Web Radio Station's Future Uncertain After Manager Allegedly Posts Racist Ferguson Rant
Pennie Layne (left) and Jason Harris (a.k.a. Dr. Jay) of local Internet radio station 101 The Feed broadcast at ThirdSpace during the Grand Avenue Festival.
A fledgling online radio station that launched in early August with a focus on local music is losing support quickly after its general manager and registrar of the station's website, allegedly posted a racism-laced rant on Facebook in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
After New Times contributor Jeff Moses took a screenshot of the status and shared it, Jason P. Harris, general manager of 101 The Feed, Serving Your Local Addiction, at first defended his right to free speech. He later said someone digitally manipulated his words in an attempt to bring down his radio station.
After New Times contacted Harris for comment, the station released a statement distancing itself from the post.
"The posts that are circulating on Facebook from the general manager of this station are not factual, while it is true that some of the statement is correct, it is not the entire statement," read the press release, which later stated, "The statements that were made were pulled from a personal Facebook page and in no way reflect the opinions of the station in its entirety."
The actual theme of the alleged post is tough to summarize, because of unintelligible tangents and bad grammar, but it mainly castigates people in Ferguson for rioting after the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown.
The full text of the post is at the end of this blog, but here are some excerpts:
"Since when is looting a mobil [sic] station, burning an autozone [sic], and endangering countless lives civilized. you [sic] all have no education, no common sense, and there isn't a boat big enough to send you back"
"So cops, highway patrol, security, load up your arms and shoot those who think its [sic] right to violate the laws of our country when they are really only guests in it!!!!!!"
The post ended with the following line:
"Isnt [sic] it funny how the KFC isnt [sic] being burned!!!!!"
People took to Facebook to take Harris to task for his words. Initially, Harris didn't deny the accusations of racism, instead asserting his right to free speech. At no point in these responses did he mention that the words had been digitally manipulated.
At 1:13 a.m. Tuesday, Harris defended himself in a post on his wall, saying he had a right to free speech.
"people who run companies are entitled to a personal opinion without fear of reprisal ... fergueson [sic] is burning tonight, you only have to LOOK on the video to know who is doing it, if you dont like it fuck you," Harris wrote.
Then, at 1:26 a.m., Harris made another post on his wall, this time using the old George Wallace defense -- that he had a black friend or two.
"i love how the court of public (ignorance) can spin something, i made no racist comments tonight btw, you all know that, so i have a very good friend who is black several btw so fuck this shit, im done there is work to be done!"
Meanwhile, in a thread on Moses' wall, Harris wrote:
"yes [sic] tear us down for wanting to have an opinion! thats [sic] the american [sic] way!" Harris wrote at 1:22 a.m. Tuesday.
Then, at 1:23 a.m., he wrote:
"Im not racist BTW look at the cameras!!!!! who do you see down there, did i not write what is happening!" When asked on Facebook about the "there isn't a boat big enough to send you back," Harris responded, at 1:28 a.m. on Moses' wall, "since when is that racial, where does it call any race names!"
Since the post, the backlash has been fierce. Threads on Facebook, totaling hundreds of comments, have appeared. Musicians have pulled their music from the station.
Andy Borunda, guitarist for Carol Pacey and the Honeyshakers, said the band cut ties with Harris and The Feed after seeing the post, saying it was the "final nail in the coffin."
The station was going to host a launch party at Tempe Tavern on Saturday, but that looks to be in doubt, as one of the bands slotted to play, Soft Deadlines, has pulled out.
"We are no longer playing the 101 The Feed launch party on Saturday. For those of you who don't know, the station's management has made some nasty comments about the Ferguson situation, and it doesn't feel right to be associated with them any further," the band posted on Facebook.
The radio station's Facebook page created an event called "To those who would see us fail!" Under location, the listing read, "in the court of public opinion." The event description hinted that more musicians than just the Honeyshakers have pulled their music from the station.
On the event page, Harris posted an image claiming the original rant was digitally manipulated, with a picture of what he says he originally wrote. The original post said law enforcement should "SHOOT EVERY LAST MOTHERFUCKER" rioting and looting and that authorities should declare martial law and shoot everyone in the streets in the head, twice. In the post that Harris claims is the original, that language is removed and replaced with much more orderly advice that law enforcement should "PRESERVE LIFE AND PROPERTY IN A FAIR AND LEGAL MANNER."
The line about KFC not getting burned, however, remained in both versions.
As of midnight on Wednesday, November 26, the event page, and the supposedly un-doctored rant, had been deleted.
Check out the full text of alleged rant below:
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