Thursday, November 16, 2006

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WABC Radio and Jews for Idolatry

The following is a conversation I had with the management of WABC radio (770 AM) in New York City some months ago about the Jews for Idolatry radio campaign. The final part of the conversation was a long delayed reply I received from one of their major radio personalities just recently...

From: Akiva of the Mystical Paths Blog

To: WABC Radio, 770 AM, New York City, USA
To: Program Manager, Advertising Manager, Various Personalities


As a very long time listener of WABC radio, I have truly enjoyed the various shows offered....

Further, as a religious fellow, I appreciate that your personalities keep it clean yet interesting, topical and contravertial without delving into intimacy or smut. I'm comfortable having my children listen as well, and by doing so they're considered pretty darn well informed kids.

At least until this week. This week I see you have picked up a major Xian Missionary campaign specifically against my religion. Yes, I'm an orthodox Jew, and not one who's interested in Jaysus.

I am very highly insulted by this disingenious radio ad campaign that presents two 'Jews' with yiddish accents arguing about the truth of...Jaysus. Somehow, I think you would hesitate to take an ad campaign for "Proving the Falsity of Catholicism and Exposing Pedophile Priests, Call 1-800-ChurchLies", or "Jaysus, Incest or Homosexual, Our New Book Reveals the Truth, JaysusWasGay.Com".

You have an ad campaign several times an hour claiming to prove the falsity of my religion. Neither I nor my community is going to stay part of your audience while you continue such.

Will you discontinue this insulting ad campaign?

To: Akiva of the Mystical Paths Blog

From: Phil Boyce, Director of Programming, WABC Radio


Akiva: Thanks for writing and letting me know your concern. WABC respects all religions, but we also have an open policy toward issue advertising. We would be just as happy to accept an ad from "Jews Not for Jesus" if there was such a group. We have also freely allowed our hosts to criticize the ads if they so chose. WABC is about freedom of speech, and we let listeners decide. They are not advocating harm to Jews...in fact they claim to love them.

To: Phil Boyce & Various Personalities, WABC Radio

From: Akiva of the Mystical Paths Blog


Phil:

Sorry, the freedom of speech argument is a cop-out. It's not the station's freedom to accept the ad that I'm challenging. Of course you have that right.

But I don't believe that you don't consider audience impact in accepting an ad. For example, I notice that some competative stations are now running daytime ads for, um, male enhancement products. And, because of this, one of your competitors has lost my wife as a listener during her morning commute to camp with the children. I don't hear you running those ads, and I suspect you've been approached. You do run some not-quite-as-bad ads, but usually late night. A comfortable time to assume children aren't listening.

As far as the claim that "they love them". Yes, they would very happily love the Jewish people right out of existance. That's a religious imperative for them, they have that freedom. I have no imperative to listen to them do it.

So, by your 'open policy', you would commit to accepting these ads?

- KKK for racial separation
- NRA, arm up for freedom
- Islamists, learn about the Christian lie
- Have you been sodomized by a priest? Call our law firm, Catholic church suit specialists.

Somehow, I think you'd consider the negative audience impact in doing so. Am I wrong? Is it really purely about the price?

Of course I understand a station operates to make a profit, and that comes via advertising. Yet those advertising dollars are based on audience size. I assume these ads were placed on WABC because the station has a Jewish audience demographic, and probably a uniquely large one of orthodox Jews in the New York area as well as the whole country.

You should know that audience is at risk with this advertising. I won't be listening, I'll be pointing that out on my blog, my synogogue mailing list, and sharing it with my closest 1,000 friends and co-religionists.

On two side notes, while your personalities may be free to speak against ads, I don't think I've ever heard them do it in the 10 years I've been listening. They do know where their paycheck comes from. But I'd appreciate if you'd forward this on to Curtis and Kube, as well as Rabbi Potasnick.

And, there are two organizations that fit the Jews Not for Jaysus...

Jews for Judaism - http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/
Yad Le'Ahim (A Hand for Your Brother) - no website in English

Unfortunately they're not backed by huge church organizations with multi-million dollar missionary budgets and probably can't afford your advertising rates.

From: Ron Kuby, Esq, WABC Radio Morning Show Co-Host & Lawyer

To: Akiva


Sorry it took me so long to get back to you after our last exchange. The "Jews for Jesus" folks have crawled back under their rocks until next summer--but our policy remains the same. While every station is free to accept or reject any ad it desires, our policy has been to accept any ad that does not violate the law, advocate law breaking or criminal activity, or violates some FCC rule regarding sex or excrement.

Under that policy, the NRA ad certainly would be accepted, the lawyer's ad probably would make the cut, the Islamist ad probably would, and the KKK ad probably would not, as enforced racial segregation is unlawful. I realize that Phil may not understand how much bad history is packed into the notion that Christians love us so much they want to convert us. But this does not change the basis of his position--a position with which I agree. The beauty of American democracy and free exchange of ideas is that people are free to try to change each other's minds about religion, politics, and morality. I try to do that every day.

We are many years removed from the shtettl--it is time we partake in the fullness of American life, rather than fear it.

Ron

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