Character for Radio DJ’s” should be the title of a required-reading pamphlet for every radio DJ. Case in point: the DJ’s who were in charge of the January 12, 2007 radio contest in Sacramento, California – a contest in which contestants had to drink as much water as possible without relieving themselves.
Sacramento station KDND-FM fired 10 staff members over last Friday’s competition, called “Hold your wee for a Wii,” in which approximately 20 people tried to out-drink each other without going to the toilet. Why did they do this? Each wanted desperately to win a Nintendo Wii games console.
One contestant was Jennifer Strange. Jennifer was only 28 years old, and was a devoted mother of three children. She died shortly after winning second place in the contest. She died of water intoxication, also known as hyperhydration, or water poisoning.
“Character for Radio DJ’s”, our hypothetical pamphlet, might have saved Jennifer’s life. You see, they not only ran the contest, and urged contestants to keep going. They also rejected a warning they received. They rejected the very information Jennifer needed.
“We have new information that has come to light from audio tapes of the show,” said spokesman Sgt. Timothy Curran. “We have decided we will open a death investigation, which will take weeks, and on conclusion our findings will be forwarded to the local district attorney to decide whether to lay criminal charges.”
The audio tapes of which he speaks offer DJ comments in which they joke about people dying from water intoxication. The DJ’s are heard discussing a case in Northern California two years ago in which student Matthew Carrington, 21, died after drinking too much water during a fraternity stunt. One of the DJs even admits they should have done some research before the contest to see if it was safe.
At another point in the audio tape, a female caller, identifying herself as Eva, phones to warn the radio station that drinking too much water can kill.
“Character for Radio DJ’s”, our imaginary pamphlet, would have stressed to every DJ the importance of responsibility. When DJ’s conduct contests, they must exercise responsibility. They must exercise responsibility before hand in determining whether the contest is entirely safe and fair. They must exercise responsibility during the contest if a warning is offered by a caller. They must be ready to give account of every word and action in connection with that contest.
“Character for DJ’s” would also have stressed the need for courage. When the DJ’s began discussing the dangers, and mentioned the death of a California student, they should have taken a moment to look into their hearts and decide what their convictions were regarding the value of human life. They should have exercised the courage of those convictions and stopped the contest on the spot.
Finally, our hypothetical pamphlet would have stressed the need for respect. The DJ’s should have exercised respect for the caller and her warning. They should have exercised respect for the physical needs of the contestants. They should have exercised respect for people over greed for show ratings.
Character for Radio DJ’s doesn’t stop with just three character traits, of course. It runs the gamut. Study a list of character traits and I believe you will find that, too often, radio DJ’s spurn much of it.
In this case, a lack of character very likely led to a young mother’s death. Three young children were deprived of their mother by the DJ’s lack of character.