Man charged with threatening Kansas City radio host Dana Wright. Now she’s speaking out

A 49-year-old Independence man has been arrested and charged with making a felony criminal threat against KMBZ talk radio host Dana Wright.

John D. Gribble was charged last week in Johnson County District Court and appeared in court via Zoom on Thursday. The radio station is in Mission.

Wright showed The Star a text message left overnight at the station in March, allegedly from Gribble.

Filled with expletives, the message called Wright a sexual profanity and a “stupid libtard” who “needs to be publicly killed. Someday I’ll find that stupid bitch and fix that problem. Scott is the only voice of reason on that show.”

Wright co-hosts the “Dana and Parks” weekday afternoon show with Scott Parks. As they discuss and debate news of the day, Wright typically takes a liberal view; he is more conservative.

She also posted the message on her Facebook page Wednesday, where hundreds of her followers, mostly women, have responded with support.

Wright told The Star she wanted to tell the public about this case and the harassment she’s endured over the years as a woman working in journalism — 17 years in TV followed by 11 years now in radio.

Mission police have been escorting her to her car after work.

“I cannot tell you how many times in the past years, and way worse after January 6th, that I’ve been threatened because of my job,” Wright told the Star, referencing the storming of the U.S. Capitol in 2021. “A couple of times men have shown up in the parking lot waiting for me to walk out.”

As a condition of his bond, the court last week ordered Gribble to be placed on house arrest, with his whereabouts monitored by GPS. He is also to have no contact with Wright, witnesses, her home or place of employment.

“Defendant shall not text, call or contact Audacy radio or any of its employees, agents, personalities,” the court ordered. Audacy owns the radio station.

On Thursday, Gribble’s lawyer, Jerry Wallentine, appeared via Zoom with Gribble — who did not speak — and asked Judge Timothy P. McCarthy to drop the house arrest.

“When he found out about this charge and was told there was a warrant, he did turn himself in and he just got out last night, so he’s already served seven days,” Wallentine told McCarthy.

Wallentine described Gribble as a lifelong Kansas City area resident — “so he’s not going anywhere, he’s not a flight risk” — with a minimal criminal history “revolving around DUIs, but there’s no violent criminal history.”

Wallentine said he was waiting for the results of Gribble’s court-ordered mental health evaluation.

McCarthy agreed to remove the GPS monitoring and house arrest, and placed Gribble under pretrial supervision.

Wallentine also asked that Gribble be considered for a diversion agreement. In Kansas, this severity of felony criminal threat carries a maximum prison sentence of 13 months and a fine of up to $100,000.

Discussion about possible diversion is set for July 19.

‘Done being quiet about it’

“She’s gotten threats before. But I just think this one crossed such a line that she wasn’t going to let it just go,” Wright’s husband, KMBC 9 News anchor Kris Ketz, told The Star on Thursday.

“She showed it to me and the conversation was really a fairly simple one. I would have supported whatever she had decided to do. This was her call. And I am absolutely supportive of following up with charges in this case.”

The arrest comes as threats and violence against journalists, especially women journalists, have been rising, recent studies show.

“If you are angry? I am sorry,” Wright wrote to her followers. “But I hope this post reminds everyone that there are better ways to handle your own personal demons and rage than threatening the life of someone in the media.”

She told The Star the bigger story here “is the fact that this is a uniquely female problem in this day and age. I mean threats against women in media.

“I saw it almost the day I started. A woman disagrees with you — she’ll tell you. We have a dialogue.

“But super angry men? They call you the C bomb and tell you, ‘I’m coming to take you out if you don’ t shut your #*^&ing mouth.’

“I’m telling you it is near constant and I am done. I’m not hiding this time.”

Wright marked 10 years of working alongside Parks in 2021.

How to describe Dana & Parks? Well … she’s a little crazy and fun with serious geographical issues, and he’s a little bit of a hot-head with a heart of gold,” is how Audacy’s website describes their show.

By Thursday afternoon, her Facebook post had more than 1,000 reactions and nearly 300 comments, most from women.

“I feel like someone has attacked my sister. I’m so proud of the way you handled it. Stay strong Dana and keep being that role model that KC women need!”

“Thank you for speaking out! We are glad you are safe. It’s truly a shame that our society is like this and to some it’s ok to act this way. It’s never going to stop if we keep condoning these actions.”

“Good for you! This is not right! If someone doesn’t like your show, change the station! It’s that simple!”

“It is way past time for stricter laws to be established (AND punishments to be harsh) where these keyboard warriors/bullies/political extremists, etc, are concerned.”

“I don’t always agree with what you have to say,” wrote former listener Kevin Chura. “I used to love the show but admittedly haven’t listened in over a year or 2 because of that. However I was raised in an era when we were all entitled to something..... OUR OPINIONS!!!

“I don’t have to agree with u and u surely don’t have to agree with me. We can still coexist together. People have lost the concept of that!”

Wright wrote that she wasn’t going public “for sympathy or clicks — but it is important to me that we talk about what’s happening — especially to women — who have any type of platform or voice in our city and beyond.

“This particular threat is not the first— BY FAR — we have received, and I know that it will not be the last.

“I am sharing this — because I am done being quiet about it.

“I have been threatened so many times and it is ALWAYS a keyboard warrior angry about the absolute STUPIDEST topics: Women in technology in KC, the railroad strike, supply chain issues, or my pronunciation of a town in Canada I have never heard of — to name a few.”

‘Chilling’ harassment of journalists

“What concerns me about cases like this is the level of violence we are seeing against people in all different forms of media,” Wright told The Star on Thursday.

“And a lot of those people who lash out blame their rage on things like alcohol and other problems they might be having in their lives or some warped sense that the political landscape is responsible for every problem they’ve ever had.

“And some of those people then go on to commit very real crimes for the first time. We just had someone fire a gun into a television station in Florida. That was a week ago.”

Many journalists, both men and women, would say they’ve been threatened or harassed over something they’ve reported. (Including this reporter.) Anecdotes of harassment against journalists in the United States have risen in recent years.

Around the world, “women journalists and media workers face increasing offline and online attacks and are subject to disproportional and specific threats,” according to an international survey of 714 women journalists in 215 countries published last year.

The gender-based violence included physical assault, sexist hate speech, trolling, even murder.

Nearly 3 out of 4 said they had suffered online abuse at work, according to a report called “The Chilling” from the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In 2019 a half dozen female TV and radio journalists who talked to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists told of viewers who had tracked them down and stalkers who threatened them with violence. They said most of the harassment was online.

One was a local TV journalist targeted by a stalker. Her TV station hired an off-duty police officer to watch the parking lot when she got to work.

Another reporter in the South said that she was harassed more when she covered controversial topics, such as race and the police, and that intensified as journalism and journalists became a topic of national debate, and some derision, in recent years.

Wright urged her colleagues in the media to stay vigilant. A few responded, including former KMBZ radio host Darla Jaye:

“I am so sorry you have been going through this hell!”

Wright is still determined to have her day in court, diversion or not. “I want to look him in the eye and tell him to read those words to my face,” she said. “I am not afraid of this man.

“I am standing up on behalf of any woman in the media who has had this happen and trust me when I say we have all had this happen again and again and again.

“And until there are real consequences, this is not going to stop.”