Clear Channel Rallies for War — the Truth of Right-Wing Media

How do you get up to 20,000 people to turn out for a pro-war rally? Get highly rated radio stations to sponsor them! What I wonder is if they do T-shirt, CD and food giveaways too. Since that’s why most people show up to lame radio-sponsored events.

Yep, our behemoth media pals at Clear Channel are demonstrating the media’s liberal bias by sponsoring war rallies all over the place. Lest we forget, Clear Channel is the largest owner of radio stations in the country by far, along with producing the likes of the Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and Matt Drudge radio programs.

I don’t think there is any clearer evidence that Clear Channel has a decidedly and devout conservative right-wing agenda which it pushes both in its on-air programming, and now with its off-air rallies.

Keep this in mind when thinking about why there is almost no liberal talk (commercial) radio out there. Media industry apologists and limp-wristed liberal apologists would have you believe that the reason why there isn’t liberal talk on the radio is because it’s not entertaining enough and doesn’t reach the common man well enough. My question is — how do they know this? Or rather, who’s actually tried it?

The “liberal radio isn’t entertaining” argument is just a smokescreen that hides any real common-sense analysis of the political economy of the radio industry. Clear Channel and other big-media barons would love for you to believe that fat ol’ Rush got so popular on the sheer force of his personality and skill. But what they leave out is that he had the force of economics on his side.

Rush’s popularity rose in the early 90s at the same time that the fortunes of many radio stations was declining, especially small AM stations. At about the same time Premiere radio networks saw an opportunity and started selling these stations talk programming like Rush and Dr. Laura that was cheaper than these stations even attempting to do their own programming. For its part, Premiere could offer cheap rates to stations because they could leverage the nationwide coverage with their advertisers.

To start with, stations didn’t sign on to carrying Rush because he was so popular and entertaining. No, simply his program was long, relatively consistent and cheap, cheap, cheap.

Then with the Telecomm Act of 1996, Clear Channel gobbled up over a thousand stations which it could saturate with its syndicated talkers, like Rush, making the programming even cheaper. Yeah, sure, I’d have mega ratings too if the largest radio station owner in the country pushed my program into just about every market in the country.

So why isn’t there a liberal equivalent to Rush Limbaugh? Well, for starters–and this is really important–it’s because Clear Channel doesn’t produce such a program. Make no doubt, if Clear Channel decides to push a program out over Premiere radio networks and onto its thousand+ stations, it will be a relative success, though sheer saturation.

Secondly, there isn’t a liberal alternative because of the dire lack of creativity in media programming and the push for competitors to copy successful formulas rather than try and provide an alternative. Hence the appearance of latecomers like Sean Hannity, who is distributed by ABC/Disney. Given that Hannity is already a known-name amongst the Limbaugh-audience, due to his being bankrolled on TV by FOX, he’s an easy low-risk choice. Plus, ABC also happens to own a bunch of AM stations to launch him on, even if it’s not nearly in the league of Clear Channel (but who is?).

As much as the mainstream media, their apologists, defenders and concubines wish to convince us otherwise, it’s all in the ownership. Clear Channel is now showing its true colors and using its bully pulpit to push its true plitical agenda. If you won’t see this, then you don’t want to.

And as Clear Channel scouts out its next series of acquisitions and expansion into other media, like TV, I can only assure you that it only gets worse from here.

6 Responses to Clear Channel Rallies for War — the Truth of Right-Wing Media

  1. Sipson Kloop March 23, 2003 at 10:38 am #

    Good article but you fail to make the connection between Clear Channel and the Bush Administratiopn. One of the main financial contributors to Bush’s rise to power is the Texan, Thomas O. Hicks who is one of the owners and a Director of the Clear Channel corporation. This corporation with over 1200 radio stations in 50 States reaches over 100 million US citizens. It’s pro-war and pro-Bush agenda is the main reason that as of March, 2003, a New York Times and CBS poll found that 42% of Americans believe that Saddam waspersonally responsible for the attacks on the world trade center on 9/11.

  2. chris March 27, 2003 at 1:13 pm #

    oops!i was just looking for a rally to go to to support our country(ya know …united we stand)What about howard stern’s show?Is he with clear channel?

  3. Kyl March 29, 2003 at 1:01 pm #

    Did you guys read this article?

    Published on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 by the Chicago Tribune

    Media Giant’s Rally Sponsorship Raises Questions

    by Tim Jones


    Some of the biggest rallies this month have endorsed President Bush’s strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation’s largest owner of radio stations.

    In a move that has raised eyebrows in some legal and journalistic circles, Clear Channel radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Cincinnati and other cities have sponsored rallies attended by up to 20,000 people. The events have served as a loud rebuttal to the more numerous but generally smaller anti-war rallies.

    The sponsorship of large rallies by Clear Channel stations is unique among major media companies, which have confined their activities in the war debate to reporting and occasionally commenting on the news. The San Antonio-based broadcaster owns more than 1,200 stations in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    While labor unions and special interest groups have organized and hosted rallies for decades, the involvement of a big publicly regulated broadcasting company breaks new ground in public demonstrations.

    “I think this is pretty extraordinary,” said former Federal Communications Commissioner Glen Robinson, who teaches law at the University of Virginia. “I can’t say that this violates any of a broadcaster’s obligations, but it sounds like borderline manufacturing of the news.”

    A spokeswoman for Clear Channel said the rallies, called “Rally for America,” are the idea of Glenn Beck, a Philadelphia talk show host whose program is syndicated by Premier Radio Networks, a Clear Channel subsidiary.

    `Just patriotic rallies’

    A weekend rally in Atlanta drew an estimated 20,000 people, with some carrying signs reading “God Bless the USA” and other signs condemning France and the group Dixie Chicks, one of whose members recently criticized President Bush.

    “They’re not intended to be pro-military. It’s more of a thank you to the troops. They’re just patriotic rallies,” said Clear Channel spokeswoman Lisa Dollinger.

    Rallies sponsored by Clear Channel radio stations are scheduled for this weekend in Sacramento, Charleston, S.C., and Richmond, Va. Although Clear Channel promoted two of the recent rallies on its corporate Web site, Dollinger said there is no corporate directive that stations organize rallies.

    “Any rallies that our stations have been a part of have been of their own initiative and in response to the expressed desires of their listeners and communities,” Dollinger said.

    Clear Channel is by far the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. The company owned only 43 in 1995, but when Congress removed many of the ownership limits in 1996, Clear Channel was quickly on the highway to radio dominance. The company owns and operates 1,233 radio stations (including six in Chicago) and claims 100 million listeners. Clear Channel generated about 20 percent of the radio industry’s $16 billion in 2001 revenues.

    Size sparks criticism

    The media giant’s size also has generated criticism. Some recording artists have charged that Clear Channel’s dominance in radio and concert promotions is hurting the recording industry. Congress is investigating the effects of radio consolidation. And the FCC is considering ownership rule changes, among them changes that could allow Clear Channel to expand its reach.

    Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) has introduced a bill that could halt further deregulation in the radio industry and limit each company’s audience share and percent of advertising dollars. These measures could limit Clear Channel’s meteoric growth and hinder its future profitability.

    Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said the company’s support of the Bush administration’s policy toward Iraq makes it “hard to escape the concern that this may in part be motivated by issues that Clear Channel has before the FCC and Congress.”

    Dollinger denied there is a connection between the rallies and the company’s pending regulatory matters.

    Rick Morris, an associate professor of communications at Northwestern University, said these actions by Clear Channel stations are a logical extension of changes in the radio industry over the last 20 years, including the blurring of lines between journalism and entertainment.

    From a business perspective, Morris said, the rallies are a natural fit for many stations, especially talk-radio stations where hosts usually espouse politically conservative views.

    “Nobody should be surprised by this,” Morris said.

    In 1987 the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community and to do so by offering balancing views. With that obligation gone, Morris said, “radio can behave more like newspapers, with opinion pages and editorials.”

    “They’ve just begun stretching their legs, being more politically active,” Morris said.

    Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune

  4. deb April 5, 2003 at 1:04 am #

    This might be old news to you, but I just located this sight. I just found out Clear Channel probably owns the radio stations that have persecuted the Dixie Chicks since their comments in London. I’m not a big fan of the Dixie Chicks, but I was under the impression our military is and has always fought in wars to attain and protect our personal freedoms including expressing our opinions openly. You would think Clear Channel or any media servic would support everyone’s 1st amendment rights.

  5. Bird Dog October 30, 2003 at 9:43 am #

    Nice rant about Clear Channel. Problem is, the radio hosts organized the pro-war rallies, not Clear Channel. The ratings don’t lie. Liberals couldn’t cut it.

  6. Fred Singlewide February 14, 2008 at 10:05 am #

    Though this blog was posted in 2003 it really hits home even in 2008!

    With Internet Talk Radio becoming increasingly popular it would make sense now for someone to contact a company like Syndication Networks, start a Liberal talk Show on and once it takes root and gains loyal listeners, have SN Syndicate it on Terrestrial Radio for you.

    They are doing it for our Comedy Talk Radio show.

    It sounds like an awesome idea to me!

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