Radio producer has landed in a firestorm of protest since coming to a city with over 33 percent Asians. Many ask, is ‘edgy’ radio becoming hateful for ratings?
By LYNDA LIN, Assistant Editor, Pacific Citizen
Producer Rick Delgado’s radio broadcast career has been filled with controversy. He was fired from New York’s MIX 102.7 (WNEW-FM) in 2002 for his role in the radio station’s sex in a church stunt. He was also fired from HOT 97 (WQHT-FM) earlier this year for masterminding the tsunami parody song filled with anti-Asian slurs. Now Delgado has landed another controversial job as the new producer at WILD 94.9 (KYLD-FM) in San Francisco, a diverse city with a large Asian Pacific American population.
Despite expressed outrage from APA groups over his new gig on the “Strawberry in the Morning” show, Delgado told a Bay Area newspaper that he would not change his ways.
“My job is to put stuff out there and see what gets a reaction. Hopefully, people will get a kick out of it,” Delgado told the San Jose Mercury News.
Some former co-workers who call Delgado “Over the Top Rick” are also confident the producer will inevitably be back to his old tricks of offending people.
“He’s in your town now,” said XM Satellite Radio Personalities Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia in a July 14 broadcast of their “Opie and Anthony Show.” Both Hughes and Cumia were fired along with Delgado from MIX 102.7 for broadcasting an alleged sex act in New York Catholic Church.
Todd Lynn, a former HOT 97 on-air personality, said in the same broadcast that Delgado is a talented writer who has a tendency to step over the line.
Hughes and Cumia noted that Delgado also wrote a “gay song” four years ago set to the “Sesame Street” theme song, which made fun of homosexuals living with HIV and AIDS.
Because of his track record, APA groups including the JACL and the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) are protesting Delgado’s presence in a city with over 33 percent Asian residents.
“The ‘Tsunami Song’ was irresponsible, racist radio in its worst form,” said Malcolm Yeung, ALC staff attorney, about Delgado’s song, which made light of last year’s Asian tsunami tragedy. “94.9 has in effect endorsed irresponsible, racist radio by hiring [Delgado].”
ALC has circulated a petition denouncing the popular radio station’s hire, especially after it and parent company, Clear Channel Communications, fired members of their “Morning Doghouse” show in April for making on and off-air sexual comments.
In a July 14 letter to WILD 94.9 and Clear Channel, APA groups blasted Delgado for using the word “chink” in the tsunami parody song and requested a meeting with radio station management.
JACL Executive Director John Tateishi voiced disapproval of Delgado’s presence in San Francisco with Clear Channel Regional Vice President Kim Bryant. Almost 500 individuals have sent personalized critical letters to the radio station, said Yeung.
But Bryant praised Delgado to local media for his experience and ability to draw major guests to the show. She assured Tateishi that Delgado is an off-air member and will be closely monitored. Bryant did not respond to comment requests from the Pacific Citizen.
The root of the problem is radio station management, said Lynn to the New York Daily News. He said HOT 97 management approved the tsunami parody song before it went on air. He also criticized HOT 97’s parent company, Emmis Communications, on the “Opie and Anthony Show” for encouraging their radio personalities to continually push the envelope to get higher ratings.
Others say some radio shock jocks are “equal opportunity offenders” like JR Gach on Albany’s 94.5 (WRCZ-FM) who during a June 21 and 22 show, called APAs “slant-eyed gooks.”
In response, 94.5 parent company Galaxy Communications CEO Ed Levine said in an e-mail to the P.C. that listeners know what to expect from the “JR in the Afternoon” show and are encouraged to turn the dial if they are offended.
“We may disagree with the content on JR’s show from time to time. But it’s important in a free society that these shows be on air,” said Levine.
“Ultimately, the listeners have the final say. If the listeners don’t listen, shows that are deemed ‘different’ and ‘edgy’ will not succeed,” he added.
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