Radio Station Plays 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' For 2 Solid Hours
LOUISVILLE, KY — You can’t scroll through your social media feeds without tripping over a post offering an opinion on the decision by some radio stations not to play “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a coquettish song from the 1940s with lyrics some say don’t hold up well over time. A Cleveland radio station set off the social media war when it yanked the song the from its seasonal playlist, reasoning that the nearly 75-year-old song looks like an anthem to date rape under the glare of the #MeToo spotlight.
Well, this’ll show them, a Louisville radio station decided: WAKY played “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for two solid hours Sunday morning. “We like it and we’re not afraid to play it on WAKY for the next couple of hours!” the station said on its Facebook page.
The reaction amounted to a standing ovation among the nearly 150 people who commented.
Some admitted to not liking the song much, but supported WAKY’s decision to play it in a statement against what one person called an “insane attack on everything Christmas.”
“Put the needle on the record and crank it up!” someone else noted.
Sprinkled among the comments were references to “snowflakes,” which is used derisively to describe people, often young adults who may identify with the political left, when they disagree with a particular policy or action.
One person questioned who the real snowflakes are, setting off a minor skirmish in the war on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
The radio station is “like that kid on the playground that discovers their classmate is scared of toads, then chases them around with a toad, for 2 hours,” the man wrote. “Who is the bigger ‘snowflake’ here? A radio station that made a choice that didn’t affect you in any way, so you ‘retaliate’? Grow up. And quit being a snowflake.”
“No,” another person responded, “it’s more like the kid on the playground being offended by your GI Joe, so he goes to the principal to complain and the principal takes everyone’s GI Joes because it ‘might’ offend somebody. If you don’t like it, don’t listen, but don’t take away everyone else’s fun because of it.”
“That being said, if you don’t like the absence of it don’t listen to that radio station,” the original commenter responded. “Or download from iTunes if you want to listen to it so bad. It was silly to ‘ban’ it but sillier to ‘retaliate’ “
Joe Fredele, WAKY’s director of programming, told television station WLKY he’s not sure why the song is controversial.
“We’ve played this song for years, you know, this song is older than WAKY is,” Fredele said. “It’s almost 70 years old.”
Amy Turner, the director of sexual assault services at The Center for Women and Families, which offers support services in Kentucky, told WLKY that playlist programmers “really need to think about the impact songs have, not just ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ but numerous songs that we decide to play on the radio.”
“Guys and Dolls” lyricist Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944 and originally performed it as a humorous duet with his wife at parties. The woman is clear that she worries about being with a man at his home late into the night and how her reputation might suffer, but he protests and asks her to stay because “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Some of the other lines that prompted Star 102 radio (WDOK-FM) to pull the song from its playlist included:
“Say, what’s in this drink?” she asks.
“I really can’t say / Baby don’t hold out.”
“I ought to say no, no, no /Mind if I move in closer?”
In a blog post, host Glenn Anderson wrote that he didn’t initially see the song as offensive, but took a closer look at the lyrics in the context of the #MeToo movement.
Reading the lyrics in 2018, they seem “very manipulative and wrong,” he wrote. “The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place.”
The Urban Dictionary even describes “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as a “Christmas Date Rape Song.”
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President Sondra Miller told television station WJW the song offers an important message about consent — or lack of it.
“The character in the song is saying ‘no,’ and they’re saying well, ‘does no really mean yes?’ and I think in 2018, what we know is consent is ‘yes’ and if you get a ‘no’ it means ‘no’ and you should stop right there,” she said.
It’s important, Miller said, “to stop and think about the perspective of a survivor who was raped in that type of circumstance.”
Criticism that the song seems “date rape-y” in 2018 doesn’t resonate with Fredele.
“This song is not about that,” he told WLKY. “All it is, is a dialogue between a man and a woman, and at the end of the song, you hear them harmonize together, so they’re agreeing basically.”
He said the marathon set, which featured recordings of the song from five artists, was just a fun way for the station to say, “Hey this our vote for that song. It’s a fun song. It’s a romantic song, don’t pick on it.”
Image: Broadway composer Frank Loesser and his wife and musical partner Lynn are shown, April 26, 1956 in New York. Their song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was originally a song they performed for friends at their housewarming party. (AP Photo/Anthony Camerano)