OVERRIDE

Right of the Dial

The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio

Alec Foege

Faber & Faber

In Right of the Dial, Alec Foege explores how the mammoth media conglomerate evolved from a local radio broadcasting operation, founded in 1972, into one of the biggest, most profitable, and most polarizing corporations in the country. During its heyday, critics accused Clear Channel, the fourth-largest media company in the United States and the nation's largest owner of radio stations, of ruining American pop culture and cited it as a symbol of the evils of media monopolization, while fans hailed it as a business dynamo, a beacon of unfettered capitalism. What's undeniable is that as the owner at one point of more than 1,200 radio stations, 130 major concert venues and promoters, 770,000 billboards, 41 television stations, and the largest sports management business in the country, Clear Channel dominated the entertainment world in ways that MTV and Disney could only dream of. But in the fall of 2006, after years of public criticism and flattening stock prices, Goliath finally tumbled--Clear Channel Inc. sold off one-third of its radio holdings and all of its television concerns while transferring ownership to a consortium of private equity firms. The move signaled the end of an era in media consolidation, and in Right of the Dial, Foege takes an insightful look at the company's successes and abuses, showing the ways in which Clear Channel reshaped America's cultural and corporate landscapes along the way.

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  Right of the Dial
1.THE CONTROVERSYHoward Stern shuffled onto the stage of the Late Show with David Letterman on the eve of November 18, 2004, much in the way he had on plenty of other occasions over the previous fifteen years. Clad in jeans, a black T-shirt, black sport coat, and dark sunglasses, the tall, shaggy-haired radio host looked a lot like an aging rock star but with none of the attitude or bitterness. Instead, he flashed a warm smile, waved to the studio audience, amiably rubbed the bald head of Letterman’s bandleader, Paul Shaffer, and greeted Letterman with a hearty
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REVIEWS

Praise for Right of the Dial

"Clear Channel may not have ruined American radio on its own, but it came pretty close. Alec Foege's Right of the Dial details the whole, sad media saga."  —Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters for America and author of Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush:

“Read this book and you will want to scream. Alec Foege tells a tale of rapacity and financial engineering that could drive one to socialism. Not really, but close. In the hands of the Mays family, Clear Channel Communications became America’s radio behemoth. With its 2,000 radio stations, it devised ways to economize and centrally automate the music the stations played, the news it presented. For a time, it was good for investors, and for the Mays family. But as this book lucidly demonstrates, it was bad for citizens and bad for American culture.” —Ken Auletta

“The story of Clear Channel's binge and purge says so much about media in our time. Alec Foege tells that complex story with characteristic insight and balance. He never settles for the easy take, only for the truth, which he illuminates with impressive clarity.” —Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

“The Clear Channel corporation has been one of the most successful, most controversial, and most reviled companies in the history of the music business. With Right of the Dial, Alec Foege takes a thorough, clear-eyed look inside this mythic beast, and reveals a uniquely American saga of commerce and culture gone mad.”— Alan Light, former editor-in-chief, Vibe and Spin magazines

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Alec Foege

  • Alec Foege has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, New York, People, Spin, Playboy, Details, and many other national publications. He currently is a contributing writer at Fortune Small Business. His previous books are Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story and The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson’s Media Machine. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

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Right of the Dial

The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio

Alec Foege

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