A popular Detroit radio station has held a unique Valentine’s Day contest: a free divorce to the most deserving dysfunctional couple. On at least one previous occasion the local Detroit news media publicized an objectionable radio stunt that was subsequently stopped due to public outrage. In this case, however, the news media is AWOL.
Every year the media covers the Hallmark holiday we call Valentine’s Day with shallow, mushy stories about marriage proposals, make-your-own-valentine treats and the area’s most romantic restaurants. But this year, when 95.5 WKQI, a highly rated station in the market, had a very different, more cynical take on the consumerist love-in, the media failed to show up.
“Mojo in the Morning,” WKQY’s morning show, held a contest for couples who wished to get a divorce and the finalists, who were chosen by online voters, were featured this week on the air. All three finalist couples allegedly had at least one cheating spouse, and listeners were treated to the couples airing their dirty laundry all over the greater Detroit area.
The lack of coverage is astonishing because the contemporary top 40 station has been under fire before for another controversial contest. In October of 2007, The Detroit News reported that WKQY held a “Britney Suicide Watch” contest in which listeners who guessed the correct date of Britney Spears’ death would win $1,000. The contest was quickly yanked off the station’s website the next day.
Too bad the same thing didn’t happen with the divorce “bit.” No print or television coverage could be found as of this printing. But Detroit radio listeners sure got an earful.
The winning couple of the Detroit contest was Maria and Gary, married five years, but separated while still having a “friends with benefits” relationship. Maria accused Gary of cheating on her with two women he “talked with” on the Internet, a charge Gary denied until one of the women called the radio station and told everyone they did in fact sleep together.
Kendra, one of the other finalists, entered the contest with this original poem:
I thought I met the man of my dreams but all along it had been a scheme.
He never knew what it meant to be a team while all along he picked away at my self-esteem.
As I worked my fingers to the bone, two nighttime jobs trying to maintain a home,
The X-box consumed all his free time as he drank away our last dime.
Watching his expensive football cable, as I went to the food bank to put food on our table.
Behind the wheel passed out in the drive, making me sick wondering how this marriage would survive.
Not to mention his online affair, bringing me to my knees wondering why things had to be so unfair.
Now as I fight to raise our son, he has a live-in girlfriend having a life of fun.
Please help me win this divorce, my prayers will come true. After a year of separation, your vote will help me move on and keep pushing through.
Shockingly, giving away a free divorce on Valentine’s Day isn’t an original idea. The Charleston Gazette covered WKLC-FM, a West Virginia radio station that similarly gave away a free divorce to listeners back in 2008 and again this year. At least the local West Virginia media thought the scandalous contest was worth covering.
For both stations, an actual attorney handled the filing of the divorce to insure its validity. Whew.
Research Assistant Colleen Raezler contributed to the article.