Cumulus Spikes Blair Garner’s Interview With Mayor Pete Buttigieg
By all accounts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's interview last week with Nashville-based syndicated radio host Blair Garner went off without a hitch.
By all accounts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s interview last week with Nashville-based syndicated radio host Blair Garner went off without a hitch. The two discussed reining in the rancor currently dominating political discourse and the Democratic hopeful even shared some personal anecdotes about country music superstars Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley — Garner’s show is geared towards country music fans, after all.
But the segment won’t air on Garner’s program, produced by radio giant Cumulus, which decided not to air the interview due to concerns that doing so would obligate the network to then offer airtime to all 25-or-so candidates for the Democratic nomination for president.
“Cumulus Nashville’s programming managers made the decision not to air Blair Garner’s pre-recorded interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg because of the large number of political candidates currently in this race,” Cumulus said in a statement. “The decision was made by local programming management based solely on concerns related to the application of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule. The effects of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule are widely understood and considered whenever these types of issues arise.”
The Blair Garner Show is syndicated nationally by Westwood One, which is owned and operated by Cumulus Media.
Buttigieg’s press secretary approached Garner about being a guest on his show, which is apolitical, as part of the combat veteran’s efforts to reach out to voters who may not typically vote for Democrats. The two spoke for about 20 minutes last week while the South Bend, Indiana mayor was in Music City on a campaign swing. Garner offered different versions of the interview to his many affiliates, stating that his team had made it clear during their correspondence with the mayor’s team that “our listeners were to be valued and appreciated. They are not to be dismissed, and are not to be seen as pawns.”
Following Cumulus’ decision to not air the segment, Garner released a statement saying he was “very proud that a presidential candidate of any party valued our show to the degree that they would ask” for an interview.
“Regardless of the outcome, it’s cool to know that the show was on the radar of someone on that level,” he said. “We must be doing something right. Just to be clear, I would have also enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to have any candidate, including President Trump, as a guest. It was simply that Mayor Pete showed up, and made the ask.”
On Friday, Garner posted a photo of himself with Buttigieg alongside a link to hear the interview. “The only candidate who asked to be on my show,” he wrote. “My employer decided I couldn’t air it — but I did get permission to post it on my personal Soundcloud.”
In a statement to The Hill, a Buttigieg spokesperson said: “It’s important to Pete to reach voters everywhere, and we’ve made it a point on this campaign to go outside the traditional political media bubble — that’s why we reached out to Blair about an interview. He has a big audience, and it’s an audience that doesn’t typically hear directly from Democratic candidates for president. It was a great discussion and we are obviously disappointed that Blair’s listeners won’t have the opportunity to hear it.”
My interview with @PeteButtigieg. The only candidate who asked to be on my show. My employer decided I couldn’t air it – but I did get permission to post it on my personal Soundcloud here: https://t.co/Sqi0bOTyQ1 @Lis_Smith pic.twitter.com/0K88w3cA49
— Blair Garner (@blairgarner) July 19, 2019