KDWB listeners say Hmong song was in spirit of the program, others say its racist


The KDWB morning show, aka the Dave Ryan show, has come under fire for a song parody of the Hmong community. The bit, which reportedly aired Monday, March 22, 2011, has the show leader sounding as though he is nervously laughing at another radio personality singing impromptu lyrics making overtly racist statements about the Hmong community.

According to station management, the comedy bit was a product of the morning program, American Idiots, a segment where personalities put impromptu lyrics to popular songs with the intent to parody and that everyone and everything is a fair target. The songs are based on parody titles submitted via text messages from fans of the show and that someone from the Hmong community texted the title, “Thirty Hmongs In A House” to the personalities for them to come up with a song.

Regular listeners reportedly understand the context of material presented in the format of the program, including Hmong listeners. Management said the programs fan page has several positive comments from Hmong listeners who understand the show and that the negative reaction began when the song clip went viral online.

The lyrics were created on the spot as the tune, “Tears in Heaven” played in the background. The 1991 ballad originally written and performed by legendary Eric Clapton, is a song about the tragic death of his four year old son who fell from a high rise balcony that same year.

The lyrics that were sung on the radio program:

[No room for a couch, cause we sleep on the floor.

One big group of Vang’s; Hmong family of 24.

Kids work in St. Paul; Hang out at the mall.

Cause I know they dwell so well, 30 Hmongs in a house.

Hmongs get pregnant early; first baby at 16.

Seven kids by 23; over the hill by 30.

Like sardines they live; packed in a two-room (unintelligible) house with the kids.

But you know they age quite well. They be Hmongs.]

The official statement of the station management is that,

“KDWB-FM and the Dave Ryan in the Morning Show are very proud that members of the Hmong community are some of our most loyal listeners and fans.”

“Our listeners understand that The Dave Ryan in the Morning show is a comedy show meant to entertain, and that much of its content is parody,” the statement added. “While we’ve received positive feedback from many Hmong listeners who let us know that they found the song in question very humorous, we apologize to anyone we may have inadvertently offended, as this was never our intent.”

The statement was sent from Rob Morris, Operations Manager and Program Director who is also listed as the Listener Advocate. He said he appreciated the support the station continues to receive from all its listeners.

Local Hmong community member Seng Vang learned of the broadcast, listened to the archived song on the station Website, and then brought the issues to the attention of local leadership and media. He said this is not the first time that the Hmong people have been made the subject of inappropriate jokes on the show in one form or another.

The song is still appearing online on YouTube posts and others who re-linked the site at various posts online either to represent it as a racist broadcast or to view it as entertainment.

As the largest ethnic Asian American population in Minnesota, Seng Vang said the Hmong American community can not tolerate this, and is calling for the leader of the show, “Dave O” and his entire crew to be fired immediately.

Vang added that all advertisers on KWDB have been contacted and requested to cease their support for the radio show and the station.

In August 1998, hundreds of Hmong community turned out to publicly protest KQRS morning show commentaries on the Hmong. The comments were reflections on news and events of the Hmong community and essentially offered a message that condemned the culture and called for assimilation.

The KQRS protests resulted in the formation of CAAR (Community Action Against Racism) which developed organizers that are still acting as a watchdog group to quickly spot and respond to misinformation, isolated acts of overt racism and the more subtle institutional racism and injustices of irresponsible media coverage.

As with most similar incidents around the country, much of the anger to that point had been with the lack of response from the station or the mocking response of personalities the protesters felt were using the first amendment as a shield for hate speech.

The effort drew the support of then Sen. Paul Wellstone and then 4th District Congressman Bruce Vento – both since passed on, and after sponsors began to pull from the show the station management issued an apology and had on air personalities undergo sensitivity training.

At the time Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access, offered support for the community effort to fight racism in the media. She also expressed concern that the outcome not attempt to infringe on First Amendment free speech but rather to effectively encourage stations to exercise self control and to improve program integrity.

KQRS responded by offering to make a financial contribution to the AMA summer media camp. It was refused because the station had not addressed the CAAR demands for an apology, including public notice of incorporating policies against racist language in broadcasts, cultural awareness training and diversity in staff hiring to include APIA.

As for the current issue over the 30 Hmong song on KDWB, Hwang said, “This is not acceptable. After the 1998 KQRS incident, 13 years have passed, and we are still dealing with the same issue of making fun of other ethnicities’ misfortunes.

“Radio stations, such as KQRS and KDWB, who utilize public airwaves to transmit their signals, have a civic responsibility to the quality and standards of their programs,” she said. “Taking advantage of and wielding their power as prominent DJs on a major radio station to perpetuate negative stereotypes such as ‘Hmongs get pregnant early; first baby at 16. Seven kids by 23; over the hill by 30. Like sardines they live; packed in a two-room (unintelligible) house with the kids’, is not funny, and instead, it promotes anti-immigrant sentiments regarding an already disadvantaged community.”

To send a message to KDWB about the broadcast call 651-989-KDWB (studio phone) and 952-417-3000 (office) or write to KDWB at 1600 Utica Avenue South, Suite 400, St. Louis Park, MN 55416. There is also an online comment form on the KDWB Website.

25 thoughts on “KDWB listeners say Hmong song was in spirit of the program, others say its racist


    Nice write up.  Absolutely unacceptable behaviore in this day and age for professional radio stations to go on air wave with such ignorant, disrespectful sentiment.

    Just spoken with Mr. Morris last week.  He indicated you can email or call Rob Morris how you feel:   robmorris@clearchannel.com

  2. I’m hmong too, hahaha. I didn’t get offended by the song that was put on air on KDWB. Hmong always complain about how come there are chinese and korean actors in the American society and never hmong. Hmongs are not really known, but when someone did take their time to apreciate the hmong’s i don’t think people should get mad about it. Steve makes parody of all kinds of song and race. When we hear about others we would laugh about it but we should do that to ourself too. Its not necessary for Hmong’s to get mad. I’m 19 and i think these are really real. we do have alot of people living in our homes, as long as he didn’t say nothing about the way we talk, becausde we have education and we also got class, we speak english properly and we know our manners. So to all those Hmong listeners on KDWB listen to what he says not what you think he is trying to say. thank you!!

  3. You have got to be kidding me right?! I’m almost ashamed to say you’re a hmong sister. As far as education goes, please stay in school. Your lack of knowledge is seeping through your uneducated comment not to mention horrible grammar. Racism is racism no ifs, ands, or buts! For you to accept this song definitely shows your maturity level. After countless strides our people have persevered and all it takes is one person such as yourself to bring us back to where we started! It’s time for us to unite and better ourselves as individuals, as Americans, and most of all, as HMONG!

  4. really hmong people talk so much about other races and now they cant talk about us hmong people.  hmmm maybe this is why we hmong didnt deserve to have any homeland.  As a hmong person i feel to be ashame to be hmong.  its like we Hmongs are so self centered and all we care about is our “Face”.

  5. I do not appreciate the fact that they are making fun of the Hmong ethnic grooup. I am hmong myself. If to talk racism, you are not the only one who can talk racism. I can do the same if i want to. But I’m not like KDWB. I was a big fan until i heard the song. Saying that hmong girl is getting pregnant at 16 is not right. Not all of us are like that, also look around we’re not the only race. If i were to be racist, there are more Blacks and Whites out there that is having baby’s at the age of even 14. Why Hmong?. Why target us?. Some of you may think its funny and it might be okay. But other people that have never met a hmong person before or heard about us will think wrong. When they see a hmong girl they’ll have the stereotype that oh she’s hmong maybe she is pregnant and sleeps around. This should not be something that we hmong should be proud of. Its just stereotype that will make other people look at us bad.

  6. The funniest thing is that Asians in general have the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. Maybe the earlier generations might have gotten married early and had babies at a younger age, but that doesn’t mean Hmong teens these days are doing the same thing. It happens to ever ethnic group that comes to the U.S., even the Europeans. You know it’s not even Steve O’s song that I find disturbing, it’s the Hmong people who don’t find it offensive that I find confusing. We came here because of war, we educated ourselves, tried to provide a better life for the future generations, and people suffered, working with low wages, living in cramped environments at times, and all to better their children’s lives. You’re basically laughing at people who worked hard to give you a better life. If you really think people are so intelligent as not to believe these types are songs are truth, you need to travel to areas that don’t have diversity to see that racism is alive and well in this country. Go read some comments that basically say Hmong people should go back to their own country, because some of them don’t find this funny. Does that say you’re an American or that you’re just some immigrant that needs to go back to your own country? Have some of you been so brain washed that you can’t see when you’re still considered an outsider and being laughed at?

  7. i listen to KDWB they are funny but when the song was made i was just like “SERIOUS?” another hmong person thinks being hmong is funny..its ok to joke with other hmongs cause we know whats true and whats not true..i dont find this song offending but to me it offends our elders thats the main thing..young hmong kids needs to see how hard it was to raise them and how sad life weas back then compare to now..the way the song made me feel is cause of what history and what my parents went through to get us this far..if other hmong kids dont see that they got no future..just because we live in america dont mean we are like them..we are still called HMONG AMERICAN..so is the other races..blacks/hispanics/asians if you can say it correctly..we all went through hard t imes to get here or get where we are at..sometimes i think the young generation needs to get out and face reality and stop feeding off their parents..so they can understand what their parents went through so they can understand this song..pregnant by 16? that was your uncle/grand parents etc back in the days..seems like they got no respect for their own kind..like i say…they all TRAITORS to their own kind..

  8. I’m surpise Steve-O is still working w/ KDWB. There are no excuses for racism, The thing about people who don’t know the Hmong Community is that we tend to be jealous of each other but when things like this happends we stand united! Watch out KDWB! here we come.

  9. Seriously, I just think that whoever doesn’t care about what other people have to say about Hmong people are just…simply dumb. Sure, someone may make fun of an individual, but a whole ethnic, that is just not acceptable because everyone is not the same. People who laugh at the song or likes it are on the side that thinks like other and doesn’t care about what is being said about your own ethnic. If one doesn’t fight back, it’ll keep happening over and over and then it is those that will be excluded even from what they think they know. If there is no fighting back, things would just keep arising and then what would happen? It’ll be them that will be left behind. Someone may apoligize but it is just an apology and doesn’t even really mean anything to those that has been hurt. KDWB should know that songs like that shouldn’t even be heard and the pinion of the radio station would be less and less. In this country, no one can be offended especially an ethnic or else a problem would arise. Think about what others would do if one offends someone.  

  10. Making a big deal out of something that is supposed to be humerous is, in itself, humerous. There’s a double standard that no one is willing to address; that being, when people of minority crack jokes at the expense of others, why doesn’t anyone cry _______ism then?

    When we use phrases like “that’s so gay,” “you’re retarded,” “white trash,” “cracker,” etc… who protests for those people? When pointing the accusational finger, look in the mirror and consider the hateful words you’ve used on a day to day basis. Unless you are innocent of all verbal context that depic any sort of minority (whether it be of race, sexual orientation, social status, etc), then you have no grounds to stand on.

    Racism is alive and well which is quite sad… but the reason why other groups believe these “stereotypes” is because we, as hmong people have failed to educate them on the progress we’ve made in the community. If they are only exposed to what they believe, it is our duty to show them that not all of us are like that. A stereotype is a general (mis)conception of a person, place, or thing… If you want to change that stereotype… set an example.

  11. My parents are pretty racist. They’re hmong. They don’t have any black friends or white friends. Just hmong friends. The same for my grandparents and their grandparents. They always try to classify people into black, white, or hmong. They think white people are stuck up and black people are dumb. I think that’s why the Hmong community is so prideful all the time of their own race. Cause that’s the only thing they ( us?) have.

    As for the song, i really don’t care. It’s not like i’m getting candy if i’m right or not. It’s not like i get bonus pride points for being right. Tell me, what exactly are you looking for when you complain about all this? You want the city to give us all medals for being unjustly discriminated against? Well, actually, that’s not a bad idea!

    How about we get a big protest going, about how our race is being subjugated and and made fun of. We’ll need to get about a thousand signatures or so… i think that’ll be enough. We can use this KDWB song as evidence for discrimination. Waddaya say, pals?

  12. OK for some reason I AM offended from this song some people can take it as jokes and as for fun but for me, NOPE, because even if we make fun of others they do it back too so it’s like a fair game but with this song spread throughout I don’t take it as a joke at all. Girls pregnant at the age of 16, that happens to everyone not just Hmong people. Hmong girls are married early and have kids, but they have a husband to support them. SOME other race pregnant with no husband to support their living so why are they even saying this.

  13. WOW i read some of these comments. It seems to me that they really have the hmong community hooked… I’m Hmong and some of the song didn’t offend me but some did…pregnant at 16 NOPE don’t offend me because all race is pregnant at 16 or maybe 15… but Hmong people don’t live like sardine and we do have beds to sleep on… but what really shock me was these comments. Hmong people telling Hmong ” your stupid” , “you don’t deserve to be Hmong” like WTF we are Hmong so why don’t Hmong help Hmong… instead we are fighting against each other… all i’m trying to say is we should be helping not hating on each other…

  14. There is a bad apple,

    The best result is to kick your staff out of the door because he is a racist period.  That person I want The KDWB morning show, aka the Dave Ryan to kick him out is a useless man. He never in his life to serve in the war anywhere so that’s why he is a racist. If you has served a war in the past, then he won’t say such bad things to Hmong people.

    Hmong fought for American government and protested US soliders in South Vietnam. WIthout the Hmong, will more than 58,000 US deaths during the Vietnam war.

    KICK HIM OUT!!!!!!!!!

  15. Would it offend any one if it was sang by a hmong guy?

    Because we all know what he said is true so what now?

    Is it racist if he was a hmong guy?

    I do make fun of hmong too and I am hmong.

  16. Um is it racist if it was a hmong guy well typically it wouldn’t be but it’s not so yes it is considered racist. But why u even say its true kid look at every hmong family before u claim things are true just because it might be with ur family it doesn’t mean all hmong families are. And making fun of other hmong guys is called a joke when ur both the same race hello…. U don’t just go up to a group of other race and start calling them names or making fun of there family or culture. U’d probably get ur ass beat. Plus hmong ppl wouldn’t sing or think up a song like that unless u really hate what u are or for whatever reason forsake the culture and race ur parent raised u as. Either way u shouldn’t be allowing ppl to make fun of or stereotype ur culture. Because in the end when u apply for work I assuming u don’t check the box for being white or black or Hispanic…. No that’s right u check Asian so be proud of who u are and stop acting like this wouldn’t matter because it does.

  17. Hey. It’s been a while :)

    I wrote the comment that’s 7 posts above this one and says “hmmm.” They’re both from me.

    I don’t know why I was so hard on hmong people for being offendend. If it were making fun of black people or Jewish people, I’d probably be offended. So i understand. It’s racist, I don’t think there’s any real denying that. Now it’s just up to the individual person to determine how offensive it is to them personally. The radio station did the right thing in apologizing, though, so the issue kind of solved itself…

    Anyways, sorry for being so sarcastic and angry in my earlier post. I was just an idiot. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken sides so quickly like that.

    It doesn’t even really matter now, so it just makes me look like all the more like a jerk.

    But for anyone who’s actually reading this, I hope this makes up for a couple things, like how much of an insentive donkey I was.

    Whew. That feels so much better. Off my chest now 😉

  18. Melissa,

    How does this song appreciate us? Do you really think any other race really know who we are and how we came to be here? Is there a history book out there that tells anyone (let alone you) how we came to be here in the states? Open your eyes and see that most other races don’t know who we are and now can say this is who we are by listening to that song that you so happen to find funny. Get real girl, they aren’t laughing with you…they are laughing at you.

  19. You didn’t get offended by the song because you are too ignorant to know when someone is mocking you and your kind.  You truely don’t appreciate your parents’ effort in escaping the war just so you can have a good life.  You don’t deserve to Hmong.

  20. So, they spit your face and expect you to laugh, and then you laugh because they told you it’s a joke. Then the next time they’ll spit on you and kick you in the nuts and tell you it’s a joke and you laugh??? Our ancestors didn’t fight oppression over 5,000 years to be labeled as sardines!!! Hmong do want funny and humor, but only funny “hahaa” like Jackie Chan, NOT funny “ohoh” like “Asian in the Libary” on youtube!

  21. Before you start denouncing your heritage, you should ask yourself what does the word Hmong mean.  When you find the definiton, please reply back.  

  22. Child, this is probably the reason why you don’t have your own homeland because of the way how you speak about your own ethnic background. You should be proud to be who you are and take in dignity that you are Hmong. If you do not know what Hmong means, it means “Free.” You should show some respect for your heritage, and be proud that at least you were welcome to come live here in the United states, all thanks to your parent’s hard work; and you have probably not even heard of the Secret War. You should do some research and get educated before talking down on your own ethnic. Also before your research about your own background, start understanding the psycholgical thinking of your elders because that comes into a huge effect about WHY certain people are like that, it isn’t just Hmong people but others too. Learn how to appreciate before hating. I hope no other stupid kids talk like you. 

  23. I wonder how it would have turned out if they said “… and they be Mexicans or African Americans, etc… I bet that any other community would have jumped on this case.

  24. Hey. It’s been a while :)

    The comment I’m responding to right now is my own. Both these comments are mines. I made the previous comment a super long time ago.

    I don’t know why I was so hard on hmong people for being offendend. If it were making fun of black people or Jewish people, I’d probably be offended. So i understand. It’s racist, I don’t think there’s any real denying that. Now it’s just up to the individual person to determine how offensive it is to them personally. The radio station did the right thing in apologizing, though, so the issue kind of solved itself…

    Anyways, sorry for being so sarcastic and angry in my earlier post. I was just an idiot. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken sides so quickly like that.

    It doesn’t even really matter now, so it makes me look like all the more like a jerk.

    But for anyone who’s actually reading this, I hope this makes up for a couple things.

    Whew. That feels so much better.




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