Static is the future of radio

By Justin Hallman
October 2, 2003

Angelina Wagner

All across this democratic nation, a totalitarian enterprise is quietly corrupting every person that changes the station. The future of radio is here, unfortunately.

Industry giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. is taking over not just the radio waves, but everything directly related to it as well. For instance, in 1996 Clear Channel owned 47 radio stations across the country. Fast-forward to today, and the behemoth leviathan of the corporate entertainment world now has total control of nearly 1,200 stations. So what, right? You say to yourself, “I listen to the radio to hear my favorite songs and to tune in to my favorite DJs. I don’t care who owns them.” Of course you don’t.

However, Viacom Inc., Clear Channel’s biggest rival has control of a grand total of…186 stations, a slim comparison if any. Clear Channel has a monopoly over anyone in an unfair competition. In a business sense, sure, this is a phenomenal accomplishment. But in the independent minds of consumers, this is horrible. It’s becoming harder and harder to have your own opinions, because now the common man is being brainwashed by what Clear Channel wants you to know. Oh by the way, of all the billboards that exist in the United States, Clear Channel owns 40 percent of them, in which they plaster their radio stations on. Yes, they are looking towards financial interests. But are they looking towards public interest. Think about it, is it really fair to you; the person they are supposed to be pleasing?

So still how in the world does this have anything to do with the music I like? Let’s say you’re a big fan of a rising group called, “The Garage Band Kids.” Your favorite band decides that they would like to sign with an independent concert promoter who will put them on a great U.S. tour. However, the majority of promoters across the country have been swiped up by, you guessed it, Clear Channel. So The Garage Band Kids have managed to slide under the radar and dodge Clear Channel. Well the big, bad, corporate giant that is Clear Channel doesn’t like this and will not permit your favorite local band to have any songs on their radio stations. So basically when it all boils down, if an artist doesn’t sign with Clear Channel, they won’t get played on the radio. And when 1,200 of the stations across America are owned by Clear Channel, that’s pretty much saying NO AIRTIME!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Clear Channel has begun a practice called “voice-tracking.” Voice tracking is when popular out-of-town radio personalities from bigger markets are pumped into smaller markets and then personalizing their programs, lead listeners to think that these DJs are actually local residents. CEO of Clear Channel, Randy Michaels says that with these practices and the taking over of stations countrywide, leads to more money in the economy. What!? So less jobs, little supply, and much demand leading to unemployment and disgruntled consumers, obviously creates more money in the nation’s economy. Yea, I don’t think so.

This deregulation process on performance enhancing drugs that has become the fast food chain of radio, is completely wrong. No longer are there DJs on the radio that the common person can learn to love and religiously listen to because they live in the same city as you. Requests!? What are song requests? Unlike on a college campus like ours where you can call in to people you know are there and ask for a song you want to hear, the national scene has set program lists daily locked into their respective computers. In fact, it’s totally possible for an “on-air personality,” not a DJ, to set up their shifts, lock the door, and go home for the weekend, while you at home are led to believe they are in the studio when u tune in.

Sure in the end you might think well it’s not that big of a deal. But honestly it is, especially to those who want to get into radio and have a successful future. This is getting increasingly difficult as the years go on. Change is inevitable, yes. But is change necessary when it’s diminishing the traditional ways of radio? More importantly it hurts the listeners, the fans, the most significant people in the music business. There is a total loss of choice for consumers, a drop in the job market, and in a way a reduced talent pool of artists. Music is music; it’s what everyone loves to listen to. Now artists are beginning to curtail created works of art in order to be accepted by Clear Channel because they really don’t have a choice in the matter.

Is it right to have to listen to sanctioned music?

Is it right to not have a choice? In this monopoly, no one can pass “GO” and collect 200 dollars; Clear Channel already has it. And that’s not right.

Posted to the web by Zander Harris

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Justin Hallman

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