Drive-time host Deace quits leading Iowa talk radio station

Steve Deace has resigned from WHO-AM radio, and February 11 will be his last broadcast of “Deace in the Afternoon,” station manager Van Harden informed employees today.

Harden told employees of WHO-AM in Des Moines that Deace said he and his family had been talking about resigning for some time, and “finally felt lead to make a change.”

“While he does not have another position to which he is going, he has had the ear and interest of many politicians and political campaigns seeking his strategic advice, and he says there is a possibility he may be doing some consulting,” the e-mail said. “While this came as a surprise to us, we at WHO, and Steve, want all to know this is a very friendly parting, so much so that Steve says he may be  able to make himself available occasionally to do some fill-in work for us if needed.”

Des Moines Cityview weekly published a good feature on Deace last year, chronicling his competitive nature, the evolution of his Christian faith and his path from sports reporting to hosting a political talk show. Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog credits Deace with helping Mike Huckabee “crush” Mitt Romney in counties that make up the WHO listening area. Similarly, Deace’s loud and frequent support for Bob Vander Plaats boosted the candidate’s showing against Terry Branstad in central Iowa during last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary. (I have to believe Branstad will be relieved to hear Deace is going off the air.)

Two weeks ago, Deace decided at the last minute to seek the position of Polk County Republican chair. According to Robinson, Deace posted on Facebook yesterday “that his next campaign might be for Republican National Committeeman or the State Senate.” The talk show host has been and remains a vocal critic of Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley (for instance: “Introducing the Paul McKinley Award for gutless, dishonest, and ineffective leadership!”). Iowa’s current elected Republican National Committeeman is Steve Scheffler, the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance whom Deace has called the “least trustworthy & most gutless person in Iowa politics.”

I wonder whom WHO will put in the drive-time slot and whether the new host will rival morning host Jan Mickelson in the outrageous comments department. One thing is certain: whoever gets the job will be wooed relentlessly by Republican presidential hopefuls. WHO has a large conservative listening audience.

UPDATE: A press release announcing Deace’s departure is after the jump. He says he hopes to publish a book this year, and he isn’t ruling out politics or a return to broadcasting someday. He and his wife plan to stay in Iowa: “We look forward to seeing how we will have the privilege to fear God, tell the truth and make money in the future.”

The news release says Deace lives in West Des Moines, so if he runs for the state Senate he presumably would face Pat Ward in a GOP primary, depending on what the new map looks like.

SECOND UPDATE: Deace on Twitter: “Just in case you were wondering, almost nothing in the Iowa Republican.com piece about my departure is true, except the spelling of my name.”

THIRD UPDATE: In this video, Deace talks about his reasons for leaving WHO and emphasizes that his split with the radio station was amicable. He also says that although it wasn’t an easy decision, he knows it was the right one, and he has “slept like a Calvinist at night” since he and his wife decided to pursue new challenges. After saying he felt he needed to take a chance and try something different at this point in his life, Deace added (around the 5:45 mark of the video), “I think a lot of guys, regardless of whether or not you agree with my belief system, you know, if you pee standing up like I do, I think you probably understand what I’m talking about.”

Press release:

Steve Deace resigns from WHO afternoon radio show

2/11/2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Chris Dorsey

641-340-0296

Friday, February 11, 2011

Steve Deace resigns from WHO afternoon radio show

DES MOINES – Popular and opinionated talk show host Steve Deace, a fixture in Iowa broadcasting for the past decade, resigned his position with News Radio 1040-WHO in Des Moines. His successful “Deace in the Afternoon” radio program ends its run on Friday, February 11.

Deace resigned Jan. 28, but stayed on the air for two more weeks at the request of WHO. Deace says the decision to leave the award-winning radio station was not an easy one.

“WHO is one of the best stations in the United States, and I feel truly honored and blessed to have been allowed to play at least some small part in that legacy,” Deace said. “Many industry professionals would consider WHO a destination job, and WHO has been very good to my family and invaluable to my growth both as a broadcaster and as a man. I hope my performance and work ethic repaid the investment WHO made in me and my family.”

Deace said it was time for him to move on to pursue other opportunities.

“My wife and I have been sensing for months now that perhaps God had something new in store for us,” Deace said. “Now we’re going to take the necessary steps to see exactly what that looks like and we’re excited about the journey.”

Deace says he is making this decision completely on his own.

“No members of management at WHO pressured me or asked me to resign and no members of management at WHO ever has,” Deace said. “In fact, they urged me to reconsider. It seemed they were just as surprised by my decision as many in my audience will be. I am very grateful General Manager Joel McCrea gave me the opportunity to broadcast at WHO and KXNO the last eight and a half years.”

Deace said he’ll miss the relationships he forged during his years at WHO the most.

“I’m not sure how it’s possible for a broadcaster to have a better relationship with his program director than I was blessed to have with Van Harden,” Deace said. “Van is not just a talented broadcaster and beloved community figure, but over the years he’s become a trusted mentor spiritually and professionally as well as a genuine friend. The same is true of Jan Mickelson as well, who is one of the most gracious people you’ll ever meet. Losing the regular rapport I’ve enjoyed with people like them and several others at WHO is probably the hardest part of this decision.”

Program Director Van Harden said Deace will be missed.

“While this came as a surprise to us, we at WHO want all to know this is a very friendly parting,” Harden said. “I’ve called Steve up to the plate three times, twice for KXNO and once for WHO. All three times he’s scored big for us, and we should all be thankful for that.”

Deace is now looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

“I hope to have a book published later this year and I’ve been approached in the past about pursuing politics which is intriguing,” Deace said. “On the other hand, I certainly love radio and since a first-class and highly successful operation like WHO was willing to employ my talents I think I have a knack for it, so I’m open to more broadcasting in the future. As of today I have had no other contact with any other radio stations regarding this decision nor have I pursued any. I’m stepping out on faith here to see what exactly God has in store for me in the future either way.

“I am very thankful as I look back over the opportunities I’ve had to be associated with a station as historic as WHO, and to perhaps have played a small role in the discussions that have shaped our state. My wife and I have set down roots here in Iowa and hope to raise our children here. We don’t plan on going anywhere. We look forward to seeing how we will have the privilege to fear God, tell the truth and make money in the future.”

Steve Deace, 37, resides in West Des Moines with his wife, Amy, and their three children: Anastasia, 9; Zoe, 5; and Noah-Andrew, 4. Steve can be contacted via Facebook, “deaceradio” on Twitter, and Steve@stevedeace.com.

  • Deace

    Steve Deace is a double edged sword.  Social conservatism works in getting people out to the polls, but if you actually govern that way you become  too authoritarian and rational people get upset.  

    His views on birth control are particularly troubling.  He would bring up abortion rights in the middle of a sports talk show.  The guy doesn’t care whether he has facts on his side or not and he simply wants to be paid more for speaking out.  Huckabee will probably pay him a quarter of a million if not more for whatever work he may do for him in Iowa.

    Stick to sports Steve.  I know your “faith” has pushed you in another direction though.  I don’t even listen to talk radio so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but if WHO does hire a more intellectually based conservative their ratings would plummet.  That’s not a shot at their listeners, just a prediction.  

    I’ll say this in closing.  Deace is about Deace and I don’t him for that, he just should stop claiming to be a man of “principle”  

  • Fascinating

    If the comment level here is any indication, apparently we (the Demos around the State) don’t care; he’s seemingly only a phenomenon to the Repubs. I’ve been monitoring the commentary about this over on TIR and, after you posted this, also here with a bit more interest to see what your regulars were thinking about him.

    I’ve never heard Deace nor met him, but based on reading his farewell press release and as someone who grew up in and still holds membership in, a branch of Protestantism very closely aligned with evangelical fundamentalism, I already “know” him and have “heard” him almost my entire life.

    Theocrats are a strange, dangerous lot.

    • I've never heard his show

      and to my knowledge I’ve only ever listened to WHO’s morning right-winger Mickelson three or four times. I figure, life is too short for me to spend listening to shows like that, especially when I know Jason Hancock will report on anything important that might happen on the show.

  • RE: your 3rd update

    “.  .  .  . pee standing up like I do, .  .  .”

    ???

    I’m not a psychobabbler but neither does it take one to see that the man has very visible and identifiable personality issues.

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