|Tarsha Jonesy Jones
I write this with a sincere bias. I have been hating Hot 97’s morning radio show since I moved to the NYC area. But since radio is a publicly-owned media outlet, my opinion counts, even if I choose not to listen or critique, my tax dollars go to all radio in this country. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that.
When I came here, Miss Jones aka Jonesy, was polluting the airwaves with her negative angry black bitchism. Her reputation off the radio resembled her nasty on-air personality. She was rude, arrogant, and consistently condescending. This might be because she had a failed singing career, and moved into radio to supplement a deflated ego.
Jonesy’s bread-and-butter, or so she thought, was to expose celebrities, speak to people with a disgusting demeanor and create various forms controversy through igniting false rumors or playing people against each other. In addition, she and her underlings would make tasteless jokes throughout her show.
What a way to start a good morning, listening to her bullshit. But like other deejays who are used to making quick, controversial laughs for the station’s profit, she was fired when her mouth became a problem. Jonesy stationed hopped for a minute until she landed in Philadelphia with the same usual tricks.
Now you have a trio of multi-colored coons making racial jokes about themselves to validate cultural and racially disgusting jokes that are rarely funny. Their punchline, “A Jew, a Puerto Rican and a Black,” here you should begin to hear cricket sounds as you ask, so what?
The trio consists of Peter Rosenberg, DJ Cipha Sounds and K Fox. They constantly make racial jokes about their own or each other’s racial/ethnic group membership to validate the perpetuation of racism in the media.
This guffawing in the practice of reifying insidious stereotypes came to “some what” of a halt when Cipha Sounds was “indefinitely” suspended for making a joke regarding his HIV-negative status had something to do with him not dating any Haitian girls.
I have bittersweet opinions about the recent indefinite suspension of one of Cipha Sound. On one hand, not only does he deserve to be silenced, and in my opinion, removed from the airwaves along with his cohorts who were not sanctioned. On the other hand, his presence is not the root of the problem. I am pretty sure that Cipha sounds will return when things cool off just like in the case of re-hiring of Don Imus or the ongoing popularity of Howard Stern’s disgusting ass.
Nevertheless, Cipha Sounds, Stern, and Miss Jones operate from a template that has been in place before them. Unbeknownst to many, Howard Stern’s comfort for talking vulgar and controversial on racial topics came from his admiration and copying of Ralph “Petey” Green, a jockey from DC who changed its airwaves with his raunchy street purview that was sensical yet vocalized with politically incorrect verbiage.
This in no way absconds Cipha Sounds, Rosenberg and K Fox or others for unintelligle and degrading skits and commentaries.
Let’s get to the bottom of this issue. Who signs the fucking check? Those are the people that need to be suspended. It is the structure that continues media practices that hurt the masses of listeners while a few profit from the puppeteers. The deejays are replaceable it is the machine that needs to be dismantled.
The radio industry’s current multi-conglomerate infrastructure that was established after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act has almost eliminated the conscious and socially responsible radio we heard in the 60s, 70s, 80s and a little wee bit in the 90s. When media companies and other corporations were allowed to purchase media outlets in bulk, and in the same region, and without any regulation, that changed the dynamic of media as we know it today.
Small radio stations lost advertising and were forced to sell or close down. And long-standing radio companies sold their lot to companies like Clear Channel, a corporation that comprised of used car salesman. How do car salesmen become radio owners? Good question. The takeover by Clear Chanel has backfired on the company as a result of the recession. They have been losing millions just like the lemons they sold. Now they are bailing out by jumping ship and selling off the stations without regard to audience or good radio.
In fact, in 2008, Clear Channel was sold to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners for $19.5 billion, a company where Mitt Romney holds significant stock. This explains how a Stern or an Imus can remain on the air, but someone like Adimu Colon would merely be fodder for status quo.
People who carry the legacy of politically astute radio deejaying have been systemically ousted, silenced or co-opted. For example, Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner. Yawn, puke and can I have some more drink please?
Indeed, Baisden & Joyner, challenge some social injustices and do, do good work, hands down. However, their formats are limited to certain age groups and musical genre (only if you like funk and some soul) that speaks to a choir that doesn’t need to hear about their messages.
More importantly, the biggest flaw to these deejays is that their work great social work is tempered when they have ignorant guest commentators and cohosts that add a coon factor into the show. I believe you can be hip, funny and contemporary with dignity; and frankly, sometimes I cringe at some of the things I hear the few times I can stand to listen to either of the two.
And what is it about coons that have to be on damn near every black radio show?
This is no coincidence. Coons and minstrelsy have been a part of American popular culture since the mid 1800s. In fact, minstrel shows and degrading black caricatures were the most popular form of pop culture in America from 1850 to the 1960s appearing in films, cartoons, literature, television and radio.
For example, American radio thrived on Amos ‘n’ Andy from 1928 to 1966. The Amos and Andy Radio Show was comprised of, Freeman Gosmen and Charles Correll, two white men who imitated black men in southern drawls that were presented with stereotypical dialect and cultural behaviors that were conveyed as ignorant, inferior, stupid, deviant and lazy.
Amos Jones and Andy Brown are supposed to be based on black agriculturalists from Atlanta, Georgia.
Amos ‘n’ Andy is one of the most popular radio shows and longest running shows in the United States to date. As a result, the radio show was spun into an actual show that starred black actors, from 1951 – 1953. Alongside these black farmers were supporting characters like, Sapphire, the loud, rude and unapproachable Sapphire Stevens or a black mother-in law who was domineering; all images that are still projected in media today without the painting of a black face, but simply black faces.
Today, Amos ‘n’ Andy have gone through a sex change and a lot of cosmetic fixings with the emergence of the infamous “Queen of All Media,” Wendy Williams.
She is a coon, mammy, sapphire, and Stepin Fetchit rolled into one big plastic surgery fail. She is Oprah Winfrey on Xanax. Botox who has career ambitions that have stepped on and crumpled many. The one up with Oprah is that at least she knows how to control her lovers. Williams who has admitted to being married to a womanizer, is involved with a guy who has attempted to physically harm her staff and then there are claims that she beds a wife beater.
Williams’ career is most notably in radio. From the late 80s until 2009, you could hear her voice on several stations in the Northeast, mainly in NYC. She dished dirt on black celebs and played a pseudo-Maury Povich with calls from guests (I think some were staged) who consulted her in relationship matters. Though I am convinced that Williams is more intersexed than being male or female, she often mimicked gay-queens and loved to dabble in LGBT drama.
Today, she is a late night host on her own show with a toned down version of her to cater to a mostly Caucasian female audience. Maintaining her image of uber wigs, facial reconstruction and augmented breasts she gets giggles from her fans when she curls her lips and says, “How you doin’?” in a deep, masculine, gay-licious tone.
Media is so easy when you exploit the easily exploitable, namely women and people of color. However, you quickly turn into the expendable when you defend these same populations. Take for example, Adimu Colon.
Colon was the former host of BET’s “Teen Summit” in the 90s with Ananda Lewis. He was also a popular deejay from the DC area who got a gig at 92.3 The BEAT, the largest hip-hop station in the Los Angeles in the early 2000s. His time slot fell during rush hour traffic.
Colon, simply known as Adimu was this conscious, well read, NAACP-award winning cat who also worked on foundations for youth and community development. He lived in Leimert Part, the black cultural section of the city, and came from black Boricuas who had to leave the island and come to the US due to their political stance against their government.
He was ousted from the station when he publicly announced the “alleged “R. Kelly tape where Kelly was pissing on that 14-year-old girl. And then he said that he refused to play anymore music of Kelly.
In less than a week, that brother was sent packing. I heard he returned back to DC and today he is a deejay at 102.3 in Chocolate City, catering to a black audience, though he identifies himself as “Hispanic” on paper much like former deejay turned basketball wife, “LaLa”. That is a long story we can talk about another day.
Not to deviate, I use Colon to show that shutting down deejays who create change is also a part of radio history.
Long gone are the days of the Jack the Rapper, Destination Freedom Radio of the 40s & 50s, Magnificent Montague who officiated the term, “Burn, Baby Burn,” during the Watts Riots of the 1960s. Like this upcoming documentary, Natural Soul Brother says, black radio deejays were once the “Beacon of Black Pride”.
However, I can’t wait for a radio revolution redux. I know that what we need to hear is riding on the next generation of airwaves. And right now my friends, we need to hear music and talk that re-energizes, heals and informs.