A Democrat against progressive radio?

A friend of mine wrote an opinion piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer last week about local progressive radio and the (supposedly) Democratic Hamilton County Auditor (and precinct captain!) and Clear Channel radio d.j. wrote this rebuttal, (“Progressive radio had chance; listeners said no”). Unbelievable.

He has asked for help:

Dear Progressive Friends,

Most of you may have seen my direct email response* to Dusty Rhodes this morning. He calls himself a Democrat, but apparently he belongs to the Joe Lieberman wing. I also submitted a brief letter below** to the Enquirer asking for more print time…but that’s a long shot.

I greatly need help from any of you who can by going to this website and just sending a note of support for this cause. This organization is on our side and will be happy to hear from you. There’s a “contact” tab at the top of the page which will allow you to send a brief email.

www.nonstopradio.com

Also, if you have the notion, you can also send a note to the enquirer and express your side of this argument. It need not be a formal Letter to the Editor. You can just let Mr. Cooklis, the Asst. Editor who published both articles where you stand. The message will get through.

Yours in the cause.

Jerry Baker

**

From: Baker, Jerry R 

Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 1:39 PM
To:letters@enquirer.com
Subject: Rebuttal to Mr. Rhodes Article
Importance: High

Dear Sirs,

Today, Dusty Rhodes had his rebuttal published to my Editorial of last Saturday (Your Voice “Give Progressive Radio a Chance in Cincinnati”). His article is titled: “Progressive radio had chance; listeners said no”. Mr. Rhodes seems to have been given some preferential treatment as an “Other voice” columnist rather than joining the queue for “your voice”. Given his celebrity, I can understand this, but I’m hoping you’ll allow me a brief counterpoint to defend the tenets of my article. Here’s my submittal:

The published counterpoint to my recent Editorial on Progressive Radio contains more of the same industry untruths I wrote about in my article. Contrary to the author’s claim, leading progressive talk-radio shows are carried successfully in nearly 100 markets, beating their right-wing counterparts, and winning time slots. They’re proving that with professional management and marketing, progressive talk-radio is successful. The radio waves belong to the public, that’s why they’re licensed, but since 1996 the three largest corporations have captured 80 percent of the radio audience resulting in a huge disparity in talk-radio. That’s why progressives are fighting back. It’s not “socialist” as the author claims; it’s a basic tenet of our Democracy.

Jerry Baker

*Here is my friend’s letter in reply to the rebuttal:

Dear Mr. Rhodes,

I read your letter in the Enquirer this morning with great interest, especially in that you’re a respected member of the broadcast industry in Cincinnati. I certainly expected someone from Clear Channel to disagree with my editorial, but I must say I’m disappointed that it comes from a fellow Democrat.

Your position in this community would entitle you to speak with authority on the radio media but I think you took advantage of your reputation in throwing out some unsubstantiated comments, especially when you said “But it was a dismal failure, just as it has been in virtually every other market in the country.”
Frankly, you resorted to right wing radio talking points by making this statement. Shows like Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Bill Press, and Air America’s Randi Rhodes are doing very well in many, many markets. Ed Schultz, who is carried nationally on 100 affiliates (many owned by Clear Channel), leads his time slot in numerous Cities. He will be here this Fall for a speaking engagement for the Democratic Party, so you can ask him yourself if you don’t believe me.

Your statement that there are two 50K watt stations in this town is a given, but frankly, I don’t know where WCKY aims its signal, because most people in northern Hamilton County could NOT get the signal without a great deal of static. I had to buy a special AM antenna to get the station in our office in Springdale. Given that, I had no problem when the format was moved to WSAI. These are famous call letters in this town…I believe you will hardily agree with that?

What I did have a problem with was the horrific technical and business management of the format, on either of the two stations. Bad management won’t overcome any signal, let alone one that most people can’t get. There were numerous occurrences of dead air time, and many, many instances of cross-feed which would last for long periods of time. (It was also noteworthy that the station mysteriously went off the air during the special election in District One – Schmidt vs. Hackett). I myself (and many others) attempted to contact the station when this occurred, but there was no direct way to speak to the people actually running, or in this case, NOT running the station.

After the free publicity Clear Channel got in the local papers at the launch of Jerry Springer’s show, promotion of the format was not only non-existent in this town, it was negative. A well-known right wing host on WLW actually campaigned on his own show for his listeners to complain about the format and complain to advertisers. Is that what you were referring to with the promotion campaign? I sent many emails, and made many phone calls to Clear Channel begging for better promotion and correction of the technical problems. There was never a response.

Mr. Rhodes, the ratings for Progressive Radio in Cincinnati may not have been great but the format was surviving (It was approximately 18th of 38 on both WCKY and WSAI). When Clear Channel pulled the plug on Progressive Radio, the ratings at WSAI actually went down. Perhaps that’s why they’ve changed the format yet again?

My comments on proposed change to the Telecommunications laws are based upon the fact that since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, there are at least 1,100 fewer radio station owners in the United States, a decline of nearly 30 percent. In almost half of the largest markets, the three largest corporations have captured 80 percent of the radio audience. Asking for a return to equitable ownership and consideration of all audiences is hardly “socialist” as you called it. It’s a basic request to allow equity in broadcasting and giving people a chance to comment. The airwaves you’ve enjoyed your entire career are licensed because they belong to the Public, even Progressives.

Thanks for listening to a Fellow Democrat.

Jerry Baker

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Published in: on July 12, 2007 at 12:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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