Sloan apologizes for remarks; Schaffer next; Suspended DJ to get sensitivity training

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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Controversial WSPD radio host Scott Sloan has been suspended indefinitely while he undergoes sensitivity training, and corporate officials will be keeping a closer eye on his colleague at WVKS, Denny Schaffer.

Mr. Sloan apologized for some remarks and he and Mr. Schaffer will have to apologize for other comments that some consider racist and hateful.

“We sincerely apologize for the unfortunate comments of two individuals that in no way reflect the policies or opinions of the company,” said David Crowl, senior vice president of radio for Clear Channel Communications, in a prepared statement yesterday. Clear Channel owns WSPD, WVKS, and three other Toledo stations.

Mr. Crowl’s statement is part of an attempt by Clear Channel to convince Toledoans that recent on-air incidents involving Mr. Sloan and Mr. Schaffer will not be repeated.

The station’s moves fall short of the demands of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Last week, the NAACP called for, “at a minimum,” both men to be fired.

Mr. Sloan has received national attention for comments he made that seemed to advocate the assassination of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Mr. Schaffer’s show has featured a variety of remarks found offensive by local Jewish and African-American leaders, including inviting WilliAnn Moore, president of the local NAACP chapter, to eat ribs with him at Denny’s Restaurant and “see if we all get served.”

Clear Channel executives met yesterday with representatives from several community groups to announce how they plan to prevent the two men from making similar comments again:

* The company will have a “zero tolerance policy on racially biased themes or stereotypes as a means to harm, degrade, or injure individuals or groups. Racially biased material will not be tolerated as a springboard for humor. Every Clear Channel Radio employee in Toledo will understand and adhere to the policy. Violation of the policy will carry substantial penalties, up to and including immediate termination.”

* Mr. Sloan’s suspension, originally one week, will be made indefinite, pending the completion of sensitivity training. He will apologize to listeners, advertisers, employees, and Mr. Jackson.

* Mr. Schaffer will make a formal apology to Ms. Moore. Station management said he will make an on-air apology today, during his morning talk show.

* Management will conduct “regular reviews” of Mr. Schaffer’s and Mr. Sloan’s programs to ensure programming meets “acceptable standards.”

Mr. Sloan’s voice returned to the airwaves yesterday afternoon, but only for one minute. He read a prepared apology that was replayed several times throughout the time his show is normally on.

“With the power of radio comes a huge responsibility,” Mr. Sloan said. “Three weeks ago, I abused that power and failed in my responsibility to you, the citizens of one of America’s greatest cities and my hometown.

“I apologize for the hurtful comments I made toward the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the controversy I’ve generated, and the negative publicity I’ve brought to our city.

“While controversy is a lively component of talk radio, I now recognize that there are community-imposed limits of acceptable content for the public airwaves. I crossed those limits, and I accept the penalty. Again, you have my sincerest apologies.”

Mr. Sloan’s usual afternoon slot was filled by Doug Dingler, who filled in for Mr. Sloan last week. Mr. Dingler said that Mr. Sloan’s sensitivity training will keep him off the air “at least through the end of the week.”

Response from many of those at the meeting was hesitant but positive.

Diane Mitchum, executive director of the Board of Community Relations, said she believes Clear Channel officials are sincere in wanting change.

“I believe that WSPD was genuine in its representations,” she said. “They came forward to speak out against the divisiveness that the comments caused. But the jury’s still out. I prefer to just wait and see.”

Larry Sykes, the only African-American member of the Toledo Public Schools board of education, said he is convinced that the Clear Channel executives want to change the way business is done at the stations.

“They were very disappointed and saddened and assured us that it wouldn’t happen again,” Mr. Sykes, who was at the meeting, said. “They said that personal attacks like what Sloan and Schaffer were doing, things of a nature that would incite harm and violence, would not be accepted. That means insulting a race, a religion, or individuals.”

Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Sloan went in and apologized to the community group representatives for his conduct.

“Mr. Sloan said he’d had time off with his children and family and to reflect on how he wanted to be perceived, and he realized this was not what he wanted,” Mr. Sykes said. “I think everyone in that room thought Mr. Sloan was very sincere and honest in his opinion.

“I personally think he had a significant emotional event with this experience,” Ms. Mitchum agreed. “I would be very, very surprised if we saw the same Scott Sloan again.”

Mr. Sykes said someone asked Mr. Sloan how he would “deal with your audience when they say that you’re a wimp, that you sold out, that you caved in. And he said he was ready to deal with that.”

But Mr. Sykes emphasized that conciliatory statements from Clear Channel mean little if they are not followed through.

“Everyone left there understanding this is not the end,” Mr. Sykes said. “These two individuals, along with Mr. Stuart, allowed this situation to fester until it became a cancer engulfing our whole community. It was like sticking a knife in this community’s back. By saying what they did today, they pulled the knife halfway out. But they’ve got to pull it all the way out, by showing the community they mean what they said. It’ll take time.”

Stuart Goldberg, chairman of the community relations committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, said that he wants to wait to see if the station’s plans are realized.

“I think the station is taking action now, and it remains to be seen if the action works,” he said.

Tim Harrington, director of public relations and development for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, attended the meeting but said afterward he did not feel it was proper to comment on what went on.

“We were there to listen and that’s what we did,” he said. “We are not reacting.”

In a statement released last night, Ahmad Zaki, president of the Greater Toledo Association of Arab-Americans, said that he hopes the methods put in place will work.

“We hope that in the future, Mr. Sloan and other public figures like him will utilize their position and redirect the focus of their energies in order to enhance the multicultural fabric of this great city,” he said.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, Mr. Sloan had made a joke about Muhammad Ali “shaking so bad” from Parkinson’s disease that he might drop the Olympic torch on a “greasy Middle Easterner.”

Station management said that Mr. Schaffer and Mr. Sloan will not be speaking to reporters about management decisions.

Cary Pall, Clear Channel’s operations manager for all its Toledo stations, declined comment. Mr. Pall was hired one month ago, but yesterday was his first day on the job, which involves overseeing all programming content on all stations.

Mr. Pall referred all questions to Andy Stuart, the Clear Channel market manager who has been the acting operations manager for the last several months. Mr. Stuart did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

Mr. Pall, who will answer to Mr. Stuart, refused comment on what sort of programming standards he will take to the stations as operations manager.

The debate over Mr. Sloan began on Nov. 17. On his afternoon talk show that day, he spoke out against Mr. Jackson and his role in the controversy surrounding six boys expelled from a Decatur, Ill., high school for fighting.

Mr. Sloan said that Mr. Jackson wanted to become a martyr like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said he wanted to help Mr. Jackson in his cause. He called a hotel with a similar name to the motel where Dr. King was killed, asked about its balconies, and said that once hotel arrangements were made, “all we need now is a shooter.”

Community groups responded angrily, saying that the remarks were hateful and racist. As a result of the comments, Clear Channel officials suspended Mr. Sloan last week for one week without pay.

But the suspension did not stop the community outrage. First, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent a letter to Clear Channel’s chairman demanding that Mr. Sloan’s on-air activities be better controlled. The letter was signed by representatives of seven religious and ethnic groups.

A few hours later, the Toledo chapter of the NAACP called for Mr. Sloan, along with Mr. Schaffer, to be fired. The NAACP asked local companies to pull their advertising from the two men’s shows and for Toledoans to boycott companies that do not.

Along with the controversy involving Ms. Moore, Mr. Schaffer’s show has been criticized by Jewish leaders for featuring jokes about Hanukkah and for featuring a comment from WTOL-TV anchor Jerry Anderson in which he implied that Jewish men cannot be well-endowed. Mr. Schaffer’s program has featured regular attacks against Blade co-publisher and editor-in-chief John Robinson Block.

WSPD and its morning host, Mark Standriff, are the target of a lawsuit filed on Sept. 28 by The Blade. The suit accuses WSPD and Mr. Standriff of stealing The Blade’s news content and reading it on the air without attribution. WSPD and Mr. Standriff have denied the charges.

Throughout the afternoon, WSPD’s news readers listed Mr. Sloan’s apology as the day’s “top story.” But when a caller to Mr. Dingler’s show began to talk about Mr. Sloan, the fill-in host was quick to stop the discussion, saying that his bosses had asked him to. “I hope you understand,” Mr. Dingler told the caller.

In suspending Mr. Sloan and not Mr. Schaffer, Clear Channel officials saved the greater impact for the station that takes in less money. WSPD, where the suspended Mr. Sloan works, is nowhere near the size of Mr. Schaffer’s WVKS.

According to estimates by Duncan’s Radio Market Guide, an industry publication, WVKS generated about $4.1 million in ad revenues last year. WSPD took in only $1.6 million.

Stations’ parent firm apologizes for remarks; Clear Channel executive vows to curb hosts’ antics

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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A top executive of Clear Channel Communications, the corporate giant that employs two controversial Toledo radio hosts, apologized for their conduct and said they will not be allowed to offend again.

“We certainly don’t condone the actions by our people,” said David Crowl, Clear Channel’s senior vice president for radio, who oversees all of the company’s stations in Ohio. “I guarentee you it will not happen again in Toledo.

Mr. Crowl said Clear Channel is reviewing the broadcasts of WSPD afternoon host Scott Sloan and WVKS morning host Denny Schaffer to determine if any discipline — possibly including firing — is necessary.

Both hosts have made comments some consider racist and bigoted. Mr. Sloan received national attention for talking about arranging the assassination of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

In the first statement on the controversy from a Clear Channel executive, Mr. Crowl said the company “is very concerned” with the recent on-air incidents and would be creating a system of rules and guidlines designed to prevent them from being repeated.

“The first thing we will set out to do is to make sure that our employees know the standards we require,” he said. “There are areas where we cannot push the envelope, where there are boundaries and limits.”

On Wednesday, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for the two men to be fired. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner alsosent a letter to Clear Channel’s chairman and chief executive officer demanding that the company take further steps to control its on-air content. That letter was signed by representatives of seven religious and ethnic groups.

Mr. Crowl, who is based in Covington, Ky., said Clear Channel representatives will be traveling to Toledo sometime in the next two weeks to discuss the issue with the NAACP and other groups that have opposed Mr. Sloan and Mr. Schaffer.

“We need to meet with members of the community to let them know that what took place will not be repeated,” Mr. Crowl said.

Clear Channel, based in San Antonio, Tex., owns nearly 500 radio stations in 44 states, making it the largest radio station owner in the country.

In October, it agreed to purchase another major radio company, AMFM, Inc., for $23.5 billion, a deal that would give the company more than 800 stations. That deal still requires federal approval.

Mr. Crowl saved his harshest comments for Mr. Sloan, who brought national negative attention to the company.

“We’re not pleased at all with Mr. Sloan’s broadcast,” he said. “We do not condone it. It was a rogue situation.”

On Nov. 17, Mr. Sloan spoke out against the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his role in the controversy over six boys expelled from a Decatur, Ill., high school for fighting.

Mr. Sloan said Mr. Jackson wanted to become a martyr like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said he wanted to help Mr. Jackson in his cause.

He called a hotel with a similar name to the motel where Dr. King was killed, asked about its balconies, and said once hotel arrangements were made, “All we need now is a shooter.”

Community groups responded angrily, saying thatthe remarks were hateful and racist. Stories about the incident appeared in dozens of newspapers across the nation, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today.

Mr. Sloan previously received attention for a comment he made in 1996 about “greasy Middle Easterners” and making fun of Muhammad Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

On Monday, Clear Channel market manager Andy Stuart announced the company had suspended Mr. Sloan for one week without pay as a result of his comments.

Mr. Schaffer has been criticized for some of his statements, including some he aired on Tuesday. He played a copy of a recording he left on the answering machine of WilliAnn Moore, president of the local NAACP chapter, in which he invited her to eat ribs with him at Denny’s Restaurant “and see if we all get served.”

In 1994, Denny’s Restaurant agreed to a $54 million settlement of two class-action lawsuits that claimed it systematically discriminated against minorities in service, sometimes refusing to seat black people.

Mr. Schaffer has faced criticism for jokes about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and for an on-air discussion about Blade co-publisher and editor-in-chief John Robinson Block, in which WTOL- TV anchor Jerry Anderson questioned whether “short, small-handed Jewish men” like Mr. Block could be well-endowed. Mr. Schaffer has alsocalled Mr. Block “the devil” and created an Internet web site called Beelzeblock.com, which pictures a demonic beast meant to portray Mr. Block.

Mr. Crowl said Mr. Schaffer’s comments were being reviewed by the company and that an announcement on his status with the company would be forthcoming within the next week to 10 days.

Local Clear Channel employees were unavailable for comment. On his show yesterday, Mr. Schaffer said he and other Clear Channel employees had been ordered not to talk to reporters by corporate management.

He refused to meet with a reporter requesting an interview yesterday.

WSPD and its morning host, Mark Standriff, are the target of a lawsuit filed on Sept. 28 by The Blade.

The suit accuses WSPD and Mr. Standriff of stealing The Blade’s news content and reading it on the air without attribution. WSPD and Mr. Standriff have denied the charges.

Mr. Crowl did not give specific details about what kind of system will be set up to ensure that more incidents do not occur. He declined comment on specific statements Mr. Schaffer and Mr. Standriff have made about The Blade and Mr. Block, and whether or not they violated Clear Channel’s standards.

“We are very concerned with what has happened up there,” he said. “We are reviewing everything that has occurred and what was said. Clear Channel does not operate in that manner, and we are going to work hard to make sure that the city of Toledo and the communities around it understand we’re good broadcasters.”

Mr. Crowl said Clear Channel has an excellent record on diversity issues, including several successful black station general managers.

“We have many stations that broadcast and communicate to the African-American community,” he said. “Our goals are to serve the community, to entertain, and to inform, not to get on the air with the type of performance that has been going on up there.”

As a result of the merger with AMFM, Inc., Clear Channel will be required to sell approximately 110 of its stations, and the Federal Communications Commission has asked that the company make a special effort to sell them to minority broadcasters. “What’s ironic about these incidents is that they go against what we have been moving toward recently,” he said.

“This was an isolated incident, a couple of individuals deciding to go off on their own. That’s something we try to prevent, but it’s not something Clear Channel condones or supports or practices anywhere else.

Local NAACP demands firing of ‘shock jocks'; Mayor holds parent firm responsible

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Toledo chapter has called for the firing of two local radio “shock jocks” and a boycott of advertisers on their controversial programs.

“We do not need and will not tolerate the behavior of a few to destroy what we all have built in Toledo, Ohio,” said WilliAnn Moore, president of the NAACP’s local chapter.

Comments by WSPD’s Scott Sloan and WVKS’s Denny Schaffer have put the two stations and their corporate parent, Clear Channel Communications, in the spotlight. Both men have made on-air statements some people consider racially inflammatory.

Ms. Moore said that statements made by both men have spawned dozens of harassing phone calls to NAACP headquarters and made her fear for her life.

“I’ve got a remote starter for my car in case of a bomb. I only go out at night with other people, for protection. It’s scary,” she said.

Ms. Moore’s comments were made hours after Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent a letter to Clear Channel’s chairman and chief executive officer, demanding that Andy Stuart, the firm’s Toledo market manager, keep a tighter rein on Mr. Sloan’s show, so that “there will be no further transgressions similar to those of the recent past.”

“[Mr. Sloan’s] incendiary comments are a natural result of Mr. Stewart’s [sic] failure to rein in Mr. Sloan,” the mayor writes. “Mr. Stewart’s inaction and lack of responsible oversight, served to encourage Mr. Sloan to become more outrageous and hurtful.”

The mayor’s letter was signed by representatives of seven ethnic and religious organizations who have found the shows offensive, including Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, Arab-American, and Hispanic groups.

ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts joined the chorus of opposition to Mr. Sloan, saying that his comments were “racist, horrible talk.

“If I were in charge of the station, I would take the guy off [the air],” Ms. Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts, said. “He has a right to say whatever he wants to say. His boss has a right to take him off the air.”

At a news conference before her speech last night at the Junior League of Toledo’s Town Hall Lecture Series, she said that Mr. Sloan’s remarks, as described to her, go “beyond the locker room talk” used by shock jocks. “It is inciting people.”

Calls to Clear Channel’s corporate headquarters in San Antonio, Tex., were directed to Terri Hunter, vice president for investor relations. Ms. Hunter did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

Calls to Clear Channel’s Toledo offices seeking comment were not returned.

The “shock jock” controversy began with comments Mr. Sloan made on Nov. 17. On his afternoon talk show that day, he spoke out against the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his role in the Decatur, Ill., controversy over six boys expelled from a high school in that city for fighting.

Mr. Sloan said that Mr. Jackson wanted to become a martyr like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said he wanted to help Mr. Jackson in his cause. He called a hotel with a similar name to the motel where Dr. King was killed, asked about its balconies, and said that once hotel arrangements were made, “all we need now is a shooter.”

Community groups responded angrily, saying that the remarks were hateful and racist. Among the groups responding were the Toledo Diocese Catholic Charities, Metro Toledo Churches United, the Greater Toledo Association of Arab Americans, the Baptist Ministers’ Conference, and the Jewish Federation – all groups who signed on to Mr. Finkbeiner’s letter.

As a result of his comments, Clear Channel officials suspended Mr. Sloan earlier this week for one week without pay.

At a news conference last night, Ms. Moore said that the suspension is insufficient punishment for Mr. Sloan’s comments and that, “at a minimum,” he should be fired.

“I have had, and the people of this community have had, enough of these two,” she said, referring to Mr. Sloan and Mr. Schaffer.

Thus far, Mr. Sloan has not apologized publicly for his comments, and Ms. Moore said making Mr. Sloan apologize would be insufficient.

“That would be a slap on the wrist, business as usual,” she said. “He can no longer persist in insulting the people of this city.”

Mr. Sloan could not be reached for comment last night.

For several months, Ms. Moore has been a regular topic of conversation on Mr. Sloan’s talk show. Ms. Moore said that Mr. Sloan had called her “very hurtful things” on the show, and that as a result, some of his listeners have been calling the organization’s office and leaving threatening messages.

“They say the same things Scott Sloan says on the air,” she said. “They say that the NAACP is a hate group, that I’m a hatemonger. It’s sickening. I’ve been a constant dish for the Scott Sloan show.”

Ms. Moore said she is considering asking a law enforcement agency to tap the organization’s phones to find out who is making the phone calls.

The NAACP chapter also is calling for the dismissal of Mr. Schaffer, who Ms. Moore said has personally harassed her on multiple occasions, calling her early in the morning after she has made it clear that she did not want to appear on his program.

On his show Tuesday, Mr. Schaffer played a tape of two phone calls he made to Ms. Moore in July, including a lengthy message he left on her home answering machine. On the recording, Mr. Schaffer accused Ms. Moore of hating him because he is white and invited her to eat ribs with him. He also invited her to eat lunch with him at Denny’s Restaurant “and see if we all get served.”

In 1994, Denny’s Restaurant agreed to a $54 million settlement of two class-action lawsuits that claimed it systematically discriminated against minorities in service, sometimes refusing to seat black people.

“How dare he call into my home and insult me, humiliate me,” she said. “And he has played it for the entire city to hear. These people have to be stopped.”

Mr. Schaffer could not be reached for comment last night.

Mr. Sloan was involved in controversy during the 1996 Summer Olympics, when he said he was afraid that Muhammad Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, would drop the Olympic torch on a “greasy Middle Easterner” and start a fire.

Neither Mr. Sloan nor the station’s management ever apologized for the comments, despite considerable pressure from several community groups to do so.

Mr. Schaffer’s latest incident was not the first time his show has featured comments some found offensive. In August, during a discussion of Blade co-publisher and editor-in-chief John Robinson Block, WTOL-TV anchor Jerry Anderson questioned whether”short, small-handed Jewish men” like Mr. Block could be well-endowed.

Mr. Block was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Maumee.

Jim Keelor, president of South Carolina-based Cosmos Broadcasting Co., which owns WTOL, said he had no comment and referred questions to WTOL general manager Mel Stebbins.

Mr. Stebbins said that he has been aware of Mr. Anderson’s comments for several months. “We have had discussions with Jerry Anderson concerning the nature of his comments on the radio,” Mr. Stebbins said.

“Beyond that, it is a confidential matter between employer and employee.”

Mr. Anderson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Finkbeiner’s strongly worded letter focuses solely on Mr. Sloan and attacked his comments as divisive.

“Scott Sloan’s statements can only be interpreted as racist, promoting hate, encouraging violence and are clearly outside the scope of public decency,” he writes in the letter to L. Lowery Mays, Clear Channel’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Mr. Finkbeiner’s letter states that “Mr. Stewart needs to impress upon his staff the need to make permanent changes in Mr. Sloan’s culture of attacking ethnic and racial minorities.”

Clear Channel’s receptionist said Mr. Stuart is on vacation, and he could not be reached for comment.

Along with the groups who had spoken out against Mr. Sloan, the letter was signed by representatives of the Hispanic Affairs Commission, and the Board of Community Relations.

The Rev. Tom Quinn, spokesman for the diocese, said that Bishop James Hoffman was out of town, which is why the letter was signed by a representative of the charities group instead.

The mayor’s letter suggests that Mr. Sloan’s comments are not protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.

“We have heard Mr. Sloan’s tirades, clothed in the concept of Freedom of Speech,” the mayor writes, “which are clearly outside the bounds of ‘entertainment’ and clearly fall within the bounds of ‘a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil that rises above the public inconvenience, annoyance or unrest.'” That language is taken from a Supreme Court case concerning the limits of protected speech.

Ms. Moore said the activities of Mr. Sloan and Mr. Schaffer fall outside the constitutional protections of free speech. “The First Amendment doesn’t extend to someone calling your home and leaving harassing messages.”

The Supreme Court, in several cases, has carved out exceptions to the First Amendment, including obscenity and language designed to incite a riot.

But even racist and violent speech usually has been found to be protected under freedom of speech.

Ms. Moore said that she and her group are considering all their legal alternatives, which she said could include filing suit for harassment against Mr. Schaffer.

She said that NAACP representatives have spoken with Mr. Stuart on several occasions to air their complaints and “there has been no satisfaction.”

She said the radio controversy had helped to bind the city’s diverse ethnic and religious groups closer together. “It’s become a united front against this kind of hate,” she said.

The various groups are planning to meet together to discuss ways to combat media comments like Mr. Sloan’s and Mr. Schaffer’s.

“We’re going to be watchdogs,” she said.

The Rev. Glen Stadler, chairman of Metro Toledo Churches United, said that a meeting of the various groups could help reverse some of the divisions he said the radio personalities had helped create.

“As reasonable people sit down together, things can be worked out,” he said.

He added that he hopes Mr. Sloan, Mr. Schaffer, or some other Clear Channel representative could be included in the group’s discussions.

Blade staff writers Jack Baessler and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.

Shock jocks ignore taste for ratings, better jobs; In city, some radio hosts keep up their bad jokes

By Joshua Benton and Michael D. Sallah
Blade Staff Writers

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Less than 24 hours after WSPD’s Scott Sloan was suspended for remarks about assassinating the Rev. Jesse Jackson, WVKS colleague Denny Schaffer was on the air offending local black leaders and making Jewish jokes.

In the space of two hours yesterday, Mr. Schaffer defended inviting a prominent black leader in Toledo to eat ribs with him at Denny’s and played a song making fun of Hanukkah.

“Different people get offended by different things,” he said on the air.

Even with Mr. Sloan suspended without pay for a week, Mr. Schaffer showed no sign of altering his outrageous style.

“Everyone in talk radio is aware of what happened (in Toledo to Scott Sloan),” said Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers magazine, a national radio trade publication. “But that’s not shock radio. That’s stupid execution of shock radio.”

Analysts and academics agree that WSPD’s and WVKS’s brand of “shock radio” has been a remarkable success around the country, despite the controversies that always seem to accompany it – in fact, perhaps because of the controversies.

It’s almost a rule in shock radio today: Talk show hosts seek out controversy through outrageous comments, and usually end up profiting from it in one way or another.

Radio stations love the added listeners controversy can bring. And the radio personalities themselves, even if they are disciplined by their employers, often get better jobs in the end.

“It’s good for business, and that seems to be the real trend,” said Dr. Diana Owen, a political science professor at Georgetown University. “It’s not about whether you believe in an issue. It’s how far you can push the envelope.”

The latest radio controversy began on Nov. 17, when Mr. Sloan spoke out against Mr. Jackson for his role in the Decatur, Ill., standoff over six boys expelled from a high school there for fighting.

Mr. Sloan said that Mr. Jackson wanted to become a martyr like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said he wanted to help Mr. Jackson in his cause. He called a hotel with a similar name to the motel where Dr. King was killed, asked about its balconies, and said that once hotel arrangements were made, “All we need now is a shooter.”

Community groups responded angrily, saying that the remarks were hateful and racist.

On Sunday, Clear Channel Communications, which owns WSPD, WVKS, and three other Toledo stations, announced that Mr. Sloan was being suspended without pay for one week as a result of his comments.

The decision received national attention yesterday, with stories published in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today, along with daily newspapers in Atlanta, New Orleans, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Dayton.

“These are people who don’t have writers, who don’t have time to research, who don’t really think about what they are saying. It was clearly a stupid thing to say,” Mr. Harrison said.

It wasn’t the first time that a radio personality has reached the national spotlight for comments others consider racist or off-color. It’s common for shock jocks to be suspended or fired. And it’s common for them to go right back on the air – often with better jobs.

In New York, WABC radio fired Bob Grant in 1996 after he said he was “a pessimist” for believing that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown had survived a plane crash. Secretary Brown, who was black, died in the crash; Mr. Grant had attracted attention for calling blacks “savages.”

Within days, Mr. Grant was hired by rival WOR, and his show became syndicated nationwide.

In Nashville, disc jockey John Ziegler was fired in 1997 after he used a racial epithet to describe boxer Mike Tyson. He went on to be hired by Philadelphia station WWDB.

The most recent high profile shock jock to be fired was Doug “Greaseman” Tracht. Washington’s WARW fired him in February after he played a record by hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill and remarked, “No wonder people drag them behind trucks,” a reference to the murder of a black man in Texas. Three white men were convicted, two receiving the death penalty and one receiving life in prison

Mr. Tracht had drawn fire in 1986 while working at another Washington station. He was talking about the national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr., and said: “Kill four more and we can take a whole week off.” That remark sparked protests and bomb threats to the station.

Premier shock jock Howard Stern has offended people throughout his career, and yet he has become one of America’s biggest celebrities. And he is still offending some listeners.

In April, he joked about the mass murder at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colo. “Did [the killers] try to have sex with any of the good-looking girls? They didn’t even do that?” he told his syndicated audience. “At least if you’re going to kill yourself and kill all the kids, why wouldn’t you have some sex?”

But even with the controversy surrounding Mr. Sloan’s comments, that didn’t stop his Clear Channel colleague, Mr. Schaffer, from continuing to push the boundaries of what some people would consider good taste.

Yesterday’s program made fun of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which begins on Friday night, playing a song set to the tune of “White Christmas.”

“I’m dreaming of a white Hanukkah / When we made dreidels in the snow,” the lyrics go. “The menorah glistened / And we all listened / To Barbra Streisand as it glowed.”

The program also played a fake advertisement for a turbo-charged menorah that could produce enough fire to “melt the polar ice cap.” Candles are lit each night of the eight-night festival.

Local Jewish leaders said they believe the comments were less offensive than some things the Toledo airwaves have carried in the past, but still in poor taste.

“I think it was an attempt at humor,” said Rabbi Edward H. Garsek, of the Orthodox Congregation Etz Chayim. “Some people might find it funny, including some Jewish people, but I think it’s in poor taste.”

“This is a spin-off of bad Jackie Mason humor,” said Rabbi Alan Sokobin, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shomer Emunim. “I’m not offended if people don’t intend to offend me. I don’t think it’s good humor, but I’ve had people not laugh at some of my jokes before, too.”

Mr. Schaffer was criticized on WSPD this morning by Larry Sykes, the only African-American on the Toledo Public Schools board. Mr. Sykes, appearing on the station, said that Mr. Schaffer had left a harassing message on the answering machine of WilliAnn Moore, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Schaffer was inviting Ms. Moore to lunch, he said.

“We’ll go to lunch,” he said. “We’ll go to a rib place. … Where should we go to lunch? … We could go to Denny’s Restaurant and see if we all get served.”

Denny’s Restaurant has been the target of several lawsuits and a federal investigation over complaints that it discriminates against minorities, sometimes refusing service to blacks. In 1994, Denny’s agreed to a $54 million settlement of two class-action discrimination lawsuits.

Mr. Schaffer defended himself on his show yesterday, saying that his references to ribs and Denny’s were not meant to stereotype or attack blacks. “If I offended her, that was not my intention,” he said.

On the air, Mr. Schaffer played a recording of the message he left on Ms. Moore’s answering machine. He said he left the message after calling Ms. Moore for an interview one morning in July. Ms. Moore hung up on Mr. Schaffer after he identified himself. “She hates me because I’m white,” Mr. Schaffer said at the time.

He then called her back and left the message on her machine. “I thought if I was outrageous a little bit, maybe she would pick up the phone,” he said. He said that he knew that “ribs, chicken, and watermelon” were stereotypical items in the diet of African-Americans.

But Mr. Sykes said yesterday that he did not accept Mr. Schaffer’s explanation.

“To me, it’s an insult, and it’s harassment at that point,” Mr. Sykes said. “You’re calling this lady’s home again after it’s been made clear she doesn’t want to talk to you, and talking about Denny’s, which is notorious. I think that goes beyond wanting to talk to someone to disrespecting someone.”

To Mr. Schaffer’s on-air statement that his words had been misinterpreted, Mr. Sykes said: “That station has more misinterpretations than any station I know.

“Mr. Sloan is not the problem, and Mr. Schaffer isn’t the problem. The format is the problem,” Mr. Sykes said. “The atmosphere must be conducive to this sort of development.”

The Clear Channel stations have been the target of criticism in the past. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, Mr. Sloan said that Muhammad Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, might drop the Olympic torch on “some greasy Middle Easterner.” WSPD and Mr. Sloan refused to apologize for the statement.

Neither Ms. Moore nor Mr. Schaffer could be reached for comment yesterday.

WSPD and its morning host, Mark Standriff, are the target of a lawsuit filed on Sept. 28 by The Blade. The suit accuses WSPD and Mr. Standriff of stealing The Blade’s news content and reading it on the air without attribution. WSPD and Mr. Standriff have denied the charges.

The origin of “shock radio”‘ is sketchy, but some people trace it to California in the 1960s, with radio figures Joe Pyne and Bill Ballance.

While Americans were still tuning into standard news programs and popular music, these two talk radio hosts were often criticized for being irreverent toward guests, and at times, hostile.

Mr. Pyne railed against big government, while Mr. Ballance was known for constantly making sexually explicit remarks over the air. Mr. Pyne died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 44, and Mr. Ballance was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission in 1969 to “cease and desist” from making such comments.

“Ballance was the king of sex,” says Robert West, a retired professor of journalism at Kent State University. “He broke ground on radio with his comments, which drew a lot of criticism from groups.'”

The FCC was much tougher on controversial radio personalities, but by the late 1970s, “you could see that they were backing off,” Dr. West said, and talk about taboo topics was “not as much of an issue anymore.”

During that period, one of the country’s biggest shock jocks emerged: Howard Stern.

Engaging and irreverent, Mr. Stern changed the face of talk radio when he entered the Washington, D.C., radio market in 1980. He could be caustic, and at times, antagonistic, but perhaps his strongest suit was then and remains his penchant for talking about sex. He raised controversy with his on-air antics and irreverent remarks, and raised ratings in the process for his station.

Others began to mimic the “shock jock,”‘ as he was known, and a new radio format began to be popularized.

Michael Marsden, provost and vice president for academic research at Eastern Kentucky University, said the development of shock radio was a response to the rise of television.

As the television market grew, “radio was forced to respond,” he said, “and it had to do it in a bigger way: that is, being outlandish and trying to keep people on pins and needles.”

The topics of sex and race and politics became the staples of the rising genre, but Dr. Marsden cautioned that the new format “was never to be confused with broadcast journalism,” he said. “It is, and always has been, entertainment.”

“You have to understand that they are not there to comfort,” Dr. Marsden said. “They are there to afflict. They are there to keep us on pins and needles. They play with our fears, and in some ways, reinforce the sense that life is out of control.”

In a national study of talk radio hosts titled “The New Media in American Politics,” two professors found that many of the personalities they interviewed admitted to taking on controversial issues just “to get people to listen to their shows,” said Dr. Owen, one of the two authors of the study.

“It was for the ratings, not for what they truly believed,” she said. “Many times, they said they could care less about what they were talking about, but their stations wanted them to carry on, so they did.”

Sometimes radio personalities will fume about problems they are having with their station owners, but that is “staged,” like professional wrestling. “It’s a way to get people to listen,” Dr. Owen said.