Nice Guys? Doubt It. Bad Attitude? Definitely.

Truth be told, I don’t like to criticize fellow broadcasters. But, an incident that was documented recently has been talked about around the radio stations I work for. I’m speaking of this letter to the editor of the Laurel Leader-Call

…in case you get a “please register” prompt when clicking the above weblink, do it. Sure, it’s their way of tracking who’s reading this stuff. In this case, it’s worth the time.

Whether or not you want to register, I’d like to react to the first two paragraphs from Angela Tisdale’s letter. Her words follow in bold-faced, italicized type…

On Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004, a young man was off duty visiting his family. He was on his way to visit his brother when something tragic occurred. The truck he was traveling in left the road, struck a tree and ignited into a blaze. Unfortunately, no one was able to get to him in time to save his body from the flames. He left behind a wife and a daughter, a daughter who now has to grow up without a father. This man was a husband, a father, a son, a friend and my cousin. He was a member of the United States military. He was training to deploy to Iraq to fight for our freedom.

On the morning of Aug. 31, 2004, before attending these services I went to work. When a fellow co-worker returned to our office after running errands, she told me of remarks she had heard while listening to her radio. Around 9 a.m. she was tuned into WUSW The Fox 103.7 FM, and she was listening to the Corey and Jay Show. She heard them telling of the terrible accident. She instinctively turned up her volume only to be appalled and disgusted by what she heard. After one DJ told of the accident, his on air partner made the most ignorant comment, “hmmm barbecue.”

…now, to complicate matters just a smidge, Corey and Jay aren’t based here. Their show is syndicated and based in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, in fairness, The Fox probably didn’t see this coming — just like WHLT didn’t foresee Janet Jackson’s breast exposure during the Super Bowl halftime show. Still, this happened on WUSW’s airwaves and the powers that be need to react responsibly — if they haven’t already.

Before this rant continues any further, let me make something absolutely clear. Deaths of people are not funny. If this young man died in combat, it’s not funny. Regardless of popularity, if a politician dies, it’s not funny. If a teen-aged boy is driving on a busy street while talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and crashes into a store specializing in the sale of cell phones and he later dies, it’s not funny.

If you’re a fellow broadcaster and disagree, do humanity a favor and MAKE DAMN SURE you’re making fun of the deceased at a time you’re not on the air.

Now, with all that said, I didn’t hear this broadcast in question. But several friends in the industry told me about this “barbecue” remark.

I’m tempted to call out a few execs at CC and The Fox. But instead, I’ll simply say this to the suits. I sincerely hope you’ve contacted Miss Tisdale and discussed this incident with her. If not, DO IT NOW.

All of us in broadcasting have been under intense scrutiny since the aforementioned Janet Jackson incident. To just “let this slide”, to not acknowledge the incident and to not even slap someone on the wrist is doing everyone involved a disservice.

To Miss Tisdale, in the event you’re still waiting for any apologetic reaction from Corey and Jay or Clear Channel Radio or WUSW, you might not want to wait much longer. Now that this incident’s on public record (your letter to the editor; this entry here at Doug’s Place), I’d give them another week to respond. If you haven’t heard the words “I’m sorry” from any of their mouths, the apology will probably never come. That’s just part of the unfortunate state of corporate radio.

Further, I hate to think they’re thriving on this free publicity (your letter to the editor; this entry here at Doug’s Place) — even if negative publicity. If so, it just proves they’re heartless people. And trust me, I’ve worked with heartless people in radio.

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