Friday, February 18, 2005

ClearChannel: Liberal?

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Clear Channel adopts liberal programming on growing number of stations
Date: Friday, February 18 @ 10:11:00 EST
Topic: Media
From The Associated Press

DETROIT -- The day before President Bush's inauguration, listeners tuning in to the Detroit sports station WXDX-AM were suddenly greeted by the sound of braying donkeys. By the time Bush was taking the oath of office, the radio station had new call letters and a full schedule of liberal talk shows.
WXDX-AM -- now known as WDTW-AM -- is one of 22 stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc. that have switched to a liberal talk format in the last year. This month, KTLK-AM in Los Angeles became the latest Clear Channel station to adopt the format.

Those who track broadcasting trends say there's money to be made in liberal talk radio. Todd Webster, a consultant for Washington-based liberal talk show producer Democracy Radio, said Clear Channel is expected to introduce the left-leaning format on 20 more stations by the end of the year.

"There is a tremendous appetite out there for progressive talk," he said.

Webster said that even as recently a year ago, no one thought Texas-based Clear Channel, a media conglomerate that owns 1,200 stations -- including Twin Falls radio stations KEZJ-FM, KLIX-AM and KLIX-FM -- would ever become partners with upstart liberal talkers.
"There has been a tectonic shift in the industry from all of the big brains and the head honchos saying, 'Nobody wants to listen to a bunch of whiny liberals on the radio,"' Webster said.

The partnership might seem surprising because of Texas-based Clear Channel's conservative reputation. Clear Channel CEO Lowry Mays and his wife gave $65,000 to the Republican National Committee in the last election cycle, and two-thirds of the company's federal donations went to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And last summer, a Berkeley, Calif.-based group sued Clear Channel, which also owns an outdoor advertising business, after it refused to run an anti-war billboard in Times Square during the Republican National Convention.

The company also isn't seen as socially progressive. In December, Clear Channel stations in Tampa, Jacksonville, St.
Louis and Detroit awarded breast enhancement surgeries to 13 women as part of the "Breast Christmas Ever" contest; at the time, the company said it had no oversight of the contests and didn't sponsor them. Clear Channel also pulled talk show host Howard Stern off the air because of concerns over mounting indecency fines.
The company says politics aren't involved in its decision to put liberal talk shows on the air.

"I'm trying to identify needs in our various communities, whether it's German industrial music or punk rock or progressive talk," said Gabe Hobbs, vice president of news and talk programming for Clear Channel. "That happens to be good business."

Hobbs said Clear Channel began programming offerings from Air America Radio, which produces comedian Al Franken's three-hour talk show, and Democracy Radio, which produces a popular show by liberal talker Ed Schultz, because listeners were demanding an alternative to conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh during the 2004 election.

"The election dramatically raised everyone's interest in hearing political talk," Hobbs said. "I think polarization is one of the facets of any talk radio format, regardless of orientation."

Hobbs said liberal radio is actually a return to the days before Limbaugh, when talk radio was dominated by left-leaning hosts like Alan Colmes, who is now seen on Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes."

Local station managers have the final say over the switch in programming. At WDTW, General Manager Dave Pugh was eager to give Detroiters a format they couldn't find anywhere else.

"We are a blue state and a blue region and it just made sense," Pugh said.

From Associated Press:

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Queer & Homeless

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PRESS RELEASE The 8th Annual Homelessness Marathon
Rogi Riverstone
Albuquerque: 505-842-8175
Toll Free: 1-877-718-0691

8th ANNUAL HOMELESSNESS MARATHON Broadcasting in Albuquerque

Local producers will carry a live, hour discussion, to be aired at 10pm local time, on the impact of homelessness on Gay, Lesbian, Transexual, Transgendered, Pansexual and Bisexual people in Albuquerque. Stay tuned to KUNMfm 89.9 and for further details.

The 8th Annual Homelessness Marathon is a nationally-produced show. Participating Pacifica, NPR and independent, community and public radio stations will both broadcast and air it. The Marathon will be broadcast from 9pm, EST on Monday, February 14th to 11am, EST on Tuesday, February 14, 2005. The broadcast will be carried on KUNMfm 89.9.

The Homelessness Marathon has been called, "the most significant media event focusing on homelessness and poverty" by Donald Whitehead, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. And it is unlike any other broadcast in the world.
The Marathon is almost entirely live, covers taboo territory and features the voices of people who are rarely heard on the air. Perhaps for this reason it has grown rapidly. The first Marathon, in 1998, was on one tiny station in central New York. The 7th Marathon, in 2004, was on 80 stations coast-to-coast, with another 30 stations across Canada carrying a parallel Canadian Homelessness Marathon.

As always, the 8th Marathon's broadcast booth will be set up outside, to dramatize the plight of people with nowhere to go in the cold, and calls will be taken from around the country. But there will be no on-air solicitations. The Marathon is a consciousness raising, not a fundraising broadcast.
The 8th Marathon will be distributed via the NPR and Pacifica satellites and will be streamed on the web. More information, including broadcast schedules and audio clips from past broadcasts may be found at the Marathon's web site: and