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WDVE says billboards suit its male audience

Saturday, April 20, 2002

By Adrian McCoy

A cardinal rule of billboard advertising: Give people a good reason to look.

WDVE says its billboard on Liberty Avenue at 21st Street, Strip District, like the 10 other in the area, purposely contains a sexy message. (Post-Gazette photo)

The current WDVE-FM billboard campaign: Give them two good reasons.

The billboard in question depicts a woman, from neck to waist only, barely covered by a bikini top, with the words "What a Pair." The slogan refers to WDVE (102.5) DJs Jim Krenn and Randy Baumann, and the billboard promotes their morning show.

It also echoes the title of their latest CD release, "What a Pair," which features best-of bits from the morning show. The CD cover pictured the morning hosts seated at a bar, looking up at a stripper.

Some local motorists have found the ads offensive, decrying them as smut and sexual harassment and not exactly what people want their children to see. These motorists, some of whom have been prominent in local letters to the editor columns, argue that radio companies should understand that while offensive content on the radio can be switched off, there's no such choice with outdoor advertising.

The campaign's largely male target audience isn't as likely to find the ads offensive. This was, after all, the same morning show that gave away breast implants during a promotion last year.

"Our listeners have come to understand this is our nature," says Clear Channel Communications regional vice president John Rohm. "Our audience ranges from the guy who carries a lunch pail to work to the CEO starting up his Mercedes. The common denominator is they're men and this is sex appeal."

Reaction to the billboards, which went up around a month ago, has been "moderate," Rohm says. "We've certainly done things in the past that have stirred more of a frenzy than this."

The image, he says, is no more explicit than the cover of a Cosmopolitan magazine, which is "at every checkout counter in America," or a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

"We respect and appreciate the opinions and positions of all those people who don't agree with us," Rohm says. But, he adds, "We're in the business of free speech and free expression."

The company placed 11 of the signs in the metro area. Two have been defaced by spray paint.

The signs will be coming down at the end of the month but not in response to public protest, Rohm says.

Adrian McCoy covers radio for the Post-Gazette.

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