Success Story: Stations Sow Safe Schools

Apr 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The recent fatal shootings at a Minnesota high school have directed attention to programs that TV stations and local sponsors in other markets have put in place to encourage students to help nip violence in the bud. Some of the programs were implemented well before the 1999 Columbine High School incident in Colorado or the 1997 shootings at a Paducah, Ky., high school.

Cingular Wireless in Mobile, Ala., sponsors an 11-year-old promotion on WKRG-TV called Safeline, which provides a phone number that kids can call anonymously if they have heard of or witnessed suspicious activity in or around their school. Cingular Area Manager Bill Withers said the program appealed to him because “I picked my son up from middle school one day and he looked ragged. He had been roughed up by classmates.”

The anonymous tip line is advertised throughout the year with 30-second spots featuring a female anchor from the Media General-owned ABC affiliate standing in front of one of the local schools announcing the program.

F.O.R.C.E. 8 is a related promotion offered by KFMB-TV, Midwest Television’s CBS affiliate in San Diego. The acronym stands for Focus on Resolving Conflict Everyday. Students are invited to go to the station’s Web site and nominate their high school for a visit from conflict resolution specialists, who teach them leadership skills and how to resolve conflicts without violence. The program is sponsored by Pat & Oscar’s, a local restaurant chain.

In Minnesota, where there are still news follow-ups on the March 21 shootings in Red Lake, some TV executives say it is too soon for them to offer promotions with revenue tie-ins, but they may consider them in the future.