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HOT 97 'Tsunami Song' fallout: 3 suspended, 2 fired
Released 02 February 2005  By David Hinckley, New York Daily News

Hoping to quell the storm over its "Tsunami Song," WQHT yesterday fired morning-show producer Rick Del Gado, who created the song, and morning-team member Todd Lynn, who cracked on the air, "I'm gonna start shooting some Asians."

But Hot-97 did not meet the demands of some critics and fire the rest of the Miss Jones morning show, which aired the parody for four days last month.

Miss Jones, DJ Envy and production assistant Tasha Hightower will all be suspended for two weeks, said the station. They have been off since last Wednesday.

Reaction from critics was swift yesterday and not all favorable.

"Their statement is a joke," said City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens). "They need to fire Miss Jones, but even more important, they need to accept corporate responsibility."

Noting that Hot-97 pledged a million dollars to tsunami relief, Liu said, "That's a joke, too. It should be $10 million. They said employees will donate a week's pay to relief funds. Fine. So they should donate a week of corporate profits."

Hot-97's statement yesterday cited Del Gado for the song and Lynn for "offensive, racially insensitive comments," calling them "singularly egregious."

Miss Info, the other member of the morning team, was not suspended, though she also has been off the air since last week. Miss Info, who is Asian, said on the air that the song offended her - which sparked the heated exchange during which Lynn made his "shooting" remark.

Racial banter and exaggeration are not uncommon on morning shows, but critics said Lynn went way over the top.

The "Tsunami Song" itself, set to the tune of "We Are the World," has been blasted for use of racial slurs and for making light of tsunami victims.

Kai Yu of the group Asian Media Watch called Hot-97's actions yesterday "a start," but said they fall short of "full accountability ... all the way up to the people who approved this going on the air."

Liu said further protest actions are planned: "We're only getting started."

Several Hot-97 advertisers temporarily withdrew after the initial controversy.

"The actions of the morning show were socially and morally indefensible," said Emmis President Rick Cummings. "The entire Emmis family is ashamed. Our decision ... sends a message that this type of insensitivity is utterly unacceptable."

Jay Smooth, whose has been bulldogging the case and has recorded a half-million hits, had a sharp E-mail exchange yesterday with Lynn, who told Smooth that his on-air remarks were "taken out of context."

In the exchange, Lynn called the episode "one of the biggest mistakes of my life," describing the song as "very poor taste and bad judgment."

But, he added, "None of us are bigots."

Meanwhile, Miss Info will co-host an Asia Relief Fund Benefit on Saturday at Capitale on the Bowery with rapper Jin, who recorded a track blasting Hot-97.

February 2, 2005

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