During a Feb. 9 live broadcast, Canadian radio talk show host Kid Carson delivered an emotional speech voicing concerns about vaccine mandates, governmental restrictions, and inaccurate media coverage of the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.
Near the end of his segment, he commented, “I hope it’s not my last day.”
But Carson’s suspicions were correct: after the show, his employer, Vancouver radio station Z95.3 immediately severed all professional ties, marking his last day on-air.
Z95.3 featured The Kid Carson Show every weekday during the coveted morning rush-hour showblock. During Carson’s six-minute speech, the host delves into his motivations for supporting the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, allegations of a media culture of censorship, all while expounding on personal feelings as both a broadcaster and a father.
“I host a radio show and I’m expected to talk about all sorts of things, but it seems I have to avoid talking about all the things that really matter,” Carson says. “I walk in the studio, put on my headphones, and I think: Okay, here I am. What silly stupid thing—that doesn’t really matter—can I talk about today?”
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Z95.3 is owned by media conglomerate Stingray Radio Inc., the second-largest radio corporation in Canada. The corporation immediately parted ways with Carson after the segment.
Devon Tschirtter, Stingray’s General Manager, responded to Carson’s positions via Z95’s Instagram account, arguing that while Carson has a right to his opinions, “He does not have a right to broadcast misleading or inaccurate opinions and label them as facts”
While the company claims that Carson was let go for promulgating misinformation, they did not comment on some crucial aspects of Carson’s speech, including criticism of how media funding often promotes conflict of interest.
During his commentary, Carson pointed out, “The media took sixty one million [dollars] from the Liberals pre-election,” making particular note of Canadian media and marketing agency Daily Hive, who he said “took half a million [dollars].”
Although The Hive’s own report of Carson’s departure from X95.3 discussed the host’s anti-mandate stance, it avoided his questions of pre-election government subsidies.
The Kid is just one of several recent cases of longtime Canadian media personnel speaking out against what can be perceived as journalistic malpractice and bias within the broadcasting industry during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In January of 2021, bestselling author and journalist Tara Henley announced her departure from federally funded messaging outlet Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a lengthy Substack piece that accused the CBC of embodying “some of the worst trends in mainstream media.”
Henley’s criticism was pointed, “To work at CBC in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity. . . It is to become less adversarial to government and corporations and more hostile to ordinary people with ideas that Twitter doesn’t like.”
Calgarian radio host Heather Prosak also recently made waves by filming and publishing an online video about the Freedom Convoy. In the piece, Prosak walks around Ottawa in a jacket and toque, stating, “I haven’t been this happy in two years.”
While speaking, Parliament buildings come into view, poetically disclosing the context of her commentary.
“I decided to come to the convoy for myself,” Prosak explained. “Because I can trust my eyes, but I can’t necessarily trust the information around me. . .These truckers are—unless you see it for yourself—you are not going to understand.”
“Families, children, freedom is written everywhere. Segregation is wrong. And it’s not about the vaccine. It really isn’t.”
Prosak, who like Carson and Henley, boasts two decades of experience as a media personality, echoes Carson’s frank feelings as a radio personality working within the current culture of media censorship and bias.
“I’ve been in radio [for] 20 years,” Prosak says. “I’m a program director of a radio station…And I would normally have talked about something like this. I would normally have posted about something like this. And that’s why you’re getting this live.”
While personalities such as Carson have been professionally de-platformed from larger broadcasting corporations, online alternatives have seized the opportunity to avail themselves to provide the venue for creators and journalists alike to independently flourish.
Tara Henley, for example, has chosen to combat her dissolution with media culture by hosting the online podcast Lean Out, described as “entirely independent and entirely free from editorial control.”
Henley says the venue allows her to write openly and interview guests with views that are considered too contrarian for establishment outlets.
Similarly, after parting ways with Stingray Radio, Carson has chosen to host his content on other platforms, including subscription-based website Anchor and streaming service Spotify.
The latter, which is currently the market leader in the digital audio streaming sector, recently came under fire for hosting Joe Rogan because of his propensity to dissent against vaccine and COVID measure politics.
Although Stingray Radio boasts being able to reach 7.5 million listeners every week, Spotify’s subscription-based service peaked at a comparatively behemoth 406 million monthly active users during the final quarter of 2021.
Although Kid Carson may have sacrificed his position, the decision to publicly speak out brought the reward of a rapidly expanded social media presence. The Kid increased Instagram followers by 30,000 shortly after the controversy aired.
While Carson was sober that “radio doesn’t have a history of letting you say goodbye on your last day,” his departure from X95.3 nonetheless has the potential to garner even greater popularity than before.
For The Kid, it appears he might not be saying goodbye for good after all.