reappropriate

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

'Dirty Rat Eater'

The latest cat-toy that the blogosphere has sunk its claws into is the tizzy surrounding Philadelphia-based Power99 WUSL-FM shockjocks DJ Star and Buc Wild, who aired a clip sometime in the past month or so in which they made a crank call to a call centre in East India, and proceeded to call the poor operator who picked up a 'dirty rat eater' and threatened to 'choke the 'eff' out of her' (... resort to broadcasting death threats but too scared to broadcast the word 'fuck'?) If you'd like to hear the clip, it is currently being hosted at Turbanhead.com (which also contains a lot more information on the situation). Download the .mp3. A transcript has also been written by Edward Champion:

NARRATOR INTRO: Wakeup with Star and Buc Wild in the mornings of Power 99 FM.

STAR: I'm going to play this call from earlier before we get out of here. This is the, uh, call that I made to -- I thought it was a company here locally. Not that I was surprised.

(laughter)

STAR: I saw this infomercial about, uh, what are these things called again? Oh, the, uh...

FEMALE VOICE: Bead? Oh shoot.

STAR: Anyway, let -- let's just play the call. I was surprised when I got somebody on the line in East India. These little beads that I saw. Little white kids, uh, a little machine that puts them in their hair.

FEMALE VOICE: Mm'hm.

STAR: Play it.

(tape begins)

STEENA: This is Steena. How may I help you?

STAR: Hi, Stain-a, you say?

STEENA: Yes.

STAR: (in fake Indian accent) Yeah, I called and I just got hung up on. I'm calling from America about the quick beads for my daughter's, uh, hair. Quick beads.

STEEA: Okay. May I have your ZIP code please?

STAR: 10274.

STEENA: 10274?

STAR: Yes. Get it right. Now are you in India? Because I just spoke to someone in India who hung up on me.

STEENA: Thank you. I am from India, ma'am.

STAR: Okay. So my call is being outsourced to India.

STEENA: That's right.

STAR: In... in regards to my six year old, white American daughter who wants to get the quick beads like Serena and Venus Williams.

STEENA: Now. I'll definitely place an order for that. See...

STAR: What's that?

STEENA: ...in the ad, she called to place a quick bead of counier (my edit: 'Conair'?). To ensure proper handling...

STAR: Ma'am, I don't know what the hell you're saying. Hang on a second. Let me try and get something straight here. The quick beads, like Venus and Serena Williams, that to advertise to -- to the white kids on television. This call has been outsourced to India?

STEENA: That's right.

STAR: Well, ma'am, what the eff would you know about an American white girl's -- uh, uh -- hair? And quick beads.

STEENA: Just to inform you, ma'am, we're a national chain services company. And we're just taking calls on the opposite...

STAR: Listen, bitch! Don't get slick with the mouth! Don't you get slick with me, bitch!

STEENA: Now if you continue to speak this language, I will disconnect the call.

STAR: Listen to me, you dirty rat eater. I'll come out there and choke the eff out of you.

(laughter)

STAR: You're a filthy rat eater. I'm calling about my American six year old white girl. How dare you outsource my call? Get off the line, bitch!

(laughter; end of tape)

STAR: Pull it up.

(laughter)

STAR: Heard they listen well out there.

I don't know how many of you devoted readers care about this, but to me, this is a pretty heinous form of racism, compounded by the station's response to the situation after being prompted by over 130+ angry emails from the online Indian American community. Public relations person for Power99 issued this response:

Essentially [we're] apologizing for things on our Web site that were racially inflammatory and insensitive, saying, 'We took it off our Web site and it won't happen again.'

Power99 considers an appropriate response to be to pull the clip from their website and have the technician who put it up undergo racial sensitivity training. Basically, they found some poor tech guy to be the fallguy for this nonsense. Needless to say, I am upset. Sure, they weren't making 'chinky' jokes, and it was 'rat eater' not 'dog eater', but (and I know this is cliched) racism affects all of us. If we sit idly by as the Indian American community battles its battle against Power99, we foster an environment in which racism is okay only so long as we're not the targets. Well, colour me crazy, but I think any form of discrimination and racial stereotyping is messed up, and even if I'm not the target, I benefit by telling the perpetrators that my community won't silently abide by something like that. It's all about the kind of society you want to live in. Do you want to live in a culture in which 'allowed' racism matters only so long as the would-be victims have the kind of numbers and/or political clout to fight back? Or do you want to be a naiive idealist like myself and work towards a society in which all racism is frowned upon, because the fundamental act of discriminating based upon race is wrong, not politically inconvenient depending on who the targets might be. Anyways, if you want to do something about DJ Star and Buc Wild, please contact Loraine Morill at loraine@power99.com. Mention that her apology just plain sucked. You can also contact Clear Channel Communications Inc, which owns Power99, and let them know you dislike their shock jock practices (remember, they recently let Howard Stern go). If you're feeling truly special, you can individually contact some Clear Channel execs personally by email. Send a snail mail letter to Power99 at:

Power99 WUSL-FM 440 Domino Lane Philadelphia, PA 19128

Still not enough? You can use these phone numbers to try to voice that outrage to Power99.

General/Business Line: 215.483.8900

-Studio Hotlines- Philly Area & Local: 215.263.6699 Worldwide: 800.669.99FM

-An Unidentified Number for the Adventurous- 215-482-7936

DJ Star and Buc Wild are scheduled to be picked up by NYC-based Power 105.1. Tell them you think it's a terrible idea by emailing power1051fm@clearchannel.com or sending a snail mail letter to:

Power 105.1 FM 1120 6th Ave New York, NY 10036

Business Line: 212-704-1051

Last but not least, keep abreast of updates by watching the YW thread.

7 Comments:

Blogger phillyjay said...

I remember hearing this when it originally aired a while a go.Since I live in Philly I listen to Power 99 FM sometimes.Buc Wild was always known for stuff like this.It does not mean what he did was right though.Wrote a email a few days ago about it.
While I didn't find the whole thing funny,I did however laugh at the fact that she kept calling him ma'am when you can clearly tell it a guy.

Also I have to admit some of the ways a few south east asians have been writing/talking about the situation or especially blacks in general(online and in philly) have almost made me not want to write in that complaint.But that would just add to the problem.

1/11/2005 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Winnie(MVR) said...

I believe in journalistic freedom, but it is obvious that shock jock radio hosts such as these simply want an excuse to spew racial and sexist assaults. I hope they get canned.

1/13/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

philly, i'm inclined to agree with you. there has some borderline racist shit being thrown towards the black community in regards to this situation on my board, as well. it's frustrating because the issue really isn't about black racism against asians. i mean, the two dj's are black, but i really don't think anything about this issue is in any way related to their race.

same if it were white people or any other person. isn't it just as racist to draw any sort of conclusion about the black community at large as BEING racist as the original statement, itself?

1/16/2005 12:03:00 AM  
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