Battle of the Talking Heads Escalates

By Armando Castellanos, El Paso Metro

The battle among El Paso radio talk show hosts continues to escalate.  Commentator Paul Strelzin, on KROD’s morning show, has kept up a barely disguised campaign against Jaime O. Perez.  Strelzin has used KROD air time to promote political candidates and, in particular, the current Mayor of El Paso.  He has repeatedly claimed that the show is a talk show and not a news show and that he, therefore, has no obligation to be fair.  He is well known for his habit of cutting callers off who do not agree with him and harshly criticizing those with whom he disagrees.

Perez has been a guest host during a temporary absence of the show’s regular commentator, Barbara Perez.   With constant references to Perez’s conduct of the show, he has gone as far as intimidating Perez’s guests.  On the morning show, Strelzin barked at Jerome Tilghman, a candidate for County Judge, that if he was going on Perez’s show, he could not come on his.  Prior to Perez’s interview of Representative Joe Pickett, Strelzin yelled at Perez at the KROD studios, “what the hell is going on?” demanding that Perez not invite guests that appear on his show.  Guests invited by Perez from a local gym were very unhappy at Strelzin’s attempt to intimidate them.  “He (the Strelz) told us he got all he wanted from…(another gym).”   Strelz told Al Velarde, Public Information Officer for the El Paso Police Department, “If I would have known you were going to be on his (Perez) show, I would have axed you from mine.”

On Friday, Strelzin launched into a diatribe against Perez and railed against the appearance of Theresa Caballero, a local attorney.  He described ElPasoMetro.com’s cartoonist, Gene Pando, as a mole in a veiled reference to the fact that Pando blew the whistle on David Crowder’s, reporter for the El Paso Times, encouragement of Rep. Medina to coerce Rep. Sariñana to force his cooperation with the tax increase.  As a result of Crowder’s actions being made public on an internet forum, he was temporarily reassigned by the El Paso Times to the County beat.

Perez responded to the personal attacks and intimidation of his guests on Friday.  He emphatically defended Ms. Caballero’s appearance and stated that he would continue to allow all viewpoints on the air, “I will continue to set the standard of free access.  Everyone is invited to air their viewpoints because every single person is deserving of respect.”  Most callers on Friday were supportive of Perez.  A few callers attacked Ms. Caballero and her mother but Perez allowed all of them to make their points.  “That is how it should be.  One of the most disturbing things about the morning show is how people are berated, humiliated and cut off.  Whether we agree or don’t agree, we should allow people to express their opinion,” added Perez.

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