CLEARWATER - Loud noise and profanity were frequent complaints during the annual 97x Next Big Thing concert hosted at Coachman Park on December 4th.
But Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard was more concerned with the behavior of radio station WSUN's employees than the performers. Hibbard said during the December 12th Council work session that he was "pushed over the edge" by the DJ's who were up on stage "contributing to this mess."
Although Hibbard did not name him during the meeting, one of the DJ's he was referring to is Chris Fisher, host of WSUN's weekday morning show.
Fischer discussed his involvement with the concert during an exclusive interview on December 14th. He said that he has been employed by WSUN since February 2001, and that he has been involved in each of the five Next Big Thing events; "I'm the main MC," he said.
Asked if he was aware of Clearwater's sensitivity to the use of on-stage profanity at Coachman Park, he replied, "After Next Big Thing 1, the City said 'you're going to have to tone it down.' I've personally heard nothing from the City of Clearwater since then."
Fisher claimed that he and the other WSUN DJ's were told to avoid the use of profanity before the concert started; "We get the same speech every year - it's called the 'Know Your Limits' speech, given to us by Shark (Michael Sharkey, another WSUN DJ)," he said.
But the speech did not have the desired effect. Fisher explained that between 4 and 5PM he launched into an on-stage speech about diversity in music. To emphasize his thoughts on other genre's of music, Fisher brought on stage a DJ, Orlando, from a competing Hip-Hop station. Just before introducing Orlando, Fisher said, "I know I'm going to get in trouble for this, but I don't give a F&^%."
Asked why he said it, Fisher responded, "I knew it would be a crowd pleaser. I planned it just before I went on-stage. I regretted it immediately afterwards."
But Hibbard said that he heard a string of profanities, not just one. "It didn't come from me - I think it was Jared Leto (lead singer of the group 30 Seconds to Mars) between sets," Fisher said. Hibbard disputes this; "I was there and heard it with my own ears," he said.
Fisher maintains an online weblog where he posts opinions on general topics and sometimes offers an insight into his own behavior. On February 23, 2005, he wrote:
"As a radio personality/idiot, I will SINCERELY apologize faster than anyone in the industry... For two reasons:Fisher claims that he made an on-air apology on the Tuesday following the concert. Asked if he intended to make a direct apology to Clearwater's Mayor, he said, "Not as it stands right now."
- I am very careful about what I say and how I present what I say and
- I don't mess up very often and when I do, I am eager to make right what I feel I did wrong."
Hibbard, who has tried without success to contact Fisher by telephone, has not received an apology.
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