"Kids spend a lot of time listening to the radio and DJs are considered role models, so it's a major issue when DJs flat-out promote marijuana use," says Dannah Hosford of the Youth Advocacy Coalition. "91X did a 'longest bong hit' contest, and they often play drug-oriented songs at 4:20, which is police code for pot and a smoking holiday [April 20] for kids ditching school. Most days, they also [play] the sound of a bubbling water pipe at 4:20. The DJs at 94.9 and 90.3 make stoner jokes, and The Mikey Show [on Rock 105.3 did] a 'stoner spelling bee.'... What's that telling young people about drug use?"
The Youth Advocacy Coalition comprises around 60 area youths; Hosford serves as adult supervisor. In association with HARM (Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana), they held a July rally at the local headquarters of Clear Channel and Finest City Broadcasting in Serra Mesa.
According to 17-year-old Amy K, "Within a week, we were offered meetings with [sales V.P.] Rob Worden at Finest City and Jim Richards [regional V.P.] of Clear Channel. They both agreed to produce a series of mutually agreeable anti-drug public service announcements, which we're working on with them now." She says the group still monitors local stations and documents pro-drug banter and song selections.
"We're in the middle of a three-month listening audit now," says 17-year-old Joseph H. "Just yesterday, one of the 91X DJs played Sublime's 'Smoke Two Joints' at 4:20 and introduced it as 'a stoner song.' Rock 105.3 plays 'The Pot' by Tool, and on Wednesday mornings, they have stoners call in and, if they get a question wrong, they have to take a bong hit on the air....
"Even though the stations themselves were willing to do the [public service announcements], we'd like to see the DJs take it more seriously."