The largest media company in the nation is in hot water after Aaron Trimmer, the Program Director at KFYI 550 AM News Talk, a commercial radio station owned by iHeartMedia and licensed to serve the greater Phoenix Arizona area, blatantly refused to run ads on-air promoting a local Black-owned business’ initiative about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
In an email from Trimmer himself regarding an on-air endorsement during Black History Month, he stated that the radio station is “in opposition to the need for corporate diversity programs” and that it would be “disingenuous for [KFYI talent] to conduct an endorsement/ interview spot to promote such programs.”
The business that was rejected was Thinkzilla Consulting, a globally recognized Black woman-owned brand engagement firm that expanded to Scottsdale, Arizona just three years ago. The company’s founder and CEO, Dr. Velma Trayham, said she was attempting to purchase an advertisement with the station that focused on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local Arizona business community. As the leader of an organization that helps to bridge the gap between corporations and African American and minority business owners, Dr. Trayham says she never expected to receive anti-diversity and discriminatory advertising comments from an iHeartMedia affiliate.
“Frankly, we were shocked and disheartened that a corporation would have this stance and reject a conversation on diversity because they do not feel like it’s a good fit for their brands,” she said.
A recent study by McKinsey noted that diverse executive teams improve their profitability by 33 percent compared to their peers. Dr. Trayham’s goal was to share this information along with tips for enhancing diversity efforts with local listeners. However, her efforts were sternly rejected by Trimmer who actually went against iHeartMedia’s very own Diversity in Radio Programming Policy as shared in the company’s ESG report: https://cdn.iheartmedia.com/documents/ESG/iHeartMedia.pdf
These accusations could not have come at a worse time for the media conglomerate. The widely recognized “iHeartRadio: Living Black!” event to celebrate the impact of Black culture in America is a stark contrast to the company-owned commercial station’s message.
“Black History Month is a time to honor diverse businesses, individuals, and contributions to our country’s diverse tapestry, and we do NOT believe iHeartMedia uses Black History Month and the talent of Black artists to further their business goals while simultaneously allowing 550 KFYI to deny advertisement based on discrimination and anti-diversity messaging,” Dr. Trayham declared. “This is a clear case of discrimination, which is troubling to see in 2022. We need to work together, to share messages and stories about the importance of diversity, and to welcome new ideas if anything is ever going to change.”