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That Springsteen "Boycott"

I was so happy to be hating Clear Channel.

That Springsteen "Boycott"

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Springsteen_magic_5x5_20070820_1623I was so happy to be hating Clear Channel.

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?

No, actually.

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, there’s 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 it’s 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 it’s 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, they’ll 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. That’s 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 aren’t on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks — "Magic" and "Devil’s Arcade" — aren’t 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.

I’m 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. It’s certainly what’s 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.

Anthony
Posted 11/06/2007 08:33:42 PM
WXPN has been playing it, and I've been playing it in my car CD player - so that's the edge of my musical Universe.

I gave up on commercial radio a long time ago.  Wander into any record store (are they still called record stores?) and you'll see thousands of CDs.  A miniscule percentage make it to commercial radio, mostly for the same reasons that Payola was a big scandal in the 1950s, only without the overt money changing hands.  Now, it's about concert promotions and other such roundabout ways to manipulate the market.

It's hard work finding good music these days.  The first thing you have to do is get away from the mainstream radio stations.  They play the same junk over and over.  It's tired and predictable, two things that good music is not.
hockeyfan2000
Posted 11/06/2007 11:18:57 PM
Don't worry, Bruce fans... least he's plastered all over rolling stone on almost every issue. Other bands like Rush and Chicago could use some airplay on their material that came after the 70s - mid 80s. Their newer albums keep selling and hitting the gold/platinum marks, yet their songs get no playing time. stop the whining and join the club.
Chazz
Posted 11/07/2007 10:18:31 AM
I tend to agree with hockeyfan.  There are tons of great artists, vintage as well as current, that are criminally ignored by commercial radio.  Yeah, I thought "Magic" was a return to form for Bruce as well, but his efforts are no more valid than many of those forgotten.  If anything, Bruce has been treated better than most over the last two decades.
John T
Posted 11/07/2007 10:50:56 AM
These are the same right wingers that drove Howard Stern off. Boo to clear channel,but more important boo to sensorship.
Enabler
Posted 11/07/2007 11:52:54 AM
Commercial radio is a dead medium. About the only crap you'll find there is watered down, lowest-common denominator excrement (played over and over) and wacko conservative talking heads.

The public stations are good at what the do (WRTI, XPN,) but they only have to appeal to their targeted subscriber demographic to succeed. There are some other good ones out there (KCRW, Santa Monica CA) and most you can stream.

Get an iPOD and a dock, or subscribe to satellite radio.

Commercial radio will be buried right next to the corpses of the traditional record industry stiffs, and quite honestly it can't happen fast enough. 
Beth
Posted 11/07/2007 11:54:51 AM
I heard a few tracks on WHYY--not even a music station.  Just another reason to support public radio.  Meanwhile I bought the CD, so that the baby that's due any minute will have great Bruce music from before day 1...
Beth
Posted 11/07/2007 11:55:05 AM
I heard a few tracks on WHYY--not even a music station.  Just another reason to support public radio.  Meanwhile I bought the CD, so that the baby that's due any minute will have great Bruce music from before day 1...
Beth
Posted 11/07/2007 11:55:17 AM
I heard a few tracks on WHYY--not even a music station.  Just another reason to support public radio.  Meanwhile I bought the CD, so that the baby that's due any minute will have great Bruce music from before day 1...
Beth
Posted 11/07/2007 11:55:25 AM
I heard a few tracks on WHYY--not even a music station.  Just another reason to support public radio.  Meanwhile I bought the CD, so that the baby that's due any minute will have great Bruce music from before day 1...
Kevin
Posted 11/07/2007 12:34:40 PM
I've been a Bruce fan since the '70's but frankly, I'm worn out by his bluer than blue attitude about life.  He lost me back in '04 and then did all that hootenanny music and that Pete Seeger crap.  He may like that stuff but I don't.  Like Howard Stern, he lost a lot of us when he started bad-mouthing the president and in my opinion, the country.  Go buy another million dollar pony for your daughter and put the whole "working class hero" schtick to rest already.  Thanks for the memories.
Kevin
Posted 11/07/2007 12:44:35 PM
If the music was any good, the radio stations would be playing it to death.  Maybe they just get the fact that people don't like Bruce's new stuff.  Magic?  He should have called this album hocus-pocus.  
Kevin
Posted 11/07/2007 12:46:25 PM
If the music was any good, the radio stations would be playing it to death.  Maybe they just get the fact that people don't like Bruce's new stuff.  Magic?  He should have called this album hocus-pocus.  
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Posted 11/08/2007 02:13:42 PM
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Daniel Rubin is a columnist and The Inquirer's director of social media. Since joining newspaper as a staff writer in 1988, Daniel Rubin has reported from Mayfair to Macedonia, 27 countries in all. He has been the European Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and for two years he sat at home and wrote Blinq, the paper's first daily blog. Dan began newspaper work in Norfolk and Louisville, Ky., after getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University. He has lived in all four commonwealths, most recently in Pennsylvania. He teaches urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania

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