Wednesday, March 12, 2008


     My first radio gig in Tupper Lake lasted from 1981 to 1984, when I left to get a proper job, instantly determining that proper jobs were hugely over-rated.
     But the topic now is the Fairness Doctrine, which all radio stations at that time were required to follow, even a small-town one that stole the signal of its sister station 50 miles away so that it could (illegally) broadcast 24 hours a day. I'm still waiting for the FCC police to track me down.
     I produced all the "live" content at the station (the DOA stuff, too) and one such show was an interview Q&A with a local county legislator, who was from Tupper Lake. Under the Fairness Doctrine, the station was also required to air opposing views, which we did by interviewing the legislator's opponents. Sort of a Tri-Lakes "Point/Counterpoint".
     But when the Fairness Doctrine was dumped during the twilight of the Reagan Era in 1987--at almost exactly the same time that I was looking for my first Redondo Beach apartment--the door was opened for wholly-partisan talk radio. No more airing of differing views required! Entire formats of me-tooism, as cheaply produced as broadly drawn. Enter Rush Limbaugh a year later, then his subsequent legion of imitators, and the onset of the right-wing echo chamber was toothpaste out of the tube.
     I looked back on this today after seeing this bit of nonsense on the AP wire:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) President Bush has pledged to veto any legislation that would, in his words, "stifle" Christian broadcasters' freedom to spread their message.

Speaking to the National Religious Broadcasters convention, the president warned that some in Congress want to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, which was abolished in 1987. It required stations to offer air time for opposing views on controversial subjects.

Christian broadcasters fear it would force them to air anti-Christian views. Conservative talk show hosts worry that government-mandated balance would prompt stations to drop their programs.

Bush said, "We know who these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights: shows hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson." Bush told the Christian broadcasters that in today's culture, "You are the balance."

    Limbaugh and Dobson as beacons of "balance". Like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine.  

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