You've heard something that offends you on the local 50,000 watt blow torch. Talk radio is designed to enflame. Financially, it's saved many an AM radio station on the brink of financial disaster. Trust me, the local radio homophobe will likely provide you with a repeat performance. Chances are he likes bashing minority groups in general. He loves the power of his position being the community's voice. The trouble is, he is not the voice of the whole community. It would be a shame if he was using hatred to gain a profit. What are the solutions?
If you don't have a local chapter of a national or state organization that fights homophobia and hate speech to join (try to find them first), you'll have to work on your own or with close friends.
Because the homophobe is supported by the license of the radio station and the management where he works, you don't have much choice except to expose him for what he is. They'll call it free speech.
The Federal Communications Commission won't be much help. Exposing a little of his intolerance will go a long way to ending his career, making him change his mind, or convincing the owners of the radio station license that they've put the station on the wrong path with the wrong talk host. If you do succeed in winning him over, you'll have a powerful ally. Be prepared for that not to happen.
Blowing up the transmitter site or taking over the radio station only happens in small underdeveloped countries during revolutions. Violence is not the solution. We want to stop violence, not be a part of it. It's against the law and besides, that same 50 or 100,000 watt blow torch could become your friend. Assassination is also out. They may be homophobes. They may deserve to be treated like pond scum. Let them live. This article presents a way you can create far more mental pain for him and station management than you get from them.
There is a difference between local and nationally syndicated radio programs. Be certain that what you hear on the local radio station is local. If it is, then you're likely to have a greater effect on homophobic talk hosts. Some local talents are often imports from other parts of the country. Radio talent is here today and gone tomorrow. They often have few ties in the communities where they work and where you live.
This project helps you create a set of master cassette tapes of recordings of your local homophobic talk show host or disc jockey, one master cassette tape and duplicate cassette tapes to hand out to important allies you have in your community. Your equipment: a dual cassette recorder/radio boombox with built-in microphone, 10-15 120 minute cassettes, and 25-100 10 minute cassettes...(5 minutes per side). Become familiar with how to duplicate cassettes or copy parts of cassettes on this equipment by consulting the instructions. This will be important later.
Your local homophobic talk show host has some powerful natural enemies. After his own big mouth, first and foremost is the local newspaper and second is the radio station across town. Radio and newspaper go head to head every day in the marketplace competing for advertising dollars. It should be your objective to let the offending radio station's competitors know just what is going on across the street. Chances are they don't know everything. You're becoming Super Listener, remember? In other words you want to assist local media sales people in being even more successful against your homophobic talk show host and his bosses. Remember, the sound of this jerk's voice is his worst enemy and we're going to use it against him.
The local media sales person is a gossip hound. Don't ask me why, but rumors fly around media people faster than lightning. Armed with cassette tapes of offensive talk and statements by the local radio station host, other radio station sales representatives are more likely to convince local advertisers to move their money away from the offensive radio station. Create the atmosphere that lending one's good name to controversy and ridicule is not good business just as your homophobe talk host creates an atmosphere of intolerance. And don't publicly announce your intentions here. Let others do your work for you.
Okay, so you've armed yourself with a dual cassette recorder and 10-15, 120 minute cassette tapes to record your local homophobic talk show host. Obviously, you'll have to record all his shows and later each day seek out the offensive sections of the program... including his or her bashing of other groups. Be careful not to record over the offensive statements of your local foulmouth. If he doesn't say anything bad about somebody on one day, fine. Reuse those tapes tomorrow. Be sure to save a recording part saying his name and the name of the station call letters or logo. But once to have one good "nasty", set aside that cassette tape and use another. By the end of this portion of the project you may have 10-15 nasty statements of intolerance.
Later, you'll want to create a master tape of all those offensive statements on one cassette. It can be easily done on a dual cassette recorder or large boom box with two cassette record and playback units and built-in microphone. This piece of equipment is available from friends if you don't have one...be creative. Most any boombox can be used like a very expensive production studio. It doesn't take a lot of effort or learning. The highest audio quality isn't necessary. Content of the message is. Your audience just has to be able to hear clearly what has happened. It can be accomplished on the machine-type I suggest above. This is a cheap way to change the world.
Now go to your local electronic supply house...probably a wholesale outlet or ask around where it would be possible to purchase 10 minute cassettes, 5 minutes each side. They are often available for between 50 cents and $1.00 apiece. You want to purchase anywhere from 25 to 100 of them. And be certain to get labels with your purchase. Yes, in some cases it's a large investment and in other cases it isn't. How expensive is one gay bashing in your community? Again, a few friends together can easily stop a local talk show host from making rash, intolerant statements by creating a recording of his own offenses to give to his enemies. This project will cost less than $200 including phone calls and travel expenses. You're going to create a master cassette from which you'll duplicate copies.
Write a short 20- 30 second statement about what intolerant speech means to you and how it hurts the local gay and lesbian community. Or use the following script. The purpose here is not to get angry, it's to get even. Sound reasonable, calm and sound community spirited. Record this short statement on the beginning of one of your 5 minute cassettes. Talk about 7 to 10 inches away from the built-in microphone on your boombox. Test it a few times to be certain it sounds okay. Remember to invite your listeners with a 20 to 30 second introduction phrase like this:
"What you are about to hear is speech we believe sends messages of intolerance and hatred through (Your town). We believe an atmosphere of hate and stereotyping has been created on (STATION XYZ) featuring local talk show host (Name of offender). As an advertiser, advertising professional and member of this community, (name of local ad hoc "committee to improve gay and lesbian community relations") thought you should hear what is happening on (STATION XYZ) almost every day. This must stop now. Intolerant speech could breed intolerant actions on the part of some members of (STATION XYZ's) audience. All we are asking is that (STATION XYZ) be a responsible member of this community. The following broadcast took place on (date), at (time) by (name of offending talk show host):
Now duplicate onto the five minute cassette from the longer tapes only the offending comment...make it as short as possible...you'll have to do what is known as "cueing up" an offensive part from the tapes you've recorded from the show. Then record the same, one-sentence introductory statement again to each segment telling the audience the time, date, etc: "The following broadcast took place on (date), at (time) by (name of offending talk show host)." Next, insert another offensive statement by recording from your "on-air" tapes onto your new master tape production. Repeat until you've built up a small library of 4, 5 or more offensive statements...more if everything can fit under three minutes. Also include him saying his name and the call letters or logo of the station.
By the time you are finished with the process you will have a cassette tape of NO MORE THAN 3 MINUTES IN LENGTH!!!! The one thing radio did was to lower attention spans of audiences. The audience for your tape is no exception. Keep it SHORT. Three minutes of hate statements, stereotyping and intolerant muck will go a long ways to help make your case that the local talk show host is a jerk and fostering bigotry in the community.
End your master cassette tape with a statement something like:
"Intolerant speech is irresponsible broadcasting. Your local bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered community wants to be a responsible part of this community. We want to work hard, pay our taxes obey laws and be good citizens. Radio station (XYZ) is not creating a positive atmosphere for our segment of (YOUR TOWN). Please join us is opposing hate speech, stereotyping and intolerance. Thank you for listening."
The total for the entire production is 3 minutes or less!! When you are finished with the master cassette, be certain to remove the "knock-out" tabs from the upper edge of the cassette so you don't accidentally record over your it. It may take several attempts to create the master cassette to get it right without a lot of dead space and mistakes. Be patient. Repeating your performance can be time consuming.
Now to the next phase. Take this "master" cassette tape you've created and duplicate it 25 to 100 times. It doesn't have to be perfect...just accurate. Do the duplicating by following your dual cassette machine's instructions. And check every tape to be certain you've recorded it properly. Remove the knock-outs...those little tabs at the top of each cassette so it can't be recorded over.
You want to get this tape into the hands of your friends: this radio station's competitive enemies. Remember you never have to go public to oppose what the talk show host is saying...you just have to present a reasonable case that the individual is offensive to your segment of the audience and to people who know gays and lesbians. You may not ever have to identify yourself. The homophobe only has to identify himself.
Your local community may have an advertising federation or association made up of representatives of local radio station and other sales personnel and executives from all the media. Call any competitor (preferably another radio station not at all associated with the offending broadcaster) and ask for a sales representative who is a member of this advertising federation. Direct mail or newsprint advertisers are another source of sales representatives. All you have to do is say "I want to send you some information about your competitor." Tell them you are going to send them three audio cassettes. Get the address, etc.
Then you want to find out about the local advertising federation or group. When do they meet? When is their next meeting? Who are the officers? Where do the officers work? That's all you need. If there isn't one then just keep providing his competitors with your ammunition. Do the same thing with another competitor in town. Send them only three cassettes. By this time you should know when the advertising federation is going to have a social event(mixer) or business meeting. You and your friends want to hand a labeled cassette and one page statement to as many members of this advertising federation as possible at the door. You don't have to be noisy. You don't have to protest. You don't have to stick around. Just say "please listen." And then go home. You've done something to combat intolerant speech and you've used your talk host's natural enemy to accomplish your task for you. Word will get around to the offending station. Panic may set in. Meetings will take place. And you haven't done anything illegal, immoral or fattening.
You may also want to get copies of your cassette to responsible ministers and clergy in your community. Someone may ask you for more copies. You may want to send a copy to an advertiser on his show. The advertiser may not know what is being said next to his good name. You can be as public or as private as you want.
And never confront the talk show host on his show. If you don't have a lot of public speaking experiences or under-pressure experience it may not go as well as you like. He controls the microphone. This writer has made this mistake more than once and even 20 plus years of radio experience doesn't always give one experience enough to be confrontational with a person who is confrontational for a living. Don't get angry, get even.
Also, never directly say you want to destroy sales or the radio business. This is a plank in a campaign against intolerance not a campaign against free enterprise.
Chances are that most of these people you'll send or hand this cassette to never heard these offensive statements. Be prepared for some fallout...but also be prepared to win your battle against hatred and intolerance. Also join with others in the state and national fight against intolerance and homophobia who are already in place and working for you. Send copies of your cassette to them.
Just in case you've decided to chicken out on voicing the basic script yourself fearing someone in your local market would recognize your voice if the homophobe decides to play it on his program, send me your script, a cassette and a self-addressed stamped envelope and I'll voice it quickly for you and send it back. Let's see...there are 15,000+ radio stations nationwide...45,000 plus radio talents...at least one percent are serious homophobes....that could be 450 tapes I'm going to have to do. Whew! My pleasure.
By the way, there are lots of lesbian and gay people working in radio stations. You have friends on the inside, too. But generally, it's a very homophobic business.
One story to end. I was at a radio sales seminar. The instructor was a high-powered out of towner brought in to teach everybody radio sales techniques. He was very condescending to women and made homophobic remarks. I was very angry about this and left the seminar right in front of him later writing him letters and informing station management how I felt. No, I did not win any friends by coming out. But I know I probably made this radio professional think twice about his comments and actions for later seminars. He did send an apology to me.
Barry Wick, CRMC--(certified radio marketing consultant, retired)
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