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Airwaves: December 15, 2006

You Talk, the FCC Listens. Hopefully.

Four commissioners of the FCC -- Kevin Martin, Michael Copps, Jonathan Adelstein and Deborah Tate -- got an earful of opposition to allowing further consolidation in media recently. The four were on hand in Nashville for the second of six public hearings on the subject earlier this month.

The majority of those in the audience were opposed to more consolidation, and some were even recommending going back to pre-1996 ownership caps, wherein companies were allowed to own no more than 40 stations nationwide and no more than two AM and two FM stations in any one market. Today the national limit doesn't exist and the local market limit is eight.

Commissioner Adelstein, in fact, seemed to agree, and even questioned whether today's radio stations would allow Elvis Preseley to get his start. "I sometimes wonder if the next Elvis is out there somewhere throwing down his guitar ... because he can't get on the radio."

According to industry newspaper Radio and Records, it was Commissioner Copps who received the biggest response from the audience when he said, "If anyone tells you that big media's push for more consolidation has gone away, don't believe it. People don't have enough say about how their airwaves are used, and it's time for a change."

Wow. Could it be that the FCC is finally getting it? That the quality of radio (and media in general) has gone way down since it put control of the airwaves into the hands of three companies, one of which dominates everything?

Are the commissioners finally realizing that it is not iPods and satellite radios that are taking listeners away from radio, it is bland formats designed with no competition that are actually pushing listeners to those and other alternate entertainment forms?

The views expressed by the public audience and panelists were essentially the same as when the FCC held a similar hearing in Los Angeles back in October.

Say It Isn't So

Techies everywhere are lamenting an announcement Leo Laporte made in an internet chat that he would be leaving KFI (640 AM)once his contract runs out on December 31st.

For the uninitiated, Laporte is "the tech guy" on KFI. Not just computers but all things electronic are discussed on the show, which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 2 PM. Smooth in delivery and knowledgeable, Laporte hosts one of the most interesting -- and highly rated -- weekend talk shows.

More time with his family, he says of his decision to end the show. It seems that of all of his activities, the show takes the most time and pays the least money.

But all is not lost yet. Last Friday Laporte said that he agreed to stay on through January 31st, 2007, and that there is talk of the show being syndicated nationally. If that happens, he said, "I might just have to stay."

It's Magic

KKBT (100.3 FM) has mellowed out a bit to become "Today's R&B and Classic Soul," throwing the term "magic" around periodically as in, "it's magic," and "the magic is in the music."

It's a throwback to the old KACE (now KRCD, 103.9 FM) which played "dusties" until going Spanish in early 2000.


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and MediaNews Group Newspapers.

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