14

I've heard and read this one in various places, in many variations:

a radio DJ gets (disgruntled)/(drunk)/(fired), and as a response (locks)/(barricades) (himself)/(herself) alone in the (studio)/(broadcast station) and plays (the same song over and over)/(as many offensive songs as he/she can find) as an act of rebellion and defiance for several hours.

I am skeptical that such an event could actually occur, since the other radio station employees could kill the power to the station, transmitter or studio with relative ease. One possibility is that the station owner did the deed, considered it harmless and allowed it to occur, or refused to allow the station to go off air. I have read reports of specific anecdotes, but they seem indistinguishable from publicity stunts playing off the popular legend. I would think that a story where there is no punitive action against the DJ is just a staged stunt.

Is there any evidence to indicate a renegade DJ actually managed to lock himself in the station to broadcast material against the will of the station owner for an extended period of time?

Update: From a Snopes discussion board I found, "In 1972, KHJ Los Angeles deejay Robert W. Morgan spun Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love" over and over for 90 continuous minutes, leading LAPD to mistakenly raid the station studios after receiving numerous calls from listeners. The perplexed officers left without making any arrests." The board links to this page. Wikipedia also cites that link. But I can't find any reliable source about that.

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+50

The radio station Triple J in Australia did this in 1989. Triple J is a government-funded and government-owned youth radio station that does does not have any commercial interests, and is controlled by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (and thus, nothing to gain through self-promotion).

In 1989, they had been playing N.W.A's song Fuck Tha Police in their regular cycle for up to 6 months, before the song came the attention of the government and the owners of the station, the ABC. The ABC ordered the station to stop playing the song.

As a protest, the station played N.W.A's Express Yourself on repeat for 24 hours, playing it approximately 360 times, and also included a portion of Fuck Tha Police in their news theme music.

  • 3
    While funny, this is not a case of a DJ locking themselves in and playing it against the wishes of the station. – SQB Jan 25 '17 at 14:06
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    @SQB I disagree. The question states "Station Owner", and in this case the station is ultimately owned by the Australian government, who already stated their displeasure at the music, and this was a protest. And protests aren't typically done for the pleasure of those in power. The only part that could be up for debate is the "locking themselves in" part. I don't know if there was the physical locking of doors involved. – Mark Henderson Jan 25 '17 at 14:10
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    Well, the main question is (emphasis mine) "[i]s there any evidence to indicate a renegade DJ actually managed to lock himself in the station to broadcast material against the will of the station owner for an extended period of time?" Yes, the ultimate station owner in this case was the Australian government, but the immediate station owners agreed and did not try to stop the actual DJs. Also, this could be very well classified as a publicity stunt. – SQB Jan 25 '17 at 14:17
  • @SQB While this does not 100% answer the question, it could likely be the source of the news the OP points at. – yo' Jan 28 '17 at 16:05
9

This has happened several times, but I think more often than not it's a stunt.

In 1963, "Barefoot" Larry Justice who had worked for about six months at WPGC in Washington DC, locked himself in his booth and repeatedly played the novelty track 'Prez Conference' by Len Weinreb. Listeners really did come to the station to offer support. The issue was a pay raise and contract he had been promised, and he did get them.

WPGC's website verifies that this was a planned event. Larry, now retired in Florida, confirms that while the program director knew about it beforehand, the general manager didn't -- but went along with it because he liked dramatic stuff. The story is told at WPGC's website where you can hear the scoped aircheck tape of Larry's "takeover".

In March 2013, the sound collage group Negativland ran the tape on their weekly KPFA radio program "Over the Edge". They have done many shows about radio history, featuring period airchecks.

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