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, putting the country’s largest media company in hot water.
Trimmer claimed in an email that the radio station is “against the need for corporate diversity programs” and that it would be “disingenuous for [KFYI talent] to undertake an endorsement/interview spot to promote such programs.”
Thinkzilla Consulting, a globally famous Black woman-owned brand engagement firm that just three years ago expanded to Scottsdale, Arizona, was rejected. Dr. Velma Trayham, the company’s founder and CEO, said she was trying to buy an ad with the station that emphasized the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local Arizona business community. Dr. Trayham says she never anticipated to hear anti-diversity and discriminatory advertising comments from an iHeartMedia station as the leader of an organization that assists corporations and African American and minority business owners bridge the gap.
“To be honest, we were startled and dismayed that a corporation would take this stance and refuse to engage in a debate about diversity because they don’t believe it is a good fit for their brands,” she added.
According to a recent McKinsey study, diverse leadership teams increase profitability by 33% when compared to their peers. Dr. Trayham’s purpose was to share this knowledge with local listeners, along with suggestions for improving diversity efforts. Trimmer, on the other hand, was dismissive of her efforts, which went against iHeartMedia’s own Diversity in Radio Programming Policy, which is detailed in the company’s ESG report: https://cdn.iheartmedia.com/documents/ESG/iHeartMedia.pdf.
The timing of these allegations could not have been more inconvenient for the media conglomerate. The company-owned commercial station’s message is in stark contrast to the widely famous “iHeartRadio: Living Black!” event, which celebrates the significance of Black culture in America.
“We do NOT believe iHeartMedia leverages Black History Month and the skill of Black artists to further their financial goals while simultaneously allowing 550 KFYI to deny advertisement based on bigotry and anti-diversity messaging,” Dr. Trayham stated. “This is a blatant case of discrimination, and seeing it in 2022 is concerning.” If anything is ever going to change, we need to work together, exchange messages and stories about the significance of diversity, and encourage new ideas.”