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KVIC DJ pulls 'Die Young' from playlist after school shooting

By Jessica Rodrigo
Dec. 23, 2012 at 6:23 a.m.
Updated Dec. 24, 2012 at 6:24 a.m.

Kesha poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. Kesha co-wrote five songs on her newly released album "Warrior," with her mother Pebe Sebert, a singer-songwriter from Tennessee who penned "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You," a hit for Dolly Parton in 1980.

Chorus to 'Die Young'

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums

Oh what a shame that you came here with someone

So while you're here in my arms,

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

We're gonna die young

We're gonna die young

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

Some area radio listeners may have noticed a certain song missing from the playlists of 95.1 KVIC.

After the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, people are still talking about what society's role was in the incident.

Gun control, mental health and the media are often targeted as the culprits.

Though the Crossroads is more than a 1,000 miles away from the small, New England town, the effects can be felt and heard through the airwaves. The radio station 95.1 KVIC is following the lead of stations across the country and has recently pulled one song off the air.

Pop music star Ke$ha was headed to a No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts positioned at No. 3 with her song "Die Young," when the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred.

In the wake of the shooting, radio stations have removed the song from their playlists because of its potentially negative message to listeners.

KVIC DJ Joe Friar said he pulled it off the air, but it wasn't because of the negative message.

According to the longtime radio disc jockey, Ke$ha's song "Die Young" has nothing to do with the shooting, violence or harming other people. Instead, he said, it's a positive song about living life to the fullest, pointing to the lyrics, "Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young."

"I thought long and hard about it," he said. "I thought it probably would be a good idea to just let the song rest for now."

He has no plans to delete the song completely from his playlists, but said the repetition of the chorus line "we're gonna die young" was what seemed insensitive to him. He said he didn't want his listeners to keep thinking about what happened in Newtown.

Ke$ha's pop hit song isn't the only tune that has been pulled from the airwaves.

Foster The People's single "Pumped Up Kicks" was pulled because of its lyrical description of a student plotting revenge against others: "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run, faster than my bullet."

Because the song was released earlier this year and already out of regular rotation, Friar said, he didn't have to remove the song.

The public outcry from the shooting also reached into other areas of the entertainment industry.

Violent movies including Quentin Tarantino's new film "Django Unchained" and the new Tom Cruise movie "Jack Reacher" postponed premieres in theaters nationwide.

However, Friar said he thinks the move to silence or delay these songs and movies is stupid.

"These movies, music and shows have nothing to do with what happened," Friar said. "Those songs don't influence people to do anything."

Hege Riise, a counselor at the University of Houston-Victoria, with a doctorate in psychology, said studies show a connection between the exposure of movie violence, songs and video games and aggressive behavior, but that the relationship doesn't cause people to act.

"If that was the case - if it were a causal relationship - media violence in the amount in our society is pretty saturated," she said. "We would have so many more problems."

Research supports that exposure to media violence is a contributing factor to violent behavior. Some of those contributing factors, she said, include displaying previous violent behavior, experiencing a lot of fights or being a victim of violence.

"Children who do experience a lot of physical abuse are more likely than children who don't experience physical abuse to be violent, as adults," she said.

However, studies show that the media alone will not cause people to commit crimes or harm other people, she said.

If parents are involved, she said, in what children are watching, listening to or playing they can reduce the chances of the child becoming violent in the future.

Riise encourages parents to have conversations about what is real versus what is fictional in movies or video games to help their children better understand the media.

As a professional, she said, pulling the songs from the air is a positive gesture. She said Friar and other DJs are expressing a level of sensitivity for what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"That is part of what makes it hard to move past events like this. Be selective of how much you pay attention to it," she said.

She said the best thing to do when tragedies occur is to minimize the amount of exposure to news stories.

In light of other tragedies, Friar said he would have pulled other songs, too, that received the brunt of public scrutiny.

"It was something I had to do myself," Friar said. "If you're driving around in your car or at home, and you're hearing, 'We're gonna die young,' it would probably get people thinking about the shooting in Newtown. Out of sensitivity, it would be a good idea to stop playing the song right now."

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