WWMX pulls abortion-rights ads

April 15, 2004|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore radio station has pulled commercials in support of an abortion-rights rally later this month in Washington after receiving calls from some angry listeners who objected.

WWMX - known as "Mix 106" and found at 106.5 FM - decided April 7 to drop the spots after receiving at least 10 complaints, according to Steve Monz, the station's program director. Those listeners who initially called to object had heard the ads on the station's drive-time show, JoJo and Kenny in the Morning.

The station, owned by Viacom's Infinity radio division, considers itself a relatively safe harbor for children, Monz said yesterday. And the topic of abortion is highly charged, he said.

"I think people were offended that there would even be an ad promoting that," Monz said. "We always reserve the right to control what goes over our airwaves and to protect our brand. We are very conscious of what our listeners are feeling."

The ads had been placed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, an advocacy group that is planning a demonstration in Washington on April 25. "The right wing seems to be able to cow a radio station into pulling the ad," said Evelyn Becker, a spokeswoman for NARAL.

The group purchased time on 18 radio stations in Eastern cities from Raleigh, N.C., to Hartford, Conn. Two other Baltimore stations have run the ads without incident, Becker said. They started April 5 and were to have run through the rally.

WWMX is the only station that had been involved in the advertising to withdraw the commercials, Becker said. "They have made it clear that they had no problem with the content of the ad. They said they received too many complaints and took it off," Becker said.

Recent attention over the propriety of radio content has been directed at Infinity stations and hosts, such as shock jock Howard Stern, whose show is broadcast locally by Infinity's WXYV at 105.7 FM.

But Monz said that political debate did not affect his decision about the commercial for the abortion rally. "I didn't think it was indecent in any way," he said. "It was something that was very emotional, and everyone has a strong opinion on it."

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