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Radio AM to FM: February 21, 2003

Beating the Pros

Invoking memories of the fictitious tow truck driver in the television commercial who bought an island with the stock profits he made trading on line, a 41-year old roofing contractor beat out every professional and amateur investor who participated in the KNX (1070 AM) Business Hour Listener Investment Challenge.

Jim Rodgers of Alta Loma turned $50,000 in virtual play money into over $100,000 -- a gain of over 100 percent -- in just two months while participating in the market simulation. The top professional investor was Gary Handler of IBC World Markets, who grew his portfolio by 94 percent.

Mr. Rodgers deserved to win," said KNX economist and host of the event, Peter Navarro in a press release. "I looked at his portfolio and it was astonishing. Most of the top-performers succeeded by short-selling named brand tech stocks; Jim put together one of the most interesting and eclectic portfolios in the contest."

Rodgers also sold short, the practice of of selling a stock you don't own but promise to deliver in the anticipation of a future decline in the price of a stock, in about 80 percent of his trades. He says he learned his trading skills himself.

Navarro says he hosted the contest because he believes that too many people are losing money in stocks due to a lack of knowledge. Indeed, while Rodgers, Handler and others grew their portfolios quite impressively, the S&P 500 and Dow both lost more than 8 percent in the same time frame.

A second chance to play against other listeners and investment professionals will begin in March.

Record Setting Drive

KCRW (89.9 FM) concluded its 11-day on-air subscription drive February 10th with the largest amount ever contributed to the public radio station.

More than 1000 volunteers took phone pledges and direct-mail donations from 26,466 subscribers and businesses totaling $2,888,617 during the drive. The station is hoping to replace obsolete equipment and modernize its 19-year old studios.

More Consolidation

What if television and newspaper ownership rules were relaxed in the way that radio was deregulated in 1996? Under current rules, the same corporation cannot own a newspaper and television station in the same market, unless they owned them both long enough to be "grandfathered in" under the rules. What if that changed?

Many see what happened in radio and fear the worst: that a company such as Clear Channel would swoop in, buy every television station and newspaper they can afford -- and many that they can't -- and turn the industry on its head ... not necessarily for the better, often for the worst.

Ironically, it is Clear Channel's success in radio that is making people everywhere -- from the FCC to the United States Congress, including people generally associated with deregulation -- to look closely at what could happen if media in general was deregulated as is radio.

And they don't appear to like what they see. People who were expected to essentially rubber-stamp deregulation are taking a second look, including FCC Chairman Michael Powell himself, at least publicly.

Where will it lead? Time will tell. Stay tuned.


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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