No love for the Dire Straits

Campus radio won’t play ‘Money for Nothing,’ and it has nothing to do with offensive words


Unlike their commercial counterparts, campus radio stations are not subject to the ruling banning the original version of the Dire Straits’ 1985 hit, “Money for Nothing” over the word “faggot.” It is, however, unlikely that university disc jockeys will be taking advantage of their newfound monopoly as probably the only broadcasters in Canada permitted to air the song. The reason? Many campus stations already have a policy against playing “Money for Nothing.” And it has nothing to do with offensive words.

“Dire Straits is a band that is more suited to AOR and classic rock radio,” says Bryce Dunn, program coordinator at CiTR at the University of British Columbia. When asked if his station would play the song in light of the recent controversy, Dunn said, “Umm, no.” That goes for all versions not just the original.

On Friday, the University of Calgary station, CJSW, dedicated an afternoon talk show to the controversy surrounding the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) decision to censor the song. Although the offending word was used several times, “Money for Nothing” was not actually played. “No offence to the Dire Straits. We just don’t play them,” says station manager Chad Saunders.

When a late night program host at the University of Manitoba’s UMFM played the song following the ruling, he was sent an email from supervisors reminding him of the station’s policies against playing mainstream music. “We can’t condone the fact that he played a hit song on the air, as that falls outside our mandate,” Jared McKetiak, who runs UMFM, said.

There are two reasons why “Money for Nothing” and other mainstream songs will get little if any airplay on Canadian campuses. The first is regulatory. Licenses issued to campus radio stations by the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) strictly limit how many “hit” songs they are permitted to play. Their broadcasts are suppose to be dedicated to independent and local artists.

Aside from licensing requirements, that limit but do not ban mainstream music, campus station managers are just not that interested in rockers from other decades. “After 25 years, does anyone really need to hear ‘Money For Nothing’ again anyways?” McKetiak asks. “We don’t need to be playing something like Bryan Adams.”

Kristiana Clemens, operations officer for CFRC at Queen’s University, says that while her staff does not “censor” programming, volunteers “are expected to be responsible and thoughtful in planning their programs and upholding the station’s broadcast license.” They are encouraged to “play artists and genres that are under-represented in mainstream media,” she says.

Despite having no interest in playing “Money for Nothing” the CBSC ruling isn’t being met with indifference among campus radio circles. “It is simply a quick fix by the CBSC to appease advertisers and listening audiences without actually taking steps to address the systemic homophobia,” Clemens said.

The U of C’s Saunders called the ruling “dangerous” adding that “the punchline to the joke is it has taken 25 years for a complaint to come through.”


No love for the Dire Straits

  1. Really? This is what all the controversy and noise is about the word faggot in a song from 25 years ago. I remember when they blanked out the word “cream” from thelycric ‘creamed my jeans when she walked my way’ from Carol Pope and they dropped a whole section from a Platinum blonde song when it referred to the crisisi in Nothern Ireland.

    Can the CRTC come into the 21st century Id be more concerned with the general student public thinking using the word GAY as an expression of something bad or ugly or incidious as more offensive.

    Damn some issues are so straight they put me to sleep.

    Member of the GLBT community

  2. Pingback: Morning Coffee with David Farrell, January 20

  3. Mainstream hip-hop repeatedly uses the word “faggot” and other offensive language, and it’s bleeped out on radio. Nobody cares.

    A rock song from the 80s gets censored, and it’s national headline news.

    I don’t know exactly what this says about the news-consuming public, but it’s probably not good.

  4. I just have to laugh at any article about censorship found on MacLeans.

    Nothing against the writer of the article, it’s an interesting piece, it’s just ironic.

  5. Talk about limiting your horizon if you do not play music from other decades even if it’s by talented artists like Bryan Adams. I thought university was for expanding your mind. Nothing like living a a little bubble and coming thinking you know everything.

  6. I can’t believe that a song written so many years ago is banned. Aren’t there much worse things to be bupset about. Our society is so
    wimpy and everyone has a complaint.

  7. How many of us (old timers) listened to that song “back in the day” and never thought about THAT word being there.

    I AM a faggot (in the “general” sense of the term and have loved all of Dire Straits music for many years.

    Do something about what is actually happening TODAY in schools and music. What young people listen to Dire Straits?

    There are much more insidious forces at work in our very governments we need to worry about – get a GOOD GRIP folks.

  8. This…is absurd.

    We have SERIOUS issues to deal with. This is just smoke and mirrors to distract away from REAL issues. As a gay man, activist, and commentator on LGBTQ issues…I find this whole discussion utterly ridiculous.

    Not wasting another moment of my time here on further comment…focusing instead on gay marriage initiatives, equal employment measures and other basic human rights issues here and abroad.

    You can quote me on that.


    Aedan Saint

    Host/Producer – QueerFM – CiTR, 101.9 FM Vancouver

    Host/Producer – Fruit Salad Radio – CFRO, 102.7 FM Vancouver

    Mr. Gay Vancouver XXX (2009-2010)

  9. If you listen closely to the song there are a few subtle hints that it is written in character. For example, rich and famous rock stars seldom have jobs as appliance installers.

    Then there’s the “chicks for free” line. Obviously the sweatbands alone put Knopfler into the paying customers category.

    However it is remarkable how much both the appliance installer and Mark Knopfler enjoy saying “faggot”.

Sign in to comment.