Jon Bon Jovi and the band Bon Jovi face the radio equivalent of a prevent defense in Buffalo.
The region’s top three radio groups – Entercom, Cumulus and Townsquare Media – that own 10 FM music stations have stopped playing Bon Jovi songs here in a protest of the belief that the Toronto group he has aligned with may buy the Buffalo Bills and eventually move them north.
The reason for local radio’s way of making a statement less crass, but certainly equally as effective as Andre Reed’s R-rated comment directed at Bon Jovi last week, is simple, explained Entercom General Manager Greg Ried.
He said Entercom’s WTTS-FM, Star 102.5, stopped playing Bon Jovi’s tunes weeks ago after getting complaints.
“There is a saying in radio: ‘You only get hurt from what you air and not from what you don’t air,’ ” explained Ried. “The listeners don’t want to hear it, and we listen to them.”
Ried added that the other two FM Entercom stations. WKSE-FM and WLKK 107.7 Alternative Buffalo, wouldn’t have played Bon Jovi anyway because his songs don’t fit their formats.
Local radio certainly wasn’t about to change its tune after reading the letter carried in Sunday’s Buffalo News that Bon Jovi wrote to Bills fans in a public relations move that appears to have backfired.
To adjust the words in his 1980s hit “Runaway,” the reaction to the letter indicated that he was “living in another world tryin’ to get his message through. No one heard a single word he wrote. They should have seen in his eyes what was going around in his head.”
John Hager, the program director of two Cumulus stations, 97 Rock and Sports Radio 1270 The Fan, said the group’s local FM stations have stopped playing Bon Jovi as well. Besides 97 Rock, Cumulus owns WEDG-FM, The Edge (103.3) and WHTT-FM (104.1).
Rich Chiaino, general manager of the local Townsquare Media stations, WBUF-FM, WJYE-FM and WYRK-FM and WBLK-FM, said a former brand manager suggested WBUF, 92.9, which is called Jack FM, start a Ban Bon Jovi Summer. The station declared itself a Bon Jovi-Free Zone in early June.
Jack FM, which carries songs of the 1980s, is the Townsquare station with a format that would have most likely carried Bon Jovi tunes before he was interested in buying the Bills. WJYE also might have carried a song on occasion, Chiaino said. Neither station carries them now.
“We wanted to support Western New York in keeping the Bills here,” said Chiaino.
He wasn’t impressed by the rocker’s letter to Bills fans.
“The letter did not change the way we feel,” said Chiaino. “My first reaction was it seemed insincere.”
The acknowledgment of a Bon Jovi-free zone on Western New York’s airwaves came the same day one of the region’s biggest boosters made his feelings known.
“Dear NFL: Please only consider bids for the Buffalo Bills that make sure the team remains in Buffalo for the rest of eternity so we can win that Super Bowl and get that dark cloud away from us forever,” Luke Russert said in a video, which the Buffalo Fan Alliance released Monday night and was posted on YouTube.
“It’s so, so important for the Bills to stay in Buffalo,” continued Russert, clad in a blue Bills polo shirt.
“All the NFL owners know that, they should know that. Keep the team in Buffalo: The town deserves it, the people deserve it. Go Bills!”
Russert’s video comes as no big surprise. He joined the Buffalo Fan Alliance’s advisory board in April and is a lifelong Bills fan, following in the footsteps of his father, Tim Russert, a South Buffalo native who famously ended his “Meet the Press” broadcasts with the words: “Go Bills!”
The video was the latest in what is becoming a chorus of voices using various media to make the same point about where the Bills belong.
A Bon Jovi fan, Chiaino of Townsquare Media was quick to respond when asked what Bon Jovi lyrics appropriately summarize his feelings.
“Hopefully, his chances of getting the Bills are livin’ on a prayer,” he concluded.
News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski contributed to this report. email: email@example.com