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Anchorage shock-jocks, suspended for derogatory statement, to return to work

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Two Anchorage shock-jocks suspended over a derogatory remark about Alaska Native women will return to the airwaves today, a radio manager said.

Greg Wood and Chris Wilcox, known as Woody and Wilcox on their popular morning show, were taken off the air April 15 following public outrage over the comment that had Alaskans comparing the disc jockeys to Don Imus.

The two were joking April 9 about what makes someone a real Alaskan, when one of them switched the verbs on an old saying that real Alaskans have urinated in the Yukon River and made love to an Alaska Native woman.

The original saying also is offensive to many.

Alaska Natives and others have since canceled advertising with KBFX-FM, the Clear Channel hard rock station that features Wilcox and Wood.

Many compared the DJs' remarks to those made last spring by Imus, who called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Imus was fired by CBS Radio in April 2007 and his nationally syndicated show was terminated. After a series of public apologies, Imus returned to the air in December at WABC-AM in New York.

The Anchorage DJs have not responded to requests for comment. They have kept a low public profile while undergoing sensitivity training as part of their suspension, although each has voiced his regrets through the station.

"Woody and I are each raising two young children here in Anchorage and the last thing that either of us want to do is contribute to a culture of hate in Alaska," Wilcox said on KBFX's Web site. "I've certainly become aware of how harmful our comment was, and even though we never intended to hurt anyone - we did - and I sincerely apologize for the pain that we've caused."

Gary Donovan, a market manager for the station, said the four-hour Woody and Wilcox show will resume at 6 a.m. Wednesday. The pair will be taking calls from listeners, said Jennifer Gery, a Clear Channel spokeswoman based in New York.

Donovan declined Tuesday to elaborate on why the DJs were coming back even though they were still in the midst of cultural awareness sessions with Alaska Native groups.

"We have stayed in touch with leaders from within the Native community from the beginning of this process and we used their input to help us make this decision," said Donovan, who posted a letter thanking various Alaska Natives on the station's Web site.

State Rep. Mary Nelson, who is part Yupik, condemned the comments during a floor session in the Capitol earlier this month. Last week, she met privately with Wilcox and Wood, and said she came away with a better understanding of their actions.

The DJs told her the comment was supposed to be a self-deprecating joke, an illustration that they are so new to Alaska - they've been here two years - they couldn't even get an old saying right. Nelson said the men were respectful, telling her they had no idea it would cause such hurt and a backlash from Alaska Natives and others.



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