NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Clear Channel kills progressive talk in Portland; activists rallying to bring it back

Clear Chan­nel has struck again.

Last Fri­day, with­out pro­vid­ing any expla­na­tion, the radio and out­door adver­tis­ing con­glom­er­ate trashed the entire pro­gram­ming line­up for KPOJ 620 AM (“Port­land’s Pro­gres­sive Talk”) and con­vert­ed the sta­tion into a Fox Sports affil­i­ate.

The sud­den for­mat change means Ran­di Rhodes, Mike Mal­loy, Thom Hart­mann, and oth­er pro­gres­sive hosts can no longer be heard over the air in Port­land, Ore­gon’s largest city. Carl Wolf­son’s live and local pro­gres­sive talk show, which aired in the morn­ings, has also been can­celled.

KPOJ was one of the now-defunct Air Amer­i­ca’s orig­i­nal affil­i­ates. It car­ried shows like Unfil­tered (with Rachel Mad­dow, Lizz Win­stead and Chuck D) Morn­ing Sedi­tion,  The O’Franken Fac­tor (lat­er The Al Franken Show) and the Major­i­ty Report (with Sam Seder and Janeane Garo­fa­lo). Like CBS Radio’s AM 1090 in Seat­tle, KPOJ was large­ly unaf­fect­ed by the 2010 breakup of Air Amer­i­ca because it was air­ing pro­gres­sive talk shows syn­di­cat­ed by oth­er com­pa­nies.

Clear Chan­nel, which was tak­en pri­vate in 2008 by Bain Cap­i­tal, is one of the largest media con­glom­er­ates in the Unit­ed States. It has become infa­mous among media crit­ics for cen­sor­ship, abrupt for­mat changes (like this one) oper­at­ing many of its sta­tions remote­ly and robot­i­cal­ly, and pay­ing actors to call into its talk shows.

Clear Chan­nel spends hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars every elec­tion cycle on polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions to can­di­dates. Repub­li­cans have typ­i­cal­ly received more Clear Chan­nel mon­ey than Democ­rats, though Democ­rats received a greater share in the 2008 and 2010 elec­tion cycles because the par­ty con­trolled Con­gress at the time. The com­pa­ny pri­mar­i­ly gives mon­ey to incum­bents as opposed to chal­lengers.

Clear Chan­nel owns dozens of sta­tions in the Pacif­ic North­west. Most are locat­ed in Wash­ing­ton. Five are in Ore­gon, all in the Port­land area (includ­ing KPOJ). Anoth­er eight are in Ida­ho (Pocatel­lo, Ida­ho Falls, and Twin Falls).

Kari Chisholm, a friend of ours and the founder of Blue­O­re­gon (which is indexed by Pacif­ic NW Por­tal) has launched a peti­tion to Clear Chan­nel to bring KPOJ back. The peti­tion reads:

620 KPOJ was a respect­ed and prof­itable sta­tion with ded­i­cat­ed lis­ten­ers and adver­tis­ers. KPO­J’s local pro­gram­ming also played an impor­tant role in our com­mu­ni­ty, con­nect­ing elect­ed offi­cials and advo­cates with lis­ten­ers across the region.

We strong­ly urge you to bring back pro­gres­sive talk radio in Port­land, Ore­gon.

On Blue­O­re­gon, Kari explained that he was moti­vat­ed to act after receiv­ing phone calls from anguished lis­ten­ers. “As some­one who appeared near­ly every Tues­day morn­ing on KPOJ for sev­en years — and was their longest-run­ning week­ly guest — I’m well aware of the pow­er and reach of KPOJ. It real­ly was a crit­i­cal gath­er­ing spot for our pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ty… I believe that we can reverse this deci­sion.”

“It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fast. But by demon­strat­ing that KPO­J’s pro­gres­sive audi­ence is ded­i­cat­ed and large, we can get Clear Chan­nel to reverse course. And if they won’t budge, then we’ll demon­strate to anoth­er com­pa­ny, anoth­er sta­tion that there’s an audi­ence here for pro­gres­sive talk. ”

If you agree, con­sid­er sign­ing on to Kar­i’s peti­tion at SaveKPOJ.com. Espe­cial­ly if you live in Port­land, Beaver­ton, Tigard, Gre­sham, Amer­i­ca’s Van­cou­ver, or their sub­urbs — the area that KPO­J’s sig­nal reach­es.

We at NPI launched a sim­i­lar site in the after­math of the can­cel­la­tion of The David Gold­stein Show more than four years ago. That site, Let­ter to 710 KIRO, remains online as an NPI archive. It had over one thou­sand sig­na­to­ries, which demon­strat­ed that David’s week­end show had a sur­pris­ing­ly ded­i­cat­ed and loy­al audi­ence.

We hope Kari is suc­cess­ful in his efforts to begin a dia­logue with Clear Chan­nel. But we wish media con­glom­er­ates did­n’t have this kind of pow­er. When a group of exec­u­tives sit­ting in a board­room in Texas have the author­i­ty to choose what over-the-air pro­gram­ming is avail­able to peo­ple in cities like Seat­tle and Port­land, some­thing is wrong. If it was­n’t for Nation­al Pub­lic Radio (NPR) and its affil­i­ates, prac­ti­cal­ly the entire medi­um of radio would be con­trolled by com­pa­nies like Clear Chan­nel, which care about mon­ey and pow­er, not com­mu­ni­ty or sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

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18 Comments

  1. NPR is the Clear Chan­nel of non com­mer­cial radio.

    When all I can hear on the non com­mer­cial side of the dial is NPR some­thing is wrong.

    # by Pseudo Hipster :: November 13th, 2012 at 6:57 AM
  2. As a slight­ly left of cen­ter inde­pen­dent, I enjoyed lis­ten­ing to 620’s pro­gres­sive line-up, par­tic­u­lar­ly Thom Hart­mann. Wolf­son, although enter­tain­ing, was large­ly a par­ti­san hack. With that said, I remain firm­ly a cap­i­tal­ist, and I guar­an­tee that Clear Chan­nel would not can­cel a sig­nif­i­cant­ly prof­itable line-up of pro­gram­ming. So, at the end of the day, make mon­ey and you’ll stay on the air .…

    # by Mark A. :: November 13th, 2012 at 8:18 AM
  3. I can’t believe this has hap­pened. Clear Chan­nel (Brain Capi­tol… or is that Bain Cap­i­tal?). You could­n’t beat us in the elec­tion so you’re silenc­ing pro­gres­sive voic­es. This is Amer­i­ca, where we have free speech, not facism!!!

    # by Wendy Dillon :: November 13th, 2012 at 9:32 AM
  4. I am extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed in KPOJ and Clear Chan­nel. I nev­er thought you would do what oth­er sta­tions in this coun­try did. How much sports can any­body lis­ten to? I was shocked when I went to lis­ten to Ed Schultz and I heard sports. Sta­tions around the coun­try broad­cast this for­mat but I nev­er thought KPOJ would do it. I am dis­ap­point­ed. Please return to pro­gres­sive talk radio.

    # by Pamela Jourdan :: November 13th, 2012 at 9:35 AM
  5. What can I do to help get KPOJ back, espe­cial­ly Carl Wolf­son?

    # by Esther Pyle :: November 13th, 2012 at 10:50 AM
    • Did you sign Kar­i’s peti­tion at SaveKPOJ.com?

      # by Andrew :: November 13th, 2012 at 4:02 PM
  6. I’m pissed.

    # by Jack N. :: November 13th, 2012 at 11:16 AM
  7. Please, please bring back the pro­gres­sive talk show line-up! Imme­di­ate­ly if not soon­er!

    # by Jill Sherman :: November 13th, 2012 at 11:31 AM
  8. Please bring back Pro­gres­sive Radio (620 KPOJ)– my broth­er and I depend on it for views that are from pro­gres­sive thinkers, and for “pro­gres­sive-linked” news. In this man­ner, you will be for a “fair and bal­anced” (pro­gres­sive and con­ser­v­a­tive) dis­cus­sion in Amer­i­ca instead of just monop­o­liz­ing the “bul­ly pul­pit” only for rad­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives (like Rush and oth­ers of his ilk). Thanks for con­sid­er­ing the request of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.

    # by Paul J. Wigowsky :: November 13th, 2012 at 12:11 PM
  9. Where do I lodge the com­plaint??? This is ridicu­lous, pro­gres­sive pro­gram­ming pulled out of Port­land Ore­gon?? What the… ?

    # by Gay Ruiz :: November 13th, 2012 at 2:53 PM
  10. It is wide­ly known that KPOJ was prof­itable.

    Per­haps not prof­itable enough, how­ev­er, for Clear Chan­nel own­er­ship — they lost $300 mil­lion last year on gross rev­enue of $6 bil­lion. With loss­es like that, they need to go big across all their prop­er­ties.

    So, in PDX they make a play for mar­ket share using Beavers and Blaz­ers games. Let’s break it down:

    • Beavers foot­ball sea­son is near­ing its end. Going for­ward, it’s unclear what mar­ket share they’ll gain against TV — all Pac-12 games are tele­vised.
    • Beavers b‑ball lacks a tra­di­tion of suc­cess, and has nev­er estab­lished much of a radio audi­ence.
    • Beavers base­ball? Unclear as to whether their on-field suc­cess has cre­at­ed a radio audi­ence.
    • Blaz­ers — they’re 2–5 and dead last as of today.

    So, bot­tom line: Clear Chan­nel is gam­bling pro­gres­sive radio’s demon­strat­ed prof­itabil­i­ty against two sports prop­er­ties that are far from being a sure bet.

    # by Daniel L. :: November 13th, 2012 at 5:48 PM
  11. Port­landers have a right to more than con­ser­v­a­tive talk radio. Return pro­gres­sive talk to KPOJ!

    # by Lila Brightbill :: November 14th, 2012 at 7:25 PM
  12. A few days after the rich got their behinds kicked in an nation­al elec­tion we lose our pro­gres­sive talk sta­tion? Some­body is real­ly mad! Sor­ry, Clear Chan­nel and CBS… I think I will find 20+ more vot­ers to vote Demo­c­ra­t­ic in the midterms. And I’ll intro­duce them to pod­cast­ing since you’re not inter­est­ed in air­ing a diver­si­ty of views on the radio.

    # by Bridgette A. :: November 15th, 2012 at 6:41 AM
  13. Please bring back our pro­gres­sive sta­tion!

    # by Scott Michel :: November 15th, 2012 at 4:04 PM
  14. This is more than ridicu­lous.

    Amer­i­ca has already been dumb­ed down enough in the 21st cen­tu­ry, and now you — Clear Chan­nel — want to silence our voic­es, because you lost? There is a great ben­e­fit to lis­ten­ing to KPOJ. Its hosts dis­cuss his­to­ry, pol­i­tics, and so much more, we learn a great deal by tun­ing in. There are numer­ous right wing radio sta­tions and sports sta­tions in Port­land, pro­gres­sive voic­es need to be heard. Please return our sta­tion to pro­gres­sive talk, ASAP.

    # by Tonya Veale :: November 15th, 2012 at 5:01 PM
  15. I will not lis­ten to this sta­tion until pro­gres­sive radio, i.e., KPOJ 620 AM is brought back. This is so wrong!!!

    # by Carole :: November 16th, 2012 at 2:53 PM
  16. Well what are they going to take from us next?. I always thought We lived in Amer­i­ca!, but I guess We don’t any­more!!!!.

    # by Joseph Richardson :: November 18th, 2012 at 8:58 AM
  17. I would be will­ing to con­tribute to a fundrais­er or sub­scrip­tion slid­ing scale fee for pro­gres­sive talk radio. I’ve often thought how great it would be if we did­n’t have to put up with all the adver­tis­ing on KPOJ.

    # by Katherine Shisler :: November 18th, 2012 at 5:03 PM

One Ping

  1. […] week, as we report­ed a few days ago, Clear Chan­nel pulled the plug on pro­gres­sive talk radio in Port­land, con­vert­ing AM 620 KPOJ […]