Home Girl

How does Jessica Dana get away with the things she says on the radio?

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In the Q95.5 studio, on Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur, Craig Blac and Jessica Dana stand behind their mics, broadcasting to St. Louis. It's drivetime, and the R&B radio station, one of the city's most popular, is transmitting into many ears.

"I'd like to give you the top ten things I hate about white people," says Dana with a sinister cackle. First on the list? "I'll start with Pop's and Busch beer. Can't take that! And riding bulls -- I've always wondered why men do this. What does that do to a man?"

Dana's voice comes through deep and rich, and a tad rough, as though she smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. She doesn't. She continues, "White people screaming, "Woooooo!" Two-stepping and the Electric Slide.

"White people bleaching their hair. Why do all white people go blond? It's, like, 'Blondes have more fun', but I'm into the brunettes."

"That's like that guy Jeff in sales" adds Blac. "He went blond the other day, and I don't understand that. He has an Eminem fetish -- that's what it is."

"I hate wiggers," says Dana, resuming the countdown. Laughter erupts from Blac and DJ Charlie Chan, who's also in the studio.

"Hold up," says Blac. "You hate what?"

"Wiggers. It's 'wannabe ..."

"'Wannabe black,'" Blac says. "Afro-American. Let's keep it politically correct."

"Number four: tanning beds. Why are all white people trying to get darker? I mean, it doesn't matter. I got a question, though. My Caucasian friends, the darker they are, when we go out tanning, they don't burn -- my dark friends, especially Hispanic. Black people sunburn, I've heard."

"I've been sunburned before," says Blac.

The list goes on, culminating with a complaint that whites get all the promotions.

"Wigger shoulda been number one," Blac laughs.

He flips the tag that signals the segment's wind-down: a sample of Michael Jackson singing, "It don't matter if you're black or white."

Dana and Blac, the afternoon DJ, co-host the "White Girl Report" every Monday and Friday at 4:30 p.m. on WFUN-FM. The segment runs for two or three minutes and, at its best -- and worst -- offers up some of the most uninhibited conversations about race in St. Louis.

And the two get away with it -- indeed, they're thriving -- because of the context: the Q's demographics, which are mostly black.

The duo talk about the city's race issues and discuss cultural differences and similarities -- at least sometimes. Mostly Dana dishes celebrity dirt and offers recommendations on upcoming clubs and concerts. There's the occasional rant, such as that top-ten list, but the issue of race is often secondary. This ain't no NPR, and the White Girl is no Terry Gross.

Dana, 26, grew up in the area. She moved a lot, she says, and went to three different high schools: St. Charles, Mehlville and Windsor in Imperial, Missouri. In the year that she's done the "White Girl Report," she's talked about the KKK, Christina Aguilera's image, Eminem, Liv Tyler and the two Lord of the Rings movies (she seems kind of obsessed with them).

When Blac took over the afternoon-drive slot last year, he started brainstorming. Although the slot is mainly music-driven, he's also responsible for entertaining his listeners, and he does so with the help of DJ Charlie Chan Soprano and traffic reporter Tony J.

Blac's predecessor, Mic Fox, had started the "White Girl Report," but it was less rambunctious than it is now, and he retired it. Blac liked the idea, though, and started looking for a white girl to revive the segment. He found her one day at the station, where Dana, a makeup and body artist by day (one of her jobs is working with the Rams cheerleaders), was primping models for a Q95.5-sponsored fashion show.

"Her voice kept standing out," Blac says. "Radio is personality. You don't have to have skills. You have to have real personality, and I sensed it from the top. She got in, and the first week she was cool, but by the second week it was all her. It just came right out. She fits perfectly. She is the White Girl."

Mo'shay, program director at Q95.5, says the "White Girl Report" can be nerve-racking and that Dana issues a disclaimer -- "The views shared by Jessica Dana are not necessarily shared by Q95.5." -- before each broadcast. That, says Mo'shay, "allows for a different perspective for the radio station. This is an urban-formatted radio station. That said, sometimes things tend to be one-sided, and I want to allow all views to be heard on the radio station. That's our slice of diversity, I feel."

Dana has crossed the line a few times, says Mo'shay, who notes that her bit on the "Ten Things I Hate About White People" segment went a bit too far. "I wasn't feeling that one. I think that when she gives an opinion from first person, it is her opinion.... If she classified herself as a wigger and put it out there -- whatever that really means -- then that's cool, but [to] say, 'Anybody who acts like this and acts like that is a wigger,' that's like calling a black person a nigger. I thought that was a little overboard."

Today Dana's on a less controversial topic.

"Moby got beat up," she reports, "and I'm wondering whether that's Eminem's guys," referring to the controversy the rapper sparked when he called the techno producer a "36-year-old bald-headed fag" in a song. (Moby responded by deflecting the criticism, saying he was "kind of stunned at the anger that [Eminem] has for me.")

"Who wants to beat up Moby?" says Blac, incredulous. "That's crazy."

"Yeah, he seems to be a very chill guy. His quote was, he's not angry with the men and believes in forgiveness, and that they should realize that hurting people is wrong."

"Oh no," says Blac, "that's too nice right there, though."

Before each segment, Dana goes over her notes, most of which she's downloaded and printed from Internet news stories. She scribbles some ideas, making a blueprint for the "Report." On this show, she'll be discussing the Chinese New Year.

"You know, Craig," she begins, "there's other colors besides black and white."

"There's green," responds Blac.

"No, I'm talking about people. I'm talking about the yellow people. The Asians."

She follows with a brief discussion of the Chinese calendar, in which each year is represented by a different animal -- the Year of the Horse, the Year of the Snake. She asks Blac whether he knew of the Chinese horoscope -- he didn't -- or has ever eaten Chinese food.

"They don't mind if black people come in and have a little Chinese food in their yellow restaurant," she declares.

Where are the PC police? And what would happened if WIL (92.3 FM), the area's top country station, aired a segment called the "Black Girl Report"?

There's a difference, says Mo'shay, who, in addition to her role as program director, hosts the daily music-oriented midday show: "It's because of where black people are on the social ladder anyway. In the case of a white American, they don't have that '360 years of oppression' story. I mean, me personally, I wouldn't care, but that's why the majority of black people would care if something like that was out there. There's a lot of history, and it's not good history. But [the "White Girl Report"] is a little more lighthearted, because it's in reverse."

At times, the funny barbs that fly from the mouths of Blac, Chan and Tony J. are directed at Dana and the "White Girl Report," but if they're laughing at her expense, she's oblivious.

The generally mild tone of the "White Girl Report" also seems to shield it from criticism. Dana isn't intentionally incendiary, and it's naturally safer to joke about one's own race than to poke fun at another's. She insists that she's just representing white culture to an audience that doesn't often listen to rock & roll.

"I do think that a lot of black people -- or white people -- who listen to hip-hop and rap don't go outside of that, whereas people who listen to rock and jazz and blues do listen to hip-hop. I don't find many hip-hop people who know a lot about rock or metal. White people listen to hip-hop, but are black people listening to rock?"

They're not, she says, and this is her way of connecting two worlds.

"The Urban Jazz Naturals will be at Miso on February 2," she says during one segment. "You gotta love them. And Audioslave's coming to the Pageant." There's a quick pause. "So, some good white shows for you to check out -- blend with the white people!"

"Some good white shows?" says Blac, "That's just so funny."

"I'm just being rude," responds Dana. "But you know, when you go to these clubs in other cities, black and white people are in the same club.

"Why can't there be shows for everybody?" says Blac. "You know what I'm saying? Why can't we all get together as one and be as one person?"

"In Chicago they do."

"Why can't we be one people?" says Blac. "Is that the right way to say that? One people?"

"I don't think that's right."

"We can all be ignorant together, how about that?"

The two laugh and move on.

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