You may remember how in my last article, “Listening to Music on the Radio Sucks“, I insulted a local radio DJ, Debbi Calton of 102.9 WMGK.
UPDATE: 9/14/19 – This article is old as shit, but not as old as Debbi’s career. As such, I want to sincerely congratulate her on her retirement, and thank her for her contributions to Philly’s radio scene. She might not be as good as legends like John DeBella or Pierre Robert, but I can’t ignore her history with the city and its radio stations. From us fine folks at AJnet, best of luck to you Debbi. Also, I was young drunk and stupid when I wrote those pieces about you, so find it in your heart to forgive me.
I said all kinds of nasty things about her, like how I felt she was condescending, and how she once refused to play a song because it wasn’t in their playlist. Oh, and I might have called her a cunt once. Or twice. Or multiple times. One of my readers decided to send her a link to the article.
Apparently, she doesn’t like being called names on the internet, and decided to personally email me and get to the bottom of things:
From: Debbi Calton <[email protected]>
Dear Angry Jerk:
I’m not sure what you have a problem with. I’m just someone going in each day doing my job. And with that said, I would like to invite you in to hang out with me during a show one day. Let me know when you’d like to come in. There’s a lot more going on than you have any idea about. If you’re going to post something about me, you should at least know something about me. How about it?
Now I know what you’re all thinking. “AJ, you should totally go on the radio and hand her her ass in front of all her listeners!” Or, “AJ, you should troll all of the station’s listeners somehow.”
One, it would be the equivalent of trying to debate Obama at his own rally. You just ain’t gonna win, no matter how well your arguments are. This lady has spent countless years on the air, and would have no problem slamming me to the mat on her own show. I refuse to play their game and allow them to feed their ratings at my expense. There’s a reason I’m not on the radio, and that’s because I don’t have the face for it.
Two, she never explicitly said that I would be going on-air with her. Most likely, it was an invitation to sit in the studio with her while she does her thing, while I’m bored off my ass and resisting temptation to fuck with their equipment and pull an Orson Welles-like stunt where I would convince MGK’s listeners that the Chinese were making paradrops into west coast cities and launching an invasion of the United States. That would be fucking awesome, and there’s no way in hell I could resist such an urge, even if it meant jail time.
To quote Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap! Also, totally not worth missing a day’s worth of pay for.
Anyway, I’m a reasonable man, as my reply will show you:
Wow, I expected you to find the article, but not this fast. I also didn’t expect someone as “big” as you to personally email me about it (let’s face it, you’re a pretty big name in the area). I’m pretty shocked.
Let me start off by thanking you for emailing me in a level-headed and reasonable manner. Let me also thank you for not throwing around silly legal threats, which seems to be the standard nowadays.
You aren’t the first person who’s taken issue with what I’ve written about them, and I’m sure you won’t be the last. I’ve had a few people I’ve written about email me with their two-cents worth. It’s surprising how different people can be when speaking on a direct level, and not acting “in-character”, so to speak. So far, you’ve proven to be different from the instances I described in the article.
I know you’re a person with a job. That job is to entertain your listeners, even if it’s at the expense of other listeners. I concede, the one incident I wrote about with the person requesting a song was the only time I can recall you doing such a thing, but I’ve never been a devout MGK listener (as I said, I dislike radio in general), so I’m sure there were probably other times that I missed. I also know that you have people above you who tell you what you can and can’t do. I’m sure you probably agree that your station’s playlist is way too small, but I know there’s nothing you can do about it, since it’s up to the suits and not the DJs.
Being in the entertainment industry, you know just as well as I do that the public enjoys exaggeration and embellishment. My “job” is similar to yours, to entertain my audience, even if it’s at the expense of someone else. Like many others, I embellish and exaggerate to get my points across. I honestly didn’t intend for you to be the primary focus of the article. Rather, I intended for the instance I described with the person requesting the song to highlight just how ridiculous radio stations can be with adhering to playlists. I admit that I may have been a bit too heavy with the insults towards you, but know that they were done more for entertainment value than actual hatred towards you. Consider it part of my over-the-top “Angry Jerk” character. After all, how can I truly hate someone that I don’t even know?
To sum it up, I know that you as a person are not as I described in the article, and that those instances are most likely few and far between. Obviously my real issue would be with the suits above you who make the major decisions that affect what you do on-air. However, my readers wouldn’t find an article about your executives as entertaining as they would find one about a DJ they’re familiar with. Again, being in the entertainment industry, you know how important it is for your audience to be able to relate with what you’re saying. More people will relate with “That bitch DJ” than they will “Those dumb-ass board room executives”. Also, the site has served as my outlet for my anger since its inception. As such, much of its content consists of half-cocked and sometimes irrational rants. I never meant for the site to be read by as many people as it has. It’s hard to balance staying true to the original purpose while fulfilling the obligation I have to entertain my readers.
With that out of the way, I’m going to have to decline your invitation to join you at the station. For one, my schedule is way too erratic and full. Two, if you read the rest of my site, you’ll understand why someone like me would be reluctant to put myself too far out into the open.
I hope you’ll understand that I have no desire to pull down the article or remove the part about you. However, I’ll be more than happy to publish our correspondence and let it serve as a retraction of sorts.
Forgive me if this email seems sloppy in any way. I’m tired, it’s hot, and I’m still very shocked that you emailed me. Again, thank you for taking the time to send me a level-headed email. Looks like you aren’t such a bitch after all.
Apparently I have false memories of events that never happened. Now I know how Cloud felt in “Final Fantasy 7”. She didn’t actually say “Yawn, how boring”, and I’m just making shit up for the sake of trashing her:
You obviously have the right to air your opinion. But I take issue with presenting fiction as fact. I don’t have screeners. I don’t talk down to my listeners. In fact, I take every call that comes into this studio during my shift. I have genuine respect for my audience. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to work in Philadelphia for almost 30 years. I am quite certain I’ve never said “Yawn…how boring” to anyone on the air. Ever. Completely certain. I think I know what you’re referring to and I actually made a mistake and had something else cued up when I played that call back on the air. There was nothing condescending at all. I messed up. And I definitely would never have argued about a Beatles song being on an album if it was indeed on the album.
The point is, I can’t stop you from calling me a cunt. And if that’s the way you entertain your readers, so be it. But you shouldn’t have to make things up to prove your point.
By the way, where did you get that picture of me in the studio?
Way to make me look like an ass, dad. Also, notice how her tone has changed slightly after I’ve made her aware that this is going to be made public. She went from being kind and cordial to going on the offensive against my claims while assuring the listeners that she appreciates them. I’m many things, but a liar isn’t one of them:
Your station doesn’t have screeners? So if I were to call the number, I’d immediately be placed on-air, with nobody to check to make sure I’m not some 13 year old looking to say naughty words on the radio? How do you not get bombarded with prank calls? Most stations have a system like that. WIP does, that much I know from experience. I’ve never called MGK since I’ve never had reason to, so maybe your show doesn’t have screeners because it’s not talk-format. It was around 4 years ago, but I’m fairly certain you said “Yawn, how boring” or something very much to that effect. 4 years is a long time, but not long enough to skew my memory. I don’t fully know how a radio studio works, so you probably did make a mistake and pick the wrong song. Mistakes happen, it’s life. I’m also willing to accept that the event I mentioned with the Beatles album was distorted by my father. He’s pretty old, and with age goes memory.
I don’t make things up, at least not intentionally. Do I exaggerate and embellish events? Yeah. But I don’t just outright make up claims like that against people. I do remember the one thing with the song request. I remember slicing carrots for soup at a restaurant, hearing it, turning to my prep cook, and saying “Wow, I can’t believe she said that.” I don’t remember it word for word, but I do remember the words “Yawn” and “Boring”. As far as the Beatles thing goes, I assumed my father was telling the truth. That was probably 20 years ago or so, so I’m sure his memory of it isn’t even 75%, but it’s obviously based in some fact somehow. He didn’t just pull it out of thin air.
The picture was obtained on Google Image Search. I don’t know its exact source. I believe it could have been this: http://www.californiaaircheck.com/WMGKDebbi1.jpg
Damnit lady, that’s exactly the same thing as screening calls. You just happen to be your own screener:
No screeners. I’m the only one in the studio during my show. I answer every call. I record every call and then decide what/who to put on air. Calls get edited.
I will stand by what I said. I have never ever in my entire radio career (since 1976) said something rude like that on the air. (in reference to “how boring.”) Never. That is not my style. Either you misheard or it was someone else.
No more need to correspond.
And I’m going to stand by what I said, that the event did in fact happen (but probably not the event my father told me about). In the end, this whole thing amounts to “He said, she said”. I invite my readers and any of her listeners who find this to draw their own conclusions of what happened based on this correspondence. Debbi Calton obviously isn’t a bitch when interacting with someone on a one-on-one level. Still, I dislike what she said, and how she says it could have never happened. I’m inclined to believe that she genuinely doesn’t remember the event, since she’s been doing this since ’76, and who the fuck would remember something so insignificant during a timeline of 35 years? Fair enough, I didn’t expect her to remember it. But to say that there’s no way in hell it could have happened is nothing short of bullshit.
On a side note, maybe after reading this, WMGK will increase their playlist. But probably not.
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