KDWB's Dave Ryan in the Morning show has faced sharp criticism over a song parodying the Hmong community, broadcast last week.
The song, performed on air by cast member "Steve-O" (Steve LaTart), contained lyrics about how Hmong live packed in a house like "sardines" and Hmong women have seven children by the time they are 23, according to the Pioneer Press.
In a commentary on MPR, Hmong comedian and entertainer Tou Ger Xiong criticized the song for being not just offensive, but dangerous for its potential influence on public opinion. The song perpetuated stereotypes that many find degrading and dehumanizing, Xiong wrote; he went on to cite instances of violence perpetrated on Hmong individuals as examples of the danger of dehumanizing a group.
AT&T and Health Partners pulled their advertising off of KDWB, Fox 9 reported. AT&T Minnesota president Bob Bass said that AT&T would not financially support a station which allowed discrimination to be included in its broadcasts.
Some found the backlash to be unwarranted. "I had to wonder when we ceded to the most sensitive and thin-skinned among us the right to set the limits on public discourse," wrote Chisago City resident John Kirby in a letter to the Star Tribune.
KDWB issued an apology via the Dave Ryan in the Morning Show's Facebook page, stating that they were sorry if they had inadvertently offended anyone and stressing that the shows audience would have known that the song was a parody, the Pioneer Press reported.
Still, several Hmong notables were unimpressed by the apology. Bee Vang, the Hmong American actor who played Thao Vang Lor in the film "Gran Torino", wrote in an opinion piece for the Pioneer Press that the apology was half-hearted, and called the song "racist and harmful". "Yes, we all have freedom of speech, but some have more than others. If we Hmong avail ourselves of it, we might just be laying the groundwork for more backlash," Vang wrote.