For as much as the Washington NFL team would like the debate regarding its name to go away, it won’t.
And now the debate has extended to the question of whether two local radio stations have shied away from running ads against the name.
WJFK and WPGC have both declined to broadcast ads purchased by the Oneida Indian Nation. CBS Radio Washington, which owns the two stations, explained its decision.
“Based on the amount of on-air debate, adding paid commercials from one side is not something that we think is beneficial for this discussion and for our audience,” senior vice president of CBS Radio Washington said via email, which Oneida Indian Nation forwarded to the Washington Post.
Said Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter in response, via a statement released by the group: “It is unfortunate and un-American that the station permits the team to slander Native Americans on the public airwaves with the use of the r-word, but doesn’t permit Native Americans to use the same airwaves to object to the use of a racial slur. We will not be silent mascots. This issue is not going away, as evidenced by the growing and diverse support this effort gains by the day.”
From our perspective, the decision not to run the ad, which can be heard here, makes no sense. Plenty of radio stations run advertisements that relate to topics discussed on the air. Political campaigns provide one of the biggest sources of media revenue, and political campaign ads routinely flood the airwaves — especially on stations that routinely discuss the issues and candidates who have purchased the advertisements.
Besides, why turn down the primary source of revenue for terrestrial radio stations? The Redskins can buy ads, too, and the ongoing discourse could end up generating plenty of money for the stations. There’s no reason to say “no” to those opportunities.
The more likely explanation, in our opinion, is that the Redskins somehow pressured CBS Radio Washington to steer clear of the advertisements after becoming aware that the ads would be broadcast. (Oneida Indian Nation announced plans for the ads on Friday.) Alternatively, it’s possible that CBS Radio Washington decided on its own that it didn’t want to alienate the team, which could lead to reduced access and other forms of potential retaliation — such as team owner Daniel Snyder buying the stations and firing everyone. (That’s a joke, even though he does own radio stations.)
Regardless of the real reason(s), we don’t buy the stated reason. And we wonder whether the decision not to run the ads will now become one of the topics debated by the on-air employees at WJFK and WPGC.