August 25, 2008

DePetro Disappointment

Marc Comtois

I've essentially been "off the grid" for a few days, and I know Justin has mentioned the WPRO ratings thing (and I offered a quick, tangential comment to that post), but what initially disappointed (and irked) me, and continues too, is this:

“It’s embarrassing all the way around,” John DePetro, 44, said last night. “I don’t have a lot to add. My wife was asked to take part in a radio survey, she did and she shouldn’t have. It was wrong.”
In a recent interview, George Will explained his belief that "sensibility precedes philosophy and ideology." Well, while DePetro and I are ideologically and, perhaps, philosophically akin, I guess our sensibilities are a little different. Call me old-fashioned, wannabe-chivalric or, heck, conservative, but--and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the facts as he described--it's unseemly for a husband to use his wife as a shield to save his own posterior. It seemed awkward, ungracious and ungentlemanly for him to publicly blame her for either knowingly or naively trying to help his career. Look, I know it wasn't my ass on the firing line, but I'd like to think that I would have handled it differently. I just wish he had.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Marc, the DePetro's are between a rock and a very hard place, but they are there together. That's the key point. If he acknowledges any awareness of the scheme, he is fired. I think they have 3 kids, a pretty nice lifestyle, that all goes away if his wife doesn't take complete responsibility. Citadel will have to insist on his termination unless a story is sold that he knew nothing. No sense being chivalrous if the end result is you can't pay your mortgage. Do I believe him? Honestly the scheme is so blatant, six adult diaries from a household of two adults and three kids, tuned in to the JD show basically constantly for the entire listening week,that I'm tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then I think about his self righteousness and bullying and say, Nah, he probably cooked it up. I just don't know. If he manages to keep his job, I hope this teaches him a little humility. Maybe he wont be as quick to shout down everyone he disagrees with.

Posted by: observer at August 25, 2008 6:48 PM

I'm not excusing his (her? their?) conduct.

But how is it possible for six diaries to have had so much impact?

And why would the rating company send any diaries to a media household?

Do they really not have any way of screening such households out?

Do they have no quality control of any kind?

Again, I'm not excusing anyone . . . but if I were paying big bucks to advertise I'd have a lot of questions for the folks who run the ratings books.

Posted by: brassband at August 25, 2008 7:41 PM

Step 1. Cook books.
Step 2. Better ratings.
Step 3. Negotiate big raise based on better ratings.

Is that not how this would have played if nobody got wise?

Whichever one of them came up with this scheme knew this. That's attempted fraud isn't it? Would not the advertisers had paid higher prices for advertising on the NUMBER ONE radio station in Rhode Island? Are they not all equally victims here?

Of course the wife knows how valuable a single book is counted for. Her blabbermouth husband has been in the business HOW long? Like it never came up over dinner during one of his never-ending stories about him.

Posted by: Greg at August 25, 2008 7:46 PM


Advertisers know how viewership and listenership is established. That's not a mystery to them. Go look up how much one Neilsen family counts for.

I get a book. I'm pretty sure I only get one though. I think she would have needed to call to get more. So they have a record of somebody calling and somebody made the conscious decision to commit fraud.

What REALLY boggles me is why Paul G is keeping him around. I can only assume they're just going to run out his contract and not renew.

Posted by: Greg at August 25, 2008 8:01 PM


I'm on board with your comments almost completely. I agree, more or less, with Will that "sensibility precedes philosophy and ideology." Therefore, I'm not sure why you mentioned your being politically conservative as having something to do with your position.

There's nothing I know of that supports the idea that conservatives are more faithful and supportive of their spouses than are liberals. Anecdotally, one might mention Newt, Mike Bowers (my favorite), Guilliani, McCain and others as counter-examples. More systematically, I'd note that divorce rates (not to mention out-of-wedlock birth rates) are higher in red states than in blue states.

As to Depetro, I can't quite make myself believe that he didn't know his wife was filling out six fraduldent Arbitron books at a time, or his explanation that she thought she was just multi-voting in the way permitted by game shows.

Brassband says, " And why would the rating company send any diaries to a media household?" Indeed. And how could any such householder think it OK to accept them, or seek to acquire six of them?

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at August 25, 2008 9:21 PM

So having a mortgage and kids is an excuse for committing fraud? Sounds like John Celona to me.

And make no mistake, this was fraud and there was a victim. By rigging the ratings, DePetro hoped to get advertisers to spend more money than they were supposed to have paid for a product that was misrepresented.

These advertisers have employees, payroll, etc. and when money was paid to WPRO, it meant less there was less money to be spent in other areas.

Both DePetro and his wife know the importance of ratings and I don't feel bad about how it affects their personal bottom line.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2008 1:02 AM

Two points:
* Whoever was responsible, this will cost the innocent salespeople a pty penny in commissions if the company has to compensate the advertisers (through either rebates or make-goods). If I'm a sales rep at Citadel, DePetro (or his wife, or whoever) has cost me some nice coin, and I'd remind him of it in the hallway or in the john.
* DePetro probably has plenty of friends in the business side of radio, due to his past as a sales rep in New York. He may just survive this thanks to friends in high places (just as Don Imus and Mike Barnicle did after more nationally publicized transgressions).

Posted by: rhody at August 26, 2008 1:14 AM

Why is WPRO sticking with Depetro?
Can management there be that gullible or are they too complicit? Can Justin inform us as to the nature of the association of AR with WPRO.
At AR is lying and cheating accepted as long as one is in agreement ideologically with those who commit such transgressions?

Posted by: Phil at August 26, 2008 6:04 AM


The fact that there have been multiple posts by contributors here bashing John and WPRO for keeping him around I think your question is...well...just dumb.

Posted by: Greg at August 26, 2008 6:33 AM

With regard to your fourth question, Phil, if you refer back to Marc's post, you'll see that he answers that very question. In fact, it is the entire point of his post.

As for your third question ... oh darn, I just remembered that fifty page Confidentiality Agreement I signed ...

Posted by: Monique at August 26, 2008 6:48 AM

Thomas, I meant "conservative" in the traditional sense, not political. My differentiation a la Will was meant to additionally convey the difference between politics and temperament/sensibility (but I understand your misunderstanding).

Posted by: Marc at August 26, 2008 6:51 AM

Anthony, I was certainly not excusing the DePetro's behavior,but just trying to provide some insight as to why they picked this particular explanation. Personally, I would have fired him.
Greg, as to why Paul G. is keeping JD around, it may be self preservation on Paul's part. How do we know his head isn't also on the chopping block, if this is perceived as a serious ratings scandal? Isn't the station manager the captain of the ship? Citadel and Clear Channel are basically a duopoly in the marketplace, they can ill afford a corporate scandal. Citadel stock trades for less than a dollar a share, it was $20.00 five years ago. The best thing for everybody at the Salty Brine broadcasting center is for Mrs. DePetro to be the fall guy, and for this to just go away. That's the story they're going to try and sell and so far it seems to be successful.

Posted by: onserver at August 26, 2008 9:24 AM

Well it certainly hasn't disappeared here. And it shouldn't. I'm actually disappointed that the fruit loops over at RI Future aren't making more of a big deal about this.

Posted by: Greg at August 26, 2008 10:09 AM

Three words. Fire his ass. Put Matt Allen on the morning drive, pay him DePetro's salary and be done with it.

If I was any kind of advertiser with WPRO, I'd immediately be on the phone with my sales rep saying to cancel my account, I'm bringing my business elsewhere until this is fixed. Fixed meaning the cheat is gone.

Knew nothing about it? Yeah right.

Posted by: Cannim at August 26, 2008 10:33 AM

Can I give him the benefit of the doubt and still hope they can his ass?

DePetro is a no-talent and he and the other Bill O'Reilly cookie-cutter talkshow types do nothing but perpetuate the view of conservatives as racist, selfish, homophobes with little discourse to offer.

The week that Hummel was on was the first time I had listened to PRO in the morning in years.

Posted by: JP at August 26, 2008 10:57 AM

I would argue that John IS a racist, selfish, homophobe with little discourse to offer...

On MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, discussing Bill O'Reilly's recent controversial comments about his visit to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, Rhode Island radio host John DePetro stated: "It was a discussion on race and we're talking about Harlem. And by and large -- I lived in New York for years -- white people don't go to Harlem." He continued: "If Dan Abrams and John DePetro, Bill O'Reilly, some white guys are sitting around a table, and Dan Abrams said, 'Yeah, I was up in Harlem last night.' We would think you were either, a) looking for drugs, or, b) looking for a prostitute."

Posted by: Greg at August 26, 2008 11:14 AM

Why did DePetro have to drag his family into this?
With the disclaimer that I'm not implying there is violence going on, one has to wonder if Mrs. D is suffering from battered woman (or Stockholm) syndrome. She's caught in a situation she needs to get the hell out of, for her sake and that of her children. Her husband humiliated her in about as public a fashion as one could imagine.

Posted by: rhody at August 26, 2008 12:31 PM

Rhody-are you a family counselor?I am not defending Depetro in any way-but people stay with their spouses for inexplicable reasons.
My sister was married for 27 years to a non working sh*tmop who used her and my in laws(he wasn't allowed in our house nor did we speak to him)shamelessly.When he couldn't wring any more out of them,he took off on her,and left her as a mere husk of her former this day,she still seems to defend him at some level.You cannot get into peoples'heads(even if you are a psychiatrist).

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 26, 2008 5:36 PM

Did I say my sister?I don't have a sister.It was my sister in law.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 26, 2008 5:37 PM

Never mind the silence from RI Future, how about the silence from ProJo. WPRO. especially Buddy, have been hammering the Journal relentlessly, of late. Now here's a story served up on a silver platter and the Journal has ignored it since the "liitle missus did it" explanation. I don't get it.
I am disappointed we didn't get a "Jimmy Swaggart" moment from JD. "I have sinned, I have sinned", that would've been priceless.
Earlier I said Paul Giammarco is the WPRO station manager, he is the programming director. Barbara Haynes is the manager.

Posted by: observer at August 26, 2008 6:26 PM

RIF's silence I attribute to Matt being out in Denver.
The ProJo's is harder to explain. I imagine with his business background, DePetro has some friends on the fourth floor who may have an interest in quashing (or at least dampening) this story.
Joe, I am clearing speculating as a layman, as we all are here. We may never know the true story. Maybe Mrs. D. is an innocent victim. Or maybe she made the same Faustian bargain Carmella Soprano did.

Posted by: rhody at August 27, 2008 11:57 AM

>>On MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, discussing Bill O'Reilly's recent controversial comments...

That's kind of laughable. O'Reilly's comments weren't "controversial". MSNBC had been trailing FOX News in the ratings and they tried to create a controversy in attempt to draw more viewers and get more advertising $$$.

Hence, Keith Olbermann naming O'Reilly as his "Worst Person in the World" on multiple occassions (I guess Olbernmann figures that he and bin Laden have some things in common, so why not name O'Reilly?)

On the local front, I don't think DePetro's comment was racist at all. Most white people in NYC stay out of Harlem. Pointing that out doesn't make make DePetro a racist. On the other hand, it would make him a racist if he said that he was glad there was little contact between races.

Posted by: Anthony at August 27, 2008 8:28 PM

Did someone actually make that last comment, Anthony?

Posted by: Monique at August 27, 2008 9:18 PM

No. I was using the hypothetical comment to give an example of a bigoted vs. non-bigoted statement when it comes to race.

Sorry if there was some confusion.

Posted by: Anthony at August 28, 2008 1:01 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.