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Wake Forest college football games air on radio stations with anti-gay programming

Some fans say decision flies in face of school's diversity efforts.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Two North Carolina radio stations that air Wake Forest University football and basketball games are part of a Christian radio network that promotes anti-gay programming. This has upset gay Wake Forest fans, who say it betrays the university's commitments to diversity.

Writing in qnotes, a North Carolina-based LGBT media outlet, Matt Comer outlines the issue:

Wake Forest gives broadcasting rights to its football and basketball games to IMG College, a private company that bills itself the "nation's leading collegiate sports marketing company." It's through IMG College that Wake football and basketball games will air on Charlotte's WCRU and Durham's WDRU, two stations belonging to The Truth Network, based in Winston-Salem.

The Truth Network airs a variety of Christian talk shows, sermons and other programs. Several programs and shows regularly feature anti-LGBT commentary. One of its most high-profile, anti-LGBT shows is "Line of Fire," hosted by Concord-based activist Dr. Michael Brown.

The station's "doctrine" also specifically says "Christians should oppose...every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality and pornography." Additionally, the network is a member of National Religious Broadcasters, a Christian radio industry group that has opposed LGBT equality legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

IMG says its sports  programming airs nationwide on 2,200 stations and that it can't monitor the non-sports content of all those stations. Wake Forest officials say that it contracts with a variety of businesses, "that may or may not align with every member of our community's personal values."

Those answers don't satisfy some gay fans, including Peter Engels, who said:

"It's incredibly shocking that WFU would partner with such a conservative, exclusive media outlet," Engels told qnotes. "It's a strong contradiction to the thriving LGBTQ student center and the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies divisions. ... It flies in the face of their history; WFU was the first major Southern university to admit African American students during the Civil Rights Movement."

Stu Epperson, Truth Network president and CEO once called same-sex marriage "evil blasphemy," but said sports fan won't have to worry about having any social issues broadcast during a game. He also welcomed LGBT listeners, adding: "The whole point of the station is to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. Whether they consider themselves gay or straight, we want them to hear about Jesus."

The article notes that Wake Forest has in the past broken ties with other groups that oppose LGBT equality, including the state Baptist convention. My guess is that had no idea the non-sports content of all the stations that air their games, but after the qnotes article, they can't claim ignorance going forward.