Case Studies: What Happens When Shock Jocks Go Too Far?

Jersey Guys

101.5 FM's Jersey Guys are not new to controversy. Late last year, shock jocks Craig Carton and Ray Rossi nearly got into a fistfight on the air with New Jersey's acting Governor Codey after the two made jokes about the governor's wife, Mary Jo Codey, and her battles with postpartum depression.

Last month, the two ridiculed Edison, New Jersey mayoral candidate Jun Choi's name and referred to minorities as fringe groups (read the transcript). Carton adopted a high-pitched voice and asked listeners if they would really vote for someone named Jun Choi? He went on to say that Americans should vote for Americans. He also mimicked Asian accents and complained that there were too many Asians at Atlantic City's gambling tables.

The station was deluged with critical calls. A coalition of about 100 minority groups demanded the Jersey Guys apologize both to Jun Choi and listeners. Officials of the New Jersey/Taskforce Against Hate Media and the Coalition for Asian-American Civil Rights said a mutual understanding was reached with the station on May 26, 2005.

Listen to Craig Carton and Ray Rossi apologize to Jun Choi
on the 'Jersey Guys' radio show (3:38 minutes).

In addition to an on-air apology to Choi, officials at 101.5 FM agreed to a stronger policy against racist speech, diversity training, and on-air promotion of Asian-American events in the area. They also agreed to have Mr. Choi on the show to talk about the election and his campaign.

Andrew T. Hahn, chairman of the Korean-American Lawyers Association of New York, told The Record, a Bergen county local newspaper, that the incident has helped galvanize Asian-Americans into an organized community that is better prepared to handle other problems that might come up in the future.

He told the paper, "Carton and Rossi did us a big favor. These kinds of things happen all the time. No one should consider Asian-Americans any less American."

They may have done Choi a big favor, too. On June 8, 2005, Mr. Choi won the Democratic primary beating Mayor George Spadoro in a "stunning upset."

Next: Star and Buc Wild and the phone call »

» Yung, Kim. "Asian-American leaders want shock jocks canned; Call comments about mayoral candidate 'over the line'" The Bergen Record, April 29, 2005.
» Young, Elise. "DJs apologize to Edison candidate for Asian jibes;
Say they didn't mean to hurt his campaign" The Bergen Record, May 26, 2005.
» Yung, Kim. "Groups accept shock jocks' apology;
NJ 101.5-FM, coalition reach 'understanding'" The Bergen Record, May 28, 2005.
» Cirianno, Rosa. "Edison Mayor George Spadoro reflects on election loss." Associated Press, June 8, 2005.