Natives Call DJs ‘Cash For Tlingits’ Radio Racism

June 8th, 2010 by

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTVA-CBS 11 News) Some Alaska Native community members consider two of Anchorage’s most well known DJ’s, KWHL-FM’s Bob and Mark, racists after the duo ran a segment called, “Cash for Tlingits.”

Apparently based off last year’s “cash for clunkers” campaign, where car dealers offered cash to trade in old cars, “Cash for Tlingits” featured a Native man talking about how his grandson turned him in for cash.

“An inappropriate parody commercial got put on the air that probably was offensive to any Alaska Native,” says Anchorage Media Group General Manager Dennis Bookey.

Through an e-mail an upset listener who heard the segment said callers wanted Bob and Mark to re-air the original piece, recounting what she heard:

“Are you out of cash? Do you need to make some quick money? Do have an old native lying around? Well, we will give you cash for Tlingits.”

“As a Native person myself, when I first read the comment, I was upset and disturbed by it,” says the First Alaskans Institute’s Elizabeth Medicine Crow, who held an impromptu forum Friday between upset Native community members, and Anchorage Media Group representatives.

“Some people were interested in an apology,” Crow says. “But again there was concern over the backlash. Because of what happened it polarized the community.”

That is what Crow and many Alaska Native feel happened when former KBFX-FM DJs Woody and Wilcox made anti-native comments more than two years ago. It appears that is now why Bob and Mark will apparently not be suspended.

“That was the first thing that we thought of doing,” Bookey says. “And that’s a typical reaction, but what does that solve? No, Bob and Mark are going to go through this, process to help resolve this situation. To help extend that hand. Those were Bob’s words actually. OK, after being educated on how hurtful comments like this can be, he does want to extend a hand.”

“There has been kind of a non-talking about racism in Alaska,” Crow says. “And this conversation will hopefully help us move in a direction where we as Alaskans can talk about issues like racism. Things that keep our community divided and move forward.

Final actions will not be taken until Bob and Mark actually meet with Native community members Wednesday afternoon. Bookey says after that an announcement should be made.

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