that since, currently, there is no new program, we can't commit to someone that doesn't exist."

David Hosley, general manager of KVIE in Sacramento, says the station has received 400 e-mails and calls. Most stations are relieved that at least the flap started after key March fundraising ended. Albuquerque station KNME extended its drive until last Friday. The station was flooded with furious calls and almost no pledges.

About 2.2 million people watch "Wall Street Week," the 12th-most-popular PBS show. Stations say those viewers tend to be top contributors.

Hawaii Public Television discovered Rukeyser's strong following in Hawai'i when angry "Wall Street Week" watchers led the station to move its fund-raisers from Friday night, the normal time of Rukeyser's show, Kasamoto said.