A Florida radio station operator is giving new meaning to “A Clockwork Orange.” If you are unfamiliar with that phrase, it is the title of a dystopian Anthony Burgess novel that became a famously disturbing Stanley Kubrick movie in the early 1970s. The plot features a controversial aversion therapy aimed at rehabilitating criminals by forcing them to watch certain videos. Gulf Coast Media, which operates three FM stations in Bay County, is not forcing anyone to watch or listen to anything. But the company just took an unusual step that will make it difficult to avoid consuming Trump’s angry rhetoric over the many long months that remain until the November 2020 election.
As if we do not already live in an all-Trump-all-the-time news cycle, Gulf Coast Media felt the need to change its programming to “ensure” that all three of its stations broadcast Trump speeches regularly and frequently, according to a press release. Owner Samuel Rogatinsky clarified to the Orlando Sentinel that his stations will air two-minute clips of Trump speeches at least once an hour every day through the end of the presidential race. That means listeners in the Florida Panhandle should expect to hear the orange-hued Trump like clockwork.
Gulf Coast Media claims its programming change was inspired by Trump’s recent rally in Panama City, where he announced additional hurricane relief funding for the area. “No games, no gimmicks, no delays” was music to Gulf Coast Media’s ears, which, the company maintains, “made it crystal clear that he was here to help us.” Gulf Coast Media acknowledged that its plan “may not be consistent with conventional commercial FM radio.” But it did not mention the FCC’s guidelines requiring TV and radio stations to offer similar airtime exposure to other candidates.
In subsequent interviews, however, Rogatinsky said Gulf Coast Media “would be happy” to offer equal time to Democratic candidates who request it. This is a perfect opportunity for Democrats to speak directly to residents of the Panhandle to make their case and explain why Trump is not the empathetic savior they might think he is. If Democrats don’t take advantage of this free media exposure in a critical swing state, then Gulf Coast Media’s “A Clockwork Orange” programming may help deliver Florida’s 29 electoral votes to Trump again in 2020.