10/06/2006

ICRT Lashes out at Former DJ

According to ICRT Content and Creativity Director Tim Berge: "a former DJ of ours, Jeff Locker, worked daily 6:30pm - 9pm. Jeff was a much more opinionated person, and often discussed politics during his show. I know his former Program Manager had reprimanded him about this behavior, because at times he went too far. Let me also note that Jeff is a foreigner himself; an American who speaks excellent Chinese."
Actually, I am not sure what he means by this. I wrote Mr. Berge a letter to complain about comments current DJ Joseph Lin made about "foreigners" having views onTaiwan politics. My beef is that I heard this DJ complain on the air that "foreigners" were supporting President Chen. Lin's comments struck me as xenophobic because I felt the jist of his argument was that "foreigners" had no right to stick their noses in Taiwan politics. I also asked what the DJ would he say if people in other countries he had visited or even lived in had tried to deny him the basic human right of expression based on the tint of his skin or color of his eyes. To my surprise, I received from Mr. Berge the response quoted above.
My main concern is that DJs are putting messages of intolerance over ICRT's airwaves. Chapter I, Article 5 of the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is as follows: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China."

13 comments:

Michael Turton said...

Enlarge on this! What did Lin say? Interesting topic! Apparently being a foreigner means shut up! to a lot of people. I think many Blues are profoundly embarrassed by how the people from the democracies are all supporting democratic institutions...it puts their action in a negative light.

Michael

Patrick said...

I think that after fifty years of dictating what national identity should be, namely "unification with the motherland," a lot of blues are surprised to find that people (Taiwanese, aborigines, second-generation mainlanders and Westerners) simply do not agree with them. They are also frustrated that they've lost some of the levers they previously had to blast their propaganda at the country.

I heard ICRT's Joseph Lin on the air right after the 2004 election talking about "foreigners at political demonstrations." He wasn't talking to a guest or doing the news either. He brought the topic up out of the blue, as a bit of a segue into Madonna or Britney Spears. Lin's attitude was one of "how dare those foreigners" as if they had no right to voice an opinion about Taiwan's politics whatsoever while he did. Simply put: "Taiwan was none of their business." I found his attitude extremely offensive because the outcome of the unification vs. independence debate has a direct bearing on the lives of many foreigners living Taiwan. We also own property, have jobs, families, etc.

At the time, I turned the radio off, fumed for a while and then tried to put his comments out of my mind. But that was easier said than done. Recently, I have been writing letters of complaint to ICRT. But the creativity and content director, who seems like a reasonable fellow (and who obviously doesn't care for this line of thinking any more than I do) is trying to foist Lin's xenophobia off on ex-DJ, Jeff Locker, who no longer works at the station. He is adamant that Lin didn't make the comments even though he admits to not being the content and creativity manager at the time. He also claims ICRT does not keep archival records dating back to 2004.

By the way, I interviewed an Atayal (Taiwanese aboriginal) woman tonight. She told me this: "I love Taiwan. I don't want it changed by the Chinese. I am Taiwanese and I am aboriginal. I don't want to unify with China. It is not my country. According to us, we don't have anything in common with them. We have been here for a long time."

After listening to Joseph Lin and this woman, one thing is quite clear: minority groups in Taiwan do not have a voice in national identity. We're going to have to speak up nice and loud now.

The Taipei Kid said...

I know Jeffrey and he's got more talent, brain and drive than any of ICRT's DJs combined.

Kris said...

Something is emerging here: "Being a foreigner" does mean "shut up." Look at how protective ICRT is of Lin and how willing they are, even when's it's uncalled for, to attack Jeffrey Locker, described as the "opininated foreigner" by the station's content/creativity manager.

Patrick said...

I also remember the DJ saying: "Let's ask some people what they think of foreigners attending political rallies." I think he also said something along the lines of "let's ask people if they agree that foreigners should have the right to speak about political topics." Lin sounded tired out. His voice was flat; he wasn't his usual perky self.

Scott said...

Notice that the "foreigners should shut up" attitude comes almost exclusively from people with pro-unification, pro-Blue/KMT opinions.

That may be because -with very few exceptions- foreigners who have been here long enough to (begin to) understand the complex range of ethnic and national loyalties that is Taiwanese politics tend to support the pan-Green parties.

Foreigners are not born into any of the locally-contentious identities or historical feuds, and can sometimes offer an "outside" and more objective opinion of what is best for Taiwan as a nation (rather than for a particular party) and what is best in terms of long-term development of democracy here. I know that sounds arrogant, but...

John said...

Not many foreigners seem to be pro-blue. The KMT is too easily identifiable in their minds with Chiang Kai-shek, a dictator sympathetic to fascism and who is linked to many atrocities. If foreigners supported the blue party, they'd receive a similar response from the ruling party.
People here still have difficulty grasping freedom of speech. Do you think it has anything to do with xenophobia? I know you keep bringing this up. So what say you?

Patrick said...

What does xenophobia have to do with freedom of speech?

jefflocker said...

I'm not quite sure where this blog came from or its original purpose, but I just noticed a posting about me and thought I should respond.
During my year or so at ICRT, I was NEVER 'reprimanded' by my former Program Manager for any comments made during my show. Before I joined ICRT, I had proposed a 30 minute segment where I would do a news review with a little commentary, mostly humorous. I did, however, share my views on more serious matters (such as the elections, the abuse of foreign laborers, etc), always reminding my listeners that I did not represent the station, and that I was sure some foreigners would disagree with me. I felt I did so responsibly and within my rights as a long time resident of Taiwan (and yes, we do have some rights!) I am proud of the segment and the issues it brought up, and especially of giving the Taiwanese listeners a chance to hear more how some foreigners feel about Taiwan and issues that affect them. I was trained in Chinese radio and many of the most successful DJ's were 'personalities' who shared their views, and ICRT was very aware of my previous background and indeed encouraged me to attempt to bridge some of those cultural gaps. I am the first to say I didn't always succeed, but I gave it my best shot, and my ratings and support from listeners and the media showed it.
So let's set the record straight: I can recall only two times I may have even come close to being 'reprimanded' (and by the way, usually DJ's are officially reprimanded and it goes on their record--I was never officially reprimanded): the first was when a listener complained about a permanent guest I had--Jacqueline, a Dame Edna-esque character who gave love advice--who made a racy word pun, and was immediately reprimanded by me (and it really was much ado about nothing); the second was when I couldn't do my live show because my dog had just died hours before, and the powers-that-were felt I should've come in anyway, even though there was someone who could sub for me. I was not reprimanded, but told to handle myself "with a little dignity" as I was understandably quite upset over the incident. But don't get me started on that one!
Needless to say, I am very disappointed by Mr. Berge's remarks. He was on the management committee which hired me, accepted my programming proposal (which, by the way, was described as possibly the best they'd ever seen), and, as far as I recall, never once said I'd "gone too far", was "too opinionated", or asked me to drop the segment. At least not to my face.
Yes, I had opinions, but had many more suggestions. And after 10 years in Chinese radio, a #1 show, and a Golden Bell, forgive me if I was a little fed up with the incessant complaining about how other stations were just copying ICRT, how Chinese radio was awful, etc...and hoped to maybe shake things up a bit, do something a little different.
As for Joseph, though I did not hear the comment, I can guess it was not so much stinging social commentary, but rather a passing comment. Live radio is not always easy. I had a platform to share some views and didn't always do the best job; I'm sure his show doesn't have such a platform, and in afterthought, he may have realized that such a politically charged comment (if he did actually make one) might not have been the best way to fill the time between the latest hits! If you still have an issue with him, write him and ask him to explain himself. Otherwise, cut him a little slack. Lord knows I needed it from time to time;-)
And just so you know, I had quite a lot of fun while at ICRT. There were definitely things that irked me, and office politics bites the big one, but whaddyagonnado! (Haha, aside from leave;-) Hey, at least my mom got to listen to me in English!
Whew. Peace y'all. (And thanks to Taipei Kid, whoever you are!)

Patrick said...

I wrote to complain to ICRT because Joseph Lin was asking "what right do foreigners have to stick their noses in Taiwan's business?" on the air. He was obviously pissed that the blues had lost the election and equally pissed that many "foreigners" didn't share his disappointment. At the time, I felt we had just as much right to an opinion as anyone else. I was also concerned because Lin was stirring up animosity toward the foreign community here in Taiwan. According to Mr. Berge, Joseph Lin denies making the comments (which is good in a twisted way as it shows he regrets his comments). Mr. Berge also claimed that ICRT doesn't keep records of its previous shows. I find this hard to believe. Anyway, I thought it was bullshit what ICRT was saying and thought I'd let it be known.

Sam Lund said...

"Stirring up animosity" describes this situation well. If memory serves me correctly, Lin commented along these lines, I see all these foreigners out on the news and at the rallies. Let's ask people if they agree that this [Taiwan's election of 2004] has anything to do with foreigners ie. mind your own business.

It's a worthy topic, and one that should not be put to rest as also talks about the nature of some parts Taiwan's society.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read all your comments here. I am a foreigner (Taiwanese) in North America. I don't know how many times I have heard of the similar comments about foreigners on this land as well. It was clearly said to me that if we (foreigners) were not happy here (i.e., expressing too much of our opinions), we should just go back to where we came from. It was not directed to me personally; however, it is a form of generalizations.

I think it is just a common current societal phenomenon around the world. It takes a while for people to understand that the whole world is turning into a global village and the boundaries are disappearing among colours, races and creeds. It will take a while for any society to accept that we (foreigners), who have chosen to reside on this land (wherever that is), are not going anywhere and we are determined to be treated the same as every other citizen on this land.
Julia

Patrick Cowsill said...

"It is interesting to read all your comments here. I am a foreigner (Taiwanese) in North America. I don't know how many times I have heard of the similar comments about foreigners on this land as well."

The comments were made by an "ABC" DJ from L.A. I wonder how he felt when/if he heard those kinds of comments directed at him in L.A. I wonder why he couldn't learn from experience, why he didn't come away with this kind of thinking: "I found it really annoying when people tried to exclude me based on my skin color, so I will not try to exclude other people based on their skin color." I have bumped into many Taiwanese people who believe that it is impossible for them to be racist because only white people are racist. I'm not exaggerating.

BTW, I used to date a Canadian whose ancestors came from China. Her family had been out of China for three generations - she didn't even speak Chinese. My family, on the other hand, immigrated to Canada when I was a kid. What really pissed her off was that people were constantly asking her where she was from. She'd say "from here", so they'd ask "what about your parents?" Nobody, even knew that I was American. Nobody ever asked me where I was from. They just assumed that I was Canadian when I was not. My ex figures this was racism (although people might've just figured that I was uninteresting).