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« Is Sen. Edwards better off or worse off for being the VP candidate | Main | Ann Althouse's aging advice »

July 08, 2004

Comments

Kevin Jon Heller

Nice post. My own "favorite" act of radio censorship involves Everlast's amazing "What's It's Like." Almost all radio stations bleep out the word "whore" in the following sequence:

And then she heads for the clinic and
she gets some static walking through the door/
They call her a killer and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore.

If a radio station wants to bleep "dirty" words, fine. It bothers me, but I understand it's trying to appeal to a mass audience. But to delete a word that is fundamental to the moral and political message of a song -- in Everlast's case, a song criticizing the insensitivity of anti-abortion fundamentalists -- is just wrong.

Brian

Professor,

I was in Philly radio for nearly 10 years, and I can explain to you why this is done. Most Program Directors are not from the town they program in, and they are afraid of looking like outsiders. Plus, they think the people are paraochial and would tune out if they heard another city mentioned. Plus, in this day and age, congolerates like Clear Channel, who I worked for and know quite well, want every one of their stations to sound exactly the same, with little or no local tweaking. They bring a PD who was successful in St. Louis to Philly and that PD does the same exact thing he did in St. Louis, which is basically the same thing he did in Omaha, etc. They are fearful of regional bias for reasons I never understood.

As for the last commenter, he read WAY too much into the Everlast song. That edit comes directly from the label, and it is all about the word "whore." No abortion politics involved whatsoever, I can assure you.

When I was had to edit songs, I thought it was funny that I had to edit "strictly bitchy" out of No Diggity (by reversing it), yet we played "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks soon after fully unedited.

When women are the main target audience, every care is taken to avoid offending them, and words like "whore" and "bitch" have no place. You be shocked, between call-out research and the complaints, how few unknown people influence radio.

One other possibility. The song didn't test well, i.e., they put 75 people in a room to have them rate songs, and "All I Wanna Do" scored low. The PD's, myopic dopes they are, think that the L.A. mention hurts the songs. You'd be stunned at the stupid reasons that songs make or drop off the play list.

Tung Yin

Brian, thanks, that was very informative.

Sarah

I agree with Tung Yin, that was very informative. To go back to the point about Everclear's "What It's Like," though, I think Kevin Jon Heller was reading into it just the right amount-the song does have some very strong moral messages-more than just insensitivity about abortion, but insensitivity about others in different positions than ourselves in general. Another point I find interesting about that song is that while most radio stations, as Kevin Jon Heller said, bleep out the word "whore," they do not bleep out the word "shit," which may be less morally offensive but is still a curse, which "whore" isn't.

Law of attraction

That was a really good post. It helped me to make sense of some of the issues with the subject. There is another good blog on the same topic that I was reading a while ago

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