Jim Hightower On BusRadio

September 28, 2006

October 2006 | Hightower Lowdown

School Daze

by Jim Hightower

You know what’s wrong with kids today? They’re just not getting enough advertising in their lives.
Take school. Sure, there are ads in the hallways, on classroom televisions and even in some of the textbooks. But, I ask you, what about school buses? Yeah, I know that there are ads on the outside of many buses—but, hey, the kids are on the inside. And they’re just goofing off as they ride to school in the morning and as they return home after school, letting a prime advertising opportunity go to waste.

Not for long, though. Two professional ad hucksters have had a brainstorm that they hope will blow more ads into the developing minds of school children everywhere. Calling it BusRadio, their dream is to pipe an hour-long program—including eight minutes of advertising—into the buses, which they say will be “a unique and effective way to reach the highly sought after teen and tween market.”

Yeah, get ‘em while they’re captives in a bus and can’t get away from rank commercialism!

Well, say BusRadio promoters, our motives are not merely monetary, but also to provide a social service. They claim that BusRadio can be a behavioral nanny, that students are more likely to be quieter and follow the rules while the radio is on. And if they get a little boisterous, by gollies, the bus driver can cut off the radio to punish them. However, as one watchdog group notes, we also could keep the kids quiet “if we gave them cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean we should.”

This isn’t about providing a service, and it isn’t even about radio—it’s about using our educational system to compel children to absorb the commercial messages of corporations. Yet, BusRadio is planning to go national next year. It hopes to reach a million students, some as young as five. To help bring this runaway bus to a stop, call Commercial Alert: 503.235.8012.

© 2006 Jim Hightower and Associates, jimhightower.com