Dealing With Shock Jocks
May 22nd, 2006

Several weeks ago, Power 95’s DJ Star ranted about a rival DJ, insulting his wife wife racial slurs, making sexual threats about his 4 year old daughter, and offering money for information about where his daughter went to school. Several members of the City Council went after Star and his employer, and he was fired and arrested.

Councilmember John Liu is now reportedly going after Clear Channel Communications, the radio station’s owner.

In the Daily News, rock historian and DJ Pete Fornatale agrees that Clear Channel, which owns the station, is to blame. The “fat cat executives,” he writes “would look the other way at any kind of perversion that helped them squeeze a quarter of extra profit.”

The problem, Fornatale believes, is deregulation. It has consolidated ownership in a few hands, meant that those audiences who aren’t attractive to advertisers go unserved, and allowed radio stations to become more obscene and shocking if they think it will bring them higher ratings. He’d like to see the industry re-regulated.

“If we aim our fire at one loose cannon like deejay Star, we will fail to see the real problem: an insatiable media conglomerate swallowing up anything with a transmitter pulse in its path, with the implicit blessing of the governmental organ charged with protecting the public interest.”

But in the Queens Tribune, Michael Schenkler writes — ever so politely — that maybe Liu should leave good enough alone. He points out that Star has been fired, and that Clear Channel has apologized.

“When governmental officials suggest putting radio stations out of business for on-air comment, on-air comment is stifled. The beauty of this nation is we allow diverse views,” writes Schenkler. “We permit the Ku Klux Klan to speak and publish. We allow Howard Stern and his imitators to speak. Gone are the days when Lenny Bruce or George Carlin wind up in jail because they crossed lines of community values.”

By on May 22, 2006, 2:25 pm
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