Chuck Williams

Is ex-Columbus conservative radio host tacking to center, away from Trump?

Talk radio host Doug Kellett, with a Columbus Ledger-Enquirer article framed on the wall, works out of his Peachtree, Ga., studio.
Talk radio host Doug Kellett, with a Columbus Ledger-Enquirer article framed on the wall, works out of his Peachtree, Ga., studio. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

In this political climate, you always look for a change in the direction of the wind.

Where the wind blows, you are sure to find a talk radio host.

Recently, the winds on my Facebook feed have begun to blow to the south when the topic is President Donald Trump. There are those who will defend the president under any circumstances, but there are also those who are distancing themselves in their own way.

One of those is Doug Kellett, the conservative radio talk show host who cut his teeth in Columbus from 1987 until 2001. His call-in show “Talkline” was often monitored by politicians and gadflies. Back in the day, he attracted both in large numbers.

It was former Mayor Frank Martin, the one largely responsible with the progressive parts of Columbus you see today, who labeled Kellett’s loyal listeners “Neanderthals.” Martin once called Kellett the “most dangerous man in Columbus.”

I am not sure Butch was right, but he made his point.

The seeds for the political revolution that took place in 2016 were sown over three decades by Kellett and his conservative talk-show brothers and sisters.

Over the last couple of weeks, Kellett has increased the posts on his Facebook page questioning Trump and his policies and pointing out the increasing scrutiny on the president.

Is Kellett tacking to the center, away from his conservative roots?

“No, not at all,” Kellett said Friday via email. “I’m still the right winger you guys at the Leftist-Enquirer always said I was. However, when I see my side doing things that I criticize the other side for doing, I feel an obligation to point it out.”

It is not about Trump per se, Kellett said.

“For example, I’m noticing many people calling themselves conservative are defending Donald Trump with the excuses we saw liberals do for President Clinton or President Obama,” Kellett said. “We shouldn’t follow any politician blindly and act like any thing they do is OK. We can differ on what is OK, of course. So, if I post anything ‘negative’ about something President Trump had said or whether he acted wrongly in interfering with a criminal investigation, I say it.”

You can call Kellett a lot of things — and some people in Columbus did over the years — but there is one name he won’t accept.

“People may like it or not, but they will never call me a hypocrite,” he said.

Today, Kellett lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and has a freelance hosting business. Kind of a right-winger for hire. One day, he may be on the air at KOA in Denver and the next day WBT in Charlotte.

Coast-to-coast Doug. I would give a few bucks to hear what Butch Martin, who unfortunately is no longer with us, would have to say about that one. It would be entertaining, I can promise.

Now, Kellett hasn’t totally given up on Trump.

“I support the Trump agenda of lower taxes, repealing Obamacare, stopping illegal immigration, and most of his foreign policy moves,” he said. “I am not a supporter of big government spending or starting trade wars with other countries. I think President Trump has an opportunity, if he gets out of his own way, to be a very effective President economically.

Of course, Kellett voted for Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“She had no business getting any where near the White House,” he said. “While I voted for him, I did so knowing he comes with risks. His personality, I think, is a problem. He seems to tweet or speak before giving things long consideration and thought. His rapid fire shoot-from-the-hip approach worked in a campaign but does not work well as leader of the free world.”

Shoot from the hip?

Wasn’t that Doug’s specialty when he was on the air in Columbus? Good to hear it plays well in other markets.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams