Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Power to the People!!!

ADDED NOTE: While this is great news for Madison, the fight is beginning anew in Columbus, Ohio, where the owners of radio station WTPG (1230 AM) are planning to flip the station's format and make a decidedly right turn in its programming - let's do in Columbus what the folks did in Madison. I live in Tulsa, OK, but am willing to do whatever I can to help out. Just let me know. We don't have much time. Buddy, Dave, Paul - I know you all are out there, can you help out? Here's the fabulous person who led the fight in Madison - Valerie Walasek ( Contact her or me here at this blog if you can lend a hand. Thanks mucho!

Station's Format to Turn Right
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Tim Feran

Liberal listeners in central Ohio will lose their only radio voice next month when WTPG (1230 AM) drops its format of "progressive talk" and makes a hard right turn.

Out: Al Franken, Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes. In: Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and a mix of sports and consumer shows featuring Jim Rome and Dave Ramsey.

The station will change its call letters to WYTS on Monday; the new format will begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 9.

Clear Channel Keeps Air America Station In Madison
Dec 21, 2006 10:01 pm US/Pacific

After a backlash from this liberal city, Clear Channel Radio is keeping its Air America affiliate on the air instead of switching the progressive talk format to sports on Jan. 1.

Citing the overwhelming negative reaction to the planned change, the nation's largest radio station operator said it would keep The Mic 92.1 FM on the air as a progressive talk station. The planned change to Fox Sports Radio, announced three days after the Nov. 7 election, had sparked outrage in Madison, a city long known for its liberal activism. Clear Channel said the station, WXXM-FM, had struggled to attract advertisers despite high ratings and a sports format would be more profitable.

But thousands of people protested the end of their favorite station through e-mails, phone calls and a petition delivered to station officials this week. A rally last week drew 500 people, and politicians such as Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., denounced the decision. The two-year-old station is among the most popular affiliates of Air America, which launched two years ago as an alternative to conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. It is now undergoing a reorganization after filing for bankruptcy protection in October.

In addition to Air America personalities like Al Franken, WXXM features local shows that focused on progressive causes from city politics to animal rights. "We are overwhelmed by the recent outpouring of support for our progressive talk format from the public, some of our community leaders and some dedicated local advertisers," said Jeff Tyler, Clear Channel's market manager in Madison. "We deeply appreciate the local business leaders who are pledging their advertising support. They are playing an enormous role in helping to keep progressive talk on the air in our community."

Tyler planned to announce the decision on the airwaves Friday morning. He said Clear Channel had to end an agreement with Fox Sports Radio to make the deal possible. The announcement came just as the opponents of the change appeared to give up, staging a mock funeral procession from the Capitol to Clear Channel's local offices Wednesday to mourn the death of the station.

Valerie Walasek, a 28-year-old listener who organized the protests, said she had shifted her focus to other options, such as trying to buy a new station. She was shocked by the company's last-minute change of heart. "It's evidence that as people stand up and demand what they want and demand they are going to take back the airwaves, somebody will listen," she said. "Maybe Clear Channel just came to their senses because it never made sense for them to get rid of it. They were making money."

Tyler said he hoped to improve the quality of the local shows and was encouraged that Air America would do the same for its programming when it emerges from bankruptcy. The radio network said this week that it is close to a sealing a deal with an undisclosed buyer. "We're here to make it work. We're going to put all of our resources into it," he said. "People have spoken out in Madison and said, `This is a great radio station and we support it.' We encourage them to prove it." San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc., owns nearly 1,200 radio stations.

(© 2006 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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