Clear Channel Screwing Its Listeners

It is disturbing to know in these difficult times that Clear Channel is treating some of its listeners no better than it has been treating its employees.

For example, take those 1,100 or so poor souls who got their cars stuck at the Ionia Fairgrounds concert staged by the very popular Clear Channel country station B93 in Grand Rapids.

Clear Channel's hapless Radio President John Slogan Hogan has single-handedly undone the bond this fine radio station has built up over the years with his corporate policies -- that's my judgment, but you decide.

What happened as some may remember is that B93 had its annual outdoor Birthday Bash a few weekends back on a Saturday -- the day after a huge rain storm swept through the listening area.

B93 reportedly aired the wrong weather forecast on concert day although the National Weather Service issued a warning they could have utilized. I heard a weather service spokesperson tell the local Dave & Geri podcast Friday, July 17 that they in fact warned of flooding that eventually saw the Grand River banks rise and force B93 to send 60-80,000 people home for their own safety. B93 denies that they had the wrong forecast on the air.

What happened next -- 1,100 cars underwater and eventually stuck in the mud. They needed to be pulled out and they were to be towed at Clear Channel's expense.

So how can I call this company the Evil Empire when it agrees to pull mud clogged cars from their concert site and pick up the tab?

It's easy.

Clear Channel reneged.

Now their listeners are going to have to seek help from their insurance companies. Clear Channel is calling it an act of nature and therefore they are not responsible.

Of course it was an act of nature, but they should have seen it coming -- everybody else did.


Here's a report from local ABC affiliate WZZM TV:

"A Grand Rapids car owner says the insurance company for B-93 is refusing to pay for damage to vehicles caught in the flood at the radio station's Birthday Bash last month.
"They aren't doing anything," says vehicle owner Kelsey Freybler.

And now a Grand Rapids lawyer is organizing a class action suit against Clear Channel to help the stranded vehicle owners get something back for their troubles.

As TV 13 reported:

Attorney John Tallman thinks he can prove B-93 knew or should have known the parking lot at the Ionia fairgrounds would flood and damage hundreds of vehicles during the country music concert last month. While she was in watching the country music concert at the Ionia Fairgrounds, Kelsey Freybler says the flood in the parking lot filled her car with several feet of filthy river water. Damage is at least $2,500, but she says the B-93 insurance adjuster is refusing to pay. "He said they decided they are not going to grant the claims because it wasn't the fault of Clear Channel," she says. "I got out of it they aren't going to grant anyone's claim."

Finally, Clear Channel has arrived in its comfort zone -- court.

But the evidence against them is pretty convincing when all those San Antonio lawyers show up (to settle, that is).

At 4 am the morning of the B93 Birthday Bash telephone tapes substantiate that a staffer at the Grand Rapids National Weather Service told an Ionia County 9-1-1 dispatcher that the river was already over its banks at the fairgrounds and was rising.

The dispatcher then promptly notified the Ionia public safety officer on duty in the command center at the fairgrounds.

Still, no Clear Channel. Maybe they believed their own weather forecasts.

Look, this situation is a tragedy for all involved.

B93 is a phenomenal radio station -- it still has the power to pull 60-80,000 fans to an event in this day and age of Repeater Radio.

The employees and talent at the station feel awful over this. Many of the station employees showed up at the fairgrounds for days trying to help their listeners and loyal fans.

Most of the fans who were seeing their cars towed out of the mud were very respectful of what had happened. There were no riots. Many asked if the station was planning to have the popular Birthday Bash again next year.

Of course, that was before it became known that Clear Channel slipped off to the restroom before the check showed up.

The morale of the story:

1. Never take your eye off Mother Nature even if today's radio stations are built for Repeater Radio.

2. If you're a corporate owner, stay out of the relationship your local station has with 60-80,000 fans and let the local manager handle it. If he or she thinks they should pay for the towing, back him/her up. Chances are he/she has made you more money than he/she lost you.

3. Never dis your listeners. Or your employees. Your word is only as good as your deeds. Make good on your word.

Clear Channel would rather screw the unwitting victims of their concert management that day out of the towing reimbursement than buy what would have turned out to be cheap good will if they had kept their word and made good.

Bad press.

Bad video images.


As has become their custom, no one pushes San Antonio around even if they wind up pissing on their own shoes.

Will someone please wake Congress up before this cobbled system of Repeater Radio fails us -- the U.S. -- during the next Katrina or 9-11.

Congress needs to know that the deregulated radio system it created is now a lethal weapon that can't even guarantee the safety or viability of a local outdoor concert. Elected representatives could lose their seats over a debacle like this.

Call your Congressional representative, email, Facebook, Twitter, write a letter or show up.

Clear Channel can run from their responsibility to their fans but they can't hide from any concerned Congressman.

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