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Arts and Entertainment

Do we really know JACK?

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Here at LAist, we pride ourselves on having a critical ear. In May, we sang the praises for the new kid on the block, 93.1 "JACK" FM. After all, who can resist vintage rock anthems by Journey, Stevie Nicks and Aerosmith? Rush hour has never been so much fun.

So what's the problem? In a word: history. It has a tricky way of repeating itself. As rebellious as 93.1 appears to be, the nasty secret is that "JACK" is owned by radio giant Infinity Broadcasting. Still wondering why we're furrowing our collective brow?

Perhaps we're jaded by the revolving door that is [currently] Indie 103.1 FM. Its parent company, Entravision, entered in a joint sales agreement with ClearChannel. This raised an FCC flag earlier this year. ClearChannel was forced to drop one of its 9 L.A. radio properties (yes, NINE). Despite its popularity, it's no surprise that ClearChannel dumped 103.1 on April 1, 2005. It all boiled down to economics. 103.1 wasn't a big enough cash cow compared to KBIG, KFI, KIIS-FM, KOST, Star98 and the likes. Entravision is apparently serving its own ads now. Time will tell if the competitive format can sustain itself without the muscle of a conglomerate. Per our earlier article we'd rather see 103.1 die than pad the ClearChannel coffers. At least now it truly is independent.

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This whole discussion underlines a bigger issue. As KPCC reported, the L.A. radio market is a duopoly, split fairly evenly between Infinity and ClearChannel. New, "independent" stations like 93.1 and 103.1 are merely facades for the corporate conglomerates. The question here is, does the public care? Or rather, should it care?

LAist knows that you have better things to do than trace out the corporate family tree for media companies. Let's face it, consolidation is nothing new. And it's the music that matters, right? Even so, we can't help but think that the ClearChannel/Infinity hegemony is snuffing out other viable voices in this diverse market. Does that mean we'll erase either of these stations from our dial? No. But we hold out the hope that true competition will one day rear its head in Los Angeles. Given the popularity of Indie and JACK, our market is ready and willing to accept a true alternative to the mainstream.