Kelley Winters

Sacramento Radio Show Comes Clean

Filed By Kelley Winters | June 12, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Autumn Sandeen, entercom communications, glaad, Kim Pearson, krqx, rob williams

After three days off the air, the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show returned to KRXQ FM radio Thursday morning to apologize for defamatory remarks about transpeople on their May 28 broadcast. Hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States outraged the transcommunity and civil justice advocates two weeks earlier by suggesting shame and even violence to punish gender variant youth, calling them "freaks," "abnormal" and "idiots." A Call to Action by GLAAD and an outpouring of community protest led more than 10 major advertisers to drop sponsorship of the program.

On May 7, content on web sites for the show and the station were replaced a message expressing regret for these remarks but falling short of apology. The statement announced, "We will say what needs to be said this Thursday." The Thursday broadcast included community advocates Kim Pearson, Executive Director of TransYouth Family Allies and Autumn Sandeen, correspondent for the Pam's House Blend blog site, who first broke the story. Show owner Rob Williams began the broadcast stating,

We are here to make things right with the people who give us free speech, our audience
. ... I proudly and fully apologize for those comments completely.

Co-host Arnie States expressed regret for his profoundly offensive remarks, "I ignorantly thought that namecalling was just that, and due to my ignorance, I was wrong about that." The third host, Dawn Rossi, had objected to the defamatory language throughout this incident.

For two and a half hours on Thursday, they were joined by Kim and Autumn in responding to listener calls in a very respectful and informative dialogue. GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson later described the broadcast as encouraging,

"Today's episode of Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning was an important opportunity to have a conversation about transgender people and lives, and we are encouraged that the hosts used their platform as a forum for education about these issues in a way that resonated with listeners,"

You can hear the entire broadcast on the KRXQ web site.

On the same day, KRXQ General Manager John Geary expressed the same sentiment on the station home page:

I know that you are probably aware of the recent comments made on the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show, which have clearly upset, and caused pain to, many who heard them. I regret that, as those remarks do not represent my beliefs, or those of Entercom. We have always encouraged, and will continue to encourage, everyone on the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show to exchange diverse and, at times, provocative points of view. These recent comments, however, were not just provocative; they were hurtful, and, they were unacceptable.

The show that aired today was intended to provide an open forum to candidly discuss the complex issues of sexual identity, and to be a positive and thoughtful consideration of this topic. We can't undo the hurt that may have been caused, but we can foster a greater level of tolerance and understanding by people on both sides of the issue. I believe that today's program began that process.

I would like to thank the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show, the KRXQ FM management and station owner Entercom Communications for stepping up to do the right thing. I am grateful to everyone who raised awareness of the harm brought by verbal violence against children and especially to Kim Pearson and Autumn Sandeen for their leadership on the Thursday morning broadcast.

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Now this is how you apologize for your own stupidity. Kudos to the show.

Kudos to everyone who kept the pressure on and helped create this moment that taught a lot of people about gender identity and expression!

I must say it was very well done. Hey, as I've said before this was definitely about money in the end but if it had the right impact and effected the correct kind of change, it's all good in my book.

It even inspired me to do my first call-in to a radio show in a long time. Kudos all around on this one. It may just be a step forward in trans equality, even if a little one.

I was amazed to hear the complete turnaround in Rob and Arnie's attitudes from just one week prior. The show with Autumn and Kim was a great example of how engaging in respectful dialog can truly touch hearts and change minds.