WFAN is among the most popular radio stations broadcasting from New York City. Its sports talk format gives it a large male demographic of listeners who tune in to hear the latest news and opinions on their favorite sports teams. It is perfect for a company looking to sell fireworks for the Fourth of July. The only problem is fireworks are illegal to possess by most, if not all, of the radio station’s listening audience.
I am an avid listener to the WFAN radio station as I have a two-hour commute each way to and from work each day. I am a sports fan who enjoys the banter between the various hosts and the listeners mostly over the numerous professional sports teams that play in the New York/New Jersey area. While many times I will tune to another station at the first hint of a commercial, occasionally I will just sit through them as I navigate traffic.
It was during one of these times that I was a little shocked to hear a commercial for Pocono Fireworks. While I am not naive enough to think that fireworks are not obviously sold somewhere, I also know it is illegal to possess fireworks in the states of New York and New Jersey without special permits. Those permits are only issued to professionals in most cases.
Fireworks are banned in four states, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Massachusetts. New York laws state the possession of fireworks are illegal with a maximum fine of up to $250. However, if the fireworks are valued over $50 the offense is upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor with a $500 fine.
New Jersey’s laws are even tougher on the possession of fireworks. If you are caught using them the penalty is up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. An individual convicted of possession of fireworks with the intent to sell faces a fine of up to $7,500 and up to 18 months in jail.
Pocono Fireworks certainly knows fireworks are illegal to possess in New York and New Jersey. The lawyers for the WFAN should know the product being offered to their listeners is illegal. Yet the commercial is running on their airwaves.
Should we believe then with what everyone knows, and the fact that the audience of WFAN are primarily residents of states which ban the sale of fireworks that Pocono Fireworks is running the commercials in hope of luring these listeners to cross state lines into Pennsylvania for the possession of an illegal product. In addition does this make the radio station complicit in promoting an illegal activity?
The advertising dollar is not as easy to come by as it once was, but one has to wonder if a radio station as popular as WFAN really needs to run commercials from companies with a questionable motive. I just hope no one gets hurt from a firework bought from Pocono Fireworks by a listener of WFAN.