No, You Listen to ME!

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

Lucille Golin of Lauderhill claimed to have become physically ill while listening to WIOD one night in October 1993. "This station has become a quagmire of smut, noise, and insane ravings of egocentric talk show hosts Randi Rhodes and Neil Rogers," Golin observed. "I want these people banned from broadcasting such filth! Believe it or not, I am not a senior citizen or a prude." An anonymous listener who "accidentally" tuned into WIOD in September 1995 scrawled his outrage on a napkin: "hell, damn, up your ass, jackass ... this person should not be at liberty to spew his disrespect of God and humanity onto our airwaves.... This is not freedom, this is bondage for everybody because of the likes of this Neil person." Rogers, speaking through his program director, declined to talk to a New Times reporter.

More than 2500 people signed a 1994 petition objecting to foul language and obscene jokes on Spanish-language radio stations WRTO-FM (98.3) and WXDJ-FM (95.7). In January 1996 Jorge Vasquez of Hialeah Gardens reported that another Spanish-language station, WAMR-FM (107.5), may be endangering the community by airing sexually explicit jokes. "[The jokes do] nothing but promote sexual promiscuity that ... may prompt sexually deviant individuals to engage in sexual crimes," he fretted.

Federal law prohibits broadcasters from airing obscene speech at any time. Indecent speech, which is defined as depicting body parts or physical activity of a sexual or excretory nature "in terms [that are] patently offensive," is prohibited between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Violations of the obscenity regulations can result in a written reprimand, a fine, or a license revocation. But in order to open an investigation, the FCC must have a tape or transcript of the show in question, as well as details regarding the date it aired and the station's call letters. Most letter writers fail to provide such information.

"We try to pick out the meritorious claims," Goldstein comments. "Just because a person listened to something on the air and heard something that they didn't like doesn't mean we should send out the troops."

Bob Green, who served as WIOD general manager from 1992 until last October, when the station was sold to Paxson Communications (he's now general manager of WFLC-FM 97.3 and WHQT-FM 105), maintains that he has never been contacted by the FCC during his tenure at the station. "Their license was renewed earlier this year," Green points out, "so obviously the FCC was not too concerned about these complaint letters."

When complaints to management and appeals to the FCC come to naught, listeners have one last option: They can change the dial. The parting is not without trauma. "I know you can get along without me, and I will try to get along without you," J.R. Begley of Miami informed WINZ management in response to the debut of the Rush Limbaugh show.

John Thabes of Fort Lauderdale laid on a guilt trip. "I realize you're running a business, and perhaps you've been able to enhance your listener base with those who like 'talk shows.' You're losing my family, and I'd like to think you care."

Another Limbaugh detractor, Randy Stetzer, was more philosophical. In an October 8 e-mail, he wrote: "I am sorry you have felt it necessary to take this route, but as if something is suddenly decided to be unhealthy, despite how much we like it, I must turn my appreciation elsewhere. Thank you for listening and for allowing me to for the past few years.... All good things must come to an end.

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