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Toronto talk-radio host in hot water over gay jokes

Police visited Dean Blundell Show producer after he commented on air about the details of a court case

Offensive speech on his morning show is old hat for Dean Blundell: 15 complaints about the show have been lodged with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council since 2002. Credit: Xtra file photo

As if you needed another reason not to listen to talk radio.

Derek Welsman, producer and on-air personality at The Dean Blundell Show on Toronto's 102.1 The Edge, took to the airwaves last month and, among other things, made light of rape, joked about sexual assault and possibly prejudiced an ongoing court case.

Welsman and his chortling cohorts were discussing the outcome of a recent trial in which a Toronto man was accused of sexually assaulting three men he met at the Spa Excess bathhouse.

In the show, Welsman ponders the state of mind of those who alleged they had been sexually assaulted and forcibly confined in the convicted man's apartment, saying, "You know, I should go to a gay bathhouse and have sex with 600 people."

Blundell interjects with a groan. "Gross," he says.

"And that was the world I had to delve into for three weeks," Welsman laments.

After making the comments, Welsman, who was the jury foreman in the trial, was visited by the police.

The radio host's homophobic bit on the radio station, and his possibly compromising the case, was brought to light by a Toronto Star investigation.

In a series of clips put together by the newspaper, Welsman, Blundell and co-host Billie Holiday take turns making jokes, laughing hysterically and clapping in glee.

The crime, Blundell explains, involved "a few guys, some aggravated sexual assault, a couple of bathhouses, some lube, four Dutch clogs, a stuffed buffalo."

Holiday jumps in: "Stigmata! Stigmata!"

Blundell continues: "A metre stick, stigmata of the anus."

Moving away from mocking the crime itself, they turn to giggling over the convicted man's incarceration.

"Which, judging by the sounds of his crime," Blundell says matter-of-factly, "he is probably really excited about. All I know is that you have damned a man to the five greatest years of his life."

Welsman congratulates himself. "I've done my job. My civic duty."

The hosts then begin singing “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C&C Music Factory.

The Star reports that Welsman's on-air discussion of the case has the convicted man's defence lawyer gunning for a mistrial, as jurors are forbidden from discussing the details of their deliberations in the media. Given that there are also issues with the principle witnesses in the case — the men who say they were sexually assaulted — a mistrial could doom the case altogether.

But offensive speech on his morning show is old hat for Blundell: 15 complaints about the show have been lodged with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council since 2002. The show was found in violation of one or more of the broadcast council's ethics and standards in about half of those cases.

The Dean Blundell Show's greatest hits

Jan 17, 2013: Blundell reads a news story about a 17-year-old student who was suffocated after he crawled into some wrestling mats to retrieve his lost shoe. Former co-host Todd Shapiro opined that maybe the student "crawled into that mat on purpose [because] he was uncomfortable with some of the things he had done the last few weeks in practice." Blundell agreed: "Yeah, like finger-hooked a couple dudes . . . not only is wrestling gay, it can kill you."

CBSC decision: "What should have simply been a news item about an unfortunate incident, and remained so, was transformed into a flat-out attack against homosexuality."

June 25, 2009: Blundell invites his friend Jeff on for the now semi-frequent Gay Jeff segment, in which they discuss Jeff's failed relationship with a man who he paid to fly in from New York; the man now sells gym memberships. Shapiro admonishes Jeff for not following up with the "little man-whore." The hosts go back and forth, laughing at "the coitus or whatever you guys do" and "the butt love." They also demand to know how large Jeff's ex's penis is, then make "vomit and gagging noises" when he tells them, according to the transcript.

Reaction from The Edge: "While we appreciate that you [the complainer] may have found this exchange disgusting, we do not believe that it breached the . . . code of ethics." (Indeed, it didn't.)

July 12, 2011: The hosts come back from the break by discussing Raina, who supposedly works for the station and voiced the opinion that men and women are equal, which all of the hosts found very funny. "Hey listen, you tar, why don't you go back to the oven and just bake us some muffins, Cheri," Welsman says. There is much laughter. "Close your mouth, open your ears and do your chores!" Then they proceed to run through a hypothetical situation in which women fight all wars. It involves suggestive use of the bayonet (or, "bayon-awesome").

CBSC decision: "The Panel considers this series of comments degrading and abusive, exacerbated, moreover, by the mocking, laughing tone of the hosts."

April 19, 2012: The hosts read a news story — Blundell says he can't wait to share it because it's "just too good" — where two Mexican citizens were tied up from a bridge and disembowelled, supposedly by drug cartels, because they denounced the gangs on Facebook. Blundel puts on a Mexican accent to say, "I told you something: Facebook is so gay, they're hanging people from the bridges in Mexico. Hey, guess who's not single? Cause they're dead! Status: disembowelled." They all laugh.

Listener complaint: "The response to this complaint is unacceptable. The standards for this broadcast are the letter of the law and that's really the only protection afforded to the public. Asking to self administer standards for this broadcaster is a bit of a joke." (The CBSC agreed and demanded The Edge apologize on-air.)