upper waypoint

KOIT Ditches, Then Brings Back ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams sing the Academy Award-winning song "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the 1949 musical comedy "Neptune's Daughter." (YouTube)

This holiday season, local radio station KOIT 96.5 found itself in the national spotlight when it took the tune "Baby It's Cold Outside" out of its holiday song rotation in the wake of receiving over 100 complaints about the song's undertones of date-rape.

But then came the backlash to the backlash, and as of yesterday morning, the song is back on-air.

After KOIT program director Brian Figula decided to pull the plug on the song last week, the story was picked up by Channel 7 news, and the radio station received a tidal wave of comments requesting the song's return to the airwaves.

Figula decided to create a poll on the KOIT website.

"We looked at it as an opportunity to have a discussion," he said. "We let our listeners talk about it and choose for themselves if they want to hear it."

Over 22,000 people weighed in. The results? 77 percent of its listeners supported the song.

Some listeners avidly supported silencing the ditty.

And some listeners felt the intense scrutiny of the song was unnecessary.

Considering the year it was written and the social mores that women were expected to follow  in the '40s — the song can be interpreted as either a coy dance among enamored adults or a red-flag-riddled date-rape scene. Yet other music lovers say the song has feminist underpinnings.

"Baby It's Cold Outside" appears in the 1949 Esther Williams film "Neptune's Daughter" and won the Academy Award for Best Song the very same year. The controversial duet depicts a man trying to convince a woman to stay with him despite her hesitations.
(Interestingly enough, the film features the song twice; its second appearance features Betty Garrett and Red Skelton where the woman aggressively tries to seduce the man.)

Conversations around consent have shifted dramatically over the past decades; at the time when the song was written, women were discouraged and shamed from being sexually forward. "Baby It's Cold Outside" is, in many ways, an illustration of the nuances that women must navigate to be able to say "yes" or "no" without judgement, according to an anonymous Tumblr post written by a former English teacher that went viral.

Betty Garrett makes her move on on Red Skelton. Photo courtesy of YouTube

Figula recognizes that he has waded into a political discussion beyond the ken of his chart-topper radio station which started this year's Christmas song playlist on November 16.  "Let's face it, there's a political agenda to all this," he said. "Our radio station is a music station. We don't have a political agenda. Our goal is to play the biggest hits in the United States."

Other radio stations who have received backlash for banning the duet include Cleveland's WDOK and Denver's KOSI.

Figula said it has been a difficult decision. "We've replied to literally every email that's come into the radio station. That's well over 1,000 emails over the last week," he said.  "Women have contacted me [who] have been raped or sexually harassed. Women with teenage daughters have said they don't want their kids to hear the lyrics. They find it offensive and I can respect that, though the majority disagrees."


For now, the song will survive another Christmas season on KOIT.

"Majority rules," Figula said, who put the song back on rotation yesterday. "Our goal is to say, 'power to the people.' If people think we should play it, we'll play it."

lower waypoint
next waypoint
Why California Environmentalists Are Divided Over Plan to Change Power Utility RatesWhy Renaming Oakland's Airport Is a Big DealAllegations of Prosecutorial Bias Spark Review of Death Penalty Convictions in Alameda CountyCecil Williams, Legendary Pastor of Glide Church, Dies at 94SF Democratic Party’s Support of Unlimited Housing Could Pressure Mayoral CandidatesNurses Warn Patient Safety at Risk as AI Use Spreads in Health CareBay Area Indians Brace for India’s Pivotal 2024 Election: Here’s What to Know‘Sweeps Kill’: Bay Area Homeless Advocates Weigh in on Pivotal US Supreme Court CaseCalifornia’s Future Educators Divided on How to Teach ReadingWhen Rivers Caught Fire: A Brief History of Earth Day