Racist Radio?

A rights group forms after local airwaves flow with anti-Chinese sentiments

Calvert has written to Ken Charles, director of AM programming at KPRC-AM, KTRH and KBME, about inflammatory remarks allegedly made by Baker.

Charles said about the panda recipe segment, "If the panda American anti-abuse group wants to call and complain, that would be fine." He said Baker never made any racist comments about Chinese-Americans, and said Baker clearly differentiated between them and Chinese nationals. Charles said the radio host talked about the possibility of the United States stopping Chinese citizens here from enjoying American freedoms while their government held Americans hostage.

Wan Ooi, a microbiology professor at Houston Community College, says he heard the show. Baker mentioned Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, and said Chinese people were spies and that they should be kicked out of universities and Enron Field, Ooi says. Baker did not give any tips on how to differentiate between Chinese-Americans and Chinese nationals, Ooi says.

Ooi says Baker may have had the right to be angry, but he attacked Chinese race and culture -- not just communist China.

According to Ooi, Baker played gong music in the background, urged the boycott, made fun of the Dallas Mavericks' new center, Wang Zhizhi, and even dissed Bruce Lee. Callers who complained were labeled as commies, he says.

The National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, based in Washington, D.C., complained to Charles and the FCC. But Charles said the group must have confused it with another station. "We want an apology," Charles said. "We've been slandered by this group." Charles said a man claiming to be from a group called the National Asian Professional Legal Defense called on behalf of the consortium and apologized on air last Friday. Vincent Eng of the consortium said they've never heard of the other group, and their president, Karen Narasaki, has not issued any apology.

Ooi, an ethnic Chinese, earned his doctorate in Houston in 1975 but could not return to his native Malaysia because of violent anti-Chinese sentiments there. He stayed in the United States because it seemed more tolerant.

Then last month he heard a talk show host advocate punching the Chinese ambassador in the face.

"I told myself I have to be careful driving home and not get into an accident, because what if the other person was angry," Ooi says. "He might punch me in the face! How can someone make a distinction between a Chinese and Chinese-American when he is so angry?"

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