Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Legendary WAKY-AM deejay Bill Bailey 1930-2012

(I wrote this column for the Louisville (Ky.) Times in October 1979.)


On behalf of WAKY 79 Radio (790-AM) and its employees, we publicly apologize for the statements made by Bill Bailey on Tuesday morning (between 5:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.), October 16, 1979, and on Thursday morning (between 5:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.) October 18, 1979. Mr. Bailey's views do not necessarily represent the view of WAKY 79 Radio, its employees or our company. - George R. Francis, Jr., General Manager, WAKY 79 Radio, Vice-Pres Multimedia Radio, Inc.

What did disc jockey Bill Bailey say that demanded a full-scale apology in the classified ads in Sunday's Courier-Journal and in yesterday's Times?

Even irregular listeners to Bailey's morning yammer-athon know that Bill Bailey is liable to say anything. That is his appeal. So surely it must have been something gosh-awful. A joke about the Pope? Queen Elizabeth II? Three of the Seven Dwarves? Or four of the Seven Dwarves?

George Francis, WAKY's general manager, declined to comment.

Bill Bailey, of course, never declines to comment.

"To tell you the truth, it (the newspaper ad) was a blanket apology. He (Francis) got several complaints for things I had said.

"I had stated that Bob Moody was here (at WAKY) under our rehabilitation-aid program.

"I said that the two-party system was ruining this country, that we needed more competition.

"I told a joke that I heard from a doctor over at Kupie's (a restaurant in downtown Louisville, near the radio station): 'There's good news in this morning's paper. The Polack boat people finally reached Vietnam.'"

Is that all? Isn't that just every-morning faire for Bailey?

The Polish joke is inexcusable, but the rest is just standard Bill Bailey. It's the kind of stuff that makes people want to listen to Bill Bailey.

The reason for the ad is that Bailey also made some comments about civil-rights leader Jesse Jackson and the Palestine Liberation Organization. A local resident has asked for equal time to respond to remarks.

WAKY will probably grant the equal-time request. But so what? That's what radio should occasionally deal with - controversy. There's more to life than "My Sharona."

In an interview, Bailey said, "People are too damned sensitive. It's just a matter of trying to have a good time. Trying to entertain people. I'm not permitted a personal opinion. I can't mention John Y. Brown. I can't mention Louie Nunn. So I simply stay away from it."

Bill Bailey should not stay away from it. Of course, the things Bailey says don't "necessarily represent" the views of WAKY, its employees or the company. They don't necessarily represent my views, either.

But they are a damned sight more interesting to listen to than the 1,327th playing of "My Sharona."

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