The Phrase That Pays?
Every scandal creates overreaction and strange backlash, and the Don Imus flap is no exception. Now comes a rock radio station in the Poconos that today sacked its morning show host because he went on the air and declared Imus's offending words ("nappy-headed hos") to be "the phrase that pays."
The news stories don't say whether morning deejay Gary Smith was trying to add some commentary along the lines that Don Imus will eventually profit from this whole sordid episode, which would have been an interesting and quite possibly correct analysis. Or perhaps Smith was just latching onto Imus's new notoriety and looking to create some buzz for a local radio show.
In either event, hardly a firing offense, but that's exactly what happened today, as the station, WSBG in Stroudsburg, Pa., fired its deejay. "He used the phrase with full knowledge of the reaction to Don Imus' use of the exact same phrase just a day earlier, which is the reason he was terminated and not suspended," said Nassau Broadcasting senior vice president Rick Musselman in a statement released by the station.
If Smith was sacked for commenting that Imus is reaping a publicity bonanza that may result in large numbers of listeners checking out his low-rated show for the first time, that's a wholly legitimate viewpoint and it's nothing short of stupid to slam him for it. If he was merely repeating Imus's slur for shock value, that's dumb and ridiculously unoriginal, but firing him for it smacks far more of unthinking fear than of any reasoned management decision.
There will be more of this, to be sure.
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