In a rare showing of disapproval, KLVV radio (alias "The Q," FM-99.5) has stopped playing Madonna's three latest songs because of allegations that they contain backmasking with pro-satanic messages.
"We're not trying to censor anybody," said Starley Bush, general manager of KLVV. "People ought to know what they're being exposed to rather than have subliminal messages that they're not aware of."Bush stressed that Madonna's songs are currently "on hold" at the station and that this is not necessarily a permanent decision. He said the station is working on conducting a poll of "Q" listeners to let them decide whether or not to play Madonna again.
The three Madonna songs involved in this ban are "Justify My Love," "Rescue Me" and "Like A Prayer."
"Justify" is ranked No. 1 on Billboard's "Top 100 Sales" list, No. 2 on Billboard's "Hot 100 Singles" list and No. 7 on this week's Billboard "Top 40 Radio Monitor." "Rescue" is ranked No. 30 on the Top 40 list.
Because KLVV picked up KCPX's former "Top 40" (CHR) radio format in October, not playing two of those top 40 songs kind of redefines that station's usual format.
KLVV stopped playing Madonna Jan. 10, and the station has not been trying to hide that decision in any way. In fact, the station has been airing periodic explanations that outline the decision not to play Madonna until further notice.
Bush said that a man in Florida was the first to find the Satanic messages in Madonna's songs by playing the records backward. TV stations in Florida reported on this finding.
Bush isn't aware of any other radio stations that have pulled Madonna's songs, and he said that when he contacted Warner Brothers (which markets Madonna's records), Warner officials said they weren't aware of any backmasking on her rec-ords and dismissed the backward messages as "coincidences."
The backmasking is anything but a coincidence, according to Bush, who would prefer "an unmasked" version to play on the air, though this doesn't seem to be available.
Bush said KLVV has received both positive and negative feedback from the Madonna decision. He said the decision of sister station KTKK late last year to discontinue the "Rush Limbaugh" program is not related to the Madonna situation.
Limbaugh was taken off because of low ratings and because, although well-liked by a very small audience, the program wasn't marketable enough. Bush said recent ratings for the former time slot of the Limbaugh show have risen dramatically in its absence.
"People like local talk shows better," Bush stressed.
Another mainstay Madonna-type music station, KZHT (FM-94.9), is continuing to play all of her songs. Terry Schmidt, station manager, said KZHT has no plans to curtail any of Madonna's music. He said he doesn't believe messages that may appear when playing records backward have any significant impact on listeners.
"We're having a lot of fun with the Madonna thing," Schmidt said. "All we hear when we play her music backward is "I love 94.9.' "