Friday, January 19, 2007

Just stupid and wrong: The Jennifer Strange Story

I've been watching the coverage of the past few days on this whole thing out of Sacramento. For those of you who don't know, I'll paraphrase: A Sacramento radio station held a water drinking contest where the prize was a Nintendo Wii. One of the contestants, a 28 year old mother of three named Jennifer Strange, was believed to have drank over 2 gallons of water in a very short period of time. She died the same day, and now the Sacramento police are launching a criminal investigation, and Mrs. Strange's family is filing a civil suit against the radio station. There are mountains of transcripts of Mrs. Strange speaking with the three DJs of the morning show where she appears to be crying and complaining of severe pain. Eye witnesses say that her stomach was portruding and one of the jocks joked that she "looked pregnant." A nurse practitioner and her coworker, a registered nurse, called into the radio station to warn the DJs that some contestants showed signs of water intoxication, but were told by the DJs that since the contestants signed releases, that it was "okay."

I'm not really sure what to think of the whole mess. It's a sad world when a mom resorts to life-threatening illness to satisfy some materialistic pseudo-need. Chances are, if she had won, her kids and family now wouldn't want to touch the prize. Also, one can't simply write this woman off as a helpless martyr- she engaged in behavior that was causing her to feel ill, yet she continued to a dangerous extreme. Still, I can't help seething when I hear the shock jock DJs joking about contestants feeling sick as a result of the contest, and making flippant remarks about releases and liability. They deserve to be terminated from their positions, and more than likely will never be hired by any other radio station, and could very well face criminal charges if the rather damning evidence (which has been recorded and transcripted ALL over the internet) turns against them in court. I applaud the two nurses who called in to the station, as well as the people of Sacramento who insisted loudly to the D.A. (who originally was not going to launch an investigation) that enough was enough. I'll continue to watch with great interest as this story develops.

It's crap like this that has totally turned me off of radio in general for years now. It's these wanna be shock jocks/failed comedians that have ruined the business.
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