RIP, Green 960

Whenever I’m working out of town, it’s always a treat to listen to a different lefty talk station; when I was in Napa over Thanksgiving I tuned in daily to Green 960, a San Francisco-based Clear Channel station which, though lacking any local programming, has a good mix of national shows I don’t generally hear at home.  Of course, the signal is pathetic; you can get Rush Limbaugh blaring through your dental work but if you want to hear, say Randi Rhodes, the radio must be positioned just so and finely tuned to a minuscule range of the dial.

Still, the station, which used as one of its taglines “Occupy Your Mind,” was a welcome salve to my daily drudgery, beginning with Stephanie Miller in the morning and ending with Norman Goldman in the late afternoon.  Like KPOJ here, it was stuffed with advertising for everything from Home Depot to homeopathy, and must surely have been pretty popular in the famously liberal and long-commuting Bay Area.  Perhaps too popular.  It seems that Clear Channel, recently purchased by Mitt Romney’s old outfit Bain Capital (h/t Bradblog), just decided that that hot new phenom, Glenn Beck, and a bunch of other soundalikes would be a better fit for the 2012 election year on this vanishingly slim speck of the AM dial.

Aside from a tiny afterthought HD FM station, which can be heard by no one, there will be no liberal talk in the Bay Area, but a half dozen blasting AM signals devoted to the hate radio of the right.  Curiously, Clear Channel has chosen to leave Randi Rhodes on 960, sandwiched between Glenn Beck and Lord knows who in the noon-3:00 pm slot.  That’s some clever programming, if by “clever” you mean, “doomed to fail.”  Even to liberals like myself, Randi can be a skosh grating at times, and unlikely to win converts among the Beck fans.  More likely, she’ll receive a lot of hate mail and death threats and then be dumped after a month or two.  Mission accomplished.

Of course, such political moves are always presented as simple and necessary programming decisions, dictated from above by bloated and unaccountable corporations like Clear Channel, divorced of any negative impact on public service programming over the (once) public airwaves.  The station’s website, which is updated hourly with news all day, carries not the slightest indication that it will go out of existence in less than a month.  Thanks a lot, Bill Clinton, for that lovely Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was sold to the public as promoting competition.

Back in the glory days of self-interested media barons who used their outsized mouthpieces to advance personal agendas, there was at least personality behind the propaganda being catapulted.  You may not have agreed with Henry Luce, William Randolph Hearst, or the Chandlers, but they were people, with personalities, egos, and most importantly, life spans. Now, it’s just faceless, immortal behemoths dictating what we read and hear, responsive to no one but shareholders.  And, rather than lording over a few cities or a family of regional broadcasting outlets, media Goliaths like Clear Channel and News Corp span the globe, spouting the company line across platforms from book publishing to entertainment, bending governments to their will as they gobble up competitors and further narrow the range of acceptable opinion, always pulling it further to the right.

In dismissing the significance of the change, Talkers magazine explained that in such a liberal enclave as San Francisco, there isn’t really a need for liberal talk; talk radio thrives among the disenfranchised minority.  This is, of course, ridiculous; they’ve previously explained the complete absence of liberal talk in conservative areas because there aren’t enough liberals to listen to it.  But we’ll never know; being Clear Channel means never having to explain yourself.

It’s unlikely that the political complexion of the Bay Area will be much impacted by the loss of its sole lefty talk outlet, but given the rank misinformation pouring out of the many remaining righty stations, the level of the dialogue will be sorely diminished, and figuring out the truth that much harder.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?



  1. avelna says:

    Well, that’s just depressing. How many in the Bay Area are actually going to listen to the freak show called Glenn Beck? Seems like it would be kind of unprofitable but I don’t guess they give a crap.

  2. mikeinportc says:

    Clear Channel devoid of personality? That is the personality. ;)
    Do Larry Hughes and Tom Hicks still own it, or most of it ? Not exctly purely profit-driven apoliticals . See Moly Ivins’ synopsis on the Texas Rangers stadium deal, and W’s involvement, if you can find it. More recently , the Rangers’ FOX-covered, gushing tribute to both Bushes,and frequent hosting of any, and all Bushes ,shows which way they roll.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Yes, and as we’ve seen, losing money in the near term for political dominance in the longer term works like a dream. Fox News has only existed post-1996, and look how it’s changed everything. Murdoch had a half billion to spare, and he got much more in long-term value. Clear Channel is another once-highly regulated outfit that became a total monopoly in just a few years of heavy politicking; it now owns ALL stations in several markets, and most of them everywhere else. Count on them to dance with the ones hat brung hem, under whatever ownership.

  3. Did you get down to Oakland?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sadly, no. As often happens, the work piled up and the possible days slipped away, so I languished in suburbia and left for home.
      I’m deeply chagrined about it, but at that moment, work was the priority. Ah, if I were only an heiress….