Friday, November 17, 2006


Having worked in the radio industry for 16 years (I've been out of it for over a decade), it was like a breath of fresh air to read about Clear Channel Communications has agreed to be acquired by an investment group for an estimated $18.7 billion. The broadcast equivilent of Wal-Mart owns 1,150 radio stations in markets large and small throughout the nation, but announced Thursday that it would keep it's stations in the top 100 markets and sell 448 stations in smaller markets.

Ever since the Federal Communications Commission relaxed it's rules regarding ownership of stations, companies such as Clear Channel (also known throughout the industry as "Cheap Channel") have sent the industry into a tailspin through it's practice of eliminating much of the local feel and content from it's stations. It has been the primary player in turning talk radio into a hot air baloon of nationally syndicated conservative blow-hards, eliminating diverse voices and in many cases virtually all local content. Many of it's music stations are nothing more than jukeboxes where playlists are determined by national consultants instead of local music directors who know their communities and have a better feel for their listeners' tastes. Remember, what works in L.A. or Detroit doesn't play the same in Melbourne or in Alberquerque, New Mexico.

It's truly sad to see what has happened to the radio industry, and it's certainly no surprise that ipods and downloading music from the Internet have caused radio listenership --- and related revenues --- to take a nosedive. Radio needs to be run by individuals who love and care about the industry, while at the same time working to make it a viable local resource for advertisers and the community at large. The Mays family, who own the largest percentage of CC stock, apparantly didn't.


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