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11 January 2004

Criticizing Bush and Clear Channel

KFYI talk radio host Charles Goyette tells his tale of how opposing Gulf War II as a Clear Channel employee was not conducive to his long term career there.
Clear Channel Communications, the 800-pound gorilla of the radio business, owns an astonishing 1,200 stations in 50 states, including Newstalk 550 KFYI in Phoenix, where I do the afternoon program Ö or did until last summer. The principals of Clear Channel, a Texas-based company, have been substantial contributors to George W. Bushís fortunes since before he became president. In fact, Texas billionaire Tom Hicks can be said to be the man who made Bush a millionaire when he purchased the future presidentís baseball team, the Texas Rangers. Tom Hicks is now vice chairman of Clear Channel. Clear Channel stations were unusually visible during the war with what corporate flacks now call ďpro-troop rallies.Ē In tone and substance, they were virtually indistinguishable from pro-Bush rallies. Iím sure the administration, which faced a host of regulatory issues affecting Clear Channel, was not displeased.

Criticism of Bush and his ever-shifting pretext for a first-strike war (what exactly was it we were pre-empting anyway?) has proved so serious a violation of Clear Channelís cultural taboo that only a good contract has kept me from being fired outright. Roxanne Cordonier, a radio personality at Clear Channelís WMYI 102.5 in Greenville, S.C., didnít have it as good. Cordonier, who worked under the name Roxanne Walker, was the South Carolina Broadcasters Associationís 2002 Radio Personality of the Year. That apparently wasnít enough for Clear Channel. Her lawsuit against the company alleges that she was belittled on the air and reprimanded by her station for opposing the invasion of Iraq. Then she was fired.

Some will say that these are merely the words of a disgruntled employee and not censorship. But consider the behemoth that Clear Channel has become, and how soon dissenting voices will have no place what so ever in the realm of traditional media due to monopolistic conglomerations.