Manitoba

Fire Dave Wheeler, protesters demand outside 92 CITI FM in Winnipeg

Dozens protested outside Winnipeg radio station 92 CITI FM on Tuesday afternoon to demand that morning show host Dave Wheeler be fired over music videos that some say are sexist and racist.

Morning show host suspended over controversial songs

Dozens protested outside Winnipeg radio station 92 CITI FM on Tuesday afternoon to demand that morning show host Dave Wheeler be fired over music videos that some say were sexist and racist. 1:32

Dozens protested outside Winnipeg radio station 92 CITI FM on Tuesday afternoon to demand that morning show host Dave Wheeler be fired over music videos that some say are sexist and racist.

About 40 to 60 people gathered outside the station building on Osborne Street, holding signs saying "Fire Dave Wheeler" and "Reject Sexism."

The group initially rallied outside the building, then entered the building and protested at CITI FM's front doors. Station managers did not respond to the protesters.

"It's not OK to view people this way, it's not OK to view women that way and that's not OK to view North Enders that way," said Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, who organized the protest.

An image used in the 92 CITI FM video for Transcona Girls depicts a woman from Winnipeg's North End. (Youtube)
"I'm frustrated. We need to move together based on understanding and respect and love for each other, and this is not the way to do it."

Wheeler, who hosts CITI FM's Wheeler in the Morning, was suspended earlier on Tuesday after two controversial YouTube videos sparked online fury.

The station posted animated versions of the songs Transcona Girls and North End Boy on their social media accounts. The songs were created two years ago, but reposted as animated videos on Monday.

Videos 'went too far,' said Wheeler

The songs include lines about women and girls from Transcona being "passed around this great big town and they just don't seem to care." Another lyric suggests women who live in Wolseley are lesbians.

Girls and women living in the North End "really like to stab you and steal your bike," one of the songs says.

Protesters hold signs outside 92 CITI FM's headquarters in Osborne Village on Tuesday afternoon. (Thibault Jourdan/Radio-Canada)
Wheeler later issued an apology on Facebook and Twitter, saying the videos were "insensitive and went too far" in trying to entertain their audience.

Craig Pfeifer, the program director at 92 CITI FM, issued a statement saying Wheeler is suspended "until we have completed a thorough review of the situation."

Pfeifer added that the videos "should never have been broadcast, and we have already launched an investigation as to how this content made it onto our airwaves."

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman waded into the debate on Tuesday, saying he accepts Wheeler's apology.

But Lavoie and other protesters said the apology and suspension are not enough.

"I really want Dave Wheeler to be fired, not just suspended…. I really want him to be held accountable. I really want him to change the way he thinks and sees people, women. I really want him to understand that it's not OK, it's not acceptable," Lavoie said.

"Regardless of his intention to offend or not, the consequences have offended people and he needs to be accountable for that. CITI FM needs to be held accountable for approving this programming, Rogers Media for sponsoring it, and honestly, make an apology to the city of Winnipeg."

Lavoie added that disparaging humour promotes intolerance, and it's not helping the efforts of those who are trying to end racism and discrimination in Manitoba.

"We want to move forward as Manitobans, Canadians, Winnipeggers, as people, as citizens. This isn't something that we allow, and … we're basically here to voice that," she said.

"That's not who we are. We don't believe that and we're really anti-sexist, anti-racist, and that's why we're here."

Winnipegger launches advertiser boycott

Meanwhile, a Winnipeg aboriginal filmmaker has started boycotting businesses that advertise on 92 CITI FM in light of Wheeler's comments.

Darryl Nepinak said he used to listen to Wheeler in the Morning but stopped because he felt some comments made on the show were racist.

Nepinak said he believes Wheeler does not understand how his actions affect people, even with an apology issued.

"He's saying our aboriginal women are dogs and he's feeding that out to the non-aboriginal community. And this is ongoing with him, so it's just frustrating," Nepinak said.

"So I figured why don't we call their advertisers and say, 'Hey listen, we're not going to do business with you if you continue to advertise with these people?'"

Nepinak said he phoned two local businesses as of Tuesday afternoon and he plans to target larger advertisers as well. He is encouraging others to join the boycott, too.

"It has to stop somewhere. People do have to take responsibility for this," he said.

"I think it's about time that people start taking responsibility if they're going to advertise for this show and this guy's using racism to elevate his career."