Most music-oriented radio stations, as opposed to talk outlets, try to remain apolitical. The goal is to get as many people as possible to tune in, not to construct artificial barriers that might make some of them less likely to listen.
All of which makes a live remote staged by the Wolf, a country-music specialist at 92.5 FM, a bit unusual. The promotion, featuring personality Jesse James, focused on Wolf Interstate Leasing & Sales, which had just erected a controversial billboard questioning whether President Barack Obama was actually born in America. Customers were given $200 off when purchasing a car if they showed their birth certificate -- something so-called birthers would like Obama to do, too. (Of course, the majority of people feel his Hawaiian birth certificate long ago put this issue to rest. But that's another story.)
Barry Remington, general manager of Wilks Broadcasting's Denver properties, including the Wolf, stresses that the station wasn't endorsing the birther philosophy by hyping the deal.
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"We're neither for nor against the political message," Remington says. "But Wolf Automotive certainly has the right to promote their sale as they see fit, and as long as the promotion isn't mean spirited, I don't have a problem with it -- and it wasn't. If you listened to the spots, they just mentioned that people who bring in their birth certificate will get a discount. They weren't slamming anybody."
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This doesn't mean Remington will automatically approve any ad with a political subtext. "We would take each one and listen to them and see how they sound on a case by case basis. That's my litmus test," he says.
Wolf Interstate Leasing & Sales, owned by Phil Wolf, "certainly have their point of view" about Obama's birth status, Remington concedes, "and they're using it to their benefit. But it's not our job to promote that. We're just trying to help Wolf Automotive move product."