In the wake of the violence in China, KLSX-FM (97.1) launched a campaign Wednesday to raise money for China Relief, a humanitarian agency. But morning talk-show host Peter Tilden conceded that "there are no guarantees" how or when the money will be spent.
Tilden, who is spearheading the fund-raising drive on his 6-to-9:30 a.m. program, said at a press conference that hundreds of the "classic rock" station's listeners had called during the last few weeks asking how they could help the pro-democracy movement in China.
The money will be given to China Relief through the American Red Cross and the World Council of Churches, officials said, to be used "for humanitarian purposes only," including "food, clothing, shelter as well as medicines in a time of crisis."
On a day when the Chinese government was officially saying that only 100 students had been killed, however, both Tilden and publicist Michael Venema said that they cannot guarantee that the money they raise will not be used on behalf of the soldiers who crushed the rebellion rather than on behalf of the students.
"The unusual thing here is that the Chinese government at this time is denying that there is a crisis," the station and Venema said in a joint press release.
Venema represents Ice House, a comedy club in Pasadena, which is holding "Benefit for Beijing" June 26 at $25 a head. KLSX is promoting that event as well.
"Clearly the potential for violent change is right there," the statement said. "We at KLSX-FM want to create a fund drive to have money and services in place in the very likely possibility that the unrest we've seen in China for the last month intensifies."
KLSX is asking for checks to be made out to China Relief. Listeners are being told to send their checks to the station, said Julie Cahill, KLSX's promotional director.
A spokeswoman for the Red Cross here said that the Chinese Red Cross or China Relief "will accept the money, but they haven't asked for it."
Asked when the money will be used, she answered: "When they have need for it. The money will go to the Chinese Red Cross and they will use it as they see fit in their humanitarian work."
Asked about concerns about who will benefit from the money, the spokeswoman explained: "The Red Cross is a neutral organization. The Red Cross does not take sides. We can't take sides for the military, we can't take sides for the students."
Tilden likened the fund-raising drive to the money raised on behalf of cleaning up the Alaska oil spill. On April 13, the station began a drive that thus far has raised $5,830. The station also sent 10 of its listeners for 10 days to Alaska at a cost of $9,250. Cahill said the station sent veterinarians, experts on birds and communication coordinators.