Saturday, September 18, 2004

Advertising money has no conscience. Neither does KMOX, which depends on its advertising to survive. Knowing those facts, some of us have been trying to cajole and threaten KMOX into at least providing a liberal balance to Rush's voice: "We'd listen to your station again if you also had a liberal voice." "We'll boycott your advertisers if you insist on carrying only Rush." Carrot and stick--and completely wasted effort on our part. Worse yet, any concerted effort at a boycott would play right into Rush's hands.
I'm NOT saying we should cede the airwaves to Limbaugh. God No! I'm just saying we can be smarter about it. My friend, Jackie Mims, has a masters in communications and marketing. She tells me that KMOX has to survive on a slim margin of profit, so forget persuading them to give up a money maker like Rush. A recent campaign of complaint letters to KMOX netted us this response:
Thanks for your note. We are often criticized for being to liberal or too conservative. We don't feel there is a need to make a programming change to provide balance. KMOX employs hosts that provide diverse opinions on a wide variety of topics. At this time, we have no plans to add Al Franken to the lineup.
Steve Moore
Program Director, KMOX

Mr. Moore didn't come right and say "Go jump in a lake," but . . . .
Now consider that there are worse consequences than his apathetic reaction. Jackie tells me that Rush just lo-o-o-ves it when groups organize boycotts because it gives him an excuse to rile up the dittoheads. He sells it as an infringment on the right to free speech. In righteous indignation, his fans buy ALL the sponsors' products. Sponsors eat this up, and when they're happy, so is KMOX. Meanwhile, our boycott is worthless because this advertising is sold a year in advance. We're boycotting someone who couldn't get out of his contract even if he wanted to--which he doesn't.
It used to be that this lopsided KMOX situation could have been challenged in court under the Fairness Doctrine, a law which mandated a balance in the political stances of particular stations. But that doctrine was gutted under Reagan.
Which leaves us . . . where? First of all, obviously, we scrap the boycott notion. The remaining alternative is to find ways to get liberal talk shows on the radio waves. I'll write about that next time.

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