Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

Politicos, prudes, and the paranoid protest the programming heard on Bay Area radio stations to the highest authority in the land -- the Federal Communications Commission

Emily Rosenberg of Oakland reported that while listening to KOME she heard material that "might be prohibited by FCC regulations" including "mockery of the religious beliefs of the followers of Menachem Scherneson" and "a phrase which was very close to 'Ha! Who can imagine a Jew giving away money?' " Emily couldn't identify the person who uttered these slanders, but the smart money is on Howard Stern.

Another woman expressed dismay that Stern referred to a female caller as "darling" and "honey" and constantly interrupted her as she tried to make her point about adoption. The FCC also got an earful about anti-Semitic and anti-female humor that allegedly aired on KOME, as well as a Judge Ito bit on KFRC-FM. (Emerson again.) KFRC and KGO drew fire for using the word "bitch" in reference to, respectively, singer Michelle Phillips and O.J. prosecutor Marcia Clark.

Oakland listener Gerta Farber blistered Dr. Dean Edell after he allegedly said, "A vagina is the dirtiest thing I can think of." Gerta judged that remark "obviously untrue, sexist, and extremely damaging to humans of all sexes and all ages!" Edell, she concluded, may be "in need of some serious psychological evaluation."

Some area residents would probably volunteer that Howard Stern is the dirtiest thing they can think of. KOME's FCC file contains a fistful of gripes about the King of All Media.

The typical complaint: "I am writing to you today because I am angry and appalled that the talk show I heard on the radio this morning was filthy, degrading and pornographic. ... A woman had called in and said, 'Hi, Howard, how are you?' His response was, 'You whore, how the hell do you think I am?' He went on to tell her to pull up her underpants because he could smell her crotch across the airwaves. ... This goes on every day."

Note that last observation. Leafing through the FCC files reinforces a long-held belief that Stern and other shock jocks put some people in a quandary: They find themselves inexplicably drawn to something they want to believe is wrong. Pete Ravalin's 1993 complaint about J. Paul Emerson's old KFRC show chronicles the offensive language employed "today" ("pissed off," "hell," "damn") -- and "yesterday" ("butthead, "peckerhead"). Ravalin closes with this revealing observation: "I guess I could change the station and listen to another station."

Despite Stern's presence on KOME, KMEL-FM rules the potty-talk kingdom with about a dozen letters currently on file. Three of those stem from use of the word "asshole" by station personalities. Those complaints, incidentally, are an indicator of the Bay Area's tolerance. There are very few cities -- Miami is another -- where radio station managers feel comfortable allowing that word to be broadcast. It's heard on Washington radio, for example, about as often as "fuck."

Noncommercial KALW-FM netted a smut complaint for a BBC news feature (!) about the advent of sex shops in China. According to listener Donna Orozco of Belmont, "there was a lot of very specific sexual conversation that I think very inappropriate ... at a time when my kids were just out of school." But just when this seems like a straightforward indecency beef, Orozco veers way off the road: "I am white, this [announcer] was an English woman. I was thinking if a Black person was saying this it would be condemned quickly."

A similarly offbeat complaint was submitted by Victor Dolcourt of Sunnyvale, who began by relating how his 14-year-old daughter heard Howard Stern ask a female listener, "Who is better hung, me or some black guy?"

Dolcourt then offered this observation: "In terms of male mammals, whales, giraffes, elephants, lions, and the barnyard animals including horses, bulls and some rams all have larger sexual organs than does the average human. For humans within the range of 'average,' the size of the male sexual organs has very little to do with sexual enjoyment. ... However, Mr. Stern's question is quite pernicious. He has singled out one class of person, black males, and has cast them in a particular light with respect to subjective sexual superiority or inferiority ... regarding the size of their sex organs in comparison to himself, a person who obviously represents the white male norm."

Of course, everyone has a different threshold for offensiveness. One woman took the time to inform the FCC that during a visit to San Francisco she heard network host Bruce Williams talk about "doing it" in "a sickening, low soft voice -- sort of cooing the words." Bobbie Edgin of Aptos was infuriated that KNBR-AM yakmeister Peter Franklin used the phrase "I thought you'd pee in your pants." A Hillsborough man dashed off a note to report that "This morning I pushed my car radio button to KFRC and heard, 'All you old farts out there can call in and get a free sample of Beano.' I am tired of this language on the radio."

To his credit, this complainant at least offered a possible solution to the blue broadcasting conundrum: "If stations want to exercise 'free speech' they should be required to announce every hour that 'this station's broadcasts may occasionally contain language that is offensive to some listeners!' I could then choose not to listen to these stations."

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My Voice Nation Help

I see that SFWeekly deleted all of the responses I had to this fictional article that is almost SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!


I also see that SFWeekly wouldn't do an FOIA and print my letter to the FCC.  My question was related to Dr. Edel claiming that the male anus was as clean as the female vagina.  I also questioned whether Edel could practice medicine in all fifty states, which he was essence....with his medical advice program.


Next time, practice proper journalism and don't restrict freedom of speech.

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