Sugar Coated Radio? Not here!

There was a story knocking about in the news last week about Naomi Campbell. Did you see it? No? She’d probably turned sideways. HAHAHA.

Actually, I’d better be careful what I say here, because Cadbury issued an apology to the supermodel over an advert for its new product Bliss. It used the tagline “Move over Naomi – there’s a new Diva in town”. Ms Campbell complained that the ad was racist because it compared her to a bar of chocolate. Maybe she thought it my associate her with being fat too?

Then perhaps I can point Naomi to WDIA in Memphis –  America’s original “all black station”. I first discovered it by accident on my tour of the States when I spotted an old WDIA sign outside a bank (the original home of the station) and a plaque briefly outlining its history. This is a big file so you can see the text.

WDIA Plaque in Memphis

So, given its place in Black American history, I was pleased to hear WDIA’s Morning Show host, Bobby O’Jay, discussing – in humorous terms – Naomi’s rant against Cadbury.

“She complaining because she SAID they compared her to a chocolate bar! Can you believe that Yvette?”

Bobby’s sidekick says she can’t. “Hey – where I come from, that’s a compliment! Yeah – we only use the dark chocolate around here. Mmm-mmmm!”

“You know what, you’re so right,” says Bobby.

You wonder whether any presenter in the UK could have got away with that. But that’s detracting from the main point here. All these years on, WDIA is still appealing to its core audience – female skewed, Black American women who don’t mind playing along with the joke. And if the women are laughing, the men are happy.

OK, that might sound more than a little stereotypical but who am I to judge on whether WDIA should emphasise a few traits here are there? Bobby’s also got some sound advice for the girls too.

“If your man isn’t as active as he was in bed, it’s not ’cause he don’t love you. Oh no. It’s because his testosterone levels aren’t what they used to be. So that means eating a healthy diet – salad and grilled chicken and all that stuff. Because, you see, without testosterone, he CAN’T do what he wants to. You gotta stop dishing up that fried chicken every night and get him to EXERCISE. You know what I’m saying?”

After several calls from women broadly agreeing with Bobby’s stance, there’s a commercial – for a testosterone supplement. Ahem.

So should we be challenging such stereotypes? After all, WDIA’s just a few blocks away from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis – a poignant tribute to years of struggle, and the story of Martin Luther King. Well personally, I say no. Nobody’s going to say that the station is totally representative of the community it serves – but it embraces fun and satire in a way that few other stations in Memphis can – playing mostly Adult Contemporary or Country (a stereotype in itself). All those years ago, WDIA plugged itself as “The Goodwill Station” – being an integral part of its audience’s life. These days its a station that can laugh at itself – andaway from the Morning Show – one that still plays some fantastic music, ranging from modern day R&B to traditional Blues and Gospel.

And if it also just happens to tell Naomi Campbell to shut up from time to time, I’m all for it.

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