North Texas Daily

Radio show stirs up controversy with stereotype segment

Radio show stirs up controversy with stereotype segment

Radio show stirs up controversy with stereotype segment
March 18
01:25 2014

Caitlyn Jones // Staff Writer

Yesterday morning on the local radio station 102.1 The Edge, listeners of The Jagger Mafia morning show got the chance to win tickets to Texas Motor Speedway by playing a game.

Host Chris Jagger read a crime story about a Florida man who stole an abundance of feminine products from the grocery store. The two contestants gave their answers.

“Black,” the nuclear engineer contestant said.

“Other,” the accountant contestant guessed.

“Man, you guys suck at this,” Jagger said. “He was actually Latino.”

The object of the game, “Test Your Stereotypes,” was simple: correctly guess the ethnicity of the perpetrator. The nuclear engineer won after guessing one out of five ethnicities correctly.

Racial overtones have permeated modern culture in the form of games or parties, and in this case a radio show, begging the question: what is defined as racism?

“Race is a fundamental part of who we are in the United States,” anthropology professor Mariela Nunez-Janes said. “What’s difficult about race in the 21st century is it comes in slightly different forms.”

All Fun and Games?

Due to the sensitive subject matter, “Test Your Stereotypes” has stirred up some controversy.

“This isn’t even really a game,” said Vanessa Flores, criminal justice senior and president of the Hispanic Student Association. “Racism isn’t something to joke about.”

However, not all of the feedback has been negative.

“I swear, the only time I enjoy driving to work is when y’all play Test Your Stereotypes!” a listener posted on the station’s Facebook page on March 4.

The Jagger Mafia show could not be reached for comment despite multiple efforts, including via phone, email and in person.

The show is comprised of hosts Chris Jagger, Mike “Mondo” Vasquez, Jasmine Sadry and producer Josh Hart. The group returned to 102.1 on Jan. 3,after being off of the air for eight years.

The “Test Your Stereotypes” game came with the unit’s return and is deemed a “social experiment” by the hosts. The segment is played between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays.

Contestants have the option to choose white, black, Latino or other as answers.

“I think racial stereotypes are becoming normalized, especially for young people,” Nunez-Janes said.

The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) regulates broadcast radio, and there are libel laws within state governments.

However, none of these apply to “Test Your Stereotypes,” said Russell Campbell, radio, television, and film professor.

“There are rules about indecent content and libel but there’s nothing in the show that would be actionable,” he said.

There isn’t a set ethics code for radio disc jockeys, leaving the content up to producers and the ultimate authority of the parent company.

“Basically, stations are free to air whatever the licensee feels is right,” Campbell said.

The Edge’s parent company is Clear Channel Media. The company also owns 106.1 KISS FM, 102.9 NOW, 92.5 Lonestar, and 97.1 The Eagle.

The Dallas-Fort Worth market is the 5th largest media market in the United States, and The Edge ranks 12th in ratings within the market, according to Nielsen ratings from December 2013.

Partying With Racism

This isn’t the only form of racial stereotypes in today’s society, Nunez-Janes said.

Racially themed college parties have been popping up all over the nation.

Two years ago, sororities Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta at the University of Texas at Austin caused controversy when they hosted a fiesta party where guests dressed up in panchos, fake mustaches and shirts emblazoned with phrases like “border patrol” and “illegal.”

More recently, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Arizona State University was suspended after the group threw a “Black Out for MLK” party earlier this year to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Guests posed for pictures on Instagram wearing bandanas and baggy clothing, drinking out of watermelon cups and grabbing their crotches.

“These things aren’t new,” Nunez-Janes said “Racial games and parties have been going on for some time.”

Students have also experienced forms of racism.

“Some people think I don’t know how to speak English,” Vanessa Flores said. “Then they act surprised when I answer them.”

Blurred Lines

Politically correct terms are constantly changing, which leaves some confusion about what is racist and what is not.

Today, race can be either empowering or oppressive, depending on the context, Nunez-Janes said.

“You can talk about being black and feel pride in that,” she said. “But you can also say ‘black’ and mean very negative things.”

The ways in which certain words are used has an emphasis on racial undertones, as well.

Republican congressman Paul Ryan recently came under fire for a comment about the “inner city” taking advantage of government assistance. Some Democrats said the representative’s comment was a “a thinly veiled racial attack.”

Ryan defended his remarks, saying race was never an issue.

Nevertheless, Nunez-Janes doesn’t see an end to racism anytime soon.

“Racism is an evolving concept,” she said. “As our understanding of race evolves, so will our experiences with racism.”

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