The Shock Jock Is Dead

I think we've finally reached the tipping point on shock jocks who compromise radio's prized and precious right to free speech and disgrace a consolidated industry that has been compromising itself since 1996.

And we may have Dan Mason, CBS' new president, to thank for kick starting the end of our long national nightmare.

Barely on the job in his new position, Mason has spoken with a firm voice that he's not going to tolerate boneheads on-the-air at CBS. And he's going to take it in the shorts for a while by upsetting the fragile billing at CBS stations but he's sending a message loud and clear.

Mason fired "The Dog House with JV and Elvis," hosted by Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay heard over WFNY, New York for racial slurs against Asians. This no-brainer by JV and Elvis -- and I mean no brainer -- was even more odious because it happened post-Don Imus. Mason, a no-nonsense former programmer was hired to turn CBS radio around has made it unmistakable -- he's going to turn CBS around the old fashioned way -- on solid programming, cost controls and sales.

The industry may owe Mason for taking a positive step to eliminate the almost daily barrage of outrages against listeners caused by so-called shock jocks.

Putting aside how people may feel about Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, special interest groups and the importance of getting ratings, this could be very good for everyone else.

And don't mistake freedom of speech for freedom to scream "fire" in a packed theater (or as I call it shock radio).

Fire one or two more shock jocks and the rest will soon get the message that there will be consequences for going too far. Can we agree that calling a Chinese restaurant, recording it, insulting the victims with racial insults and threatening behavior is not radio worth fighting for. Their right to be a bonehead is protected in our constitution, but not guaranteed over the citizens airwaves.

There's still a long way to go.

CBS is ready to reinstate Opie & Anthony on the air just as XM has furloughed them for the next 30 days. CBS has lost a lot of its prime talent so perhaps its trying to weather the storm with O&A. But XM did the right thing -- not just for its own situation before Congress over the merger with Sirius -- but for the audience. Hell, one of the problems with satellite radio out of the box was that its claim to fame was to be radio without commercials when it should have aimed to be 125 channels you can't get on terrestrial radio.

And you still have Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes and other big mouths from right to left trying to shock their listeners out of their sensibilities.

Maybe we're beginning to see signs that radio coming to its senses.

I've been chiding the radio industry for not taking responsibility.

Well, it looks like that may be beginning to change.