Local radio personality Lee Elci has launched the second edition of the “King of Callers” contest — a competition where participants are encouraged to record impassioned rants on topics of their choice. Currently, the frontrunner is Hayward Gatch, a self-proclaimed anarchist and anti-capitalist from North Stonington. The contest’s victor is assured a one– time, one-hour Saturday show along with other prizes.
The contest follows a March Madness-style bracketology where the show’s listeners can vote via social media for the prospective host they like best.
Gatch, who currently has 1,000 votes, equivalent to 47%, took to social media on Oct. 23 in a Reddit post, urging those who recognize the value in “disrupting the fascist pipeline” of conservative talk radio to vote for him. He stated, “If, for no other reason it would be very funny to have an open leftist who regularly criticizes capitalism, the right and the police win this competition.”
In his post, Gatch disclosed his five-year history engaging with conservative talk radio, aiming to “disrupt the homogeneity of the conservative media bubble, at least locally.” He expressed a strong belief in the strategy of pulling “fence-sitters” towards the left, rather than waiting until they become deeply entrenched in far-right ideologies like those associated with groups like the Proud Boys.
In a separate post that day he expressed that “people who would have never heard about stuff from our side got a chance to decide for themselves what they actually believe,” adding that “a shocking amount of them have distanced themselves from conservatism” and started identifying as anarchists.
He further said that “several hosts on the station have already expressed a desire to have” him as a host.
Gatch’s rant focused on the tragic incident involving 26-year-old activist Manuel Esteban Paez. Paez was killed in a police confrontation where he was shot at least 57 times after allegedly shooting and injuring a state trooper The incident occurred within an encampment near Atlanta, Ga., where Paez and others were protesting the construction of a Public Safety Training Center, referred to as “Cop City.” Law enforcement officers were present to clear out the encampment.
Meanwhile, the second-place contestant is a dedicated sixth-grade teacher Michael Costanza. Costanza currently has 664 votes accounting for 29% of the count. Costanza’s speech centered on his disenfranchisement with teachers’ unions, asserting that these organizations have shifted their focus towards politics and “woke” agendas, rather than protecting teachers.
According to Costanza, unions allocate $2 of union dues for political endeavors for every dollar spent on member representation.
Frustrated with his union, Costanza exercised his Janus Rights and exited the union, emphasizing the relief of no longer funding what he views as unwanted political activities. He said the “fat cats” in the national and state unions don’t speak for all members and that they are ruining education.
Costanza, an advocate for change is co-founder of the Facebook group “Constitution State Educators, where he educates fellow teachers on the process of breaking away from the union. Additionally, he was honored with Yankee Institute’s 2022 “Unsung Hero” award in recognition of his advocacy efforts in the realm of workers’ rights.
Votes can be cast until 9:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27. Eight finalists will then square off at Mohegan Sun. The leaders in each of the two divisions will be allotted six minutes on stage for a fresh rant, while the second-place contenders will have five minutes. Participants falling outside the top spots will be given four minutes each. Crowd participation will factor into the judging process.