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LISTENER COMPLAINTS

QUESTION: One bit we got some action on this week was the new release by "Johnny Cochoran and the Supremes." One lady called in and complained that we were being racist! "Aren't there any white people you can pick on?" I had the call off the air...but now wonder if I should have put it on? What do you think?

I have heard two trains of thought.....ignore it and go on. That's one person who is having a bad day and decided to take it out on you. Or, air the call and let the other listeners come to your defense. What do you think?

(Hello to Dan O'Day. I was one of the survivors of his Philadelphia weekend! { Inside joke. Bad hotel...but we all had fun.} The seminars are great and I highly recommend them.)

DAN REPLIES:

Thanks for the seminar plug, Pete. Yeah, that hotel was terrible. That was the weekend when I learned that "Quality Inn" is an oxymoron.

Before you put a listener on the air, you should be absolutely certain WHY you're doing so.

Two important benefits come to mind regarding the airing of the call you described:

1. It's a touchy situation. From what you describe, you certainly weren't being racist. On the other hand, racism by definition is a highly emotional thing. (Racism certainly isn't rational.) When people react emotionally, they sometimes act unreasonably. And it sounds like this woman was unreasonable.

But what if some others in your audience shared her reaction?

By airing her complaint - without apologizing for it or retracting it - you give voice to any other listeners who felt aggrieved.

From your description, however, it doesn't sound like very many listeners shared her reaction. But here's a second, even more important reason:

2. When you air a call from a listener who attacks you in a manner that is obviously unfair AND you do not respond in a defensive or hostile manner - that is, if you respond reasonably and courteously - the mass of your audience automatically will leap to your defense. Some will call to speak up for you; others will silently chastise the original caller for being so unfair to you.

An unreasonable attack on you provokes sympathy from your audience. You come across as the "good guy" because you apparently are fair enough to give air time even to a listener who is not fair to you.

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