A San Bernardino radio station has joined several East Coast radio stations in banning Sinead O'Connor from its airwaves. The action by KGGI-FM (99.1) is part of a growing protest over the Irish singer's refusal to have the U.S. national anthem played before her concert last Friday at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J.
The incident, which O'Connor said in a statement Monday "was not intended as a snub against Americans," has led several stations, including WHTZ-FM and WPLJ-FM in New York, WDHA-FM in Morristown, N.J., and WMJQ-FM in Buffalo, N.Y. to pull O'Connor from their playlists.
Hank Nevins, the programming director at WMJQ, said that "her timing was way off base, with the political climate the way it is and with emotions running high with the Middle East situation.
"She's a guest in our country," Nevins said. "What right does she have to stop the national anthem from being played?" Nevins added that the station will be passing out flags and lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" at her Buffalo-area Thursday show in Darien, N.Y., and are encouraging listeners to sing the anthem when she gets on stage.
"The whole thing is absurd," said O'Connor's publicist Elaine Schock. "A lot of these stations have only played one song of hers ('Nothing Compares 2 U') which is basically over as a hit anyway, and then ban her. Then they go declaring themselves 'Sinead-free Radio.' I think they're doing it to be self-serving. People who really believe that the national anthem should have been played should demand it at all rock concerts."
Steve Kingston, the programming director at WHTZ, believes the station's actions are a fair trade.
"If she has the authority to request that "The Star-Spangled Banner" not be played, then we have the right to request Sinead O'Connor not be played," Kingston said.
The majority of the attention so far has been from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including a push by New York state Sen. Nicholas Spano to boycott tonight's O'Connor concert in Saratoga, N.Y.
Jim Daniels, half of the Deaner and Daniels morning deejay team at KGGI, pointed out that the parts of O'Connor's statements dealing with her concerns about censorship in the United States were contradictory, and helped sway the station in favor of a ban.
Daniels contested O'Connor's position that "we are seeing a disturbing trend toward censorship of music and art in this country, and people should be more alarmed over that far more than my actions of last Friday night."
"That's an obvious reference to the 2 Live Crew case, which is an isolated incident," Daniels said, referring to the obscenity charges made against that Miami rap group.
"If she feels that strongly about America and what it's doing, she should have a true boycott, and not perform in America or take American money."