Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

‘Tsunami Song’ Co-Host Tells All

From today’s New York Daily News, infamous co-host of Miss Jones, Todd Lynn apologizes for the ‘Tsunami Song’ and comments against Asian Americans which has left his career broken.

He confirms that the impetus for the ‘Tsunami Song’ was competition with Clear Channel’s WWPR–specifically, the move of Star to Power’s morning show. Delgado, of course, just started his career up again at Clear Channel’s WILD here in the Bay. Miss Jones is also still on the air at Hot 97…:

“Another take on ‘Tsunami’

Fired staffer rips Hot 97



Todd Lynn, fired by Hot 97, tells his side.

Todd Lynn doesn’t defend the ‘Tsunami Song’ that led to his firing in January from WQHT (97.1 FM). ‘A very, very bad mistake,’ he called it. But he also thinks he’s taken too much of the blame. ‘Management heard the song and approved it,’ he said. ‘After it aired, they said keep playing it. They thought it was great until the protests started. Then they fired me and [producer] Rick Delgado and said, ‘We don’t condone this,’ as if it were all Todd’s and Rick’s fault. But they did condone it.’

The ‘Tsunami Song,’ which ran a week on the morning show, was intended as a parody of do-gooder disaster relief projects. But its ethnic slurs and graphic lines about victims sparked a firestorm that reportedly cost Hot 97 several million dollars in ads.

Morning host Miss Jones, DJ Envy and assistant Tasha Hightower were suspended for two weeks. Delgado was fired for writing the song and Lynn primarily because he joked on the air, ‘I’m gonna start shooting some Asians’ – a gag motif he used often, but which he admits was ill-advised this time.

The station also donated a million dollars to tsunami relief, and while critics wanted more, the station has gone forward, regaining its ads and rising slightly in the ratings.

WQHT yesterday issued a statement saying, ‘Hot 97 stands firmly behind the strict disciplinary actions that followed the unfortunate ‘Tsunami Song’ incident, which included terminating Todd Lynn.’

Delgado was hired last week to produce the morning show at KYLD in San Francisco. Lynn, who has a master’s in education and was a teacher before he went into standup comedy, hasn’t done so well.

‘I was doing the voice-overs for Budweiser. Gone,’ he said. ‘A development deal with Buena Vista. Gone. I’ve lost gigs at comedy fests. It’s affected my family, too. I was engaged, and now that’s shot all to hell.

‘Almost everyone else involved with the song is still there, and I’m getting killed.’

That’s one reason, he said, he’s now breaking his silence on the subject. He’s scheduled to appear today with Opie and Anthony on XM Satellite Radio.

The real root of the ‘Tsunami Song,’ he said, was Hot 97’s ‘deep fear’ about Star coming to a rival station, WWPR (105.1 FM).

‘They were terrified of Star,’ he said. ‘We were all under constant pressure to push the envelope. They told me to be an antagonist, be ‘edgy.’ They told me I was the agitator and Miss Jones was the mediator. As long as we didn’t violate the FCC, they said, everything was cool.

‘When Rick wrote the song, none of us really liked it, but it was the kind of thing they’d been telling us they wanted. This and Smackfest, which was the dumbest thing I ever heard of. So Rick, Envy, Tasha and I sang it. Miss Jones wasn’t there. We recorded it on Friday, and on Monday Rick said management told him the lawyers had cleared it and go ahead and play it.’

Lynn said that after the controversy erupted, he asked if he could apologize on the air and was told no.

‘So I’d like to apologize now,’ he said. ‘The song should have been pulled, and I should have been more sensitive.’

Originally published on July 13, 2005

posted by @ 1:22 pm | 8 Comments

8 Responses to “‘Tsunami Song’ Co-Host Tells All”

  1. DTrain says:

    Thanks, Jeff for posting this. During your appearance at the AA Writer’s Workshop in NYC, I talked about it for a second with a member of the R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop Coalition, and he was talking about how successful they’d been because “we got some people fired.” I remember at the time thinking that was really short-sighted and reactionary, because it seemed to shift the blame from the much larger corporate structure that I thought should have been held more accountable.

    None of the people who are really responsible for this incident lost so much as a night of sleep over it, much less their jobs. Lynn and Delgado lost their jobs for just doing their jobs. True they shoulda shown better judgment but damn, did anything really change? They were easy and expendable scapegoats and we played right into Hot 97’s hands by focusing our anger on them instead of the bigger picture.

  2. Jeff says:

    well, dtrain, i actually think delgado is one of the people responsible for it. (he’s been karmically paid by landing a job in a geographic area where asian americans are one of the dominant players in the market…)

    and i’m not the kind of person who doesn’t believe there should be no consequences for something that’s much worse than youth and stupidity. at the end of the day, lynn may be in a bad way, but he put himself there.

    but yes, i’m with you: the main thing is always to keep an eye on the big issues–how the structures and institutions and the people in them are keeping us all divided and conquered.

  3. DTrain says:

    I didn’t mean to say that I don’t think Delgado and Lynn deserved to be accountable. Just that their firings in no way constitute a real victory in my mind.

    My guess is that even before the Tsumani Song aired, the powers that be had to know there was at least a reasonably good chance that it would spark controversy, and that heads would have to roll eventually, and they knew exactly whose heads they were going to be.

  4. Hashim says:

    Management acheived exactly what they wanted- higher ratings. And the firings did exactly what they wanted- it quieted the protesters.

    The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for almost a year. That’s the kind of long term eye that’s needed with this type of struggle.

  5. Tracey says:

    They lost their jobs and that is correct. Miss Jones and rest of the crew that didn’t lose their jobs should COUNT their blessings. Racist skits and encouraged physical violence on the air must cease. My hope is that people who work in radio will pay heed to what happened at HOT 97 and stand up to their management and refuse to put such trash on the air.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Miss Jones should be GONE. Period.

  7. ronnie brown says:

    station management “punishing” its employees for implementing a morning show format sanctioned by that same management…WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? i’m inclined to agree with dtrain in the sense that we’ve missed the bigger picture. Hot 97 threw short-sighted activists a bone. In the quest for the allmighty ad dollar, a few “wink and nod” suspensions and throwing Todd Lynn under the bus are considered the cost of doing business!…the cold truth is, it cost them NOTHING.

    sometimes, selective moralizing is as bad as having none at all…

  8. Opie Anthony says:

    Rick Delgado always pushes the envelope.

    It is that some people who think they are liberal really don’t support freedom of speech.

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