On Nov. 14, 2003, Kalispell radio station KZMN suspended a turkey outside its second-floor window as part of a somewhat twisted Thanksgiving-themed "Save the Turkey" food drive.
The turkey's ultimate fate is not known, since the general manager of KOFI Inc., the company that owns KZMN, didn't return calls seeking comment.
Enter Lisa Simmer.
According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) documents, Simmer saw the suspended bird and "expressed to her co-worker that this was inhumane."
Her co-worker called the radio station to register a complaint on Simmer's behalf and found herself on the phone with Paul Gray, a KZMN DJ, who happened to be taking food-drive donations over the air, live, unbeknownst to either Simmer or her fellow complainant.
After learning of the caller's concerns, Gray asked to speak with Simmer herself.
When Simmer got on the phone, Gray explained that the turkey gimmick was intended to promote the station's food drive and told her to quit complaining and listen to the station. Simmer's call was not only broadcast live, but also recorded and rebroadcast, much to her chagrin. So Simmer complained to the FCC.
FCC rules require stations to inform callers if they're on the air, and that they may be rebroadcast.
KOFI's response was that listeners knew that if they made food drive donations they would be broadcast, and that Gray initially believed the call was for a donation. The company conceded, however, that once Gray realized Simmer was not calling to donate, he should not have rebroadcast their conversation. Gray was fired weeks later, as a direct result of the incident.
KOFI argued that the company ought not be fined, in part because Gray went beyond his authority in rebroadcasting the episode. But an FCC decision issued last week holds to the agency's longstanding position that radio stations are responsible for the acts of their employees.
The FCC could have fined KOFI ,000 but, perhaps in a show of Thanksgiving charity, levied only a ,000 penalty, in light of the company's previously spotless record.