Greg Wood and Chris Wilcox, known as Woody and Wilcox on their popular morning radio show on KBFX-FM, a Clear Channel hard rock station, were suspended on April 15th following perceived public outrage over a controversial comment about Alaska Natives, which even manifested itself in a public picketing on April 19th. During their program on April 9th, the two were joking about what makes someone a real Alaskan when one of them switched the verbs on an old saying that real Alaskans have urinated in the Yukon River and made love to an Alaska Native woman. Some people also find the original saying offensive.
Clear Channel decided that two weeks of sensitivity training and a recorded apology is sufficient. They issued the following statement, reproduced in part:
"We have cautiously made the decision to allow Woody and Wilcox to return to the air on Wednesday. I am confident that when they return, Woody and Wilcox will be different people, far more aware of all cultures around us, eager to expand that awareness and committed to building bridges within our community."
But before they re-start their morning show on 100.5, the two shock jocks first sent out an apology that said, "One of the things that's become clear to both Woody and I is that a comment, even when it's made without an intent to harm, can still be very hurtful. As you probably know, Woody and I are each raising two young children here in Anchorage and the last thing that either of us want to do is contribute to a culture of hate in Alaska".
Reaction from their persecutors was forthcoming. Denise Morris with the Alaska Native Justice Center said she thinks much of what happens after today is in the hands of the two DJs. "I think they have been held accountable. I don't know if they have been forgiven by the community at large. I think when they go back on air their words are going to speak volumes and it's going to really count a lot on how they address the issue," Morris said. But Morris added that she would have preferred the men to have apologized more publicly, such as calling a press conference or by broadcasting on stations other than their own.
So why did Clear Channel do the right thing in Anchorage, while, in contrast, Viacom's Murray Rothstein (better known by his current name of Sumner Redstone) and CBS's Les Moonves threw Don Imus under the bus in New York a year ago? Simple - Anchorage is NOT New York, and, God willing, it will NEVER become another New York. REAL Alaskans DESPISE political correctness, despite the outcome of a KTUU "unscientific" poll taken on April 16th, which showed that, out of 2,750 respondents, 73 percent wanted Woody and Wilcox fired, while only 24 percent wanted to see them eventually reinstated. Clear Channel is to be commended for disregarding the lynch mob mentality orchestrated and promoted by the city's political and cultural elite in the wake of the remark and doing the right thing instead. The cultural divide between Anchorage and Alaska, while nowhere is great as that between Salt Lake City and Utah (all three of Utah's openly-gay state legislators, Democrats to boot, hail from Salt Lake), is present and growing.