Radio Contest Left Few Advocates Laughing
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 31, 2006
ALLIANCE, OHIO--Responding to a campaign launched by parents and advocates of people with developmental disabilities, an Alliance radio station has decided to end a contest that many found offensive.
A WZKL Q92 disc jockey, known only under the on-air name "Igor", apologized at the start of his Wednesday night shift for running the segment he called "Name That Tune with Mongoloid Mike". The contest had contestants guess the title of a song, the words of which were mumbled by a caller trying to imitate a person with an intellectual disability.
Decades ago, "mongoloid" was the recognized term for people with Down syndrome. Today the term is considered insulting.
"It wasn't my intention at all to hurt anybody," Igor said. "I try to do an entertaining show every night and didn't realize that maybe some people would take offense to this."
He said later that the decision to stop the contest was based on money, and that the station caved in to pressure from groups outside Alliance who never listened to the show.
Earlier in the day, Igor emailed the Canton Repository: "So much for free speech and ideas. (The game) wasn't about making fun of people's disabilities, but about be(ing) able to have some fun and laugh a little."
Program manager John Stewart told the Akron Beacon Journal that the segment had been run for about eight months with no public outcry.
But the station was flooded with messages on Tuesday and Wednesday from members of the Arc of Ohio, Stark County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and others who encouraged advocates to voice their concerns to the station and its advertisers. Messages also went out on several email groups asking for support.
"It is without a doubt the most disgusting show of broadcasting I have ever heard," said Pat Fehlman, the county MRDD's director of public information and community education.
"Radio staff apologizes for contest" (Akron Beacon Journal)