It may have seemed like another day at the office for Rob Williams and Arnie States when they started riffing on transgender kids during their morning show on May 28. Two of the three “stars” of KRXQ 98.5 FM’s Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning show (Dawn was pretty quiet on the topic) suggested, among other things, that kids who express gender-variant behavior—say, for instance, a boy who wants to wear high heels—ought to have shoes thrown at them until they “straighten up.”
The lack of understanding of gender identity and gender expression would be bad enough, but the ignorant suggestion of violence is simply appalling, particularly considering how often transgender folks are victimized. That they thought the typical “we were only joking” nonapology apology that’s become the standard would be enough is equally offensive. But when confronted with the deserved indignation of their listeners—and concomitant loss of advertising revenue—Rob, Arnie, Dawn and their bosses did something exceptionally decent.
They invited transgender people to come on air and talk with them about their lives, thus turning their offensive behavior into an awareness-raising opportunity for both the radio personalities and their listeners. We really don’t expect much from drive-time radio hosts; it’s all about saying stupid stuff to keep people distracted from road rage during the commute. That the folks at KRXQ rose above the ratings war to take stock of their prejudices and reach out to an oppressed community deserves notice. That’s the way grown-ups behave, and it was a pleasant surprise.