Newsday’s Rafer Guzman on the aftermath to an incident Byron Crawford has been all over for several days.
Hot 97’s controversial song that mocked tsunami victims is claiming some victims of its own.
Show host Miss Jones and her entire morning team were indefinitely suspended Wednesday after a week of growing public outcry — and after a number of high-profile advertisers began pulling their support from the station.
“What happened is morally and socially indefensible,” Rick Cummings, president of Emmis Radio, which owns Hot 97, said yesterday in an statement. “All involved, myself included, are ashamed and deeply sorry.”
At least three advertisers have abandoned the station. McDonald’s Corp. suspended its advertising Monday. The tax services company Jackson Hewitt Inc. followed on Tuesday. Wednesday, Sprint announced that it would withdraw its advertising.
What began as a cruel joke about a natural disaster has turned into a catastrophe for Hot 97 (WQHT/97.1 FM). The song, which first aired Jan. 18, included slurs against Asians and jokes about floating bodies and orphaned children. It was set to the tune of the 1985 famine-relief song “We Are The World.”
Despite Miss Jones’ subsequent on-air apology, New York City councilmen and Asian advocacy groups called for the hosts’ resignations. Councilman John Liu of Flushing called the song “reprehensible,” and councilman James Gennaro of Fresh Meadows threatened to “go after” the station’s advertisers.
The offending song aired the day after Hot 97’s rival station, Power 105 (WWPR/105.1 FM), broadcast a new morning show with Star and Buc Wild, two shock-jocks who are challenging Hot 97’s dominance in the New York market. Mayo says the song was not a response to their arrival. But the timing is difficult to ignore.