Last Friday, AM 760 afternoon-drive host Mario Solis-Marich spent part of his broadcast talking up Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Randy Parraz, who'll be facing John McCain in November. Indeed, he even encouraged Colorado listeners to contribute to Parraz's campaign, for which Solis-Marich said he's been paid to work.
Anything hinky about that? According to his boss, no.
"I listened to what he said," notes Lee Larsen, senior vice president of Clear Channel's Rocky Mountain Region. "He talked about this guy in Arizona for about ten minutes, and in the course of that discussion, he said, 'You ought to support this guy and send him money if you want.' And then he also acknowledged that he worked for him in his other business -- his political call center."
Solis-Marich's LinkedIn profile identifies that firm as Unified Strategies. But the site connects to Targeted Communications, described on its home page as "the only Latino owned and operated Democratic National Committee approved call center in the U.S. We are not a 'phone broker,' we are an on-site phone-canvassing center."
In Larsen's view, this pitch "violated no rules, no policies, no FCC stuff. Had he not disclosed that he had done work for the guy, then you might get into the question of whether this was a plugola thing, where somebody is plugging someone they're being compensated by. But he made all the proper disclosures, so it was fine."
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Maybe from a legal standpoint -- but how about in terms of serving local listeners? While Solis-Marich is based in the Los Angeles area, he supposedly tailors his AM 760 show for Denver-area listeners. But the results aren't always seamless. Last September, for instance, complaints surfaced about him referring to the CU Buffs as the "Boofs" -- a term the Urban Dictionary defines as "short for buttfuck." At former program director Kris Olinger's insistence, he discontinued the practice, emphasizing that he'd meant no offense.
As for Parraz, Larsen sees nothing intrinsically wrong with Solis-Marich chatting about him.
"Talk hosts do that kind of thing all the time," he points out. "Obviously, we'd prefer they're talking locally, but there are times when they can go beyond that. And Arizona is a big topic of conversation these days, with the whole immigration deal. We even had on J.D. Hayworth," who ran against, and lost to, McCain in Arizona's Republican primary yesterday. "It has to tie back into the interest of listeners here in Colorado, but they're talking about immigration in that race. So for Mario, it's a fine subject."
And a potentially profitable one, too -- so long as he keeps disclosing his monetary interest when he raises it.