Loh Blow for Public Radio Free Speech


For six years, writer/comedian Sandra Tsing Loh has been delivering chatty, somewhat manic, and bravely trivial monologues on the Santa Monica-based National Public Radio powerhouse KCRW. No more.

On Feb. 29, she recorded a bit about how, because her husband plays in Bette Midler's touring band, "I guess I have to fuck him." The word "fuck" was to be bleeped for comic effect, but the engineer didn't do it. Loh was then immediately fired by the legendary and irritable KCRW overlord, Ruth Seymour. "You cannot say 'fuck' on the air, period," Seymour told occasional Reason contributor Cathy Seipp. "We could lose our license. She's obviously having problems." Seymour delivered more Loh blows to the L.A. Times:

And if Sandra says she's angry, how do you think we at the station feel? Apart from endangering the license, we could well incur a heavy fine. We really are serious with her, that with such a trivial, self-serving piece, she put us all in danger.

It might be pointed out that Seymour describing anyone as "trivial" and "self-serving" is like the pot calling the kettle a "pot." Anyway, there have been no reports of anyone from the FCC contacting KCRW, whose obscenity guidelines (and Loh-firing memo) can be found at L.A. Observed. First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh responded by asking, "Shouldn't public radio stations be a bit less timid?"