On Hot 99.5, the day opens with the babbling of four hosts on The Kane Show, a national, or syndicated, culture show that is featured on the popular DC radio station. Hot 99.5 (or WIHT-FM) is one of the top stations in the Washington DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia area, reaching over 100 million listeners via radio each month, and is owned by the biggest radio company in the United States, Clear Channel, a division of the Katz Media Group.
Clear Channel owns nearly a thousand national stations, around nine percent of all American radio. The company claims that 45 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 hear some form of a Clear Channel station daily.
Essentially, Clear Channel controls the hits. When one corporation owns such a large portion of a media form, they can influence top digital downloads very quickly, and, after all, most of the music that is popular today originated on the radio.
Sure, there are exceptions, like Colbie Caillat?s ?Bubbly?, which blew up after being featured as an iTunes free single. However, for the most part, people buy songs because they hear them on the radio.
This gives Clear Channel an enormous influence upon what all Americans listen to. And because it is a national company, it features national, rather than local, artists. For example, Hot 99.5?s programming is nearly all syndicated talk shows and the station plays already-popular artists. The focus on these artists keeps local singers or groups from getting any airtime.
The Clear Channel effect is echoed throughout the media. In television and print outlets, groups like News Corporation own enormous, mainstream portions of the media, pushing smaller companies out and reporting only on the issues they value. Just like Clear Channel plays artists like Lady Gaga, the major networks played more stories about Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson in 2005 than the genocide in Darfur.
Groups like Clear Channel destroy any diversity of voices, both in the music industry through the radio and in the news via gigantic news conglomerates. In the DC area, Clear Channel has a staggering influence on what and who become popular. They control the hits and, by extension, control your playlist.