NEW YORK – The music swelled, sounding the familiar first notes of the
vintage charity hit ”We Are the World.” Then the lyrics kicked in – a
torrent of bad taste, ethnic slurs and cruel insults about the killer south
Asia tsunami.

The ”parody,” aired during morning drive time on New York radio’s
WQHT-FM, lasted three short minutes. Nearly three long weeks later, the
self-proclaimed ”premier hip-hop station in America” is still reeling:
one of its morning co-hosts was fired, the show’s producer was dumped, and
five other employees remain suspended”¦

Asian-American and Muslim groups were among those infuriated by the song,
which mocked victims of the tsunami. (Estimates of the overall death toll
from 11 tsunami-hit nations ranged Monday from about 152,000 to 178,000.)

The controversy was a slow starter, with word of the song spreading on Jan.
21. Executives at both the station, which calls itself Hot 97, and parent
company Emmis Radio did not immediately return phone calls for comment, and
it seemed the protest disappeared over the weekend.

But the anger didn’t dissipate; it grew. By the middle of the following
week, the station suspended its entire morning show staff, announcing their
salaries would go to tsunami relief.

The move failed to appease the protesters


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