Loren Steffy has a column in today’s Chronicle about the demise of KLOL-101. He says the blame is not with Clear Channel, but with Washington, D.C. and deregulation. He calls it the “Wal-Marting of the airwaves”:
Fewer media owners mean fewer media choices. If you own eight stations, as Clear Channel does, in a broadcast area the size of Houston, you can create vertical markets, nice little demographic compartments tailor made for advertisers.
No matter what your business, Clear Channel has a cookie-cutter market segment for your target customer base: Latino hip-hop, “new mix” pop, Fleetwood Mac-inundated “classic rock,” news/talk and gooey “easy listening” to name a few.
There’s lots of real estate on the dial, with little format overlap. What’s the point in dominating a market if you have to compete with yourself?
In the name of cost efficiency, the prefab formatting can be replicated in city and after city. Media consolidation becomes media coagulation, the Wal-Marting of the airwaves. Call it McRadio.
The betrayal of the public trust didn’t happen in San Antonio; it happened in Washington.
Clear Channel has an obligation to grow. That is, after all, what businesses do, and Clear Channel has simply done that better than any of its rivals, gobbling up stations like Pac Man since the broadcast industry was deregulated in 1996. It now owns 1,200 nationwide.
Deregulation has meant an end to incremental revenue. Broadcasting now is about growth, and big money is in the buying of stations, not the owning of them.