ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A radio station suspended two disc jockeys Tuesday over a derogatory remark about Alaska Native women made on their show, a comment that has Alaskans comparing the shock-jock duo to Don Imus.
The Anchorage DJs, known as Woody and Wilcox, were joking about what makes someone a real Alaskan, when one of them offered a variation on an old saying _ offensive to many _ that real Alaskans have urinated in the Yukon River and made love to an Alaska Native woman. What the DJ said, however, switched the verbs, making it far more offensive.
Some Alaska Natives called for sanctions against KBFX-FM, the hard rock station that features Woody and Wilcox on its morning show.
Michelle Davis, who is part Tlingit, said she was listening to the show April 9 while stuck in traffic on her way to work when she heard the comment.
"I was horrified," she said Tuesday. "It was a very ugly image."
Natives likened the remarks to those made last spring by Imus, who called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." CBS Radio fired Imus in April 2007 and pulled the plug on his nationally syndicated show. He returned to the air in December at WABC-AM in New York after a series of public apologies.
State Rep. Mary Nelson, a Democrat who is part Yupik, voiced her disgust over the DJs' comments on the floor of the state House on Sunday, calling for an apology and punishment by the Federal Communications Commission.
"This goes beyond the offensive language Don Imus had," the lawmaker added Tuesday. "He was name calling, but they were calling for violence against Alaska Native women."
Gary Donovan, a market manager for the station, said he couldn't recall which of the two disc jockeys _ whose real names are Greg Wood and Chris Wilcox _ made the derogatory remarks. He said station officials reviewed the tape before deciding what action to take.
"KBFX wishes to apologize to everyone in our audience and the community who was offended," said a statement posted on the station's Web site.
Phone listings could not be found for Wood or Wilcox. A voice mailbox for Clear Channel Communications Inc., which owns KBFX, was full Tuesday evening, and an e-mail sent by The Associated Press was not immediately answered.
The station said it has indefinitely suspended the disc jockeys while they get sensitivity training.
The length of the suspension wasn't clear, though the station said the disc jockeys' pay during that period would be donated to charity.
Adding to the anger over the remarks is the fact that Alaska Native women are disproportionately targeted in violent crimes, including rape, said Denise Morris, president of the Alaska Native Justice Center, an Anchorage-based social advocacy organization.
The state has long had the highest sexual assault rate in the nation, and the problem is worst in rural, largely Native areas, according to a recent law enforcement study.
"These comments just cannot be taken lightly," Morris said. "Who is their listening audience? Young men."
She said her organization plans to file a complaint with the FCC, and Davis said she already has done so. "What they said falls into the category of hate speech," Davis said.
The FCC considers complaints confidential and won't discuss them unless the agency takes action, spokeswoman Rosemary Kimball said. Valid complaints can lead to fines or even license revocations.