By Adam Klugman of Portland, Oregon. Adam is a media strategist, activist and former host of KPOJ's Mad as Hell in America.
The announcement this week that Clear Channel Radio was taking Carl Wolfson off the air landed like news of an illness. And in many ways, it is an illness. Because after hosting my own weekly progressive talk show on KPOJ for over a year, it became obvious to me that Clear Channel Radio has a kind of illness – ill with small-mindedness, ill with corporate groupthink, and ill with a reflexive pandering that not only has become the hallmark of conservative radio, but also of the conservative movement. The only good news, as this most recent presidential election has clearly demonstrated, is that Corporate America’s unconscious contempt for the people of this country will, in the end, be its undoing.
I wish I could say that firing Carl and switching to Fox Sports was politically motivated because at least then I could reason there was some kind of ethical foundation for the decision. But Clear Channel Radio has no ethical foundation for any of their decisions. And it really isn’t about the almighty dollar either, no matter how much they doth protest, because the truth is that KPOJ turned a profit. I was told this personally by two of the executives over there on multiple occasions and I have every reason to believe them.
No, the real reason Clear Channel fired Carl Wolfson and dumped KPOJ without so much as a backwards glance is really much more dire than political agendas or money. This recent action is about a dangerous brand of hubris that has been on this rise is this country for over thirty years. I’ve spent a lot of time at Clear Channel Radio and I’ve seen firsthand the profound arrogance that only masquerades as a concern over profit, but really has its roots in something much more toxic - the conceit that they are somehow better than the community they serve and therefore have no obligation to them.
They’ve conveniently forgotten that the airwaves they use to distribute their mostly conservative smut belongs to us - -the people. They have completely abandoned the idea that radio is a critical instrument of a free press and thereby an extension of our First Amendment. And like their bile- mongering champions Michael Berry and Rush Limbaugh who exalt “real American values” while simultaneously ripping them to shreds, their total disregard for the importance of diverse, democratic dialogue is trumped only by their blind commitment to towing the corporate line.
This action must not go unanswered. Clear Channel has abused the public airwaves for far too long with its one-sided propaganda party and it is time they answer for it. So I call on all of Oregon to boycott the new KPOJ channel. Make a big, embarassing noise whever you can. Write to the sponsors explaining why you will not be buying any of their products and make it clear that you will encourage your friends to do the same. And sign Kari’s petition today!
I also call on our progressive political leaders like Jeff Merkley, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter Defazio, Ron Wyden and the Governor himself to demand Clear Channel Radio make a public justification for using their national media monopoly to shut down the only progressive voice on our local, public airwaves. This is not about the empty jargon of “free enterprise,” this is about free speech. It is not about “good business,” it is about best practices. And maybe most importantly, it is about holding the arrogance of America’s mega-corporations accountable to the communities they are privileged to serve.
So I say let’s make Clear Channel Radio’s recent decision an example to the nation. When they shut down our progressive outlet with their bloated conceit, we will burst it by shutting down the “new” KPOJ down with our discontent. Then, and only then, will we be able to send a clear message…that we are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.