EDMONTON RADIO: K-97 billboard banned for ‘gratuitous’ use of breasts

All the racy billboards K-97 has gotten away with over the years and “Pray for More Rain” is the one that gets banned?!

That’s the scoop from Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), which has deemed the image of a large-breasted, fully-clothed woman as “offensive” and “gratuitous” and in violations of clauses 14C and D – heh, heh, D – of the Yada Yada Act.

The offending billboards have already been replaced with new ones (below).

Why this and not other more “offensive” K-97 ads? Citizens may recall the station’s controversial “­__CK YOU” billboards in the spring where the READER was the one who filled in the profanity. It obviously stood for ROCK YOU. Three years ago, Terry Bill and Steve caused an uproar by appearing (apparently naked) with the slogan “See? … They’re Nuts!”

There have been more, and no official uproar beyond the usual citizen complaints. This is different – and program director James “Gruff” Gushnowski actually agrees with the ASC that “the billboard itself really has nothing to do with the Terry Bill and Steve morning show. We just thought it was funny. We try to push the envelope. It was tongue in cheek.”

Gruff says the ASC actually has no legal authority to force anyone to do anything, though no broadcaster that he knows of has ever defied this self-governing advertising watchdog. “They really have the best interests of the public at heart,” he says, adding that it’s it’s the CBSC (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council), which K-97 is a member of, and of course CRTC that radio stations have to watch out for.

Allegations of sexism that might hurt other radio stations doesn’t seem to have an effect on K-97, and in fact stories like this are just more free promotion. In short, they’re NOT going for the female audience.The number of female listeners “varies from months to month. There are some months that are solid and other months that they drop right off,” Gruff laughs. “Was it something we said? Probably.”

The other question that comes out of this is: how effective are billboards for radio, really? Answer: Very. Ask Rawlco, which runs Now! and Up!, and has pumped millions into billboard campaigns – the reward being two of the top-rated radio stations in town (which is another story). As it applies to Edmonton’s venerable classic rock station, Gruff says the Terry Bill and Steve Show was ranked in the spring as the No. 1 morning show for people aged 25-54 – males AND females.

So they must be doing something right. Or wrong, anyway.