Bosses at an Australian radio station have banned KISS music from the airwaves as a protest against comments bassist Gene Simmons recently made about people battling depression.
“I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump.’” Simmons said in an interview with SongFacts.com late last month. “Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the f— up, have some dignity and jump!”
When “Rock and Roll All Nite” came on the airwaves around 7 a.m., morning show host TJ Connors couldn’t help but think of what Simmons had said.
“When the song was on, my blood started boiling,” Connors said. He looked up the quote and started tearing it down, live on air.
“I basically just spoke from the heart,” Connors said. “And when I put it out there I said, quite frankly, I don’t really want to hear Gene Simmons as part of my morning show anymore.”
At 8:55 a.m. brand director Jason Manning came on air and with Connors, declared that Power 97 ban KISS and Gene Simmons from its airwaves.
Power was the first station in North America to make such a ban, joining others in the U.K. and Australia.
“It’s bigger than not playing ‘Detroit Rock City.’ It’s about taking a stand and just showing that we as a rock radio station — sometimes we can be little harsh or a little crass — but we care. And we have the time to raise awareness for things like mental health.”
There have been a few detractors — including one guy who called up Connors and basically repeated Simmons’ comments word-for-word — but the vast majority of the flood of emails, social media posts and phone calls have been positive, he says.
“There’s been an outpouring of emails, personal emails sharing dark stuff, their deepest darkest moments, and they’re sharing stuff with me because I started a hashtag … it’s really touching. It just shows you how prevalent mental illness is in our society. And it’s something that needs to be dealt with, not joked about,” Connors said.
KISS will go from at least one, maybe two spins a day to zero.
“Maybe he can learn a lesson from this, realize it’s not a cry for attention, it’s a cry for help,” Connors said.
“He’s a guy who notoriously all he does is cry for attention, that’s why he said something so outlandish.”
Connors says what’s played on-air has to match the station’s values.
“I think Gene just needs to realize that. And this stage of the game, we just don’t want to hear it anymore.”