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Ludacris video sparks interest in hotline
A phone number that appears prominently in Ludacris' latest video, "Runaway Love," is leading to a boost in calls to a Chicago-based runaway hotline. In fact, the National Runaway Switchboard told the Chicago Tribune that the volunteer operators can tell when the video airs by the amount of calls they get to 1-800-RUNAWAY at certain times. "You'll hear the phones ringing all around the office," Amanda Hetherington told the Tribune. "Sometimes they'll just be kids asking if we have his number. But that can lead to conversations about someone who has thoughts about running away." Ludacris partnered with the organization before releasing the track from last year's Release Therapy and recorded a public servie announcement that appears on its website. "Actually, they found us," Maureen Blaha, executive director of the National Runaway Switchboard, told the Tribune. "For a not-for-profit, that's an amazing thing to have happen." The Chicago-based NRS hopes that Luda's Sunday night Grammy performance with heavily nominated Mary J. Blige, who also appears on the track, leads to increased awareness of the effort and more calls. Extra staff has been assigned to help answer the phones. Meanwhile, the goodwill Ludacris is creating in Illinois is not translating to Alabama. Some members of the Montgomery community are upset that the MC was chosen for the city's Jubilee CityFest this spring. "Jubilee is promoted as a family event, and the lyrics in some of his songs are far from family oriented," resident Helen McKnight told the Montgomery Advertiser. It seems there are still some bad feelings left over from a charity even gone wrong in 2004. A Ludacris performance at a Montgomery Mall toy giveaway attracted more fans than expected and had to be stopped when crowd couldn't be controlled. "The incident wasn't Ludacris' fault and was because the mall was ill-prepared for the crowd," Jubilee executive director Marianne McLeod told the Advertiser. "We've gotten very good feedback about Ludacris being a part of this year's lineup."

-- The 411 Online

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