I just want to start off by saying, look, yes, I know that the radio is almost 100% awful, like, 98% of the time. I am aware of this. This past Friday though, I listened to something particularly disturbing. The station comes in for me as 96.7 KISS FM. Self-described as “Austin’s #1 Hit Music Station,” it contains a host of caricature-like DJs. I’d like to believe that the lot of them are just a troupe of actors doing gross parodies of disc jockeys, biding their time, seeing how long they can fool the general public before dropping the act and laughing at everyone for eating up whatever shit is served these days on the airwaves. If only, I guess.
The program was ‘Elvis Duran & The Morning Show,’ and I wasn’t unfamiliar with it, though I don’t listen to it frequently. It’s pretty awful radio. I’ve taken a 30 minute commute to work before, never leaving the station, and never hearing a lick of music. It was literally just four or five ‘personalities’ having god-awful conversation with those grating voices. Can “Austin’s #1 Hit Music Station” play me some god-damn T-Swift so I can get pumped for work today?! Or some old school Rihanna, or something. Hell, I’d rather listen to a whole Imagine Dragons album than sit through Duran and his goons cackle about downtown escapades gone awry. Whatever. I digress.
Prince’s ‘Batdance’ had just ended, which was the last track on album I was listening to, so I switched over to the radio for some classic American AM. 96.7 got my attention immediately because I couldn’t tell initially if I was listening to an advertisement or a recorded segment. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was tuned in to some crank call segment. Greg T, one of the on-air personalities was pretending to be a plumber. He was talking to a young woman who was interested in getting her toilet unclogged. It wouldn’t flush, and the water level was getting pretty high in the bowl; she was afraid of the water overflowing and flooding the bathroom, she explained. Greg T began to, in detail, go through all the ways he was going to “clean out her pipes” and “stick his snake in her can.” He boasted he could clean out all of her shit, “no pun intended” he drawled in some shitty, Brooklyn (I guess?) accent, suppressing a giggle.
This continued for a few minutes, and it was pretty hard to listen to. The girl quickly caught on to the double entendre, and started calling out Greg T for the creep that he was. He relented for a second, and I thought an apology or explanation was coming. Nope. Instead he started to go into detail about the special type of electrical ‘shocker’ tool he was going to use. The fingering reference went over the girls’ head, which I assumed delighted her husband (Named Chad, I believe. Go figure) who was listening on the other end. It wasn’t until she started cussing Greg out that he gave up the bit and informed her she was being cranked.
The husband’s sheepish admittance to being in on the prank wasn’t met with laughter though. His wife was obviously pissed and continued to yell at him, claiming that his prank wasn’t funny. And I agreed with her.
I realize that this isn’t a new bit. These crank calls are a recurring segment of the show, and scrolling through a list of past episodes, this isn’t the first overtly sexual one.
My question is, how is this okay?
This is harassment. This is catcalling over the phone. This was unsolicited sexual advances being broadcast nationwide. Nationally. Think about that. I don’t know if she had to give her permission for the piece to be broadcast; it does seem prerecorded. At one point I thought, ‘maybe the girl is in on it.’ Still though, would that make it okay? Let’s for a second say that she was completely on board, the woman was a voice actor and the bit was a plumber verbally assaulting her through sexual innuendo. It’s still not funny. It’s still has us laughing at the woman being mocked. Her ignorance and discomfort are the crux of the joke.
What is the punchline? “Oh, haha, I’m not a plumber!”
Yeah. We know. You’re just an asshole who makes gross comments to women on a nationally broadcasted program.
Elvis Duran has stated that his show is “a safe place for women.”* He admits that it is not a show “for women,” but he does claim that his show is a show where women win.
“Women never lose on our show,” he said in a 2014 interview with ABC’s Dan Harris.
If that crank call I listened to was not a women losing, (dignity, privacy, comfort) I shudder to think what Elvis Duran considers a loss.
*James, Chris; Effron, Lauren. “Elvis Duran, The Man Behind the Voice: Top 40 Radio Host Dishes on Famous Guests Who Have Been Rude, Wonderful”. ABC News. ABC Nightline. Retrieved 16 April 2015.