Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman wants the Fairness Doctrine back
GLENN: Now, you don't think that freedom of speech is on the run? I want you to listen to this interview with a senator out of New Mexico. Listen carefully to what the senator is saying here.
VOICE: Talk radio listeners are concerned about the Fairness Doctrine. Do you think there will be a push to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine?
SENATOR BINGAMAN: I don't know. I certainly hope so. My own view is --
VOICE: Do you support it?
SENATOR BINGAMAN: I think --
VOICE: I mean, you would want this radio station to have to change?
SENATOR BINGAMAN: I would. I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view instead of always hammering away at one side of the political --
VOICE: I mean, do you -- I mean, in this market, for instance, you've got KKOB, in you want liberal talk, you got Air America in this market, you got NPR. If you have satellite radio, there's a lefty talk station and a righty talk station. I mean, do you think there are people who aren't able to find a viewpoint that is in sync with what they believe?
SENATOR BINGAMAN: Well, I guess my thought is that radio and media generally should have a higher calling than just reflect a particular point of view. I think they should use their authority to try to -- and their broadcast power to present an informed discussion of public issues. You know, KKOB used to live under the Fairness Doctrine. Every broadcast outlet --
VOICE: Yeah, we played music, I believe.
SENATOR BINGAMAN: Yeah, but there was a lot of talk, also. Used to be --
GLENN: I can't take it. I can't take it. This is Senator Jeff Bingaman. He's from New Mexico. Surprise, surprise, he's a Democrat. Let me ask you, do you think if Air America would have been successful, they would have been talking about this? No. No, they would have reclassified right talk stations as hate speech and they would have still tried to drive right talks. Nobody would have been talking about balancing Air America. They wouldn't have done it. They are not interested in free speech. Go back to what Al Gore has been telling us for the last five years. The discussion is over! If you believe that global warming is not happening, you are a Holocaust denier. They don't believe in free speech! "Well, I believe that we used to have the Fairness Doctrine. We all lived under that." Well, we also used to have slavery and we lived under that. Oh, well, we also used to be segregated and we all lived under that. Times change. Times change. I'm passionate about this because this is my job, but you know what? Honestly, I have stopped looking at my job as my job about a year and a half ago. It's not my job. It's my passion. I love this. But also I see this profession, not necessarily me but this profession, this outlet, these radio stations as quite possibly the last string of our Constitution, the last thread of our Constitution. If you can't get here, if you can't get it on the Internet, you ain't gonna get it, gang. They have got to silence the voices. They have got to silence the dissent. They have got to -- you look at the listeners of talk radio. You look at the people and then you look at the average person. The average person isn't informed. If they can keep you uninformed, they got you in slavery. How do I know that? What was punishable by death back before the Civil War? What was a crime? A crime was teaching a slave to read. You didn't educate slaves, and that's what talk radio does in many ways. It informs, it entertains, and it educates.
I was in radio. I've been in radio for over 30 years. I didn't care about the Fairness Doctrine for years and years and years because as the Senator Jeff Bingaman pointed out, "Well, I think we lived under it, this station, lived under the Fairness Doctrine." Yeah, we played music. We played music.
You know, I don't know how many people really know this, but Rush Limbaugh saved the AM dial, and I know it because I got into FM in 1981, maybe 1980. I got into FM radio. FM radio was brand-new. I remember growing up in Seattle and listening and KYYX came on the radio and everybody started listening to the FM and then shortly after that, a new station came on. It was called the Northwest New 93 FM. That's the first station that I first worked in the major market. I was 15 years old, couldn't even drive and worked at 93 FM, KUBE. That's the station that changed, in Seattle that's the station that changed people from the AM band to the FM. People were listening to KJR at the time, they were listening to King. They were AM stations. The FM came on and blew those stations out of the water because nobody wanted to listen to an AM radio station for music. It was over. The days of the AM were over.
I remember standing in an engineering office. This is back in the late Eighties, mid-Eighties, and we had an AM station. I was on the FM. The AM was a piece of garbage. The AM, we had two AMs. One of them actually sold to the company for $1. $1. Nobody was listening. And I remember standing in the engineering office and they said, "Yeah, well, we're thinking about going AM Stereo." I said, "AM Stereo, what's it going to sound like?" They said, "It's the AM band except it's in stereo." I said, oh, so you could lose it under the bridge and it would be all staticy but you'd get two channels of that? Whoa. It was ridiculous.
Here in my office I've got an AM stereo radio made by Sony. It's a collector's item. It was AM stereo was the way to try to do something to save the value of these radio stations. Well, while everybody was talking about AM stereo and people were starting to build AM stereo transmitters and turning their radio stations to AM stereo, which you can't pick up, a guy in Sacramento decided to do radio just the way he wanted to do radio. His name was Rush Limbaugh. He was a success. At the time satellites weren't even important. Satellite time, who was using satellite time? There was no real network radio. There were no shows broadcast on radio. At the same time Rush was doing his thing in Sacramento, another guy was let go by ABC Radio, and he negotiated a deal and he said, "Hey, I'm leaving and, you know, you owe me all this, why don't you just pay me in satellite time." And ABC Radio went... okay, sure, we'll pay you in satellite time. So he had all these hours and hours and endless hours of satellite time. All he needed to do was find something to do with it. He heard about this guy in Sacramento; called him up: "Hey, I tell you what, why don't we put your show on a satellite." They did. It was the Rush Limbaugh Show. Because that voice had not been heard, no one, no one will ever beat Rush Limbaugh, no one. Sean Hannity and I, we could battle it out for the number two spot forever. I mean, it's not much of a battle right now, but we could battle it out forever. We're never gonna battle it really with Rush Limbaugh. Why? Because he has almost every AM station in America. He is on in every market in America. He's sometimes up near 600 stations. You can't do that anymore. You just can't do that anymore. He was the Coca-Cola. He is the Coca-Cola of this industry. Why? Because when he went on the air, his stations had a zero rating and they would rocket to number one. Why would they rocket to number one? Because he was different.
Why do you always hear people say, "Oh, yeah, well, he's just a Rush wannabe." Well, why would you want to be Rush Limbaugh? I mean besides the $35 million a year and the jet and everything else, but why would you want to be Rush Limbaugh? You wanted to be Rush Limbaugh because he was successful. It's the Lemmings things. It's the same. It's happening with the market right now: One person goes in and then they're successful, they pull their money out and they've saved themselves and then everybody else is like, "Yeah, we've got to do with that guy did." Because he was so wildly successful and he saved the AM band, there was no other programming like it and so stations all across the country said, "Can you do that? You get on. You do things like that." He changed the AM band.
If you add the Fairness Doctrine in, these radio stations will go out of business. They won't be able to have the ratings. I've seen it happen. Clear Channel, for all of the horrible things that people say about Clear Channel, oh, they're just bad with the Bush administration. Do you know who partially funded Air America? Do you know who went on and put more Air America stations on than any other company? Clear Channel. Clear Channel. They saw the same thing that we've been talking about on this program for quite a while. We're dividing ourselves. We've got to unite. And you know what? It doesn't hurt the AM band. The real theory was it doesn't hurt the AM band if you can bring the other half of the population to the AM band. Why do you come to the AM band? You come for talk radio and you come for news radio. That's why. You come for these two things. "Well, didn't we used to have the Fairness Doctrine?" "We played music at the time." "But I remember there was an awful lot of talk, too." Yeah, you know what it was? "95 KJR. Good morning, it's Charlie Brown." That's what it was. That's what it was. It wasn't this. We've never had this. And these people are going to try to snuff out your voice.