Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Broadcast Blues

I love my TV job, but radio is what first drew me to the business decades ago.  I still have a huge interest in it, and I actually spend more time listening to radio than watching television.  After the news and Scooby Doo, there really isn't much out there.

I've been following the Bucknell University story.  Three students were expelled this week for racist and violent comments made over WVBU 90.5 FM a couple of weeks ago.  Their exact words have not been released.  Someone listened and complained.  Suspensions were handed out during the investigation, and when it was through, administration dropped the hammer.  Expelled.

Times are changing.  You would think we've become more tolerant.  Not true.  Mel Brooks recently admitted there would be no way he could get "Blazing Saddles" made today.

I'm not advocating racist and violent material on the radio, or racist and violent behavior.  It just seems there was a way to fix this-- apologies, sensitivity remediation, etc.  However, I didn't hear the broadcast.  I'm not at Bucknell, and I was not present to judge the impact this has on the college community, as well as the general population.

An alleged Bucknell insider wrote in the comment section at WNEP.com that the comments might have been alcohol fueled.  They were meant to be a parody of the Oklahoma fraternity racist incident, and they were never meant to broadcast.  Be that as it may, the damage is done.  Once those words leave the transmitter, they're not coming back.  By the way, alcohol and radio do not mix.  It's a major sin, and it could be one of the driving reasons behind the expulsions.

Voltaire first said "With great power comes great responsibility."   Holding a microphone is great responsibility and great power.  Use it wisely.

One simple guideline could have avoided all of this:  "When in doubt, don't."