Originally created 01/26/01

Radio talk show host mounts defense

Regarding the Jan. 24 editorial concerning me and my radio program: Last Thursday I reported that Channel 26 was the first television station to mention the connection between sealed indictments and the David Holt case.

I also mentioned that the other two TV stations also reported the same connection ...

Friday I took an off-the-air call from a source who confirmed the connection between the Holt and Walker murders in Columbia County, information that had not been reported ... At that time I placed an urgent call to Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength to let him know this information was out and to ask him if it was too sensitive for broadcast. He refused to take my call.

I immediately placed calls to Augusta District Attorney Danny Craig and Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle. I told them the confirmed information that I had (the connection between the two murders and the fact that a suspect was still on the loose) and asked them if the information was sensitive. Both officials were shocked at the fact I had the information, and did confirm that, if it was publicized, public safety could be at risk. I thanked them for their honesty and assured them there would be no mention of the information on my show.

At this point, Sheriff Strength was giving "no comment," even though every media outlet in town was reporting that the Holt case was, indeed, the focus of the indictments. At no time did Strength ever request that the media "back down" to protect the integrity of the investigation ... He allowed the reporting to continue unabated.

With two 30-second phone calls to Sheriff Whittle and DA Craig, I was able to determine the seriousness of keeping the material off the air. I called my colleagues at all three TV stations to request they do the same. They did...

Austin Rhodes, Atlanta


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