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Politico Sobs Over Labor Union Talk Radio Dying

From the Politico:

The growing silence of ‘union radio’

By: Mackenzie Weinger | February 15, 2014

The golden age of unions is long gone — and for the radio shows that focus on labor and workers rights, every day is a struggle just to stay on the airwaves.

There are a number of talk radio shows around the country covering — and funded by — organized labor that are still up and running, but like the labor movement as a whole, what remains is a far cry from the time when unions and the concerns of workers were a dominant part of the media landscape.

“It’s literally dying on the vine,” said former radio host-turned-Democratic candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives Tony Trupiano. “The future does not look good for labor radio or progressive radio in any way, shape or form.”

People behind the shows with whom POLITICO spoke recently said their programs were in part sponsored or financially supported by advertising with union money. Individual donors also contribute to keep the shows — which broadcast from Pittsburgh, Madison, Wis., and Washington, among other cities — on air.

How come labor unions were allowed to propagandize on the radio using tax exempt money? Where is the outrage?

The niche has suffered some hard hits lately, with local programs in Michigan and Wisconsin going dark at the end of 2013. The dozen or so shows that still offer up labor and union concerns to radio listeners are mostly local, based in the country’s traditional union strongholds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. There’s just one nationally syndicated labor program in the country — “The Union Edge” — and it counts about 15 stations to its name.

The hosts and several radio observers say the programs are a bulwark against what they call the corporatization of the airwaves, and they argue that without the shows, labor issues such as raising the federal minimum wage and fighting right-to-work legislation would disappear altogether from radio…

Oh, yeah. There is such a danger of those issues never being addressed on the radio. (And everywhere else.)

At least 100 locally produced programs were on the air in the 1950s, during the heyday of unions, according to Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, a history professor at West Virginia University. In 1950, the AFL went live five nights a week over 176 radio stations, and, starting in 1953, the CIO show was broadcast on more than 150 network stations, she noted. There were 16 labor radio programs during that era in Michigan alone, compared with about the same number across the whole country today…

Unions will never understand economics. Such as the concept of supply and demand.

Today, most shows are helmed by people with union connections but are not run by the unions themselves. The American Federation of Government Employees is an exception, with a weekly program, “Inside Government,” airing every Friday on D.C.’s Federal News Radio…

Because those long suffering government workers need a voice. They have to be able to break through their government bosses’ filter.

Across the airwaves for those in the labor media world, the 2011 Wisconsin protests still maintain a strong hold. Cunningham’s program “The People’s Mic” was triggered by the occupation of the state capitol, although Frank Emspak, the CEO of Diversified Media Enterprises and producer of WIN and “The People’s Mic,” noted that the enthusiasm behind the protests, which failed to recall Gov. Scott Walker, didn’t translate to financial support for the talk radio program…

Gosh, that’s rough. Where are the government subsidies? That is, beyond the unions being subsidized by the rest of us because they are tax exempt.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, February 17th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Politico Sobs Over Labor Union Talk Radio Dying”

  1. Boring enough to slit wrists might have something to do with it .. that an anyone who can get away from Unions will ..




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