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Blue Cross Minnesota suspends KDWB ads over Hmong song

The Dave Ryan Show’s “Thirty Hmongs in a House” keeps costing KDWB-FM advertisers. This week, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota joined Health Partners and ATT in suspending advertising over the parody song, says Pam Lux, the health plan’s vice-president of marketing and communication.

Blue Cross did not advertise on Ryan’s show — “morning shows are not the best fit,” Lux notes — but had a campaign running on KDWB. It has been suspended indefinitely until Clear Channel, which owns KDWB, outlines steps in writing to improve diversity training and inclusion, as well as improve on its initial disingenuous apology.

Resumption “depends on when we get a response,” Lux says. 

“Thirty Hmongs” included verses such as “First baby at 16/ Seven kids by 23/ Over the hill by 30/ Like sardines they live.”

When community members objected, KDWB issued the classic non-apology apology, noting, “While we’ve received positive feedback from many Hmong listeners who let us know that they found the song in question very humorous, we apologize to anyone we may have inadvertently offended, as this was never our intent.”

Lux says Blue Cross expects more. “One reason we did suspend is that we felt the first [apology] was not adequate, and one thing we are looking for is a more sincere apology to the audience,” she states.

After a conversation with local Clear Channel general manager Mike Crusham, Lux feels that’s coming. “He was absolutely sorry — that was my assessment. He was very sincere, very sincere about getting input on how to improve. I just asked him to put it in writing.”

Crusham was not available for comment Thursday morning.

Blue Cross’s internal diversity council pushed the move, as did individual employees, and no staffers have objected, Lux states. She adds that Blue Cross sees their action as a way to help KDWB “be sincere and accountable.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Peter Swanson on 04/14/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    Blue Cross wants them to be “sincere and accountable.” Accountable? Yes. Sincere? Probably not.

    The first apology is probably what they meant in their hearts. Anything subsequent to that is just pressure from advertisers. In a free society, KDWB can say what it wants on the air (except certain curse words) and those offended can protest to listeners and advertisers. So far, so good. But the idea that economic pressure will result in sincere soul searching is nonsense.

    They will improve “[d]iversity training and inclusion”? I would be interested in how the former will cause them to become sincere and whether the latter will be anything other than hiring a new sidekick, as Don Imus did.

  2. Submitted by Mitch Elling on 04/14/2011 - 04:24 pm.

    How many more advertisers before Steve is put on administrative leave or let go? Still can’t believe anyone thought that song was a good idea.

  3. Submitted by Stan Daniels on 04/14/2011 - 09:42 pm.

    Has BCBS ever listened to some of the lyrics in songs played on KDWB? I really doubt it.

    The song was a stupid idea and KDWB apologized. I really doubt the PC police are going to have much luck squeezing much more out of this. My guess is KDWB ratings will increase next book thanks to the free publicity.

  4. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 04/16/2011 - 02:35 am.

    This lame and yes offensive music parody attempt basically “died on the vine” before some “activist” discovered it. (Hint! If you want to do a Hmong parody song start with Rod Steward’s “Forever Young”, not the Eric Clapton song.)

    The protests and publicity might get the “activists” some “news time” but judging from “bar talk” conversations I have people, at least over here in Minneapolis hadn’t thought about the Hmong lately before this brewhaha.

    The huge numbers of refugee immigrants in the Twin Cities area tends to go “under the radar” but most people sense that this is costing Minnesota a lot of money. This is backed up by a Census report that states that Minnesota has the highest percentage welfare costs in the US. http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/112933714.html

    Most people tend to think of this in terms of the “Gary,Indiana” welfare magnet idea but our own “lying eyes” also show the refugee immigrant” part of it. These protests of the lame KDWB parody refocused the public perception of the “burden” on the Hmong. (and also other refugee immigrant groups overrepresented here like the Somalis.)

    I grew up near the Hmong concentration on the Eastside of St. Paul I still own my late parents house over there. I have observed the Hmong evolution since the beginning.

    First the positive. A lot of young Hmong have nice cars. The “welfare Caddilac is a myth, if for no other reason than vehicle titles are check and poor neighbors tend to report the “relatives” nice wheels if you are on public assistance.

    The young Hmong have the nice “wheels” because they have good jobs. Good for them!
    They generally came from small families and grew up in the US. They have the new immigrant drive to succeed. We should embrace and help them.

    On the other hand if you drive by the subsidized housing project just East of Phalen Lake there are plenty of very large family “broods” there. An advanced degree social scientist might not be able to discern that this is a recipe for long-term welfare dependency but the average Minnesotan sure can.

    So far the the two ad withdraws from KDWB are Health Partners and Blue Cross. This was basically “public image” advertising. The withdrawal of the ads might be construed as political advocacy, which is prohibited under the tax code with non-profits, which Minnesota health insurance agencies have.

    The lame KDWB parody was first off “lame” but it never said it applied to “ALL HMONG”. Conceivably these withdraws could be construed by the IRS as “political advocacy”. If it got to court it would come out that a disproportional but not all Hmong “fit the parody”.

    I recall back in the day all the lefties I know celebrated the Larry Flint vs Jerry Falwell satire that was affirmed the US Supreme Court. That satire was not based on factual information of Jerry Falwell’s birth.

  5. Submitted by Peter Wright on 04/16/2011 - 11:54 am.

    Gregory,
    1. That Star Tribune article does not draw a connection between immigrant groups and the 37% expenditure on welfare. It is completely unfounded for you to imply Hmong people are responsible for that (unless you’re citing your beer buddies).
    2. There are families of all ethnicities who depend on welfare, most temporarily and out of necessity. There’s an economic divide among white people as well. Have you “observed the [White] evolution since the beginning?”
    3. The blog post states right up front that three companies have pulled ads, not two.

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