Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11 ..... "Payola"

On this date in History ... 1960:

The issue of Payola reached a new level of prominence when President Eisenhower proclaimed “an issue of public morality”.  The FCC proposed a law to make it an illegal act. 

“Payola” was the term describing how radio stations and DJ’s were paid to play a record. The number of times a record is played can influence its popularity. Some DJs admitted to receiving a total of over $10,000 for their “listening fees”.  One DJ, in his testimony to Congress dismissed it as a problem, comparing it to “giving the teacher a better gift than the fellow at the next desk.”

Congress got involved as a matter of trust, since the (public) radio airwaves were owned by the public. Others were of the opinion that 1960 was an election year and since it was the middle of the Cold War and the country was just coming out of the big Game Show Scandal, politicians wanted to appear to be on the moral side of things.

The consensus was the hearings didn’t accomplish much in the way of eliminating Payola, but did accomplish two things: they threatened the career of Dick Clark on American Bandstand (who avoided trouble by selling his interest in a recording company and cooperating fully with the investigation), and destroyed the career of rock-n-roll legend Alan Freed.

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