Legislators are turning to the airwaves to fight back against "journalists with an ax to grind."

"We're going to be taking names and kicking 'A' when it comes to reporters misreporting what happens," Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told KCPW on Friday.

That's right. Two hours a week of "taking names and kicking 'A."'

Starting today, legislators will be on K-TALK radio every Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. to tell their side of the story.

Today, Senate President John Valentine, Sens. Margaret Dayton and Stephenson, and Reps. Steve Urquhart, Greg Hughes and John Dougall are scheduled to be on on the air.

Stephenson said he started the show because he's sick of legislators being "grossly unfairly treated by the media" and needed a way of explaining the truth.

"When a quote is taken out of context in order to make it sell in the media, to make the story more interesting, the record needs to be set straight," Stephenson told KCPW. "When a reporter goes wrong, he or she will be held accountable by the legislators on this two-hour show."

The show starts just days after Senate leadership was in a war of sorts with the Deseret News.

The spat came after the News reported that legislative leaders planned on changing the state's current referendum petition process to make it the same as the state's citizen initiative petition process.

Legislators fumed and fired back at the News on the Internet.

Stephenson said the radio show isn't in direct response to this one incident, but a culmination of years of mistreatment.

"You guys get 168 hours per week. We get two to set the record straight, in those rare instances reporters get it wrong," Stephenson told the Deseret News. "Probably 90 percent of the time they get it right — maybe more than that."

The first hour of every broadcast will be dedicated to setting the record straight on stories that were not perfectly told by the media that week, Stephenson said.

The rest of the show will allow legislators to talk about issues that didn't get the press they had hoped for. That way, legislators will have direct access to the people to understand their issues, he said.

"The purpose of this is not to fight back against the media," Stephenson said. "The purpose of this is to communicate past the media in a Ronald Reagan-esque kind of way."

The show airs on 630 AM on K-TALK and also will be broadcast online at k-talk.com.


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com