Fresno radio host suspended after saying editors should be “hanged”

KMJ radio host Ray Appleton. (Photo: Facebook, Graphic by The Desk)

A conservative talk show host in Fresno has been suspended after he made controversial remarks during a radio broadcast on Thursday.

Ray Appleton, an lunchtime talk show host at KMJ (580 AM), was handed the suspension after he told listeners that “certain news editors should be hanged — maybe.”

The comments were made one day after supporters of President Donald Trump violently attacked the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were working to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Five people died as a result of the attack, including a police officer.

Appleton made the remark while opining about the siege. His comment came less than a day after KMJ’s parent company, Cumulus Media, issued a stern memo to employees warning them not to promote election-related conspiracy theories.

Appleton’s suspension was affirmed by local executives on Friday.

Cumulus Media operates from a clearly-defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Ray Appleton’s comment is a direct violation of those principles,” a statement issued by Cumulus said.

Cumulus decided to suspend Appleton without pay instead of firing him because his comments did not directly relate to election fraud, a source told The Desk on Monday. The station aired a re-broadcast of an earlier show during Appleton’s regular time-slot on Friday and will continue to do so throughout the length of his suspension, the source said.

Cumulus later provided a statement that purported to come from Appleton himself in which he offered an apology for his comments during Thursday’s broadcast.

“I realize that my reckless choice of words was irresponsible and I would never condone violence toward anyone,” the statement from Appleton said. “I want to specifically apologize to my colleagues at KMJ and all who serve in the media. After 50 years in broadcasting, I understand that my choice of words matters and I made a mistake that won’t happen again. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”

He was less contrite on social media: Appleton initially said his comments were “taken a bit out of context” and that his wish for editors to be killed was “tongue-in-cheek.”

That message, a copy of which was reviewed by The Desk, was later removed and replaced with one that said Appleton would be taking a break from the Internet.

“This will be my only message for a bit. I don’t feel much like talking,” he wrote. “Yes I have been suspended it for a few weeks without pay. A first in 51 years of broadcast…I have no more to say for a while — I’m out.”