Hot 97 Responds to Anti-Asian Slurs

by Allen White on January 27, 2005

What you read yesterday in Beyond Chron about New York radio station Hot 97 has prompted a declaration of apology and backtracking rarely seen by a major broadcasting outlet. At issue is a recording titled “The Tsunami Song” which is a ‘We Are the World’ parody using a crude racial terms for Asians and with lyrics that mock the victims’ agony. With all the backtracking by station management, today’s New York Daily News notes the song didn’t just air once or twice. They report “The Tsunami Song,’ played several times last week.

Following an obviously strong reaction from many reports, including a letter reprinted yesterday in Beyond Chron, Hot 97 in New York City has indefinitely suspended Miss Jones and the HOT 97 Morning Team.

Yesterday, Beyond Chron reprinted a letter from Lan Phan, a member of the Stanford University alumni. It is part of yesterday’s Beyond Chron edition.

HOT 97 in a statement appearing on their website note that “While Miss Jones has apologized on the air, in the media and on the HOT 97 website, station management felt that stronger action was necessary to demonstrate the severity of the situation.”

Emmis Radio President Rick Cummings said, “What happened is morally and socially indefensible. All involved, myself included, are ashamed and deeply sorry. I know the members of the morning show are truly contrite. They know their actions here are inexcusable.”

The station’s statement makes clear pressure came not only from listeners, but also from their advertisers. They state the need to clarify “that no company advertising on our station had any connection to the Tsunami Song and no company advertising on our station endorsed or sponsored the offensive material aired on the ‘Miss Jones in the Morning’ show.” Almost falling over themselves to isolate the morning radio personalities, the station further states, “we apologize for any misunderstanding that may have caused listeners to believe that anyone, other than the morning show staff, was responsible for the material that should not have been aired.”

As if to drive the point further they state, “Emmis Radio and HOT 97 will not tolerate such derogatory and racially insensitive content. This incident in no way reflects the spirit of HOT 97. The station has a long-time and well-known reputation for community involvement and support.” The apology doesn’t appear to be getting the station off the hook.

While possible, the station might have some good works, they also has been building a record of bad taste. In 2001, according to Associated Press, two different morning hosts were suspended after an on-air mocking of the plane crash death of R&B singer Aaliyah. Possibly because many believe the station’s management should haveacted sooner, critics are calling the suspensions “belated and insufficient.”

The Daily News also reports New York City Councilman John Liu’s (D-Queens) demand that “the company should face financial sanctions, so no one can profit from this kind of ugliness.” Liu and several New York community groups also wants the on air talent fired. Attempts by the station to put a damper on the controversy don’t appear to have succeeded. Liu and other critics plan a news conference and rally at 11 a.m. Friday at Hot-97’s Hudson St. studios.

Following is the full statement from the station:

Statement from WQHT-FM, HOT 97
New York City – Miss Jones and the HOT 97 Morning team have been indefinitely suspended for the airing of a song that made light of a catastrophic event, as well as comments made at the time the song was aired.

Earlier this week, Miss Jones said on the air “I apologize to all who have been offended by my poor decision to go along with playing that insulting (to say the least) Tsunami song. I should have known better and I didn’t. So I’m sorry and hopefully we can move forward from this, or I can move forward from this being a better hostess, because I am better than that, and I know better than that — and you deserve better radio than that.” While Miss Jones has apologized on the air, in the media and on the HOT 97 website, station management felt that stronger action was necessary to demonstrate the severity of the situation.

Emmis Radio and HOT 97 will not tolerate such derogatory and racially insensitive content. This incident in no way reflects the spirit of HOT 97. The station has a long-time and well-known reputation for community involvement and support. Emmis Radio President Rick Cummings said, “What happened is morally and socially indefensible. All involved, myself included, are ashamed and deeply sorry. I know the members of the morning show are truly contrite. They know their actions here are inexcusable.”

We would like to clarify that no company advertising on our station had any connection to the Tsunami Song and no company advertising on our station endorsed or sponsored the offensive material aired on the “Miss Jones in the Morning” show. We apologize for any misunderstanding that may have caused listeners to believe that anyone, other than the morning show staff, was responsible for the material that should not have been aired.

Filed under: Archive

Translate »