(This is a guest post for C&L, written by the NCLR's Clarissa Martínez.)
After a member station launched an incredibly insensitive radio promotion designed to tweak Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio for joining the national boycott of Arizona over its new anti-immigrant law, Clear Channel found itself in the center of a national controversy and the target of the ire of Latino communities across America.
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, immediately demanded an apology from the station, and thousands of people nationwide, by phone or in writing, contacted Clear Channel General Manager Brian Dytko and President and CEO Mark Mays asking for the same.
Today at 5:00 p.m. Dytko will go on air to do just that.
It all started when Coleman made the decision to ban city employees from visiting Arizona on official business. He joins other cities and counties in making his decision to protest Arizona’s new law, SB 1070, which essentially sanctions racial profiling.
WTVN-AM’s response? “WTVN would like to send you where Americans are proud and illegals are scared—sunny Phoenix, Arizona! You’ll spend a weekend chasing aliens and spending cash in the desert. Just make sure you have your green card!”
NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía was not amused.
“The passage of SB 1070 has provoked a lot of reprehensible anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric,” stated Murguía, “but a radio station bankrolling someone to ‘hunt’ human beings for sport represents a new low. What is happening to Latinos—citizens, legal residents, and undocumented alike—in Arizona is no joke.”
Murguía reminded Dytko that “the American people own the airwaves over which WTVN broadcasts. As such, we will ask FCC commissioners to ensure that threats against American citizens—such as the one encouraged and promoted by WTVN—are not taken lightly and dealt with in an appropriate manner.”
Dytko admitted that his station has received hundreds of phone calls protesting the promotion, thanks to the efforts of several groups in Ohio and at the national level that mobilized their supporters to pressure him.
We can’t wait to hear what he’ll say at 5:00.
UPDATE: John Amato:
They finally did apologize for their egregious actions. You can hear the apology and see the transcript here.
This is Brian Dytko, Station Manager of WTVN with a message regarding our station’s recent “Win a Trip to Phoenix, Arizona” promotional contest. Our contest was meant as a humorous response to a City of Columbus ban on travel to Arizona by city employees. In fact, a key element of the promotion was that city employees were specifically invited to enter the contest. We regret that our promotional copy has been characterized as condoning violence. This was not our intent, and we do not condone violence of any kind. We apologize for our actions here. We are always striving to engage our community on important issues of the day and sometimes we do a better job than others, but we always take the input of our community seriously.
It was a pretty pathetic contest and tepid apology if you ask me, but an apology none the less.