Cops stop radio station publicity stunt
Publication Date: Friday Jan 24, 1997

EAST PALO ALTO: Cops stop radio station publicity stunt

Nude woman prevented from climbing billboard in East Palo Alto

Wild 107 is a popular and lively FM radio station, with sharp talk and tunes during morning drive time. But East Palo Alto police were not amused by the station's latest publicity stunt.

The station was thwarted in its attempt last Friday morning to have a nude woman climb up on a billboard in East Palo Alto overlooking the Bayshore Freeway.

As part of the publicity stunt, the woman was to change a number on the billboard indicating the number of people "dissed," or disrespected, on the air. Someone had been changing the numbers each day that week. But last Friday's event was unique.

As Police Chief Wes Bowling put it, all the woman was wearing was green and purple paint.

Since a lot of morning commuters were driving by on the Bayshore Freeway at the time, there were fears that the sight of a naked woman on the billboard might cause some drivers to be distracted, which could cause a safety problem.

Bowling told the radio station employees that if the woman went up on the billboard without any clothes, she would be arrested and charged with indecent exposure, and they would be arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, which is a felony.

Bob Visotcky, the vice president and general manager of Wild 107, told the story slightly differently. "She was told she couldn't go up (on the billboard) in her bra and panties," Visotcky said. "The East Palo Alto Police Department didn't allow her to go up."

The publicity stunt was advertised on the radio station, and more than 100 people showed up near the billboard on East Bayshore Road. Many of them jeered and yelled at the police.

Because of the noisy crowd, Bowling said the department's night shift was held over and extra officers were called in for crowd control. Bowling also called in mutual aid requests to the Palo Alto and Menlo Park police and to the California Highway Patrol, all of whom sent officers to help.

As a result of the incident, the East Palo Alto Police Department incurred overtime costs, and the City Council told Bowling Tuesday night to send the bill to the radio station. The exact cost was not known on Tuesday.

The radio station wasn't amused at being billed for the extra police.

"That was their decision," Visotcky said of the decision to call in extra officers. "I think there are bigger problems to solve than a lady on a billboard."

"He can send me the bill, and I'll send it right to my attorneys," he added.

Wild 107 bought the billboard space last year to publicize its popular morning show, which Visotcky said is the top-rated morning show in the Bay Area for 18- to 34-year-old listeners.

The station didn't pick the billboard because it was in East Palo Alto, he said. "It's a good billboard which happens to be in East Palo Alto. That was the best location we could come up with."

--Don Kazak 

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