No, You Listen to ME!

Wanna get in touch with South Florida's rage? Read through the complaint letters to local radio stations.

"It appears to be the meanderings of a couple of 'bra-snapping,' sophomoric disc jockeys who have no respect for their fellow human beings. I find this sort of programming highly irresponsible, as well as demeaning to the emerging self-esteem of young girls and women. It not only insults my sensibilities as a man who supports the nurturing of the potential of all human beings, regardless of race, age, sex, color, creed, or sexual orientation, but as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works with children and adults who were sexually abused as children.

"I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Neil Mirsky, the general manager of WZTA. I would be willing to withdraw this complaint if Mr. Mirsky will immediately put a stop to this type of programming and offer a public apology to the people of South Florida."

Mirsky left ZETA-4 in May 1995. Gregg Steele, ZETA-4's program director, says that as far as he knows the station did not apologize. The Ron and Ron Show was eventually withdrawn, in early December 1994, because of low ratings.

Karen Allen took the show's cancelation personally. "I hate Miami radio," she snarled in a January 1995 letter to the station. Allen, a 42-year-old mom from South Dade, had listened with true devotion, tuning in to the shock jocks every day from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

"You are all a bunch of cowards," she spewed. "I am writing to express my deepest disgust and disappointment at your asinine decision to cancel my favorite (and the favorite of many people I know) radio program, Ron and Ron." Her demographic particulars as listed in her letter: married with two children, a homeowner, and a community resident for 30 years, as well as "a reasonably upstanding citizen.

"I thoroughly enjoyed Ron and Ron," she added. "I can't believe I am such a minority. If you want to play for the majority, you better go Latin." Ron and Ron returned to Miami radio this summer. Their show currently airs from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. on WIOD-AM (610).

While abrupt programming changes might reasonably be expected to discombobulate die-hard fans, predicting which comments might send a listener over the edge can be difficult.

"I am writing to you with regard to your degradation of persons afflicted with cleft lip and palate," began one neatly typed letter to Neil Rogers, a popular midday host at WIOD. The missive, which was copied to the FCC and to state and national organizations for people with facial disorders, accuses Rogers, who is known for his obnoxious humor, of using the word harelip to describe former Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates. "Persons born with cleft lip and palate will suffer many painful surgical operations, the emotional pain of being different and face discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. We do not need your hateful comments," scolded Neil Gillespie.

On July 29, 1995, WIOD then-general manager Bob Green received the following communique: "My letter will be brief and direct. You, sir, have crossed the line of good taste, by airing Ms. Roger for this amount of time. My name is Warren Kramer and I represent the Canadian Front, the foremost and most dedicated office helping, guiding, and making Canadian tourists comfortable in South Florida.

"Our sources in Quebec have named numerous stations, both radio and television, that made them feel unwanted. A name that consistently came up was WIOD Radio and a Ms. Nell Roger.... We Canadians don't have to come to Miami, it's not the only fun-in-the-sun city of the United States, and it's certainly not the safest place, either. We will not allow you to call us cheap 24 hours a day or mock the way SOME of our elderly citizens dress. Wearing shorts and sandals is not odd, it's beach fashion, a small tip for some of you talk show hosts."

Green has never heard of the Canadian Front, but he said he answered the letter anyway. Most program mangers say they usually respond, if only to dispatch a boilerplate reply. They want listeners to believe that their input counts, though they admit that letters almost never result in programming changes. "Frankly, the effect [of listener mail] is minimal," Green confessed.

The profound sense of powerlessness experienced by listeners who love too much is evident in the extremes of their reactions. "Whoever is programming music at WMXJ should be fired," urged Alan Pate of Hallandale. "There is no rotation at all. They never play some of the top ten oldies."

Cynthia Ryant of Pompano Beach didn't bother asking WMXJ to reconsider its change of format, but she made sure the program director was aware of her animosity toward Bill Neal, the new host of the morning show. "He has no sense of humor and is not at all funny," she scoffed in a November 6 letter. "His attempts at jokes [are] almost pathetic."

Other listeners eschew negativity, begging for compassion. "If I hear 'Last Train to Clarksville' by the Monkees one more time, I think I'll go nuts," pleaded Cliff Ashbridge of Miami in a letter to WMXJ. "Come on, folks, you must have a larger collection than I do.... Can I give you some constructive criticism without you getting mad at me? I really like you folk and only want to put in some comments if you're open to them."

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