Off Limits

Out of Focus: You'd never mistake Peter Boyles for a member of James Dobson's Focus on the Family broadcasters. Although the KHOW talk-show host boringly believes we all must take responsibility for our actions--he makes no secret of the fact that he's been sober for well over a decade--Boyles is much too fun to be one of those holier-than-thou folks down in Colorado Springs.

Exhibit A: the bumper sticker "Focus on the Ramsey Family," a 1999 Best of Denver winner that reminds KHOW listeners that the murder of JonBenet Ramsey has been one of Boyles's obsessions for the past two and a half years. But clearly the attorneys at Reed & Brown, a California law firm representing Focus on the Family, aren't tuned in. Last week they sent the following to KHOW:

"As you may know, 'Focus on the Family' is a registered and protected trademark under the laws of the United States. Your unauthorized use of the name 'Focus on the Family' even with the inclusion of the name 'Ramsey' represents an infringement of a registered trademark. Many individuals who see these bumper stickers will undoubtedly be confused and disturbed that the Focus on the Family name is being misused by your station. It also seems clear from your own station advertisements and promotion of the bumper stickers that you knew in advance that it was in violation of the Focus on the Family trademark. Your advertisements refer to the bumper sticker as 'soon to be banned,' evidently in recognition of its improper use of a registered trademark. Accordingly, we demand that you immediately cease the distribution of the bumper sticker or any variation on the bumper sticker which includes the name 'Focus on the Family'; that you implement at once a process by which to recover all bumper stickers which have been distributed by your radio station to distribution points such as car washes, automobile dealers, schools, convenience stores, and the like; and that you agree in writing that you will not in the future infringe or otherwise misuse the Focus on the Family trademark."

"We will return the one sticker that's left," promises KHOW program director Jeff Hillery. As for the 4,999 already distributed at a giveaway ten days ago at the Fire House car wash, "If Mr. Dobson is willing to come to the car wash to help peel them off, we're willing to give it a try."

If he wants to go that route, Dobson should try recruiting manpower from Bill McCartney's Promise Keepers, since they're eager to polish their image and will be in town this weekend for a conference at McNichols Arena. For the first time ever, PK has been running ads touting the free event on TV and in the local dailies, as well as buying ten-second spots during traffic reports and talk shows on radio stations owned by Chancellor Media Corporation.

Although direct mail is still the group's primary advertising method, PK spokesman Stephen Ruppe says the "image ads" are an attempt to fight the public perception that the Denver-based "Christian men's ministry" is on after-life support. "The ads we are running are to let people know we are here and will continue to be here," he vows.

Since all of the advertising money is donated, PK makes its buys very carefully, Ruppe says. So far, the budget has stretched to cover an ad in USA Today, as well as TV and radio spots in Detroit and Indianapolis.

"We're not looking to run a huge number of ads," Ruppe adds. "We're trying to reach adults, with an emphasis toward males and with a good ethnic mix. We bought newscasts in this market and metro traffic reports here and in other markets during news talks with a strong male orientation and on a mix of African-American and Hispanic stations.

"We even bought some rockers and stations you wouldn't expect to see us on, but as part of an overall buy, the deal was good, and our message of Jesus Christ is for everyone."

But such outreach does have its limits. Certainly, Promise Keepers doesn't plan to become a sponsor for Colorado Out Spoken, Channel 12's gay and lesbian newsmagazine formerly known as The Lambda Report. The long-running show's first broadcast under the new name will be at 11 p.m. this Sunday; Lambda Report producers say they could no longer tolerate having the same name as a national publication put out by anti-gay writer Peter LaBarbera.

During the first half of this decade, LaBarbera's Lambda Report was dedicated to monitoring "the homosexual agenda in American politics and culture" and offering "practical advice on how to combat the gay agenda." According to gay advice columnist Dan Savage, who wrote one early expose on the Lambda Report's tactics, LaBarbera employed "scare stories about S&M, child molesters and the threat AIDS poses to mainstream society (one story implies that straights can contract AIDS by sharing pillows on airplanes with gay men)...LR apparently adopted the name 'Lambda Report' in order to infiltrate gay and lesbian events. No queer organization would turn away a reporter from something called the Lambda Report, nor would a gay man or lesbian fear speaking to a reporter from an organization with Lambda in the title." (Lambda is a symbol in the Greek alphabet adopted in the Seventies by the gay rights movement.)

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