Dems highlight complaint against KFQD talk show host Dave Stieren

According to the Alaska Democratic Party, a citizen has filed a Federal Communications Commission complaint against KFQD-AM talk show host Dave Stieren. The complaint is related to a contract that Stieren got from GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, whose campaign paid Stieren’s communication firm $6,697 for “media training” and “coaching.”

The complaint says that Stieren gave Sullivan more airtime than Sullivan’s Republican primary opponents, which would potentially violate the FCC’s equal time provision for federal candidates. Mike Wenstrup, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said that this is an example of Sullivan “using his Outside money in an attempt to buy support.”

According to the FCC, complaints aren’t generally public until they’re resolved. Stieren denies the charge.

Generally speaking, each candidate running for federal office must receive the offer of equal access to television and radio. It can be hazy, however, when it comes to news programs and opinion-focused talk and television shows.

In the past, the FCC has granted “equal time” exceptions to such diverse shows as “The Phil Donahue Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Politically Incorrect,” “The Howard Stern Show” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”

I spoke with Stieren last night about the complaint. He denies the claim of favoritism. He said that the contract, which lasted about five weeks and started in February, clearly stated that he wasn’t going to focus on the race while the contract was active. That didn’t mean, however, that he would completely avoid the topic of the Senate.

He and his business partner Mary Ann Pruitt, who is the state House Majority Leader Rep. Lance Pruitt’s wife, met with the Sullivan campaign about 5 times. He disclosed all of the information required to Morris Communications, which owns KFQD.

Stieren said it was “adorable,” that the Democrats were so concerned about the attention given to GOP primary candidates Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell.

Contact Amanda Coyne at

This post was updated to contain information I got from talking to the FCC. 


37 thoughts on “Dems highlight complaint against KFQD talk show host Dave Stieren

  1. Jason

    That is a really sad thing to reveal about yourself. Read Proverbs 15:12 and 29:8 and decide if that’s really your best life, David.
    9:7 predicts your response to this comment, but maybe you will try being an exception for a change.

  2. RudeAlaskan

    You’re wrong. The only idiotic move here is that the D’s gave Sullivan and Dave Stieren a heck of a lot of PR/attention.

  3. mwinters

    Still…you’re a crook who attacked Pete Peterson so your business partner’s husband would win an election and you would win privileged access for your clients. Adorable.

  4. Lynn Willis

    I appreciate your comment. Again, talk radio is entertainment not a serious venue for political discussion and this situation only further clarifies that point.
    That said, since I first learned of Dave’s financial dependency on funding from politicians and his particular relationship with the spouse of the current State House Majority Leader, I have tempered my belief in his objectivity. This is because while Dave Stieren might believe that he can clearly delineate his personal speech from his paid-for speech I don’t believe I can and therefore will tend to listen with ever increasing cynicism and doubt of his motivation for what he has to say about actual issues facing Alaskans.

  5. Elephants forget all the time

    “invited all of them on his show”

    but laid out a gleaming, glowing, red carpet for one of them.

    Nope I see no problems here through my elephant shaped rose colored glasses

  6. Elephants forget all the time

    This sounds an awful lot like the morons who swore at me, red-faced, that Romney was going to wipe the floor with Obama. Huehuehuehue

  7. Dave

    My company does not provide any service to the Lt Gov candidate named Sullivan. The joy I take in mocking the South Anchorage Senator comes right from my coal black heart.

  8. Lady of Liberty

    This type of FCC complaint does little except rattle the cages of the sleepy media. Nothing will become of it except for a news cycle or two of a candidate being part of a federal complaint/imvestigation. I fault Dan Sullivan’s campaign on their STUPIDITY. A person would have to be blind not to see such a possibility coming at them. These kinds of rookie mmistakes will make the difference as to who the next senator from Alaska will be. Honestly, Sullivan may be a very smart individual; however, he doesn’t seem very smart politically and this is clearly evident that his campaign advisors and consultants are pretty unsophisticated too. To beat Begich, one will have to runa steller campaign. Rookie mistakes like these will be capitalized on and can make the difference between victory and defeat. My advice to Sullivan is that he should get some professionals to help run his campaign than the “Club of Clowns” that is currently doing so. Did I get that right? Is it the “Club for Clowns” or the “Club for Growth”? Doesn’t matter. They’re both jokes.

  9. D. Deditus

    Sullivan’s campaign should have been smarter than this. Errors and poor judgement like this is what losing campaigns are built upon.

  10. Jeff Landrum

    I expected Ohio Dan to have his keyboard kommandos out tonight, but it is nice to see Republican operatives come out to defend Payola Dave Stieran, too.

  11. Milton Friedman

    Viewing posts like yours and the others here are like witnessing the death throws of the Alaska Democratic Party. It is awesome and I am laughing at you. You have nothing to run on and a record of failure.

  12. Milton Friedman

    Spin as much as you like, but that isn’t what happened. It is so sad and pathetic that this is what the once mighty Alaska Democrat party has come to. Grasping at straws because your record is pathetic.

  13. Milton Friedman

    No. No. List a source. Otherwise you are nothing but a liar trying to score political points. By the way, Mayor Dan is using Hellenthal and Associates for his campaign. Next time, just do a little research and don’t be so dramatic.

  14. Jeff Landrum

    Crazy is Ohio Dan paying money to bribe Stiren and KFQD not firing him (yet) for airwave payola.

  15. Masher

    Republican senatorial candidate Dan Sullivan got caught being sleezy. Nothing more, nothing less. His campaign thought they could get away with “payola” to a local radio talk show host. People went to jail for this in the 1960s.

  16. Jmichaels

    Are you with PS Strategies? Or do you work for Alaska Dan? And is this an official statement of denial?

  17. Jmichaels

    Hire Stiren (or be married to his business partner) and get free attack ads against your opponent and positive airtime for yourself. It worked for Lance Pruitt and and so far so good for Mayor Sullivan and L48 Sullivan.

    Time for an investigation. Maybe the FEC can do what toothless APOC can’t or won’t.

  18. Morgan Foster

    Interesting that Dave Stieren also has the Mayor Dan Sullivan as his client and uses public air time to bash his opponent Lesil McGuire. Dave really needs to be brought under investigation.

  19. Ron Jordan

    Several local radio talk show hosts on several different local radio station have said on the air that anyone running for any public office can call in including. Dave and Rydell both have done this.

  20. John Smith

    You do know that while Ben was hired in February, he wasn’t initially the campaign manager, right? That didn’t happen until April. If you think he is stupid, whatever, but at least try to get your facts straight. Otherwise, people might think you are stup….er, uninformed.

  21. John Smith

    Michelle, have you found Mia’s house yet?


    “My opponent’s negotiating style with the resource extractors? On her knees” – Michelle Scannell

    Take crazy someplace else. We are going to be full this year without you.

  22. John Smith

    To the last part of your post: Dave would probably agree with you save the fact that it was his company that was hired and there are numerous people within that organization from many segments of marketing and public relations. Not sure how well that company compares to other similar ones in the Alaska market, but it wasn’t a radio talk host that was hired as much as it was a company that was hired. I think it important to realize the difference.

  23. 357

    Loved DS’ quote. I too think that it is adorable that the Dems are so concerned about Miller and Treadwell. Classic.

  24. Jackie

    David has a great radio show. Interesting and smart. Compared to his brethern in the business, I think he runs one of the most straight up and fairr shows in the Anchorage market. The Bernadette and Berkowitz show, well, its at least 50% dense (you figure out which half is dense). Rick Rydel is a good guy and has a good show. Should he be crticized for not disclosing that his son works for Treadwell as he humps the Treadwell bandwagon? I say not. Dave, Rick, Bernadette and Ethan are entertainers more than journalists. They all have their own partisan bents and philosophies; yet, all are faair and professional – – every single one of them. They all have good shows. This complaint is more of a one day political ploy for a one day news cycle. It is ridiculous and should not be viewed with merit or seriousness. These complaints are hardly worth the paper they are written on. They are the equivalent of a press release. Dave/KFQD did absolutely nothing wrong.
    I do however agree that the Sullivan campaign must have the political acumen of a drunken possum or the political experience limited top a run for student council president. It baffels me as to why any organization would hire such services from a radio talk host. It makes me questionm theoir ability to win this election purely on strategic nuances.

  25. Michelle Scannell


    David Stieren has an established behavior pattern of using Morris Communications property to attack his business partners and clients. In the 2012 election cycle, Stieren spent a huge amount of airtime attacking Rep. Pete Peterson. He never mentioned his business partnership with the wife of Peterson’s opponent, Lance Pruitt.

    After Stieren falsely accused another Democrat of a conflict of interest, I wrote Stieren and his employers at Morris a letter on November 2, 2012. His attacks on Peterson immediately ceased, but Stieren’s business partner won the election, in no small part to all the free attacks Stieren made against Peterson. Here is the letter in full:

    Dear Mr Stieren,

    I write you in regards to your broadcast of 1 November 2012. During the third hour of your show you strongly implied through innuendo and suggestion that Ms Geran Tarr, a fellow Democratic candidate for State House, had a conflict of interest because of a campaign contribution made to her by the Alaska Women for Political Action. Normally I would ascribe your smears and attacks to the fact that you are a political entertainer and this sort of rhetoric is part and parcel of your radio show. Your unwarranted attack on Ms. Tarr, however, warrants a response.

    Ms Tarr is President Elect of Alaska Women for Political Action, a non-partisan women’s organization that makes political donations to Alaskan female candidates as part of their overall mission of encouraging the involvement of women in the political process. The fact that Ms Tarr — an Alaskan woman who has served our community in a variety of roles over the years — received a contribution based on the majority vote of the entire AWPA membership is only logical and fair. Why should Ms. Tarr be penalized because of her deep commitment to the advancement of women in politics?

    What makes your attack worthy of a response is your own personal conflict of interest as regards to at least one race for Alaska State House. You have repeatedly attacked Rep. Pete Peterson, the Democratic candidate for House District 25, while praising Rep. Lance Pruitt, his opponent. You have been doing this for weeks, all the while failing to mention your business relationship with Rep. Lance Pruitt’s wife, Mary Ann Pruitt.

    You and your partner-Mary Ann Pruitt, own PS Strategies, an ad agency which counts the oil lobby-funded Alaska Support Industry Alliance as one of its major clients. The Alliance has spent at least $20,000.00 this year with your agency. The ethical impropriety of a talk show host employed by a top-rated radio station using that station’s airtime to attack his business partner’s political opponent and promote his own ad agency’s client is clear and obvious.

    It is also unfair to to the bottom line of your employer, Morris Communications, that your partner’s husband gets essentially free airtime while Rep. Pete Peterson is paying $24 for a thirty second spot. It is also not a mere academic question as to whether your undeclared conflict of interest rises to the level of a violation of Alaska election law. Perhaps it might be possible to calculate the true cost of all the ‘free’ anti-Peterson advertising you have provided this election cycle.

    Mr. Stieren, you are nothing if not an engaging radio talk show host, yet your failure to disclose brings discredit to your station, the company for whom you work, and our great state of Alaska.


    Michelle Scannell (D)
    Candidate for State House District 20

  26. Stephanie

    If the nation’s top political operatives are making decisions like this, I don’t think that there is much chance that the Republicans will gain the majority in the senate. Just goes to show how stupid this kid Ben Sparks is. Good decision Sparks ! You must be one big time political dude.

  27. Fireweed Fanatic

    Dave S. Is a good businessman. KFQD is a good radio station. The real screw up is the Sullivan campaign. This incident speaks to their sophomoric approach to politics and in many ways is emblematic of the reasons why Sullivan will lose to Begich. Think about it. How elementary is the task that Sullivan fired Dave for. Either it was a flat footed attempt to influence Dave or clearly shows that Sullivan’s campaign is full of pathetic neophytes. As a Republican who wants to beat Begich I am angry and disgustyed with Dan and his stupidity. In fact, he’s pushed me to voting for Treadwell. With a campaign making decisions like this one there is no hope of beating Begich anyway.

  28. Dave Stieren

    Good Lord David B, do you NOT listen to the show? Next week we do live reveals of paternity tests and ladies who cheat with their baby daddy’s daddy. Now be good to each other.

  29. John Smith

    He has invited all of them to be on his show and welcomes Senator Begich when he calls in.

    Diversionary tactics are all they have left. They have a record they can’t run on and no plan for the future. It is kind of sad really.

  30. Nora

    You’re right. There is nothing wrong with owning a business. Although, there is something morally & legally wrong with somebody taking money from, and then promoting a candidate without telling their viewers.

    At least the other hosts in town, who run similar operations, disclose their backers.

    Side note: Thanks for being the best journalist in Alaska, Amanda!

  31. Lynn Willis

    The important facts for people to understand is that Dave Stieren is motivated,to make money from political activity and that he is a business partner of the wife of the House Majority leader of the Alaska legislature.. There is nothing legally or ethically wrong with that..
    For most people, I would think that a profit motive and a business association with known political overtones would influence any objective analysis of issues and candidates.
    Once you understand those two facts you can better appreciate Dave’s show.for the entertainment value it provides.

  32. Brad

    Since a D submitted the complain and it was first reported by the Democratic Party, it’s obvious that this is nothing more the D’s trying to make noise. If this was really an issue, Treadwell or Miller could have made the complaint. Hell, it’s not breaking news. It’s been talked about on conservative forums and FB for over a month.

  33. Kevin

    Violation of FCC Laws: Payola Plugola

    Violation of FEC Laws: Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002

  34. AlaskaCodPiece

    It’s no different than Sean Hannity taking millions of dollars from various neo-con groups, i.e., Americans for Prosperity, while touting himself as a ‘fair and balanced’ newsman. Or Karl Rove being paid fat checks by clients/PACS to talk their ideology while he is a paid pundit on FOX.

    That is the state of today’s “journalism” and “news” – whoever pays gets the most ink and air.

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