While traveling over the holidays, I was listening to New York hip-hop station Hot 97 and happened to hear some lyrics that were disappointingly familiar – lyrics from T.O.K.’s “Chi Chi Man,” a song that celebrates tying up and burning gay men. I contacted the station’s owners, Emmis Communications, to voice my concerns. Their response was quick. Here’s part of it:
As per our conversation yesterday this is a follow up letter to address your concerns regarding the verse played during a reggae set on HOT 97 on Sunday, December 28th. The actual song in question was not played but unfortunately a verse with negative sentiments in Jamaican was in the mix. While we work hard not to censor artist expression except in alignment with FCC regulations we also have no tolerance for malicious intent directed toward any group of people and respect race, breligion and sexual orientation. This song and verse is not something played in our regular rotation and unfortunately was not caught by the DJ who played the verse as part of a mix.
Neither Emmis nor HOT 97 condone these lyrics and have sent a memo to the entire on air staff to never play a song or mix with any anti gay and/or lesbian sentiment. We take great pride in our appreciation of diversity and have both fans and employees that are gay and lesbian and would never seek to offend either. HOT 97 is actively engaged in community outreach for all kinds of causes and our sales people fight daily on behalf of the ethnic consumers in our market place. Therefore, we understand the damage a lack of education and ignorance can cause and would never endorse such views of any community.
I thank you for your valid concern which I share with you. Please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of HOT 97 and Emmis Communications.While stations may have policies against playing anti-gay lyrics or content, those policies don’t always play out, so it’s important that in this case that the station took the proper steps to respond. It was also a reminder of how important it is that the LGBT community continues to be vigilant and that we make our voices heard when we encounter this kind of violent, anti-gay defamation in the media. If you come across anti-LGBT defamation in the media, you can let us know by filling out an incident report on our website. Make sure to give us as much information as you can about the incident, including the date and time and any supporting links. We'll investigate the situation and do our best to take the appropriate actions necessary and fight the defamation.