Local radio stations run hateful anti-trans ad from far-right group | LGBTQ | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local radio stations run hateful anti-trans ad from far-right group

UPDATE, Oct. 18: According to new reporting from QBurgh and Sue Kerr, community opposition to the radio ad in question is mounting. QBurgh reports that local nonprofit TransYouniting and the Pittsburgh Pride Group, organizers of Pittsburgh Pride since 2021, have banned seven radio stations that have "continued to run the ads or failed to respond to community criticism" from next year's event.

“These harmful and dangerous ads deliberately put our community in danger. How many more trans folk will be shamed, harmed, or murdered because these radio stations chose to accept the money to run these ads,” Dena Stanley, founder of TransYouniting, tells QBurgh. “They chose to take money from a hate group so now we choose not to accept their money, support, or coverage.”

The Pittsburgh Pride ban applies to KDKA Radio, WAMO 107.3, 102.5 WDVE, WISH 99.7, the X 105.9, Q 92.9, and Y108.

This morning, Sue Kerr also published an open letter to Pittsburgh on-air radio talent from a local father of a Black trans teen girl on her blog, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondent. Sean O'Donnell, the author of the letter, and his family were targets of transphobic harassment from their neighbor earlier this year.

"This hateful and factually inaccurate ad places every trans child in Pittsburgh in danger," O'Donnell writes.

This weekend, at least six local radio stations have aired a paid ad that local advocates have called out as hateful and transphobic.

The ad, which is reportedly running in some instances with a disclaimer that it does not represent the views of the station, repeats familiar right-wing messaging about gender-affirming medical care for trans children, incorrectly claiming that Joe Biden and the “new left” are forcing children to transition against their will.

The ad says it was paid for by America First Legal Foundation, an organization billing itself as the conservative answer to the ACLU that was founded last year by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller.

According to local LGBTQ activist Sue Kerr, the ad has run on several local radio stations, including “WDVE 102.5, WAMO 107.3, WISH 99.7, WKST 96.1, WLTJ 92.9, and WDSY 108.”

Pittsburgh online LGBTQ outlet QBurgh calls it “the most hateful and deliberately harmful advertisement to air in the Pittsburgh media market in years.” Kerr says that she heard from the parent of a trans child who was unexpectedly confronted with the hateful ad while listening to 92.9 in the car.

Although iHeartMedia, Audacy, and Steel City Media, the owners of the radio stations listed above, did not respond to requests for comment by press time, at least one local station has ceased running the ad.

Tall Cathy of 96.1 KISS tweeted in response to listener criticism that 96.1 is no longer running the ads. She did not say what prompted the station's decision and has not yet responded to a request for comment, but Mikey and Bob from KISS' popular morning show publicly replied to QBurgh's Instagram post about the anti-trans ads, saying multiple on-air personalities at their radio station called for the ads to be removed.

"As soon as all of us on air at the station heard it running, we did whatever we could do in our power to get them off the air and whatever consequences came with our actions," posted Mikey. "I personally want NO part of spreading a harmful hateful message against any group of people."

The radio ad reportedly only began running locally in the last few days, according to QBurgh, but it was also aired early last week in Tennessee. Board members of Miller’s America First Legal Foundation have also been linked to racist and transphobic ads in Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, California, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, and Georgia, according to reporting by OpenSecrets.

We will continue to update this story with responses received from the stations.

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