The Supreme Court recently said that the FCC was within its rights to punish isolated incidents of profanity, or fleeting expletives, as part of its indecency enforcement. Now a WRKO-AM Boston host may have given the Commission a chance to try it out. The culprit is Tom Finneran, who apparently was annoyed with both his co-host Todd Feinburg and producer Bill Cooksey. The station is owned by Entercom.
Finneran was a former speaker in the state legislator, and no stranger to political scandal, and was going on at some length about the woes facing the current speaker. According to the Boston Herald, Cooksey took it upon himself to insert banjo music in the background. Finnerman said, “Take your banjo and shove it up your ass, Cooksey.” When Feinburg asked why he was so sensitive, he said, “This is bull****,” a remark that went unbleeped over the air.
Finnerman felt Feinburg was “playing dumb,” and that Cooksey was playing the “wiseass.”
The Herald says Finnerman has had other close calls with the same word, but each time they were bleeped off air, although they went through loud and clear to those streaming the program on the internet.
RBR/TVBR observation: Nobody knows how many cases similar to this may be pending at the FCC. To us, this is a prime example of a fleeting expletive uttered in the heat of the moment, but the FCC may find fertile ground with this case, since Finneran has already started compiling a rap sheet. But this could still be seen as an unfortunate aberration, since the station has up until now managed to catch his errors.
We do not believe many children would be listening to this, and even if they were in a car where it was tuned in, they would not be likely to be paying the slightest bit of attention to it. And if they did hear it, they would not be harmed in any significant way.
That said, if it was our station, we would expect that everybody we allow near a live mic would exercise some control and maturity, and play by the rules as they exist.