A student disc jockey who was fired after celebrating Ronald Reagan’s death on his radio show has his job back, and no regrets about his comments.
Scott Hornyak was reinstated Monday as business manager of the University of Alaska Fairbanks radio station, according to the university. He was to be back on the air Tuesday morning.
Hornyak, who is known as “Spider-Bui” to listeners of KSUA-FM, said on his June 6 radio show that he wanted to “walk over the newly laid dirt” on Reagan’s grave and that he was sick of the media glorifying the ex-president.
No tape of the show was available, but the 28-year-old senior said he blasted Reagan for his foreign policy, especially in Latin America, Iraq and Afghanistan, and for his response to the AIDS epidemic.
The station received many complaints, but its general manager said Hornyak was fired for failing to follow certain procedures, not for the content of the show. The termination was rescinded by university officials and he was offered another student job, but he remained suspended from the radio station.
Hornyak appealed the termination and his suspension, saying he was being punished for his comments.
In a telephone interview Monday from his Fairbanks home, an unrepentant Hornyak called his firing an “honor.”
“I’m glad I got to say that for all the people who died of AIDS in the 1980s, for all the South Americans and for everybody who was affected by that man, who was a menace in the world,” Hornyak said.
The Alaska Civil Liberties Union represented Hornyak in his appeal. ACLU attorney Jason Brandeis said the university agreed to reinstate Hornyak with back pay and to pay the ACLU’s legal fees if Hornyak agreed not to sue the school. Hornyak’s business manager job is a paid position.
“It certainly will make public radio stations think twice what the law is before they make a rash decision to fire a DJ for what he said on the air,” Brandeis said.
The university released a statement in which Dean of Students Tim Barnett said the incident gave the university a chance to review how it balances community standards, Federal Communications Commission regulations and its own internal policies.
“The actions taken by the station manager were done with the best intentions of balancing community interests and station policy. Since there are no tapes of the show, it is unclear to what extent, if any, violations of community standards occurred,” Barnett said.
Hornyak said the experience won’t change his approach to his show, but he will remember to read a disclaimer stating that his opinions are his own.