Find out how many radio stations in your area are owned by the same company.
May 5, 2001 4:21 AM   Subscribe

Find out how many radio stations in your area are owned by the same company. Here in Dallas Texas Clear Channel owns six. Then there's four other radio stations owned by Susquehanna Radio which used to be owned by AM/FM Incorporated but they merged with *guess who* Clear Channel last year. So it looks like Clear Channel either directly or indirectly controls almost a dozen radio stations in north Texas alone. How much control do they have over your airwaves? Ever wonder why radio stations all sound the same? Cuz they ARE the same!
posted by ZachsMind (23 comments total)
Then of course there's Infinity Broadcasting. Use their station search and type in the closest big city near you. See how many stations pop up in their backpocket. Again, here in Dallas, it's another six stations. So only two companies own and operate sixteen radio stations between them in north Texas, neither of which are actually based IN north Texas. Isn't this fun?? It's like Survivor in reverse.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:26 AM on May 5, 2001

Except for WBBR, Bloomberg News Radio, almost all news-talk-sports stations in NYC are owned by the same group.
posted by tamim at 4:51 AM on May 5, 2001

And WEVD has supposedly been bought by ESPN=DISNEY=ABC=CAP CITIES. W H O R E P O R A T I O N. That sucks.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:00 AM on May 5, 2001

Four western news agencies supply 90% the world's press, radio, and television. These agencies are: Asscociated Press, United Press International, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

Global television news is supplied by four agencies: CNN, CNBC, BBC, and News Corp

Recorded Music is almost completely controlled by PolyGram, Time Warner, Sony, EMI and Bertelsman.

Global film production is dominated by studios owned by: Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, Universal, Sony, Polygram, MGM and News Corp.

How much of media is controlled by large single corporations? Viacom, for example, owns: CBS, MTV, VH1, Country Music TV, Nashville Network, Paramount Comedy Channel, The Movie Channel, Paramount Pictures, Paramount T.V., Spelling Television, King World Productions, Simon and Schuster, cbs.sportsline, cbs.marketwatch, Infinity Networks, Blockbuster, Theme parks, and so on...

Almost all media is really the product of only a handful of mega conglomerates that maintain control in much the same way Microsft has (e.g. dont give air space to others, don't give others a platform on the media).

I was watching an Iranian film, "the circle", last night. It was one of those films that are very different from American in that there is no conventional plot, characters, etc. Really exciting that way.

Growing up in the suburbs, I often wondered why all American movies were the same. I think that I really believed that it had simply never occured to anyone to make anything different.

Of course that's not the case. Media conglomerates are industries, and therefore must produce boilerplate mass produced product. Some of these conventions include the use of stereotypes (automatic audience recognition), problem/solution formats (all sitcoms), and so on.

What's sad is that these structures represent modes of thinking. They dictate people's perspectives and the structure of their thoughts by being omnipresent and constant. It really ruins people's brains the world over.

Anyhow, that was a very long explication of an opinion that I think most people already accept, but the extant to which only a few perspectives have been allowed to dominate global media is really shocking.
posted by xammerboy at 6:39 AM on May 5, 2001

It's shown up in at least one other thread, but if anyone hasn't seen it, Salon had a recent piece on Clear Channel.
posted by tingley at 7:00 AM on May 5, 2001

Pithy observation: curiously (or not), Clear Channel and Infinity seem to control, between them, all the *crappy* high-profile stations in Portland, OR.

This doesn't particularly surprise me.

Anybody else (among the early-20s or so set) grow up hearing stories about how great radio used to be? My parents were both (small-time) DJs 25-30 years ago, so I when I started getting into music I was fostered on a great collection of vinyl and fond stories about stations that would play, y'know, *good new music* by *independent artists*. Such craziness.
posted by cortex at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2001

Seattle 89.1 FUCC
posted by roboto at 7:59 AM on May 5, 2001

Legendary tale of radio's heyday: Bob Dylan grew up in upper Minnesota tuning a crappy AM radio to Chicago's WLS, only during the night-time bounce effect, to listen to a Top 40 show that played rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, early bubblegum pop -- basically everything under the sun. From such diverse influence was a great artist born.
posted by dhartung at 8:20 AM on May 5, 2001

I disagree that the media has any influence over the majority of people's thinking in the United States. If you disagree with me, how many people do you know who trust the media? Nearly everyone I know thinks the media sucks, and they know it's controlled by big business and big government. The only people the media is fooling these days are people like my grandmother...
posted by fusinski at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2001

Here in Minneapolis, Clear Channel owns KFAN 1130, our sports station. One of the owners of Clear Channel, Red McColms, owns the Minnesota Vikings. So how fitting was it that when the Vikings' radio contract with WCCO 830 (owned by Infinity) ended this summer, the sappy and crappy football club signed a contract with KFAN. So there you go.
posted by TacoConsumer at 8:54 AM on May 5, 2001

While I don't think things are as bleak as xammerboy thinks, my biggest problem is with one or two companies running an industry in a specific geographic area. Towns where one company owns the newspaper, tv, and radio stations are susceptible to be influenced (and they are influenced, fusinski) by one particular pov. That's a bad thing.
posted by owillis at 9:09 AM on May 5, 2001

Perennially useful: the Columbia Journalism Review guide to who owns what.
posted by snarkout at 9:12 AM on May 5, 2001

cortex, I've heard (and believe) tons of anecdotal evidence about the decline of radio in the past 40 years or so. It's utterly revolting -- but it's easier to not miss something you never knew in the first place. People in their early 30s like myself may have had only incidental thrills from radio -- a song here or there, maybe one DJ with an ever-so-slightly different personality from all the others. But what dhartung describes (I believe he's talking about Alan Freed's Moondog Matinee, which broadcast out of Ohio), where some music-loving DJ can play what moves him and get an audience to agree, will never come back.
posted by argybarg at 9:13 AM on May 5, 2001

Tangentially, the link and this thread remind me that there are still people who listen the radio... Honestly, I have an audio system in my three year old vehicle and I've never even bothered to tune the preset buttons. With only one exception (a commuter who listens to one of those all news stations because they do traffic updates every eleven minutes), I don't know anyone who listens to the radio either... Maybe when Top 40 pop stopped being important to me, I stopped listening? Also, it seems that radio has "degenerated" into kind of a cheap platform for what I consider fringe or non-centrist viewpoints: UFO theorists and non-medically trained therapists and the like...
posted by m.polo at 9:36 AM on May 5, 2001

what dhartung describes (I believe he's talking about Alan Freed's Moondog Matinee, which broadcast out of Ohio), where some music-loving DJ can play what moves him and get an audience to agree, will never come back.

Two words: John Peel.

(And I spend most of my time listening to the radio. The pictures are better.)
posted by holgate at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2001

It used to be that the FCC had a stricter cap on the number of stations a given company could own in any single market. It was a rule that guaranteed a certain diversity of opinion and programming.

That changed with the 1996 Telecommunications Act - it drastically altered existing law, and allowed large companies to own many more stations. As a result, the same few companies own nearly every radio station in every market, all across the country.

Which, in theory, is fine - so long as local communities have the ability to broadcast on their own. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible. About the only way to get your voice on the air is to buy an already existing station. However, because of the prevoiusly mentioned Telecommunications Act, radio stations have become a rather desirable commodity, affordable only to corporations with a great deal of money to throw around.

This is also fine in theory, as local community groups don't require a huge station to reach their target audiences. A little hundred watt transmitter would more than suffice. Former President Clinton agreed, and put forth legislation to allow for Low Power FM stations (LPFM), it was approved by the FCC, and they began the process to license potential broadcasters.

Alas, LPFM has been killed outright (as previously discussed) in congress. It's executioners? An unholy alliance between the National Association of Broadcasters (who represent the already mentioned corporate interests), and National Public Radio. NAB didn't want to lose advertiseing dollars, and NPR was afraid people would donate to community stations rather than to them. Of course, they argued that the root of the problem had to do with terrible signal interference, etc.

Radio isn't a dying medium, it's become an incredibly big business. Gone are the days when the local DJ played records without a playlist, and gone are the days when stations carried local news, and the advertisements of local businesses.

It's tragic really.

But you can fight back - setting up a little transmitter isn't all that hard, and can be readily assembeled without too much of an investment. The airwaves are public property, and we should feel no compunction about taking them back.
posted by aladfar at 10:46 AM on May 5, 2001

some music-loving DJ can play what moves him and get an audience to agree, will never come back

There is still one spot on the dial where the DJs have free reign to build a show as they like, and that's college radio. It's refreshing. A couple of college radio stations are about all I listen to in the car these days.

A quick anecdote regarding the ubiquity of ClearChannel: while driving from Cleveland to Washington D.C., my boss and I hit upon the idea of trying to listen to "MIX" stations for the entire trip, and we succeeded in picking one up for all but about a half hour of a five hour trip. If you follow the link with which Zach started started this thread, and enter "mix" in the search box, you get 27 matches - and that's just one of ClearChannel's flavors. Kinda scary, really.
posted by Aaaugh! at 6:08 PM on May 5, 2001

When I moved to Dallas in 1997, several friends said, "Listen to 94.5 The Edge, it's good. Yeah, good if you like top twenty alternative.

I was a DJ at Texas Tech's KTXT-FM. We played a mix of old and new and since Lubbock was in the middle of nowhere, formed its own tastes of indie rock.

I could not find that taste on the dial in Dallas. The college radio stations there were either jazz/classical or had too small of wattage.

I went online to find a sound. KTXT was not streaming online, so I has to find an alternative. I found one in WFNX in Boston.

It played the same type of music that I listened to in college. Their slogan was "Giving corporate radio the finger"
Rock on.

About four months ago, I noticed that they were playing an enormous amount of alt cock rock, (Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and countless one hit bands). I was losing interest in that station.

Finally after four years, KTXT is now online thanks to Shoutcast. Take a listen
posted by lheiskell at 10:57 PM on May 5, 2001

The Media chapter from Understanding USA has lots of good info on who owns whom.
posted by rodii at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2001

I disagree that the media has any influence over the majority of people's thinking in the United States. If you disagree with me, how many people do you know who trust the media?

I dunno. There are a lot of people who think The Media is either left-wing extremists or right-wing extremists, and hence is distrustful. On the other hand.... a lot of people believe everything they hear on television. More than I like to think about.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:20 AM on May 6, 2001

the ARD was pretty much formed after Minneapolis's loss of REV 105 and continues to be a great voice to support if you give a rats ass about the bullying in Radio air waves.

The media does have influence. its not a matter of the amount trust people have. Its the amount of ownership that they can acquire.

I don't blame the big corporation for doing what they are doing. I blame the FCC and congress allowing what is happening and for being so ignorant and biased towards big corp

and what's next on the FCC's agenda? enjoy independent shoutcast stations while you can people cause I have a feeling they wont be around much longer
posted by Qambient at 10:47 AM on May 6, 2001

Many massive generalizations follow, but what the hell?

Regarding how many or what kind of people "trust" the media, I think that a distinction must be made between "trusting" the media (and I take this to mean primarily the major media conglomerates previously mentioned) and being influenced by the media. I'm not sure if anyone trusts the media anymore, or at least those segments of the media that disagree with their previously-held ideological beliefs, but that is not the same as saying that people are not influenced by the media's output.

We can all offer anecdotal evidence of how indie we or our friends are and what kind of wacky shit we listen to and watch (rockabilly, western swing, and lots of classic films for me), but it seems like someone, somewhere is being influenced by the media, judging solely by the massive amounts of money that these firms spend on marketing research, advertising, etc. etc.

Multinational corporations are not noted for their altruism, unless of course it serves a financial or marketing purpose. If they're dropping cash on something, they expect a profit and but quick. This seems like pretty strong indirect evidence of media influence on out lives.
posted by estopped at 4:12 PM on May 6, 2001

Okay. The story behind 94.5 KDGE The Edge.

Back in the late 1980s there was this little known guy named George Gemarc who had a show on the public radio station KNON here in Dallas. At the time it was 90.9, and has since switched to 89.3FM. George Gemarc's show on KNON was called The Rock N Roll Alternative, and his push was to play music which you literally couldn't hear anywhere else. For some, Gemarc was one of the original instigators of what we now call "Alternative Music." Although today that term has been grossly misused.

Gemarc's show was broadcast on KNON for many years. I think I still have cassette tapes somewhere where I recorded his broadcasts. He played bands like REM, U2, Madness, and The Smiths before anyone else ever heard of them. One day he was asked to help start a new radio station which was going to be based loosely on his own vision of what radio should be, and The Edge was born.

However, the following ten years became rather distressing. The Edge was always struggling to make money, and despite its initial success it just couldn't quite break even financially. Then it was bought out by a big company outside of Texas, and Gemarc had a series of disputes with the new owners, who wanted to take control from the DJs and turn The Edge into basically "just another radio station" only with an Alternative edge. Why? Cuz Alternative was now popular thanks in no small part to Gemarc's efforts, but in the end the Powers That Be wanted control over what was considered "alternative."

So Gemarc jumped ship. After awhile he just picked up his toys and went home. You can't fight City Hall. That sorta thing. I don't even know what became of Gemarc now, but he was one of the few true fighters not only for national or international artists trying to break into the mainstream without selling out, but Gemarc also supported local music here in north Texas whenever he could. He made a lot of enemies of course but in my opinion he was one of the last shafts of light in what otherwise has become a dark, desolate wasteland. In the end the cost of constant fighting outweighed the desire to just give it up and let the big crybabies with all the money win.

Big Business is relentless, and with an apparent endless supply of money and connections to get their desires met, and an ability to just mow over anyone who stands in their way, little guys like you, me, or George Gemarc simply don't stand a chance. I wish there was a Rock N Roll Alternative today. The Edge was intended to be the alternative against big business media, and in the early days it was. Today, it's just another cog in the wheel. Because Big Business has learned the lesson of the amoeba. If you can't just kill it, absorb it into yourself.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:25 PM on May 9, 2001

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