Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg recently did an interview on a Southern-based radio show — but then it was banned from airing.
Buttigieg sat down with radio host Blair Garner in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday (17 July) while visiting the city on a campaign stop. Garner has a self-titled radio show that reaches over 150 stations nationwide.
‘[Blair] has a big audience,’ Buttigieg campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith told HuffPost. ‘And it’s an audience that doesn’t typically hear directly from Democratic candidates for president.’
Then Cumulus Media, a broadcasting company, blocked the segment from airing.
Why did they do this?
Garner planned to air the interview on Monday (21 July). In an email to other affiliates on Friday (19 July), Garner confirmed a producer would provide alternative segments in case any affiliate did not want to air the interview.
‘It is not, in any way shape or form, my intention for our show to become political,’ he added in the email. ‘But because someone clearly saw the value of our listeners, I felt secure in affording him this opportunity.’
Only hours later, he sent another email saying the interview would not air at all.
Garner said he was ‘proud’ of the segment and would have accepted any politician’s interest in the show, including Donald Trump.
A spokesperson for Cumulus Media said the decision not the air the interview was because of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) equal-time rule.
This rule states that any radio or television show must offer equal time to any opposing-view political candidate who requests it.
‘The effects of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule are widely understood and considered whenever these types of issues arise,’ added the spoksesperson.
Not all is lost with the interview
Garner announced the ban of the interview on Twitter, but added it is available on Soundcloud.
My interview with @PeteButtigieg. The only candidate who asked to be on my show. My employer decided I couldn't air it – but I did get permission to post it on my personal Soundcloud here: https://t.co/Sqi0bOTyQ1 @Lis_Smith pic.twitter.com/0K88w3cA49
— Blair Garner (@blairgarner) July 19, 2019
Though it’s still available for listening, some are criticizing Cumulus for pulling the interview at all.
Kurt Bardella, who publishes the country music newsletter The Morning Hangover, was in the studio the day of Buttigieg’s interview.
‘It is an incredible act of cowardice for a company who’s slogan is “Where Every Voice Matters” to censor an interview with someone who, for the first time ever, thought it was worthwhile to engage the country music audience in a conversation about the future of our country,’ said Bardella.
‘Country radio should be on the frontlines of breaking stereotypes and promoting diversity of thought.’