The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

08 May 2007

WLW 'Juan' Billboard Controversy, Talk Radio, LULAC


Billboards Draw Ire Of Local Hispanic Groups

Are talk radio stations now intentionally egging- on ethnic activist groups?

After seeing pictures of WLW / Cincinnati's newly- infamous "Big Juan" billboards (seen right, click to enlarge), one wonders whether the real goal was to manipulate them into providing lots of free publicity for the station's manufactured controversy.

And hey, it's just in time for the spring ratings book!

If so, the plan worked: Cinci's megatalker has enraged ethnic separatists at the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as radical leftists at the area chapter of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. Was it really that easy to trick them?

Nevertheless, the groups are looking to push WLW staffers into bogus "sensitivity training" as a result, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Groups, WLW to meet


Area Hispanic leaders will meet with WLW-AM executives to talk about sensitivity training and creating a multi-cultural community advisory board after the station removes its “The Big Juan” billboards.

Jason Riveiro, president of the local League of United Latin American Citizens chapter, says WLW-AM General Manager Chuck Frederick Tuesday expressed a willingness to meet this week or next with Hispanic leaders upset by billboards with a “negative stereotype” showing a Mexican with a large sombrero and a donkey.

WLW-AM, the area’s No. 1 station for six years, agreed to take down the billboards after complaints last week from the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA and the United Latin American Citizens.

“We plan to speak privately with the radio station, and see how we can get the radio station to change some of its ways,” Riveiro says.

His goal is educating the station’s conservative talk hosts “who display just one view on immigration and other issues,” as well as behind-the-scenes employees who created or approved “The Big Juan” promotion.

Local Latino leaders also say they’ll hold a conference with media members to promote sensitivity to diversity, Riveiro says.

Riveiro’s comments came during a press conference attended by representatives from 20 community organizations, a variety of ethnic and religious groups, unions and community activists. On Friday, the organizations demanded that WLW-AM remove the billboards and issue a written apology published in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Speaking for the group, Riveiro thanked WLW-AM for being “very quick to respond” by starting to take down the 82 billboards last weekend.

Frederick has been unavailable for interviews. His only comment to the Enquirer about the billboards came in a phone message at 6:50 a.m. Tuesday saying, “We’ve addressed the situation.”

Alfonso Cornejo, Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA board president, hand-delivered a protest letter to WLW-AM last week.

"Perhaps someone at your station believes there was humor in this hateful campaign. But rest assured, this is not funny in the least," said the chamber's letter.

Billboards with a "crudely depicted ethnic stereotype of a Mexican-American ... do nothing to help our city or its people. On the contrary, they serve as a daily reminder of the offensive mind-sets that cause the disgraceful acts that divide our community," the group wrote.

Copies were also sent to Clear Channel corporate executives in San Antonio, Texas. "The Big Juan" billboards, a twist on WLW-AM's longtime "The Big One" branding, were put up in late April by Lamar Advertising.

More here, from WCPO Channel 9:

Some people may have thought the billboards were clever and funny, but some members of the Hispanic community aren't laughing.

WLW made the decision to take the billboards down. Most of them were covered with a new ad or a blank white canvas overnight Monday.

700 WLW unveiled its new ad campaign last month, first with a photo of a Mexican flag.

Jason Riveiro, the president of the Cincinnati chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens or LULAC tells 9News, "I think many of us felt that well perhaps maybe there was a new Spanish radio station coming on board."

The talk radio station's next ad showed a man dressed in a traditional Mexican costume, but instead of the radio's slogan "The Big One," it read "The Big Juan."

"We came to find out that it was coming from a radio station that has no intention of marketing to the Hispanic population and at the same time is very vocal against immigrants into this area," says Riveiro.

LULAC pressured W-L-W to take the offensive billboards down.

Lamar Advertising says one billboard could cost between $5000 and $7000 a month. There were at least 10 billboards posted around the tri-state.

The Hamilton-Mason Area NAACP Branch and nearly 20 other organizations supported LULAC.

So why do activist groups fall for these obvious stunts? Probably because it gives them a reason to be outraged and generate their own headlines, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties. It sure beats paying for newspaper advertising.

As long as that's the case, expect many more of these flaps to emerge. They're great for ratings!

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  • San Antonio is majority Hispanic.

    And, the activists can't even get their stereotypes right: there aren't too many Mexican-Americans who dress like that. That's a stereotype of a Mexican, without the -American.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 08 May, 2007 22:24  

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