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July 31, 2013

Alan Colmes Gets It Right On Limbaugh/Hannity Syndication Flap

There are other stations that these shows will end up on, and the number of listeners are not going to decline, simply because they lose Cumulus stations.

Seeing liberal bloggers declare victory about how a boycott of these shows’ sponsors led to this makes my hair stand on end for four reasons.

First, that’s not at all what happened, as these shows will land elsewhere.

Second, and even more importantly, these two broadcasters, with whom I vehemently, vocally, and publicly disagree politically, have done more to keep the talk radio industry alive than anyone else. It’s because of the success of these two shows that many stations have stayed in the talk format in the first place, allowing other shows to be heard. Much as liberals don’t have nearly as many outlets as conservatives (According to TALKERS magazine, conservatives own the lion’s share of the news/talk market), it would be even worse for the left if these shows weren’t making it, because the industry would be closer to collapse at a time when terrestrial radio is struggling.

Third, a boycott hurts the entire business. Advertisers run scared and are encouraged to avoid controversy, and that affects all programming, including progressive hosts.

Fourth, what kind of liberal wants to clamp down on free speech and celebrate shutting someone up? The best antidote to free speech is — free speech. As the German theologian Martin Niemoller famously said, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist…” If I, as a liberal, didn’t speak out against those who would squelch the free speech of conservatives, I wouldn’t deserve to call myself a liberal.

I don't know that I entirely agree with his fourth point, but the first three are spot on. Especially since, as Colmes points out elsewhere, some of these markets now have Clear Channel stations that will cost nothing to put the shows on, since Premiere is owned by Clear Channel. But even where there isn't a Clear Channel station in the market, I have no doubt that there is a competitor who is salivating at the prospect to get to of the top-rated syndicated shows in the country on their station. Why do I say this? Because it has happened in every market where a station has dropped one or the other of these shows in the past, and there has been no significant change in the market.





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