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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Indymedia | Racial Justice
Direct Action Against 910AM KNEW this FRIDAY
Radio listeners stage Halloween Action to Unmask hateful talk radio of
Bill Bennett and Michael Savage
For Immediate Release: October 24, 2005 Contact: Jen
Soriano Youth Media Council Cell: 415.225.8318
PROTESTERS LAUNCH LEGAL CHALLENGE TO REVOKE CLEAR CHANNEL LICENSES
Radio listeners stage Halloween Action to Unmask hateful talk radio of
Bill Bennett and Michael Savage
[FRIDAY October 28, San Francisco] One month after Bill Bennett aired
a racist remark about aborting black babies, Bay Area protestors will
conduct a Halloween-themed direct action to revoke the broadcast
license of host station 910 am KNEW.
The protest is in direct response to KNEW host Bill Bennett’s racist
remarks on his “Morning in America” show, which airs from 3-5AM on
Clear-Channel owned 910am KNEW. Bennett remarked: “If you wanted to
reduce crime, you could – if that were your sole purpose, you could
abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go
This is just one example of reprehensible statements made by KNEW talk
show hosts. Michael Savage, who was fired from MSNBC for telling a
caller to “get AIDS and die” but who was promptly hired by Clear
Channel, routinely calls immigrants “vermin” who are “raping, stealing,
murdering and defecating on our lawns”. Jeff Katz, a “local host”
rarely mentions local issues and instead advocates violent solutions to
“Islam”, stating we should “torture, kill, pull their fingernails out
and crack their skulls.”
Protesters say this content is grounds for revoking KNEW’s broadcast
”The Federal Communications Commission has a responsibility to regulate
the airwaves in the public interest,” says Taishi Duchicela, organizer
for the Youth Media Council. “KNEW violates the public interest by
broadcasting inflammatory content that incites fear and violence.
We’ve petitioned the FCC to revoke KNEW’s license because Clear Channel
should not be given a license to hate.”
DIRECT ACTION AGAINST 910AM KNEW
FRIDAY OCTOBER 28
Outside Clear Channel Headquarters
340 Townsend Street between 4th and 5th, San Francisco
Visuals: Protestors wearing Halloween masks, street theater piece to
expose hateful content on 910AM KNEW, direct action to deliver a legal
petition to deny Clear Channel’s license to broadcast.
WHO: A broad coalition including Code Pink, Media Alliance, Youth
Media Council, Media Alliance, Acción Latina, Youth Movement Records,
East Side Arts Alliance, and La Peña Cultural Center.
WHY: If schoolteachers were using their classrooms to incite
violence, the school board would take action. When Clear Channel uses
the public airwaves to promote war and racism, the Federal
Communications Commission should take action by holding them
accountable to local listeners, or revoking their broadcast licenses.
Protesters will release a report on KNEW content at the action and
deliver a legal petition to deny the broadcast licenses of KNEW and 3
other Clear Channel stations -- 106.1 KMEL, WILD 94.9 and 92.3 KSJO in
Why teens are turning off some of the Bay Area's most popular music
By Momo Chang, STAFF WRITER
SAN FRANCISCO — USING THE BACK of a rental pickup truck as their
platform, 50 youths, activists and poets chanted in front of the Bay
Area headquarters of the largest radio corporation in the United
As a dozen or so police looked on, they sang, read poetry and rallied
using a single microphone running off a generator, trying to elicit
some kind of response from Clear Channel Communications.
But the corporation, with 1.5 million listeners in the Bay Area and $9
billion in annual revenue, gave no indication that the protesters
existed on this particular afternoon in September, except for the few
curious employees who peeked through their office windows from above.
When protesters tried to deliver a letter signed by organizations such
as La Pea Cultural Center, Media Alliance, Youth Movement Records and
EastSide Arts Alliance, they were turned away by a security guard.
Most of the noise against Clear Channel comes from Oakland-based Youth
Media Council, an umbrella organization composed of more than 20
community groups asking for better representation of youths in media.
And youths — the target audience of 106.1 KMEL-FM and 94.9 KYLD, or
"Wild 94.9" — are challenging the company, accusing the stations of
lacking community programming and leaving local artists at the door. In
June, 94.9's hiring of controversial producer Rick Delgado sparked a
fire in the anti-Clear Channel campaign.
It has been an ongoing challenge for the group after Clear Channel
bought KMEL and Wild 94.9 in 1999. Two years later, KMEL, a local
hip-hop station geared toward a younger market, fired its popular host
and community affairs director, Davey D, and other employees, which
sparked protests from local listeners.
So what's all the fuss about now?
Clear Channel, like all radio stations in California, is applying to
renew its radio licenses this year through the Federal Communications
Commission, an organization better known for slapping indecency fines
against breast exposure at the Super Bowl and shock jock Howard Stern.
The renewal process is one that occurs every eight years and consists
of pushing paperwork through the FCC, an event that usually goes
unnoticed by listeners.
Opponents know it is unlikely the FCC will yank Clear Channel's radio
licenses, including those for the two most popular radio stations
geared toward youths, KMEL and Wild 94.9.
But protesters want to make sure someone is listening.
Since Aug. 1, YMC has promoted an "Unplug Clear Channel" campaign. The
public - since it technically owns the airwaves - has until Nov. 1 to
comment either in favor or opposition to any radio station in
California; all are up for renewal this year. By Dec. 1, the FCC will
decide which stations' licenses will be renewed.
A radio industry representative says stations rely on the community to
stay in business.
"Everybody's got a different idea of what they want in a local radio
station," said Mark Powers, vice president of the California
Broadcasters Association, a trade organization. "That's why there are
so many types out there."
But Meuy Saephanh, 21, of Oakland, a member of YMC for five years, says
she likes the type of music the two stations play - she just wants them
to be better. She still listens to 94.9 and KMEL - which is exactly why
she is protesting them. The groups are asking Clear Channel to hire a
community affairs director for each station, give local artists more
airtime and include community affairs programming.
For listeners who don't tune into these two stations with an "urban"
format, there are many choices, from iPods to satellite radio. Many
young people at the rally, though, want these stations that are
supposedly geared toward them to be better.
Leslie Santiago, a 16-year-old poet with Youth Speaks and student at
MetWest High School in Oakland, says she is concerned that the way
corporate rap radio portrays youths perpetuates stereotypes.
"Youths of color are already getting stereotyped," she said. "The music
promotes too much violence. There's already enough violence on the
streets. When someone listens to these stations, they might think all
youths are like that."
"It's a serious battle over the airwaves and brain waves," said Chris
Wiltsee, founder of Oakland's Youth Movement Records, an organization
that works with teenagers to produce their own music and shows. "If
you're 14 and on a steady diet of this corporate radio that's just all
about sex and thugging, what does that do to your perception of reality
about what's normal?"
Others complain that stations just seem to rotate the same few songs
and that KMEL and 94.9 are beginning to sound more and more alike.
"A lot of people are dissatisfied and don't like how the stations are,"
said Chris Lyons, 17, a member of YMR. "It's hard to listen to these
stations because it's repetitive. They don't give you too much
A community affair
FCC's deregulation of media in 1996 has created near monopolies in
regions such as the Bay Area. In 1996, Clear Channel owned 40 radio
stations in the United States. By 2002, it controlled 1,200.
Former FCC Chairman William Kennard said the 1996 laws "unleashed a
frenzy of consolidation in the radio marketplace and forever changed
the economics of radio station ownership." Activists say they deserve
better than "cookie-cutter radio."
Their goal is to have each station add a community affairs director,
which Clear Channel eliminated when it bought the stations. Currently,
there is one community affairs director for all 11 Bay Area stations
Clear Channel own, which range from conservative talk-radio station
KNEW-AM 910 to Al Franken's liberal talk-radio KQKE-AM 960, plus KMEL,
94.9 and seven others.
"Anybody who owns a station is committed to that particular geography
to try to serve it," said radio industry representative Powers.
"They'll try to make sure their audience is satisfied, or they go out
One way that radio stations appear to be community-oriented is through
"instant requests," though they are almost never live, says former KMEL
DJ Davey D.
The stations will take calls, record them and then look at the computer
where playlists are preprogrammed. When a certain song that a listener
requests is about to be played, the station will play the recording of
the request and then the song, making it appear that listeners are
being listened to.
"Nobody just gets to play whatever they want on the airwaves," Davey D
said. "People who really control the strings hide their faces."
Powers says that corporations such as Clear Channel are targeted
because they own so much wattage.
"There's a mind-set that bigness is somehow bad, but one of the best
things about the radio industry is that you've got a huge spectrum that
serves different needs," he said.
But Clear Channel recently made other groups, not normally heavy media
critics, upset. In July, Wild 94.9 fired the "Doghouse" morning show
crew after guests claimed sexual harassment - and replaced them with
Rick Delgado, a DJ/producer from New York famous for writing and airing
an offensive "tsunami song."
Delgado, who worked at New York's Hot 97, wrote a song that poked fun
at the tsunami disaster in South Asia, including lyrics such as
"screaming chinks," "little Chinamen swept away" and "Africans
drowning." After much community outcry, the station fired him.
Bay Area listeners say they are livid that a local station would hire
someone who was fired for airing an allegedly racist song.
"To us, that's unacceptable, particularly in a city that's 33 percent
Asian American," says Malcolm Yeung, staff attorney at San
Franciso-based Asian Law Caucus.
A Clear Channel spokeswoman said she will not comment about the youth
campaign or the hiring of Delgado.
Within a week, 500 people in the Bay Area signed an online petition,
and many threatened to boycott the station. In response, Clear Channel
executive Kim Bryant sent the same e-mail to petitioners, including the
"We'd like to emphasize that Rick brings to the table great
connections, and that is the sole function he was hired to fulfill.
While Rick Delgado was previously part of a controversial morning team,
and involved in some inappropriate on-air bits, neither of those two
facts are true today, nor are they useful in the San Francisco Bay Area
Petitioners who received this letter say they were baffled, since
Delgado was also an off-air producer at Hot 97 and it was clear that
the station only cared about Delgado's "connections."
Although more teens are listening to iPods and downloading music, some
said it is just not a realistic option for them. Alternatives to KMEL
and 94.9 do exist but may be difficult to access.
"It isn't realistic that everyone has access to iPods, buys a whole
bunch of CDs or listens to satellite radio," said Lyons, a senior at
Oakland Technical High School.
He says he doesn't own an iPod, nor do most of his friends. He adds
that his peers also don't own computers, much less have Internet access
to download songs.
There are other alternatives to corporate radio - college or
independent stations such as Berkeley's KALX 90.7, San Francisco's KPOO
98.5 and Stanford's KZSU 90.1, which each have hip-hop shows, as well
as Pacifica's KPFA 94.1. But for youths who don't have cars or a radio
with a huge antennae, they usually can't pick up such low-frequency
Instead of KMEL, 16-year-old Leslie Santiago listens to underground
hip-hop such as Oakland rapper Ise Lyfe and Latino artist Panama.
"They're not big or famous or well-known, so they're not catching the
stations' attention," she said. "But they're talking about the truth
and sending a good message."
Laney College student Leslie Lopez, 18, says it is hard not to listen
to these stations.
"I don't really like listening to the radio, but that's all that's on."
YMC is leading the first concerted effort involving youths to challenge
Clear Channel license renewals. In 2003, Essential Information, a
Washington, D.C.- based public interest group, unsuccessfully
challenged 63 of the corporation's stations in Virginia, West Virginia
"You get to vote with your ears for the kind of community radio you
want," Powers said.
The public can make comments, in favor or against, any California radio
stations, which are all applying for renewal through the FCC through
Nov. 1. Visit http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/renewal/index.html for instructions
or http://www.action.youthmediacouncil.org under "Take Action" to file a
Youth Media Council
1611 Telegraph Ave. Suite 510
Oakland CA 94612
jen at youthmediacouncil.org