Radio Free Babs

Barbara Carlson says she's ready for prime time, but some local radio stations would rather keep her off the air.

IT'S SUNDAY MORNING, and while the rest of the city is crawling out of bed to watch the Vikings lose to the Packers, Barbara Carlson's campaign manager, Brian Sweeney, is at campaign headquarters making cold calls. Football is for wimps. "There are only 41 days left," he says into his ever-present cell phone.

It's crunch time and Sweeney is pulling out all the stops; ads in USA Today, daily fax attacks and phone calls, phone calls, phone calls. The issues are education and crime, not enough and too much. And just in case you're a Minnesota DFLer, Sweeney wants you to know Carlson is a transitional candidate. Vote for her and you get rid of Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (he knows you don't like her). Then go ahead and elect someone else next time around. He doesn't mind. He just wants to win.

On Thursday he says the radio ads will start--30-second spots to remind voters that Carlson isn't just a former talk-show host, she's a seasoned politician who served six years on the Minneapolis City Council as minority leader. A week later, she'll talk about crime. The week after that, who knows? There's so much to say in so little time.

First, though, Sweeney must convince the majority of radio stations owned by Chancellor Broadcasting to air Carlson's commercials--stations which broadcast to her prime demographic, 35 and up. As of today, only Chancellor's K102 and KFAN have agreed to sell their airtime. "God bless them," Sweeney says. "They decided to buck the corporate...whatever." KDWB, Cities 97, and Rock 100.3 (Howard's house) have a policy against running local political ads. "There's a lot of laws you have to follow and a lot of paperwork," the stations' Vice President and General Manager Marc Kalman says. "And no sales result from that work. It's just not worth it."

 
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