KNEE DEEP IN HYPOCRISY
The case of the girl in Sacramento who died holding her pee for a Wii is certainly shocking and tragic, but I'm getting tired of the Holier Than Thou attitude we're starting to hear from many of my radio brethren who are using this incident to make themselves look like saints.
The worst is clearly Mancow Mueller, who for years has been regarded as one of the most low-brow and tasteless jocks on the air. Mancow issued a press release last week chastising the industry and "calling an end to voyeuristic radio". In fact, he's even started an organization called the "Foundation For Responsible Radio" which, he says, will help raise funds for the family of the deceased Sacramento woman. He also wants us to know in this press release that last week he appeared on "Inside Edition", "Entertainment Tonight", and "The O'Reilly Factor" in case you care. Kinda sucks that Jennifer Strange died, but at least it's working out well for Mancow. Any guesses as to how much effort Cow puts into his organization when he's not getting TV time out of it anymore?
Mueller also tells the world in his press release that he's "angry and frustrated that these types of things are still going on", and that "small markets feel the need to do this to get ratings and it is wrong."
The Cow adds, "Voyeuristic radio has died or gone to satellite."
Really? Well that's interesting coming from him because just a couple of clicks on his website will produce a video of someone on Mancow's Morning Madhouse getting tasered as part of an on-air stunt! We see the guy get shot in the back in studio with a police stun gun and then writhe around in agony as 100,000 volts of electricity surge through his body while laughs galore ensue.
Do a Google search and find out how many people a year accidentally die of water intoxication and you'll actually find very few hard statistics on the number of fatalities its caused, but do the same search on the number of people who've died as a result of a stun gun encounter and you'll get pages and pages. But I guess when Mancow tasers people it's in the name of science and not entertainment, huh? Note to Cow: There but for the grace of you-know-who, my friend. Do you think it's too strong a statement to say that Mancow is exploiting this woman's death for his own benefit? I don't. Do you think it's fair to say that he's no better than the "wacky" dj's in Sacramento? I do.
But it doesn't stop with Mancow. All over the country we're hearing from "squeaky clean" dj's who are using this Sacramento story to make themselves look so above-the-fray. We're hearing things like "lowest common denomenator radio", "entertainment for morons", and "America doesn't want this stuff". Well guess what? America does want this stuff. America loves Jackass, America loves Punk'd, America loves voyeuristic television like Cops and Intervention and America loves radio stunts. And if they don't then maybe you can tell me why shows that do them are often the most successful ones on the dial (and who'd know better than me?). They're definitely not for everyone but they're for a significant number according to Arbitron.
Would I want to do another radio show again that features crazy stunts? No, because I'm 45 and would like to think I've outgrown them. But I recognize that there's an audience for it and people of a certain demographic like it, and other radio personalities who are all of a sudden "shocked and offended" by the crass carlessness of these dudes in Sacto are hypocrites.
Not everyone wants to listen to NPR just like not everyone wants to watch the National Geographic channel. Some people like Flavor of Love and America's Funniest Videos. People who criticize one type of radio show because it doesn't appeal to them are no better than adults who criticize heavy metal or hip hop for the same reasons.