A publicity stunt has sparked some backlash against a Calgary radio station after burning $5,000 in cash that many say could have gone to a charity instead.

In its 'Bank It or Burn It' campaign, Amp Radio Calgary let listeners decided whether a certain amount of cash should be destroyed, or given to a listener as a prize.

The station said a majority of its listeners – 54 per cent, to be precise – voted to burn the cash. So on Friday, two of the station's morning show hosts did just that, piling the cash into a crematory and watching it burn to ashes.

 

Ryan Lindsay, one of the DJs who torched the cash, is defending the campaign, saying it was an effective marketing scheme.

"The $5,000 that, over the course of two weeks we took and now have unfortunately burned, is a fraction of what almost any other entity in this city spends on their marketing costs alone, and it's garnered a lot of talk," Lindsay told CTV Calgary.

But the stunt has inspired a backlash on social media, with a number of Calgarians vowing to quit listening to the station.

On the station's Facebook page, Betty Carter wrote: "Really? With all the poverty in the world, this is what you choose to do with $5000 - for your entertainment? I am now un-liking your FB page and un-programming your station from all of my radios. I will not promote a station like you."

Jordan Hamilton of Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, said $5,000 could "change the lives" of 100 people in need, providing them with medical and counselling support, shelter and food.

"Five thousand dollars is an enormous amount of money,” he said. “It's amazing just how far we stretch a dollar at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre."

But Lindsay lays the decision to burn the cash on the shoulders of the stations’ listeners.

"This city made a conscious decision, and we had to stick with what they said because that's what we said we were going to do."

He added that if the cash had been given to a listener, he doubts any of it would have gone to charity.

"Everybody that was screaming, 'Why didn't you just give me that money, why didn't you give it to a great cause,' had they won it, I'm willing to bet 99 per cent of them would not have donated the $5,000."

In fact, the station’s 'Bank It or Burn It' contest is ongoing, and this time $10,000 is on the line.

With a report from CTV Calgary's Kevin Green