Question: What do the following talk radio hosts have in common?
- John and Ken, KFI Los Angeles
- Bill Handel, KFI Los Angeles
- Barry Young, KFYI Phoenix
- Liddy and Hill, KFYI Phoenix
- Tom Sullivan, KFBK Sacramento
- Roger Hedgecock, KOGO San Diego
- Peter Boyles, KHOW Denver
- Mike Rosen, KOA Denver
- Bill Cunningham, WLW Cincinnati
- Chris Baker, KPRC Houston
- Pat Gray KPRC Houston
Answer: They are all huge presences in their local markets. They all focus intensely on local issues. They all contribute significantly to the diversity of opinion in their communities. And they all work for radio stations owned and operated by Clear Channel Communications, the radio behemoth that has been the cause of so much angst among liberals worried about media consolidation.
In the opinion of my former boss, Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen, large media conglomerates such as News Corporation (which owns my employer, Fox News Channel, and the New York Post) and Clear Channel pose a dire threat to American democracy. Blethen, whose family owns the Times, had an op-ed in the Washington Post last Sunday bemoaning the growth of Clear Channel and other media chains. An excerpt:
Walter Lippmann said that a free press “should consist of many newspapers decentralized in their ownership and their management, and dependent for their support . . . upon the communities where they are written, where they are edited and where they are read.”
From thousands of independent media outlets during Lippmann’s heyday in the middle of the past century, media ownership dropped to only 50 companies by 1983. Today what was a concern has become a nightmare: The majority of our media are controlled by just five companies.
Consider the frightening loss of diversity in media voices:
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