Friday, May 18, 2012

Occupy comes too late to save radio

Broadly speaking, the Occupy coalition is everything I've wanted in a protest movement since I was 15 - except it's arrived much too late.

Now there's a new Occupy chapter called Occupy WFNX - which aims to save a legendary Boston area radio station from a takeover by the hated Clear Channel. The FCC has just rubber-stamped Clear Channel's WFNX purchase, and observers speculate that Crap Channel plans to change WFNX's format from modern rock to right-wing talk - adding to the smorgasbord of far-right talkers that already pollute Boston airwaves. This despite Boston's reputation as a liberal market and the fact that WFNX is FM.

Occupy WFNX wants to stop this stampede. But - as with everything else Occupy - this protest should have been going on in 1996, when a right-wing Congress passed the telcom law that enabled WFNX's takeover. Don't get me wrong: I support Occupy WFNX. But isn't it a little late to save WFNX and other legendary stations that have been murdered by Congress's 1996 bailout of corporate radio?

If Occupy was around in the mid-2000s to halt the demise of 97-X just outside Cincinnati, it might have been just in the nick of time. But that ship has sailed. People sat on their hands, and as a result, American radio at this stage likely will never be rescued. Radio could have survived competition from the Internet, but serial inaction let the industry self-destruct.

Radio is dead.

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