Rocky Anderson's old ideas got a new audience Tuesday as the Democratic mayor took over conservative KSL Radio's Doug Wright Show.
The local news radio station invited the outspoken mayor to fill in for the vacationing Wright. Anderson used his three hours on the mike to talk about some of his pet projects and peeves:
The responsibility the media must adhere to in the democratic process.
Environmental issues, including the use of alternative-fuel vehicles to clean up air quality in the Salt Lake Valley.
An anti-drug overdose billboard campaign.
"I think I'll keep my day job, but it's been a real pleasure," Anderson said at the end of his three-hour hosting stint.
KSL Radio needed to find someone who would attract a large audience while Wright vacationed, and Anderson seemed like the perfect man for the job, said Rod Arquette, KSL Radio vice president of programming and operations.
But not everyone in the conservative KSL Radio audience welcomed Anderson to the daily lineup. Anderson started the show reading letters from angry listeners, one of whom threatened to stop listening to KSL Radio altogether because Anderson was filling in for Wright.
"He's a very polarizing figure, so you'd expect to hear that," Arquette said. "The response doesn't surprise us."
During the show, Anderson chided both the local and national media for what he called "deceptive" reporting and shielding the truth from the public. The mayor specifically targeted the Deseret Morning News for reporting on money spent on the city's credit card for dinner and drinks at a private club. Anderson said the newspaper inappropriately called the expense a bar tab.
"The local media loves to churn up a lot of conflict, and I've seen it," Anderson said. "They love to turn people against each other, because maybe it sells newspapers."
Several people joined Anderson during the show, including Dr. Brian Moench, the father of the mayor's communications director, Duncan Moench. The elder Moench is an anesthesiologist at LDS Hospital and a self-proclaimed environmentalist.
Moench agreed with Anderson that the Salt Lake Valley's air pollution is rising to terrible levels and something needs to be done about it.
"Everybody's health is affected by (smog). It isn't just the kids, the asthmatics and the elderly. We have to say we won't put up with it," Moench said in an interview after the show.
Parents of several Utah teens who died from drug overdoses also joined the mayor on the show to promote his new drug overdose campaign.
The campaign focuses on the deaths of two local teenagers — Amelia Sorich and Zachary Martinez — who died earlier this year after overdosing. The teens' faces are pictured on billboards across the city.
After Sorich and Martinez died, the people they were with took their bodies and dumped them in the foothills in an attempt to cover up their involvement. The campaign is part of an effort by Anderson to focus on harm reduction in addition to blanket prevention.
"There are others who have died because their friends panicked and they were probably worried about their own legal liability and didn't call 911," Anderson said. "We're trying to get people to process now what their decision will be if somebody is exhibiting signs of a drug overdose."
Anderson's drug reforms — most notably his elimination of the D.A.R.E program from Salt Lake City schools — earned him top honors last weekend at the conference of the Drug Policy Alliance in California.
Anderson received the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform for being the "most outspoken and effective local elected official" in the nation on drug policy.
Contributing: Erin Stewart.