Several talk radio people have thrown out a factoid on the air about the “Fairness Doctrine” – that news/talk has grown from a few hundred stations (before Rush) to about 2,000 today – because the fairness doctrine went away.
Before I get into this, I don’t want radio to go back to 1985 – but testifying to Congress if it comes to that with facts that can be disproven could be very harmful to the “cause”.
I count 1,166 “pure” news/talk stations as of today. To get anywhere near 2,000, you have to add in “All Sports” (564) or NPR (653).
It can’t be NPR – I’m thinking there had to be at least several hundred NPR stations back in the 1980s. If they’re doing talk today, they were doing talk back then – they are running the same programs from 30 years ago. Much of their increase in numbers is due to college and high school radio drying up and turning the licenses over to the state university systems or regional NPR networks.
The full service stations aren’t doing anything different today….. local news, weather and traffic, reading the obits, today in history, Paul Harvey, a swap shop program, playing some music to fill time, public service interviews, high school sports at night and on weekends, maybe some guy talking about sports in the evening, a religious program here or there, perhaps Jim Bohannon at 10 PM or overnight…. Before Coast to Coast, most stations turned off their transmitters around midnight. Computer automation didn’t exist yet except for very large stations, radio programs were not generally available on satellite yet. It’s technology that changed things, not the Fairness doctrine.
Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, I listened to Larry King, Bruce Williams, Sally Jesse Raphael… were “full service” stations that carried those talk programs at night “News/Talk” back in 1985 even if they did carrot cake recipes during the day?
The Fairness Doctrine isn’t going to be approached by the Obama administration or the Democrats in Congress as an economic one or the viability of the radio business model (which is looking very weak at the moment) or the sanctity of the 1st amendment.
The Democrats are about power and control, not money. Once you have the control, the money takes care of itself – a trillion dollars at a time.