Paul, while I enjoy Radio World and your writings immensely, please refrain from too many shocking statements that tend to knock me out of my coffee-stained Engineering Office chair (Feb. 1, “For Mike, the Messages Are Mixed“).
In your column, “Mike” overwhelmingly agrees with Mark Mays at Clear Channel that caps should be eliminated for station ownership and that a single company should be allowed to own all the stations in a single market.
That change would not only eliminate fair trade, competition and what little “public choice” of programming there exists in several markets, but would probably eliminate any “localism” above and beyond what is now required of radio stations.
Often, large group owners such as Clear Channel and even some cluster owners put up stations that are nothing short of a transmitter, antenna, PC, satellite receiver and EAS unit, with a sales office disguised as the “local office” in the city of license.
This does not in any way “serve the public interest” or benefit that small town that has a tornado barreling down on it or is sending their Little League team off to the World Series while the local radio station is playing 24 hours of satellite music, oblivious to what is happening outside the nonexistent studio door.
While I agree radio often runs up against unfair advantages of conglomerate-owned media companies owning too much in a single market, I am shocked someone in radio would suggest throwing more fuel on the fire.
I am not surprised to see such an idea coming out of the mouth of Clear Channel management. They would benefit from it the most. Ask them about recent cutbacks resulting in stations becoming mostly “syndicated.”
Given the newly elected administration in Washington, I will probably be even more “shocked” in the future with their policy changes than with this stance on station ownership. Meanwhile, please let those of us who still believe (falsely?) in fair competition in the marketplace and a local presence in the small and medium markets keep our jobs a little longer.
I am very fortunate to work for a five-station group that still has a local news and sports department and follows little Johnny’s baseball team to the championships even though we may lose money on the broadcast. That is what management here believes in: localism. By some amazing feat, we are even able to make payroll and pay the electric bill too! I doubt that game would be covered if one owner had all the stations in town.
We try to stand out by our promotion of community events and activities, and this has often forced the competition to do the same.
Finally Paul, please define the term “whipsaw” for me. I am by no means master of the English language, but it used to be customary in articles in magazines and newspapers to define slang or historical terms or spell out acronyms (such as you did with EBITDA) for those of us few broadcast engineers still barely under 50. I have often seen uncommon acronyms used repeatedly in articles in RW and other trade magazines without being defined.
Allan A. Augustyn, W8FYZ
Radio Results Network
Ed. Note: The American Heritage dictionary offers this as one of the meanings of whipsaw: “To cause to move or alternate rapidly in contrasting directions,” as in the quote, “The bond market … continues to be whipsawed by fears of rekindled inflation.”