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Music Critic Milo Miles

Music critic Milo Miles has an appreciation of Celia Cruz, the Cuban singer who died last week at the age of 77.



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Other segments from the episode on July 23, 2003

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 23, 2003: Interview with Eric Boehlert and John Hogan; Commentrary on Celia Cruz.


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Salon magazine's Eric Boehlert and Clear Channel Radio
CEO John Hogan talk about media deregulation

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Media giants have been growing bigger in the climate of media deregulation.
In early June the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules allowing
cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations. It also expanded the number of
TV stations one company can own. Congress is now considering legislation that
would effectively overturn the new FCC rules allowing expanded ownership, but
if passed, it could face a veto by President Bush.

It may be instructive to look at the recent changes in radio, which was
deregulated by the 1996 Telecommunications Act that removed many restrictions
on radio ownership and changed the landscape of American radio. For example,
Clear Channel, which owned about 40 radio stations before the
Telecommunications Act, now owns over 1,200. Critics say that as more radio
stations have been bought by media conglomerates, such as Clear Channel and
Infinity, which is owned by Viacom, there has been a dramatic decrease in
programming diversity and localism.

A little later we'll hear from Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan. First,
we'll talk with Eric Boehlert, who has been covering media deregulation and
the consolidation of radio for the online magazine Salon. I asked him what
impact he thinks the new FCC rules could have on the media environment.

Mr. ERIC BOEHLERT (Salon): Well, for the cross-ownership, the concern is--the
reason it's never been allowed before is there was a concern that fewer and
fewer companies owned more and more outlets and that, you know, if a single
company owns the major newspaper in Denver and owns eight radio stations and
owns two TV stations and might also, you know, be in the telephone and
Internet business, basically, you know, obviously one company has an
extraordinary amount of power and influence and the concern is, yes, right now
most businesses are, you know, good corporate citizens and they do things the
way they're supposed to when it comes to journalism and news, but there's
always the temptation to start bending the rules and start, you know, putting
companies' agenda in the news.

And it also, while that company buys up more and more, that allows fewer and
fewer other people to own radio stations, to own television stations. The
main concern on the TV side is if you own more and more--if FOX and Viacom
owns more and more local affiliates--you know, local affiliates traditionally
made decisions on what to air in their local markets based on that community.
Yes, they're going to take almost all the network offerings, but on occasion,
you know, the local GM at an affiliate would say, `No, we don't want that
show. It doesn't meet our standards,' or, `No, we're going to run a local
political debate at 8:00, so we're not going to take that sitcom.' When the
major companies own all the affiliates, no one says no. There's no local
decision making on the local level for TV.

So basically the concern is fewer and fewer voices, more and more

GROSS: FCC Chairman Michael Powell very much supports this new deregulation.
What's his explanation for why he supports it?

Mr. BOEHLERT: His explanation is the rules are old and they're out of date
and that they made some sense when there were three network television
stations and there was no Internet and there was no satellite television. But
his argument is today there was all these choices so it's not as important to
forbid companies from owning more and more media outlets and that the
marketplace, you know, essentially will figure it out and the marketplace will
be the ultimate decision maker and companies need to have flexibility and
efficiency to operate.

GROSS: Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee is working on legislation
that, if it were to pass, would reverse some of this new deregulation. What
are they working on?

Mr. BOEHLERT: They're mostly concerned on the issue of how many local TV
stations you can own. That has been the hot-button issue in Washington.
Politicians are very interested in local television news coverage. They're
very interested in local, specifically campaign coverage. So they pay a lot
of attention to what goes on, on the local television. And of all the issues
that they have focused on, that's the one they're spending the most time on
and the Senate Commerce Committee, Republican controlled, voted to essentially
try to override the FCC's ruling and limit the number of local affiliates one
company could own.

GROSS: Well, because the new FCC ruling has a lot to do with consolidation of
the media, let's look at where we are now with consolidation. The media
landscape, particularly the radio landscape, has changed a lot since the 1996
Telecommunications Act. What did that act do that has opened a door to such

Mr. BOEHLERT: Basically, as you mentioned, in '96 radio was sort of the one
that got through the legislation. Initially these same rules that we're
talking about now were part of that Telecom Act. There was a battle between
the Congress and the White House. The White House was opposed to these
sweeping deregulations. And finally they allowed as sort of as negotiations
to allow radio to deregulate. And what we've seen is just massive
consolidation, almost beyond what anyone ever dreamt at the time. The largest
radio station group is Clear Channel. It has approximately 1,200 radio
stations. On the eve of the Telecom Act they had approximately 40. So that
right there tells you what has happened to radio. Their 1,200 stations is
approximately a thousand more than the nearest competitor.

So, I mean, you can't really underestimate how much has changed in the radio
business and what consolidation and deregulation did to the radio business.
People today who are still in the business would tell you they don't recognize
it. It's not the same business.

GROSS: Can you just give us an overview of the biggest companies and what
each of them own?

Mr. BOEHLERT: For radio?

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. BOEHLERT: There are really two major radio players. There's Clear
Channel, which has 1,200 radio stations. It's in the top probably 300
markets. I mean, they are everywhere and they're sort of maxed out in terms
of how many they can own in most major markets. And then there's Viacom,
which has between 2 and 300. They are mostly in the major markets, in the top
20, top 30, top 40 markets. They are number two in revenue. They're pretty
close to Clear Channel in terms of revenue even though they have 900 less
stations because they're in the major markets. And really once you go past
Clear Channel and Viacom, there's a major drop-off and then there are a
handful of medium-sized broadcasters who have, you know, 40, 50, 80, a hundred
stations. But essentially the radio industry today is run by two companies.

GROSS: And Viacom owns Infinity.

Mr. BOEHLERT: Right.

GROSS: So let's talk a little bit about how this consolidation is affecting
what we hear. First of all, a lot more syndicated radio shows.

Mr. BOEHLERT: A lot more syndicated radio shows, a lot more what's called
voice tracking. If Clear Channel owns 1,200 radio stations and, say, 700 of
them are music stations, they're certainly not going to employ five disc
jockeys at 700 radio stations to play music. So what they decided to do was
fire most of the disc jockeys and, through very clever and high-tech
technology, advanced technology, they were able to have a single disc jockey,
say, doing an afternoon show in Akron, Ohio, on an adult contemporary station
and feed that same disc jockey's voice to 30 other, 40 other adult
contemporary stations, feeding in local commercials, feeding in local weather,
so listeners sort of think it's local. So that's one way it's changed. I
mean, the localism is gone. A lot more nationally syndicated programming is
gone. And really, I mean, what you hear on the radio is different just
because of the enormous leverage that Clear Channel and Infinity and Viacom

GROSS: What do you mean?

Mr. BOEHLERT: Well, I mean, in terms of the music specifically. When Clear
Channel had 40 radio stations--and we'll say 30 of them are music--they
controlled 30 playlists across the country. So if you're a record company, or
you're an artist, you want to, of course, get on Clear Channel's playlist.
And so Clear Channel had a certain amount of leverage in terms of what songs
they could turn into hits and whose careers they could help.

So now if Clear Channel has 6, 700 music playlists, Clear Channel is in charge
of the music business really. I mean, you can't have a hit without being on
Clear Channel stations. You can't have a career without being on Clear
Channel stations. So all of a sudden, you have a company that is essentially
dictating what gets heard on the radio. I mean, they're not playing anything
that's wildly different than anyone else, but if you're a record company and
you're an artist, you have to go through Clear Channel to have a career and to
have hits. That was unheard of six or seven years ago. There was nobody in
1995, before the Telecom Act, that absolutely picked and choosed the hits. If
Clear Channel's 30 stations in 1995 weren't going to play your song, you go
around them. You go around them in the markets they are. You go to the
competition. You go to different regions, and you try to cultivate your hits.
Now you start at Clear Channel. If they're not interested, you go to the next
song, you go to the next artist, because there's no point in chasing a song
that they're not going to play.

GROSS: Eric Boehlert covers media deregulation for the online magazine Salon.
We'll talk more a little later. Coming up, Clear Channel Radio's CEO John
Hogan. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: We're talking about the deregulation of media and the consolidation of
radio. My guest, John Hogan, is the CEO of Clear Channel Radio. It owned
about 40 radio stations in 1996 when the Telecommunications Bill was passed
which deregulated radio ownership. Clear Channel now owns more than 1,200
radio stations.

Now you've said that deregulation has been good for radio. How do you think
it's been good for radio?

Mr. JOHN HOGAN (CEO Clear Channel Radio): Prior to deregulation occurring in
1996, it's important to remember that a significant number--some have placed
it as high as 60 percent--of the radio stations in the country were losing
money. Many of them were in danger of actually going off the air, going dark.
And I think first and foremost, what deregulation has done is it has
revitalized the radio industry. The radio business today is in significantly
better shape than it was in those, what I like to think of as, unfortunately,
dark days of radio back before deregulation.

GROSS: Do you think it's revitalized radio in terms of profits, or do you
think it's revitalized radio in terms of programming as well?

Mr. HOGAN: Well, I think both of those. And I think it's also, I'll say,
rejuvenated radio as well in terms of a medium in people's minds. I think in
terms of content and the quality of programming, it's my opinion that radio is
much better today and that it is much more diverse today than it was in 1996,
again, as a result of deregulation. And the sort of the backup for that is
that prior to companies being able to own multiple stations in a market, you
would have multiple companies all vying for dominance of the same opportunity.
You would have two, three companies all trying to be the country station, or
two or three or four stations trying to be the adult contemporary radio
stations, multiple companies all vying for the same piece of audio real
estate. And so I think deregulation has led--contrary to popular, but
unfortunately misinformed, opinion, it has led to greater format diversity.

GROSS: Well, give me an example of a market where Clear Channel has a lot of
stations, and you feel that those stations represent this new diversity that
you're talking about.

Mr. HOGAN: I'll give you an example in Los Angeles, where today we have eight
radio stations there, one of which is a nostalgia station, 570 AM. Prior to
deregulation, the likelihood of having a nostalgia station was really pretty
limited in that market. We also have a sort of a urban Spanish hip-hop
station, KHOT, and that format would have been highly unlikely prior to
deregulation. We have a CHR station. We have an AC station. We have a hot
AC station. And we have a soft AC station. If you go back to
pre-deregulation, what you would have found was that that market would have
had two or three similar formats all owned by different owners, all competing
for the same hill. What it has allowed us to do is to increase the format
diversity. It's also allowed other owners to diversify their formats as well.
And I think the end result is that the Los Angeles listener has much more
choice today than they did pre-1996.

GROSS: But isn't competition supposed to be a good thing?

Mr. HOGAN: Competition is supposed to be a good thing. I don't see the
connection between having greater format diversity and less competition. Keep
in mind that there are virtually no radio listeners, with the possible
exception of a few NPR listeners, but there are no listeners who only listen
to a single radio station. One of the beauties of radio is that people have
multiple choices, and so there is ongoing and built-in competition. Listeners
have probably more than--most media that I can think of have choices.

GROSS: Let's go over some of the concerns that have been raised about the
number of stations owned by Clear Channel. It's over 1,200 stations.

Mr. HOGAN: About 1,229.

GROSS: Thank you. One of the most common concerns that you hear expressed is
that this limits diversity and limits regional identity. Now you've already
addressed the diversity question. Many of the stations owned by Clear Channel
use programs that are voice tracked. They're prerecorded by a disc jockey who
is in another city or state, and those voice tracks can be customized a bit
for the local station. But they're still kind of, you know, being recorded
someplace else by somebody who's not really in the region. Listeners don't
necessarily know that. Good thing? Bad thing?

Mr. HOGAN: Well, I'm going to back up. Before I answer that, I want to talk
about the consolidation part of it first. We do own 1,229 radio stations.
That represents somewhere around 11 percent of the 12 to 13,000 commercial
radio stations in the country. I don't see any way possible to conclude that
this is a consolidated industry or that Clear Channel has any sort of real
dominance inside that industry. It is a common misperception that we own a
far greater percentage of the radio stations that are out there than we
actually do. Somewhere less than 12 percent of the radio stations in the
country are owned by Clear Channel. What is also important to understand is
that in 1996, every single company in the country, every single individual in
the company, had the same opportunity to grow their businesses as did Clear
Channel. And I actually believe that it's a great American success story. I
look at what we have done as an example of good old-fashioned American
initiative and success.

GROSS: Let's get to the issue of voice tracking.

Mr. HOGAN: Yes.

GROSS: Do you share the concern that this is kind of, you know, like
homogenizing programming and also that, you know, regional identity is being
taken away and that people often don't even realize that the host, who sounds
like maybe they're local, isn't even in the same city or state?

Mr. HOGAN: I absolutely disagree with all of that, and I want to back up and
correct a comment that you made. It is not many of our markets. In fact,
less than 10 percent of our shifts of the day parts on our radio stations--in
fact it's 9 percent--have imported day parts. We do employ the available
technology to record some of our shifts. The vast majority of that is done by
local announcers and deejays in their markets. I will admit readily that it
is extraordinarily different than the way radio was done even when I started
some 20 years ago. But I would also say that anybody with an open mind would
have to agree that it really results in different, but certainly better,
radio. It allows us to put much better talent in more places than ever
before. It allows us to, I think, provide much better content for listeners,
certainly better packaging for listeners than they have ever had. There has
always been a concern that as radio changed, and it's been one of radio's
greatest strengths, is it's been able to reinvent itself and to morph over
time. There's always been a concern that somehow it's not been as local or
not been as good as it was in the past, and I really dispute that. Radio is
an inherently local medium, and as a radio company, and personally as a radio
broadcaster, I get the absolute importance of connecting on a local level with
our listeners. It's why we employ over 900 program directors who are all
based in markets, local markets, their home markets, all across the country.
It's why we have such an incredible emphasis on providing local news, weather,
traffic, sports information, school closings, blood drives, all of the things
that people want to know about their local communities.

GROSS: Let me ask you about playlists. Since Clear Channel owns more than
1,200 stations, there's a lot of concern that Clear Channel could, you know,
control what's heard and what's not, who gets a hit, who doesn't, who gets
airplay, who doesn't. How are playlists created for the Clear Channel music

Mr. HOGAN: Clear Channel playlists are created in essentially the same way in
every market, and that is by the local markets. We have, as I said earlier, a
tremendous belief in the power of local radio, which is why we employ 900
program directors and literally thousands more of programming staffers, music
directors, assistant PDs and so on to help gather the research that we do in
local markets. We make literally millions of calls in markets all across the
country to find out what our listeners hear. And the short simple answer is
that our playlists are determined by local program directors.

GROSS: John Hogan is the CEO of Clear Channel Radio. He and Eric Boehlert
will be back in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross, and this is

(Soundbite of music)


GROSS: Coming up, more on the consolidation of radio with journalist Eric
Boehlert and the CEO of Clear Channel Radio, John Hogan. And Milo Miles has
an appreciation of Celia Cruz, who is considered the queen of Latin music.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Another day, just believe. Another day, just
breathe. Another day, just believe. Another day, just breathe. Another day,
just believe. Another day...

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

We're talking about media deregulation. The FCC passed new rules last month
allowing cross ownership of newspapers and TV stations. It also expanded the
number of TV stations one company can own. Congress is considering
legislation that would effectively overturn some of the new FCC rules. We're
looking at how radio has changed since it was deregulated in 1996. A little
later we'll hear from John Hogan, the CEO of Clear Channel Radio, which owned
about 40 stations before the 1996 deregulation and now owns more than 1,200
radio stations. First, we hear again from Eric Boehlert, who has been
covering media deregulation and the consolidation of radio for the online
magazine Salon. Clear Channel not only owns many radio stations, it now owns
concert promotion and production companies. I asked Boehlert if he thinks
this has changed things for recording artists and record labels.

Mr. BOEHLERT: Clear Channel essentially owns the concert business in America.
It owns the venues; it owns the promotions; it owns the tours. Before that
happened, if you're an artist, you have two ways to make money: you could
make money touring and you can make money selling records. Today, most
artists don't make money selling records for a variety of reasons. So they're
going to make their money touring. And how do you sell tickets? You sell
tickets by being on the radio. So that--you're an artist, and there you go in
terms of, you know, the two gates you have to pass through to have a career in
the American music business, and they're both owned by Clear Channel, and a
few years ago when it was all sort of coming together, when Clear Channel had
just bought the concert industry, there were concerns that--Well, what's going
on here?

I mean, if I have to pick a concert promoter and I'm going to go out on a
summer tour, and I can pick a Clear Channel promoter or I can pick a
competitor, well, what does that mean to my chances of being on Clear Channel
radio stations? And how am I going to sell concert tickets if I'm not--if my
songs aren't being played on Clear Channel stations or maybe they're not going
to run my ads for my local concert. So artists and labels and managers, you
know, saw the obvious and said, `Let's just tour with Clear Channel, and not
take any chances.' I mean, the music business is hard enough. I mean, it is
really--you can't--it's extraordinarily difficult to have a hit, to have a
career in the music business today. So the feeling is `Why take any chances?
Let's tour with Clear Channel and we'll have a better chance of getting on
Clear Channel radio stations.' Again, before deregulation, that was unheard
of. I mean, radio and the concert business, in terms of ownership, had
nothing to do with one another. That's completely changed now.

GROSS: Singer Don Henley testified at a hearing that his manager had
represented an artist whose song was boycotted on Clear Channel stations after
the artist refused to perform free at a promotional concert. Do you hear this
type of thing a lot, that you have to play ball?

Mr. BOEHLERT: Oh, yeah. You have to play ball. And Clear Channel's gotten
better about it now, but a couple years ago, when they were sort of--they had
this mentality, if you talk to people in the music business, that--Wow!--you
know, `we've got 1,200 radio stations, we own the touring business. This is
great. We can do whatever we want. No one is going to mess with us. No one
is going to tell us how to run things. And, in fact, we're going to play
hardball and if people don't want to do business with us, we're going to tell
them what's going on. We're going to tell them we're going to send memos to
the record company, saying, you know, `this band--we're having trouble with
this band that's not touring with us. We're going to take them off the air in
a couple different markets.'

You mentioned, you know, Don Henley and that song getting boycott. The
problem is that all of these radio stations, not just Clear Channel, but they
put on these promotional concerts, they put on a big summer concert, they put
on a Christmas concert, for free. Well, it's free for the artist; they don't
get paid. But it's a way for these stations to make money. And so they ask
all these artists to come in and perform for free. And it's, you know, sort
of a conflict because if you're, say, Don Henley and you're being asked to
perform at a Clear Channel free radio concert, well, you know, I was going to
come into that market a month from now, and now I won't be able to sell
tickets because I have to do these free radio concerts.

And what he was talking about was an artist that said, `No, I'm not going to
do the free concert.' She was actually trying to finish up recording an
album. `I'm not going to do your free concert. I have to finish my album.'
And the allegation was she didn't perform at the free Clear Channel concert so
when the record came out, her song was not played on the radio stations. So
there's all sorts of these really messy, sort of hardball tactics that people
allege have been going on, and everyone is, you know, trying to figure out:
How you go about this, how do you try to get on the radio station, how do you
tour, how do you perform the endless string of free concerts for radio
stations, and still try to have a career and can you do it without going
through Clear Channel?

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Eric Boehlert. He's the senior
writer for Salon, the online magazine, and he has been following media
consolidation and changes in the radio industry and the music industry for the
past couple of years.

There was an anti-trust suit that was filed against Clear Channel in 2001.
What was that suit about and what's the status of it now?

Mr. BOEHLERT: The status of it is it continues to sort of, I believe, plod
along in the court system. Depositions are being taken, I believe, and it
will--moving slowly. What it was about was in Denver, Colorado, Clear Channel
has a very prominent concert business and it's--of course, as in any major
market, lots of radio stations. There's a small independent concert promoter,
Nobody in Particular is the name of the company, and they allege that
Clear Channel--when an act would come into a market that--an act that Nobody
in Particular had worked with in the past when it was playing bars, when it
was playing small clubs, each year it would come back, the band would get a
little bigger.

Clear Channel--the allegation was Clear Channel was going to artists and
essentially telling them that, you know, if you want to be on Clear Channel
radio stations you need--when you come to Denver, you need to do business with
Clear Channel concerts, and if you want your ads, your commercials to sell
those tickets, you need to be with Clear Channel or Clear Channel Radio is not
going to run those ads. The allegation was that Nobody in Particular had
tried to just go to the Clear Channel stations, buy spots like everyone else
to advertise concerts, and that the Clear Channel radio stations either were
not running the spots or airing them at 2:00 in the morning, and therefore
Nobody in Particular could market the concert because--I mean, if you're
marketing a rock concert, you're gonna sell your tickets on rock radio. I
mean, that's how most of the fans find out about the show.

So the allegation was that they, you know, refused to advertise the show and
that Clear Channel was sort of dangling air play in front of artists when they
come to Denver with the allegation being `You need to do business with us if
you want to be on Clear Channel Radio.' And, of course, Nobody in Particular
doesn't own any radio stations in Denver or anywhere else, and they felt they
were, you know, at a disadvantage. They could not compete in that kind of

GROSS: So that suit is still in play?

Mr. BOEHLERT: I believe it is, yes.

GROSS: Now there were criticisms during the war in Iraq that Clear Channel
was holding pro-war rallies. And that artists who spoke out against the war
risked not getting played on Clear Channel stations. Now Clear Channel said
that they--that these rallies were actually organized by local stations, not
corporate headquarters, and that they were rallies for the troops, not
necessarily in favor of the war. Did you investigate that at all?

Mr. BOEHLERT: Well, yeah, I mean, Clear Channel is right in that they were
organized by local stations. It was not a top-down sort of edict coming down
from the Clear Channel CEO saying, `We're going to run pro-war rallies.' But
it's not that quite--simple either, because for one thing--I mean, Clear
Channel has very close ties with the Republican Party and specifically with
the Bush family. Clear Channel CEO Lowery Mays is a good friend of Bush Sr.
He campaigned for Bush Jr. He's donated--he and his family and the company
have donated heavily to the Republican Party. He--you know, the face of Clear
Channel talk radio is Rush Limbaugh; that's their largest draw. Rush
Limbaugh has spoken at Clear Channel managers conventions, you know, urging
them to, you know, vote Republican, as Lowery Mays has done.

So there's a clear connection between Clear Channel and the Bush White House
and the Republican Party. And these rallies that are taking place--I mean,
they're important for a couple reasons. A--you know, at the time, the only
people making news in terms of rally were the anti-war protests. So if this
was sort of a silent majority they were dealing with, what they did was they
sort of provided this turnkey operation. I mean, they scheduled these
rallies. They, you know, booked them in their concert halls. They took care
of all the permits. They took care of the planning. They brought in
entertainment. I think for anyone who's tried to plan a protest, it would be
nice if you could just hand it off to a company, and please do it, and, of
course, they advertised it non-stop on their radio stations.

So it really was--it was not a top-down sort of conspiracy but it also wasn't
just `Gee, let's put on these rallies and see what happens.' I mean, they
were very well-done, and they provided an extraordinary resource, and as I
talk to people, you know, in the radio business, I don't think any Clear
Channel manager would be foolish enough to host an anti-war rally. I mean,
everyone knows what Clear Channel's politics are. And everyone in the company
knows where Lowery Mays is coming from politically. So they--I think that was
reflected in the rallies and I think they provided a real value at a time when
the White House was looking to rally public support for the war which was at
the time just, you know, weeks away.

GROSS: Eric Boehlert covers media deregulation and the consolidation of radio
for the online magazine Salon.

Coming up, we talk again with the CEO of Clear Channel Radio, John Hogan.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: We're considering how radio has changed since it was deregulated in
1996 by the Telecommunications Act. Let's get back to our interview with John
Hogan, the CEO of Clear Channel Radio. It owned about 40 stations before the
1996 deregulation and now owns over 1,200.

Another perception that some people have of Clear Channel is that Clear
Channel censors musicians because of their political point of view. For
example, right before the war with Iraq, some Clear Channel stations had
rallies, sponsored rallies, in support of the war. And the Dixie Chicks, who
had made strong anti-war statements, didn't get air play on several Clear
Channel stations. And I think one Clear Channel station actually had a CD
burning of Dixie Chicks recordings. So do you think it's fair to say that
Clear Channel sometimes censors artists because of their political beliefs?

Mr. HOGAN: No. And let me back up--and before we talk about fair, let's
talk about accurate. First of all, it was not a Clear Channel radio station
that had a CD burning. It was another media company, Cumulus. Second of all,
Clear Channel made absolutely unequivocally no decisions about what our radio
stations can or cannot play. We leave those decisions to local program
directors in their markets. The other thing that you mentioned was that we
staged rallies for the war. That's inaccurate on two counts. We did not
stage anything.

Glenn Beck, who is an on-air host, staged Rallies for America, which were
rallies for the troops. There was not a stance, one way or the other, other
than to support the fighting men and women of the United States. Yes, Clear
Channel radio stations participated in some of those events. Thirteen radio
stations, which is roughly 1/10th of 1 percent of the radio stations in our
company, chose at the local level--chose--to participate in Glenn Beck's
Rallies for America.

The fact of the matter is that those rallies were initiated by another
company. And it was a company, Susquehanna Broadcasting--Glenn Beck happens
to be on one of their radio stations. A listener called in, an idea was
borne. I think it was creative; I think it was innovative. And I think that
Clear Channel has largely been miscast as the originator. I will tell you
that we are completely and totally apolitical. It makes no difference to us
whether it's a conservative, a liberal, a libertarian, whatever it is. We are
in the business of attracting listeners. We're not in the business of
propagating a certain political agenda. It's just bad business. To somehow
construe that Clear Channel has a political agenda is just--it's not only
inaccurate; it is completely opposite of our entire operating philosophy.

GROSS: Now Clear Channel bought the company SFX, which is a concert promotion
company. And it also owns some artists management companies. So now Clear
Channel owns radio stations, concert promotion companies, artist management
companies. And I believe it also owns some performance venues, as well. So
there's this fear that some people have in the music industry that you have to
play ball now with Clear Channel. If you go with a competitor with your
management or your performance venue, you know, you can be blacklisted by
Clear Channel because you own parts of all of that, on every level of that.
What's your response to people who have that fear that, you know, you gotta
play ball with Clear Channel in every facet of your career or else you're
gonna be shut out?

Mr. HOGAN: You know, my reaction is fairly heeded. We don't do business that
way. And I would encourage anybody who has that fear to come in and sit down
and talk with us. Never have done business that way, never will do business
that way. It is, again, a misperception or a misunderstanding about the
company. I'll give you a great example. Clear Channel Entertainment
aggressively pursued the opportunity to do the Britney Spears concert tour a
couple years ago. It was something that we really wanted to have.
Unfortunately, we lost out to a competitor. I can tell you that after we lost
out of that opportunity to be the concert promoter, we actually increased the
number of spins that Britney Spears had on Clear Channel Radio stations. And
I share that with you, because there is absolutely unequivocally no connection
between what gets played on the radio and what concert tours or venues are

GROSS: Another perception that some people have of Clear Channel: Clear
Channel Radio stations do promotional concerts in which artists are expected
to help stations by performing for free, doing benefits. Artists have
complained that they're virtually forced to play these concerts, and if they
don't, they won't get air play on Clear Channel stations. On the other hand,
the artists say there's so many of these concerts that they can interfere with
the musicians' own tour schedules, and they can therefore interfere with the
income that the musician is able to generate. What's your response?

Mr. HOGAN: My response is, I guess, on public radio, I wouldn't be able to
give you my off-the-top-of-my-head response, which is a little coarse for your
audience. We just don't do business that way. It's one of the reasons that
we have changed the relationship that we had with independent promoters. We
want to have direct relationships with artists. We're not in the same
business as artists, but our businesses intersect. It is absolutely important
for us to have good relationships with the artists, but more importantly, it
is important for us to have relationships with our audiences. And there isn't
an artist or a tour or a concert out there that is valuable enough to disrupt
the relationship that we have with our listeners. And that's important,
because if we stopped playing what our listeners want to hear, we wouldn't be
in business very long.

GROSS: John Hogan, thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. HOGAN: Great. Thanks, Terry. It was nice to talk with you.

GROSS: John Hogan is the CEO of Clear Channel Radio. Earlier, we heard from
Eric Boehlert, who covers media deregulation for Salon.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: Coming up, Milo Miles has an appreciation of Latin music queen Celia
Cruz. She died last week. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Profile: Celia Cruz appreciated

Thousands of music fans in Miami and New York turned out for the wakes of
Cuban salsa star Celia Cruz. Her funeral was held yesterday in New York.
Cruz died last week at the age of 77. Her career spanned more than five
decades and incorporated all types of Latin styles. Music critic Milo Miles
looks back on her life and music.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. CELIA CRUZ: (Singing in foreign language)

MILO MILES reporting:

Celia Cruz may have broken out of the Latin music community with the 1974 hit,
"Quimbara," but she'd been a star for decades by then, and she would remain
a regal presence for decades more. When divas reach certain rarified levels,
they no longer seem like merely the most famous or the most skilled performers
in their style. For many salsa fans, Celia Cruz incarnated the music.

Cruz rose to that rarified level through a slow simmering career. She was a
firm believer that persistence, and she could have added consistency, paid
long-term dividends. She was one of 14 children born to a poor family who
lived near Havana. After winning radio contests in the 1940s, she became the
lead vocalist for La Sonora Mantacera, one of the most popular bands in Cuba.
After Castro's revolution, La Sonora were among the first to choose exile.
They went on a tour of Mexico and never came back. After appearing in some
Mexican films, Cruz made her way to New York. For the rest of her life, she
remained a low-key but determined opponent of Cuba's communist regime, and was
not even allowed to return to the island for her father's funeral.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. CRUZ: (Singing in foreign language)

MILES: Cruz recalls a couple other queens who were too powerful to remain
confined to any category of music, Mahalia Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald. Like
Mahalia, Cruz was relentlessly intense on stage, a vision of hair and heels
that were both too high, and gowns that were too flashy for anybody else.
When she sang, she was always in motion, always in command. But she was more
like Ella Fitzgerald in that she did not force the song she sang into one
style. She could play diverse roles. As a result, her rumba, her merengues,
even her chants to the Cuban folklore gods, the orishas, sound untouchably
classic. Right now, the best available Cruz anthologies are "100% Azucar" and
the somewhat more varied set called "On Fire." A very fine late live
performance by Cruz is included in the movie, "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of
Love." And indeed, Cruz collaborated with all the Latin stars from her
favorite Tito Puente to Johnny Pacheco to Marc Anthony. She won Grammys,
received an honorary doctorate and established a foundation to help Hispanic
students study music. But Cruz always said her greatest accomplishment was
creating an irresistible upbeat mood. She said her message was always feliz
adad(ph). She will deliver it forever.

GROSS: Milo Miles is a contributing writer for Rolling Stone. Celia Cruz
died last week.


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. CRUZ: (Singing in foreign language)


Announcer: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: On the next FRESH AIR, Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop-elect of
the dioceses of New Hampshire. If he is confirmed at the national convention
next week, he will be the first openly gay man to be ordained an Episcopal

I'm Terry Gross. Join us for the next FRESH AIR.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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