Sunday, June 8, 2014

Entercom Sets Industry Standard For On-Air Responsibility and Communications Ethics

May 22nd started out as a glim day for those who had the unfortunate experience of listening to Kimberly and Beck in Rochester, New York on 98.9 - The Buzz. The topic of discussion on Kimberly and Beck's show was medical insurance coverage for Transgender city employees in Rochester.

What should have been a mature fact - filled discussion quickly became one false statement after another intended to shame and embarrass transgender persons, as the show aired irresponsible memes about trans persons that rose to the level of psychological violence, and possibly could have had the effect of inciting violence against trans persons simply based on old, worn out, untrue, and disproven political talking points.

Entercom Entertainment quickly fired the two show hosts, saying this: "This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership."

Kimberly and Beck called transgender people "nut jobs," trivialized the need for transgender health care, and played Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady throughout the segment. When a caller expressed disappointment in the hosts' transphobic commentary, another host responded "thank you, sir," in an attempt to mock the caller's gender.

1. Kimberly and Beck ignored the fact that Gender Dysphoria is a serious medical problem that is rooted in biological basis, requiring safe and effective medical treatment.

2. Kimberly and Beck did absolutely no research into what gender dysphoria is, or what it means to be transgender. Their abusive, vitriolic speech, and dangerous use of their place in the public spotlight highlighted their blatant disregard for the rights of fellow human beings.

3. The show hosts conflated gender identity with other things that are not related at all to the development of sex and gender.

4. Kimberly falsely used the presence of reproductive anatomy to spread misinformation about development of sex and gender. Playing to the false notion that trans persons, specifically transwomen, have "testosterone" and are therefore stronger than "women" gave rise to losing the fact that all women have some level of testosterone in their system.

5. Misogyny and trans-misogyny in the form of tasteless reference to female reproductive anatomy as a "back-up glove".

6. Kimberly and Beck fell so low as to introduce the "political correctness" argument when and where they say they are "used to all the nuances of desensitization".

Not ONLY were Kimberly and Beck fired, the consequences were even farther reaching for Entercom. "Critical Mass swiftly and overwhelmingly spoke out in support of transgender rights, and  advertisers were quick to pull their financial support from the program and the station." - Huffington Post

"The rallying cries of the transgender community are no longer heard only by left-leaning, insular groups without a stake in commerce, business or popular culture. Rather, issues of importance to the ever more visible transgender community are playing out on NBC and CNN, on the New York Times bestseller list and Netflix, and in the pages of this very paper." - Huffington Post

What we see here are the consequences of reckless and violent behavior. The social media reaction across the internet included volumes of transphobic responses that devolved into threats of sexual assault, and murder. In-between the violent responses to this sad event, were found thoughtful, caring, understanding, and educational comments advocating for the utmost of human rights and human decency towards transgender persons. 
Little did the transgender community know that BIG BUSINESS would have their back on that fateful May 22nd. While Kimberly and Beck were screaming about their "freedom of speech" which doesn't apply in the workplace, everyday people and well-known, multi-billion dollar businesses were voting with two powerful things: their money and their radio dials.

The standard of decency towards those with medical needs was given a HUGE one-up by Entercom in the best of all possible ways, as Entercom stepped - up in real time, and took a stand against hate radio for not only their own business interests, but, it made a statement that being transgender or being a person with any valid medical need is NOT a reason for ignorant, irresponsible, immature bashing of real human beings by pompous radio show hosts.   

The standard for on-air reponsibility and professional usage of communications ethics has been set by Entercom. Civility, skill, willingness to do research before presenting a discussion or a bit, and common - sense decency are called for in today's world of mass radio communications. Hopefully, this becomes a trend. 

Here are some good questions for Kimberly and Beck:

Would you have gone on the same rant if Rochester had introduced insurance coverage for lesser known, but serious medical conditions?

Would you have played a song in the background against any other legally protected group of people, simply because they have more unique medical needs than the general public?

Would you have gotten on the mic and lambasted a woman who was born without a vagina, and had to have surgery to install one after it was made for her in a lab? Surely you would have told her to pay for it out of her own pocket?

Did you know that the sort of tirade you went on is what trans people, most often trans women and ESPECIALLY trans women of color hear just moments before they are murdered for being trans?

Were you aware that screeds like you went on LIVE to who knows how many listeners, was a trigger for an untold number of transgender people? Surely, you knew that any given number of trans people with a history of surviving horrid abuse of various types, and those with severe challenges otherwise, could have been lost to suicide or their conditions made worse by hearing you dehumanize them without remorse?