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Case closed on radio host

Authorities find no evidence that radio personality Bob Haa incited listeners to violence.

By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- Police closed an investigation of local radio talk show host Bob Haa on Monday after officials couldn't find additional information from callers who complained the conservative conversationalist tried to incite his audience to "act violently" against the County Commission.

"There's been no inappropriate behavior by Bob Haa that we can determine," said Lt. Joe Paez, spokesman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

The officers, who visited Haa on Monday, were offered the opportunity to listen to tapes of his program, The Haa-Wire Show, which runs every weekday morning from 6 a.m. to noon, with the talk-show portion making up the last three hours. But deputies declined.

"They did talk to several Sheriff's Office employees . . . who listen to him on a regular basis," Paez said, but the employees said they never heard Haa incite violence.

Last week, the county administrator's office received two calls from residents who complained that Haa of WWJB was promoting violence. One said that Haa was " "stirring up' the public against county officials and advocating that citizens band together to "act violently' against local authorities/commissioners,' " according to a county memo circulated to commissioners.

County officials called the Sheriff's Office.

"We were somewhat concerned about that," said County Administrator Paul McIntosh.

Investigators have been unable to reach the callers. One left a name and phone number, which was not taking incoming calls.

Steve Manuel, station manager, said his employees have listened to tapes from Haa's show and found nothing to support the callers' claims.

"I frankly think they are making much to do about nothing, and they are basing that on anonymous phone calls," Manuel said. Still, he and Haa are cooperating, he added.

The station took no action against Haa during the inquiry and did not interfere with his show.

"There's a lot that Bob says and does on his program that I disagree 100 percent with him," Manuel said. "But I allow Bob to have complete freedom of his program. Clearly, there are boundaries. . . . If Bob were to come on and threaten civil disobedience or threaten someone, that would certainly be reason for dismissal."

Commissioner Diane Rowden said she considers Haa to be "radical" on a regular basis when it comes to the commission.

"He's very radical about his feelings concerning the board and everything is in a negative tone," she said. "In politics, you have to have a thick skin, but I don't see where Bob is being objective about anything."

Haa labeled the callers' accusations against him "ridiculous," and disputed Rowden's characterization of him as a "radical" just because she disagrees with him.

"I'm in favor of people being able to have two sheds. Put me up against the wall," he said, referring to his opposition to the county's policy on sheds.

But he insisted he has never crossed the line from civic duty to anarchy.

"I would like to incite the entire community to go to the County Commission and give their petitions in large numbers, because that's all they understand," Haa said. "I would never advocate that violence be involved with it."

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