By Bryan OchallaRyan Jay and Caroline Hand—hosts of the radio show Pride with Ryan and Caroline on the gay-themed Pride Radio network—say they hear that question constantly. When the best friends, who met while working as producers at VH1, were first approached by Clear Channel more than a year and a half ago, “We thought it was a joke,” Hand says. “You’d have to be living under a rock not to know about Clear Channel’s [conservative] reputation,” Jay adds.
The company—which owns and operates some 700 radio stations—earned that standing in part by employing on-air personalities like Sean Hannity and Laura Schlessinger. In spring 2004, Clear Channel’s political action committee favored Republican candidates over Democrats nationally more than 4 to 1; this fact, along with the persistent rumor that the company’s radio stations ban antiwar artists like the Dixie Chicks and Madonna, only contributed to the Murdoch-ian rep.
But Jay and Hand see another side to the corporate giant. “Clear Channel has been 100 percent supportive,” Jay says.
The San Antonio-based company has similarly surprised Jared Cohen, a Clear Channel development exec. When interviewing with his future boss two years ago, Cohen was asked what he would do if given free rein. He said, “I’d create a 24/7 gay radio and online network.”
Once hired, he got the green light to move ahead with his idea as part of the company’s niche market strategy. Pride Radio—which features music, news and celeb gossip—launched in April 2006 and is now in 14 U.S. markets.
So did the almighty gay dollar trump the conservative culture at Clear Channel? Cohen can’t—and probably shouldn’t—say. But he’ll admit his pleasant surprise at turning on a Clear Channel station and hearing “out of the closet and onto the airwaves.” (The Advocate, Nov. 2007)URL: View Published Article
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