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Three companies have decided to pull their advertisement support from KRXQ 98.5, better known on-air as "98Rock," following a controversial discussion about transgendered children on the station's breakfast show "Rob, Arnie & Dawn."
During the May 28th discussion, show presenters Rob Williams and Arnie States read from a news article describing a male child in another state as being permitted to enroll in school as a female.
"God forbid if my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes," States quipped.
Williams and States then took turns receiving listener phone calls, during which they called transgendered people "freaks," "fruits" and claimed that transgendered people suffered from "medical conditions" in which they felt the need to "bring attention to themselves." The shows third presenter, Dawn Rossi, appeared distressed during the segment.
"Those that really have this, it is a struggle for them! It is heart-wrenching for them! They have always felt like a different sex! And they've never felt like themselves."
In response to the May 28th discussion, the organization GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) issued a statement on its blog, saying it was working with the organization Trans Youth Family Allies to bring attention to the segment and solicit a response and apology from station management.
"GLAAD has reached out to KRXQ management to communicate our serious concerns and demand an apology. We are waiting for their reply," the blog read on June 1st.
"They never meant to advocate any form of abuse," station manager Jim Fox told The Sacramento Bee's 21Q blog.
"I think it's ridiculous to think that I'm advocating violence against kids," States responded on the program June 3rd. "I know a lot of people don't understand this, that's a joke. Maybe you find that to be a tasteless joke, but I have never advocated for parents to beat their children."
States also pointed out that the show has held 29-hour broadcasts benefitting the U.C. Davis Children's Hospital network annually since 2007.
The presenters went on to defend their controversial dialogue, stating that opinions should be freely expressed regardless of how they're interpreted.
"That's what makes this country great," Rossi said in defense of Willams and States. "The minute we start telling Arnie he can't say that, then somebody's going to tell me I can't defend transgender people."
"You guys imply that all you have to do is...whack my non-existant child with a shoe if he goes clopping around the house in high heels," commented a listener who identified herself as a male-to-female transgender who previously had served in the US armed forces for 22 years. "Don't you think that all the abuse that I took in school would have changed that basic nature in me?"
"Thank you for your service, but let me just say this right now," quipped an angered States. "You fought (in the armed forces) for nothing! With the opinions that you have right there, you fought for absolutely nothing!"
Anyone who expected an apology from two-parts of the breakfast show trio were left with only points of clarification for the controversial dialogue, and that didn't sit well with gay and lesbian organizations.
"While it was heartening for us to hear that Rob Williams and Arnie States did not advocate for violence against children," GLAAD reported on their blog, "they also did not hold themselves accountable for their dehumanizing and defamatory words used to describe transgender children in last week’s show."
That didn't sit well with advertisers either. Shortly after Wednesday's show aired, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group wrote an e-mail to GLAAD announcing they were pulling their advertisement-based support for KRXQ.
"We found the segment to be offensive," a statement released by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group read, "and as a result, we are pulling our Snapple advertising from the station."
Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sonic Corporation also announced that day they, too, were pulling advertisement support for the station in response to the offensive comments.
"SONIC in no way condones violence toward children and does not wish to be associated with media content that condones or promotes such activity in any way"
The Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show, which is owned and produced by Williams, continues to air weekday mornings on KRXQ 98.5 FM in Sacramento and in syndication on KDOT 104.5 FM in Reno. The 12-year radio program has been no stranger to controversy in the past; in 2004, the show was fined $55,000 by the Federal Communications Counsel for "on-air indecency" following a complaint filed by James Peak.
Link: Local Radio Morning Program Upset Some Over Transgender Comments (FOX40, June 2nd)