Friday, February 16, 2001

WLW host used racial slur

        Federal Judge Nathaniel Jones, who blasted WLW-AM's Bill Cunningham this week, may want to add WLW-AM's J.R. Gach to his list of divisive radio personalities.

        Mr. Gach, who took over Mr. Cunningham's 9 p.m.-midnight shift on Nov. 27, on Monday repeatedly referred to the Japanese as “yellow monkeys” while talking about Japanese sailors killed by a U.S. submarine.

        Could hate radio be any more ugly?

        “That's just outrageous,” says Mr. Jones about the Japanese remarks. “It shows that it's not just Bill Cunningham. (WLW-AM) seems to be consistently bringing on (talk hosts) who project a very negative tone, and not supporting the efforts of the people who are trying to heal this community.”

        Mr. Jones, a U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, singled out Mr. Cunningham on Wednesday at a Greater Cincinnati YMCA breakfast. He called Mr. Cunningham's show “trash, and filth and profanity.”

        The former civil rights lawyer made the comments while delivering an overview of the changes he has seen in Cincinnati since moving here in 1979.

        The positives included increased racial diversity on Cincinnati city council, its police and fire departments, and municipal court. The negatives he cited included minorities' high drop-out rate, low proficiency test scores and “the attitudes reflected on (radio) talk shows,” particularly Mr. Cunningham.

        Mr. Jones, an African-American, said he had been been interested in Tristate talk radio long before 1997, when the National Conference for Community and Justice (formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews) started monitoring Tristate talk shows. The former NAACP attorney is a National Coalition board member.

        “We support Judge Jones in his concern that talk radio (shows') divisive rhetoric may create more and more social distance between people,” says Robert “Chip” Harrod, National Conference executive director.

        Darryl Parks, operations director for Clear Channel's AM stations here, defended Mr. Cunningham, who broadcasts 12:30-3 p.m. weekdays.

        “It's a talk host's job to be provocative, not necessarily to stir up controversy. Willie has the unique ability and depth of knowledge to do a number of topics,” he says.

        “We strive to present a balanced viewpoint,” said Mr. Parks, repeating the theme of a new WLW-AM promotional campaign launched Thursday.

        Mr. Parks, however, refused to comment about Mr. Gach, who broadcasts from a sister Clear Channel station in Albany, N.Y.

        Station sources said management admonished him Tuesday for his “stupid” remarks. He was not disciplined or told to apologize to listeners, as Andy Furman and other WLW-AM personalities have been told to do in the past.

        Sources say he picked up the “yellow monkeys” phrase from McHale's Navy, the 1962-66 Ernest Borgnine sitcom.

        Some attributed Mr. Gach's insensitivities to the fact that he's broadcasting from upstate New York, and not from Cincinnati. He's also the 3-7 p.m. talk host on WGY-AM in Albany.

        WLW-AM, the city's top-rated station, apparently has no plans to hire a local talk host for the late-night show carried to 38 states by the 50,000-watt signal.

        However, WLW-AM managers have discussed Mr. Gach moving here after the baseball season, which pre-empts the late-night talk show most nights of the week from mid-March to October.

        Less jazz: Oxford's WMUB-FM (88.5) shuffles its weekend lineup starting Saturday, adding a mix of public radio shows and dropping six hours of jazz.

        New to the lineup are Afropop Worldwide (2 p.m. Sunday) and the Putumayo World Music Hour (3 p.m. Sunday), replacing the Riverwalk and Don Leshner jazz programs.

        The Miami University station also will air World Cafe 8 p.m.-midnight Friday starting next week, reducing Phyllis “Mama Jazz” Campbell to four nights a week. But overnight jazz on weekends will be extended until 8 a.m.

        “We're losing six hours of 60 hours or so of jazz (in a week). So we're still doing a substantial amount of jazz,” says John Hingsbergen, program director.

        On Monday, WMUB-AM also will cut National Public Radio's Morning Edition by an hour to air talk shows 9-10 a.m.

        The new weekend lineup:

        Saturday: Morning Edition, 8-10 a.m.; Car Talk, 10 a.m.; This American Life, 11 a.m; Whad'ya Know?, noon; Sam's Place jazz, 2-4 .m.; Thistle and Shamrock, 4 p.m.; Weekend All Things Considered, 5 p.m.; A Prairie Home Companion, 6 p.m.; Jan McLaughlin's Oak Street Ramble bluegrass, 8 p.m.; Across the Blue Ridge bluegrass, 10 p.m.; Ms. McLaughlin's Swinging on the Gate eclectic folk music 11 p.m.

        Sunday: Weekend Edition, 8-10 a.m.; A Prairie Home Companion, rerun 10 a.m.; Car Talk rerun, noon; Fresh Air Weekend, 1 p.m.; Afropop Worldwide, 2 p.m.; Putumayo World Music Hour, 3 p.m.; Talk of the Week, 4 p.m.; Weekend All Things Considered, 5 p.m.; Almost Monday 6 p.m.; overnight jazz 9 p.m.-5 a.m.


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