Duchess of New York

Free form rants, culture and politics from the heart of New York's Lower East Side. And yes, my name really is Sarah Ferguson.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Race-baiting for Ratings

I may have been too quick to proclaim victory in the Hot 97 Tsunami affair.

Surfing the fallout from the station's decision to yank Miss Jones and her fellow Morning Show hosts off the air, I came across hiphop journalist Davey D's excellent backgrounder on Hot 97's long use of race baiting for ratings.


I confess I don't make it a habit to listen to shock jock morning shows, so I may be naive in how low things can go. Davey D points out Miss Jones and crew may have been one upping the racist antics of the previous morning team, Star and Buckwyld, who are now at rival station Power 105, which is owned by Clear Channel.

Davey D's point is that it is the industry, more than its on-air personalities, which demands and feeds off bigotry and racial strife.

So is this Tsunami Song controversy now being manipulated for ratings, as Davey D's argument suggests? I do my best to avoid conspiracy angles, but it's pretty gross to hear that Hot 97 turned the airing of an official apology and the playing of Asian rapper Jin's scathing response to the Tsunami Song into a Blacks vs. Asians call-in free-for-all.

And these are the stewards of the PUBLIC's airwaves??

No, I'm not denying that these racial tensions exist apart from Hot 97. But it's another thing to egg them on for your own profit.

The obvious response is, don't listen to Hot 97. But considering their reach as the "Number 1 hiphop station," keep the pressure on Emmis Communications and the industry so they don't recycle Miss Jones and her ilk into the next race-baiting lineup.

As J Smooth of hiphopmusic.com writes: "If you agree justice is not yet served, the best thing to do is keep going over Hot 97's head. Keep hitting sponsors, keep hitting Emmis, find out who Emmis' shareholders are. And keep on sharing any new information you get."

His site has a great list of contacts and sponsors in addition to those I've posted here, so ck it out!

P.s. Note that the station's manager, Barray Mayo has not said Jones and her team will be fired. He told the Daily News there is "no timetable" for deciding what happens from here. "There are many factors we will be considering over the next period of time," said Mayo.

[http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/275364p-235692c.html ]

And here's this from Billboard:

Meanwhile, rival host Star of Star and Buc Wild at crosstown WPPR (Power 105), offered a cryptic response: "You can do a lot of things to get attention. But when that station starts to fall out, the Hater will rise like never before."


and this from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Jonesy slurred Asians at least once before, in October 2003, at 103.9 The Beat."

[http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/living/10745107.htm ]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Free Speech Victory for Stoners

I've been ranting so much about wrong speech on air, I thought I'd post this victory for free speech, specifically the right to speak out against lousy marijuana laws. The Justice Department just ruled that it will not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems.

As Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, noted: "The Justice Department finally met a law so unconstitutional that it could not find any way to defend it.....Congress should stop trying to silence public discussion of the cruel and expensive failures of current marijuana laws."

Read more here: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/012605doj.cfm

or here: http://www.changetheclimate.org/news/2004/12/2/mbta.php

Wall Street Journal's take here:

Victory! Hot 97 Hosts "Suspended"; Sprint & McDonalds Pull Ads

Could the tide be turning against radio shock-jocks? It seems Hot 97's cruel parody of the Tsunami victims was so blatantly racist it provoked a backlash that the station's producers--and advertisers-- could not play down.

As first reported this morning by hiphopmusic.com, Miss Jones and her clueless cohorts on Hot 97's Morning Show have been "suspended."

The news came at 6 am today when a stand-in host named "E-bro" announced that Miss Jones' Morning Show had been "suspended indefinitely due to the content of the Tsunami Song and its bad taste."
[Listen to the clip here: ]

E-bro also played Asian rapper Jin's scathing dis of Miss Jones and the station:
[ http://www.alljin.com/forum/showthread.php?p=12422 ]

Sadly, hiphopmusic.com reports that many of those calling in to respond spoke in support (!) of Jones and bringing back her program. But the repercussions are still rolling in.

Sprint and McDonalds just joined Jackson Hewitt Tax Service in announcing they were pulling their ads from the show.

Here's Sprint's updated statement: "Because the tsunami parody content on the Hot 97 program was in violation of our company standards, Sprint intends to suspend its advertising on the station."

And from McDonalds: "McDonald's does not support programs that discriminate or are insensitive to the plight of people suffering from devastating events. Starting immediately, McDonald's will indefinitely suspend advertising on the Hot 97 morning show."

Apparently, Sprint and Mickey D's realized a halfhearted apology and a week's pay weren't enough to cool public anger.

This isn't the first time Jones' mouth has gotten her in high water. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, last summer Jonesy, aka Tarsha Nicole Jones, was booted from her popular solo slot on Philly's WPHI-FM, The Beat:

"During her 18 months at the Beat, Jones was suspended twice for on-air remarks (for repeating a wild allegation about Whitney Houston's family and for trashing a colleague). She and the Beat still face a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges Jones defamed her after she complained to the station about the host's foul mouth."
[ http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/entertainment/columnists/michael_klein/10210877.htm ]

An otherwise gushing feature on urbanbeatmovement.com notes:

"Jonesy made major strides in the history of American radio, becoming the first African-American woman to host a hip-hop morning radio show solo. While making her mark on the airwaves, Jonesy stirred up lots of controversy, with her quick wit and sharp tongue. Her language and opinions left her off the air for durations of time on `forced vacations.'"

Specifically, one such "vacation" occurred after Jones made a "lurid remark about Whitney Houston's 10-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and a male member of Houston's family."

And here's the Inquirer again about the pending lawsuit against Jones: "Sally Brown, a North Philadelphia nurse, recently filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the jock and Radio One, which owns WPHI. Brown alleges that Jones named her and made defamatory comments on the air after she e-mailed the Beat to complain about Jones' language."
[ http://www.bradenton.com/mld/philly/entertainment/6511348.htm ]

So Jones is renowned for launching "raunchy, expletive-riddled tirades" against listeners and artists who dare complain about her tone and language. Hot 97 and Emmis Communications knew that when they hired her, and banked that her barbed tongue would earn them ratings, which it did. But this time Jones went way out of bounds.

Stay tuned to see whether Jones' latest "vacation" from the air becomes permanent. There's now calls for the FCC to take action and fine the station. [http://www.asianmediawatch.net/missjones/index.html]

Meanwhile, NY Daily News columnist David Hinckley misses the boat with his tepid column about the controversy, when he muses: "The question of the moment about Hot 97's well-circulated "Tsunami Song" might be this: Miscalculation or mission accomplished?" [http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/story/274679p-235203c.html]

Yo, Hinckley, this ain't about Michael Jackson, and yes, there is such a thing as too much negative publicity.

Miss Jones and crew just proved it, and thank goddess for that.

Hopefully critics will go beyond the Tsunami Song to take on what the Yonkers, NY based group Asian Media Watch calls a pattern of "repeated racist attitudes” at Hot 97.

See my previous post for examples, lest Hot 97 be tempted to reinstate Jones once the storm blows over.

Editor's note: Sorry for all the lengthy urls. I haven't yet learned how to hotlink. Shouldn't I have servants for this? And thanks to Jym for this anonymous post. http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/rnr/57104253.html
Who knew Craigslist was such a good media watchdog?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

NOT SO HOT 97! Hit em where it hurts!

The campaign against Hot 97's racist Morning Show hosts is working! Last night FOX 5's 10 pm local news ran a segment trashing the "Tsunami Song", and I hear Channel 11 did too. The FOX 5 clip featured several New York City Council members denouncing the song and the station for airing it. There is also a petition circulating against Hot 97! and its parent company, Emmis Communications, with more than 10,000 signatures as of this posting:


And here's a reply I received from Sprint disavowing the song and insisting that Sprint did not sponsor the segment in which the Tsunami song aired. Problem is, Sprint seems to find the station's apology and meager disciplinary action (a week's pay docked for charity relief) acceptable, and the company does not say it will pull its advertising from the show.

I say keep the pressure on! Email for the Sprint PR rep is below, in case you want to flood his inbox with the quite reasonable demand: Please Do Not Continue to Support Racist Programming On Air.

In case you need a little extra ammunition, check out the Morning Show's web page.

While they finally deleted the "Tsunami Song", where it was listed under the category "FUNNY SH*T", click on the "Saddam Hussein Poetry"


Here's an example: "Roses are red, Muhammad's eyes are blue, no really, his eyes are blew, one blew this way, the other blew that way..."


"Twinkle twinkle little star, Bin Laden is very far. If you catch him any day, squeeze his ass until he turns gay!"


"Hickory dickory dock, 72 virgins are sucking my ...."

So you might want to ask Sprint, are they really comfortable sponsoring programming like this?


From: "Fisher, James W [CC]"
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 16:51:00 -0600
Subject: RE: Please do not sponsor racist shows


* Sprint does NOT have any connection to the Tsunami Song aired on Hot 97 FM.

* Sprint strongly objects to any communication or other effort making light of the devastation of the tsunami disaster. The content of the "Tsunami song" clearly runs contrary to Sprint's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and is not in any way supported or condoned by Sprint. Needless to say, our hearts go out to the tsunami victims and their families -- for this and other reasons, the Sprint Foundation and our associates have worked together since the tsunami tragedy to raise funds for disaster relief efforts and will continue to do so.

*Sprint has purchased advertising time on Hot 97 but was incorrectly identified as a sponsor of the segment of the show in which the song was referenced. In any case, Sprint was unaware and had no connection to the content of the "Tsunami Song."

*Sprint has expressed our strong concern about this content to the radio station. The station has issued a public apology and appears to have disciplined the responsible parties. Sprint continually evaluates acceptable content against our own guidelines and we will continue to monitor the process with all outlets in which we advertise.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Hot 97

As a former pirate radio broadcaster, I am really for free speech on air. But I was so blown away by the retro-racism of Hot 97's "Tsunami Song," I sent this email to their sponsor, Sprint. First time ever I've demanded that an advertiser pull its money from a show. I say it's time for progressives to fight fire with fire. If the right can go after Spongebob for ludicrous allegations, we should stand up for our values on air.

As I say in my letter to Sprint: I am used to hearing such slurs from neo-Nazis and White Power groups. I would not expect to hear crap like this on a big-city urban format. Especially in NYC!

To hear the song, try these links (warning: you have to listen to a long, annoying rant by Miss Jones actually defending the song!):


If that get's your goat, the Immigrant Solidarity Network has started a campaign to demand that Miss Jones and her cohosts be fired. http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/


To: james.w.fisher@mail.sprint.com
Subject: Please do not sponsor racist shows

Hi, I am writing to urge you to pull your advertising from the Hot 97 Morning Show unless Miss Jones and her racist co-hosts are removed.

While I realize Miss Jones is a popular host, this "Tsunami Song" that she and her cohorts came up with is really unacceptable.

Not only did Miss Jones and her friends compose and promote the song, but in this clip below, Miss Jones actually defends the song to another cohost, Miss Info, who apparently declined to have anything to do with it because she thought it was inappropriate. Instead of acknowledging her bad taste, Miss Jones attacks Miss Info for being politically correct.

I am all for free speech and believe me, I have never before written to an advertiser about the content of any program. But this song is just beyond the pale.

You should know that in the link below, one of the hosts interrupts Miss Jones' senseless tirade about the song to say that the show is "sponsored by Sprint."
See here:


And then we hear this incredibly heartless, clueless (i.e. Chinamen??), racist song:

There was a time when the sun was shining bright
So I went down to the beach to catch me a tan
Then the next thing I knew, a wave twenty feet high
Came and washed your country away

And all at once you could hear the screaming chinks
And no one was safe from the waves
There were Africans drowning, little Chinamen swept away
You could hear God laughing, "Swim, you b*tches, swim!"

So now you're screwed, it's the tsunami
You better run or kiss your ass away, go find your mommy
I just saw her float by, a tree went through her head
and now your children will be sold to child slavery (2X)

I realize people cope with tragedy (and media rubbernecking) in different ways, but this is so beyond the pale. How does one joke about child slavery like that?

I am used to hearing such slurs from neo-Nazis and White Power groups. I would not expect to hear crap like this on a big-city urban format. In New York City, especially, this is just unacceptable.

Thank you.


Sarah Ferguson