Radio station pulls song deemed insensitive to Newtown shooting victims

A Point of Rocks man says a song played several times recently by a local radio station is insensitive to the victims of the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The song in question is “Pumped Up Kicks” by the band Foster the People. The song, which was released in September 2010 and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100, deals with the homicidal thoughts of a troubled youth.

The song contains the lyrics, “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

Mark Johnson, a computer network manager for a firm in Germantown, said he was surprised when he heard the song last week on Frederick radio station KEY 103. Many stations around the country had already pulled the song from their rotation after the Dec. 14 shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It was a surprise because it was a song that had seemed to have gone from their playlist for a while,” Johnson said. “It’s insensitive in its timing.”

The song was played on KEY 103 as recently as 11:02 a.m. Tuesday, said Fred Manning, the station’s chief operations officer, who said its inclusion in the playlist was a mistake.

Manning said the intention was to pull the song the day of the shooting, and that it was manually removed from the station’s playlist. But he said no one removed it from the computerized system that contains the songs in the rotation.

Manning said the oversight was related to turnover at the station. The program director left the day of the shooting, and the planned removal of the song from the system was subsequently overlooked, leading to it being played every few days, he said. Manning said he instructed staff to remove the song from the system Tuesday afternoon.

“It certainly was a mistake,” Manning said. “It was my understanding that it was being left out. It is now being corrected.”

Manning said he also learned Tuesday that a caller had left a message complaining about the song over the holidays when no one was at the station.

“It won’t be played again,” he said.

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