WBEB refuses to air PCAR PSA; responds to claims


The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is urging Pennsylvanians to contact WBEB 101.1FM in Philadelphia and express their displeasure with the station’s decision to deny PCAR space for its HERO Project campaign. The station denied PCAR space because the 30-second PSA, urging adults to report child sexual abuse, contained the words ‘rape’ and ‘sexual.’

PCAR says the station would run the ad only if it altered the wording to remove the word “rape” from the organization’s name and say “child abuse” instead of “child sexual abuse,” citing that the station’s listeners would be upset by the words that are currently used.

WBEB GM Blaise Howard tells RBR-TVBR this was not actually a PSA effort but a paid campaign. He added that they offered to work with PCAR at WBEB’s expanse to re-craft a more family-friendly ad. “Many listeners thank us for the things we don’t air, vs. the things we do. We also turned down an ad yesterday from a local TV station. It’s almost like the ‘Mommy, what does that mean?’ phrase that we get from our customers. They ask us not to let them down when they’re driving in the car with their kids.  They don’t want to have to explain the birds and the bees to their 4-year old while driving them to school. They tell us they listen because they enjoy our radio station – and we take that pretty seriously.”

Blaise also gave us a prepared statement:

“We recognize that this is an extremely important topic and one that should receive the help of the broadcast community to generate awareness. That’s why we’ve offered to work with PCAR, at our cost, to create a modified ad that raises awareness of this issue while meeting the content standards that our listeners have come to expect from us.

We’ve run hundreds of issue-based ads with great success but we reject many paid ads based on their content as well.  The reality is there is language that parents tell us they feel isn’t appropriate for their pre and elementary school aged children to hear. “Mommy what’s that mean?” is a phrase that makes them feel that we as a radio station have let them down. They tell us that and we take that responsibility very seriously.

To be clear, PCAR approached the station about buying time for the spot they produced. There was a cash time schedule in place prior to us receiving the 30 second commercial. We decided against running the spot based on its content.

B101 has a long-standing history of going above and beyond to help our community. In fact, the owner of our company has done more for children in this area than any other broadcasting company in Philadelphia. We will continue to build on that tradition of giving back while meeting the highest standard of content possible.”

“Child sexual abuse is not about sexuality,” PCAR Executive Director Delilah Rumburg said. “It’s about violence to our children. If the station doesn’t believe its listeners could handle hearing words about abuse, imagine what child victims of sexual abuse are experiencing. We believe that our message is important to Pennsylvanians. All we are trying to do is get information out to the public that there is help and healing for survivors and their families. We don’t feel that modifying the language is an acceptable compromise. The station is asking us to censor information that could actually help their listeners. Their decision is appalling and perpetuates the veil of silence that continues to hurt victims in need of help.”

PCAR is urging residents to call the station and voice their displeasure with the soft rock radio station and to ask the station to make a substantial donation to their local rape crisis centers.

To listen to the HERO Project PSAs visit www.heroproject.org.

RBR-TVBR observation: We have to agree with WBEB. Number one, they have the right to turn it down, number two they have the right to uphold a certain set of values at the station that listeners have come to expect. We heard the ads. If you have to be that explicit to listeners to detail something over and over they should just plain know to call the police on in the first place, then you might be assuming they are stupid. We think PCAC and WBEB should work this out and still run a version of the ad, because this is an important topic. But seriously, primetime television is bad enough for kids to digest, can’t radio remain a bit of a sanctuary from this type of graphic language?