June 11, 2009, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, today responded to an on-air apology from KRXQ-FM radio hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States of the Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning program. Williams and States apologized for a May 28 broadcast where they made defamatory and dehumanizing comments about transgender people, including advocating child abuse of transgender children. The show is broadcast on KRXQ-FM in Sacramento, California and also heard on KDOT-FM in Reno, Nevada.
GLAAD issued a Call to Action on June 2, calling on our constituents to contact KRXQ management and demand that the hosts take accountability for their May 28 comments. The two hosts spent the entire June 3 program addressing the issue, but failed to apologize for their comments. Following the June 3 broadcast, GLAAD continued asking members to speak out. Community response motivated 12 sponsors to pull advertising from the program, prompting the show to issue a statement on its Web site telling its listeners it had crossed the line, failed them and that no new episodes would air until Thursday, June 11.
In addition to the apologies from Williams and States, today’s two and a half hour program featured transgender advocate and Pam’s House Blend contributor Autumn Sandeen and Executive Director of TransYouth Family Allies Kim Pearson. Hosts Williams, States and Dawn Rossi asked numerous questions, took listener calls and oversaw a robust discussion about transgender people and issues.
Here are some of their excerpted remarks from today’s show; you can listen to the full audio at http://robarnieanddawn.com.
Rob Williams [5:03 - 5:54]: "Our audience made it clear that we had actually made it seem as though we endorse or allow, or in a worst case scenario from some of the comments I've heard from our fans, encourage the harming and abuse of children, the bullying and vilifying of those who are different and singling out of transgenders for harm and/or mocking. And for that, for the education that our audience has supplied to me, I want you to very clearly understand that I proudly and fully apologize, apologize for those comments completely. I'm sorry that this show in any way made it sound like we would ever tolerate any of those things that I described."
Rob Williams [6:12 - 6:26]: "If you hurt a child in any way, if you joke about hurting a child in any way, if you advocate or tolerate hurting a child in any way, the Rob, Arnie and Dawn show has always and will continue to stand against you."
Arnie States [18:49 - 19:20]: "I didn't realize that my words could really affect and hurt as bad and as negatively as they did – not only to the transgender community but also to our audience – our listeners, our backbone, if you will. My ignorance prevented me from understanding how hard a transgender's life is day to day -- I never understood that and I'm very sorry for that. I ignorantly thought that name-calling was just that – name-calling. And due to my ignorance, I was wrong about that."
Arnie States [19:46 - 20:08]: "I just want to echo something that Rob said earlier, and it's the God's honest truth, I'm not here to change people's minds on things, I'm here to entertain people, and I didn't do that. I hurt people. And that wasn't my goal. I stupidly tried to think that I was entertaining people by the things that I said and I hurt people in the process."
After the show, GLAAD spoke with Pearson and Sandeen about the program.
“It’s not up to me to grant forgiveness or absolution, and people are going to hold their feet to the fire,” said Pearson. “I think this was a good thing, it was a good forum, it was productive, it was good for everyone listening – but time will tell. It was a good first step, but actions speak louder than words.”
“I think this is the way we make change – and we don’t mean as individuals, but as a community,” said Sandeen. “Humanity won the day. I think that’s what worked – we all became humans in the same room instead of stereotypes.”
“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,” said GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson. “We are looking ahead to ensure that the kinds of remarks that sparked such concern and anger among community members and advertisers are not repeated, and we hope that today’s conversation continues to promote constructive dialogue and greater understanding.”
GLAAD will continue to monitor the show daily to ensure it stays within the bounds of fair, accurate and inclusive coverage. GLAAD will also continue promoting the stories of transgender people to the show and advising the hosts on covering transgender people with respect and dignity. Additional updates and links to media coverage will be posted on glaadBLOG.org.