Reports last week that the radio nowhere giant had issued an edict banning airplay of Bruce Springsteen's Magic, CD gained major traction on good blogs across the land. (See here, here, here, for instance.)
It was totally believable, right? After all Magic is shot through with sobering tableaux of soldiers coming home from a messed-up war, and isn't Clear Channel that right-wing company that banned the Dixie Chicks?
That was Cumulus Media, although Clear Channel station managers did, in fact, sponsor many of the pro-war rallies way back in the glory days right after 9-11.
So this Springsteen report?
Great conspiracy theory. But you can't dance to it.
The report came from Fox News' Roger Friedman, who quoted "sources" for his scoop. He left politics out of it. Blamed age. Here's the report:
Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour.
Alas, theres a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources tell me that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic." But its OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
Just no new songs by Springsteen, even though its likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio.
Why? One theory, says a longtime rock insider, "is that the audience knows those songs. Of course, theyll never know these songs if no one plays them."
"Magic," by the way, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release on Oct. 2 and likely will hit the million mark. Thats not a small achievement these days, and one that should be embraced by Clear Channel.
But what a situation: The No. 1 album is not being played on any radio stations, according to Radio & Records, which monitors such things. Nothing. The rock songs arent on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks "Magic" and "Devils Arcade" arent even on "lite" stations.
The singles-kinda hits, "Radio Nowhere" and "Living in the Future" which would have been hits no questions asked in the '70s, '80s and maybe even the '90s, also are absent from Top 40.
What to do? Columbia Records is said to be readying a remixed version of "The Girls in their Summer Clothes," a poppy Beach Boys-type track that has such a catchy hook fans were singing along to it at live shows before they had the album. Bruce insiders are hopeful that with a push from Sony, "Girls" will triumph.
Im not so sure.
Clear Channel seems to have sent a clear message to other radio outlets that at age 58, Springsteen simply is too old to be played on rock stations. This completely absurd notion is one of many ways Clear Channel has done more to destroy the music business than downloading over the last 10 years. Its certainly whats helped create satellite radio, where Springsteen is a staple and even has his own channel on Sirius. ...
I read this and started steaming. Then a little voice started whispering somewhere in the back of my head, "ah, is this actually true?" Not according to Clear Channel.
The radio behemoth, which owns six Philly stations, issued a news release the other day in response to the Banned in the USA rumors.
It quotes airplay stats from Mediabse that show Clear Channel is playing more "Magic" songs than any other radio group in the country. It owns "only 8 percent" (it's words) of the radio station in the U.S. and in the first days after the record's release, it was responsible for 21 percent of the airplay those songs received.
It doesn't say what has happened since the first few days, so if anyone has heard the songs on 104.5 fm please call our listener line.
One Clear Channel chap I talked with said he had not heard any such edict banning late-model Springsteen songs. He mentioned Some Clear Channel stations had sponsored sneak previews of "Magic" when it came out last month.