The Plant


root - Posted on 19 October 2003

a narrative essay on the FCC/Clear Channel media monopoly protest

by Eric Wason/PNN media Intern

The Plant by Eric Wason (June 1, 2003)

The water sprayed over its solid green leaves. My corn plant welcomed its care as

it leaned toward the dimming sunlight. I took a step in reverse to admire its healthy stalk

and the beauty it added to my living room. I flexed my water bottle again. The plant

happily absorbed its food.

It took me nearly three minutes to give attention to my earthy companion. The

pleasant moment was a soother in a week filled with demands, requests, and appointments.

I sat on my couch and looked out a window to a view of my neighborhood. The events of

the week seemed distant now. Though, I was not completely relaxed. I glanced at my

plant yet another time. I began to relect on my attendance of yesterday's protest against

Clear Channel Communications and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in

San Francisco.

This Monday marks a crucial vote for the FCC regarding media ownership rule

changes. According to a KRON-TV of San Francisco report done last Friday, seven

corporations own an alarming amount of the 1,800 newspapers, 11,000 magazines, 11,000

radio stations, and 200 television stations in North America. An approval of the proposed

changes will allow these big media institutions to buy out more of our local television and

radio stations, newspapers, and magazines that our communities trust as ours.

A collective gathering of 100 or more concerned citizens assembled in front of

Clear Channel Communications at 340 Townsend Street early Thursday evening. The site

of the protest was fitting due to the company's overwhelming media reach. Its radio and

television stations, outdoor displays (billboards, street furniture, and transit panels), and

entertainment venues (music concerts and tours) have a span of 66 countries around the

world.

The protest against media monopoly by corporations like Clear Channel was a cry

for the protection of diversity and the free flow of ideas. One of the many examples of this

issue during the protest was hearing the name of "Davey D" on many occasions. Davey D

was the former Community Affairs Director and popular radio host for KMEL who got

fired by Clear Channel after interviewing critics against the past war in Afghanistan. In

fact, his position of Community Affairs Director, representing a voice for the community,

was eliminated altogether.

The references of the unfair firing of Davey D in front of Clear Channel made me

think about how Davey D's radio personality affected my life. Hearing Davey D's thought-

provoking words as I grew up in San Francisco was a seed for my development from a

teenager to adulthood. I recall moments on his show when he challenged my thinking by

exploring vital issues about politics, race, and society. He helped me learn that it is

important to think about what happens in our communities. I see him as the first among a

few people in my teen years who watered me with honest thought and real issues affecting

the streets where I live.

Mostly all of what was exposed to me on television and radio when I was in

grammar and high school was content that did not let me think about issues from all

perspectives. Davey D was the only outlet for me within this sphere that transcended big

media. FCC Commissioner Michael Kopp, in a KRON-TV interview, remarked that

media is the "lifeblood of our democracy and if we let that (protection of free flow of

ideas) go, we're doing significant injury to ourselves and our democracy." Now, as I lean

toward the sun of our future, I fear what the FCC's possible media consolidation on

Monday will mean for the development of all human beings.

The moonlight has crept its way into my living room. My water bottle remained at

my feet. I looked proudly at my plant as I thought about the care that I gave it to spur its

growth. Then, my eyes carried me to my television. I paused for a few seconds and took

a deep sigh. We are days away from a possible information drought.

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