Another Progressive Talker is Calling it Quits

peter_studio_cropA week ago, Peter B. Collins was happy to announce that he was gaining another affiliate in Seattle, taking over the time slot that used to belong to Randi Rhodes, then Nancy Skinner.

This afternoon, PBC made the surprise announcement that he was calling it quits on March 20th — a week from today due to not being able to raise the required monthly $5000 to stay on the air.

Here is part of what he said in his announcement:

Earlier today I’ve announced that after reflection, consideration and a few setbacks, we’re going to wrap up the Peter B. Collins Show a week from today. And I’m very disappointed, obviously, in telling you this and in ending the show. Because it means a lot to me to be able to connect with you every day.

I am so pleased at the listeners to this program, and how smart you are, how well informed you are, and the level of discussion we’re able to generate on a program like this.

And when you compare it with so much else that’s on the dial, that’s reduced to just name-calling and snivelling and self-aggrandizement for the host, I’m very proud of what we’ve done here and I have no regrets about that.

I really call on listeners to speak up, not on my behalf, but for what you want from talk radio. And make sure that the operators of the radio stations in your area know how you feel and no that you don’t want “shock talk”, that you don’t want tabloid radio.

You can read more about the story over at BradBlog, and you can listen to the full hour of the show in which he discusses his leaving.

Here is the deal. Everyone seems to be focused on the “Fairness Doctrine” and how it is the corporate station owners who are deliberately keeping Progressive Radio off the air.

That isn’t really the whole story.

It is all about the advertising dollar, and who gets what share. Ordinarily, for every broadcast hour, a station owner gets about 5 minutes of ad revenue, the show owner gets about 5 minutes and the content provider gets about 5 minutes. These times are negotiated, but it roughly works out to that breakdown. Twenty minutes of every broadcast hour is taken up with news and commercials. To a broadcaster, that is the payday.

Now with most of the radio stations in this country owned by Clear Channel, they collect that 5 minutes simply being the station owner. But they are also a content provider — a syndicator, owning several syndications companies such as… Premier Radio. So as a syndicator, they can collect another 5 minutes an hour on top of the 5 minutes they collect as an owner.

But wait.

They also own the shows that they have in their stable at Premier. There is that last 5 minutes of advertising dollar that they can collect.

So what do they do? They buy up all of the radio stations and on those stations with the largest “footprint” in that market, they will put their own programming on it. If they have any stations left over with a small footprint, they will put ‘filler’ programming on it.

Once in a while they will put a Progressive Talker on those dogs thinking that there is no way they will ever get enough audience to compete with their own programming. They are usually low-wattage, and because of geographical obstructions and atmospheric conditions, the signal just doesn’t get out too far, and is often “walked over” by other stronger frequencies. But if that station does manage to somehow break away and start getting a large share, then suddenly there is a format change. After all, the large station owners only bought up those tiny stations as a “cost” to insure that their main stations continued to get the larger share of the listener. If their “filler” programming on the smaller stations is eating into their profits by being more popular than their property, they will put the kabosh on it immediately.

It isn’t about market share or what the PEOPLE want to listen to as the Conservative talkers would have you believe. It is about unfair competition where five or six mega owners own all of the stations, most of the syndication and most of the shows. Independent hosts and content providers are basically shut out.

I keep hearing the false argument that anyone can compete in radio, and that if you were any good, you too could be as successful as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity. The hole in their argument is that the number of station frequencies are finite in each market. Depending on geography and a number of other factors such as neighboring frequencies, not every market can support the same number of stations or the same power on the frequencies available. If one or two companies have snapped up virtually all of the available stations in that market they can control the programming — regardless of whether the people WANT to listen to what is provided or not.

What really needs to happen in the industry is for Congress to limit the number of stations a broadcaster can own. Period. People seem to forget that WE THE PEOPLE own the airwaves, broadcasters only get a license to operate on them for a year. By restricting the number of stations a company can own in a market, we can start bringing back real competition to the industry. We would get more diversity and we would actually go back to letting the free market decide what we get to listen to.

I am sure there will the the usual Right wingnuts like Michelle Malkin and Brian Baloney who will tell you that this is “proof” that Progressive Radio is a failure and will try to tell you that it is the “market” that drives the decisions. As you can see above, the “market” is captive to whatever the owners want to stuff down our gullets.