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The Airwaves Belong To The People, Speak Out March 7th

Bob Fitrakis

I’m heading out in a few hours to speak at Victorian’s Midnight Café. It’s a fundraiser for Ohio Majority Radio, the folks who are trying to bring back Air America to Columbus. As you know, there’s been a huge vacuum since 1230 AM took Air America off the air. Couple that with the loss of WVKO 1580AM last May – and we find that talk radio in Columbus spans the political spectrum from ultraconservativism to neofascism.

This is a point that needs to be made at the Town Meeting on the Future of Media in Columbus on Wednesday, March 7 at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Broad St. The meeting starts at 5:30pm and FCC Commissioners will be in attendance to take testimony from Central Ohioans on how well – or in our case, not well – the broadcast community is serving the people of our community.

The freepress.net, one of the sponsors of the Town Meeting, has done a good job of analyzing who owns the media in Columbus. As they point out, just four companies control 75% of the Columbus area’s local news market. And, the Republican Wolfe family, owner of the Dispatch company, not only has a daily monopoly over the print media, also owns WBNS TV-10, WBNS 1460 AM and WBNS FM 97.1. These media entities comprise nearly half of all the local news market in our area.

Points that need to be made are that the media ownership in Columbus fails to reflect the genuine diversity of our community. For example, racial and ethnic minorities comprise 23% of the population in the Columbus TV market, 19% of the radio market, and 33% of the city’s population. Despite that diversity, only 7.5% of the area’s commercial broadcast stations are minority owned. And the only station that was willing to look at minority disenfranchisement during the 2004 election was the incredibly brave WVKO. With WVKO out of the market, there’s virtually no alternative local coverage of events that matter the most to civil rights and human rights advocates and minorities.

March 7 is YOUR opportunity to speak out against the oligarchs and plutocrats who own Columbus media.

Remember, the airwaves belong to the people. And, with that in mind, the Free Press is desperate to raise money for a 135 watt radio translator that could add a new progressive voice to Columbus radio. We are running out of time and must broadcast a signal by March 26. Tax deductible donations can be made out to to the CICJ Radio Project and can be donated online soon at our online store at https://freepress.org/ or sent to: 1240 Bryden Rd., Columbus, OH 43205.

So – hope to see you on Wednesday March 7 at 5:30pm at the church. Come prepared to testify and we will be videotaping and streaming it live.