Update in Clear Channel controversy

BREAKING: Late Thursday afternoon, Clear Channel issued a statement saying that it will “remove the Exodus organization from its referral system and remove links to Exodus from its website.” The action was taken in response to community outcry over the controversy outlined in this blog.

Clear Channel’s statement issued on April 15:

We appreciate the efforts of all who shared their thoughts about recent reports concerning The Dawson McAllister Live program and the Hopeline call-in service administered by the Dawson McAllister Association. Feedback from our listeners and our communities is very important to us, and we welcome the opportunity to provide an update on developments regarding this matter.

Although Clear Channel, its Premiere Radio Networks and its radio stations are not involved in the operation of the Hopeline or the Association, we were concerned about how listener calls to the Hopeline that discussed sexuality were addressed and referrals callers were given to third parties. Clear Channel has a history of making significant commitments to diversity within our own company, and has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign for its policies regarding GLBT employees and business partners. After looking into this matter, we expressed to the producers of Dawson McAllister Live that Clear Channel listeners who call the Hopeline be treated in a manner consistent with our corporate commitments to diversity. As a result of those discussions, the Dawson McAllister Association has reviewed its training for Hopeline volunteers and will remove the Exodus organization from its referral system and remove links to Exodus from its website. As a broadcaster, Clear Channel is committed to providing our listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary, at that same time that we adhere to the highest standards as a responsible corporate citizen in our communities. We trust this clarifies our efforts to keep those principles in balance.

Original post below:
The Dawson McAllister Live radio show broadcasts each Sunday night, 10 p.m.–midnight (ET) on 165 radio stations in the United States. Dawson McAllister Live, syndicated by the media corporation Clear Channel, offers advice to young people, ages 13–29, who call in to discuss personal issues such as relationships, depression, addiction and other issues. Young callers typically speak with the show’s staff advisers for one-on-one conversations.

A young caller from Boston phoned the show on Sunday, April 11, to understand how the show handles calls from a person questioning his sexual identity. Greg Kimball, 22, was first asked whether he was raised religiously. When he replied that he was not, the adviser commented that it is “quite common for teenagers raised without church to question their sexuality.” The adviser compared homosexuality to alcoholism and pornography, finally saying that homosexuality is as grave a sin as adultery or murder, according to Kimball.

When Kimball made a second call to Dawson McAllister Live to speak with a second adviser, the staff adviser referred him to Exodus International, a Christian-based organization that engages in religious-based so-called reparative therapy to change one’s sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

Hear one conversation that Greg Kimball had with an adviser from Dawson McAllister Live here.

The Boston Globe story about Greg Kimball’s experience is here.

Read the Task Force report on ‘ex-gay’ organizations that target youth here.

Please take action today and contact the executives at Clear Channel. Tell them that LGBT young people need and deserve resources that support them, not organizations that shame, humiliate and degrade them.

Make your voice heard: contact Clear Channel’s CEO Mark Mays at 210.832.3306 or the main number at 210.822.2828.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Thousands of young people tune in to Dawson McAllister Live because the show saturates 165 media markets every Sunday evening. Advice and help resources for young people are too few, and doubtless many LGBT and questioning youth are among the listeners. Dawson McAllister Live and its corporate parent, Clear Channel, have a responsibility to give young people reliable and responsible resources to help them work through issues that youth face, including youth who are grappling with their sexual orientation and gender identity. Clear Channel and Dawson McAllister Live do not merely do a disservice to their LGBT and questioning callers; they literally endanger their lives and increase their vulnerability by referring them to the notorious snake oil salesmen at Exodus International. Exodus and ‘ex-gay’ ministries that preach ‘pray the gay away’ have been repeatedly debunked by the Task Force and other reputable organizations, including the American Psychological Association.”