Another Letter to Joy FM, re: Racism on Air


For nostalgia’s sake, here’s the image I posted two years ago, which was nicked directly from JOY. I’m only now realising how white it is…

from: Matthew Lang <>
date: 3 September 2015 at 21:43
subject: Racist remarks on C&C Drive Factory, 9th September 2015

Dear James Findlay,

I am appalled at the recent racist remarks made on Joy on Thursday the 9th of September, 2015, around 6:30 or 6:40 PM, which implied that Chinese people (that is, Chinese nationals and/or people of Chinese descent) would not listen to Joy FM, by extension were either not part of the Queer community or not a relevant part of the Queer community, and indeed only existed to provide a source of entertainment for white people in form of hard to pronounce names.

This occurred during a brief newsbreak on the C&C Drive Factory, which on the night was hosted by Chris, Cam, and someone from the Taste of Radio program, who I believe went by the moniker of ‘Baz’. Having tuned in on a brief trip home from a meeting, I’m not sure I caught the newsreader’s name, although it might have been Tim. The newsreader was reporting on the earlier Chinese military parade celebrating the defeat of Japan in World War II. He then went on to say that your newsreader needed to say the Chinese President’s name 10 times because it would funny – he wasn’t really sure how ‘Xi Jinping’ was correct pronounced, although he was gamely trying his best.

While often forgotten or overlooked by the western world, China was one of the first countries to enter what became world war two, allying with the USA and the British Empire just after Pearl Harbour in 1941. Estimates of casualties stand around 14 million. Military deaths are typically quoted at 2.2 million, ranking it third in terms of highest military deaths by country, behind the USSR and Germany.

There are many reasons to mock China. Their treatment of Tibet, memorable food poisoning scandals (milk and berries spring immediately to mind), their handling of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is a personal favourite, but for one of the JOY FM hosts to say ‘We need to make fun of them for celebrating something so…silly’ is ignorant, racist, and frankly shows a great disrespect for a country that kept some 600,000 or more Japanese troops bogged down up north, despite having the majority of its eastern land mass under foreign occupation. This prevented Japanese troops sweeping through the USSR, Europe and arguably Australia. In short, had China capitulated, we might be speaking Japanese right now, and not for the nice cultural exchange, awesome food and anime reasons. It also suggests that the correct way to make fun of a country for throwing a giant military parade is not to look at who was invited (not the public) or the obviously political posturing towards Japan, but to make fun of a name that isn’t English, because all real names should roll easily off the average English speaking person’s tongue, and anyone who doesn’t have that sort of name is to be treated as an object of ridicule and ‘not one of us’.

At that point, one of your other hosts piped up and pointed out that that there might well have been Chinese listeners who hold a different view of the matter—or as I like to call it, ‘facts’—but the original speaker brushed that off with a ‘they’re not listening’, had a laugh, and the show moved on.

Joy FM is queer community radio station. It touts itself as the voice of the queer community. It’s hosts are perceived as the voices of the queer community. It is understood that the views expressed by the hosts are in line with the views held by Joy FM and the queer community. Now apparently, according to Joy’s host and representative, I, as an Australian of Chinese descent, don’t listen to Joy FM, presumably because I’m not part of the Queer community, or don’t deserve to be part of the Queer community by virtue of not being white. Or possibly just being of Chinese heritage. Attitudes such as this speak towards a cultural hierarchy which places white, Anglo Saxon people and culture at the top and relegates all others into a cultural zoo—something to be looked at in a proprietary fashion while patting each other on the back about how multicultural and accepting white people are—as long as the others stay in their places over there and don’t try to be part of ‘our’ space. It also normalises and legitimises the practice of sexual racism that’s always hovering around the edges of any discussion of race in Queer spaces. This is the attitude that was expressed on air. This is the attitude that if unaddressed, will have been tacitly endorsed by Joy FM. I would like to believe this isn’t Joy FM’s position.

White writing this I’ve had a strange sense of déjà vu. For reference, please see my much earlier letter to Joy FM, which is published on my website here ( After writing this, I got a very nicely worded reply stating that the host during the time of my 2013 complaint had been a guest host, the song choices had been chosen by a studio guest and not the host, and the guests intention had been to draw parallels between the racist overtones of the song I’d heard and the 457 visa issue that had been rather hot at the time (note, another reason to be angry at China at the moment is the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. You know, the one Tony Abbott is so keen on that allows ‘foreign companies’, which we call know is code for ‘China’, to bring in their own workers and not even advertise their jobs to Aussies. Actually, that might be more a reason to be angry with Tony Abbott, but you can take that one too). Anyway, the host had nipped that topic in the bud and not let that discussion go to air, leading to a rather unfortunate juxtaposition. Both guest host and studio guest then agreed to go through further radio training. I wish I’d kept that email. I’d have liked to have published it.

Unfortunately, this is not that. Both of your regular hosts were in studio, although I appreciate you had a newbie in the booth. The comments were uttered with a good 20 minutes left on air and I texted in to the Joy phone specifically to air my concerns. I would have expected them to be acknowledged on air and corrected. As mentioned above, if Joy FM lets comments such as these stand it tacitly endorses them as views held by Joy FM and the wider Queer community—at the very least, the Queer community of Melbourne. I appreciate Joy’s preference may be to not engage with such issues at all, and in the case of a poor song choice, I can appreciate not making further comment. In regards to a host on one of your prime time drive shows… well, disappointed doesn’t really cover it.

I have written this at the invitation of someone on your social media team, who has asked for the matter to be sent to yourself via email, probably in the hope of keeping it off Twitter, where I very deliberately did not direct tweet given the lack of response from your studio team to my text message. I trust you will take this matter seriously, and while I don’t expect this to never happen again in the future, or for you to make a promise that you’ll make sure it doesn’t, because we both know that’s not a promise you can hope to keep, I do expect that Joy FM will take public, on air corrective action to ensure that it is made clear that these Anglo-centric, ignorant, and frankly racist viewpoints are not endorsed by Joy FM, tacitly or otherwise. Frankly, that tacit endorsement was broadcast to some 329,000 listeners in Melbourne and more online according to your own figures—and the sponsorship ad that came on during the show—and I feel it is important that the message of racial acceptance is heard by the same number of people. A polite email to myself really won’t address the damage this sort of behaviour can have on normalising the marginalisation of people due to the colour of the skin.

I would also like to state that while I am disappointed by your host’s words, and am fully against their viewpoint and think it sickening, I’m not in any way claiming these words were said out of deliberate malice. I think it’s far more likely that they were said out of unthinking, subconscious privilege, and reflect a lifetime of growing up in a privileged position as far as race is concerned. Arguably, I’d say the culture that enabled the individual in question to form those views is the problem, but I think it would be in tune with community values if Joy was not seen in any way as endorsing said values.

Kind Regards

Matthew Lang