Move comes after Bunn requests, receives equal time on station
District 39 State Senate Republican candidate Karin Housley has voluntarily pulled her radio show from KLBB-AM 1220 after District 39 Democratic candidate Julie Bunn requested equal time on the station.
The Communications Act states that if a legally qualified candidate has a show on a broadcast station, the opposing candidate can request and must be offered time in an equivalent spot at an equivalent rate going back seven days.
“We, as a broadcast station, did not want dueling political parties on our station and we came to a mutual agreement with Ms. Housley to remove her show,” said KLBB station manager Dan Smith.
“We’ve had a lot of questions about whether she was forced out or backed out but depending on how you read the letter, Ms. Bunn did give us an ultimatum to provide equal air time or remove the show,” Smith added.
The station offered Bunn equal time and she accepted. Her show will air Saturday morning and the station has no involvement in program content.
“Karin Housley, evidently, subsequently pulled her show off the air. She was not asked to do so, according to Dan Smith, and as far as I understand, was under no obligation to do so,” said Bunn in e-mail. “My understanding of the law is that as long as the station has made the equal time offer to me, Ms. Housley could remain on the air as long as she wishes.”
“Dan Smith would’ve kept it on but I offered to leave so KLBB would not be forced to air Julie Bunn’s show,” Housley said. “Going forward the station would be required to provide equal access or remove my show from the air, so I said fine, I’ll remove my show from the air to keep the station from providing the free air time to Bunn.”
According to Smith the air-time isn’t free.
“We have to give (Bunn) equal air time of 50 minutes minus top of the hour news and community updates, and the same rate of pay as well,” Smith said, although he declined to say what that rate of pay was.
“We are not a political radio station. Most people listen to our station for the music. We do touch on some local, regional and national news but it is not our main focus,” Smith said. “Housley’s show never was a political program. It focused on community events and local business owners.”
Housley said she was sad to pull the show.
“I covered events and businesses in the local community for free,” Housley said. “And it probably would’ve been smarter to consult the radio station and do some background research before she (Bunn) fired off the letter,”
Housley reported Sept. 1 on her Facebook page that the show pulled that morning featured Scott Zahran’s upcoming “Paint the Water” event at Pioneer Park, a conversation with Marcia Laces about the St. Croix Valley Women’s Expo and chefs John Schiltz and Shawn Smalley discussing the upcoming Vine Valley Harvest Throwdown fundraiser for Canvas Health. She added she felt the real losers in the situation were the local businesses.
It should be noted that in 2010, when Housley was running against Sen. Katie Seiben, Housley continued with her radio program throughout the race.
“I never talked about my campaign ever, even in 2010 when I was running against my opponent, Katie Sieben. She must have thought that it wasn’t a big enough deal,” Housley said. “We did talk about current events like the DNC and RNC recently but not our political views and we never mentioned the senate race ever.”
Smith said that the show that will fill Housley’s spot will be done by the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce and have a similar format to Housley’s show, focusing on community events, the St. Croix Valley and highlight businesses and members of that organization. The show airs a week Sept. 15.
When asked whether Housley’s show would resume after the election, Smith said “We haven’t discussed that and that decision may depend on the election results.”
Bunn’s show, “The Julie Bunn Show: Conversations about the Future of our State and Communities” will air on KLBB Saturday morning from 10:06 a.m. to 11 a.m.
She will be interviewing Mayor Ken Harycki and Stillwater Area Chamber Executive Director Todd Streeter about the future of downtown Stillwater.
“I chose the future of downtown Stillwater as my initial subject for the show, because now that we know the St. Croix River Crossing will be built, and that several new bike trails are planned to link to the Stillwater area, downtown Stillwater may undergo many changes,” Bunn said. “Also I was very interested to learn more about the Community Symposium Regional Growth Opportunities project the chamber spearheaded this past year and link it to a future vision for downtown Stillwater. I think it will be an exciting program.”