by: J. D. Longstreet
Look, for those who don’t know …the Federal Communications Commission is GOD in the broadcasting Industry. They have the power of life and death for a broadcast station in America. You probably don’t know this (unless you are a broadcaster) but broadcasting is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. The government has its nose into every cussed thing you do as a broadcaster. Oh, the FCC will play humble and swear they don’t involve themselves in the daily grind of broadcast stations but that is unadulterated bovine scatology! Every broadcaster knows they do.
Back in my day, FCC field agents would come into a town, 35 miles away, rent a motel room, and set up their receiving and recording devices in a motel room and tape record, and listen to hours, and even days, of broadcast stations in that town and other towns nearby. Then, they would send out letters reprimanding stations for errors committed while they were listening and recording their broadcasts.
I have heard the story that some of broadcasters became fed up and set up a network of their own to watch for, observe, and report to all the stations in the area when the FCC was anywhere in their neck of the woods. They created a telephone network to make sure that all the stations received word when the FCC field agents checked into to any motel or hotel in that area. Those dreaded agents would make that visit about every three months.
Every hour, minute, and second of every broadcast day had to be accounted for… in writing. In my day, we were required to keep on-air program logs of everything we did. And we had to be able to produce those logs when the FCC came calling. Stations were fined for nearly every infraction of rules and regulations that had the force of law because Congress gave that power to the FCC.
Other than selling commercial time to support ourselves and, hopefully, make a profit for the owners and stockholders, the biggest headache we had was Public Affairs programming. Local broadcasters, you see, are in touch with their public. Unlike the bigwigs in Washington, in the Congress and on the FCC, broadcasters know what their listeners want to hear. They live among them. Their kids go to the same schools as the kids of their listeners and sponsors, they go to the same churches, they belong to the same civic clubs, heck, the LOCAL BROADCASTER IS THE PUBLIC! They know, far better than the fat cats in DC, what their listeners want to hear. And believe me, when I tell you, Public Affairs programs are NOT WHAT THE AVERAGE RADIO LISTENER WANTS TO HEAR! You can almost HEAR the dials being turned, en masse, when a public affairs program begins on a local radio station. And yet, under the old Fairness Doctrine a certain percentage of your weekly airtime HAD to be Public Affairs. In a small market, in the Bible Belt, 90% of everything going on has some connection to the church, or churches. But that is “religious” and does not count as Public Affairs. Nobody, including the government, seemed to know exactly WHAT public affairs really was. It was ambiguous as heck, to say the least!
When the Reagan administration canned the Fairness Doctrine, it was akin to being let out of prison. AM radio stations were for sale all over the country. Nobody wanted them. Many AM station owners simply went out of business and turned their license back to the FCC, shut their doors, and walked away taking a huge financial hit. A family member took a near $100,000 dollar loss on his AM Station gamble. In some case stockholders owned combos (AM/FM stations combined) would sell the FM station and GIVE THE AM STATION TO THE BUYER! THAT’S how bad it really was.
When the old Fairness Doctrine was lifted AM Stations could then put on the air what their listeners wanted to hear… and… they wanted to hear conservative talkers. BOY, did they want to hear conservatives! When a conservative talker went on the air telephones began ringing among listeners informing each other of the frequency of the stations carrying the conservative talkers. Listeners flocked to the stations with conservative talkers and, in weeks, so did sponsors who wanted to reach those listeners.
Station income soared, then profits soared, and stockholders were happy, listeners were happy, sponsors were happy, and station managers were ecstatic! The AM broadcast spectrum had been saved!
The plain truth is Americans really like to listen to conservative talkers on the radio. That is a fact. You can argue the whys and the wherefores forever and it won’t matter. The American public, for whatever reason, loves to listen to Rush, and Imus, and Hannity, and Beck and all the other conservative talkers. Personally, I think it has something to do with the upbeat way conservatives tend to address life and the daily trials of living and, yes, politics in America. Conservatives don’t hang a guilt trip on the listener, they don’t whine and they don’t talk down to their listeners. The naiveté of the liberals and their childish approach to life and politics is a real turn off to Americans who, generally speaking, are adult enough to find the liberal approach anathema to their way of thinking and their way of life. Thus, listeners turn away from liberal pubic affairs shows and turn to conservative talk shows. Honestly, I think it is just that simple.
But now we have the enemies of talk radio, more precisely… conservative talk radio, firmly in control of the White House and Congress. Their socialist schemes cannot work if conservative talk radio is allowed to shine the light of truth on their machinations in the nations capital. So, they are planning a full, all out attack on conservative talk radio.
They intend to use federal regulations to shut up Rush and his ilk. They intend to revive the Fairness Doctrine, which would demand that stations air … uh… “diverse” points of view. Broadcast station owners will be scared witless to do this because it could easily cause them all sorts of woe including a host of lawsuits and fines from federal agencies in Washington. So, what will station owners do? They will simply take the conservative talk shows off their stations and they won’t have to worry about those lawsuits and fines from DC. That’s the way it works. The Socialists in Congress and the White House will be pleased because they will have gotten the in thorn in their flesh, the conservative talk shows, out.
For our part, we think it is time for the old “Pirate Radio Stations” to spring up once again. For those of you too young to remember…these were stations, offshore, outside US territorial waters, beaming their broadcasting back into the US. The FCC can’t touch them. Then, there were the stations across the southern border in Mexico, big, powerful, radio stations blasting their signals northward into the US. The FCC couldn’t touch them, either. There is satellite radio already. But, satellite radio, if not already under the control of the government, soon will be.
Of course there is the Internet… and that is where the talkers will go, immediately, I expect. But it is not the same thing.
If the Socialist in Congress and the White House have their way, Americans will be huddled around their radios in the dark of night, much like the folks in Nazi occupied Europe, listening for the voice of reason and conservatism on little crystal radio sets, made from wire, razor blades, and a block of wood. This is what America is becoming, dear reader, a police state. And those loving, tolerant, liberals, turned socialist, will have brought it to you.
Now… aren’t you proud you voted for Obama?
J. D. Longstreet