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Monday, December 17, 2007

Radio Killed the Radio Star

Bridgetburns_2 We all know Clear Channel is both evil and the death of independent radio.

Thankfully we have enterprising locals like Lee Anderson and Jim Lockridge to keep local independent radio alive.

But while we’re passing the time until January when I can tap into The Radiator's online stream at work, how about a little story about my own ‘too close for comfort’ experience with Clear Channel? It’s one of those stories perfect to tell on a first date, and let’s face it, we’re now on date number four. Or five? Heck, I’ve lost count. We’re in a full out relationship.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to try my hand at business. I won’t get into here, because you've heard it all before. But I will ask you not to tell me it won’t work, because if you do, I will have to put one of my Veterans on you.

Anyway. In trying to secure a business loan, I got myself a business counselor. A man who, with the best of intentions, set up a meeting for me with one of his good friends. Someone who ‘used to work in the music industry’. It wasn’t until about ten minutes into my meeting with the friend that I asked him what part of the music industry he had actually worked in.

“I headed up Clear Channel,” he said, with a bit of a gloat, and not one ounce of the shame my shocked face was trying to impose on him.

I was speechless. And frankly, a bit panicked. This man was more monster than mogul and I had willingly entered a meeting with him. I tried to remember if there had been a sign on the door on my way into the room. You know, something along the lines of, “If you enter this meeting, Clear Channel will officially OWN YOUR SOUL.”

For the next twenty minutes, I allowed the man to talk to me about how I should raise the proposed salary on my business plan so that I could reward myself with a little sports car and how if I decided to become a nonprofit, I could simply pay myself a large bonus at the end of every year with any profit that the company had cleared.


I interjected once or twice with my business’ actual mission, trying to convince the man that the whole point was to fundraise for other organizations, but he wasn’t having it. Or maybe he just wasn’t capable of conceptualizing it?

In the end the meeting did help me. It gave me a lot of advice on exactly how not to write my business plan. And convinced me to get a lawyer.

It also made me that much more wary of Clear Channel-owned radio stations, and all the more excited for small ventures like The Radiator. Best of luck to you guys! I’m excited to hear what your hard work turns out!



The Senate Commerce Committee recently voted to remove the caps on Low Power FM in "urban" markets, and the FCC actually seems committed to moving LPFM forward in their own rulemaking. They've even set the limit on the number of "translator" stations — full power commercial broadcasters who snag up low-power real estate to rebroadcast their megawatt signals in more places — that a single entity can own. Now they just need to roll back to pre-1996 Federal Telecommunications Act ownership caps. But that'll never happen.

Still, LPFM is one ray of light on the over-consolidated blight that is our public airwaves. It's great that there may be more local and diverse stations in our communities — large AND small.

And yes, Clear Channel is the Devil.

Cathy Resmer

Your anecdote reminds me of Ani DiFranco's classic "Blood in the Boardroom," minus the big period stain.

Honestly, though, I don't see what's wrong with meeting with the dude. It's good to cast a wide net when seeking input on major decisions. Even if your net ensnares someone you don't necessarily agree with.


plug: if you live in the burlington area, tune in to my radio show 'all together' on the radiator 105.9 every thursday from 2-4pm for a whole bunch of different types of music. or as dan likes to call it, WEIRD music.

bridget, you dont live in the burlington area?
they are working on the net stream this week. should be going after the holidays hopefully.


I do live in Burlington, and have tuned in a bit in my car...

Most of my music-listening time occurs while sitting in front of my work computer, though. Which is why I am excited for the online stream!


yours truly the le duo also has a radio program. its called 'flap shadowy sounds' and is on wednesdays 6-8pm. free jazz avante experimental improv noise



Hey Bridget,

I'll be sitting down with Jim @ BHW hopefully Wednesday if not sooner to figure out what steps we need to get streaming going - i took a look at it briefly a week or so ago and it looks like everything is in the right place, there's just a few kinks in the pipe as it were. So with any luck we may see streaming even before the new year.

Also, Tune into 105.9 Thursday nights from 10-midnight for Aether Everywhere, you're go to for all things psych. W/ Tanner & Josh


I'm so psyched to hear that the Radiator's up and running. Lee's been wanting a radio station since the beginning - five or six years ago, I had to do a senior project for high school and asked Lee if I could help him out with the radio station I'd heard he was going to launch. He told me it wouldn't be getting off the ground for a few more months... I can't wait for it to get online!


Does anyone know if there's a full program guide available yet? I looked around the station's site but couldn't find one... I understand it might not be full yet but I'd be interested to see it...


Jeez, Bridget. I think you and I are the only ones without a radio show...

Let's get on that.


While we're plugging, I'll be dropping by Jim Lockridge's local music show, "Rocket Shop," a few times per month to play cuts from CDs recently reviewed in the paper. Should be fun. Not always listenable, I imagine. But fun.

While we're talking radio — and shamelessly pimping ourselves — I'll also be appearing on VPR this Friday doing a short bit (like, 3 minutes) on the best local releases of the year. You know, like Grace Potter, Page McConnell, etc. etc.

Just kidding about that last line . . . or am I? Tune in and find out.

As for the actual topic at hand, I agree with Cathy. It never hurts to open yourself up to as many viewpoints as possible when making any decision, big or small. And it's especially important to understand what you don't want.

Your Clear Channel pal actually does make a good point, albeit with all the requisite evil expected of such a parasite. Just because a venture is non-profit or not-for-profit doesn't mean its proprietor isn't entitled to make some sort of living for his or her efforts. One of the biggest mistakes mistakes aspiring entrepreneurs make — at least the ones I've known — is not paying themselves. You can't keep any business afloat if you can't eat.

That's not to say you should be cutting yourself checks for shiny new sports cars or villas in Spain — unless you really want to, that is. But there's no ethical trapdoor in being able to support yourself. In fact, if you can pull it off, you'd be able to devote yourself entirely to the label, accomplish your goals and not have to work odd jobs to make ends meet. Struggling is not inherently noble.

By "odd jobs" I of course don't mean Seven Days. We love you. Don't ever leave . . . unless, of course, you buy a villa in Spain, in which case I'll quit and come work for you.

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