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January 27, 2005

Memo to Emmis Communications: The Whole World is Watching (UPDATED)

1/31/05 UPDATE: Todd Lynn Fired

Todd Lynn speaks to Jay Smooth

The "Toyota Scion" ads have disappeared from Hot97.com. If anyone has received word from Toyota about their ads being pulled, please pass it along.

EDIT: Toyota has sent out a new reply, but it does not acknowledge pulling any ads, and says the ads had been bought by some sort of local branch:

Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

We are sensitive to the opinions of our customers and apologize if a Toyota sponsorship has offended you in any way.

Toyota’s decision to advertise on particular programs is based on the level of interest generated by the American public, not the subject matter contained in the program. We make every effort to screen broadcasts considered to contain controversial issues, however we had no prior knowledge of the radio station's intent to air “The Tsunami Song”. Additionally, Toyota advertising stems from three distinct levels; local, regional, and national. This particular advertising was from a TDA (Toyota Dealers Association), which represents the greater New York Region.

Upon learning of this issue the TDA immediately contacted management at Hot 97 to express their dissatisfaction. As a result, Hot 97 responded with a written apology to the TDA. Our research of the Hot 97 controversy indicates the radio station has ceased the broadcast, issued a public apology, and offered a notable contribution to tsunami relief.

Toyota in no way condones nor supports the messages prevalent in the parody known as “The Tsunami Song”. To the contrary, we take many opportunities to promote cultural and racial diversity, and regarding the tragedy created by the natural disaster, Toyota estimates a nearly four million dollar contribution for Tsunami relief efforts from its North American affiliates.

If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us.

EDIT: All links to the Hot 97 morning show's webpage, and banners featuring Miss Jones, are now removed from Hot97.com. The morning show page was still accessible through the direct URL, but soon after I noted this it disappeared. know the url. Props to mediadrop for the scoop.)

Several people have sent me this e-mail from Coca-Cola, apparently they are pulling their ads from the Hot 97 morning show:

Date: 27 Jan 2005 12:29:11 -0500
From: Coca-Cola Support
Subject: RE: Coca-Cola Web Form
To: ******@yahoo.com

Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. We are grateful for the opportunity to respond, and we share your concerns regarding this matter.

Together with our bottling partners, The Coca-Cola Company is working in the regions impacted by this natural disaster to provide clean drinking water and to support local relief efforts and other on-the-ground needs. To date, the Coca-Cola System and our employees have combined to contribute almost $20 million in cash and material donations.

We have made Hot 97 management aware that The Coca-Cola Company does not condone the inappropriate and insensitive parody of the tsunami disaster that aired on their station. We do not support programs that are discriminatory or that make light of the tsunami crisis and its devastating impact on people in the region. Accordingly, we have withdrawn our advertising from the Hot 97 morning show.

However, we do not want this decision to impinge upon other ongoing community support programs. Currently we are conducting a Black History Month promotion in conjunction with Hot 97 that awards scholarships to deserving students in the New York area. While this worthwhile promotion will continue, it will no longer be advertised on the station's morning programming.

Your feedback is truly appreciated. If you ever have any additional questions or concerns on any other matter, please feel free to contact us again.

Industry and Consumer Affairs
The Coca-Coca Company

Also, The Emmis website currently has a job listing for "morning show host". Looks like they are keeping all their bases covered (EDIT: I'm told this listing was up before the controversy started). And here's a new but tentative response from another of Hot 97's sponsors, Reebok:

Reebok’s Response to Decision by New York Radio Station
Hot 97.7 to Create and Broadcast Tsunami Parody Song

“Reebok is an occasional advertiser on New York radio station Hot 97. Like many of its listeners, we were deeply disturbed by the insensitive and offensive tsunami parody song that was created and aired during the Miss Jones in the Morning Show. Ridiculing the victims of this horrible disaster was offensive, deeply racist and went far beyond ‘creative license.’ We are pleased that Hot 97 has issued an apology, both on the air and on its web-site. However, we have urged the station to institute a more rigorous policy to prevent such insensitive and racist material from being produced and aired in the future. Furthermore, we have communicated to the station’s general manager that we expect the station to take any and all appropriate disciplinary action. We will continue to monitor this situation and, if necessary, will adjust our response accordingly.”

Denise Kaigler
Reebok Spokesperson
January 26, 2005

As you can imagine, I'm getting hundreds thousands of emails and messages about this Hot 97 controversy. What I'm getting from the public and from activist communities now: this vaguely defined suspension ain't cutting it. And organized protest is about to rise up stronger than ever.

Although I helped to start it I am far from the leader of this protest, and it's not my place to dictate the goals or the demands. But I do know that if you agree justice is not yet served, the best thing to do is keep going over Hot 97's head. Keep hitting sponsors, keep hitting Emmis, find out who Emmis' shareholders are. And keep on sharing any new information you get.

Each of us, as individuals doing our little part, have come together to create something far bigger than us all. And now our collective voice is being heard around the world:

in Australia
in France
in China
on ebay??
in the Netherlands
in Germany
in South Africa
in India
in Harlem
in Korea
in the Netherlands

And on and on and on. So keep watching and keep working, and don't ever doubt that your voice can be heard. (and I don't just mean this for the particular battle we are fighting today)

Posted by jsmooth995 at January 27, 2005 5:04 AM

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