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Boycott Canned Radio!
Wendy Wilde

In 1996, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Telecommunications Act. It allowed giant corporations to buy up radio stations from local owners, and ultimately eliminated 10,000 jobs for local announcers, news reporters, commercial copywriters and DJ's!

Before 1996 companies could own only 1 AM and 1 FM radio station in any city. Most radio stations before 1996 were owned by local people who were often leaders in their communities and took pride in their radio stations and in serving their communities' needs and interests. They hired real people to provide local programming and news. There were some large radio groups that owned radio stations in many cities, but there was great diversity of ownership within each city.

Now, giant out-of-town corporations own five, six, even ten or more radio stations in one town. They often have just one news reporter and commercial copywriter for five or more radio stations. That means less diverse coverage of the news, and less in-depth coverage because that one reporter is stretched too thin. Most of these radio stations are now automated, satellited, syndicated and network-programmed part or all of the day. This saves the giant corporations from having to pay salaries, but it also means local communities have lost their voice!

In one region of my home state, 6 of the 7 radio stations in a 60 mile radius last year were owned by one company, and only 1 of those 6 radio stations carried live programming throughout the day! The others were automated (voice-tracked) or satellite.


There are a limited number of radio broadcast frequencies available, so these giant corporations now have a monopoly. Local people can't just go out and buy another open frequency because none exist. Local communities have lost control of their radio stations and have lost the opportunity to communicate via this important technology!

The giant corporations point to the Internet and say it is competing with radio. That is not true. Only 50 percent of Americans have computers at home and most do not have high-bandwidth to listen to Internet radio broadcasts. Almost no cars have satellite radio XM receivers, and won't for many years.


An article on the subject by John Nichols, published in The Nation, reports that some important people have voiced concern that the 1996 Act seriously damaged the radio industry's service to communities. Senators John McCain and Fritz Hollings are among them. But... with 911 other issues now distract them.


It will be a slow and painful process to take back the radio stations from corporations... but if they don't make money they'll sell off the radio stations... BACK TO LOCAL OWNERS!

So... PLEASE stop listening to any radio station that does not provide live, local programming! Encourage your friends and colleagues to boycott commercial radio, unless you KNOW it is live and local. If you're not sure, just call the radio stations and ask. Be nice and chatty and tell them you listen all the time so they'll tell you the truth when you ask if the radio station has announcers here in your town or if they're on a satellite or recorded (voice-tracked). If they're not local, please don't listen anymore! If nobody listens, advertisers won't buy ads, and we'll eventually get our LIVE and LOCAL radio stations back!

I have sat in management meetings and heard these corporate people laugh at how the listeners don't even know when a radio station is local or not... and how great it is that they don't have to pay for having a staff any more. Please, let the LISTENERS and UNEMPLOYED RADIO PEOPLE have the last laugh!

When I began my career in radio more than 20 years ago, radio employees were proud to SERVE THEIR COMMUNITY with information. That is almost gone now. Please help the thousands of devoted radio professionals get their careers back... and return to serving local communities! (By the way, I am very, very lucky and work for the only totally local and live radio stations in my city with a news staff of 7 and live announcers round the clock... it is other radio stations I hope to see given back to the local communities.)