By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Those who follow local talk radio know that my last afternoon ?Liberty and Prosperity? program on WOND Radio 1400 AM was on Wednesday, Dec. 7 ? Pearl Harbor Day.
A major programming change put Harry Hurley, my fellow columnist, on? WOND from noon to 4 p.m. every weekday as of Monday, Jan. 2.
As part of that change, WOND also dropped the national Rush Limbaugh? program, which it had run weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. for more than 20? years. Limbaugh is now heard at that same time on WMID 1340 AM, in? Atlantic City. ?WMID will also carry a ?Best of Rush? program on Saturday? mornings.
Matt “Matworld” Toenniessen, who shared the weekday 3 to 4 p.m.? afternoon timeslot with me after Rush for more than a year, moved to? weekday evenings on WOND from 8 to 10 p.m. I was also offered part of? that evening timeslot, but I declined.
I will continue the LibertyandProsperity.org program on WVLT 92.1FM in Vineland every Saturday morning from 8 to 9 a.m. That station can be heard in most of South? Jersey.
This shakeup in local talk radio teaches some important lessons about liberty ? and the talk radio business.
For years, Norm Cohen, my fellow columnist on the left, complained? how ?powerful? talk radio is dominated by conservatives like Rush? Limbaugh and me. He often wished that liberals like him could do their own liberal program.
But they can if they want. Unlike in most countries, the government doesn?t control private radio stations in the United?States. In fact, we now have more liberty than ever when it comes to talk radio.
When radio first became profitable in the 1920s, thousands of Americans started hundreds of commercial radio stations around the country. They built the most powerful transmitters they could afford,? and broadcast on whatever frequencies they wanted.
The result was chaos. The signal of every station interfered with every other station, and no station could be heard clearly. To fix this problem, Herbert Hoover, the ?progressive? secretary of commerce under Republican President Calvin Coolidge, got Congress to adopt the Federal Radio Act of 1927.
This new law made it a crime to broadcast radio signals without a license. A new Federal Radio Commission appointed by the president and?the U.S. Senate would decide how many licenses to issue, who would get? them, and the locations, frequency, and power of every radio station in? the country.
At first, this limitation on each individual?s freedom to start a? radio station preserved liberty. Almost anyone could get a license by? proving that his or her signal would not ?interfere? with the signal of? any other station. And each radio listener was free to listen to the? clear signal of the station of his or her choice, without such? interference.
But federal politicians quickly learned how to influence the FCC.? That federal agency soon limited licenses to restrict competition and?guarantee profits for selected license holders in key markets. It made complicated regulations that required expensive lawyers and consultants.? It also seemed to grant and revoke (or threaten to revoke) broadcast?licenses in ways that advanced the careers of certain politicians with? ties to the FCC.
One of them was Lyndon Johnson. He was broke when he was first? elected to Congress in 1937. But within 12 years, he was one of the?richest and most powerful members of the U.S. Senate. He got his wealth?when his wife bought a cheap radio station ? that quickly became the most powerful and profitable station in Texas ? after getting FCC permits nobody else could get.
But in the 1970s competition from new FM radio stations created a?free market in AM radio. Then, in 1987, the FCC, under Republican? President Ronald Reagan, ended the Fairness Doctrine and other regulations that made it very difficult and expensive to broadcast?anything political or controversial. This allowed small local stations? to make money on low-budget live talk radio, and even more money from? national shows like the new Rush Limbaugh program in 1988.
That is why it made sense for the owner of 1340AM to quickly pick up?the Rush Limbaugh program. And why I think it makes sense for another? local radio or TV station to sell time to LibertyAndProsperity.org so we can put our message back on the airwaves. And why Norm Cohen can put?his Left?s Turn on the radio whenever he is willing to sell some ads and?buy the time.
Liberty is a wonderful thing. Let?s keep it on the radio.
(Reprinted from 28 December, 2011 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/19636-lets-keep-liberty-on-the-radio.html)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m.? Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email
or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m.? every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.
(Image source – http://www.campaignforliberty.com/userfiles/10051pic.jpg)