KING FM debases gay and lesbian contribution to music

Normally, I don’t mix politics and music on this blog, but this fall Washington voters are being asked to “approve” or “reject” a referendum that would expand protections for same-sex and some opposite sex couples.  If Referendum 71 is approved by Washington voters, Washington’s domestic partnership statute will remain intact.  If the referendum is rejected, the rights available to the state’s 12,000 domestic partnerships will be drastically constricted. 

Just before “Five for the Drive,” KING FM’s drive time show, an advertisement came on the air urging Washingtonian’s to reject Referendum 71. 

For those who don’t know, KING FM is the area’s only classical music station.  Recently, KING laid off three on air personalities as a way to monitor their expenses.  A change in how ratings are calculated apparently hasn’t been kind to ratings or revenues.  This isn’t the first time KING has taken advertisements of a political nature,  but this is the first time that an advertisement has attacked a group of people who have been instrumental in the history of classical music – gay and lesbians. 

No one should have to tell KING the important contribution gays and lesbians have made to classical music.  Barber, Copland, Menotti, Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Britten, Cage, Alsop, Pears, etc. etc.  You get the idea.  The list is long.  By running ads supporting an effort to role back civil rights for gay and lesbian people they are debasing a key music constituency.  The station may not be endorsing the advertiser’s opinion but they are giving tacit approval to the advertisement’s hateful and false message. 

Maybe the next time one of the station’s personalities puts on a Marin Alsop recording they should think about what a reject Referendum 71 ad concludes about Marin Alsop as a person, her partner, and the family they have created together.  Next time KING spins Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings they should take a moment to reflect on the fact that if Referendum 71 is rejected a relationship like the one Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten shared for decades would mean less under the law. 

Is it too much to ask for Seattle’s only classical music station to think about the contributions of artists both living and dead before deciding to run any old advertisement?


9 thoughts on “KING FM debases gay and lesbian contribution to music

  1. As much as I understand the sentiment of your post, I find it shocking that the public does not have an awareness of the obligations of commercial media to make air time available to all political advertising at it’s lowest rate. This is a mandate by the FCC and stations cannot exercise preference on political ads without endangering their license. As much as you hate it, ensuring equal representation and access is one of the fundamentals of a free and uncensored media. Don’t take KING FM to task unless you want to take on the entire system. If you want to guarantee that no political ads are heard, encourage your favorite businesses to purchase the air time leaving zero inventory for distasteful political ads. Or even better, purchase the air time yourself and ask KING FM to use it to extend it’s classical playlist commercial free.

  2. Thanks for this; well said. I’ve had to stop listening to KING FM for at least the duration because of this. Business is business and they need ad revenue but I would also hope for the kind of integrity you’re describing; the contradiction and irony is so disappointing. I’m hopeful they’re on the wrong side of history on this and voters will Approve 71.

  3. Also, I’m pretty sure the FCC rules Kelly mentions apply to candidates for office, and that the FCC does not regulate PAC and issue advertising. But if I’m wrong about this, then I’ll be looking for advertising for the Approve 71 side as well on KING.

  4. Kelly, you’re understanding on broadcast rules about 3 decades out of date, and shocking. The Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the Reagan administration in 1987.

    KING FM is under *NO* legal obligation to play this commercial. It is solely their choice as a company to play this ad. Shame on them.

    The only thing left is the Equal-Time Rule, which as Cynthia stated correctly only applies to political candidates, not PACs or causes.

  5. If what Kelly says is true about FCC regulations then all the extreme right radio stations should be required to accept 71-approval ads. Does anyone see that happening? I think that Cynthia is correct, that the rule applies to candidates, if it applies at all. I also second a friend’s idea that if KING-Classical is indeed forced to run these ads, a disclaimer would be nice, unless the folks who own the station really believe in the “defense of marriage” nonsense.

  6. KING FM’s programming has always been obnoxious; maybe that’s why they’re having trouble drawing listeners. After 5 or 10 sonatas for harpsichord and piccolo, my ears start to hurt.

    A little music of Barber, Britten, Copland, Bernstein, Cage, et. al. would certainly make a nice change from their usual: “All lesser works of lesser Baroque composers, all the time!”

    The only thing worse than their programming is their commercials.

    I was in Boston listening to their classical radio station a few weeks ago and found their programming delightfully adventurous. They did play some baroque, but I also got to hear some modern works I’d never heard before.

  7. This is a really good discussion. I think it is partially true that KING might be in the position where they have no choice but to run these commercials. However, if they consider themselves at all stewards of classical music and the musicians who make the music, then I would think they would exhaust every legal opportunity to not give a platform to a point of view that undermines a key constituency in classical music — that being gay and lesbian people.

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