Gay presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg did an interview on a country radio show based in Tennessee. However, the interview was subsequently blocked from airing, according to the Huffington Post.
Blair Garner, the host of a self-titled Nash FM radio show that reaches more than 150 radio stations, interviewed Buttigieg while he was in Nashville for his campaign tour.
While Garner’s show, being on a country station, isn’t the normal platform for Democratic presidential candidates, it was important to Buttigieg to reach voters everywhere, according to his campaign spokesperson Lis Smith.
“We’ve made it a point on this campaign to go outside the traditional political media bubble – that’s why we reached out to Blair about an interview,” Smith said. “[Blair] has a big audience and it’s an audience that doesn’t typically hear directly from Democratic candidates for president.”
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) July 17, 2019
In the interview, Buttigieg talked about meeting country music icons and the tendency of the Democratic party to not reach out to typically right-leaning communities. However, his interview was blocked from airing by Cumulus Media, one of the largest broadcasting companies in the country.
The interview was planned to air on Monday (July 21) and in an email sent Friday (July 19), Garner said he planned to air two segments of the interview on his show and then post the whole interview in a podcast later on. For affiliates that didn’t wish to air the interview, the show’s producers would provide alternative segments to fill the time.
“It is not, in any way, shape, or form, my intention for our show to become political,” Garner said in the email. “But because someone clearly saw the value of our listeners, I felt secure in affording him this opportunity.”
However, that changed soon after as Cumulus Media told Garner he was prohibited from airing the interview at all.
“I’ve been told that the interview cannot air,” he said in a second email. “I was very proud that a presidential candidate of any party valued our show to the degree that they would ask to be a guest.”
A spokesperson for Cumulus Media said that the decision was made “because of the large number of political candidates currently in the race.”
“The decision was made by local programming management based solely on concerns related to the application of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule,” the spokesperson continued. “The effects of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule are widely understood and considered whenever these types of issues arise.”
The Equal Time Rule states that radio and television stations have to “treat legally qualified political candidates equally when it comes to selling or giving away time.”
“Just to be clear, I would have also enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to have any candidate, including President Trump, as a guest,” Garner said. “It was simply that Mayor Pete showed up and made the ask.”
While the interview did not air on the radio show, Garner received permission to post it to his personal 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
Although it’s still available for fans to listen to, publisher of the country music newsletter The Morning Hangover Kurt Bardella criticized Cumulus for pulling the interview.
“It is an incredible act of cowardice for a company whose 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,” he said. “Country radio should be on the frontlines of breaking stereotypes and promoting diversity of thought.”