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Teri Sharp, Director, Media Relations
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0051
Phone: (419) 372-2616



BOWLING GREEN, OH. -- Controversy over the control of clear channel AM radio during the first half of the 20th century and its importance to the development of radio broadcasting is examined in a new book by a Bowling Green State University professor.

In "Big Voices of the Air: The Battle over Clear Channel Radio," Dr. James Foust, an associate professor of journalism, explores the debate over clear channel radio stations and the attempts by their owners to maintain and enhance their dominant position in the broadcast band.

The 250-page book, which was published by Iowa State University Press, concentrates on the formation and role of commercial communications interest groups and examines their goals and strategies in relation to today's larger, more structured entities from the perspective of the policymakers.

"I originally became interested in the topic while working on my doctorate at Ohio University," said Foust.

Foust's initial interest was piqued by an experiment, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission during the 1930s, which allowed WLW, an AM radio station in Cincinnati, to use 500,000 watts to carry its signal. Exceeding the 50,000 watt limit-10 times today's normal limit-WLW was the first and only radio station to broadcast regularly with such power.

From the FCC's experiment he discovered that there was a political battle being fought over the range and power of such clear channel radio stations.

Clear channel AM radio stations were once the dominant electronic media. Their powerful signals stretched hundreds-in some cases thousands-of miles on exclusive frequencies, clear of interference from other stations.

These powerful stations, established by the Federal Radio Commission, created a debate with those opposing the clear channel stations who were in favor of less powerful ones. The issue, which arose in 1928 and ended in the mid-60s, was important to the future development of broadcasting in the United States.

"The battle over clear channels in many ways foreshadowed media political battles we have today," said Foust. "When you see cable companies battling satellite providers or satellite providers battling broadcast stations, you're seeing many of the same types of political maneuvering and public interest arguments that were used in the clear channel debate."

In addition to revealing the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that went on during the debate regarding the role of clear channel radio stations, the book details the stations' efforts to influence rural listeners, farm organizations, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.

The power of clear channel AM radio stations and the debate they raised in the past is not of the same importance today, said Foust. Radio stations are increasingly controlled by conglomerates, and the emergence of television, cable and satellite have made other media available to rural consumers.

"Today, there are no truly clear channels in the 1930s sense," said Foust. "There aren't any stations with the kind of exclusive rights to a frequency that the original clear channel stations had."

Foust believes the book will appeal to a wide audience, including communications historians, political scientists as well as individuals who are just interested in the history of radio.

"My intention was to write the book so that it would interest both the casual and scholarly reader," said Foust.

In addition, Foust also recently co-authored a textbook titled, "Video Production: Disciplines and Techniques." Published by McGraw-Hill Higher Education, the 340-page book introduces students to the operations underlying multiple-camera video production. Other co-authors of the text are Thomas Burrows, Lynne Gross and Donald Wood.

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