We've all heard that Madison Avenue tagline: "Not New York (true). Not Philadelphia (true). Proud to be New Jersey (false)." Actually, the company that owns the radio station is from Connecticut.
Greenwich, Connecticut, in fact. And blue-blood, Yankee Greenwich is about as far removed from New Jersey as you can get. Greenwich is a pleasant 40-minute commuter train ride from Manhattan's Grand Central. It is the largest town on what is known as the "Gold Coast" of Connecticut. Both CNN/Money and Money magazine have ranked Greenwich FIRST -- Number One -- on their list of the "100 BEST PLACES to live in the United States."
Greenwich has the highest wealth value in Connecticut at over $930,000-per-person. But it doesn't end there. The very rich Greenwich, Connecticut-based corporation that owns NJ 101.5 is itself owned by an even richer parent corporation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and worth $99.9 billion.
There is nothing New Jersey about any of this. There is nothing average guy, or working class about it, or man-in-the-street. Take it from George Carlin. They don't care about you... at all.
The owners paid some media people to come up with a catchy slogan, hired a sweet-sounding New Jersey politician named Bill Spadea to front for them, and suddenly they claimed to be the voice of New Jersey. Their mission is to sell advertising. That's why you get just 3 minutes of Bill Spadea's voice in between 5-minute blocks of wall-to-wall advertising. It's not about the gas tax or the Governor or the Democrats -- it is about selling that advertising.
The people who work for this company would take syncopated dumps on their own mother to get more listeners because the more listeners mean the more they can charge for that advertising and the more profits for the corporation. And all that means is that some lousy talk radio host gets to keep his job. Don't ever believe that they are in the business of educating voters about the issues. If the advertising revenue doesn't measure up, they will change the format so fast your head will spin. Next week they'll be a hip-hop station railing against the police and advertising Black-Lives-Matter demonstrations -- and if that doesn't make the profits they're after they will turn to something else. They really don't give a dump about taxpayers, BLM, or New Jersey... they care about money... more and more money... for them.
And on Saturday, they gave the game away.
On Saturday, those of you who were on the email list of Bill Spadea's last political campaign would have received a corporate email lobbying against proposals to end the economic status quo in New Jersey. This involves cutting taxes on consumers, retirees, lower-income workers, and veterans; phasing out taxes that inhibit job creation and inward investment; providing tax deductions for commuters and charities; raising the user tax that funds road and bridge maintenance for the first time since 1988; preventing a property tax explosion; and ending the subsidy paid by New Jersey taxpayers so that out-of-state drivers can use our roads.
Of course, this corporate email boiled all that detail down to a one-line, five-word slogan: "Stop the gas tax NOW."
That's what advertising teaches you. Less space for detail = more space for advertising.
Townsquare Media is the corporation that owns NJ 101.5 and 308 other radio stations in 24 states. Townsquare makes its corporate home in Greenwich, Connecticut -- a state that competes directly with New Jersey for business investment and jobs.
And Townsquare Media doesn't make money off giving people the details they need to make an informed decision, Townsquare makes money off of the advertisements selling used cars, vinyl siding, and suppositories. They'll provide you with more detail on a laxative than they will a piece of legislation.
Regardless of who paid to use the campaign mailing list, the email came from this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Townsquaremedia.info, has been owned by Michael Mrozek of Townsquare Media since 2012. Townsquare media was registered with Afilias Global Registry Services on April 19, 2010. Mrozek gave his contact address in Greenwich, CT, and his email as email@example.com. Mrozek was Townsquare's corporate manager of IT infrastructure and is now the corporation's director of enterprise systems.
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Senator Steve Oroho was charged by the Republican caucus to get the best deal before January 2018, when the Democrats are expected to take the Governor's office AND pad their current majorities in BOTH chambers of the Legislature. That is less than 18 months away and counting. Once the Democrats take the Governor's office -- once the threat of a gubernatorial veto is removed -- the Democrats won't need a single Republican vote to pass ANY tax they want to pass in ANY amount on ANYONE or ANYTHING.
This isn't advertising land fantasy or angry-drunk-at-the-end-of-the-bar stuff. This is a real-world situation in which the REALITY is that the Republicans are in the MINORITY. Badly in the MINORITY. They can't pass dick on their own. All they can do is use the threat of a gubernatorial veto to bring the Democrats to the table to compromise.
Corporate boys like Bill Spadea don't need to get this, because they don't give a dump about doing something positive like getting a deal that cuts taxes. They only care about stirring up enough anger to keep people coming back for more.
The corporation knows that anger is a drug and that, once hooked, consumers of that drug will keep coming back for their fix. And that's all Bill Spadea wants -- anger addicts checking into his show every day and listening to those blocks of advertisements, waiting for their fix. The more addicts = the more the corporation can charge advertisers = more corporate profits. And Bill Spadea gets to keep his job. Maybe even a raise.
Bill Spadea works for Townsquare Media, a Connecticut corporation with 309 radio stations in 24 states. Its parent company, Oaktree Capital Management, is headquartered in California and has operations in Los Angeles, New York, Stamford (CT), Houston, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Sydney, Paris, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Dublin, and Dubai... but NOT New Jersey!
They don't care that New Jersey ranks 49 out of 50 states if you want to invest in a new or existing business. The executives who run these companies don't live in New Jersey, why would they? New Jersey is one of only two places in America with an Estate Tax AND an Inheritance Tax. And with its high tax on retirement income, why would anyone retire here or stay here once they did retire?
They don't care about Senator Oroho's efforts to forge a tax cut compromise with the MAJORITY Democrats that will stem the outflow of capital from New Jersey and the outmigration of middle class retirees. The status quo of 49th place is fine with the corporate bosses at Townsquare Media and Oaktree Capital. They don't care because -- despite what that 101.5 slogan says -- THEY ARE NOT FROM NEW JERSEY!
They don't care that New Jersey's roads and bridges are falling apart, because they don't use them. They live in states and nations that DID allow their user's tax on gasoline to go up in accordance with the rate of inflation over the last 28 years. They don't live in New Jersey, which still charges drivers the 1988 price of just 14 1/2 cents per gallon of gasoline to maintain and repair the state's roads and bridges.
Everyone knows that the tax on gasoline is the principal way New Jersey funds road and bridge maintenance and repair. It is a user tax charged to those who actually use the state's roads and bridges -- 30 percent of whom live outside New Jersey.
The user tax on gasoline that New Jersey charges drivers who use the state's roads and bridges hasn't been raised since 1988. That means that the price charged drivers in New Jersey hasn't even kept up with inflation. If it was adjusted for inflation, the 14 1/2 cents still charged today would be 29 cents.
This represents a huge windfall for out-of-state drivers -- who in effect are being subsidized by New Jersey taxpayers.
But instead of raising its tax on gasoline in line with inflation over the last 28 years, New Jersey put its road and bridge maintenance and repairs on a credit card -- using massive debt to fund its transportation infrastructure, while states like Pennsylvania raised their user tax on gasoline to 50 cents or more. Because New Jersey used so much debt, the first 10 1/2 cents of any gasoline tax increase will be needed just to pay the interest on that debt.
Does anyone believe that Townsqaure Media and Oaktree Capital care that the TTF is broke and the current 14 1/2 cents is insufficient to even pay the interest on the debt (it would take a tax of 25 cents a gallon just to do that)? Do they care that property taxes will have to be increased next year to cover basic road and bridge maintenance and repair? Of course not. When you play in four continents you can afford to avoid a broke, down-at-the-heels, trouble-spot like New Jersey.
What these corporations care about is how much they can charge for advertising, how much money they can unload from New Jersey. They know they are not in the business of fixing New Jersey's problems. They know that anger-addicts, returning day-in and day-out for their fix are good for business. Do not look to them to be fair or balanced. Look for them to stoke the anger.
...And 18 months from now, when the people of New Jersey awake to a big tax increase and no tax cuts, and they howl and cry... Townsquare Media and Oaktree Capital won't hear you. They'll be counting their profits -- far, far, away.