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Published: Friday, 6/3/2005

Radio station halts contest to disrupt graduations


A local radio station yesterday dropped a contest asking graduating high school valedictorians to disrupt their commencement ceremonies after a Toledo Public Schools official called the station to protest.

The Johny D and the Morning Crew show on WVKS-FM (92.5) asked the valedictorians from any school to plug their show during the commencement speeches. If the disruption was captured on video, the students could win concert tickets.

Johny D, whose real name is John DiModica, later indicated that any student should use a microphone and plug his show.

Jane Bruss, TPS spokesman, asked Andy Stuart, regional manager for Clear Channel Communications, to put the brakes on the contest.

"I told him that this was not something seen as positive by school people," she said. "We have done a very good job of making this respectful, formal occasion a rite of passage into adult life."

Mr. Stuart did not return telephone calls yesterday seeking comment.

During yesterday morning's broadcast of the show, Mr. DiModica told listeners that the Toledo school system had banned video cameras from graduation ceremonies in response to the contest.

Ms. Bruss said no such ban has ever been ordered.

"People are free to bring cameras of any kind," she said.

A caller provided the show's DJs with the inaccurate information.

On the air, Mr. DiModica com-plained yesterday about the fact that his contest plans were reined in, and he urged listeners to call the school district to protest.

He repeatedly referred to Toledo Superintendent Eugene Sanders as Gene and announced the district's main telephone number.

The district received about four calls by noon.

"Johny is a good guy. He's OK," Mr. Sanders said after yesterday's broadcast. "But this is a serious occasion, and parents want to hear their kids' name and have them be able to participate appropriately."

Many school districts in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan will hold graduation ceremonies next week.

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