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February 6, 2019 4:37 pm  #1

Some Of The Greatest Radio Stations Of All Time Were Owned By A Racist

This won't be of interest to everyone, but when I was a kid, I thought WGAR in Cleveland, a 50,000 watt blowtorch on 1220 AM, was one of the best radio stations on the planet. Its P.D. in the 70s believed that the entire line-up should be comprised of people who were like morning men - extremely talented, lots of bits and drop-ins, hilarious spots and of course, great Top 40 music. He gave them all the freedom to make the station a place you couldn't turn off. 

But thanks to my friend Bob Pondillo (who worked there under the air name of The Real Bob James) I discovered that the very early days of this class act was anything but. It turns out the "GAR" stood for George A. Richards, the station's original owner and an unabashed and unapologetic racist SOB. He also owned WJR Detroit and KMPC Los Angeles, both of which would become famous and much lauded stations.  

"The antisemitism that was considered "acceptable" prior to WWII became associated with the Nazis, and became unacceptable. Richards didn't budge. His radio stations espoused his beliefs. George A. Richards hated Jews, unions, blacks, communists and possibly most of all...President Roosevelt."

Fortunately, he died long before the so-called modern radio era and his ugliness was banished from the airwaves for good. But his initials, if not his dubious legacy, lives on. And even though it was later repealed, this article from 2012 shows he was one of the reasons the FCC created The Fairness Doctrine.

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