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Radio AM to FM: February 27, 2004

Indecent Leader?

Mel Karmazin, who as President and Chief Operating Officer of Viacom is responsible for overseeing all of Viacom's operations, recently led a conference call in which he told Infinity Broadcasting division managers and programmers to not "screw up," and that indecency on the air will not be tolerated. Those breaking the policy will be fired.

This, of course, is the same Karmazin who oversaw CBS-television's (another Viacom division) infamous Super Bowl halftime show in which Janet Jackson bared her breast to a national audience.

It is the same Karmazin who oversees MTV, the division that produced the halftime show and airs programming that can hardly be called "family friendly."

It is the same Karmazin who oversees the radio division, which includes a station with an afternoon show that encouraged people to have sex in public places, culminating with the arrest of a couple doing so in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, along with the arrest of the station employee giving an on-air play-by-play account of the deed.

In other words, it is the Karmazin who made his reputation by running radio and cable networks that helped make indecency a household word.

Interesting that junk broadcasting like that mentioned above has been going on at Infinity stations for years -- all under Karmazin's watch as he moved up the corporate ladder. Karmazin didn't suddenly discover what his stations were doing; only when the FCC and Congress threatened action in response to the Jackson Super Bowl incident did he and the company issue a "reiteration of existing company policy," as quoted to industry newspaper Radio and Records by a Viacom spokesperson.

Insincere? You bet. Makes me wonder if he is fit to run a broadcasting company ... or if Viacom is fit to hold broadcast licenses.

Local Reaction

Infinity stations KNX (1070 AM) and KFWB (980 AM) are now forbidden to air live interviews. So on-the-spot reporting is gone from the all-news stations, at least until time-delay equipment is installed or programmer David Hall comes to his senses, giving listeners one more reason to switch to KFI (640 AM) or public stations for news.

The Kevin and Bean morning show on sister KROQ (106.7 FM) canceled a bit that aired Thursdays called "Sex U."

KRTH (101.1 FM) played "Soul and Inspiration." Some things never change.

Not a Care

Interestingly, while the FCC, Congress, and broadcast companies everywhere are all running around in a panic due to the Super Bowl, a recent poll showed that most Americans, while disappointed with CBS for allowing it to happen, agree that overall it is not a big deal ... and that having the FCC and Congress investigate it is a waste of taxpayer money.

Garage Sale

Want to hear garage, punk, and psychedelic music from the late 1960s and '70s from the safety of your own home? Log on to every Saturday from 1 to 3 PM for Robby Russell's Garage Mania Show. Each week, Russell and co-host Nurse Cheril do a show in '60s top-40 style with lots of rare music, news, strange promos and sound bites. Well worth your time.


Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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