In a lengthy interview in the September 30 Radio World, Chancellor Media CEO Thomas Hicks managed to expound on every subject under the radio sun except music and news. Hicks, whose company owns 463 radio stations in the U.S. and dozens more in Latin America, focused on how owning hundreds of radio and TV stations, in conjunction with the recent purchase of America’s largest billboard company, was driving up advertising revenues. "What’s important to us is to increase our profits and our return on investment for our shareholders," Hicks said, "....and operating what we have as efficiently as possible."
Operating "as efficiently as possible" means using the "Star System," a computer network that links all of the stations in Chancellor’s Capstar broadcast chain together. DJ patter, music, and even local sports and weather are stored on a central hard drive in Austin, Texas and downloaded to stations around the country each day to create "local programming." The result is that deejays lose their jobs and whatever input the local community had into the station is eliminated. "There isn’t a whole lot of difference between having a studio that’s 10 feet away from the transmitter or connected to the cable 500 miles away," says Capstar VP/Programming Jack Taddeo.
This leaves those who aren’t Chancellor shareholders searching for alternatives. 82% of the participants in a poll conducted at Radio World’s website said they were opposed to the FCC’s crackdown on unlicensed radio stations. "I would get the rich bastards at the National Association of Broadcasters off the FCC’s back," wrote one respondent who works at a licensed station. "That way the FCC could run experiments with community radio and see what good it does."
As for listeners, the unlicensed Miami station Hot 97 was so popular that it showed up in the local Arbitron ratings. The FCC shut down Hot 97 in May.
[from Rock & Rap Confidential/1998]
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