by Sam Levin
It's all about the variety -- unless, of course, you're talking about marijuana.
It appears that 106.5 the Arch -- the St. Louis FM radio station with the slogan "It's aaaaall about the variety!" -- declined to accept a paid advertisement from local marijuana-reform advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, because it was worried about the subject matter.
Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., its parent company, wrote in a memo to the organization: "HBI and our officers do not believe it is in our best interests to associate with your organization's message and do not want to sacrifice our reputation for any perceived endorsement, for or against, this very controversial subject."
What do the advocates behind the ad campaign have to say about this?
"I was definitely very surprised," John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, tells Daily RFT. "The ad rep had been very enthusiastic about the idea.... And most radio stations and media outlets are happy to take your money."
The group has been active at the capitol, advocating for legislative proposals to decriminalize marijuana in the state. The paid radio ads encourage residents to contact their legislators.
But the group will have to look outside of 106.5, apparently.
In a short letter from Hubbard corporate officials, which Payne passed along to us, the radio company says, "After much discussion we have unfortunately come to the decision that Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. (HBI) cannot accept the advertising for your organization, Show-Me Cannabis Regulation."
After citing concerns over a possible perceived endorsement and overall concern about this "very controversial subject," the letter says, "We apologize for any inconvenience brought on by this decision and wish you and your organization the best in its future endeavors."
Continue for response from the company and the full letter.
Payne, who mentioned 106.5's decision in a recent Post-Dispatch op-ed, says, "I'm surprised that it's still considered to controversial that you basically can't talk about it."
The organization has made headlines in recent weeks for hiring a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department sergeant as a lobbyist -- allegedly sparking direct backlash from police officials.
Daily RFT contacted Hubbard about the ad, and John Kijowski, a vice president and marketing manager, says in a statement (sent to us via a local rep) that the company reserves the right to accept or not accept advertising. The statement adds:
However, Hubbard Broadcasting and its stations do not discriminate in advertising arrangements on the basis of race or ethnicity. Any arrangement entered into with an advertiser whose intent is to discriminate in such manner shall be null and void. In compliance with FCC rules, broadcaster includes this nondiscrimination provision in all advertiser arrangements.
Here's the original memo.