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606 Radio Ads Paid for by Advocacy Group, Not City

By Ted Cox | June 22, 2015 5:01pm
 The 606 was an immediate hit, and the radio ads touting it just keep on running.
The 606 was an immediate hit, and the radio ads touting it just keep on running.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — Some controversial radio ads touting the new 606 Bloomingdale Trail are not being paid for by the city, but by its self-proclaimed "lead partner" on the project.

The Trust for Public Land is actually paying for the spots, minimizing concerns that the city might have been financing the radio ad campaign in a time of financial stress.

"No city money was used on these radio ads," mayoral spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said Monday.

"It's purely to give the 606 higher awareness," said Matthew Shaffer, spokesman for the trust. "We did create the campaign to encourage folks to get to know the 606, to come out to the 606 and enjoy it. It's an awareness campaign for Chicago."

On its website, the national group devoted to open space describes its involvement in the 606 as "a public/private partnership between the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Trust for Public Land."

Shaffer declined to release the budget for the ad campaign, but said the spots are running on local radio stations WXRT, WBBM, WBEZ, WPPN and WVIV. They do not identify the trust as the sponsor, but simply tout the debut and the benefits of the 606 and the Bloomingdale Trail.

Even so, the persistent radio ads raised the hackles on some Chicago listeners — and taxpayers.

"Who is paying for all these advertisements?" Daniel Vranik said. "The city is broke and can't fund serious projects, why is it advertising the opening of a park?"

Vranik said that, two weeks after the 606 Bloomingdale Trail opened to mass enthusiasm, the ads were still running strong on local radio stations.

"With all of the advertising going on you would think they are charging admission," Vranik said.

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