There it is in giant letters: the SF Weekly Warfield, our beloved rock-and-roll institution’s new name. Sure, lots of other Bay Area spots have adopted corporate monikers that true locals won’t use, from SBC Park to the Chronicle Pavilion. But this time it seems particularly odd, because it brings the media monster lefties love to hate (Clear Channel, which owns the Warfield and five other venues, seven local radio stations, half our billboards, and more) together with the semilefty rag the SF Weekly. Neither party will say so, but it seems the paper sought the deal with the conservative monopolist (known for stunts from firing a DJ for discussing Barbara Lee to censoring Beatles songs post-9/11) to deprive its foe, the locally owned and predictably left-wing SF Bay Guardian, of ad dollars.
Businesswise, it’s smart. Right after New Times, the chain that owns the Weekly, partnered with Clear Channel, the behemoth pulled its ads from the Guardian—a blow worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to Guardian editor Tim Redmond, upping the ante in the papers’ ten-year turf war. In return, Clear Channel gets the Weekly’s street cred, softening its bad rep.
But Guardian fans won’t give up: rumblings of a boycott are afoot. Jay Siegan, owner of the Red Devil Lounge, who’s advertised in the Weekly for years, is one of many who’ll now advertise only with the Guardian. “It’s a textbook David and Goliath situation,” he says. But maybe taking on Clear Channel will at least put an end to Guardian owner Bruce Bruggmann’s rants against PG&E.