Dear 99.7 The Point,
I’m writing to tell you why you’ve lost me as a listener and a supporter, and why I’ll be telling the companies that advertise with you that I believe they should spend their money elsewhere.
Before I get into what has me so riled up, I have to tell you that I was a fan. I appreciate your mix of music and liked the song rotations. I liked that I didn’t hear an ad every two seconds. I can’t pretend to have a favorite DJ or even to have listened to any one ‘show’ all the way through; as a station hopper, I flip until I hear a song I like. In all honesty, I don’t know the convictions of the voices behind the mic, but I landed on your station more often than not.
I loved being at aLoft Leawood earlier this summer when Plain White T’s played their intimate little set, and that’s when I met Kelly Urich for the first time. He seemed nice. Worked the crowd, shook some hands and moved along quickly before the conversation moved past ‘what part of town are you from’ and ‘thanks for coming tonight.’ He was a fine host.
So I was surprised when I logged on to Twitter last week, and saw a series of ‘jokes’ from him. It’s alright that his comedic aesthetic is obviously different than mine. My beef isn’t that we simply find different things funny; my problem is that it seems he equates insulting people with being funny, and I’m just not ok with that.
The tweet that I find particularly offensive was this:
Funny, right, calling teenage girls cows? I don’t think so. But I also thought that perhaps I misunderstood the intent of the post. I sent a direct message to Mr. Urich asking him to clarify, and over the next couple of days we went back and forth a bit. Here are screenshots of our entire direct message history:
Perhaps he was toeing your corporate line with his not-really-a-response-responses. Perhaps he doesn’t care that he’s just demeaned—by his own estimation—the majority of his local listeners. Perhaps he assumes I’m one of those ‘cows’ and as such not worthy of a real response.
Like everyone else, he’s entitled to his opinion. What makes this different is that he’s not just a guy on Twitter; he’s a face of 99.7 The Point. He’s an ambassador of Entercom. His words are your words because he’s tweeting as a public figure, not just a guy who takes cheap shots at ‘fat chicks.’ Before he removed the tweet I saw that one young man starred it as a favorite; because if a prominent personality like Kelly Urich thinks it is funny and acceptable to call teenage girls “cows” then it’s perfectly fine for others to do it too, right?
I think not.
To be completely transparent, I freely admit that as a woman who is anything but thin I might take more offense to the joke than someone who’s never walked in the shoes of a woman whose body doesn’t fit the acceptable mold of ‘attractive.’ I’m guessing more than a handful of your many listeners share my stats, have been made fun of for their weight or battle low self esteem after being judged not by who they are, but by the size of their clothes.
Then again, maybe as a woman who is not thin I don’t fall into your target demographic. Surely someone of my proportions wouldn’t take her three kids to CoCo Key Water Resort for a stay-cation, or go with friends to Shawnee Mission Theater in the Park or enjoy spending an evening (or three, as I did last season) at Starlight.
Maybe the advertisers who choose 99.7 The Point aren’t interested in those of us who are ridiculed for our size because we probably wouldn’t book a room at aLoft, take our baseball loving kids to a Royals or T-Bones game or opt to shop at Price Chopper for the groceries that we obviously enjoy a little too much.
I can’t assume, of course, that anyone else at your station or your parent company would cavalierly compare a woman to a cow, online or face to face. I can’t assume that anyone at Entercom would find Mr. Urich’s joke funny; after all, Entercom proudly declares on its Twitter page that “Entercom connects world-class content and brands with engaged and passionate fans.”
While I beg to differ that the content that Mr. Urich shared via tweet is world-class, I agree that as a now former fan, I am engaged and passionate. I pay attention, and while I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, I will not knowingly support brands or personalities that equate ridicule or fat shaming with humor. My voice might not be as big as my pant size, but you can bet your bottom line I’ll use it with brands, with friends and with anyone who will listen. Because if I don’t, I’m offering Mr. Urich tacit approval of the words he chooses to use and the tone he sets, and neither are acceptable.
My ten year old daughter overheard me talking to a friend about this issue and asked me why I was upset. I told her about the tweet, and the ‘conversation’ between your DJ and I by direct message. She was so quiet I had to ask if she understood what I’d said.
She responded with ‘I understand, Mom. But that sounds like a really mean thing to say, and I don’t like mean people. If he was at my school, he’d get in trouble for being a bully.’
It’s funny, isn’t it, how kids are sometimes wiser than adults? Bullies learn to pick targets who are too timid or embarrassed to stand up for themselves, and us fat girls are an easy target. I can’t speak for everyone who identifies as ‘overweight’ but I can tell you that I’d be much more comfortable fading into the background than taking center stage, because I worry that people will only see that I have weight to lose. I’ve felt shame when others have hurled those hurtful words at me–fatty, chubbo, lard ass, cow–and have learned to be as quiet as possible because if I do, maybe they’ll stop.
But not this time. Now I have a daughter to set an example for, and it’s MY job to teach her that judging someone solely because of their weight, and saying cruel things behind the veil of ‘joking’ isn’t ok. It’s my job to teach my sons that the words we use have power; they can inspire, demean, amuse or provoke, and it’s up to each of us to choose them wisely. It’s my job to stand up for myself so that someday they know that they can, too, and also so that they know it’s ok to stand up for others when people are cruel.
I realize that this conversation is lost on Mr. Urich. That was evident through our direct messages, and now I definitely know who’s behind the mic. I know that he believes that instead of having a conversation about the hurtful words he finds funny, he thinks hiding them will make the ugliness behind the words go away. If I don’t speak my peace, I’m silently saying that it’s ok to say cruel things until someone objects, and that all we need to do is pretend it didn’t happen. None of that is ok.
So, 99.7 The Point and Entercom, I’ll use my voice in every way I can. I’ve removed your station from my pre-sets and I’ll be telling the brands that advertise on your station why they should—in my opinion– also spend their money elsewhere.
A former listener