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Media Wars: WPRO Launches Promo Using Progressive Blog’s Name

Monday, February 11, 2013


WPRO’s new sponsor-based initiative uses the name of the leading RI progressive blog. The blog, RI Future, has a rich history in RI politics and is owned and operated by WPRO’s former digital reporter, Bob Plain.

WPRO 630 recently created a sponsored web page emblazoned with the banner “Rhode Island's Future.” The page spotlights a local business and appears to have the mission of positively identifying local, Rhode Island commerce that is flourishing. Beneath the brief framing of a local success are splashed logos of businesses, large and small, that apparently contribute to WPRO 630. Basically, it is an advertisement page within WPRO's Web site.

The revenue driving initiative entitled, “Rhode Island’s Future” is a paid online, on-air sponsorship program. WPRO 630 is owned by the second largest radio group in the United States, Atlanta-based Cumulus. Last year, Cumulus laid off dozens of local staff at WPRO AM, WPRO FM, B101, and HOT106.

The radio station and the progressive blog have squared off in the past, especially over certain alleged indiscretions quoted to the site's editor by on-air shock jock John DePetro. Has bad blood between talk radio and liberal news reporting inspired the radio station’s web division to try nabbing web readers by not so subtly imitating the blog site's identity? Plain, himself, has come out publicly critical of the station's policies and “on air talent” in the past.

Corporate cam up with it

Current owner and editor of RI Future, Bob Plain, when asked about the situation stated “They say imitation is the highest form of flattery but my guess is this was inadvertent. Probably someone from corporate came up with the name who has no idea that Rhode Island's Future has stood for the local left since 2005.” Plain was one of about 20 laid off by WPRO last year.

However, Rhode Island Future is the best known progressive political opinion sites in the state. Founded by political activist Matt Jerzyk – now a member of the City of Providence’s law department. Both NEA union leader, Pat Crowley, and progressive Brian Hull, now a municipal planner in Boston, have previously owned the site.

WPRO's news office did not comment on the Web page. Messages left with several members of the business office, resulted with no comments as of yet as to whether the overlap in names was deliberate, accidental or even possibly infringement.




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