Enough is enough.
I’ve tried to keep this situation as professional as possible for the last 3 years, however, there is no end in sight and the issue continues to get worse and as a result, the future of El Paso 411 is at stake.
I started El Paso 411 in 2007. Our business model is simple: support El Paso, promote El Paso. It’s evident in everything that we do that our love for this city is enormous, however, we’re also a business. I employ 3 incredibly creative people that work tirelessly every day to create content that tens of thousands of El Pasoans have grown to love. In addition, we are event consultants and we help all types of businesses grow right here in El Paso. We love what we do and are blessed to be able to share our talents with this city. El Paso 411 is a growing company, but we’re not huge, we’re still locally owned.. and our ability to fight corporations is limited. A legal battle is very expensive and will simply put us out of business.
There is a growing problem with a corporate-owned company called Townsquare Media that needs to be addressed. Townsquare owns El Paso radio stations KLAQ and KISS FM. Before you read the details, you should know that I have attempted to resolve this issue multiple times with Townsquare Media El Paso general manager Brad Dubow. I have been promised every time that the issue would be addressed and we would be able to continue our business partnership. It hasn’t, and as a result, I pulled the plug on our partnership in 2015. We were incredibly saddened to leave KLAQ/KISS FM behind, however, it was necessary given the threat they were becoming to our brand.
Our articles have been copied repeatedly throughout the years by a radio DJ at KISS FM. When this was first brought to our attention, I reached out to Mr. Dubow and he promised that this would stop. It never did. In fact, the radio DJ retaliated by submitting a letter to their corporate office (skipping Mr. Dubow in El Paso) that said El Paso 411 was copying their stories. We weren’t. As a result, we received a cease and desist from their corporate attorneys,(a cease and desist is a legal document that says stop what you are doing or we’re taking you to court.) We fought it and eventually won, with the help of Mr. Dubow. After this, we reached out to KLAQ/KISS FM and warned them that our partnership in the events department was at stake. I was promised that this would stop. Again, it didn’t. So I canceled our partnership.
Throughout the years we’ve sent numerous of letters asking them to stop, in which most went ignored. Our relationship got worse, however, we’ve always covered their events in our articles, even though we were no longer partners. That is our job as the leading online entertainment magazine in El Paso. It is important for everyone to understand that.
On April 5, we published a story called “El Paso Balloon Festival 2017 is canceled.” Before publishing, we called KLAQ/KISS FM twice and confirmed that the Balloon Festival would not happen. In addition, we checked their official event Facebook page “El Paso Balloon Festival” for any type of announcement, where they confirmed that they would not be returning this year.
In the article, we listed our source, which is what we do in all of our stories. Please see here for a screenshot of Balloon Festival confirming they will not have an event this year. Almost immediately after our story ran, they removed the entire page from Facebook, and the wife of Brad Dubow, which is friends with dozens of our advertising partners, took to her Facebook profile to claim that the information was “false and driven by hat[red] from someone we once considered a friend. Stay tuned for the real story.”
Today, the “real story” came out.
El Paso 411 learned that KISS FM/KLAQ emailed local news organizations to say that the event was not canceled, but instead “a new date and location are in the works but did not offer further details,” according to a KFOX news article and a phone conversation I had with their assignments editor. No one from KLAQ/KISS FM reached out to El Paso 411 and emails and text messages to general manager Brad Dubow were not answered.
Given the facts stated, and the response from Townsquare Media in El Paso, it is my belief that Mr. Dubow and Townsquare Media are intentionally undermining all of our hard work that we’ve done in the past ten years simply because they did not want us to publish a story about Balloon Festival not happening this year and the conflicts with our articles throughout the years.
As I mentioned, it is our job to report on entertainment in El Paso. Our team has undergone training and follow journalistic rules and industry guidelines when gathering information and reporting. We take this serious. It is obvious that our work is influential. There is now talks about Balloon Festival returning.
We’re a growing company and we make mistakes. But when we do, we admit to them and learn. This was not a mistake and we stand by our reporting. We’re changing the way that people get information here in El Paso, and not everyone is going to be supportive, especially those that work in traditional forms of advertising with declining ratings, such as radio. We miss working with KLAQ and KISS FM, but we will not be censored and I will not allow a corporation to dictate how we run our local company.