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Baltimore stations clean up gangsta rap


In response to moves across the country this week to censor airplay of gangsta rap, programmers at Baltimore radio stations that play rap music reaffirmed that they routinely edit offensive language, or do not play certain songs because of offensive material.

In Los Angeles Wednesday, KPWR-FM announced it would not allow three offensive words used to describe blacks and women to be heard on its airwaves. And in New York Tuesday, WBLS-FM said it would ban songs that advocate violence or have lyrics profane or hateful toward women and gays.

"In Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, stations have been a bit more promiscuous about what they've been playing. It even surprised me," said Roy Sampson, operations manager at WXYV-FM (102.7), Baltimore's top-rated urban contemporary station.

"We've always done that," he said of the other stations' announcements. "Our policy has always been to be very careful about the sensitivities of our listeners."

He said the station generally does not play gangsta rap, and added that V-103 has been a leader in the community movement against violence in the streets, "so we have to be careful what we play."

"We go through these songs, and if the record company doesn't provide a 'clean' version, we do that our selves," said Russ Allen, program director of WERQ-FM (92.3), which began playing urban contemporary music earlier this year.

He said the three words cited by Los Angeles' KPWR-FM are not heard on WERQ-FM because when they occur on songs, the station disguises them with other sounds.

He noted the station faced a dilemma with the current album from Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Doggy Style," which has sold 8,000 copies in Baltimore.

"There are no clean versions of any songs on that album, but our audience wants to hear it," he said. So the station is trying to delete offensive language before playing any cuts from the album.

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