August 12th, 2006

Kids Need Radio Silence

Boston Herald

A Needham-based company is trying to sign up school systems to run its radio programs on school buses. The idea is so dubious it seems to be falling of its own weight, but for good measure the state Education Department should weigh in with a prohibition if need be.

BusRadio has asked a reported 22 school committees in Massachusetts to run its programs, which the company claims would lead to more kids remaining in their seats and would insulate kids from raunchy lyrics and DJs on regular stations.

Potential advertisers are being offered a chance to land their spiels (eight minutes per hour) in the captive ears of desirable teen and ``tween’’ (pre-teen) markets.

Any revenue to the schools is not worth admitting another commercial force into the school day. Kids already are targets of far more advertising pitches than they should be. School bus radios are under the control of the drivers; if anybody is listening to objectionable stuff, school committees know where to go - the drivers.

Actually, we have doubts whether radios should be playing on school buses at all. It’s easier to finish your homework without radio babble competing for your attention.

School committees in Monson and Mansfield approved deals with BusRadio, then reversed course after objections from parents. A test run in Shrewsbury this spring reportedly found elementary school students the only ones in favor. Students in middle school complained about the music selections and high schoolers didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

An Oregon-based activist group, Commercial Alert, has written Gov. Romney to ask that he switch off BusRadio’s effort. We hope this is an issue to which he can respond with one of those ``I share your concern’’ form letters that doesn’t require anything further.

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