Reina P. Cunningham
When 106.3 WRIL owner Brian O’Brien came back from break last Wednesday, he found an upsetting message on his answering machine. An unidentified listener had called to tell him that his Big Swap Tradio billboard, located on U.S 25 E, had been vandalized.
When O’Brien checked the billboard, he found that someone used neon green spray paint to draw offensive pictures and write obscenities on the billboard.
O’Brien filed an incident report with the Bell County Sheriff’s Department and, according to Officer Shane Stewart, there is not any information as to who is responsible.
“We don’t have any leads on it,” said Stewart.
Stewart also confirmed there had been no other similar incidents reported.
With no leads or similar incidents, O’Brien said he feels the crime was targeted against him personally.
“It seemed very personal with some of the comments and the fact that no other billboards were targeted,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien plans to prosecute the person found responsible for the crime. He is offering a $500 reward leading to their arrests and conviction.
He has taken the billboard down due to the offensive nature of the artwork, saying he cannot be sure of what the total damages are.
“There is no way to asses the damage to the sign other than its normal value of $250,” said O’Brien. “The potential damage to my business is what they were going for so I don’t know how to put a price on that.”
O’Brien said he hopes that although this person thinks they have gotten away with the crime, that is not the case.
“I put this coward in the same category as the people that post anonymously on Topix. They never think they will get caught,” said O’Brien. “That has proven not to be the case anymore.”
He said he hopes the person responsible will tell the wrong person and will eventually be found out.
“Eventually the person who did this won’t be able to keep secret and they will tell someone,” continued O’Brien.
As for future advertising plans, O’Brien does not plan to replace the vandalized billboard.
“I will maintain the billboard next to Pilot,” said O’Brien. “This has shown me that space is too easily vandalized.”
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-248-1010, ext. 205, firstname.lastname@example.org.