Saul Levine, longtime President of family-owned Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters' KKGO (Go Country 105) and KMZT-AM/Los Angeles took a stand for that vanishing breed known as independent owners when he penned an open letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in support of the Commission's decision to retain existing ownership caps. "Thank you for the courage you have shown in your decision limiting further consolidation of the broadcast industry," Levine wrote. "You have done the right thing in preserving the existing restrictions on multiple ownership of broadcast radio facilities."
Levine continued, "Prior to the Telecommunications Act in 1996, local radio was a creative and community-oriented service. Competing with many other operators, each with no more than an AM/FM combo, fostered a vibrant creative process. The public benefited from the competition, and young people could apply for jobs in broadcasting. Now, two decades after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, what is the state of local radio? Has there been a benefit to the public? Definitely not, in my opinion. Tens of thousands of radio station employees have been fired, while programming has become dull and of limited local public appeal. There are few locally owned, family operated stations in the market competing against goliaths. Young people rarely apply for a position with a local station because there are hardly any jobs. Competing in the advertising market place is so much more difficult. Due to consolidation, radio advertising is now sold in clusters. Buy the eight-station cluster and there are special deals, bonuses, and discounts. This is anti-competitive, in my opinion. To make matters worse, these groups actually wanted to compound this untenable environment by increasing the caps in Los Angeles to 12 stations."
In conclusion, Levine wrote, "Radio as a competitive, creative medium is worse off today. The broadcast industry would face extinction as a local service to allow additional consolidation. What the radio industry really needs is to roll back ownership caps. That would open competition to multiple operators, increase viewpoint diversity, boost local employment, and inspire creative solutions to stand out among the competition. Because of my passion for radio and serving the public, I have operated niche formats (Jazz, Classical, and yes, Country in L.A.) because there was a need in the community for these formats despite limited revenue. The industry would be well served by more owners with a passion for radio and public service."
Here's the way I responded when they tried to do it a decade ago. Only an outraged public prevented it from happening...