Local Radio Show Takes Heat, Loses Advertisers Over Transgender Comments

Three companies have decided to pull their advertisement support from KRXQ 98.5, better known on-air as "98Rock," following a controversial discussion about transgendered children on the station’s breakfast show "Rob, Arnie & Dawn."

During the May 28th discussion, show presenters Rob Williams and Arnie States read from a news article describing a male child in another state as being permitted to enroll in school as a female.

"God forbid if my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes," States quipped.

Williams and States then took turns receiving listener phone calls, during which they called transgendered people "freaks," "fruits" and claimed that transgendered people suffered from "medical conditions" in which they felt the need to "bring attention to themselves." The shows third presenter, Dawn Rossi, appeared distressed during the segment.

"Those that really have this, it is a struggle for them! It is heart-wrenching for them! They have always felt like a different sex! And they’ve never felt like themselves."

In response to the May 28th discussion, the organization GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) issued a statement on its blog, saying it was working with the organization Trans Youth Family Allies to bring attention to the segment and solicit a response and apology from station management.

"GLAAD has reached out to KRXQ management to communicate our serious concerns and demand an apology. We are waiting for their reply," the blog read on June 1st.

"They never meant to advocate any form of abuse," station manager Jim Fox told The Sacramento Bee’s 21Q blog.

"I think it’s ridiculous to think that I’m advocating violence against kids," States responded on the program June 3rd. "I know a lot of people don’t understand this, that’s a joke. Maybe you find that to be a tasteless joke, but I have never advocated for parents to beat their children."

States also pointed out that the show has held 29-hour broadcasts benefitting the U.C. Davis Children’s Hospital network annually since 2007.

The presenters went on to defend their controversial dialogue, stating that opinions should be freely expressed regardless of how they’re interpreted.

"That’s what makes this country great," Rossi said in defense of Willams and States. "The minute we start telling Arnie he can’t say that, then somebody’s going to tell me I can’t defend transgender people."

"You guys imply that all you have to do is…whack my non-existant child with a shoe if he goes clopping around the house in high heels," commented a listener who identified herself as a male-to-female transgender who previously had served in the US armed forces for 22 years. "Don’t you think that all the abuse that I took in school would have changed that basic nature in me?"

"Thank you for your service, but let me just say this right now," quipped an angered States. "You fought (in the armed forces) for nothing! With the opinions that you have right there, you fought for absolutely nothing!"

Anyone who expected an apology from two-parts of the breakfast show trio were left with only points of clarification for the controversial dialogue, and that didn’t sit well with gay and lesbian organizations.

"While it was heartening for us to hear that Rob Williams and Arnie States did not advocate for violence against children," GLAAD reported on their blog, "they also did not hold themselves accountable for their dehumanizing and defamatory words used to describe transgender children in last week’s show."

That didn’t sit well with advertisers either. Shortly after Wednesday’s show aired, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group wrote an e-mail to GLAAD announcing they were pulling their advertisement-based support for KRXQ.

"We found the segment to be offensive," a statement released by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group read, "and as a result, we are pulling our Snapple advertising from the station."

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sonic Corporation also announced that day they, too, were pulling advertisement support for the station in response to the offensive comments.

"SONIC in no way condones violence toward children and does not wish to be associated with media content that condones or promotes such activity in any way"

The Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show, which is owned and produced by Williams, continues to air weekday mornings on KRXQ 98.5 FM in Sacramento and in syndication on KDOT 104.5 FM in Reno. The 12-year radio program has been no stranger to controversy in the past; in 2004, the show was fined $55,000 by the Federal Communications Counsel for "on-air indecency" following a complaint filed by James Peak.

Link: Listen to the original May 28th conversation

Link: Rob, Arnie & Dawn’s response on June 3rd (part 1) (part 2)

Link: Local Radio Morning Program Upset Some Over Transgender Comments (FOX40, June 2nd)

Conversation Express your views, debate, and be heard with those in your area closest to the issue. RSS Feed

June 5, 2009 | 7:47 AM

Didn’t Snapple once (or still does?) sponsor Rush Limbaugh’s show? Yet it pulls its advertising on a local radio show??? LOL! I didn’t like having to read a dozen paragraphs to find out which companies pulled their advertising. Since it was emphasized in the first paragraph, why hide the information? Bad writing and editing, IMHO.

June 5, 2009 | 10:18 AM

And yet, it’s featured on the front page of the Sacramento Press. *shrug* go figure.

Article Author
June 5, 2009 | 8:19 AM

Listen This Is A radio Show That allows Anyone to call and express there Opinions. Good Or Bad Or Offensive. I Am A long time listener and they have offended me a number a time so i change the station. You idiots who preach acceptance need to open you eyes and look around the way you are doing this doesn’t make you look any better.Now you want to tell me that i dont have the right to say what i think if it hurts someones feelings Well Last time i checked this is America and if you dont like it get the hell out of my country.

June 5, 2009 | 1:44 PM

“this is America and if you dont like it get the hell out of my country.”

Oh yeah, you just scream acceptance. If standing up for transgender children doesn’t make me look any better to you, too bad. You and I don’t have the right to hurl insults at your boss or our customers without being fired. Why shouldn’t they be held to the same standards as the rest of us? This is not a free speech issue. I would never get away with saying what they said at my place of employment. If they were getting arrested for what they said then it would be a free speech issue.

June 5, 2009 | 1:47 PM

it’s OUR country ….babycakes

and your Right to have hate spewed to enjoy your morning drive,doesn’t stack up so well against protecting little KIDS.

mak
Profile photo of mak
June 5, 2009 | 2:11 PM

Radio shows aren’t free. They’re paid by advertisers, who in turn are paid by me, the customer.. These idiots are perfectly free to stand on any street corner and spew their crap all day long, but they aren’t entitled to a JOB to do it. I couldn’t insult a customer at work that way…why should they feel they can do so ON MY NICKEL?

I hope they lose their show over this.

June 5, 2009 | 11:09 AM

Thanks for writing the story, Matthew; I think you presented both sides fairly.

June 5, 2009 | 11:29 AM

In an update to this article, GLAAD reports that Bank of America has become the fourth advertiser to pull support from KRXQ over the Rob, Arnie & Dawn comment controversy.

Article Author
June 5, 2009 | 12:17 PM

The ones to blame aren’t Arnie States and Rob Williams. They’re shock jocks, and they’re doing what shock jocks do. Skunks aren’t to blame for stinking up places. The ones to blame are those who still listen to these morning-sickness type drive time programs, where the Imuses and Opie and Anthonies and Bob and Toms are spewing their garbage in the name of opinion, where insult and threat is supposed to substitute for humor. So, Sacramento and Reno, are you going to be sheep and keep listening to this?

June 5, 2009 | 3:02 PM

This comment was great. It reinforces the idea that without listeners, readers and viewers, a broadcast product isn’t much of one.

It takes a village…to support a radio show.

Article Author
June 5, 2009 | 12:46 PM

While the Rob, Arnie and Dawn has been is awful and has been unlistenable for years, I get nervous with people trying to ban people or kick them off the air for their comments. It’s a free speech issue, and satire is protected under the First Amendment. I personally find half of what I see on T.V. offensive.

mak
Profile photo of mak
June 5, 2009 | 2:14 PM

Nope. its not a “free speech issue”. They can stand out on the streetcorner and spew their garbage all they want, but if we, the listeners are paying their meal ticket (indirectly, by supporting the business that advertise on the show) then they’re accountable to us. I don’t have the right to speak that way in my business to my customers. Why should they?

June 5, 2009 | 5:11 PM

Aside from the fact that free speech has more to do with the ability to speak freely without the government coming after you for it, and the fact that these radio jocks work for a corporation, the most important part is that they HAD their free speech. They said it. “Free speech” doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for one’s actions. Speak as freely as you want, but be prepared to face the music.

June 5, 2009 | 12:51 PM

Congrats BofA, Chipotle, Snapple and Sonic you have all officially lost at least 1 customer for life.

This is condoning sensorship, free speach is a fundamental right here in the US. They are doing nothing more than expressing their right. They are after all a talk show, that’s what they do is “talk” about their views and opinions.

You are not sheep if you continue to listen to them, quite the oposite actually. You are sheep if you follow the mindless crying society that is complaining about someones opinion. Jump on the bandwagon and wave your fingers at them all you want, I promis they are not going away.

June 5, 2009 | 1:07 PM

it’s spelled censorship, and free speech is usually protected from GOVERMENT censorship, but hate speech, violent insurrection, assasination, and yelling fire in a crowded theater are exceptions.

btw these two hate jocks have had to pay TWO $55,000.00 fines for inappropriate sexual content.
THIS is strike THREE…….toss em out

mak
Profile photo of mak
June 5, 2009 | 2:02 PM

No, its not free. If they want to pump out this crap on their own dime, then fine…but they can’t expect people to stand around and PAY them to do it.

June 5, 2009 | 12:57 PM

Rob and Arnie are COWARDS and spew the EASIEST HATE SPEECH in America
When hate groups couldn’t jazz up the level of hatred against gays and lesbians they switched their focus to Transgender people, calling them “she-males” and attempting to frighten women in restrooms. These two clods don’t even have the courage to attack adult transgender women and men…..NO they attack the absolute weakest and most defenseless transgender beings….little kids.

There needs to be a line in the sand, NO CHILD is going to be abused or ridiculed to give a couple slimey hate jocks RATINGS……we are BETTER than that.

June 5, 2009 | 1:00 PM

McDonalds and Wells Fargo Bank

PLEASE step up and join Snapple, Chipotle, Bank of America, and Sonics

to protect EVERY child

June 5, 2009 | 1:05 PM

You are so full of it. Rob Arnie and Dawn have done more to help kids than any other radio personality in the Sacramento Area. Their yearly Rob Arnie and Dawn A-Thon helps to raise 100′s of thousands for US Davis childrens hospital.

Not a single remarg any of them has ever said in their history of radio has condoned violence against kids.

Do not let Marks slanderous remarks fool you. Think what you will of Rob and Arnies opinions, you can disagree with them all you want as your American right. But do NOT try to strip away or deny them of their American right to have that opinion.

mak
Profile photo of mak
June 5, 2009 | 2:05 PM

Hey…no one’s stripping them of their rights. We just don’t have to PAY them hear it. If I was in a restaurant, and a waiter said those things to me, I would walk out. If I was in a supermarket, I would complain to the manager, and leave. If the manager wants my business, he’ll throw the bigot out on the street.

Pulling the “freedom of speech card” isn’t a charge card.

June 5, 2009 | 2:12 PM

So why not follow suit and not listen to their show?

I am not upset at people for asking places to pull their ads. Likewise I will not shop anywhere that does because I believe they are cowards for doing so.

What I don’t like is people saying that RAD condone child abuse. It’s slander and completly untrue. You are only saying it to get your way.

June 5, 2009 | 1:17 PM

Carl’s Jr also dropped their ads……YAY!!!!!
“Hey everyone, it’s Carl’s Jr. for lunch today!

Dear Concerned Reader,

Thank you for your email. We have pulled all of our ads from KXRQ. (they got the call letters wrong) We did this as soon as the matter was brought to our attention.

We appreciate your concern and thank you for contacting CKE Restaurants on this matter.

Regards,
CKE, Public Relations
Guest Response Line: (877) 799-7827
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-rowe/krxq-sacramento-radio-hos_b_210637.html?page=2&show_comment_id=25207401#postComment
from Huffington Post
thx bluheron

June 5, 2009 | 1:32 PM

5 companies have pulled their ads now.

If they had said

“i don’t like transgendered people.”
“I do not believe that kids are old enough or mentally competent enough to make a decision concerning their gender identity.”
“I don’t agree with the parents who allow their children to make this step into being transgendered.”
“in my opinion this is wrong and should stop.”

If that had been the way they addressed this issue, most of the people that are upset would never have heard about it, never cared. Because you are right people can express their opinions, they should.

They did not do this, they called them names, insulted them, used hate speech and defamation.
There is a huge difference.

June 5, 2009 | 1:34 PM

By putting ads on a show, sponsors are paying the show to say what they say. They are responsible for the content when it is out of line. This means that when someone says stuff like:

“If the kid ever gets to be eighteen,” States said, “and says ‘I still feel like a woman!’ you say, ‘Get out! Go be a freak! And understand, SON, that society will never accept you because we still have some moral judgment.”

“A boy who wants to wear a dress is a freak. A nut.”

“I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down. And they wind up in therapy.”

“Allowing transgenders to exist, pretty soon it becomes normal to fall in love with the animals,”

McDonald’s is paying them to say it.

June 5, 2009 | 1:38 PM

You guys are so cute :)
I love that my comments on your page don’t get posted, a perfect example of sensorship just as you want to sensor the Rob Arnie and Dawn show.
But yet you come here to spout off your garbage.

June 5, 2009 | 1:44 PM

Private websites, like the Huff, have terms of use agreements.
When you make the account so that you can post you agree to their terms.
If what you say violates their terms, your post will not be published.

On a private server, website, station, they can censor anyone they want.

And as I said above I do not care if people don’t like people that are different then them.
I do care when they verbally or physically bash and attack people that are different then themsleves.

June 5, 2009 | 2:05 PM

Really? You are not allowed to say anything bad about anyone? Sounds like a violation of freedom of speech to me.
Physicall bashing is not even part of this discussion, we are talking about words on the radio here. Furthermore the majority of the comments against RAD are centered around “condoning violence against children” which is absolutly obsurd.
Calling someone a “freak” and saying the have “mental” issues is an opinion and if you don’t like someones opinion then don’t listen to it. You don’t strip away their right to have that opinion. It is thigns like this that will eventually ruin our country.

Furthermore, you have no idea (unless you work for the huff) what I said, and I know for a fact it did not violate the terms. It simply was not posted because I don’t agree with 99% of the comments there.

June 5, 2009 | 2:42 PM

The Sacramento Press has certain terms of use regarding their website, which includes what appropriate an inappropriate dialogue is. I’ve seen editors ask commenters and contributors to keep their dialogue civilized before; they don’t appreciate it when one user attacks another.

It’s not censorship. It’s a facilitation for civilized dialogue. You can make your point to someone without getting nasty.

Article Author
June 5, 2009 | 4:13 PM

Just to be clear on the issue:

The Sacramento Press has not taken any of mrlucky2u posts down. I suppose that he is referring to another site.

We do have terms of use and we will enforce them, particularly if language or unnecessary personal attacks pop up on this or any thread.

June 5, 2009 | 1:38 PM

A 6th company has just pulled its advertisements.

Verizon will no longer run ads on the radio station.
http://glaadblog.org/2009/06/05/verizoncarl/

Sonic,
Verizon,
Carls Jr.
Snapple,
Cipotle,
Bank of America.

June 5, 2009 | 2:07 PM

The awesome part about all this, Rob Arnie and Dawn will continue to thrive and be happy long after you all find something else to complain about.

June 5, 2009 | 2:21 PM

No shortage of freedom of speech here!

June 5, 2009 | 2:37 PM

Thank you for that

June 5, 2009 | 3:06 PM

ridiculous that advertisers are pulling because they don’t accept violence toward children. Arnie obviously wasn’t advocating violence. Everyone is so PC these days. Crazy

June 5, 2009 | 4:15 PM

So back in the old days we heard this stuff on the radio?

June 5, 2009 | 3:20 PM

“Nissan does not support the views expressed during the May 28th broadcast on the Rob, Arnie and Dawn in the Morning show on KRXQ.
Our advertising purchase with this show ended June 1 and we will not renew it.”

http://glaadblog.org/2009/06/05/update-nissan-wont-renew-krxq-advertising-contract/

8 sponsors gone and counting:

# Chipotle
# Snapple
# Sonic
# Bank of America
# Verizon
# Carl’s Jr (CKE Restaurants)
# Wells Fargo
# Nissan North Americ

June 5, 2009 | 3:35 PM

Technically, seven. Wells Fargo wasn’t an advertiser on KRXQ during the controversy and hasn’t advertised on the station for a year, according to their statement to GLAAD.

The story is being updated here as well:

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-news-radcontroversy0605,0,4345342.story

Article Author
June 5, 2009 | 3:45 PM

This is complete rubbish. Rob, Arnie & Dawn continue to be the number 1 rated morning show. I’m sure there will be other advertisers ready to line up to take the places of those who dropped. In this country Freedom of speech continues to go by the wayside. I recall a certain country group given their opinion about a president and were ripped off the radio.

I guess this kind of thing will continue to happen until we all walk in line.

June 5, 2009 | 4:31 PM

Yeah after EIGHT Major National corporations suddenly drop all their ads, those OTHER sponsors are going to rush to invest on this crud show.

got any other bedtime stories….huh…..Bill?
or is it Jim Fox or maybe Rob????

June 5, 2009 | 4:36 PM

@Bill

uh the difference is Dixie Chicks made a pretty timid comment about the most powerful politician on EARTH, saying they were embarrassed to be from the state.
Whereas Rob and Arnie picked on the MOST acceptable group to discriminate against ….transgender people.
Even then these big manly men went after NOT ADULT trans people….no they decided to spew vile hatred at KIDS…….gosh ain’t ya proud of the warriors?

June 5, 2009 | 4:28 PM

Rob and Arnie

moral of this story………”pick on somebody your OWN SIZE”

you pick on little KIDS, and we’ll come at you like a lioness with her cubs endangered.

June 5, 2009 | 4:45 PM

guitar center pulled their advertising yesterday make that nine.

June 5, 2009 | 5:42 PM

How do you know? I really like to hear. Thanks.

June 5, 2009 | 5:33 PM

Speech that foments and incites is not ‘FREE SPEECH’, especially when that speech incites violence against a class of people or an individual.

I happen to be Jewish, and because of my family I am hyper-aware of pre-WWII stories about ‘Kristallnacht’, where the media, then primitive by today’s standards, promoted inhuman and licentious conduct against Jewish and other minority individuals and groups, including homosexuals, that resulted in harm to countless victims of this legitimized hate.

The public owns the airwaves, and licensees exist to provide a service, including public service. Hate, in all its expressions and forms, does not serve the public. Licensees have a responsibility to ensure public benefit and not to harm public safety. Expressions of hate that foment and incite, such as those made by the KRXQ licensees/airhost personalities against the LGBT community as it struggles for civil equality. Their actions are reprehensible, and I am gratified that advertisers are pulling their support of this trash.

I do not advocate censorship however. I *DO* advocate regulatory oversight when hate-radio or other hate-media promotes speech that actually harms groups or individuals, such as the tie between Bill O’Reilly’s comments about one Dr. Tiller, the ob/gyn physician who was murdered last week at the hand of an adherent to right wing zealotry against abortion providers.

The KRXQ hosts went way too far, perhaps stupidly, perhaps cynically as a calculated effort to boost ratings. Nonetheless they now need to be held accountable for doing so, for their speech can potentially harm others, and was made very irresponsibly. This sort of ‘entertainment’ is merely a currying to the basest fears and angers of a stupid audience at a time when these same people are seeking to blame anyone for the problems that no doubt plague their lives. In doing so, the KRXQ hosts’ actions are like shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, where no fire exists.

Their conduct was an outrage, and this MUST stop!

June 5, 2009 | 5:44 PM

I wish I could thumbs up you one hundred times.

June 5, 2009 | 7:09 PM

Buh Bye RAD. What is simply amazing to me is that many of you here think this is a freedom of speech issue. These “Hosts” have been abusive and vulgar since day one. It’s about time the rest of the nation sees them for what they really are. Talentless, arrogant and abusive.

June 5, 2009 | 8:54 PM

Add now AT&T and McDonald’s to the list of advertisers who are no longer supporting KRXQ over the Rob, Arnie & Dawn controversy.

Article Author
June 6, 2009 | 5:05 AM

So, with so much emotion put into your dislike for this show and its hosts I wonder what will you say or do when the show is still on next year and the advertisers that left are back? This is also a question for those that have said they won’t shop at these advertisers for leaving in the first place, will you go back to these stores?

I’m in no way guaranteeing that the show will survive this, I hope they do and would be surprised if they don’t, I’m really just curious as to what you will do with all this anger and emotion.

This is a touchy subject of course but you all seem to really want to agitate each other as apposed to working together to better society…

“they must go, they are a terrible show, they are terrible people…” and so on
Vs
“freedom of speech, turn the channel”

Someone above me posted something about how if the show had approached the topic a different way, used more neutral language, this would have never happened. Can’t the same be said of the people offended by the show? What if GLAAD had called the show before saying or doing anything publicly? What if they had instead tried to engage a real dialogue with the show and not go the media sledgehammer/we are going to get your advertisers route? Is it possible they missed a golden chance to sway people to their cause that would have had an enormous effect on public opinion? This show does after all carry a large amount of ratings.
In the end your arguments hurt your own position (some of you more than others) I long for the day when this country learns that it is more effective to convince someone your right instead of just bashing them over the head with your opinions till they get tired and give in…maybe one day…

June 6, 2009 | 11:34 AM

Lets recap shall we
One side uses ABUSING CHILDREN to get ratings
and MY side says….”OH HELL NO”

I like my side’s position in the long run, and I would have a lot of trouble if I supported the first side, or if I sat SILENT and did NOTHING., and still look at myself in a mirror

June 6, 2009 | 7:47 AM

yes, just a joke, and i freely support their right to make awful jokes.
im just tickled to death advertisers are pulling money in order to NOT support such awful jokes. isn’t our country great? id say ill never listen to the show again, but i’m an honest sort, so ill have to admit that i can’t stand the show and never could. id wish those two have gay kids, but, hell…i like gay kids, so, no.
shelly

June 6, 2009 | 9:58 AM

How would the advertisers feel if in support of Rob Arnie and Dawn we pulled our business from them. I thought that this country was founded on freedom of speech. But I guess that is only if everyone agrees with you. Anyone who listens to the show would know that they are shock radio. Get over it people!
J

June 6, 2009 | 11:37 AM

You can do as you chose whether you support these ex advertisers or not.

Ain’t living in America GRAND?

June 6, 2009 | 8:23 PM

I heard the shows inciting violence toward transgendered folks and transgendered children. I do believe in free speech, but not when its used to promote transphobia violence. I have family in the Sacramento Stockton area and now feel I must carry a firearm to defend myself from the violence sanctioned by these two idiots. In fact maybe a few friends to cover my back might be an idea.
Christina

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