CONSOLIDATION AND CLEAR CHANNEL AM RADIO STATIONS
This is an examination of the increasing concentration of control of the most important AM radio stations in the United States. Now the largest conglomerate owns 16 of the prime 58 high power AM stations in the United States, whereas in pre-consolidation days before the 1990s, the most owned was four.
Further, a proliferation of national conservative talk shows has replaced local programming on these stations, along with most other important AM stations.
Below is a complete list of clear channel AM stations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. There are 87 total, including 58 in the U.S., under international agreement, a treaty that took effect inn March 1941.
A clear channel station — not to be confused with the group station owner Clear Channel Communications — means that the station is almost always 50,000 watts and during hours of darkness has interference-free coverage for about 750 miles around its city of license. Other stations on the same frequency sign off at sunset or go directional to protect the huge service areas of the clear channel stations. The clear channel stations also have wide daytime coverage, sometimes extending 100 miles or more in many directions.
While FM stations sometimes have greater audience in some markets, clear channel stations are usually the top information and talk stations in their markets. They usually carry tremendous influence in their markets, and often are the top billing stations, even though the age of FM dominance spans more than a quarter century now.
Clear channel stations, once designated as Class I-A and I-B stations, are now designated as Class A AM stations. (There are other 50,000 watt stations but they are not clear channel stations, and are not protected from interference and have no recognized wide area coverage at night. Examples include WRKO 680 Boston, WEEI 850 Boston, WINS 1010 and WEPN 1050 New York, CKLW Windsor, Ontario, KTRH 740 Houston, and KCBS 740 San Francisco, among many others.)
In pre-consolidation days before the 1990s the highest number of clear channel AM stations owned was four: CBS owned WBBM 780, Chicago, WCBS 880 New York, KNX 1070 Los Angeles and KMOX 1120 Saint Louis. NBC owned three: WNBC 660 New York, WMAQ 670 Chicago and KNBR 680 San Francisco. ABC owned three: WABC 770 New York, KGO 810 San Francisco and WLS 890 Chicago.
Now the biggest owner is Clear Channel Communications, which took its name from WOAI 1200 San Antonio, which it acquired in 1975. Clear Channel Communications now has 16 of the 58 clear channel stations. (Clear Channel also had rights to programming and sales and marketing for another, in Tijuana, Mexico, XETRA 690, but in 2006 the FCC notified Clear Channel XETRA would be counted against its total of AM and FM stations in San Diego, so Clear Channel surrendered XETRA.) In all, Clear Channel owns 1,200 of the most powerful and influential AM and FM stations in the nation.
CBS is next with 13 stations.
Also included on this list below are the names of the station owners of stations before consolidation. Many of them were locally owned, and local owners tend to be more sensitive to the local community and its needs, rather than a corporate owner which is looking at the bottom line. A vivid example of this was in West Virginia three years ago. In March 2004 the Daily Mail of Charleston WV reported Clear Channel planned to remove WWVA 1170 from Wheeling, and move it to the Akron/Cleveland market to greatly increase its value, depriving West Virginia of its only 50,000 watt clear channel AM station. The plan was quietly dropped.
When WTIC 1080 Hartford was locally owned by Travelers Insurance, Travelers said it wanted the station to act like a mirror reflecting the community in the region, and WTIC’s service was legend.
Though with deregulation, one company can own up to eight stations in a market, Clear Channel and other companies are seeking an even higher limit. In May 2005 Clear Channel was reported in Inside Media as saying it wished to increase the total number of stations it would own in a single market from up to 8, to 12. A Clear Channel executive said that if satellite radio companies have 50 music channels, Clear Channel deserves to have more local broadcast stations in each market. The FCC is now considering whether to relax the rules on how many radio and TV stations a company can own, and whether to allow further consolidation.
There has also been a relaxation of the ownership rules for TV, and in New York, Fox now owns two of the six VHF television stations, WNYW channel 5 and WWOR channel 9, as well as the daily New York Post and it is now seeking a stake in the giant Long Island daily Newsday.
With consolidation, there has also been a replacement of local programs on AM radio during the day, with nationally syndicated political talk shows, such as Rush Limbaugh, a show owned by Clear Channel Communications. (Clear Channel also owns the Glenn Beck and Dr. Laura Schlesinger shows.)
Conservative talk was facilitated in 1987 with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, which had required broadcast stations to provide airtime for opposing points of views of controversial and strong political stands. Democratic congressmen Maurice Hinchey of New York and Dennis Kucinich are seeking to restore the Fairness Doctrine now that the Democrats once again control Congress. Conservatives oppose it, calling it the “Hush Rush” proposal,. aimed at silencing conservative talk hosts.
An examination of the station websites indicates Rush Limbaugh, a conservative is now carried on 25 of the 58 U.S. clear channel stations. Conservative Sean Hannity is on 15. The best known liberal radio talk host, Al Franken, is not carried on any clear channel station, though one station, WWKB 1520 Buffalo, does have a liberal talk format. With the exception of national shows carried on WWKB, there generally are no national liberal talk shows on clear channel stations.
Rush Limbaugh (conservative) – 25 clear channel stations: KFI 640, WJR 760, WABC 770, WGY 810, WBAP 820, WHAS 840, KOA 850, WWL 870, WLS 890, WHO 1040, WTIC 1080, WTAM 1100, WBT 1110, KFAB 1110, KMOX 1120, WRVA 1140, WWVA 1170, WHAM 1180, KEX 1190, WOAI 1200, WPHT 1210, WLAC 1510, KFBK 1530, KXEL 1540 and KNZR 1560. (Rush Limbaugh’s 26th clear channel station, WBAL 1090, dropped the show last year for a local show.)
Sean Hannity (conservative) – 15 clear channel stations: WSB 750, WJRM 760, WABC 770, WGY 810, WBAP 820, WLS 890, WTIC 1080, WRVA 1140, KSL 1160, WWVA 1170, WHAM 1180, WOAI 1200, WPHT 1210, WLAC 1510 and KXEL 1540.
Glenn Beck (conservative) – 10 clear channel stations: KFAB 1110, WRVA 1140, WWVA 1170, KFAQ 1170, WHAM 1180, WOAI 1200, WPHT 1210, WLAC 1510, KXEL 1540 and KNZR 1560.
Michael Savage/Savage Nation (conservative) – 8 clear channel stations: WOR 710, WSB 750, WGY 810, KFAB 1110, WRVA 1140, WHAM 1180, KGA 1510, and KOKC 1520.
Bill O’Reilly (conservative) – 8 clear channel stations: WOR 710, KDKA 1020, KSL 1160, KFAQ 1170, WPHT 1210, KGA 1510, KOKC 1520, and KNZR 1560..
Laura Ingraham (conservative) – 5 clear channel stations: WABC 770, KFAQ 1170, KGA 1510, KOKC 1520 and KNZR 1560.
Dr. Laura Schlesinger (conservative) – 4 clear channel stations: KFI 640, WJR 760, KFAQ 1170 and KEX 1190.
Al Franken (liberal) – 0 clear channel stations.
The slant of the station can sometimes be touted quite straightfowardly. KFAQ 1170 Tulsa’s website greets viewers with these words in large letters: “KFAQ – Tulsa’s Fox News Station That Stands Up For What’s Right.”
Here are the tallies for clear channel stations owned by the big conglomerates and station groups:
– > CBS: 13
– > ABC: 7 (ABC is being sold to Citadel which would make a total of 9 for Citadel)
– Bonneville (Mormon Church): 2 (transfer of KIRO 710 Seattle from Entercom to Bonneville pending, would make 3 for Bonneville)
– Entercom: 3 (transfer of KIRO 710 Seattle to Bonneville pending, would make 2 for Entercom)
– Buckley: 2
– Bahakel: 1
– Bloomberg: 1
– Citadel 2 (Citadel is buying ABC which would give it a total of 9)
– Cox: 1
– > Cumulus: 1
– Fisher: 1
– Gaylord: 1
– Hearst: 1
– Hubbard: 1
– Jefferson Pilot: 1
– Journal: 1
– Tribune: 1
– Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (government-owned public broadcasting system) owns 6 in Canada.
Here are the 87 clear channel stations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas: For web sites, just click on each one.
CBK Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada CBC
540 XEWA San Luis Potosi, Mexico
KFI Los Angeles, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation owners: L.A. car dealership owner and KFI founder Earle C. Anthony until the 1970s, then Cox Broadcasting, sold to Clear Channel in mid 1990s)
CBN Saint Johns, Newfoundland, CBC
WSM Nashville, GAYLORD
WFAN New York, CBS (pre-consolidation: founded in 1922 by AT&T and sold to RCA/NBC for $1` million in 1926; sold to Emmis in 1988 and then CBS/Infinity in 1990s)
WSCR Chicago, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by NBC, with WMAQ call letters)
KNBR San Francisco, CUMULUS (pre-consolidation: owned by NBC, then Susquehanna)
WLW Cincinnati, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Powel Crosley, who also produced Crosley automobiles)
WOR New York, BUCKLEY (founded by Bamberger Department Store, later owned by RKO)
KIRO Seattle, ENTERCOM (transfer to BONNEVILLE pending)
WGN Chicago, TRIBUNE
XEX Mexico City
740 > CHWO
WSB Atlanta, COX
WJR Detroit, ABC (pre-consolidation: owned by Pontiac dealer George A. Richards, later by Goodwill Broadcasting)
WABC New York, ABC
WBBM Chicago, CBS
XEROK Juarez, Mexico
WGY Schenectady, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: founded and owned by General Electric)
KGO San Francisco, ABC
WBAP Fort Worth/Dallas, ABC (pre-consolidation: owned by Fort Worth Star Telegram)
WCCO Minneapolis, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by Midwest Radio and Television Inc.)
WHAS Louisville, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Bingham family and Louisville Courier Journal)
850 KOA KOA
KOA Denver, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned for a time by General Electric)
850 XETQ Orizaba, Mexico
860 CJBC Toronto, CBC
WWL New Orleans, ENTERCOM (pre-consolidation: owned by Jesuit-run Loyola University of New Orleans)
WCBS New York, CBS
WLS Chicago, ABC
XEW Mexico City
XEQ Mexico City
CBW Winnipeg, CBC
WMVP Chicago, ABC (pre-consolidation: owned by Chicago Federation of Labor, with WCFL call letters)
KOMO Seattle, FISHER
XEOY Mexico City
1010 <a href=http://calgary.cbc.ca/. CBR
CBR Calgary, Alberta, CBC
KDKA Pittsburgh, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned in 1920 by founder Westinghouse, with KDKA being the very first radion station)
WBZ Boston, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by Westinghouse)
WHO Des Moines, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by B.J. Palmer and later son David Palmer)
XEG Mexico City
KYW Philadelphia, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by Westinghouse)
XEEP Mexico City
KNX Los Angeles, CBS
CBA Moncton, New Brunswick, CBC
WTIC Hartford, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by Travelers Insurance Co., then Ten Eighty Corporation, a local firm)
KRLD Dallas, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by Dallas Times Herald)
WBAL Baltimore, HEARST
KAAY Little Rock, CITADEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Arlington Hotel of Hot Springs, then Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, later Beasley)
WTAM Cleveland, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by NBC and Westinghouse)
WBT Charlotte, JEFFERSON PILOT
KFAB Omaha, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: founded by Nebraska Buick Automobile Co., then by Lincoln Journal Star, with employees holding 51% during 1960s and 1970s)
KMOX Saint Louis, CBS
WBBR New York, BLOOMBERG
KWKH Shreveport, Louisiana, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by W.K. Henderson, local businessman)
WRVA Richmond, Virginia, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Larus and Brother, a Virginia tobacco company)
1140 XEMR Monterey, Mexico
KSL Salt Lake City BONNEVILLE
WWVA Wheeling, West Virginia, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Screen Gems, and by other owners)
KFAQ Tulsa, Oklahoma, JOURNAL
WHAM Rochester, New York, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Stromberg Carlson Co. of Rochester, manufacturers of radio receivers)
KEX Portland, Oregon, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Great American Broadcasting)
1190 XEWK Guadalajara, Mexico
WOAI San Antonio, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned ,by Avco)
WPHT Philadelphia, CBS (pre-consolidation: owned by the Philadelphia Bulletin for a time, with WCAU call letters)
XEB Mexico City
WTWP Washington, BONNEVILLE (pre-consolidation: owned by Washington Post, with WTOP call letters)
KSTP Saint Paul, HUBBARD
WLAC Nashville, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Life and Casualty Insurance Co. of Nashville):
KGA Spokane, Washington, CITADEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Jesuit-run Gonzaga University of Spokane)
WWKB Buffalo, ENTERCOM (pre-consolidation: owned by founder Clinton Churchill, then Capital Cities Broadcasting)
KOKC Oklahoma City, RENDA
WCKY Cincinnati, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by L.B. Wilson, who left the station to WCKY’s employees after his death)
KFBK Sacramento, CLEAR CHANNEL (pre-consolidation: owned by Sacramento Bee daily newspaper)
KXEL Waterloo, Iowa BAHAKEL
ZNS Nassau, the Bahamas (website not maintained by ZNS)
1550 <a href=http://windsor.cbc.ca/< CBE
CBE Windsor, Ontario, CBC
1550 XERUV Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
WQEW New York, ABC (pre-consolidation: owned by New York Times; owned by founder John Hogan up to 1944)
KNZR Bakersfield, California, BUCKLEY (pre-consolidation: owned by Pioneer Mercantile Co., with KPMC call letters)
XERF Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
CKDO Oshawa, Ontario