Would you burn $5,000, how about $10,000?

AMP Radio Burns 5000 Dollars

If you’ve been listening to 90.3 AMP Radio this week then you’ve come across people calling in to say, “You make me sick,” and, “Nothing personal against you but I hope your radio station gets shut down.” Why all of sudden is there a hate-on for AMP? It’s because of their newest contest called, “Bank It or Burn It.”

AMP Radio is known for its upbeat dance and pop music, but it is also known for its crazy antics like, “Swap Your Wife,” “The Panic Room,” and of course the Valentine’s Day marriage between two strangers.

AMP is calling this contest “the ultimate social experiment.” The contest asks Calgarians to either give away or burn a total of $15,000 in cash. Last Friday the votes were in and $5,000 was burned at Calgary’s Pet Heaven Crematorium. AMP posted a video of the process of burning the money. Crisp bills grouped together and ranging in value from $5 to $100 were laid out for the public to stare at on a table before nicely placing it into the incinerator. The video ended with showing the urn the money was placed in.

 Judging by the on-air callers, the AMP Facebook page, app and twitter account, many listeners seemed outraged by the contest — and yet it was listeners who voted to burn the money. AMP could not provide the exact numbers of how many people voted.

My perspective on this situation is a rather complex one because I am a second-year communications student majoring in journalism at Mount Royal University, but I am also a single mother. It is up to me to teach my daughter the difference between right and wrong.

Ethically, if my boss told me that the numbers were in and I had to burn $5,000 it would make me feel three things:
1. I’d feel an obligation to do my job and do what the public and my boss had asked me to do.
2. I’d feel so upset that I am a struggling single mother who could really use $5,000, but instead I am asked to burn it.
3. My daughter would know that there are homeless people who are out there starving (and mommy is often found giving them her pocket change), yet mommy is going to burn $5,000. Visually that is the equivalent to burning 1,194 happy meals from McDonald’s.

AMP Burning MoneyAMP Radio has already burned $5,000 in a recent contest and has plans to maybe burn $10,000 more.

Photo by: Scott Kingsmith

Ryan Lindsay, the AMP Radio morning show host, was the man who actually had to put the money in the incinerator and he says, “Seeing money burned like that is horrible. I don’t get paid that well. I have a wife on mat-leave and an 8-month-old son at home. We are struggling to make ends meet . . . but when your boss asks you to do something you do it. If not, you have no job.”

Lindsay says that voters just wanted to see if AMP would actually burn the money., “Never in our wildest dreams did we actually think people would side with burn it, but we stick to our word. If we say we’re going to do something we are going to do it”

Lindsay and I seem to agree on a couple of points, especially with what we hope happens next.

Lindsay says that he hopes listeners don’t make the same mistake twice. When they vote this week on what to do with the remaining $10,000. It will either be given away to a listener or will go straight to the incinerator, depending on how people vote on Twitter.

Working in the field of media is a complex job. It involves not only giving the masses information and entertainment, but it is also a business. And on the marketing side of things this may have been money well spent for AMP.

Lindsay says his boss is “ecstatic.”

“We’ve turned $5,000 into millions of dollars’ worth of advertising.”

Maybe it wasn’t AMP Radio’s plan to burn the money, but they have certainly received a lot of publicity for the stunt. Given the competitiveness of the communications field, it doesn’t hurt to have people talking about your media outlet. Good or bad, the numbers go up.

AMP Radio Burns MoneyKatie Summers and Ryan Lindsay preparing the $5,000 to go into the incinerator.

Photo courtesy of AMP RadioAs a mother, I still wonder why they couldn’t have sent the money to a charity instead. AMP should have anticipated this situation since there was always the option to burn it.

Kim Wright, storyteller for the non-profit organization Propellus, was surprised to hear they burned the money and says, “I believe whole-heartedly that you can’t call something a social experiment and not expect it to go either way.”

Wright starts talking about the devastating effects of the flood and says, “It’s a publicity stunt and it worked. Unfortunately it back fired on them, because they just burnt $5,000 that could have gone to any number of deserving places. To see all that need in our own community and our own backyard, and [then] to have that $5,000 and possibly another $10,000 go up in smoke is really hard to see.”

Calgary is still in a lot of need and I want my daughter to grow up to be one of those people who actually picks up a shovel and helps. It will be difficult to lead by example when there may be times I am put into morally conflicting situations in the communications field.

If I were in Lindsay’s shoes I would have burned the money because at the end of the day we sometimes have to do things we don’t like to at our jobs. I have had to scrub toilets at a Denny’s restaurant for a paycheque. One day I may be asked to cover a story I don’t want to cover. You can’t like everything your boss asks of you. And if you don’t do it, somebody else will.

Calgary Journal Reporter Jessica Brady is exploring media ethics as part of the Bachelor of Communication-Journalism degree at Mount Royal University.

What do you think of AMP radio’s contest?

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