While the drumbeat continues on the concept that liberal (or progressive if you choose to use a different spin on them) ideas do not seem to get a proper 'airing' on AM talk radio, the focus of the attack in this attempted revival of the doctrine now almost cleverly places the blame on the ownership of radio stations. It's not that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity nationally, or Fred Lefebvre, Brian Wilson, and Maggie Thurber locally are successfully competing in the market of ideas with their conservative viewpoints. It is that the evil ownership of their local outlet, Clear Channel Radio, is able to stifle competition through its massive ownership of the radio airwaves.
On the surface, such arguments might hold water, as Clear Channel (according to the 2006 numbers cited in the editorial) owns 1190 radio stations. However, when compared to other forms of media, the argument begins to leak like a sieve. Clear Channel does own an AM radio station in Toledo, but not the only one. Compare this to the Toledo Blade, the only daily newspaper in the city. Extend the comparison further in the newspaper market and we find that the overwhelming number of daily newspapers in the US Market remain in very few hands.
In fact some 37% of the daily newspapers in US are in the hands of a very few corporate owners in 2005 (and the number continues to grow). More importantly however, 67% of the circulation of daily newspapers resides in the hands of those same corporate owners.* In the intervening years, these numbers have likely increased, as newspapers continued consolidation seeks to reduce its overall production costs. With rare exceptions, all of the corporate voices of these newspaper owners take a more liberal spin on the events of the day. *These numbers come from the reports of the media group Journalism.org.
As for television, There are still only 4 networks on the airwaves with a voice. ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC are the only outlets for television news and opinions for those without cable or satellite channels. Even if we expand this to include cable and satellite channels however, the outlook changes little. MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, whose ownership is already represented on the airwaves, does little to expand the horizon; and even adding in CNN and CNN Headline News adds only one new voice. Here too, only Fox News leans to the right when voicing opinions on television, and while this is hardly a balanced output, little complaint is made (except of course about Fox).
Now we know that the local talk radio station WSPD, is almost constantly at odds with the opinions expressed in the Blade, even often resorting to the use of derogatory terms when citing it. Yet the Blade, as illustrated by the above numbers, sits on the side of the majority voice in media in the US today. Their echoing of the liberal point of view expressed in other newspapers and on both network and cable television is inarguable.
So once again, it begs the question: Why is AM radio the only form of media whose ownership and content are coming under scrutiny? As happens far too many times in Toledo, I must conclude that it is because any opinions, other than that of the owner and publisher of the Toledo Blade, must be thwarted.