Unpaid Intern Brings Lawsuit Against Clear Channel Communications, Challenging Longstanding Radio Norm

A new lawsuit filed by a former unpaid intern of Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth of a multimedia conglomerate, could change the way young people looking to break into radio and other forms of entertainment gain experience. Liane Arias, the former intern in question, alleges that the work she was made to do during her employ with Clear Channel went above and beyond what she was told would be expected of her as an unpaid intern. Arias contends that the exorbitant amount of work for no pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and that she, and any other past and current unpaid interns covered under the class action suit, deserve back wages.

Unpaid Internships Have Long Been a Part of Entertainment Culture
If successful, the Arias lawsuit could undermine what has been an established part of the entertainment industry for decades. As Los Angeles Times reports, similar lawsuits brought against DreamWorks and other production companies in Hollywood are popping up to challenge the business norm of full-time work for no pay. The arrangement has long been seen as mutually beneficial; interns gain the experience and expertise they need to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of big media, and entertainment giants get free labor in return.

So, Why Are These Type of Lawsuits Increasingly Common?
With the fact that this has been the way things have worked for so long now, many are wondering why interns are choosing now to fight back. As Forbes writes, 97% of large companies plan to hire interns this year. Because these companies are seen as offering false promises — only 37% of unpaid interns actually receive a job offer following their unpaid stint, compared to 35% of those who don’t participate in internships — coupled with hours and responsibilities that stretch the job definition, interns are understandably a bit peeved.

It’s a challenge that is unique to the entertainment market. While most companies face workers compensation and other legal claims meant to pay for musculoskeletal issues produced by their work environments, entertainment industry legal issues are more white collar. The truth is that in an economic climate where it’s extremely hard to come by a job — particularly in the entertainment world — many companies know that they can demand a lot out of their interns in a saturated market. That doesn’t mean the alleged practices of companies like Clear Channel Communications are ethical or legal. That, of course, is a matter for the courts to decide.

Have you had an internship experience that mirrored Liane Arias’s? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Rumors of Radio’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

People have been talking about the death of radio for years. AM lost its social clout when FM began to dominate the airwaves. In 1979, one-hit-wonder Buggles claimed that video killed the radio star. Then cars began to have cassette players. Then CD players. Now, they have USB ports, Auxiliary outlets, and Bluetooth capabilities, all of which allow MP3s — the figurative villain in the analog v. digital debate — to be streamed through the car’s audio system.

Yet, it seems that rumors of radio’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. According to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, 92% of Americans age 12 and older listened to the radio at least once per week in 2012, which is down by only two percentage points from 2001. This means that for over a decade, people have continued to listen to the radio despite having other listening options available. 

In America’s major cities, radio also continues to ride shotgun on people’s daily commutes, or at least for a portion of it. Of New York’s 34.7 minute daily commute, more than three minutes is spent listening to the radio. Of Chicago’s 31.1 minute daily commute, three and a half minutes is spent listening to the news on the radio. Of Boston’s 28.9 minute commute, more than three minutes is spent listening to news and talk radio.

What’s more, it’s been found that 80% of people spend between one to three hours listening, and 40% of people are listening for one to two hour sessions at a time

Although people proclaim the death of radio so often that the very phrase “radio is dead” has become cliche, it simply isn’t. Despite new technologies and changing listening patterns, radio has continued — and will likely continue in the future — to be a part of our everyday lives.

Internet Didn’t Kill Radio Stars, but It is Transforming Them

Forbes is reporting that internet radio is more popular than ever. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that the vast majority of radio is consumed live. In the United Kingdom, for example, 97.3% of all radio is listened to through the web while it’s happening. In this age of podcasts and prerecorded web series on Youtube, this is truly a fascinating finding. 

Despite Early Predictions, Radio is Thriving in the Internet Age
When Napster, Limewire, and all those other peer-to-peer applications lawmakers and music industry professionals love so much started gaining traction during the early 2000’s, many industry insiders believed that the internet would spell the end of radio as we know it. In other words, internet would kill the radio star. More than two-billion people now use the internet, so those early estimations are, at least in a way, accurate. SEO business is booming, as are SEO reseller organizations.

However, ostensibly, the internet hasn’t harmed the world of radio. In fact, it could be argued that the transformative nature of the worldwide web has taken radio and music to a whole new level. According to the most recently available statistics from IFPI, an international body for protecting artists’ music and their income, 39% of all global music sales came from digital sources in 2013, whether from popular music stores, like iTunes, or from digital radio services, like Spotify.

While the Forbes piece focused on online radio consumption in the United Kingdom, the Brits aren’t alone in their voracious appetite. Current estimations have 54.7% of Americans filling their need for radio online, with that number expected to climb to nearly 68% by 2016. While it can and, indeed, should be said that radio has had to change to fit the different flavor that Millennials are looking for, much as they look for online blogs, it should equally be argued that the web propped up and bettered an otherwise failing industry.