We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Admit it, fellas: The ads grab you right in your, well, main lobby.
“Do you want better sex, more often?” asks one.
“Inject more passion into your love life!” counsels the next.
“Improve sexual performance through increased size!” boasts yet another.
Turn on WTEM and you’ll be hit by these pitches. Again and again and again, in fact. The area’s only all-sports station bombards its audience with advertisements for over-the-counter sexual-potency enhancers.
There’s Maximus, the “all-natural herbal supplement” that is guaranteed to “give you the same sexual vigor and zest that you had when you were 20 years old.”
And also Veromax, a product with a catchphrase for the new millennium: “Better sex, more often!” (V-Factor, another enhancer in the WTEM stable, uses this same slogan.) The Veromax Web site boasts that company founder Dr. Melvin J. Duckett has “performed more penile prosthesis operations than any other urologist in the United States less one.” (It doesn’t identify the “one,” however.) The company claims that the Veromax recipe for impotence relief is “based upon Nobel Prize-winning science.”
“Veromax works to help increase a man’s level of nitric oxide, which in turn increases his level of cyclic GMP, which in turn increases blood flow,” the ad copy explains, “which means…increased size and rigidity.” Of course it means that! Best news of all: With Veromax, there’s “[n]o need to schedule your encounters.” For about $60, Veromax will leave you as hard as algebra for two months.
And there’s Progenis, which describes itself as a “Yohimbe extract,” whatever that is. The product allegedly enhances male potency by “freeing up bound testosterone” from someplace deep within your naughty bits. If the Progenis ads stick out, it’s because the hard sell is delivered by an easily excited woman. “I’m in heaven these days!” she exults. “What’s going on?” By implication, what’s going on is that Bubba’s stiffer than a double martini.
(Progenis proponents learned the hard way that not everybody can handle having his sex drive supersized: Progenis came up during the trial of a Florida child molester in November 2000. A state-appointed psychiatrist testifying on behalf of defendant James Paul Johnson told the court that the 48-year-old pedophile lost what little self-control God had given him after doubling up the factory-recommended dosage of Progenis. According to a report in the Gainesville Sun, Johnson kidnapped a 10-year-old neighbor and acted out a “marital fantasy” that included “drinking a champagne toast with interlocking arms” during his first of several nights with the victim.)
The ballsiest of the batch of alleged virility redoublers now in heavy rotation on the sports station is called Enzyte. Its ads promise users substantial changes in longitude: “Most men on the Enzyte program report an increase in size of 12 to 31 percent, with an average reported increase of 24 percent.” If the claims made in Enzyte’s advertising are true, the product can have you pitching something bigger than a pup tent for six months for just $399.99, plus shipping and handling.
Sports radio would seem to be the playground of the virile. But this assortment of impotence-busting agents sure hints that somebody’s targeted WTEM as Dysfunction Junction.
According to the station, however, the onslaught of these ads can be attributed to the simple combination of WTEM’s 85-percent-male audience and the market penetration of the prescription medicine Viagra. That little blue pill has so destigmatized impotence that even a sports station can run as much below-the-belt advertising as it wants and not worry about emasculating itself.
“The stereotypical macho sports guy may want to turn off those ads, but you get a lot more than the stereotypical macho sports guy listening to the station,” says sales rep Chad Feldman, who handles the station’s Maximus account. “These products are basically only for men, and our listeners are overwhelmingly men. People really aren’t that shy about these products anymore. You can thank Bob Dole and Viagra for that.”
(Nothing against Dole’s pitching tools, but Viagra clearly wants to attract a younger, more athletic clientele than that brought in by the former senator. Last year, Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra, began sponsoring the NASCAR team of driver Mark Martin on the Winston Cup Circuit. Then, last week, the company disclosed that Viagra’s newest spokesmodel would be studly 37-year-old Rafael Palmeiro, the ex-Oriole and current Ranger. )
The numbers back up Feldman’s assertion that listeners aren’t turned off by WTEM’s enhancer bombardment. WTEM finished ahead of alternative rocker WHFS for the first time ever in a recent Arbitron book. ‘HFS doesn’t run Maximus or Enzyte ads, but it does occasionally drop some Limp Bizkit. —Dave McKenna