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Published: Sunday, 2/22/2009

Break the lock on local radio market

As a counterpoint to your article on Toledo talk radio, I highly recommend a study published by the Center for American Progress, which can be found at www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/06/pdf/talk_radio.pdf.

The study says that the two common myths cited to explain conservative talk radio dominance are the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and the lack of consumer demand. In fact, neither of these explains the problem. More influential was the relaxation of ownership rules under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which resulted in individual radio markets being almost completely owned by national companies such as in Toledo, where Clear Channel and Cumulus have an absolute lock on the market.

It is a corporate agenda, not consumer demand, that results in conservative talk saturation. The study revealed that of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative and only 9 percent was progressive.

According to a Pew Research study, only 36 percent of Americans label themselves as conservative while 60 percent identify as moderate or liberal. If consumer demand truly shaped what is broadcast, wouldn't the percentage of conservative programming be closer to 36 percent?

I long ago tuned out Toledo talk radio when it veered so radically right with vitriolic hosts such as Michael Savage. I listen to some progressive programs, including Air America on the web; WDTW, Detroit, at 1310 AM, and Thom Hartmann from noon to 3 p.m. daily.

Think about how much richer and informative Toledo radio could be if just one station would become an Air America affiliate. Better yet, urge Congress to restore local ownership rules and break the national corporate lock on our local radio market.

Darlene Bevelhymer

Bowling Green

The Blade seems perplexed that the local talk radio stations are dominated by conservative viewpoint. All two of them. Wow, what domination. But I digress.

Don't those with the liberal viewpoint have as much right to launch a liberal radio station as conservatives do? This is called capitalism, something many liberals don't seem to like. If the right-leaning stations were not profitable, they would not be in business long. Apparently there is no profitability in a liberal format as yet, and no one willing to take the risk to find out.

The Blade's solution would be to ram down our throats the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine," which would require the heavy hand of government to force stations to air all viewpoints. So I guess Christian radio stations would then have to present atheist ideas, and have Muslims, Hindus, New-agers, Scientologists, and Buddhists all come on the air to present their viewpoints, for example. Ridiculous.

This "doctrine" is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to stifle the conservative and Christian viewpoint by adding so much clutter and noisethat itdrowns out the message. More government intrusion into the free market of ideas. Doesn't surprise me.

Since liberals already dominate the mainstream print and TV media, and now Washington, conservative radio is the only outpost remaining in the lonely wilderness of liberal gobbledygook.

Liberals know that their ideas will be exposed as worthless when examined in the light of day so they resort to sneaky schemes with warm, fuzzy names such as the "Fairness Doctrine" to eliminate the opposing viewpoint. Maybe Rush is right about socialism being just around the corner.

Brian Lee

Sylvania

The Feb. 8 article about the prevalence of conservative talk radio skirted the most plausible reason for the lack of liberal or progressive talk radio. Progressives are, by definition, more open-minded than conservatives.

They are interested in hearing actual news and expanding their knowledge on a wide variety of topics rather than listening to some overheated blowhard rant about a narrow range of issues using worn-out cliches. They try to expose themselves to a variety of viewpoints to help challenge and refine their own ideas rather than regurgitate those of someone else.

I am glad there is not a strong market for progressive talk radio. If there was, then its listeners would cease to be what they claim. As tempting as it may be, if they limited their exposure to the likes of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, they would be no more progressive than the disciples of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Ryan McCarthy

Perrysburg

How can you write an article about Sen. Debbie Stabenow and the Fairness Doctrine, and include discussion of Air America, but not mention the fact that her husband, Tom Athans, is the former executive vice president of the liberal Air America? She wants fairness? Give me a break.

Matt Denman

Holland

The fact that talk radio in Toledo does not represent the majority political view is not surprising.

Talk radio represents mainly what its corporate owners want the general population to hear as part of their effort to shape public opinion.

Starting with the deregulation under President Ronald Reagan, the American media have been consolidated and concentrated into just a handful of corporations. These corporations support programming which first promotes their own interests, be they business or political. Any benefit for the local community or citizens is secondary.

Censorship by these corporations can also be part of the programming, as evidenced by Clear Channel banning the Dixie Chicks after they criticized President Bush.

Along with not providing alternative talk or opinions apart from their own interests or ideology, freedom of speech doesn't appear to be high on their list either.

Todd Smyth

Maumee

I read with interest the well-written Feb. 8 article on the so called Fairness Doctrine.

Appearing in a decidedly left-leaning newspaper seems appropriate in that liberals continually complain that they are the victims in any "problem" or debatable question, which is an inane view.

I am certain that if the role was reversed and the radio talk-show lineup was abundantly liberal, you would never have had a story condemning them.

There are two sides to every story, whether you call it a rant-and-rave attack or simply articulating the other side of the coin. We need that.

This is America, and factual debate is the norm and always has been.

One thing I have learned about both sides of political questions is both sides have far too many corrupt and corruptible members, both in and out of office.

If talk radio shows are too far to the right, then sponsor radio shows with a left-leaning format. If they aren't present in today's radio talk-show lineup, perhaps it is because they don't make money for the station; read: no one listens.

I believe that all sides should be heard. But please don't complain like children because you lack the ability to debate fairly and appeal to listeners. And don't call it a Fairness Doctrine when you advocate elimination of an avenue of communication just because the liberals, read Democrats, are in power.

You want a Fairness Doctrine? We all want fairness, the thinking public does at least, but not a one-sided rant from the left or right. Both sides should be allowed to express their views freely.

Fred Nofziger

Monclova Township

Complaints about political leanings are really unwarranted in broadcasting.

An adage I heard way back in childhood is: The nice thing about a radio (or TV) is that you can turn it off!

R. C. BURNS

Blissfi eld



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