this sounds like it might be an apology…

… but no one actually said they were sorry.

Thanks for the follow up Heather.

Upon review, the mention of Elizabeth Smart was used a punch line. A feeble, and tasteless attempt at a joke. It wasn’t mean to be mean spirited, but still–it was over the line

I regularly meet with the morning show, and all the on air staff here. It is their job to entertain in the “Ticket style” and sometimes in those attempts to be funny, they cross the line. When they do, it is my job to point out when they do cross the line, why, and how.  I discussed this with the guys, and they had received email about it too. And they also told me when the segment was over, they immediately felt they could’ve gone to far and felt bad about it.

Generally speaking, some topics (rape being one of them) just aren’t funny–no matter what.


I haven’t heard an apology on air, and there wasn’t one in that letter. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s not quite good enough.


Will they be making an on-air apology?


And we wait.

No they won’t.

Here is why, in part. Having done this for the past 18 years or so, its been my experience that an on air apology only causes further attention to a mistake that is already out there–and shouldn’t be revisited. I don’t want them to explain the joke, then the mystery created when they don’t explain it, causes a stir among the audience and makes it a greater issue due to runaway imaginations.

They made a mistake. I pointed it out to them, they already felt bad about it. It was addressed in a meeting and now they have to be allowed to correct it moving forward.

This is not unlike dealing with kids in many ways!


I think I’m going to outsource all of my apologizing from now on. Who wants the job?

While not unexpected, I find your answer — particularly the last statement — to be so intriguing. One, I probably wouldn’t let kids run my radio station, but that’s beside the point. And two, from my 18 or so years of experience *being* a kid, I can tell you that were I in the wrong, I’d have been marched right over to whomever I wronged and been made to apologize (there’s this whole stealing gum incident that’s etched pretty clearly in my memory). My parents certainly didn’t do the apologizing for me, either. A “they felt bad” is not nearly the same thing as the culpable person saying, “I’m sorry.” Obviously this must be the industry standard, protecting the talent, but it seems very… unmanly.

But like you said, Kids.

So, while acknowledging it directly is clearly out of the question, I’m sure we all (your advertisers included) can look forward to the Musers’ eventual Public Service Announcement. Perhaps it can be a Limbaugh/Ticket joint production.

Have a good one, Jeff.

36 comments to this sounds like it might be an apology…

  • Ah. So they’re sorry you can’t take a bold/line straddling rape joke. Gross.

  • Yeah, not much of an apology or acceptance of responsibility. And the grammar…….oh the humanity!!!!

  • Sian

    Long time reader, first time commenter, but I had to pipe up to say I completely agree. This is a non-answer if I ever saw one!

  • Ana

    Agreed – I find it almost comical that they were able to type out two emails to you, notify their staff, and whatever else while managing to not say “we messed up, sorry”. Yikes!

  • Jennifer

    I would not call that an apology, it reads more like a statement of fact. Jeff must have missed that day in kindergarten.

  • Amber

    I’m with you on that. They should apologize on air, short and to the point, just say that they went too far by joking about Elizabeth Smart. I think we’ve all had moments where we realize we said something that was wrong and insensitive, and the only honorable way to deal with that is to apologize and learn something about yourself and maybe examine your attitudes.

  • Mrs. M

    Not even close. Maybe he forgot to send you the other half of the message? >:/

  • We’ve had a similar scenario play out in the last 24 hours here on Australian TV. A tv talk show, The Circle’s, panelists made coarse jokes at the expense of one of our war heroes… and have been reaping a fierce amount of criticism from the public.

    I am both glad that Australia has paid attention, and sick that the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome we are famed for is rampant – the proffered apologies were weak and insincere and reflective of the vacuous nature of media and celebrity and it makes me just FURIOUS!

  • Melissa

    Hmm… I read his message and thought it was a pretty honest admittance of wrongdoing. I guess they didn’t say the words “I apologize.” Clearly, I’m alone in my assessment. I wonder what I’m missing.

    Anyway, an on-air apology would be a classy move.

    • thisfish

      They won’t be apologzing on air. I find that disappointing.

      Now, Jeff said they “felt bad,” but that is not the same thing as the man who said it taking responsibility and saying he’s sorry. THAT is an apology.

      • melissa

        Looking back on it again, the added degree of separation between this third party saying they “felt bad” versus the actual people who said it responding at all strikes me as a bit weak.

  • Melissa

    *admission, not admittance

  • Bridget

    While I see the possible regret in his letter, I’d highly advise him not to piss of the internet. If it can force Susan G. Komen foundation to reverse their decision, it can most assuredly get DJs plus some in Texas fired.

    It wasn’t funny. They need to apologize on air. The end.

  • Goolya

    I am sorry but the guy just re-wrote ur email or is it just me?

  • If I can offer another perspective:

    I absolutely applaud you for complaining because they said something horrible and they really needed to be reprimanded for what they said. Absolutely. I would’ve ran one of my jocks up a pole for saying that. And other programmers do too. Some guys in LA (huge radio market by the way so its a big deal when something happens there) got suspended for making Whitney Houston jokes the next day etc.

    But in live radio sometimes people do forget that they are talking to someone other than their partner and some really horrific shit rolls out. I’ve cussed on the air on accident before, for instance. Sometimes people cross a line and what most of us have been told is just keep moving and pretend it didn’t happen. I think an on air apology especially considering the length of time that has passed wouldn’t do much. If the guys truly felt bad, they could’ve said something during their next break but for the most part other listeners have forgotten they’ve ever said this.

    That doesn’t make it right at all. I struggle sometimes with the, pardon my french “Fuck it” attitude of my industry. I try even in a rock radio format to make “clean but naughty” radio. I never go after anyone, even celebrities but I make sexy jokes about myself all the time, etc.

    I think this programmer is hoping this will just go away and that you’ll feel less offended. If you’re still angry enough (and by all means I am still angry about what they said) you can complain to the companies who advertise with them. That always gets the message across.

  • Claire

    Anyone else dismayed by the typos and generally poor writing in his “apology” email?

  • Mary H.

    I’m an infrequent commenter but had to put in my 2 cents. Wow, that email was embarrassingly lame and poorly written to boot! Too many excuses! Jeff – try again!

  • Jim

    I applaud you for sending the email fish, but I also feel that if they were to apologize on-air, it would probably just remind everyone of the original comments and, at worst, make it sought out (what are they apologizing for? Let me look it up on the internet!).
    I’ve never been on-air, but I have volunteered at a local public radio station. I know that if a mistake is made that it’s rarely mentioned after the fact. It’s not that the DJ isn’t sorry, it’s more of a ‘its over, lets move on’ attitude. Also, thinking about the new person who has never heard the station before, what kind of image does that leave on them if the first thing they hear is “we’re sorry”?
    Remember, it’s all about people listening for the ads, not necessarily about the content of the programming. The only reason the local news is 3-4 hours long is to get cheap programming with mass-quantities of advertising into that time slot.

    And the gramar speaks volumes about the mentality of this “program manager”.

  • mary

    AN apology should not be solicited, it should be given, without prompting.

    So, Fish, a forced apology, erases what was said on air?!??

    For those commenting on the grammar, I roll my eyes at you…every.single.person.

    • thisfish

      I’m sorry, did I ever say that? That apologizing erased it? Certainly not. But apologizing shows ownership and class. And sure, in ideal situations, an apology shouldn’t have to asked for. But these are not ideal, classy folks we’re dealing with. And when one is due, and is not given, I have no problem asking for it.

  • Kate

    Hi Heather,

    It must be offensive radio month, because I am really upset about Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments regarding women. I decided to file a complaint with the FCC, then I remembered your story and thought it would be good for everyone to know how they can do that. I’m using this link to file a complaint:

    • Agreed, Kate! I thought of Fish and her situation when I first read an article about this. I have never been so shocked and personally offended by anything said on radio/politically. I don’t consider myself a terribly political person, and don’t tend to get very riled up over issues, but this cut me to the core and I find it unacceptable that Rush Limbaugh be paid to speak when that’s what he has to say.

  • Rebekah

    “…not unlike dealing with kids” indeed! Such a childish little power-game to withhold the words “We’re sorry” (whether it be on air or in an email). Man up, lads!

    I’m a long time reader, and first time commenter. Thanks for your blog.

    • Saying sorry would be the same as admitting they were wrong, and they clearly aren’t willing to do that. I think the commenter who had the idea about going to the companies who advertise during the show is the next best step to take.

  • Melanie D-M

    I agree that is not much of an apology if Jeff says they “felt bad.” That is very different than being sorry.

    Also, would you let kids be broadcast on YOUR radio station with no supervision? I don’t think so.

  • Olivia

    The apology would serve a purpose. It might educate some of the listeners who laughed at that “joke”.

  • julie

    Any parent worth the title will tell you they make their children apologize when they are in the wrong. In fact, as a children’s counselor, apology letters are a regular assignment from . I’m appalled at his last response.

    Someone else brought up Limbaugh. What is going on right now with all the insults against women?

  • Mrs. M

    “This is not unlike dealing with kids in many ways,”

    Um, these are grown men, not kids!

    And if the guys “immediately felt they could’ve gone to far and felt bad about it” when the segment was over, they should have addressed it then and there. Jeff’s response to you was weak. His response and his lack of action tell me that he really doesn’t care about this situation. I doubt that Jeff even addressed this issue with “the guys”! The guys’ actions are a direct reflection of their “leader” Jeff, and it appears that their leader is seriously lacking leadership skills.

  • KimMC

    “Perhaps it can be a Limbaugh/Ticket joint production.” <– love!

  • Kim

    So, I’m curious- will you still be listening to their show?

  • I don’t know. All I really see are excuses.

  • Rosie

    We live in a market capitalist society that prides itself on free speech. As such, those douchebags had every right to say what they did about Elizabeth Smart, and as the “consumer,” you have every right to complain and if you’re not satisfied, then stop listening. Simple. Don’t go searching for an apology. You won’t get it.

  • Naomi

    Why do I still bother to check this site? Sad, because I really enjoyed reading this blog…

  • MissLisa

    are you still blogging?