4.25.2007

Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo Crusades Against Bigoted Jersey Shock Jocks

April 20, 2007

Mr. Jon Luther

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Dunkin' Brands
130 Royall Street
Canton, Mass. 02021

Dear Mr. Luther:

Dunkin Donuts is among the list of companies that provide advertising for a New Jersey radio program that has a long record of mocking and insulting ethnic groups and people with disabilities. The show is called “The Jersey Guys” and features two shock jocks named Craig Carton and Ray Rossi.

In February, the program initiated a “public service” campaign called “Operation Rat-a-Rat/La Cucha Gotcha” that has offended New Jersey’s growing Hispanic population. The Jersey Guys contend their campaign is intended to help authorities identify and process illegal aliens. But in carrying out their campaign, Carton and Rossi made comments and employed devices to clearly target it at the Latino community – regardless of whether an individual was a United States citizen, a legal alien, or an undocumented resident.

The campaign’s slogan intentionally insults the Hispanic community through word play on the Spanish word for cockroach – “cucaracha.” The hosts further promoted their so-called campaign using Mexican music. Finally, they originally scheduled the end of their publicity stunt for May 5 – Cinco de Mayo – a significant day of celebration for the Mexican community.

I have repeatedly called on Millennium Radio to end this stereotyping of Hispanics. To date, all the station has done is take down a reference to “La Cucha Gotcha” on the Jersey Guys’ Web page and the show hosts have stopped using Cinco de Mayo as the deadline for reporting illegal aliens. They recently said they will continue their campaign indefinitely. Correspondence I have sent to the station owners, however, has gone unanswered.

This is not the first time that the “Jersey Guys” have set out to insult or offend an ethnic group or a minority of New Jersey residents.

The record shows both Mr. Carton and Mr. Rossi have hurled juvenile and hurtful invectives at the mentally ill, Asian-Americans, and Polish-Americans. Earlier this month, the public firestorm created by Don Imus’ insulting and condescending reference to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team led advertisers to pull their investments his program – a major factor in the show’s cancellation and Mr. Imus’ ultimate firing. By any standard of measure, the intolerance and hatred regularly aired by the “Jersey Guys” rates as a comparable breach of decency.

I have been contacted by numerous state and regional Latino organizations -- including the New York State and New Jersey Hispanic chambers of commerce, ASPIRA, and the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey, among others - who are willing to join with me in calling on the Hispanic community to refrain from patronizing all Dunkin’ Donuts franchises unless your company stops providing financial support for the “Jersey Guys” program.

The alarming trend in broadcasting toward displays of hyper-insensitivity in search of ratings must end. It must be demonstrably counteracted by elected officials, community leaders, and advertisers. AT&T already has cancelled its advertising on the “Jersey Guys.” Similarly, Dunkin’ Brands must stand as a corporate leader by sending the strong message that ethnic and racial remarks can never be countenanced.

Sincerely,
Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo