RadioWaves: 2/12/16

NFL Silences Super Bowl Mentions

I honestly thought he was joking.

I was at the local gym talking with someone after a workout, who mentioned the National Football League’s absolute protection of the name “Super Bowl” and the way that radio stations are afraid to even say the game by name for fear of being sued.

That just wouldn’t happen, I thought to myself. I must have misunderstood.

Turns out, he was right. There ARE some stations, owners and DJs afraid to mention the game by name. Maybe most of them. I hadn’t noticed listening, but in checking over websites such as The Sound (100.3 FM) at, “Super Bowl” is indeed not always mentioned. In its place: “the big game.”

Why the fear? The NFL has a lot of money tied up in sponsorships and endorsements and doesn’t want the “Super Bowl” name used if it would weaken the brand, such as if a station ran a promotion that even hinted any direct tie to the NFL.

The methods they use to enforce their intellectual property border on — if not actually becoming –on thuggery. Every year the league sends out letters spelling out what can and can’t be said in advertisements and promotions. In 2006 it made good on threats by sending cease and desist letters to Clear Channel Communications (now iHeart Media) stations across the country, arguing that their Super Bowl ticket giveaway campaigns violated NFL trademarks.

In a more famous case that actually proved the pettiness of the NFL, the league forced the cancellation of a church Super Bowl watching party, due to the church using the Super Bowl name in advertisements, asking for donations to see the game, and planning to show the game on a television larger than 55 inches.

And while none of these would — in my opinion — stand up in court, it costs money to defend yourself, and few organizations have more money than the NFL. So “big game” it is, even though the NFL tried — unsuccessfully — to trademark that too.

Not everyone is afraid, by the way. I did note that KLOS (95.5 FM) made mention of Lady Gaga singing our national anthem at the Super Bowl on its home page (

Good thing national treasures that actually matter, such as the names of things inside Yosemite Park, could never be trademarked by some unscrupulous company in order to demand money for their fair use. Oh, wait …

Bad Dates

No not Valentines dates. But it was this weekend in 1987 that the legendary KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) played its last song; the air staff having been fired the week before. And this weekend in 1986 is when KEZY (now KGBN, 1190 AM) switched off album rock for all-news, a format that lasted about 20 minutes as I recall. The KMET change became known as the Valentine’s Day Massacre; both resulted in the loss of once-popular stations.

Canned Tuna

Charlie Tuna is one of the two featured DJs on ReelRadio.Com this week, as an uncut aircheck of him on KHJ (930 AM) from February 27, 1970 was found and uploaded. A small donation is required to hear the recording, but it is well worth it. Tuna is spot on with quick wit and legendary pipes; if you want to hear “oldies” as they are supposed to sound (before they were oldies), along with great personality and amazing station production, this is it.

This Sunday is also the date that curator Richard Irwin is supposed to let ReelRadio fans know will happen with the site, as Irwin plans to move and may not be able to update weekly as he has done since 1996.