Monday, January 18, 2016

Repost and Update: Bob Dumas and Richard Cohen: Two of a Racist Kind

I added more to that post. Misters Cohen and Dumas need to be exposed for their racist/sexist/bigoted remarks and actions.

Here's more:

Radio host's shock in trade. (a fantastic 2004 article about Bob)


RALEIGH -- Bob Dumas has just spent a few hours recapping his dozen years of mischief, mayhem and alleged misdeeds as the star of G105's outrageous morning "Showgram." Snake bites for cash. Naked footraces for concert tickets. Really irate bicyclists. And all those angry people who hear -- or hear from someone who heard -- racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or xenophobia, take your pick, in Dumas' morning rants.
But something is bothering him. To hear him tell it, Bob Dumas has a softer side.
"I don't often understand why people always look at the negative," Dumas says. "We raised more than $1 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation since I've been here. Nobody ever takes the time to think, maybe he's got a good heart and his heart is in the right place, but he's just outspoken. I don't always say things just to piss people off. Why do you pay attention to that and don't pay attention to the good things?"
This, from a man who appealed to burn victims to wrestle in coleslaw. And advertised the potential matchup as the "Ring of Fire."
Dumas, 37, is a doting father who won't let his children listen to his show, but proposed letting young'uns rampage in the aforementioned cabbage. Arguably the most distinctive -- and, some would say, obnoxious -- voice on the Triangle radio dial, he spends many afternoons alone on his fishing boat, constantly casting, smoking one cigarette after another. His show logs more complaints than any program in Clear Channel's local station group. In spite of that -- or perhaps because of it -- the "Showgram" consistently ranks at the top of the ratings.
"If I was so bad, so polarizing, and so mean," he asks, "why do such a diverse group of people listen to the show?"
G105 program director Rick Schmidt, in an e-mail message to a listener who complained about Dumas' allegedly racist remarks, wrote: "Just as Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock make fun of the white stereotypes, Bob does the same, including mocking his own 'redneck' self."
Dumas, his wife and two young daughters have just returned from a vacation in Florida. One of the first things he does upon his return at 5 a.m. to the WDCG studio in a North Raleigh high-rise is to attach a bumper sticker to the window. It reads, "I don't care how you did it up North."
Dressed in jean shorts and a lime green shirt that prompts a mocking "Hey, Skittle!" from his producer, Mike Morse, Dumas tells the morning crew about his travels through the Sunshine State as they get ready for the show. Amy Bristle, a sharp former beauty queen from Johnston County and the "Showgram's" most recent addition, recounts her wild ladies' night out at the Carolina Mudcats game that weekend, and Morse, another newcomer who plays the easygoing liberal foil to Dumas' conservative firebrand, slips in a few details about his recent rafting adventures.
It's evident once they go on the air that these casual updates were actually warm-ups for the show, a way of informally testing their material. In the dimly lit radio booth, they share stories, argue and tease one another like siblings.
Dumas spends a long time detailing a disagreement he and his wife had over whether he should have sent his 3-year-old daughter down the water slide before he slid down, or after. He invites listeners to call in, and a healthy debate ensues about Dumas' parenting techniques. It's family-friendly, relaxed, even tame by "Showgram" standards.
It isn't until he starts talking about the family jaunt to Disney World that the Dumas emerges who is vilified in near-constant angry e-mail and the odd protest or petition. He mentions encountering a large contingent of Brazilians at Disney that day -- he could tell by the green, yellow and blue flags -- and boy, did they smell. Someone get them a pamphlet on bathing.
Cynics would call the comment one calculated to get a rise out of listeners, and indeed, someone calls in to vouch for the high hygienic standards of our South American neighbors. Dumas insists he just calls them as he sees them or, as he might say, smells them.
From the grade school report card of Robert E. Dumas Jr.: "Bobby talks too much."
Love him, hate him
The slight against Brazilians passed with little notice, but you never know exactly when a Dumas pronouncement will take on a life of its own. This year, his comments about "faggots," "cracker snatchers" and "the Jews in the front office [who] have the money" resulted in only a smattering of complaints.
Emily Mistr, a second-year law student at UNC-Chapel Hill, kept G105 as a preset button because she liked the music. But each time she landed on the station in the mornings, she was horrified. Finally, Dumas' reference to "cracker snatchers" in a discussion of interracial dating made her complain to the station. She refuses to attend any events sponsored by G105. Yes, even Slaw Slam 2004.
Equally appalling, she says, is the station's support for such talk. "Someone who makes comments like that over such a huge medium is just encouraging those kinds of thoughts," Mistr says.
But when Dumas called "American Idol" champion and High Point native Fantasia Barrino "ghetto," a Durham minister started a petition drive to get him booted from the station (no luck, despite 1,886 signatures). In one broadcast last fall, he horrified fans of Raleigh singer Clay Aiken by insinuating that Aiken was gay and enraged bicyclists by laughing at callers' stories about running the two-wheelers down.
"Where do you draw the line?" asked Tom Norman, the state Department of Transportation's bicycling czar, when the controversy erupted. "What is the distinction between humor and actually inciting or encouraging listeners to harass a group of people?"
(Dumas and other station officials say that complainers often have heard about the broadcast secondhand, and might think differently if they had heard the entire broadcast. However, it is the policy of Clear Channel, which owns G105, not to release tapes of broadcasts.)
The show's "Breast Milk Pumping Contest" induced a petition that included this message: "This is nothing but extreme low-class, moronic antics by a radio station with no values or sense of common decency. This is a high insult to the community. What next? Sperm-pumping contests for Father's Day?"
There's a semiobscene name for the strategy employed by the "Showgram." Suffice it to say that it involves a sympathetic character to whom listeners can relate, a goofball who serves as the comic foil, and, well, Dumas says, someone who "stirs everything up, tries to evoke emotion."
That's what Melanie Theriault loves about the show. A 37-year-old Raleigh native who has been listening to G105 for years, Theriault calls Dumas an equal-opportunity offender. "I love to hate him. He acts like an ass a lot, and he acts like my husband a lot. Sometimes I fuss with him, and other times I change over and listen to somebody else. I have that choice to do it. It's my car and my radio."
Dumas' current and former co-workers say what you hear on the air is pure Bob, like it or not.
"If you listen, you pretty much know everything there was to know about Bob," says Chris Edge, who served as G105's program director for eight years, before leaving in 2003 for a job in Indianapolis. "He's not afraid to share who he is and what he thinks. People would claim that Bob was a racist, that he was this or that. I don't know if anything of that is necessarily true, but in the end, he's a good guy with a good heart."
A Georgia native, Dumas spent most of his childhood and adolescence on a 10-acre farm surrounded on three sides by a state park, just outside Lithia Springs, a small town between Atlanta and the Alabama state line. His parents each had a child from previous relationships, but both were much older, so Dumas turned to radio for company.
He pretended to introduce the records, while his mother screamed at him to turn the music down. "Everybody sounded like they were having so much fun," he remembers. "It was kind of like grown-ups acting like kids."
At school, Dumas made friends with kids from all the cliques, playing football with the jocks, taking classes with the delinquents and not thinking too seriously about college. But he grew up pretty quickly when his father was jumped in an Atlanta bar and shot and killed his attacker when Dumas was 16.
Walking away
Dumas' father, who owned a company that built barns and who often carried a lot of cash, had a permit to carry a gun. When the weapon dropped out of its holster during the scuffle, the other man also reached for his gun, according to Dumas. Both shot, but Dumas' father hit his attacker and the man died. Dumas remembers his father returning home that night, bloody and bruised, then taking off without explanation. Dumas and his mother saw a report about the fight on television and realized the worst. His father eventually turned himself in and served two years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
"I went from being a kid at 16 to taking care of all of our land," Dumas says. His father missed Dumas' high school graduation, but Dumas decided to be the first in his family to go to college. He got into West Georgia College, now the State University of West Georgia, in Carrollton. He snagged a slot at the college station, where, according to Dumas, "If you had a mouth and you could make any noise, they let you in."
He quickly moved on to a gig at a local AM radio station. The pay wasn't great, just beer money, really, but Dumas worked hard, serving as music director and deejaying the afternoon shift while still attending school. But when the station's owner eccentric wife, who managed the station, announced some belt-tightening and chopped Dumas' salary -- and no one else's -- he grabbed a bat, clobbered a tape rack and told her to kiss his rear end (only not in those exact words). The owner called and offered him his job back, with a raise.
After graduating with a marketing degree, he took a fill-in job at a country station in Atlanta, doing a show on Saturday nights from Underground Atlanta, a downtown shopping and entertainment center. That's where he met Mike Stiles, who ran the soundboard, and the two hit it off, eventually teaming up for a gig at a Columbus, Ga., rock station.
Nearly every night of the week, the duo hit the nightclubs, which constituted the station's biggest advertisers. Then the station owner picked them up in his powder-blue Lincoln, drove them to Phenix City, Ala., for mustard-based barbecue and sweet tea, where they'd sweat until they felt better. Then they returned to the studio for the morning show.
It doesn't sound like a recipe for success, but the show was tight enough to take them to a Top 40 station in Austin, Texas, a top 50 market, in less than a year. There Dumas met his future wife, Mary Lou Harcharic, an anchor at the NBC affiliate there, But his professional partnership was starting to unravel. Stiles enjoyed creating characters and writing fake commercials, while Dumas just wanted to talk.
Coming to Raleigh
When G105 asked them up to Raleigh for a tryout in 1992, Stiles wanted to check it out, but Dumas initially wasn't interested. Eventually, Harcharic persuaded him to go, and G105 treated them right, putting them up in suites, giving them a Lincoln Town Car and a station credit card. They liked what they saw and signed on.
But the partnership didn't last much longer. "I'm big on, if you got a problem with me, just tell me," Dumas says. "We stopped being fun. It wasn't fun to go to work." (Stiles did not return phone calls for comment.)
When station management tried to work out the problem away from the office, Dumas gave them an ultimatum: "I'm coming in tomorrow at 5 a.m., and if he's here, I'm quitting."
The managers sent Dumas back to the station, where he started packing up his tapes, books and headphones. Then they told him that Mike was gone.
Madison Lane had been doing middays at G105, occasionally sitting in during the morning show's "Battle of the Sexes" shtick, and Dumas thought she would be a good match for him. He says the potential was obvious: "White redneck, black female."
It worked for a long time. When he came to Raleigh, Dumas wanted to do an all-talk format, but his original program director was skittish and told the duo to stick to six or seven songs an hour. They struck a deal: Each time the ratings improved, they could drop a song. With Lane on board, the last songs quickly dropped away.
"The Bob & Madison Showgram" consistently won over the 18-to-34-year-olds and usually topped the treasured 25-54 demographic. Recently, though, WRAL Mix 101.5's morning team of Bill and Sheri has narrowed the gap and even won the two most recent quarters in that category.
Negotiating tactic of Robert E. Dumas Sr., as told to his son, Robert E. Dumas Jr.: "Unless you're willing to walk away from something, you're not going to get a good deal."
Laying down the law
At the same time, Dumas and Lane's partnership followed a familiar trajectory. Earlier this year, when Lane switched over to mornings on WRSN Sunny 93.9 FM, a sister station, Clear Channel executives insisted that Lane, a new mother, was just a better fit for Sunny, which skews to an older, female audience. (Lane did not return phone calls for comment.)
Dumas now says the spirit of the old "Showgram" had been dissipating for some time, and he feels rejuvenated by his new team. "If you're relaxed and enjoying yourself, you're a lot more creative. It's lot more entertaining."
Jon Robbins, Clear Channel regional vice president of programming, in an e-mail message to program director Schmidt after a listener complained about Dumas' talk with porn legend Ron Jeremy. wrote: "Porn star interviews are admittedly over the top, so I can empathize with the spirit of her complaint, please talk to Bob. At the very least, when there is adult content, he needs to disclaim it by telling people upfront this is not for kids."
A G105 general manager once laid down the law for Dumas and crew. No sex, no politics, no cuss words. "What the [expletive] are we supposed to talk about?" Dumas remembers asking. "We talked about sex and politics, and she went away."
"Showgram" has outlasted many a program director, despite a string of questionable stunts that have landed staffers in trouble with the law or sparked lawsuits.
In 1998, Dumas and Lane were suspended after urging listeners to race naked down Fayetteville Street Mall in downtown Raleigh to win Jimmy Buffett concert tickets. Two years later, the "Showgram" strapped a naked man to the top of an SUV and rode around Raleigh to protest high gas prices.
John "Big Flash" Hartnett, aka the Fat Naked Guy on Top of The SUV, served as the "Showgram's" resident stuntman and associate producer for nearly two years, until he was fired in 2001 after being told he wasn't "getting stuff done." Hartnett says that Dumas was generous and treated him like family, but it was clear that Dumas was the boss. "When it came to the show, he was a perfectionist," he says. "I think that he wanted things a certain way. He wanted to be number one. He knew what it took to be number one. When things didn't work out how he planned them, he'd let you know about it."
That same year, Dumas dispatched a producer to steal the garbage of rival morning host Bill Jordan, from WRAL Mix 101.5 FM. Jordan and his family filed suit, with charges ranging from invasion of privacy to emotional distress to unfair trade practices.
"The theft and subsequent broadcast had no journalistic purpose, but rather was designed to enhance the defendant's ratings through harassment, intimidation and public humiliation of the Jordan family," read the lawsuit. It was later settled out of court.
Letting the talent work
More recently, the "Showgram" has cut back on the stunts -- many radio stations did after some high-profile stunts backfired, leading to heavy fines -- although Dumas continues to rankle listeners. After the infamous bicycle broadcast last fall, the station promised to air bicycle safety public service announcements. Instead, Dumas aired a spoof, which only served to get bikers further riled up. "I thought it was really funny," Dumas says. "I told my wife, she'd better call the real estate agent." He was suspended again -- and spent the time fishing.
"If you're going to have high-profile talent, then every once in a while they're going to say things you're not going to like to hear," says Chris Shebel, who served as G105's program director in 2003 before leaving for a gig in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"But you have to respect their right to say it and have enough faith in them that what they're saying is what they believe in. Nine times out of 10, most of the people listening would agree with him. He reflected a lot of the views that I would hear just walking and talking to people. There's a reason why he's number one."
Motto painted on the side of Robert E. Dumas' mug: "Make good choices." Motto on the bottom of the mug: "Eat me."

We at Journal de la Reyna always expose the bigoted racists for who they are.  I am grateful to Lilvoka, AngryIndian, George, and myself for informing and educating people.

S. Baldwin

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