Shad Olson, who was suspended three weeks ago from his KOTA TV news anchor job, resigned Tuesday to pursue hosting a radio talk show and to work as a paid political consultant.
Olson was suspended after he appeared as a featured speaker at a local tea party rally, a move that was labeled “an ethical lapse” by his supervisors at KOTA. Olson never called it that, however. He said Tuesday that it was time to move on.
“I’ve handed in my resignation,” he said. “In the wake of everything that happened, I just kind of felt it was time to do something else. I’m done as of today.”
Olson, who remained on the KOTA payroll and continued to work off the air during his suspension, said he will now become more active with the local tea party affiliate, Citizens for Liberty. Olson also has begun work as a paid consultant for state Sen. Gordon Howie, R-Rapid City, a gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Citizens for Liberty.
“My personal feelings about the need to be vigilant about our freedoms and fighting for liberty have, I guess, given me a continued mission with the tea party and Citizens for Liberty, and the Gordon Howie for governor campaign,” Olson said. “I’ll be working to advance our shared message.”
Olson said he has met with likely radio sponsors “who were complimentary of my work,” and hopes to have a regional show in operation by next month. It would be heard in South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska, he said.
Olson isn’t sure whether he will remain in Rapid City to run the show.
“I’ll run it out of the region. I’m not sure if it’ll be out of Rapid City or somewhere else,” he said.
Olson said he will discuss politics and current issues on the show. He has begun a new Web site, shadolsonshow.com, which he said reflects the philosophy and content of the planned radio show.
On the Web site’s main page, Olson is described as a “conservative firebrand and veteran writer, broadcast journalist and radio talk theologian.”
KOTA news director John Petersen confirmed Tuesday that Olson’s resignation was voluntary. Petersen said there was confusion among some of Olson’s supporters about the extent of the on-air suspension.
“Shad was never suspended from KOTA. To me a suspension means you don’t work here and you don’t get paid. Even though his duties were changed, Shad was employed and paid in full, the entire time since his tax day speech,” Petersen said.
Petersen said he didn’t learn of Olson’s speech at the April 15 tax day rally by Citizens for Liberty until the following day, after the Journal ran a story quoting Olson. KOTA took Olson off the air the next week. Initially both Petersen and Olson indicated that they expected him to return to the anchor spot.
“I wish things would have turned out differently. I do,” Petersen said.
KOTA didn’t require news employees to sign an ethics policy before Olson’s suspension. Now the station will require it and public speaking at political events will clearly be deemed out of bounds, Petersen said.
“Unfortunately, this incident forces us to implement a policy,” he said.
Olson said his professional transition from news anchor and producer to an advocacy role in politics and current affairs will be bittersweet.
“Naturally a part of me is sad to see that come to an end,” he said of his KOTA job. “But I’m excited about a new chapter that will allow me the flexibility and creative leniency to explore some other avenues of work that I enjoy.”
Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or firstname.lastname@example.org