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Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

“And you didn’t punch her in the face?”

Posted by schroeder915 on December 4, 2006

This was Spud McConnell’s reaction to Bobby Jindal’s remark on WWL last week that he met with the future Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to discuss the vital OCS revenue-sharing legislation.

No, Spud didn’t ask Bobby Jindal why he couldn’t get his legislation passed, and why Mary Landrieu’s bill is now the only one being considered.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal if he was playing politics for the Bush administration, and harming Louisiana’s interests, by trying to lift the federal protection from coastal drilling in other states.

No, Spud didn’t ask why, if other states thought the federal ban prevented them from pursuing coastal drilling, they haven’t already voted to allow drilling in their states, as they’ve always been allowed to do.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal why he didn’t work with Senator Landrieu earlier, or Nancy Pelosi, or other Democratic members of Congress, to get his legislation passed, or to have the more generous provisions of his bill inserted into Landrieu’s bill.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal about the effects of oil drilling activity on Louisiana’s coast, and why that might be a reason for other states to want the federal ban left in place.

Instead, Spud suggested that a member of the United States Congress, the most important institution in the most-revered democracy in the world, should punch another member in the face.

Jindal should have corrected Spud in no uncertain terms. That he didn’t suggests that he either agrees with Spud, or lacks the courage required to defend our sacred democratic institutions from assault.

Spud McConnell should be fired. Period.

If WWL doesn’t do something to remedy the intolerant stupidity of its hosts, its advertisers should drop their sponsorship of WWL, and/or WWL should lose its public license to broadcast.

There is no longer any room in Louisiana for this type of partisan invective. We have tough problems to solve. People who don’t engage in open, fact-based, civil dialog, asking tough questions of our partisan public officials, belong in the waste bin of Louisiana history.

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Posted in Democracy, Entercom, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Radio, United States Congress, WSMB, WWL, WWWL | 17 Comments »

“And you didn’t punch her in the face?”

Posted by schroeder915 on December 4, 2006

This was Spud McConnell’s reaction to Bobby Jindal’s remark on WWL last week that he met with the future Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to discuss the vital OCS revenue-sharing legislation.

No, Spud didn’t ask Bobby Jindal why he couldn’t get his legislation passed, and why Mary Landrieu’s bill is now the only one being considered.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal if he was playing politics for the Bush administration, and harming Louisiana’s interests, by trying to lift the federal protection from coastal drilling in other states.

No, Spud didn’t ask why, if other states thought the federal ban prevented them from pursuing coastal drilling, they haven’t already voted to allow drilling in their states, as they’ve always been allowed to do.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal why he didn’t work with Senator Landrieu earlier, or Nancy Pelosi, or other Democratic members of Congress, to get his legislation passed, or to have the more generous provisions of his bill inserted into Landrieu’s bill.

No, Spud didn’t ask Jindal about the effects of oil drilling activity on Louisiana’s coast, and why that might be a reason for other states to want the federal ban left in place.

Instead, Spud suggested that a member of the United States Congress, the most important institution in the most-revered democracy in the world, should punch another member in the face.

Jindal should have corrected Spud in no uncertain terms. That he didn’t suggests that he either agrees with Spud, or lacks the courage required to defend our sacred democratic institutions from assault.

Spud McConnell should be fired. Period.

If WWL doesn’t do something to remedy the intolerant stupidity of its hosts, its advertisers should drop their sponsorship of WWL, and/or WWL should lose its public license to broadcast.

There is no longer any room in Louisiana for this type of partisan invective. We have tough problems to solve. People who don’t engage in open, fact-based, civil dialog, asking tough questions of our partisan public officials, belong in the waste bin of Louisiana history.

Posted in Democracy, Entercom, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Radio, United States Congress, WSMB, WWL, WWWL | Comments Off on “And you didn’t punch her in the face?”

WIST is an “entertainment” station

Posted by schroeder915 on November 30, 2006

Oh yeah … I’m back!

I was scanning radio stations on the road trip up to Wisconsin. There was something interesting I heard on a number of music stations — “Bob”. It’s apparently a new corporate format to play more variety. To my ear, however, it’s just a different playlist played in repetition ad nauseum.

Once I hit the Wisconsin border, there it was: Air America Radio.

That’s on top of the Wisconsin Public Radio network — one of the best examples in the country of how radio can serve its community, if not the best of its kind.

Now I’m back to the world where corporate power controls our airwaves to manipulate the way we think — and there are almost no alternatives which offer non-sensational conversation about issues of interest to our communities and our nation.

I don’t know why I don’t just let it go, but I think I reached a breaking point when Entercom decided to kill the Air America Radio format. I’ve talked at length before about Air America. In particular, I was fond of Al Franken’s ability to talk to liberals or conservatives, to even find merit in some of the arguments made by conservatives. And when he criticized, he did it with a bit of humor, something self-righteous, angry talk show hosts seem to have forgotten how to do in their orgy of self-promotion.

So now I listen with dismay at how an entire generation of Americans are being brainwashed by the factless rants of partisan ideologues, and in the process, one of our important public squares has become a toxic wasteland filled with hatred.

Recently, I have reluctantly and nervously entered into that hostile environment to make the case for more civil dialog. It’s harder than it might seem to remain calm with these guys. Inevitably, conversations turn hostile because hosts shout over any caller who disagrees with them. I’m finding it difficult to remember a time when radio hosts were professionals who could maintain a degree of civility even when callers disagreed with them.

I don’t know why I bother. I’ve been thinking I should just give up and buy into satellite radio — leaving to the waste bin of history the corporate AM/FM radio model — but I still believe in the magic of the radio I grew up with, and I’m troubled by the sullying of our democracy in an important public square.

I find it interesting that the Walter Boasso-sponsored radio station (they must have cut him a great deal on ads in his bid to unseat Governor Blanco) which promotes itself as “the” news station of the Gulf South should have aired an interview with a United States Senator, yet not post that interview on its “HOT, HOT, HOT TALK ON THE BIG 870 AM: WWL breaking news and smokin’ interviews” audio archive Web site.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that neither Spud McConnell, nor Senator David Vitter, could adequately answer my criticism on Tuesday, and then cut me off before I could finish my point:

Senator Vitter, I’d like to talk about the offshore oil revenue-sharing bill as a point of departure for a conversation about media bias generally. Bobby Jindal was more interested in playing party politics for the Bush administration than in supporting Louisiana. His OCS revenue-sharing bill was more generous than Mary Landrieu’s version, but he wouldn’t let go of the language in his bill which would have ended the federal ban on coastal drilling in other states.

 

Here’s the point I want to make about that. WWL never questioned Bobby Jindal on that issue, and it concerns me that WWL hosts are quicker to criticize Democrats than Republicans.

 

Now, Entercom, which owns WWL, killed Air America Radio to re-run the same content on three of its six stations in New Orleans, and Clear Channel started yet another pro-Republican radio station on WRNO.

 

I question whether New Orleans residents are being served when the information they get is partisan.

 

Would you, Senator Vitter, call for the FCC to hold public hearings to ask commercial broadcasters how they’re serving the New Orleans community, and would you support legislation in support of restoring the Fairness Doctrine?

Let’s see, which is more important:

1) WWL’s Deb Albertson talks with Dawn Johnson of the LA Retailers Assn about where people are shopping this season; or,

2) WWL’s Spud McConnell talks with a United States Senator about what he’s doing to help Louisiana recover from the worst disaster in American history.

Apparently, WWL thought shopping was more important. The Vitter interview is missing from the WWL archive.

I was compelled to make a call again yesterday to WIST host Shane Warner. He seemed to be making a desperate attempt in Rush Limbaugh-fashion to stir up a riot of anger in his audience, repeatedly asking why America is so lawsuit happy. Then, he and a caller had a good laugh about the woman who sued when she was burned by coffee.

That’s when I snapped and had to call in. I’ve been turned away often enough by call screeners now that I often use other names, and state an issue that I can use as a point of departure to make my case for less partisan talk radio. Here’s how that conversation went, as best I can recall:

Me: I think it’s important to dispel some disinformation about that lawsuit against McDonald’s by the woman who was burned. She received third-degree burns on six percent of her body in under ten seconds because the coffee was just short of boiling temperature. That particular McDonald’s outlet where she bought coffee had received repeated health department complaints about the temperature of their coffee before the incident occurred. The woman wanted to settle out of court merely for the cost of her medical bills which totalled $20,000. McDonald’s only offered her $800, so she sued in court for $2.7 million — two days worth of McDonald’s coffee sales. Now that seems reasonable doesn’t it?

 

S.W.: Well I don’t really know the facts in that case.

 

Me: That’s the problem. You and other right-wing hosts don’t learn the facts before you go into your partisan rants. Ever since the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by Ronald Reagan, we’ve been subjected to partisan pro-Republican radio hosts who don’t check their facts, and that’s bad for our democracy.

 

S.W.: You can go listen to liberal [said with contempt] NPR if that’s what you want, which is government-funded.

 

Me: It’s not government funded. It’s listener-funded.

 

S.W.: [hostile] It is not! It’s government funded.

 

Me: Most of the funding for NPR programming comes from listeners.

 

S.W.:This is a business. We provide programming and our advertisers pay for our programs. We don’t need government paying for programs.

 

Me: Some of the programs are paid for in part by the government, but most of the funding for stations comes from listeners. So you don’t support Sesame Street?

 

S.W.: No!

 

Me: So you don’t support early education.

 

S.W.: Yeah but I don’t think the government should pay for it.

 

Me: So who’s going to pay for it? McDonald’s?

 

S.W.: Yeah, McDonald’s.

 

Me: So you’d kill Big Bird?

 

S.W.: Yeah, shoot him with my big gun! [laughs, then cuts me off]

For more about the coffee lawsuit, read this Jon Greenbaum article in Common Dreams, or this Wikipedia entry which has an interesting debate in the comments section. By the way, the Constitution provides for the right of citizens to seek fair compensation for damages. The only alternative to lawsuits is more government regulation, and more government bureaucracy, to administer and enforce those regulations — which is an interesting point. You can’t both eliminate lawsuits and regulation if citizens are to be able to protect themselves from harm, and preserve the right to seek compensation for damages — which raises an interesting question. Who, exactly, benefits from eliminating citizens’ rights to seek compensation for damages? You’ll find the answer when you find the money for the messages promoting tort reform, and against government regulation.

Rather than have a thoughtful conversation about radio, or broadcasting generally, and how it could be less partisan, considering facts rather than biased opinions, Shane Warner chose to fall into his comfortable role attacking a strawman issue, falsely disparaging public broadcasting as wholly government-funded and, therefore, (again falsely) liberal.

I have my own criticisms of NPR (not so for PBS) for being run by over-the-hill people who have been doing the same thing for far too long, and as a result, who are too conservative, and who cater too much to the suburban soccer mom segment. And why is that? Well, precisely because NPR’s operating budget is largely listener-funded:

NPR supports its operations through a combination of membership dues and programming fees from over 800 independent radio stations, sponsorship from private foundations and corporations, and revenue from the sales of transcripts, books, CDs, and merchandise. A very small percentage — between one percent to two percent of NPR’s annual budget — comes from competitive grants sought by NPR from federally funded organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Published reports in Worth Magazine and Consumers Digest cited NPR as a leading U.S. nonprofit charity because of the organization’s program spending efficiency, high level of private support, and outstanding public service.

 

On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member stations) receive the largest percentage of their revenue (34%) from listener support, 24% from corporate underwriting and foundations, and 13% from CPB allocations.

It should also be noted that the reason for the creation of the government-funded but independently-managed Corporation for Public Broadcasting was to foster educational programs that served the public in a non-partisan manner. I would argue that the CPB successfully fulfills that mission.

It is true that NPR and PBS news programs provide opposing viewpoints, rather than simply present one side of a story — like Rush Limbaugh does — and that it balances those opposing viewpoints — unlike Fox, which stacks Republican spokespersons in greater numbers and quality than Republican critics. For that reason — because NPR and PBS are truly “fair and balanced” — they’re lampooned by right-wing partisans as being “liberal.” I actually think NPR reaches too often for conservative and libertarian viewpoints from the American Enterprise Institute, the CATO Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. I don’t trust their information, because it’s clearly biased. But no one can accuse NPR of not being “fair and balanced.”

For an appreciation of the difference between how the news is spun by NPR, as opposed to, say, Fox News, consider the fact that 80 percent of Fox News viewers incorrectly believed that Iraq had al Qaeda links and WMD before the U.S. invasion in 2003. Only 23 percent of people who use NPR & PBS as their primary news source had those misperceptions. Let me just rephrase that statement: People who get their news from NPR and PBS have the most accurate view of reality!

Maybe if more members of the Republican-led Congress in 2003 were getting their news from NPR and PBS, American soldiers wouldn’t still be getting slaughtered in Iraq, but would instead be hunting down Osama bin Laden.

Here’s an interesting little conversation I just came across on this topic:

In my experience, conservatives are quick to cite as “biased” any information or insight suggesting that the world is a larger and more diverse place than the little cultural boxes they grew up in, especially if presented in a nonjudgemental way. Stories about the lives and problems of migrant farm workers, or families with no medical insurance, or teenagers in Afghanistan … merely touching subjects like these is indicative of “liberal bias”, isn’t it? All the more so if any deeper understanding is actually communicated. If that’s the real crime (and I suspect that it is), then indeed NPR is guiltier of it than most other news outlets.

Those “conservative talk” hosts must really fear the truth to so shelter their arguments from robust criticism. I guess that explains why they can’t carry on a civil discussion with someone like me, and have to take guests off the air when they don’t repeat the right-wing mantras.

I had another occasion during my lunch break yesterday to call WIST host Kaare Johnson who was opening up the phone lines for a “community hour,” giving listeners an opportunity to talk about things that WIST hasn’t covered. He went through the same litany of right-wing hot button issues that Shane Warner talked about, including “Why are Americans so sue happy?” (WIST management must be telling hosts what to talk about, or hosts lack originality).

This time I chose to jump right into a discussion about media bias. I figured if I told the call screener I wanted to talk about “media bias,” it’d be interpreted as liberal bias. That worked:

Me: Congratulations Kaare on getting your own show! [Until recently, Kaare Johnson shouted news briefs on WWL]

 

K.J.: Thanks.

 

Me: I think what you’re doing this hour, by giving people in the community an opportunity to say what’s on their mind, is a great idea. I actually think there’s a market for a station that would be entirely operated and programmed by community organizations. I think it would be great if one of the big corporate radio owners gave a station to a group of community organizations.

 

K.J.: I don’t see what your point is.

 

Me: Well, like you said, there’s a lot of information being shared by people in their neighborhoods right now, and I think that Lowe’s and Home Depot and contractors would pay to advertise on a station run by neighborhood activists and community organizations.

 

K.J.: What would that do?

 

Me: Well, that’s what you’re doing now, isn’t it? Giving people in the community an opportunity to talk about things that haven’t been covered elsewhere?

 

K.J.: Yeah, but this is a business. You’re talking about something that wouldn’t make any money. Who would pay for it?

 

Me: Are you saying that what you’re doing in this hour isn’t profitable?

 

K.J.: Well, no, but we don’t do what we do as a public service. This is a business.

 

Me: Oh no! That’s where you’re wrong. As an FCC-licensee, you’re first responsibility is to serve the community.

 

K.J.: You’re taking a literal interpretation of the meaning of public service. What we do is entertainment. You’re taking the FCC literally.

 

Me: I’m saying that I think that a station run by members of the community, for members of the community, could both serve the public, and find lots of advertisers to pay for the programming.

 

K.J.: Yeah, but this is a business. Companies have to buy radio stations and make a profit. You don’t think they’re going to just give away a license?

 

Me: Yes, I do. Entercom and Clear Channel have a combined 13 radio stations. Most of them just play the same music over and over again, and the ones that have a talk format, are partisan pro-Republican. That means people aren’t getting the unbiased good information they need to rebuild their communities.

 

K.J.: Okay, well, interesting topic. I don’t see how that’s going to work, but thanks for the call.

After the commercial break, Kaare Johnson said that he thought that radio stations were already doing what I talked about. The only difference, he said, was that “we’re the professionals” who decide what the community should hear. He again criticized my “literal” interpretation of the term public service.

I might differ with Kaare Johnson’s definition of the term “professional.”

By the way, WIST hosts should decide what to call what they do. They can’t both be a news and information station, and, as hosts frequently say, an entertainment station.

I’m probably preaching to the choir. The people who should be reading this post probably don’t seek alternatives to “conservative” talk radio and Fox News.

Finally, the corporate simulcasting phenomenon that Entercom started in New Orleans on three stations is apparently plaguing other communities. Tara:

On another note, just learned that our only alternative rock radio station has just been cancelled and the AM sports-talk station is now going to simulcast in FM…apparently it is a trend motivated by the proliferation of satellite radio users…or so goes the spin.

 

Our local media conglomerate is Citadel Broadcasting.

Posted in Clear Channel, Democracy, Entercom, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, NPR, PBS, Radio, WIST, WSMB, WWL, WWWL | 6 Comments »

WIST is an “entertainment” station

Posted by schroeder915 on November 30, 2006

Oh yeah … I’m back!

I was scanning radio stations on the road trip up to Wisconsin. There was something interesting I heard on a number of music stations — “Bob”. It’s apparently a new corporate format to play more variety. To my ear, however, it’s just a different playlist played in repetition ad nauseum.

Once I hit the Wisconsin border, there it was: Air America Radio.

That’s on top of the Wisconsin Public Radio network — one of the best examples in the country of how radio can serve its community, if not the best of its kind.

Now I’m back to the world where corporate power controls our airwaves to manipulate the way we think — and there are almost no alternatives which offer non-sensational conversation about issues of interest to our communities and our nation.

I don’t know why I don’t just let it go, but I think I reached a breaking point when Entercom decided to kill the Air America Radio format. I’ve talked at length before about Air America. In particular, I was fond of Al Franken’s ability to talk to liberals or conservatives, to even find merit in some of the arguments made by conservatives. And when he criticized, he did it with a bit of humor, something self-righteous, angry talk show hosts seem to have forgotten how to do in their orgy of self-promotion.

So now I listen with dismay at how an entire generation of Americans are being brainwashed by the factless rants of partisan ideologues, and in the process, one of our important public squares has become a toxic wasteland filled with hatred.

Recently, I have reluctantly and nervously entered into that hostile environment to make the case for more civil dialog. It’s harder than it might seem to remain calm with these guys. Inevitably, conversations turn hostile because hosts shout over any caller who disagrees with them. I’m finding it difficult to remember a time when radio hosts were professionals who could maintain a degree of civility even when callers disagreed with them.

I don’t know why I bother. I’ve been thinking I should just give up and buy into satellite radio — leaving to the waste bin of history the corporate AM/FM radio model — but I still believe in the magic of the radio I grew up with, and I’m troubled by the sullying of our democracy in an important public square.

I find it interesting that the Walter Boasso-sponsored radio station (they must have cut him a great deal on ads in his bid to unseat Governor Blanco) which promotes itself as “the” news station of the Gulf South should have aired an interview with a United States Senator, yet not post that interview on its “HOT, HOT, HOT TALK ON THE BIG 870 AM: WWL breaking news and smokin’ interviews” audio archive Web site.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that neither Spud McConnell, nor Senator David Vitter, could adequately answer my criticism on Tuesday, and then cut me off before I could finish my point:

Senator Vitter, I’d like to talk about the offshore oil revenue-sharing bill as a point of departure for a conversation about media bias generally. Bobby Jindal was more interested in playing party politics for the Bush administration than in supporting Louisiana. His OCS revenue-sharing bill was more generous than Mary Landrieu’s version, but he wouldn’t let go of the language in his bill which would have ended the federal ban on coastal drilling in other states.

 

Here’s the point I want to make about that. WWL never questioned Bobby Jindal on that issue, and it concerns me that WWL hosts are quicker to criticize Democrats than Republicans.

 

Now, Entercom, which owns WWL, killed Air America Radio to re-run the same content on three of its six stations in New Orleans, and Clear Channel started yet another pro-Republican radio station on WRNO.

 

I question whether New Orleans residents are being served when the information they get is partisan.

 

Would you, Senator Vitter, call for the FCC to hold public hearings to ask commercial broadcasters how they’re serving the New Orleans community, and would you support legislation in support of restoring the Fairness Doctrine?

Let’s see, which is more important:

1) WWL’s Deb Albertson talks with Dawn Johnson of the LA Retailers Assn about where people are shopping this season; or,

2) WWL’s Spud McConnell talks with a United States Senator about what he’s doing to help Louisiana recover from the worst disaster in American history.

Apparently, WWL thought shopping was more important. The Vitter interview is missing from the WWL archive.

I was compelled to make a call again yesterday to WIST host Shane Warner. He seemed to be making a desperate attempt in Rush Limbaugh-fashion to stir up a riot of anger in his audience, repeatedly asking why America is so lawsuit happy. Then, he and a caller had a good laugh about the woman who sued when she was burned by coffee.

That’s when I snapped and had to call in. I’ve been turned away often enough by call screeners now that I often use other names, and state an issue that I can use as a point of departure to make my case for less partisan talk radio. Here’s how that conversation went, as best I can recall:

Me: I think it’s important to dispel some disinformation about that lawsuit against McDonald’s by the woman who was burned. She received third-degree burns on six percent of her body in under ten seconds because the coffee was just short of boiling temperature. That particular McDonald’s outlet where she bought coffee had received repeated health department complaints about the temperature of their coffee before the incident occurred. The woman wanted to settle out of court merely for the cost of her medical bills which totalled $20,000. McDonald’s only offered her $800, so she sued in court for $2.7 million — two days worth of McDonald’s coffee sales. Now that seems reasonable doesn’t it?

 

S.W.: Well I don’t really know the facts in that case.

 

Me: That’s the problem. You and other right-wing hosts don’t learn the facts before you go into your partisan rants. Ever since the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by Ronald Reagan, we’ve been subjected to partisan pro-Republican radio hosts who don’t check their facts, and that’s bad for our democracy.

 

S.W.: You can go listen to liberal [said with contempt] NPR if that’s what you want, which is government-funded.

 

Me: It’s not government funded. It’s listener-funded.

 

S.W.: [hostile] It is not! It’s government funded.

 

Me: Most of the funding for NPR programming comes from listeners.

 

S.W.:This is a business. We provide programming and our advertisers pay for our programs. We don’t need government paying for programs.

 

Me: Some of the programs are paid for in part by the government, but most of the funding for stations comes from listeners. So you don’t support Sesame Street?

 

S.W.: No!

 

Me: So you don’t support early education.

 

S.W.: Yeah but I don’t think the government should pay for it.

 

Me: So who’s going to pay for it? McDonald’s?

 

S.W.: Yeah, McDonald’s.

 

Me: So you’d kill Big Bird?

 

S.W.: Yeah, shoot him with my big gun! [laughs, then cuts me off]

For more about the coffee lawsuit, read this Jon Greenbaum article in Common Dreams, or this Wikipedia entry which has an interesting debate in the comments section. By the way, the Constitution provides for the right of citizens to seek fair compensation for damages. The only alternative to lawsuits is more government regulation, and more government bureaucracy, to administer and enforce those regulations — which is an interesting point. You can’t both eliminate lawsuits and regulation if citizens are to be able to protect themselves from harm, and preserve the right to seek compensation for damages — which raises an interesting question. Who, exactly, benefits from eliminating citizens’ rights to seek compensation for damages? You’ll find the answer when you find the money for the messages promoting tort reform, and against government regulation.

Rather than have a thoughtful conversation about radio, or broadcasting generally, and how it could be less partisan, considering facts rather than biased opinions, Shane Warner chose to fall into his comfortable role attacking a strawman issue, falsely disparaging public broadcasting as wholly government-funded and, therefore, (again falsely) liberal.

I have my own criticisms of NPR (not so for PBS) for being run by over-the-hill people who have been doing the same thing for far too long, and as a result, who are too conservative, and who cater too much to the suburban soccer mom segment. And why is that? Well, precisely because NPR’s operating budget is largely listener-funded:

NPR supports its operations through a combination of membership dues and programming fees from over 800 independent radio stations, sponsorship from private foundations and corporations, and revenue from the sales of transcripts, books, CDs, and merchandise. A very small percentage — between one percent to two percent of NPR’s annual budget — comes from competitive grants sought by NPR from federally funded organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Published reports in Worth Magazine and Consumers Digest cited NPR as a leading U.S. nonprofit charity because of the organization’s program spending efficiency, high level of private support, and outstanding public service.

 

On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member stations) receive the largest percentage of their revenue (34%) from listener support, 24% from corporate underwriting and foundations, and 13% from CPB allocations.

It should also be noted that the reason for the creation of the government-funded but independently-managed Corporation for Public Broadcasting was to foster educational programs that served the public in a non-partisan manner. I would argue that the CPB successfully fulfills that mission.

It is true that NPR and PBS news programs provide opposing viewpoints, rather than simply present one side of a story — like Rush Limbaugh does — and that it balances those opposing viewpoints — unlike Fox, which stacks Republican spokespersons in greater numbers and quality than Republican critics. For that reason — because NPR and PBS are truly “fair and balanced” — they’re lampooned by right-wing partisans as being “liberal.” I actually think NPR reaches too often for conservative and libertarian viewpoints from the American Enterprise Institute, the CATO Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. I don’t trust their information, because it’s clearly biased. But no one can accuse NPR of not being “fair and balanced.”

For an appreciation of the difference between how the news is spun by NPR, as opposed to, say, Fox News, consider the fact that 80 percent of Fox News viewers incorrectly believed that Iraq had al Qaeda links and WMD before the U.S. invasion in 2003. Only 23 percent of people who use NPR & PBS as their primary news source had those misperceptions. Let me just rephrase that statement: People who get their news from NPR and PBS have the most accurate view of reality!

Maybe if more members of the Republican-led Congress in 2003 were getting their news from NPR and PBS, American soldiers wouldn’t still be getting slaughtered in Iraq, but would instead be hunting down Osama bin Laden.

Here’s an interesting little conversation I just came across on this topic:

In my experience, conservatives are quick to cite as “biased” any information or insight suggesting that the world is a larger and more diverse place than the little cultural boxes they grew up in, especially if presented in a nonjudgemental way. Stories about the lives and problems of migrant farm workers, or families with no medical insurance, or teenagers in Afghanistan … merely touching subjects like these is indicative of “liberal bias”, isn’t it? All the more so if any deeper understanding is actually communicated. If that’s the real crime (and I suspect that it is), then indeed NPR is guiltier of it than most other news outlets.

Those “conservative talk” hosts must really fear the truth to so shelter their arguments from robust criticism. I guess that explains why they can’t carry on a civil discussion with someone like me, and have to take guests off the air when they don’t repeat the right-wing mantras.

I had another occasion during my lunch break yesterday to call WIST host Kaare Johnson who was opening up the phone lines for a “community hour,” giving listeners an opportunity to talk about things that WIST hasn’t covered. He went through the same litany of right-wing hot button issues that Shane Warner talked about, including “Why are Americans so sue happy?” (WIST management must be telling hosts what to talk about, or hosts lack originality).

This time I chose to jump right into a discussion about media bias. I figured if I told the call screener I wanted to talk about “media bias,” it’d be interpreted as liberal bias. That worked:

Me: Congratulations Kaare on getting your own show! [Until recently, Kaare Johnson shouted news briefs on WWL]

 

K.J.: Thanks.

 

Me: I think what you’re doing this hour, by giving people in the community an opportunity to say what’s on their mind, is a great idea. I actually think there’s a market for a station that would be entirely operated and programmed by community organizations. I think it would be great if one of the big corporate radio owners gave a station to a group of community organizations.

 

K.J.: I don’t see what your point is.

 

Me: Well, like you said, there’s a lot of information being shared by people in their neighborhoods right now, and I think that Lowe’s and Home Depot and contractors would pay to advertise on a station run by neighborhood activists and community organizations.

 

K.J.: What would that do?

 

Me: Well, that’s what you’re doing now, isn’t it? Giving people in the community an opportunity to talk about things that haven’t been covered elsewhere?

 

K.J.: Yeah, but this is a business. You’re talking about something that wouldn’t make any money. Who would pay for it?

 

Me: Are you saying that what you’re doing in this hour isn’t profitable?

 

K.J.: Well, no, but we don’t do what we do as a public service. This is a business.

 

Me: Oh no! That’s where you’re wrong. As an FCC-licensee, you’re first responsibility is to serve the community.

 

K.J.: You’re taking a literal interpretation of the meaning of public service. What we do is entertainment. You’re taking the FCC literally.

 

Me: I’m saying that I think that a station run by members of the community, for members of the community, could both serve the public, and find lots of advertisers to pay for the programming.

 

K.J.: Yeah, but this is a business. Companies have to buy radio stations and make a profit. You don’t think they’re going to just give away a license?

 

Me: Yes, I do. Entercom and Clear Channel have a combined 13 radio stations. Most of them just play the same music over and over again, and the ones that have a talk format, are partisan pro-Republican. That means people aren’t getting the unbiased good information they need to rebuild their communities.

 

K.J.: Okay, well, interesting topic. I don’t see how that’s going to work, but thanks for the call.

After the commercial break, Kaare Johnson said that he thought that radio stations were already doing what I talked about. The only difference, he said, was that “we’re the professionals” who decide what the community should hear. He again criticized my “literal” interpretation of the term public service.

I might differ with Kaare Johnson’s definition of the term “professional.”

By the way, WIST hosts should decide what to call what they do. They can’t both be a news and information station, and, as hosts frequently say, an entertainment station.

I’m probably preaching to the choir. The people who should be reading this post probably don’t seek alternatives to “conservative” talk radio and Fox News.

Finally, the corporate simulcasting phenomenon that Entercom started in New Orleans on three stations is apparently plaguing other communities. Tara:

On another note, just learned that our only alternative rock radio station has just been cancelled and the AM sports-talk station is now going to simulcast in FM…apparently it is a trend motivated by the proliferation of satellite radio users…or so goes the spin.

 

Our local media conglomerate is Citadel Broadcasting.

Posted in Clear Channel, Democracy, Entercom, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, NPR, PBS, Radio, WIST, WSMB, WWL, WWWL | Comments Off on WIST is an “entertainment” station

Kill corporate media

Posted by schroeder915 on November 15, 2006

David Letterman’s monologue on Monday (starts at 2:13):

Tomorrow President Bush is leaving for Vietnam. I guess this time his father couldn’t get him out of it.

Speaking of Vietnam, dangerblond had some thoughts about “staying the course” in a recent post which resonated with my own views:

He was wearing a cap that identified him as a Vietnam War veteran. He was angry and complaining about everything. She was murmuring to him to calm down. Suddenly, he went off on the national election results.

 

“They are going to get more soldiers killed! Just like Kerry did in Vietnam! That bastard!”

 

So, I guess if decorated war veterans like John Kerry had not publicly criticized the war in Vietnam, America could have “stayed the course” over there throughout the 1970s, and fewer soldiers would have been killed?

 

I appreciate this man’s service to our country, and he has the right to believe what he wants, but if people like him had not voted for George W. Bush in 2000, no American soldiers would have lost their lives in Iraq.

 

The other night Josh got on my case because I was slamming Republican senators and congresspeople who support the war and who have fighting-age children partying on daddy’s money instead of wearing the uniform of their country.

 

“Would you want your sons over there?”

 

No, I don’t. But if I really thought Iraq posed a danger to my country, not my country’s petroleum industry, I would be ashamed of my sons if they didn’t volunteer to fight.

I’ve always thought that the discussion shouldn’t be about “staying the course,” but about how many more lives we are willing to sacrifice. That’s right, I said “we,” because each of us, in what we do and say, are either contributing to, or fighting against, the prolonged commitment of American soldiers in Iraq. Each and every one of us has to make a decision about how many more lives and families we are willing to destroy, and to act accordingly in the way we talk about the occupation of Iraq.

Think about the sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who will return in body bags, never to see their children fulfilled, never to share in the joys of living with loved ones, never to have the moments of understanding that emerge when we grow old with close companions — 2,859 killed so far. And remember the more than 21,000 American soldiers thus far who will return, but whose bodies and minds have been shattered.

When the average is 65 American soldiers killed per month in Iraq, and assuming an occupation that persists until, let’s say another 24 months, that’s 1,560 more soldiers killed in Iraq — a casualty count that approaches 4,500. Whose names will be on that list?

We, as a nation, made a grave error by allowing George W. Bush and a bunch of other fratboy, draft-dodging, chickenhawk, neocon, corporate cronies to gin up the argument to have the war in Iraq which they wanted long before 9/11.

And now, in pro-administration, pro-Republican forums like WWL 870 AM, and the new Clear Channel Fox News format on 99.5 FM, talk show hosts are choreographing the discussion to “stay the course.” The word choreographing is far too elegant for what are really just a bunch of dumb rednecks spewing their ill-informed, narrow perspectives, while shutting off discussion — people like WWL’s Bob DelGiorno, who on Monday kept repeating the same tired line about “staying the course” while invalidating alternative viewpoints (if callers could even make it past the call screeners), and limiting the discussion to that single, simpleton talking point.

What does “staying the course” mean anymore? People should say what it really means. It really means: Keep Americans bogged down in a quagmire where insurgents are trying to kill them. It’s a quagmire, because as long as Americans are there, people will want to kill them because they’re country is being occupied, and more of them will want to kill us because our government sent them there. I don’t think we could get on top of that situation if we committed every fighting-aged person in America (as well as all the mercenaries we get from other countries who become citizens after serving in the U.S. military). The bigger the American presence there, the more we are resented. As dangerblond said, every single American would fight if an army invaded the United States.

Part of the problem is that we aren’t fighting an army. We aren’t fighting a state. We’re fighting an ideology, and ideologies only become more entrenched and extreme when they’re threatened by force. George W. Bush was absolutely pathetic in his inability to comprehend the nature of the response our nation needed to take to 9/11 attacks — or he and his friends shamelessly exploited the opportunity to get their war in Iraq.

One of the WWL callers on Bob-“aaah”-Del-“aaah”-Giorno’s show said he’d done five-tours in Iraq already — a dubious claim — and said that if we could see the people over there who feel threatened by the chaos, we’d want to continue the war/occupation. I don’t disagree that we owe them their safety (now that George W. Bush and the Republican Congress screwed up so badly), but I do disagree that we can do anything about it — short of evacuating half of the Iraqi population — because we are the problem.

Once people in Washington start admitting that we can’t stay there forever, then decisions can be made about how to get out as gracefully as possible, saving as many lives as possible. But that’s part of the problem. The neocons don’t want to leave Iraq. They want an American presence in Iraq in perpetuity, because the neocon ideology is entirely financed by the oil industry.

In its corporatist nature, and in its exploitation of the idea of individual victimization as a justification for opposing democratic resolution to conflict, it would be no mistake to call the neocon ideology fascist — and that should be the focus of discussion: what are American soldiers dying for? How is the way the debate is framed by the corporate power structure of our nation altering people’s perceptions of what the cause is, and what their personal stake is in the cause?

I’m disheartened by the breakdown in civil dialog in our country, where profit is the driving motive for limiting dialog to the partisan rancor and character assault that arises from the talking points of extreme ideological opponents.

A lot of us don’t realize that our democracy is being poisoned by the corporate stranglehold on media — the principal purveyor of ideas in the public square. If ideas are the oxygen of our democracy, ours is on life support.

Corporate control of ideas is accomplished in a direct manner through editorial decisions made by gatekeepers who decide what the story is; it’s done in a more insidious manner by dumbing down the information we get; and it’s done as a byproduct of the way we’ve structured media ownership in our country to allow for a greater concentration, which limits the number of perspectives presented for us to digest. The sum total effect is the creation of an entire population which lacks the ability to think critically, which is well-versed in the desired talking points, and which is malleable to the corporate power elite’s agenda.

Times-Picayune media reporter Dave Walker is one such tool of corporate media. He apparently lacks the critical thinking required to expose the evils of media ownership concentration. In a recent story, he wrote about Entercom replacing Air America Radio with WWL re-runs, he characterized the Entercom decision as a mere annoyance “irking local lefties still basking in their narrow reclamation of Congress,” as though only “lefties” wanted more accountability in Washington.

Walker failed to adequately describe how the breadth and depth of discussion about issues on the national agenda has been severely diminished by the decision. He failed to talk about how it isn’t good for our democracy, or our communities, when a combined 13 radio stations in New Orleans are owned by Pennsylvania-based Entercom, and Texas-based Clear Channel. He failed to mention that programming changes are made by corporate owners, not based upon the needs of the community, or our democracy, but upon an excessively high rate of return demanded by the corporate media ownership structure of radio.

In his token ceremonial piece, Walker referred to lower Arbitron ratings on WSMB (while hosting the Air America format) compared to WWL. He failed to mention that WWL reaches a wide swath of the southern United States, while WSMB is only heard in New Orleans. He failed to mention the highly questionable validity of Arbitron ratings. He failed to mention the fact that Entercom never promoted the Air America format on WSMB — a critical consideration in a world in which people have been generally so turned off by radio over the years, that they don’t even bother to look for worthwhile content.

Walker mindlessly transcribed Entercom executives’ quotes:

“Because of the storm, it was hard to launch that kind of programming in the marketplace, when so many people were concerned with survival, not philosophy. We think this is a better use of the 1350 frequency at this place and this time.

 

“This is a better choice based on what audiences and advertisers are telling us.”

Walker never asked why, if Entercom thinks New Orleanians can’t handle “philosophy,” they should continue to be subjected to Rush Limbaugh’s rantings on WWL in the prime midday schedule. He never questioned why, if Entercom is so interested in the survival issues of New Orleans residents, it broadcasts 15 hours a week of sports, 20 hours a week of time travel and alien abductions, and 15 hours a week of food talk. He never asked what content Entercom provides on the other three radio stations it owns in New Orleans.

When, on Monday, Clear Channel changed WRNO from a stale rock format, to Fox News and partisan right-wing talk, Walker wrote another dull report, once again providing a non-threatening forum for another media giant to justify its tactics:

The new format’s mission is “to be an activist voice in the improvement of New Orleans,” said Dick Lewis, New Orleans-based regional vice president for Clear Channel.

It took Clear Channel 14 months to figure out that New Orleanians might need more information about how to rebuild their lives and their neighborhoods? And in the end, what are they giving us? Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, convicted insurance commissioner Jim Brown, and Ray Nagin’s key advisor — the Republican most responsible for the amazing disappearing mayor’s re-election — Rob Couhig. Hmm … I wonder if we’ll hear any criticism of the mayor on Couhig’s program.

Wanna know how the new activist station handles true activism? Try calling the station to complain about the addition of yet another partisan format to the radio dial.

I called on Monday to make my comments on air during Andre Trevigne’s debut. She’s another apologist for the Bush administration, but I simply wanted to state that generally, I didn’t think New Orleans needed another right-wing radio station. The girl who answered the phone said that Andre wasn’t talking about programming on her show. I replied that Trevigne should be talking about programming, because, at the very least, the decision to move to talk radio, ostensibly to give New Orleanians another forum for recovery information, was belated, and at worst, disingenuous. Once again, if Clear Channel were so interested in serving the New Orleans community, why dump Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly on us? The phone girl explained that Andre Tevigne doesn’t make the programming decisions. She just works there. I replied that Andre Trevigne, and everyone else who works at a Clear Channel station, has made a choice to support the programming decisions by working there. The girl sounded troubled. She sounded like she might be, for the first time, questioning her decision to work for Clear Channel, and then offered me another phone number I could call to comment on the programming change.

Here’s that number: 679-7300. Ask for Mike Cramer. I doubt he’ll answer. I haven’t gotten through to anyone at Entercom or Clear Channel who cared to talk about programming decisions. But leave Mike a message, and tell him what you think of Clear Channel’s decision to create another forum for right-wing partisan lies.

Later, I called the FCC to see if there was anyone there I could talk to. The woman who answered said I had to make a complaint in writing. I’ve been able to phone in complaints before, but apparently, that was during the Clinton administration — before the federal government became an ideological fortress against criticism.

The FCC woman did engage me in a discussion, only to tell me that the FCC doesn’t govern programming decisions. I stated that my complaint wasn’t simply about programming decisions, but the fact that Clear Channel and Entercom aren’t using their New Orleans licenses responsibly, making programming decisions that don’t reflect the needs of the New Orleans community. The woman told me that she couldn’t state her opinion about ownership matters, but again told me that the FCC doesn’t rule on programming matters. I replied that my complaint centered on programming precisely because it is executives of corporate media companies making the decisions about what we in New Orleans should have to listen to. I said it was reprehensible what the FCC was allowing to happen here in New Orleans, and elsewhere around the country. Again, a pause, as the woman silently acknowledged that a wrong was being committed. And then she started to navigate through the FCC Web site so she could give me addresses where I could file my complaint.

If you want to call the FCC, don’t wade through the menu of options. Just dial “0” when you get dumped into the menu: 888-225-5322.

In coming days, I’ll be writing (and posting) formal letters of complaint to the FCC, and sending copies to Entercom and Clear Channel. And in an upcoming post, I’ll be writing about how the ratings game played by corporate executives has parsed up the population of listeners over the years into an ever diminishing pool, as bad programming leads to fewer and fewer listeners, and more segmentation of bad listeners leads to worse and worse programming.

I know a lot of people are turned off by radio. So am I. I know that what was once a public medium has been so polluted by corporate control over the years that it is toxic to the ears of many people who have turned instead to satellite radio and iPods.

It ain’t bad everywhere though, folks. There are models for success in other parts of the country where ownership is still independent and community-based. I believe we can create media that responds to the needs and desires of our communities, and our democracy. But we have to participate in the debate for that to happen.

Don’t kill your radio. Kill the system that makes your radio a weapon of the opposition.

Posted in Bush is a moron, Clear Channel, Democracy, Entercom, George W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, Impeach Bush, Iraq, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Radio, Ray Nagin, Rebuild New Orleans, Worst President Ever, WRNO, WSMB, WWL, WWWL | 19 Comments »

Better dead than blue

Posted by schroeder915 on November 12, 2006

For most of the day on Saturday, WSMB 1350 AM was broadcasting … dead air!

If this is what Entercom had in mind by killing the progressive talk Air America Radio format in New Orleans, their motto must be “better dead air than blue.”

So much for Entercom’s “on demand” schedule of WWL 870 AM/105.3 FM re-runs on 1350. Today, however, they’re back to broadcasting the same content on three FCC-licensed frequencies.

I don’t take issue with the logic that citizens would benefit from a time-shifted schedule which offers interviews on topics of interest to New Orleanians rebuilding their lives and their city. I do, however, object to Entercom simply dumping that content on two other stations. I do take issue with the competence and objectivity of WWL’s hosts. Far better could be done within the program schedule on WWL alone — and by more completely utilizing archived content online.

If Entercom management wanted to re-broadcast its WWL content, there are 15 hours a week in Rush Limbaugh partisan drug-addled rants that could have been eliminated. There are 20 hours a week of Monica Pierre listening to her co-host “aaah”-Bob-“aaah”-Del-“aaah”-Giorno-“aaah” talking about himself. If DelGiorno stopped saying “aaah” all the time, WWL could probably find another 10 hours. There’s George Noory’s alien abductions on “Coast-to-Coast” — another 20 hours a week. There’s 15 hours a week of sports talk with Bobby Hebert and Kenny Wilkerson. On 1350 AM, there’s Tom Fitzmorris’ food show that’s about as interesting and relevant to New Orleans’ recovery as watching cows graze. I support the restaurant business, wholeheartedly, but 15 hours a week is excessive.

Some of those shows may have loyal listeners, but, for example, do we really need three hours a day of sports talk, when we may not have sports in this town for very much longer without a city, as long as we can’t get Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration, when insurance companies and contractors are ripping off citizens, when more than 200,000 residents are still spread out across the nation wondering when they might be able to get back into their homes? By the same token, do we need to hear about alien abductions, and Tom Fitzmorris humming while ingratiating himself?

I suspect that what’s really happening is that Entercom made a decision to cut costs. The dead air on Saturday is probably more owing to the fact that Entercom operates the station unattended. I’ve suspected as much before, since advertising and station id’s frequently play on top of regular programs on 1350. And the reason why Entercom is dumping redundant content on three licensed frequencies, is because it’s cheaper to do it. They don’t have to hire any additional people to create original content on those other stations!

Again, Entercom can’t be allowed to offer right-wing partisan views, without in fairness delivering an alternative perspective. Republican radio vs. Democratic radio isn’t the ideal for what we need to foster open, civil dialog in our democracy. The Fairness Doctrine is. We should restore the Fairness Doctrine for the well-being of our democracy. Barring restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, we should roll back media concentration. And barring a rollback of media concentration, we should demand better and more balanced use of the public airwaves. Tell the new Democratic Congress to reign in corporate control of our media.

Then:

  • Tell Entercom management to dump Rush Limbaugh or restore the progressive talk format on WSMB.
  •  

  • Tell Entercom management to use its WWL schedule more wisely so that listeners can hear the vital information provided by guests interviewed at other times — without infringing upon other frequencies.
  •  

  • Tell Entercom management to consider whether or not the talent it has on staff now really is the best they can do.

If Entercom can’t use its six radio licenses in New Orleans to more responsibly serve the community, it should be required to turn them over to citizen groups that positively have an interest in content that better serves their needs. And that goes for every other commercial broadcaster in the city!

WWL: Ask for Todd Manessas, 593-6376 (leave a message if he doesn’t answer)

Entercom: 866-490-3153

The Times-Picayune: letters@timespicayune.com

Related:

How corporate control kills media democracy

Posted in Democracy, Failure is not an option, Katrina Dissidents, Media Democracy, Neighborhood Preservation, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans | 5 Comments »

How corporate control kills media democracy

Posted by schroeder915 on November 10, 2006

If Entercom management was so concerned about making more room in its schedule to rebroadcast its local content, it could have started by killing that sack of hot air, Rush Limbaugh, who they broadcast in the middle of the day on WWL 870 AM, and simultaneously on 105.3 FM. Instead, Entercom management just dumped the entire progressive Air America Radio format on WSMB 1350 AM.

Now there are three stations broadcasting the same content.

That’s three of the six stations in New Orleans owned by Pennsylvania-based Entercom management. If Entercom were so interested in New Orleans affairs, why not just give a neighborhood organization programming control of one of those stations. Neighborhood activists fighting to rebuild this city sure as hell know more than WWL hosts about what’s going on here.

I still haven’t received a reply from Entercom management why the decision was made to kill Air America Radio, and how that decision really serves the community.

An AAR employee who answered the phone said that Entercom management called Air America just yesterday to say that they were dropping the format. I find that interesting, since Air America content was killed just after it was clear that the Democrats won the Congress.

Is this how our democracy is supposed to work? Silence the critics when they start making sense to the electorate, and start winning elections?

This is a perfect example, right in our own backyard, of how corporate money can kill media democracy.

We need less corporate control of the means of communication. Our democracy suffers when corporate interests decide how citizens should think.

Let’s reclaim our airwaves.

Tell Entercom and WWL that they should either dump Rush Limbaugh, or restore Air America Radio (or do both!). If they want more room for their local content on WWL, they should find the time on WWL, and on the WWL Web site, not on other radio stations.

If Entercom so values local content on its stations in New Orleans, when admittedly, New Orleans residents need more information to rebuild their lives, homes, and neighborhoods, then Entercom should broadcast more original news and interviews on its other stations, not simply re-broadcast the same content over and over again.

WWL: Ask for Todd Manessas, 593-6376 (leave a message if he doesn’t answer)

Entercom: 866-490-3153

The Times-Picayune: letters@timespicayune.com

Related:

Whoring for WWL

Posted in Democracy, Katrina Dissidents, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Political Campaigns | 9 Comments »

Whoring for WWL

Posted by schroeder915 on November 10, 2006

Actually, to be precise, we’re whoring our democracy to corporate media — Entercom in this case. We’ve sold a vital forum for education, enlightened entertainment, and the exchange of ideas that make our democracy healthy, to a bunch of corporate pimps who are only interested in maximizing their profit.

Whenever corporate media owners argue that ownership rules should be relaxed, they tell us that they need more media outlets so that a “synergy” effect can occur, where they can earn more money, and produce better content. They argue that they should be allowed more channels on the radio dial and more TV stations and more newspapers in the same market. Let the market decide what we read and hear, they say. The “free market” always obtains the best result, right?

Wrong.

And what do we have here in New Orleans, at a time when we need more information than ever to rebuild our lives, our neighborhoods, and our homes? What do we have now that Pennsylvania-based Entercom corporation owns six of our radio stations? More news? Better news?

Wrong again.

We have a company sitting on six radio licenses, producing as little original content as they can get away with selling to advertisers.

We have Entercom using three New Orleans radio licenses to broadcast the same content.

I could, and I have, taken issue with the objectivity and knowledge of WWL hosts as they interview their guests. Actually, we need not just better discussions about the range of survival issues New Orleans residents are challenged with on a daily basis, we need more discussions. Instead, WWL is feeding us the same crap on three stations. Hell — why don’t they just play Rush Limbaugh 24/7?

We citizens own the airwaves. Not just anyone can start broadcasting. If you did, the FCC would shut you down and issue you a massive fine. You have to apply for a license to broadcast, and in that license application (or renewal), you have to prove how you’re going to serve the community.

WWL could make a very good argument for how it’s serving the community — on WWL 870 AM. But when WWL’s management decides that they’re just going to re-run the same content on two other stations — 105.3 FM and 1350 AM, calling it “on demand” programming that gives us “more access,” they’re lying. They’re not giving us more content, they’re sitting on additional radio licenses that they’re not using effectively to serve the community.

WWL has a lot of crappy programming in its schedule. If it wants to re-run programs, it should kill those crappy programs and do it there. Instead, WWL killed Air America Radio, the only alternative to Republican perspectives on the radio dial. I don’t know if WWL management made that decision, or if Entercom made the decision. The bottom line is that the radio dial is far from being run by “liberal media.” It’s a sickening, stagnant dumpster for the most rank trash that broadcasters think they can get away with. That’s why we need alternatives.

People can take issue with the format of Air America, but as long as we don’t have an enforcement mechanism to make sure that what goes out over our airwaves isn’t just partisan vitriole, we deserve alternatives. Ronald Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine. Small wonder why he did that, when it opened the door for the partisan rants of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on our public airspace. Whether you like their kind or not, Limbaugh and Hannity always promote a Republican agenda, and it’s just not right for America to allow partisans for one party or another to control what we hear.

The next time you hear an argument by corporate media that they should be allowed to own more media outlets, remember this: They’re not asking for more de-regulation, they’re actually asking for more regulation. They’re not saying everyone should get to have a broadcasting license, they’re saying they should be allowed to own more. They’re asking the government to allow them to own more media, not for the public’s benefit, but for their own private profit.

A truly deregulated market would be the kind that existed before the FCC was created to restore order. Anyone who wanted a radio station could broadcast, and chaos ensued. Every department store or ham operator who wanted to start a station could. The technology is actually very simple, and the cost to run a station is relatively inexpensive. The FCC created order out of that chaos by creating the licensing process. That’s why, when someone wants to start a radio station, they have to demonstrate that they’re serving the public.

We need to go back to that principle — that broadcasters have a responsibility to serve the public in measurable and meaningful ways — by creating original content, and answering the civic concerns of the communities they serve. I argue that cable monopolies should have to demonstrate how they’re serving the public too.

If Entercom can’t provide original content to broadcast, then it should turn over it’s radio licenses to the community.

Imagine the good that could be done if the Northwest Carrollton Neighborhood Association owned a radio license, or the Broadmoor Improvement Association, or ACORN, or the Preservation Resource Society, or Common Ground, or the United Way, or a collection of students in high schools, or any number of organizations that could be formed to generate original, stimulating, vital information that responds to the needs of New Orleans.

WWL has a lot to answer for. Entercom has a lot to answer for. Every commercial broadcaster in New Orleans has a lot to answer for.

We should make them answer!

How are they serving our communities, our neighborhoods? And could we serve ourselves better if they had to give us their broadcasting licenses?

Just because we’ve had to live with depraved media so long doesn’t mean that we should be complacent.

We in New Orleans know what complacency gets you in the end.

This is a time for change. We New Orleanians are leading the way for a new America. As New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation. We can forge a new direction for a new nation, in which a new government responds to the needs of our communities, not donors’ needs; where we care for the environment because we realize that healthy environments support healthy communities; where the marketplace of ideas isn’t just a garbage disposal for corporate boardrooms, but a place where open discussion opens up our minds to new solutions for our communities.

One by one, we’re knocking down the crooked walls of our old city, while preserving the structures that support healthier communities. Gone are the levee fiefs. Gone are the seven assessors. Gone are many of the self-serving politicians who saw public office as a way to build up their personal bank accounts.

Now we need to create the conditions for a better dialog on our airwaves.

Speak up for your community. Speak up for a vibrant public square. We own the airwaves, and those who are given the privilege of using them, ought to answer to us for how they benefit our communities.

Send a message to corporate media that we want our airwaves back. Tell Entercom and WWL that they should stop sitting on three radio licenses to re-run the same content. Tell them to restore Air America Radio so that we have an alternative to Rush Limbaugh’s oxycontin-laced hate-filled rants.

Entercom: 866-490-3153

WWL: (504) 260-1870; (504) 593-6376

WSMB: (504) 593-2100

The Times-Picayune: letters@timespicayune.com

Related:

Dems win, Entercom kills progressive radio

 
News for two-track minds

Posted in Democracy, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans | 5 Comments »

“Please do something”

Posted by schroeder915 on November 6, 2006

The Times-Picayune:

Officials appeared to be deeply moved by emotional testimony of Katrina victim Gloria Muhammad. In testimony both familiar and wrenching, Muhammad, 60, told of being evacuated to Houston, robbed there, and returning to Hammond to live with her 19-year-old daughter.

She said she and thousands more are nearing emotional exhaustion, flirting with thoughts of suicide.

“Please do something,” she pleaded. “Talking time is over. We need action.”

If George W. Bush and the Republican Party wanted the recovery to move faster, you can believe it would happen. It isn’t enough to claim credit for fulfilling basic federal obligations to pay off flood insurance claims and clean debris off of the streets. Very little money has actually gotten into the hands of people who need it. Only 18 homeowners have received federal grants to help rebuild their homes thus far, for a total of $693,215. A number of excuses could be made for why this travesty is being allowed to happen, but fundamentally, there’s absolutely no presidential directive to get things moving. It’s getting late in the game for people who’ve been living wherever and however they can.

We need to get people back into their homes. We need residents to be able to participate in rebuilding the city. We need to rebuild a city that’s prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

We need to stop allowing hypocritical, crank-addict, sexual-deviant religious zealots, and elitist boneless chickenhawks to define the agenda for this nation. It’s time to move this country forward, and New Orleans will be considered the measure for how we’re doing as a nation.

There is a revolution underfoot. Your vote for a Democratic majority in Congress will be the first victory. Answer Ms. Muhammed’s plea, and the plea of hundreds of thousands of other Katrina victims still languishing while waiting for assistance.

Do something. Vote.

  • The Times-Picayune has a great election guide.
  • The Louisiana Secretary of State’s guide to constitutional amendments on the ballot.
  • The Times-Picayune recommendations on the constitutional amendments (not a PGR endorsement).
  • Find out where to vote by entering your address (or call 1-800-883-2805).

Finally, here’s a little cold cash for your vote.

dollarbilljeff_front_sm01.jpg

Posted in Bill Jefferson, Congressman Jefferson, Democracy, Dollar Bill, Elections, Government Corruption, Impeach Bush, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Political Campaigns, Rebuild New Orleans, United States Congress | 11 Comments »

“Please do something”

Posted by schroeder915 on November 6, 2006

The Times-Picayune:

Officials appeared to be deeply moved by emotional testimony of Katrina victim Gloria Muhammad. In testimony both familiar and wrenching, Muhammad, 60, told of being evacuated to Houston, robbed there, and returning to Hammond to live with her 19-year-old daughter.

She said she and thousands more are nearing emotional exhaustion, flirting with thoughts of suicide.

“Please do something,” she pleaded. “Talking time is over. We need action.”

If George W. Bush and the Republican Party wanted the recovery to move faster, you can believe it would happen. It isn’t enough to claim credit for fulfilling basic federal obligations to pay off flood insurance claims and clean debris off of the streets. Very little money has actually gotten into the hands of people who need it. Only 18 homeowners have received federal grants to help rebuild their homes thus far, for a total of $693,215. A number of excuses could be made for why this travesty is being allowed to happen, but fundamentally, there’s absolutely no presidential directive to get things moving. It’s getting late in the game for people who’ve been living wherever and however they can.

We need to get people back into their homes. We need residents to be able to participate in rebuilding the city. We need to rebuild a city that’s prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

We need to stop allowing hypocritical, crank-addict, sexual-deviant religious zealots, and elitist boneless chickenhawks to define the agenda for this nation. It’s time to move this country forward, and New Orleans will be considered the measure for how we’re doing as a nation.

There is a revolution underfoot. Your vote for a Democratic majority in Congress will be the first victory. Answer Ms. Muhammed’s plea, and the plea of hundreds of thousands of other Katrina victims still languishing while waiting for assistance.

Do something. Vote.

  • The Times-Picayune has a great election guide.
  • The Louisiana Secretary of State’s guide to constitutional amendments on the ballot.
  • The Times-Picayune recommendations on the constitutional amendments (not a PGR endorsement).
  • Find out where to vote by entering your address (or call 1-800-883-2805).

Finally, here’s a little cold cash for your vote.

dollarbilljeff_front_sm01.jpg

Posted in Bill Jefferson, Congressman Jefferson, Democracy, Dollar Bill, Elections, Government Corruption, Impeach Bush, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Political Campaigns, Rebuild New Orleans, United States Congress | Comments Off on “Please do something”