Queens leaders condemn radio parody of tsunami

By Zach Patberg

To the melody of “We are the World” — a 1985 song whose proceeds went toward famine relief in Africa — the tsunami song started playing early last week on Miss Jones' radio show until it was taken off Friday.A source at Hot 97 said Wednesday that the show and its staff have been suspended indefinitely. The lyrics described Asians in disparaging terms screaming before being swept away by last month's giant waves that recent reports said have taken more than 200,000 lives. Lines in the chorus sing of orphaned children being sold into slavery and tell a child to find his mother who was floating dead in the water.Elected officials and Asian-American leaders who gathered at City Hall Monday called for the Federal Communications Commission to fine the station.”(Hot 97) is already notorious for its desperate reliance on offensive shock talk. Now, they break new frontiers of indecency with their 'Tsunami Song,'” said Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). “Furthermore, their program incites race-based violence. We call on the FCC to take decisive action.”Queens officials showed particular offense due to the borough's large number of Asians with relatives affected by the disaster.FCC spokeswoman Suzanne Tetreault said the agency has received around 50 consumer complaints since the song was aired but had not yet seen the lyrics. It was unclear whether the FCC would take action against Hot 97 or any other stations that may have aired the song. Tetreault said the agency only regulates content deemed indecent or obscene, particularly in a sexual way. The station issued an apology Monday on the air and its Web site and said Miss Jones and her staff would donate a week's pay to tsunami relief efforts.”Hot 97 and 'Miss Jones in the Morning' regret the airing of material that made light of a serious and tragic event,” the apology stated.The station provoked controversy once before when its show, “Star and Bucwild.” was dropped in 2003 for making offensive comments during an on-air prank call to an India-based call center. Hot 97 station program director John Dimick did not return phone calls and an e-mail message from the TimesLedger seeking comment. Other council members took a different approach by pressuring advertisers to cut their sponsorship of Miss Jones' show. Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) has suggested sending a joint letter from the Council to sponsors requesting they cancel their support.”New York City will not tolerate this kind of hate speech,” said Gennaro, who at one point referred to the station as “Hate 97.”Liu said the song was “not only demeaning to the victims and survivors, but also a smack in the face (to) those helping with the relief effort and an affront to the dignity and humanity of us all.”Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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