A shock jock is a type of radio broadcaster or disc jockey who entertains listeners or attracts attention using humor and/or melodramatic exaggeration that a notable portion of the listening audience may find offensive. The term is usually used pejoratively to describe provocative or irreverent broadcasters whose mannerisms, statements and actions are typically offensive to many members of the community. It is a popular term, generally not used within the radio industry. A shock jock is considered to be the radio equivalent of the tabloid newspaper, for which entertaining readers is as important as, or more important than, providing factual information. Within the radio industry, a radio station that relies primarily on shock jocks for its programming is said to have a hot talk format.
Confusingly, the term has been used in two broad (but sometimes overlapping) contexts:
(1) The radio announcer who deliberately does something outrageous and shocking (e.g., to improve ratings).
(2) The political radio announcer who has an emotional outburst in response to a controversial government policy decision.
The idea of an entertainer who breaks taboos or adopts a career role in the realm of the frequently offensive is not a new one. Despite the claims of decency activists, there are few eras of history in which there have not existed blue comedians; notoriously offensive performers (Petronius, Benny Bell, Le Pétomane, Redd Foxx and Lenny Bruce for example). African-American Ralph Waldo Petey Greene (1931-1984), who started broadcasting in 1966, is considered to be the original radio shock jock in the modern era. Petey gave a start to, and influenced, the alleged king of shock jocks such as Howard Stern.
Shock jocks also tend to push the envelope of decency in their market, and may appear to show a lack of regard for communications regulations (e.g. FCC rules in the U.S.) regarding content. But nearly all American broadcasters have strict policies against content that is likely to draw indecency forfeitures, and air personalities are often contractually obligated to avoid broadcasting such content. Indecency fines are, in fact, rarely issued by U.S. regulators—no broadcaster has been issued a forfeiture for indecent content since 2003, although several earlier cases are in appeals court.
Many shock jocks have been fired as a result of such punishments as regulatory fines, loss of advertisers, or simply social and political outrage. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon for such broadcasters to be quickly rehired by another station or network.
Shock jocks in the United States have been censored under additional pressure from the United States government since the introduction of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005, which increased the fines on radio stations for violating decency guidelines by nearly 20 times.
Notable incidents: United States
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2011)|
||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (September 2010)|
- April 6, 1995, Howard Stern mocked Selena's murder and burial, poked fun at her mourners and criticized her music. Stern said, "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul ... Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth". Stern's comments infuriated the Hispanic community across Texas. 
- June 12, 2001: A rumour that Britney Spears was dead was scotched by her publicists after the story was spread by two US radio DJs and a hoax website using the BBC logo. Dallas shock jocks Kramer and Twitch told listeners to their KEGL-FM evening show that pop singer Spears and her then boyfriend Justin Timberlake had been involved in a car accident in Los Angeles. The hoax sparked panic among fans, who called police and fire departments in their hundreds. The story was then turned into a spoof version of a BBC News Online web page, and the link was sent around the world by e-mail. The BBC lodged a strong protest, and the spoof page was removed.
- August 16, 2002: Opie and Anthony sponsored a contest where the goal was to have sex in notable public places, called Sex For Sam. The contest went without a major outcry until Sex for Sam 3 after a couple had sex in a vestibule at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The resulting controversy led to Infinity Broadcasting cancelling the Opie and Anthony Show. Infinity was fined $357,500 USD for the incident.
- April 8, 2004: Howard Stern's show was cancelled by Clear Channel Communications after they were fined $495,000 USD for a number of statements made during a Stern show. Stern later used his remaining market share to criticize Clear Channel and the Bush Administration, and left the public airwaves to move to satellite radio, which is not subject to the same FCC decency regulations.
- March 2, 2012: Rush Limbaugh was criticized and faced with an advertiser exodus after making comments perceived as misogynist toward activist Sandra Fluke. Limbaugh was not disciplined for the remarks.
Notable incidents: Great Britain
- June 2005: Radio DJ Tim Shaw propositioned glamour model Jodie Marsh live on-air on his Kerrang! FM show by announcing he would leave his family for her. This enraged Shaw's wife, who promptly sold his Lotus Espirit on eBay for 50p. Earlier that year he had been suspended for staging a mock burglary at the home of former programme director Andrew Jeffries, and in 2004, after being challenged by listeners, he phoned his sister-in-law live on-air to boast that he fantasized about her during sex with his wife.
- October 18, 2008: (UK) BBC Radio 2 host Russell Brand resigned after calling actor Andrew Sachs and leaving four answering machine messages claiming that he had had sex with his granddaughter.
Notable incidents: Australia
- July 29, 2009: On his morning breakfast radio show, Australian DJ Kyle Sandilands provoked outrage when his "Lie Detector" segment featured a 14 year old girl who, when quizzed on her sexual history by her mother, broke down, revealing she had been raped at the age of 12. Kyle then said her mother meant any intercourse other than rape. The show was suspended for one week. Sandilands provoked further outrage three days after his suspension expired when he made a slur about Jenny Craig ambassador Magda Szubanski, saying she could have lost more weight in a concentration camp. Sandilands was suspended for ten days without pay, and after a review on September 18, had his suspension extended by three weeks. Sandilands returned to air on October 8, apologized for the incident, and was blessed by a priest at the start of the show.
- December 4, 2012. Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian made a prank call to a hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge was treated for "acute morning sickness", recording and playing the call later on air. After the nurse involved was suspected of suicide the incident received international media coverage.
- June 13, 2013. A Perth radio host Howard Sattler was sacked after he asked prime minister Julia Gillard if her partner Tim Mathieson was gay because he was a male hairdresser.
- Low culture
- Censorship in the United States
- Shock humour
- Shock value
- Alan Jones (radio broadcaster)
- Bubba the Love Sponge
- Petey Greene
- Opie and Anthony
- Rush Limbaugh
- Kyle Sandilands
- Tim Shaw
- Howard Stern
- Stan Zemanek
- Morning zoo
- Petey Greene - Radio's first shock jock: The Legacy Continues. http://www.wdkkradio.com/the-legacy/petey-greene/
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1388131.stm 'Britney Death Hoax Fools Fans' June 12, 2001
- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/08/21/entertainment/main519365.shtml Shock Jocks Fired For Sex In St. Pats Stunt
- Zielenziger, David (August 15, 2012). "Limbaugh Boycott Draws Blood: Cumulus Media Cites ‘Drag’ In 2Q Revenue". International Business Times.
- Scorned wife sells Lotus for 50p
- DJ'S RADIO GA-GA FOR HIS WIFE'S SISTER; Tim in fantasy prank on live show
- "BBC UK reports Tue 4 Dec 2013 prank call Australian radio". Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "'Is your partner gay?' Shock jock sacked over Gillard interview.". Retrieved 14 June 2013.