Blame the feds, not Clear Channel

By Staff Writer
October 2, 2003

As a person who has spent most of the past 14 years working professionally in broadcasting, I enjoyed reading Justin Hallman’s commentary, “Static Is The Future Of Radio”. Most of us radio people share Mr. Hallman’s concerns about what’s happening to the industry, and the rapid decline in the number of companies owning and operating radio stations. But to be fair, there are a few things that I’d like to point out.

Clear Channel does not have a “monopoly” on radio ownership at this time in most markets. Of the 16 commercial FM stations serving the Philadelphia market, Clear Channel owns five. The company only owns one AM station here, and it’s a small one with a limited signal range. Bell Telephone/AT&T was a monopoly, broken up by the federal government of course in the early 1980s. I’m much more concerned over the fact that something like 95% of the folks in our region cut checks to Comcast every month to watch television than I am about Clear Channel. Again, not to say that I’m not deeply concerned about the company and its practices, but I truly believe the real focus of anger over all of this should be aimed at the federal government for allowing it to happen in the first place. Clear Channel is just the kid eating the cookies the government placed in front of him.

The comparison about Clear Channel versus Viacom isn’t really accurate, either. Both companies are about equally as large. While Clear Channel may actually own hundreds of more stations, most of its properties are in smaller markets and reach fewer people. Viacom’s properties are almost all in giant cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and of course Philadelphia. And they’re all big players in their markets, unlike many of Clear Channel’s stations which are tiny AMs here and there.

Lots of folks love to rip on today’s radio by talking about how today’s DJs play their songs from set playlists and have to follow rigid formats. True, but what many don’t realize is that radio has been this way for the most part since the early 1960s! That’s nothing new. And also, for the most part, a dirty little secret of the radio industry is that request have NEVER BEEN PLAYED! Even most “request shows” are largely fake.

Mr. Hallman’s comments, though, on voicetracking, Clear Channel’s practices regarding concert promotions, and the loss of the radio talent pool are all correct, and I too share those concerns.

Radio has changed a lot over the past 10 years, and most of it probably hasn’t been for the better. But I hold the federal government responsible, not Clear Channel. The FCC is charged with regulating a LIMITED, PUBLIC resource so that the people are best served. Clear Channel’s job is to make as much money as possible for its shareholders, no matter what. Looks like one party is doing its job, and the other isn’t.

George Brusstar
King of Prussia, PA

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Staff Writer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap