Darkened cloud

Ken Levine calls it like it is:

Two more longtime major market radio stations bit the dust on Friday. WPLJ in New York and WRQX (Mix107) in Washington, DC. In both cases, the bankrupt company that mismanaged all their assets and had to unload these valuable properties just to stay afloat another twenty minutes sold to companies who decided to chuck the formats and replace them with a satellite feed.

There was a time when you couldn’t do that.

Radio licenses are held in the public’s trust. The FCC is supposed to ensure that license holders live up to their responsibility to serve their local community. Station owners have lost their licenses in the past because they did not adequately serve their public.

But that was when we had a government that was looking out for the people, not trying to swindle them. That is when we had anti-trust laws. That is when there were laws limiting the number of commercials. And number of stations any one group could own.

Both WPLJ and Mix107 had local talent and decent ratings. They organized local charities, provided emergency information during blizzards and other calamities. Now a satellite signal from Sacramento or wherever will fill those airwaves. Tell me exactly how this is a better use of a frequency for serving the community?

That same group owner owns six stations in Oklahoma City and operates a seventh under a local marketing agreement. I’m trying to think of some reason why I’d miss them. And you’ll never persuade me that the current ownership “limits” are any improvement over the old 7 AM/7 FM dictum.


  1. McGehee »

    5 June 2019 · 3:38 pm

    Once the robber barons have run the medium into the ground and unloaded the spectrum because it costs more to own than it earns, local radio will re-emerge just like vinyl records.

  2. The Other McCain »

    6 June 2019 · 7:54 am

    In The Mailbox: 06.05.19

    […] Dustbury: Darkened Cloud […]

  3. nightfly »

    6 June 2019 · 1:43 pm

    There’s also the history of the stations. I am local to WPLJ and remember them from my childhood; there have been format changes, of course, but the station has been broadcasting under those call letters for as long as I can remember, and probably longer than that.

  4. CGHill »

    6 June 2019 · 5:23 pm

    The WPLJ calls go back to about 1971; before that it was WABC-FM, and I’m pretty sure those weren’t its initial call letters.

    Addendum: Started in 1948 as WJZ-FM; adopted the ABC calls after the ABC/Paramount Theaters merger, which would have been 1953.

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