Sex and controversy sell.
In recent years, various media outlets have taken advantage of the public’s desire for controversy. On television, it has become normal to hear profanity and see sex scenes and women scantily clad.
Over the past few months, radio personalities have used people’s desire for controversy to attract listeners; some say they have gone too far.
“You could hear God laughing swim, you b—hes, swim,” are the lyrics to what has become known as the “Tsunami Song,” which aired on a popular radio station in New York, Hot 97. This song made light of the tragedy that disrupted the lives of millions and killed more than 200,000 in Southern Asia on Dec. 26. Yet some mocked a natural disaster.
“Shock radio works … I’m not against it on principle,” said Loraine Ballard Morrill, news and community affairs director for Clear Channel Radio Philadelphia.
The “Tsunami Song,” which aired on several days last month, angered listeners, politicians, and sponsors. In addition to making light of a tragedy, the song was littered with racial slurs and profanity. This did not seem to bother the members of the Hot 97 Morning Crew, Miss Jones, Todd Lynn, DJ Envy, producer Rick Del Gado and production assistant Tasha Hightower.
Jones debated with an additional member of the team, Miss Info, on the air. The debate stemmed from Miss Info’s disclaimer that she had no part of the “Tsunami Song.” In response, Jones asserted that Miss Info “thought she was superior because she’s an Asian.”
The exchange between Jones and Miss Info over the “Tsunami Song” caused an abrupt stop to the morning show. After protests and deliberations among the station’s owner, Del Gado and Lynn were fired, according to The New York Times. Jones returned to the airwaves on Friday. DJ Envy and Hightower have been suspended since the incident, but returned to the show today.
Philadelphians may remember Jones from the morning show on 103.9 The Beat. She was let go after numerous offenses, which included spreading a rumor about singer Whitney Houston. Jones is also known as a former member of the Star and Buc Wild Show, which now airs on another Philadelphia station, Power 99.
“I’m not going to excuse the Star and Buc Wild clip that caused so much controversy – but I do have to say that this bit aired on Hot 97 is a whole lot worse,” said Morrill.
Just two months ago, Troi “Star” Terrain was in hot water over crude racial remarks. Terrain made a phone call on the air to inquire about hair beads for girls. His call was outsourced to India and ended with him calling an operator a “filthy rat-eater.” Terrain’s comments angered many people, but Terrain issued an apology and that was the end of the situation.
Shock jocks often intend to rile up the public, but as Jones and her team learned, there are consequences. Although Jones was not fired, a week’s pay was “donated” from all parties involved to a tsunami relief fund, according to The New York Times. In addition, Emmis, Hot 97’s owner, donated an additional million dollars.
Asian rapper Jin does not think monetary donations make up for the offensive behavior. In a response to the “Tsunami Song”, Jin recorded a rebuttal in which he says, “How dare you compare a life to a week’s pay?”
Jannine Templeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.