BBC Local Radio DJ Loses Job After Playing Song Featuring Racist Word

David Lowe mistakenly played song that included the n-word.

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A local radio DJ has lost his job after playing a song on his golden oldies show containing a racist word, NME reports.

BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe said he was unaware that a 1932 version of "The Sun Has Got His Hat on" included the n-word. Mr. Lowe, who has been a broadcaster for 32 years, said it was an "innocent mistake."

He said he had offered to make an on-air apology, but BBC bosses refused the idea although his resignation was accepted. The BBC have since said they believe the situation could've been handled better, and have offered Mr. Lowe his job back. Despite this, Lowe said the incident had exacerbated a stress-related condition and he would not be returning to the corporation.

The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrose and His Orchestra, features the line: "He's been tanning [n-word] out in Timbuktu, now he's coming back to do the same to you." Later versions of the song omit the offensive word.

The BBC took action after a listener heard the song broadcast on Mr. Lowe's Sunday night programme and complained. Mr. Lowe told BBC News he had written an "unreserved apology" for use on air which he submitted to BBC managers after the song was played on April 27.

"I offered to apologise or to fall on my sword," he said. "Unfortunately the BBC decided on the latter option. I don't have any quarrels with any of my colleagues. It's the system of political correctness which has turned this into a rather badly handled affair. I think we're all too ready to bow to political correctness. One feels one is following a verbal tightrope, even in casual conversation. I made a silly mistake, my first error in more than 30 years of broadcasting. I am deeply embarrassed by it."

A BBC spokesperson said: "We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his 'Singers and Swingers' show, and we would be happy to have him back on air. We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better, but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future."

The incident comes after calls to sack the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson were resisted by the BBC, despite unbroadcast footage showing him apparently using the n-word. He has since apologised.

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78 comments sorted by best / new / date

    so what? the song has a word in it, its not like he called somebody that word while on air.
    Yeah, it's definitely a case of WAY overreacting. If he himself was using the word it would be one thing but it clearly sounds like he made an honest mistake.
    yeah, the fact that every version of the song ever made other than that particular one misses the word out. I had no idea there was ever the n word in that song so i wouldve made the same mistake of picking a version of it at random. oh, and thanks for my first ever medal
    welcome to the overly politically correct world we live in, came here expecting the song to be Dead Kennedys' Holiday In Cambodia.
    This is what I never understood about America. When Rappers or Hip hop people say it....its ok. But when other people say it, its suddenly the worst mistake ever. If they want to combat racism, why keep using the word in songs? By the way, they are too uptight about it, In my country, we use the word freely, such as "Waddup N**ga". And No, I am not black. Bring on the downvotes.
    I want to start by saying that first, I am white and I am in no way racist. A lot of my best friends are everything but white. I however, think it's absolutely ludicrous that particular races of people can be praised for using the N-word and other races have been absolutely torn apart for using it; their lives ripped away from them just for using it, or in some cases similar to this, ACCIDENTALLY putting a song on the air, that had the word in it, which this guy had heard the versions of the song where it had been omitted so as far as he knew, this is a song he's familiar with and thought he knew that it contained nothing offensive. So what is the precedent that's being set for DJ's-- that they're liable for knowing the entire history of every song they play and if they don't, well then they run the risk of losing their career?? And what's really frustrating is that all that it takes to determine whether someone is praised or burned at the stake for releasing or playing any content containing the N-word is their skin color. This guy played a song on the air that isn't his own artistic creation, meaning he's not using the word himself and has no intent and reservations about it when it's said on the air, yet THIS
    shit is cool because it's obviously made by a couple black guys, and as incredibly stereotypical and racist towards their own race as it is, it has a combined 10 million views in the top 3 results. No one has ever said a word about these *******s making this. There's even a counter for how many "n***as" he throws in there for christ's sake. Is this kind of hypocrisy not racism at its worst? Is it not racist that black people can use a word freely whenever they want and white people get ridiculed and scrutinized for it? And the thing is, it's not even just black people who are exceptions to using it. It's everyone BUT white people, making us the only exception to using the word. The Mexican dude chillin around anywhere outside can say it all day in conversation and no one bats an eyelash, but god forbid someone who ISN'T of any ethnicity other than white says it, right? Like yourself, metallideth, I do use the term with my friends, and they are completely accepting of it as a term of endearment, just as you've explained. The point is that it should either be deemed a word that's unusable by EVERYONE or it should just be accepted as a term of endearment (when used as such) already, and we can stop giving the word so much negative power. If people aren't saying it with hateful intent, and not in any racially-connected way (I say it to my white friends, black friends, and anyone in between who isn't an overly-sensitive PC hypocrite) then who is it hurting? Even when it's apparent that a white person isn't saying it negatively, people have to get all up in arms over it just because the word was used. And white people can't even reserve the right to be offended when other ethnicities say things that are very intentionally racist towards whites, because "we don't have a hundred years of slavery connected to that word" as if you mother****ers who had ancestors whom were slaves were ever there suffering with them. How juvenile to use your ancestors' suffering to call your own and take advantage of others with it. I hate society.
    While I agree with you that there should be a more agreed-upon acceptability of the word, I think it's important to respect the fact that for a long time it was a very racist term when used by white people. I don't agree with the level of political correctness that the BBC took in this situation, but there are still a lot of people that are very offended by the word and that should be respected. I think it's also important to note the difference between "n**ga" and "n**ger." The former is often used as a term of endearment, or in a lot of places just to mean "a man." The latter is a racist term almost universally, because it is generally used by racist whites to be derogatory towards blacks. I call my black friends "n**ga" all the time, but any of them would rightly punch me if I called them "n**ger."
    Something about them "reclaiming" the word. I see where the arguments come from but I personally think it causes more trouble than it solves.
    about the 10 mark. I was so praying it was this song. First time I listened to it I had to listen to it 5 times just to make sure. aha
    let my nigga go **** the free world
    Jay-Z raps about nigga this and nigga that, yet he is celebrated and hangs out with the President. How about EVERYONE just stop using the word, regardless of your skin color.
    The BBC took action after a listener heard the song broadcast on Mr. Lowe's Sunday night programme and complained. A LISTENER....SINGULAR. One damn person. Are you kidding me.
    Exactly, I'm pretty sure several people complained about Jimmy Saville for years and he was raping kids. BBC did nothing.
    90% of the songs on the dogshit top 40 say the n-word but no one seems to care about that.
    How about we quit trying to ruin peoples lives because of a FUCKING word! Is there some competition out there to see who is the most easily offended?
    Just another example of how political correctness taken to the extreme can create such ridiculous circumstances. The same goes for all the rock and metal radio stations out there. Rebellion has always been a dominating factor in those genres, yet stations are forced to sensor all swearing in songs broadcast on the radio because it's not politically correct. "We're hardcore and we don't give a flip what you think!" Seems a tad ironic. The world needs to pull that stick out of their ass.
    I'm guessing BBC Radio doesn't play a lot of rap either then.
    You can't be serious.
    Why the f*ck wouldn't I be? Rappers throw around the n-word like nobodies business, yet ONE song, from a different era says it and some poor guy loses his job. You could probably bet he only played the song because it was a sunny day or something too.
    And people still don't realize freedom of speech is nothing but an illusion anymore.
    1 person complained, which means that 50 million people were offended by it. But in all seriousness, this political correctness rubbish is probably as bad as actual racism for race relations deteriorating as badly as they are right now
    This is the same BBC that has on it's Flagship channel Radio 1, endless (ENDLESS!) songs along the lines of: "Come over let me smack that; all on the floor, smack that; till you get sore, smack that; ooo ohhh oooh ohhh, smack that" Every other song on the BBC is about sex and bigotry, which is almost universal amonsgt the "Urban Market"; but that's okay because they don't specifically say "Ni*ger"... Well thanks for raising our children in a decent world BBC.
    Oh for cryin' out loud!If politically-correctness was wah-wah,BBC would be Kirk Hammett.
    I mean the BBC protected paedophile Jimmy Saville for years but kick someone off for playing a song that had the n word in it? Fucking hypocrites!
    Wow someone can't even refrain from using that shitty over used joke on something that's not even related to Metallica.
    Political correctness? So you think it's fine to refer to black people as niggers, wonderful.
    Well a lot more black people think it's fine than white people. The problem starts somewhere...
    An apology would've been sufficient. He didn't write the song, I didn't see anything about him agreeing with the use of the word. The song was from the 30s too so you likely can't even blame the original act themselves.
    "They" refer to each other that way everyday my nigga, you just can't be white and say it, damn cracka!
    That's racist. Just pointing out the hypocricy (whether you're black or not, you know it's true)
    Generally I think it's just easier for them to act as if complaints are valid than to deny it for the sake of a Radio Devon DJ.
    BBC = Big Bag'o Crap!
    No word is inherently bad. All that matters is the context and intent. The state of political correctness nowadays worries the hell out me. How much of our freedom to express ourselves has to be curbed to save people feelings getting a bit hurt when someone says something they find offensive?
    Best explanation ever on why no words should be "off limits". It's about the feelings being conveyed when the words are used, not about the words themselves.
    BBC have handled this terribly. Rather than letting him apologise and facing minimal publicity for this for a couple of days, they forced him out and the story blew up. On the back of the latest Clarkson controversy, the BBC are looking more and more inconsistent. Yes JC may be one of their most popular presenters, but it should not be one rule for one, and another for others.
    I can't imagine how Money for Nothing by Dire Straits will be rediscovered and dissected with this whole gay agenda being forced on everyone.
    I'm offended every day from seeing men kissing on tv, and everything else that's disgusting. I'll probably get banned for even saying that. What the hell is wrong with you people!?
    At work we have a local radio station on during the morning and occasionally they play Elvis Costello's 'Olivers Army' which contains the line "One less white nigger" and no one seems to kick up a fuss about that
    (Dave Chappelle voice) dats because day talkn bout da white nigger , aka crackers! honkies! po mothaphukn white people! fook u white niggars!
    Might as ban all rap music with it right? If he used it to intentionally offend someone sure, but really? It's just a song, it's not his responsibility.
    Why can't they get rid of Clarkson? He's made a lot more offensive comments than this guy (lining up the strikers against a wall and shooting them is one I remember). Clarkson's got away with it several times, yet now he gets a final warning. This guy plays the song, the word comes up and is fired. No sense to me... He even apologised afterwards.
    The strikers thing may be the one you remember, but it's by far the least actually offensive one. Those who saw the interview in question will know that he said "I think it's great, there's no traffic! Oh wait, no, I'm meant to hate them. I think they should all be shot in front of their families." At least, that was general idea. One person made a huge fuss, which people who hadn't seen the interview listened to. There wasn't anything offensive there. That's not to defend him generally, he says far too much of that stuff, but that particular instance simply wasn't actually offensive. That said, the reason he's kept his job is that people watch his show. Local radio stations between the traffic reports, less so.
    Clarkson tried his best to avoid the phrase twice, only to replace the word altogether in the third and final take, the one that was broadcasted. Two years later, some shmuck at the BBC leaks out one of the two takes to The Mirror, who exploits the ordeal to make money. This radio host had to resign because the word was aired (deliberately or not) and the BBC cannot stand for that, because they are gouvernment funded, and the gouvernment will do everything they can to avoid affiliation with racism. Hell, the sheer mention of racial hypocricy would demand a resignation and public apology, just to keep the suits where they are. The only pity is that it had to happen to this man after 30 years of flawless service. Two completely different circumstances with two different outcomes.
    I just took a rather large poo and it looks like this guy's face but all scrunched up like he's smiling