CBS Radio and Racial Parodies

All too often lately the major broadcast groups have been firing able and talented people to save money.

Last week CBS pulled off a double firing of a PD and morning personality with surgical precision.

WYSP, Philadelphia morning jock Kidd Chris lost his gig because of a March 21st in-studio guest named Lady Gash who sang the song “Schwoogies” to the tune of Blondie’s “Call Me”.

Here are the offensive lyrics (according to an account May 16th on

"Coloreds steal your wallets and coloreds have pink feet. Coloreds are loud and obnoxious, when they watch movies. Sticky fingers, what they are, Always try to jack my car, Schwoogies! Or shines, you can call them anything you like. Schwoogies! Watch out, jigs will rob you, day or night. Schwoogies. Mookie doesn't like to work, Just rolls blunts all day long. But there's one job he can do, hold a lantern on my lawn. If someone else has your watch on, you can bet it’s a moolignon. Shwoogies! All Around, there's Sambos, monkeys, knuckle draggers, So much brown Mandingo, Go Mr. Bojangles (unintelligible). I have no problem singing about the Negroes."

The song was repeated several times subsequently.

That helped get PD John Cook canned. A good man, indeed, but nonetheless responsible for the stations content.

CBS acted swiftly when “senior management” discovered the offense. Why it took so long to discover considering the clip was on YouTube begs the question – who is listening to WYSP in “senior management”. CBS will likely eat the last three years of Kidd Chris’ contract or take a lawsuit or settle. To borrow a term from Phillies baseball announcer Harry Kalas, he’s “outta here” one way or the other.

CBS, which had a much more publicized firing of WFAN, New York morning man Don Imus for racially insensitive remarks over a year ago moved swiftly and deliberately this time.

Cook is an outstanding program director. I just know CBS didn't want to lose him. Firing both the offender and the person responsible for the offense sends a message to the station, the radio division and – if they are smart – other radio groups that this type of offensive material on free, over-the-air, federally licensed radio stations has no place.

There’s another point here – and it’s no small point, either.

Radio audiences are increasingly over this type of content. Even Public Offender #1, Howard Stern, has changed the way he offends – albeit it on subscriber-based satellite radio.

And if you’re wondering what the next generation thinks of these types of racist parodies, consider that Gen Y is a very social generation. They tend to work within the system and see things in one color instead of racially defined preexisting stereotypes from the past.

Radio, you’re showing your age again.

The young people I encountered on the college campus had never heard of Don Imus when he insulted the Rutgers women’s basketball team – not one – even though you’d think Imus would be known to them as he is a national figure. But these young folks don’t really listen to radio and when they do listen, pulling racial punches or, as Stern does, talking about boobs is of little interest.

They like NPR.

Check out the ratings of NPR stations where the People Meter is coming online and in Seattle – as pointed out by Tom Taylor in a recent Taylor On Radio-info piece.

In other words, yes -- stunts like Kidd Chris aired are offensive but it is also stupid programming if you’re even in touch with the younger end of your demographics. True, terrestrial radio will not likely pull Gen Y away from the Internet or their iPods but there is no upside to being outrageous at all costs even to older demos.

So, the obvious lesson is don’t tolerate racially insensitive programming on free radio.

The real lesson is: when some of your programming is in effect a parody of the past, change it – fast.

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