Published Saturday, March 22, 2014 5:30PM MDT
A number of Calgarians are expressing their outrage over an ongoing radio promotion which has resulted in $5,000 in Canadian currency reduced to a pile of ash instead of being provided to a listener.
AMP Radio’s ‘$15,000 Bank It or Burn It’ campaign is polling the listening audience to decide whether a predetermined amount of cash should be destroyed or provided to a listener as a prize. AMP is encouraging Calgarians to vote either Bank or Burn by text message, Twitter, Facebook or by posting to AMP’s Radio app. Voters who selected Bank were asked to indicate their plans for the cash.
If the number of votes for the bank option exceeded the votes cast for burn, one of the listeners who chose to bank the money would be randomly selected to receive the cash prize.
“At first I thought maybe the five dollar bills were fake and I certainly didn’t think they’d burn $15,000 cash,” said Ortiz. “I think a lot of people thought it was sort of a joke at first but they (the station) insisted it was really happening.”
On Friday, the result of the first vote was released and 54 per cent of the roughly 100,000 respondents chose to burn the $5,000 prize.
“Opening the envelope when it was handed to me on Friday morning was a heartbreaker,” said Ryan Lindsay, co-host of AMP Radio Calgary’s Ryan & Katie morning show. “We knew that the option was out there, but we never really thought that people would side with the burn side.”
The cash was transported to Pet Haven Crematorium and burned in the business’ incinerator. The radio station has posted a video of the burning of the cash on their website.
Candace Ortiz was appalled to see the station followed through with their promise.
“As a person who has had moments in my life where I literally had to scrape change and pennies to buy milk for my son it kind of hit a nerve,” said Ortiz who believed turning the dial was her only recourse. “I was raised to respect the value of money and to appreciate the good that it can do.”
“It hurt me to see someone frivolously wasting something that could go to a better purpose.”
Officials with the Calgary Drop-In Centre were disappointed to hear of the unnecessary destruction of the cash which could have been earmarked for a worthy cause.
“$5,000 is an enormous sum of money,” said Jordan Hamilton, Drop-In Centre communication manager. “For $5,000, we can provide comprehensive services for up to one hundred people. We can give people counselling support, we can give people shelter, we can give people food…we can literally turn people’s lives around.”
“I wish the money was donated to a charity. If it was donated to an organization like the Calgary Drop-In Rehab Centre, lives would have been changed.”
The fate of the remaining $10,000 is in the hands of anyone with a cell phone or internet access.
“The city will have a chance to decide if the money goes into the pockets of one of the people that votes for bank or whether again it ends up being torched,” said Lindsay. “We’re a station of our word. We’re a station that has done some pretty ‘out there’ things but we’ve always gone through with it.”
“Every single media entity in the country, in the world, spends money on promotion,” explains Lindsay. “The $5,000 that we, over the course of two weeks, took and have now unfortunately burnt is a fraction of what almost any other entity in this city spends on their marketing costs alone and it’s garnered a lot of talk.”
“While we do feel horrible about the actual burning of the money, it has garnered a lot more publicity than we could have initially thought.”
AMP Radio has hosted controversial contests in the past including Swap Your Wife for a New Life, in which couples swapped partners to win prizes, and February’s 90.3 Hour Marriage, where two strangers tied the knot during a trip to Vancouver to see Miley Cyrus in concert.