This Week’s Top Scrooge – October 5, 2007
Poking fun at people can be fun. How many of us have wisecracked about Britney Spears? Maybe you were not the originator of a Britney “observation”, but you’re certainly up on her recent trials and join the finger pointing with seemingly the entire nation about her weak parenting skills.
How can we not help but shake our head as we are deluged every day with her tabloid headline making actions?
That said, DJ Big Boy and radio station WKQI-FM, better known as Channel 95.5 in Detroit displayed gross insensitivity when they announced a “Britney Suicide Watch” contest Tuesday night.
Big Boy with guest (WKQI-FM)
As reported in the Detroit News:
“If you can guess the exact day that Britney dies, whether it’s from drugs or however she dies, if you’re right, we’ll give you a thousand bucks,” said Big Boy on his 7–11 p.m. show.
The apology game began shortly afterwards and I am always amazed at how really unapologetic some of these media and celebrity players can be in their impersonal statements.
Again, from the Detroit News:
After swift and negative reaction, the station pulled the Web page for the Britney stunt by mid-morning Wednesday. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, 95.5 aired a statement by Dom Theodore, operations manager, in which he apologized if anyone was offended by the “content” of Big Boy’s show. “In no way were we making light of death or suicide.” Oddly, he went on to blame “the media” for its part in Spears’ downward spiral.
Big Boy and Dom Theodore…you share This Week’s Top Scrooge dishonors.
As far as apologies goes, this one has to be one of the most blatant examples of how un-sorry someone can be. No word from Big Boy, yet… but here’s the station’s statement (I guess putting it in all caps means they want to “shout” their “sorrow”:
CHANNEL 955 WANTS TO TAKE THIS TIME TO APOLOGIZE TO ANY MEMBER OF OUR AUDIENCE WHO MAY HAVE BEEN OFFENDED LAST NIGHT BY THE CONTENT OF BIG BOY’S SHOW. IN NO WAY WERE WE MAKING LIGHT OF DEATH OR SUICIDE. THE FACT IS THAT PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE TALKING ABOUT BRITNEY… AND THE MEDIA, ITSELF, NEEDS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PART THEY HAVE PLAYED IN HER SAD SITUATION. WE APOLOGIZE AND WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT THE CASH PRIZE WAS DONATED TO THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION. IF YOU NEED TO REACH OUT FOR HELP, PLEASE CALL 1-800-273-TALK.
Unfortunately, making light of Britney’s pitfalls and connecting them with a suicide watch is exactly what the station was doing: “making light.”
I also always get a big kick out of “apologies” being wrapped with a donation to a cause that was so ignored to begin with…as if giving cash to suicide prevention will make it all better in the public’s eyes.
Apparently, Big Boy and the radio station like this sort of negative attention. I don’t like making psychological diagnosis, but if I were to make one here, once again, just another DJ with “negative attention disorder.”
Serious consequences, beliefs, and embarrasment:
Some listeners weren’t surprised that Big Boy, whose MySpace page lists his age as 26 and his “beliefs” as “Hot ladies, alcohol and relaxation,” was the 95.5 host to announce the Britney “contest,” real or fake.
Nick Hadous of Dearborn Heights e-mailed The Detroit News from Nashville, where he’s studying law, to express his disgust.
Big Boy “asks listeners to call in and say where the craziest place is that they’ve ‘done it.’ These listeners are 17 years old,” Hadous said by phone. “I don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s nothing but garbage.”
Even a longtime industry observer like Gary Reid, who’s taught generations of radio students at Michigan State University, felt the stunt went too far.
“It embarrasses me personally that we have to stoop to the level of tabloids,” said Reid, a university distinguished specialist in telecommunications. “These sorts of things fixate the audience on the negative that the radio industry does, as opposed to all the great programming that’s out there.”
I poke fun at people right here in this column with an emphasis on “fun.” I pray calling someone This Week’s Top Scrooge might be enlightening…not darkening.
Note: Contest banner seen at top was taken from The Detroit News story. It was first published on WKQI-FM’s web site before being pulled Wednesday.
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