I’ve mentioned before that I tend to listen to the morning show on 98PXY during my five minute drive to work most mornings. I’ve blogged about the sexism (and worse) that I’ve heard the hosts of the shows espouse. Today, I want to talk about some of the regular segments that they do for the show and why they bother me.
The first is “War of the Roses,” which has disturbed me so much that I often will turn off the radio on the days that it airs if it comes on during my commute. The basic notion is that someone call in to the show because zie suspects hir romantic partner of cheating on hir. So to “help out,” one of the hosts calls the partner at hir office and tells them that they are eligible to have a free bouquet of red roses sent to any person of hir choosing. The idea is that if the partner chooses to send the flowers to the original caller, the caller’s fears are (hypothetically) allayed. If the partner chooses to send the flowers to someone else instead — which has been the case for all of the half dozen or so times I’ve listened to the segment — zie is deemed a cheater and the original caller — who is also on the line the entire time — confronts hir. Usually some sort of fight ensues and “great drama” is achieved.
For the record, I threw up in my mouth a little typing “great drama.” Even in the scare quotes. Because it sickens me to think that we as a society (or at least the segment that listens to morning radio) apparently consider this something great to listen to. I mean, thinking your partner might be cheating on you is serious business, not to mention actually having a cheating partner. Having dated guys who proved themselves completely untrustworthy, I get that. Which is why I find the whole idea of using some radio show stunt as a way to try to find out or confront a cheating partner so disconcerting.1 Truth be told, dealing with a cheating partner or even just a partner suspected of cheating is not easy and I don’t think there are any simple ways to deal with that. That includes having radio hosts try trapping and catching your partner in the act and then confronting them on air.
The other segment that bothers me is called “Communicake.” The idea behind this one is that the hosts invite someone to call in with a situation in which they need to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone or tell them something that isn’t easy. The hosts then put the message — letting the caller choose the exact phrasing — on a cookie cake, drop it off outside the recipient’s front door over the weekend with a card inviting them to call the show Monday morning to talk it out. The resulting conversation is then aired, of course. I haven’t listened to this segment (especially the conversations after the cake is delivered) very often. The handful of messages I’ve heard about include break-up messages and one person telling her neighbor that a rank odor is wafting from his apartment into hers.
Again, I find this weird and creepy. First of all, I find the idea of relaying uncomfortable messages via a cake troubling and trivializing. To me, it’s like saying, “I know this might be the start of a difficult conversation, so I’m going to start it as flippantly as possible,” which strikes me as counter-intuitive. Then there’s just the fact that the conversation is then aired for the benefit of the show’s listeners. Because if I’m talking about something that may be uncomfortable for me and/or the other person, I sure want to have hundreds of eavesdroppers listening in on it.
The thing I note is that both of these segments have a couple things in common:
- They both offer “easy solutions” to complicated and troubling issues.
- They both offer listeners a chance to be voyeuristic when it comes to other people’s interpersonal struggles.
Are either of these things that we as a society really want to encourage?
No, don’t answer that. The answer is obvious. And depressing.
1I admit though that I’m more disturbed by the shows hosts who would use people’s real relationship concerns for a few laughs or even just a spectacle to observe on their show.