Conservative talk radio pioneer KVI in Seattle made it official during the 8 o’clock hour something that will delight conservatives, and especially Second Amendment activists in and beyond the Puget Sound region: Kirby Wilbur will be back on the air starting Monday, Jan. 4, time slot to be announced.
The revelation comes as the Department of Licensing reported to Examiner this morning that the number of active concealed pistol licenses has continued climbing, to 502,918. That’s up 1,620 new CPLs from the end of last month, when the number was 501,298. Wilbur made no secret of the fact during his days on the air that he was a frequent shooter and had sidearms for personal and family protection.
It’s been six years since Wilbur left KVI under previous management and ownership, and a lot has obviously changed. During the on-air announcement this morning, drive-time host John Carlson noted that management had discussed with him a revival of what made KVI a conservative powerhouse for years in the Seattle market. Wilbur, probably by no coincidence, filled in for Carlson three days last week while the latter was taking a break. Both were back with gusto this morning.
UPDATE: In an exclusive telephone conversation Monday afternoon, Wilbur told Examiner he is “really excited” about returning to the Northwest airwaves. This effort has been in the discussion phase for some weeks, but things finally gelled recently and it was decided to make the announcement today.
“I’m back where I think I belong,” Wilbur stated, “back where I want to be. I’m back in the Northwest to give liberals headaches.”
He called his time at KVI one of the most fulfilling jobs of his life, second only to his teaching gig of the past two years. During that time he actually took students to the National Rifle Association building, where they toured the firearms museum and shot on the NRA range, learning about semiautomatic rifles and handguns, and revolvers “so they know how to tell them apart.”
He described this new crop of future journalists as promising, and he predicted they will not fall prey to some of the foolishness that seems rampant in the business today regarding guns.
Wilbur, a staunch pro-Second Amendment commentator, had dominated morning drive time for years. After his departure, he became chairman of the state Republican Party, and for the past couple of years he’s been living in Virginia and heading an education effort for young journalists at the National Journalism Center.
His return comes at an opportune time for Evergreen State Second Amendment activists. He’ll be broadcasting from the heart of “enemy territory” – liberal Seattle, which is currently in court over a gun tax adopted in August, and is home to many of the wealthy elitists who pushed through Initiative 594 last year, which is also being challenged in court – and his followers are already celebrating on social media, including Wilbur’s Facebook page.
During his time in Seattle, and even after he left for Virginia, Wilbur served on the board of the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue. Despite living on the East Coast, he has kept up with Washington’s political scene, so there may not be much transition back to the Northwest.
Wilbur and Carlson have both earned their stripes for defending the Second Amendment, but perhaps their biggest claim to mutual fame has been in defense of the First Amendment, in a court case that still riles pro-tax liberals. Wilbur and Carlson championed a challenge to the state’s huge gas tax increase a decade ago, and found themselves at the center of a controversial free speech case involving state election laws and their advocacy of Initiative 912.
Proponents of the gas tax contended that their on-air advocacy should have been reported to the Public Disclosure Commission as in-kind contributions of air time by KVI’s parent company, Fisher Broadcasting. A Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled against the station and the commentators, but in a stunning reversal, the State Supreme Court came down squarely on the side of free speech in a unanimous April 2007 ruling.
While one might not be able to relive the “good old days,” Wilbur’s return to the airwaves in January might help rev up the conservative pro-gun grassroots as a critical election year begins to unfold. The legislature will be returning to Olympia, where there will no doubt be new efforts to pass the same old gun control agenda. Wilbur’s voice could have a significant impact on that debate.
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