Shocked Jocks

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entertainment and popular culture

As I remember it, the “shock jock” phenomenon started ca. 1980, about the same time the Reagan Administration started. Actually shock jocks had been around for awhile, but it was about that time mainstream pop culture took notice of them, and they became the rage. (Coincidence? I wonder.) Radio stations all over the nation hired their own pubescent pottymouths to attract attention and listeners. I never found any of them to be the least bit amusing, so I tuned out.

Apparently it’s a Big Bleeping Deal that Don Imus was suspended for two weeks. I wouldn’t miss him if he disappeared entirely, but that’s me. Never once having listened to Imus for more than five minutes at a stretch — and that maybe twice a year — I have absolutely no idea why he’s popular. Nor can I imagine on what planet it is funny to call the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed ho’s.”

Sometimes there can be honest disagreements about what constitutes racism, but I don’t see room for disagreement on this. Nor was calling Gwen Ifil the “cleaning lady” anything but racism. Sometimes offensive speech is defensible, but in this case, it isn’t. And for the life of me I can’t comprehend how anyone could defend it. Yet they do.

On an almost related note — in the early 1980s (possibly longer) there was a morning radio host on WLW am radio in Cincinnati who was genuinely funny without ever being vulgar or mean. I still think about him sometimes and chuckle, even though I haven’t listened to his program since 1983. His shtick was receiving phone calls from a cast of demented recurring characters (played by himself). Is there anyone reading this who knows who I’m talking about and can remember his name? I’m drawing a blank.

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10 Comments

  1. PurpleGirl  •  Apr 10, 2007 @12:00 pm

    Lou Dobbs was on NBC’s Today Show this morning (I don’t normally watch the show, it was the channel on the TV when I turned it on) and he was defending Imus. Paraphrase — yes, what he said was terrible and he knows it and he should punished but, really, the guy does such good works in so many areas, he (Dobbs) doesn’t know how he (Imus) should be punished but he shouldn’t lose his job, blah, blah, blah, repeat a few times.

    The interviewer asked if he (Dobbs) would appear on the Imus Show again and Dobbs tried to side step the issue but implied he’d be back on the show… because Imus does such good work, blah, blah, blah.

    Imus should have been fired years ago.

  2. joanr16  •  Apr 10, 2007 @1:27 pm

    This is hate-creep, and this is how it progresses: “But he does such good work, blah, blah, blah.” With an attitude like that, Dobbs may as well have said the hateful things himself.

  3. Daniel DiRito  •  Apr 10, 2007 @1:44 pm

    See a tongue-in-cheek visual of Imus and his newfound buddy, Michael Richards, hanging out and counting sheep…here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/04/minus_imus_msnbc_suspends_him_for_two_weeks.php

  4. Lynne  •  Apr 10, 2007 @5:55 pm

    I’ve neither read nor heard criticism of producer McGuirk, who seems to have initiated the “hos” phrase that Imus parroted and embellished. Why is this? I think anyone who speaks this way should be sent down the proverbial river without a paddle.

  5. Swami  •  Apr 10, 2007 @10:37 pm

    Imus didn’t follow the biblical admonition…”Put away the things of your youth”. Here he is in his 60’s and he’s trying to be cool and jive like one of the boyz in the hood..Had he grown up and acted his age he wouldn’t have gotten bite.My feeling is that the greatest part of his offense was stupidity and trying to project an image of being a happening guy.

  6. PseudoNoise  •  Apr 10, 2007 @10:57 pm
  7. maha  •  Apr 11, 2007 @7:40 am

    No, not Phil Hendrie. The guy I’m thinking of was an employee of WLW and not nationally syndicated. Strictly local.

  8. mel-anon  •  Apr 11, 2007 @9:48 am

    You are thinking of Gary Burbank.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Burbank

  9. moistened bink  •  Apr 11, 2007 @12:35 pm

    I started listening to Imus when I was 16, so that would have been 1973. He was funny then, saying things that were over the top, but not necessarily horrid as I recall. Maybe the coarseness began in 1980, I don’t know – I didn’t listen to shock jocks after the age of 18.

  10. maha  •  Apr 11, 2007 @1:16 pm

    mel-anon — I think you’re right. It was Gary Burbank. Thanks!



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