Fort Worth resident Rodney Hill was listening to Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket the other day when an announcer said the news program was sponsored by the Tarrant Regional Water District.
“It was weird,” Hill said. “Why does the water district need to advertise? They’ve got a captive audience. They’re not going to build a customer base. You have no choice where you buy your water.”
The thought of using public money to pay for water district radio spots seemed so bizarre that Hill called Static to complain. “I’ve never heard of any other water district buying ads,” he said.
The complaint was a familiar one. Two months ago, another resident had called to complain about the water district sponsoring news programs on WBAP 820-AM. The water district is a controversial public entity that gets plenty of criticism for the way it conducts business as it provides water to almost 2 million people each day. Paying to sponsor news programs is rife with potential ethics problems.
District spokesman Chad Lorance denied it was happening. “We don’t have any reason to sponsor news,” strictly for the district, he said.
The water district had purchased spots to promote its conservation program. The radio station was supposed to say that the news was sponsored by SaveNorthTexasWater.com.
The WBAP staff had erred, Lorance said, and “It has been corrected.”
But it hasn’t. Static wondered why another radio station would make the same mistake all these weeks later. What’s causing the miscommunication?
“I don’t know,” Lorance said.
Seems like if a radio station accepts money (especially taxpayer money) in exchange for plugging a water conservation program, the station ought to get the information right or return the money. The Ticket’s sales manager didn’t respond to an interview request by press time.
A Dirtier Dousing
Speaking of water, the internet is abuzz with people dumping it on their heads to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. No offense to that very good cause, but Static has come up with a Fort Worth-specific version of the ice bucket challenge: the frack water dare.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses millions of gallons of water per well. On the front end there’s fracking fluid, the water-based chemical cocktail injected into the shale, and at the back end there is flowback. Gas industry leaders keep assuring the public that their disposal methods for the stuff are safe and that not a single aquifer or water well has ever been contaminated. But those silly people who can light up the water that comes out of their faucet keep casting doubt.
Static thought, why not ask members of the Fort Worth drilling pep squad to dump a bucket of the allegedly uncontaminated water on their heads, and settle the matter of whether it’s safe once and for all? Static is issuing the challenge to Julie Wilson, the former mouthpiece for Chesapeake Energy, who propagated the notion that frack water was safe, and former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who cleared a path for the drillers to come to town.
And what good cause does this promote? Why, raising money for all the families who continue to suffer serious health problems from gas drilling air pollution or who have lost their farms, their livestock, or the use of their land to the industry’s water pollution.