Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Salem Radio: Bringing Hate And Death To America For A Tidy Profit


Headquartered in Camarillo, California (near an infamous mental institution), the Salem Radio Network syndicates their right-wing "Christian" talk shows to a couple thousand stations, above and beyond the 100 they actually own. They also own a chain of Republican Party propaganda websites like and and stream their hate-and-poison-for-profit to another hundred right-wing websites. They became well-known in California after they contributed $780,000 to the viciously homophobic "California Defense of Marriage Act" ballot measure in 2000. The two principals, Stuart Epperson and Edward Atsinger III, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to right-wing candidates, including characters like Jesse Helms, Oliver North, David "Diapers" Vitter, Marco Rubio, Eric Cantor, Mike Huckabee, Jim Inhofe, Virginia Foxx, Rick Santorum, Richard Burr, Taliban Dan Webster, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and to notorious closet cases Patrick McHenry, Miss McConnell and Lindsey Graham. And they gave Bush a cool hundred grand as well.

How do they have all this cash to throw around? Radio industry commentator Tom Taylor provided an interesting peak inside their cash flow this morning. Gun nuttery is good for business. Who would have guessed?
Last year Salem Communications harvested a bounty of about $700,000 in political revenue, during that heated political year. This year, without an election cycle, Salem did about $400,000-- and CEO Ed Atsinger says that this time, "almost all the political revenue was related to Second Amendment rights, and not political candidates." So guns, and protecting the rights of gun owners, are doing well for Salem, whose conservative talk stations are a place where such ads would feel at home. In fact, a lot of the Second Amendment money is flowing to Salem Radio Network. Atsinger literally got no questions on yesterday’s Q2 call, and he wasn’t too surprised. He said at the top that "we really haven’t had any extraordinary developments during the quarter, or unusual transactions." Broadcast revenue was up 1.4%, though just 0.2% on a same-station basis. Contemporary Christian stations (the "Fish" stations and KLTY, Dallas) were up about 5% on a reported basis, while Christian Teaching stations did about 3.8% better. News/talk stations were off 2.4%-- a reflection of the falloff in political. Atsinger’s been a consistent believer in online and new media, and revenues at Salem’s Christian websites grew 16%, while the conservative sites like TownHall were 10% higher-– despite not having an election. For the current quarter, Salem’s expecting something between zero growth and perhaps 2% growth-– again, a reflection of last year’s political races, which attracted $1.5 million in Q3.
Mass murders are especially good for business, since the NRA and related organizations spend more money right after mass gun killings and Salem benefits tremendously. In return for the ad bonanza, Salem's websites and Hate Talk Radio hosts are always on the front line defending the NRA from charges that they shill for weapons and ammunition manufacturers and bear responsibility for the insane gun policies that encourages thousands of gun deaths every year. 

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