Synopses & Reviews
Talk radio is the American voter. -- Rush Limbaugh
Freedom of speech. It is our most cherished privilege as Americans, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution since 1791. But at the dawn of a new presidential administration, an epic battle is looming -- a battle for our airwaves that could sharply curtail or silence altogether the freedom of expression that distinguishes America from the average dictatorship. The target of this battle is conservative talk radio.
If key Democrats have their way, the principles of the Federal Communications Commission's Fairness Doctrine will once again be enforced and allow government to control the content heard on free radio, a mandate that will have far-reaching implications for all media.
During the Reagan administration the FCC voted to stop enforcing the Fairness Doctrine, which required all licensed broadcasters to present balanced viewpoints on controversial issues.
Conservative talk radio burgeoned, giving rise to the father of conservative talk, Rush Limbaugh, and such hosts as Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, and others. The format was a smash hit -- resonating with listeners from coast to coast and giving a powerful voice to the conservative movement. Soon such programming, attracting an estimated 50 million listeners weekly, dominated the airwaves where liberal talk radio failed. Popular, profitable, outspoken, powerful, influential -- it's what the American people wanted, and its success was the Democrats' worst nightmare.
Now, the principles of the Fairness Doctrine threaten to be reinstated -- if not directly, then through back-door tactics involving ownership of stations. Under cover of being fair, they will prove to be anything but: They will be used as a means of censorship by those with contempt for conservative talk radio. With our current Congress firmly under Democratic control, the future of talk radio -- indeed, freedom of speech for all Americans -- is under direct attack.
A look inside the fairness doctrine and its impact on politics and free speech in American talk radio.
About the Author
Brian Jennings is one of nation's top talk radio programmers who served as National V.P. of Talk Programming for Citadel Broadcasting, one of the nation's largest radio companies for over a decade and served as programming head to over 40 radio stations nationwide. According to Talker's Magazine, he is also one of the founding fathers of the conservative talk radio format. Nominated 5 times as a national talk radio executive of the year by Radio and Records Magazine, Jennings is also a national award-winning journalist. His many awards include Columbia University's DuPont Award, the National Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Ohio State Award, the National Headliners Award, the National Abe Lincoln Award, and others. He has also worked as a consultant to national personalites such as Oliver North, Michael Reagan, Alan Colmes, Dick Cavett, and others. Considered one of the foremost authorities on talk radio today, Jennings resides in the Pacific Northwest and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs throughout the nation and a staunch defender of free speech.