Just in time for our latest podcast, another broadcasting controversy erupts. This time, insupportably unkind remarks made by radio legend Don Imus on his "In The Morning" program provoked his masters at NBC and CBS to give him the boot. Opting against using the airwaves to "commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism," CBS Chairman Les Moonves offered a fine piece of bottom-line corporate double-speak, characterizing the controversy as "a significant opportunity to expand on our record on issues of diversity, race and gender. We intend to seize that opportunity."
I followed the story on Howard Stern's web feed, thanks to my co-worker's Sirius subscription. Usually, I demand that he listen to something else, but the Imus dust-up kept me interested for the whole week. Despite his unwavering stand on free speech, Stern had a more personal axe to grind. All week, Howard alternately hooted with joy at the fall of an old nemesis and gnashed his teeth as he recounted the shitty treatment he received at the hands of Imus and Co. when they both worked for the same station. I was loving it.
Just the same, even though I'm just a white, adult male (who's been known to run his mouth on occasion), I still feel degraded by racist and sexist language. In fact, I even felt that sting once at the hands of Howard Stern himself. It was back in the 90s, when the Meat Puppets were at the peak of their popularity. Howard took a shine to us, appearing on stage during one of our New York shows, and inviting the band on his show twice. We jammed with him both times. He was very nice to us, both gracious and encouraging; he even broadcast our first visit on his television show.
But the second visit left me with a bad taste in my mouth. That time, our manager appeared with us. I should mention that in addition to loving us enough to stick with us and put up with our bullshit, our manager was also a black female. When Howard turned his attention upon her -- insisting that she was sleeping with us, and demanding that she admit she preferred sex with white men -- she was merely embarrassed. But I was ashamed at how insensitively Howard treated our friend, and how he tried to get the band to go along with it. After all these years, I still remember how it felt: like a hard slap to the face.
Meanwhile, the backlash picks up steam, as a confused America debates "who can say what" and who's allowed to "get away with it." Some quarters are bewailing the loss of a “good man,” felled by agenda-wielding media jackals. Of course, where I work, and probably where you work too, they call it "harassment" and prescribe mandatory preventative "sensitivity training" for all employees. It seems to me, the lesson is very simple: use good judgment, be compassionate and tread gently on other peoples' feelings. I don't see what's so politically correct about that.
Episode Three Tracklist:
"Fashion People" - Pizzicato Five
"My Life" - Nelson Riddle
"Meet the Swinger" - Poloroid Camera
"I Can't Find The Time" - Groovin' Strings
"Come On Sign" - Joe E
"Blame It On The Pony Express" - Hugo Strasser
"Yume No Tameni" - Puffy
"El Bimbo" - Ray Conniff
"Traffic Jam" - Tommy Roe
"It Happened On a Sunday Morning" - Jerry Ross Symposium