Major Grocery Chain Distances Itself From Iowa Radio Host Mickelson

Mickelson Previously Suggested Making Undocumented Immigrants “Property Of The State” If They Don't Leave

A major advertiser is distancing itself from Jan Mickelson's radio show. Last month, the Iowa radio host caused widespread controversy by suggesting undocumented immigrants should “become property of the state” if they do not leave. 

Hy-Vee, a Des Moines-based grocery store chain that boasts more than 230 stores in eight states, revealed it has asked WHO radio, Mickelson's employer, to stop promoting the company on his show. 

“Hy-Vee has asked WHO Radio to no longer air the recorded announcement referencing the Hy-Vee studio name during the Jan Mickelson show,” Tara Deering-Hansen, Hy-Vee's Group Vice President, Communications, said in a statement issued Friday. “We have also instructed WHO Radio to no longer air pre-recorded Hy-Vee commercials during his program. We will continue our overall sponsorship with WHO Radio. And we will continue to own the naming rights to the studio, which is governed by a legal contract that does not specify the sponsoring of Mickelson's show. As with all programming, we neither support nor endorse the views expressed by a show's host or listeners.”

Despite Hy-Vee's statement, an advertisement for the company recorded by WHO hosts Van and Bonnie aired on today's edition of Mickelson's program. Hy-Vee told Media Matters they are “checking into” what happened.  

The move away from Mickelson's show comes after the host laid out a plan on his August 17 program that included posting signs warning undocumented immigrants they would “become property of the state” if they did not leave before a chosen deadline.

He said, in part, “So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you're still here, and we find that you're still here after we we've given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do.”

Mickelson's comments drew widespread condemnation.

A second advertiser is also taking steps to distance its brand from Mickelson. When contacted by Media Matters about its ad running on Mickelson's program, a representative for Bankers Trust said, “I believe there has been a misunderstanding, as we have not been an advertiser on Mr. Mickelson's show. When we were made aware that an ad was aired by mistake we notified the station. We were assured it would not happen again.”