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Archive for the ‘Rebuild New Orleans’ Category

Raise the volume: Raze corporate media

Posted by schroeder915 on December 14, 2006

I’m going to ramble here for a while on some media thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Every once in a blue moon, when I write a post which offers what I think are revealing facts or perspectives which aren’t being offered in the local mainstream media, I have occasionally posted a link in the NOLA.COM town hall forums.

A couple of days ago, I posted a link to “We all sink or swim together” in the Jefferson, Orleans, West Bank, Uptown, Gentilly, and Mid City town hall forums. As of this evening, all but the Uptown posts were deleted — by NOLA.COM I presume.

Are they merely protecting their readers from leaving the NOLA.COM pages? Is this a form of private censorship? Or is it just a stupid business model?

How many people will be interested in returning to the forums once they discover that the posts are being monitored by a gatekeeper who can arbitrarily delete anything?

I tuned into WIST yesterday afternoon for not more than about five minutes of Kaare “stop shouting” Johnson’s show before I had to change the channel when I heard him say he had been talking to a caller who studied “economy.” What? Economics? It makes me wonder what the qualifications are to be a talk-show host.

Yesterday morning, Bob Delgiorno introduced John Spud McConnell as someone who’s “very opinionated,” elaborating that that’s why Spud’s a talk show host. Huh? Spud McConnell is a redneck yahoo who’s ignorance and contempt for intellectual discussion is daily vindicated by listening to Rush Limbaugh, another mental midget who dutifully recites his lines from the RNCC daily talking points. I’ve heard Spud matter-of-factly say that he doesn’t actually read the newspaper. He just reads the the headlines. Taking a guy who forms opinions without being educated, and turning him out over the airwaves to influence the views of millions of citizens isn’t just bad programming — it contributes to bad public understanding, bad public policy, and it erodes the foundation of our democracy.

A few days ago, I heard Garland Robinette make a pitch for a very worthy cause — Children’s Hospital — by joking that he’d “hit the bong” (rather than “hit the gong”) if anyone called in to pledge $500. A slip of the tongue? He continued to repeat the line as though it was funny to his listeners, or somehow amusing to Children’s Hospital. This is from a guy who never stops talking about himself in almost every segment as being a communications professional who once had a communications business.

With the exception of some notable and distinguished reporters at The Times-Picayune, I have to ask: Where are the real media professionals in this town? I mean, people who have earned their credentials after rigorous formal training, who are seasoned (not hardened) by their years of experience, and who demonstrate that their profession continues to offer opportunities to learn and grow and mature. Anyone?

I think of Bob Marshall, Mark Schlefstein, and Gordon Russell at The Times-Picayune. There are some new potential stars rising at The Times-Picayune as well, like Michelle Krupa.

Were there another major daily, I might be able to point to other professionals who are providing a critical eye on what’s happening in our city. Unfortunately, The Times-Picayune is just too damn big. They’ve sucked all the air out of the region with their bureaus distributed over five or six parishes. Maybe that’s the only way a newspaper can survive these days, but spread so thinly, I’m not sure they can really do a good job.

There was a time when radio and television did more to uncover stories with their investigative news bureaus — never on a par with what newspapers could do, but still, they were there pounding the pavement and demanding answers. WWL TV is the best at it these days (as far as television news goes), but how much can really be done in the occasional two-minute feature?

For its pathetic lack of hard news outlets, New Orleans is really not much different from most urban centers around the nation. There was a time when things were different, when there was more than one paper, and talk shows weren’t dominated by self-aggrandizing angry white men with an ax to grind.

Having multiple sources of information enriches the dialog on vital issues, and gets us to the answers we need faster. For people trying to make sense of what’s happening in New Orleans post-Katrina, we’re starved for information like catfish writhing around at the bottom of a pirogue sucking wind. At this moment when we vitally need a vibrant press to keep tabs on public officials, and to tell us what the hell is going on, we’re stuck with a single daily newspaper, self-promoting TV news personalities, and dim-witted right-wing talk show freaks.

If you take a step back and put it in perspective, we deserve better than what “the market” has given us. We citizens are now paying the true price of the deregulated corporate media-consolidation revolution ushered in by Ronald Reagan, and taken to new extremes by Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress with the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

We need to roll back that deregulation now! We need more localism in our print, radio, and television media. We need more community control, and more diversity of perspectives in the media. We need the Fairness Doctrine. It is, after all, our media, and those bastards ought to listen to what we have to say.

As has become apparent over the last few weeks, I have a particular vendetta against local radio. The biggest targets of my scorn are Entercom and Clear Channel, which own a combined 13 radio stations in the New Orleans market. Until recently, only WWL was offering its uneducated, one-sided interviews with public officials. Then Clear Channel decided to finally change the format of one of its seven radio stations to talk radio, but gave us more of the same raving lunatic angry white men, including convicted insurance commissioner Jim “can’t stop lip-smacking” Brown and Sean Hannity. It’s the absolute epitome of the uninspired programming decisions that come out of corporate boardrooms, not in response to what the community wants or needs, but what they can throw out there to minimize their costs and maximize their ad revenues. Meanwhile, Entercom decided in the last couple of months to kill the only alternative to right-wing talk, Air America Radio, opting instead to broadcast the same content on three of its radio stations.

We don’t need more syndicated hate radio shoveled at us. We need answers to local problems. We need rational, civil conversation, supported by empirical facts, and including a wide-ranging diversity of viewpoints, in order to figure out how to get us out of the mess we’re in. We need to celebrate our local community and culture. We need to have more say in programming decisions and press coverage.

I envision a future in which ubiquitous broadband wireless forces radio stations to finally stop dumping the same repetitive music and syndicated programming on affiliates across the country, because when you can tune in your wireless radio at home or your car, to any station in the country, then every station around the country will be competing for the same potential listeners. I think the result would be more variety, as stations try to identify niches that both capture local audiences, as well as interest national audiences.

WWOZ offers an excellent example of a station which has a niche found nowhere else in the world, and its live internet stream probably entertains tens of thousands of listeners around the globe. It found that niche not because it intended to create programming that appealed to world listeners, but because it was responding to the unique musical culture of New Orleans. Every community has creative roots which could flourish in an innovative new market.

As I’ve been making these arguments for more community input into what we get from our media, I’ve been repeatedly reminded that we also need to fight to retain net neutrality. It’s true. The vision I just described of a more dynamic radio market supported by internet broadcasting won’t happen if we allow corporate gatekeepers to control the content that’s piped over the internet.

That vision is also predicated upon the establishment of more community control over broadcast licenses.

I’ll repeat it again: We should demand that commercial broadcasters hold public hearings now to demonstrate how they’re serving the community (print media should be listening to us as well). The FCC should step in and demand that commercial broadcasters justify their right to hold the licenses which we own — not them. If they can’t prove that they’re adequately serving the community (and how could they), we should demand that they hand over their licenses to more responsive organizations.

Imagine what could be done if we gave the microphone to the neighborhood activists to talk about what’s on their minds. There’d be no hiding from them, and it’d be some of the best radio ever. It would also, I have argued, be completely commercially viable, since the audience would be comprised of precisely the kinds of people rebuilding their homes and their communities who big advertisers want to reach. All that’s lacking is an FCC license, which we as a community are entitled to, and which we should speak up for.

I attended a forum on Louisiana public policy and perception Tuesday at St. Dominic School. The panel of speakers included Berkeley engineer Bob Bea and LSU scientist Ivor Van Heerden, who have both been crusaders for truth against obfuscation by the Corps of Engineers. Both said that we as a community need to be responsible for generating the momentum needed to create the kinds of innovative engineering projects required to protect our city and our state from future storms. A radio station would be an extraordinary way to unify and amplify our collective voices.

We’ve been floundering in the recovery of our city and region thus far, not because we don’t want things to move faster, but because our public officials are so damned incompetent. We need to raise our voices so they can hear us loud and clear in City Hall, Baton Rouge, and Washington.

Related:

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

“We shall beat our plowshares into swords”

WIST is an “entertainment” station


Kill corporate media

No harm done when you’re already braindead

Better dead than blue

How corporate control kills media democracy

Whoring for WWL

Dems win, Entercom kills progressive radio

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Posted in Category 5 Storm Protection, Clear Channel, Coastal Restoration, Entercom, Failure is not an option, Katrina Dissidents, Louisiana, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans, The New 995, WIST, Worst President Ever, WWL | 22 Comments »

We all sink or swim together

Posted by schroeder915 on December 11, 2006

061209_op_carterpct_400px_r.jpg

Karen Carter won the 2nd Congressional District runoff in Orleans Parish, west of the Industrial Canal.

Why?

Because that’s the base of support for the reforms of state and local government. Organizations like Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans spawned a renaissance of better, more responsive, more transparent, more accountable, and more effective government, from this area of the city.

Who benefits from those reforms?

Everyone! Including you numbskulls on the Jefferson Parish West Bank who have the worst levees in the region. Guess what Jefferson Parish: You’re way, way behind the curve as far as government reform goes. Take a look at the guy running the Parish, and your chief law enforcement officer. Transparent? Effective? Accountable?

If that damned hurricane moved ashore just 20 miles west of Waveland, you’d have been sunk — literally! You almost bit the bullet with Hurricane Rita. As it was, some of your homes did flood from drainage canal overflows. And that rough-shod privately built Harvey Canal was ready to spill over when Hurricane Rita hit.

By cynically voting for the guy with marked bills in his freezer, you’ve hurt all of us. The entire nation is looking at the way you cynically voted for Dollar Bill, overlooking the fact that we’re the ones doing all the heavy lifting. In the end, we’re all being punished by the rest of the nation because of the way you voted.

Think again about where your priorities are West Bank. The same goes for all of you people out there in Kenner.

We all sink or swim together. Maybe it’s time for West Bankers to learn how to swim.

Related:

“Mommy and daddy, why did you vote for the crook?”

Let’s talk about the racial thing, again

Cynicism wins in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana loses

Your Right Hand Thief — Thanks Best Bank!

Update:

Algiers vote:

Karen Carter: 2,201 (precincts on average 70 percent white)
Bill Jefferson: 2,815 (precincts on average 72 percent black)

Posted in Bill Jefferson, Dollar Bill, Elections, Failure is not an option, Hurricane Protection, Katrina Dissidents, Louisiana, New Orleans, Political Campaigns, Political Corruption, Rebuild New Orleans, United States Congress | 14 Comments »

When the road leads nowhere

Posted by schroeder915 on December 11, 2006

Ray in New Orleans is a housegutting machine. He recently got a good soul food meal, and lot’s to think about at a Common Ground site:

There is no Road Home for renters, there was no renters insurance, so everything he owned is gone and isn’t coming back and there’s nobody around who’s going to help him replace it. …

So he has a chicken and egg problem. One of the many chicken and egg problems that people face. He can’t rent his own place without a job, but he can’t get his old job back without first getting his own place. So he feeds the Common Ground house gutters while he tries to sort out how to get sorted out.

You might think that was posted sometime last year after Hurricane Katrina. Surely people must be moving on with their lives by now, right?

Wrong.

Ray posted that story YESTERDAY. Hard-working people who CAN work, who have skills, are being punished because the federal disaster response to the federal disaster has been a pathetic disaster.

Posted in Failure is not an option, Housegutting, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina Dissidents, Neighborhood Preservation, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans | 2 Comments »

Since I’ve been called an elitist …

Posted by schroeder915 on December 7, 2006

I don’t take kindly to being called names, so I’m going to post my response to a recent Gentilly Town Hall discussion right here, front and center (if that link doesn’t work, go to the Gentilly Town Hall forum main page, and look for topic number 1104).

Gentilly Girl, with whom I don’t wish any animosity, nevertheless chose to take me to the mat in response to an earlier PGR post:

He/she asks “Do you think you might like to have some airtime to get the word out about your neighborhood battles?” and ironically above that line questions the motive of the demolition of Cabrini Church. I’m sure the church isn’t located in Schroeder’s neighborhood. The irony of the elite preservationists dictating to an entire neighborhood what they can and cannot do in order to rebuild and recover. So, please log on to his blog and get the word out about YOUR neighborhood.

Since there appears to be a gross misunderstanding about my position, and since the call was made to use my forum to “get the word out,” I shall clarify:

Ah … if you’re talking about how I went into your house to help gut it, well, then yes, I guess you could say I *am* part of the preservationist *elite* — only in so far as there aren’t enough people doing this dirty work. But if you wish to associate me with some sort of conspiracy against your neighborhood, you’re dead wrong. As I’ve stated on your blog, Gentilly Girl, I couldn’t give a hoot what happens to that church. I simply believe that these issues should be given a complete public airing. Were I to resort to name-calling, I might call you and your neighborhood activists destruction elitists for wanting to take possession of a church which is owned by the church parish, not by the Archdiocese. I might call you part of the Catholic elite, or perhaps part of Walter William Maestri’s elite — a select group which makes decisions behind closed doors, and when they don’t get what they want, they become insolent and stomp their feet and cry foul. What really sickens me is what little consideration is given to public hearings on these issues, so that civil dialog, understanding, and hopefully, compromise, can be achieved. What really sickens me is how a Christian institution, the Archdiocese, chooses to pit communities against one another for the sake of a piece of land and a few buildings, rather than to seek harmony among people. All who care about New Orleans as a community, and yes, who care about preservation of its heritage, should care about how these issues are resolved. It’s about *the process*, not my attitude one way or another about *the building*.

Until very recently, the media has weighed heavily in favor of “progress” and the “wreckingballistas.” WWL TV covered the preservationist angle on the 10:00 news last night (I couldn’t find the archived video).

You know what’s really pathetic, and at the core of this battle? The fact that neighborhoods are struggling at all to justify their existence and economic well-being. Where’s the effing leadership in this town? In the United effing States of America?!!

Posted in Bush is a moron, Failure is not an option, Historic Preservation, Ray Nagin, Rebuild New Orleans, Worst President Ever | Comments Off on Since I’ve been called an elitist …

Since I’ve been called an elitist …

Posted by schroeder915 on December 7, 2006

I don’t take kindly to being called names, so I’m going to post my response to a recent Gentilly Town Hall discussion right here, front and center (if that link doesn’t work, go to the Gentilly Town Hall forum main page, and look for topic number 1104).

Gentilly Girl, with whom I don’t wish any animosity, nevertheless chose to take me to the mat in response to an earlier PGR post:

He/she asks “Do you think you might like to have some airtime to get the word out about your neighborhood battles?” and ironically above that line questions the motive of the demolition of Cabrini Church. I’m sure the church isn’t located in Schroeder’s neighborhood. The irony of the elite preservationists dictating to an entire neighborhood what they can and cannot do in order to rebuild and recover. So, please log on to his blog and get the word out about YOUR neighborhood.

Since there appears to be a gross misunderstanding about my position, and since the call was made to use my forum to “get the word out,” I shall clarify:

Ah … if you’re talking about how I went into your house to help gut it, well, then yes, I guess you could say I *am* part of the preservationist *elite* — only in so far as there aren’t enough people doing this dirty work. But if you wish to associate me with some sort of conspiracy against your neighborhood, you’re dead wrong. As I’ve stated on your blog, Gentilly Girl, I couldn’t give a hoot what happens to that church. I simply believe that these issues should be given a complete public airing. Were I to resort to name-calling, I might call you and your neighborhood activists destruction elitists for wanting to take possession of a church which is owned by the church parish, not by the Archdiocese. I might call you part of the Catholic elite, or perhaps part of Walter William Maestri’s elite — a select group which makes decisions behind closed doors, and when they don’t get what they want, they become insolent and stomp their feet and cry foul. What really sickens me is what little consideration is given to public hearings on these issues, so that civil dialog, understanding, and hopefully, compromise, can be achieved. What really sickens me is how a Christian institution, the Archdiocese, chooses to pit communities against one another for the sake of a piece of land and a few buildings, rather than to seek harmony among people. All who care about New Orleans as a community, and yes, who care about preservation of its heritage, should care about how these issues are resolved. It’s about *the process*, not my attitude one way or another about *the building*.

Until very recently, the media has weighed heavily in favor of “progress” and the “wreckingballistas.” WWL TV covered the preservationist angle on the 10:00 news last night (I couldn’t find the archived video).

You know what’s really pathetic, and at the core of this battle? The fact that neighborhoods are struggling at all to justify their existence and economic well-being. Where’s the effing leadership in this town? In the United effing States of America?!!

Posted in Bush is a moron, Failure is not an option, Historic Preservation, Ray Nagin, Rebuild New Orleans, Worst President Ever | 4 Comments »

Urge Congress to support revenue sharing for Louisiana

Posted by schroeder915 on December 6, 2006

In response to an “FP” comment in a previous post, I’m posting the latest campaign initiative by Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans:

For the September 30th election we rallied successfully to VOTE 1-2-3. Constitutional amendments #1 and #2 dealt with coastal erosion. Amendment #3 pertained to levee board consolidation and reform. Levees and Coastal erosion are critically connected. The most important bill to give Louisiana funds to restore our coastline is coming up on Tuesday in Washington. The OCS Revenue Sharing Bill, S.3711 [H.R.4761], will give Louisiana and other producing states a share of offshore royalty payments. The bill will require two thirds vote and if approved go directly to President Bush to sign. …

 

LOUISIANA NEEDS YOUR HELP!

 

For years Louisiana has helped all Americans in many ways. Now she needs the help of Americans to come to her help. On Tuesday, December 5th the US Congress will hear a bill that would give Louisiana a portion of the Oil and Gas Revenues that are produced off her coastline. We need this revenue source to help us rebuild our coast. Please help us by e-mailing the Senators and Representatives from your state to support this measure.

 

The Problem
Between 1932 and 2000, coastal Louisiana has lost over 1,875 square miles of land. Approximately 24 square miles of Louisiana land turns into open water each year. The primary and unintentional cause of this land loss is the system of levees that has been built to prevent the Mississippi from overflowing its banks. This results in 120 million tons of sediment flowing into Gulf of Mexico and off the continental shelf. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated the entire Gulf Coast of Louisiana, accelerated this process by converting approximately 217 square miles of marsh to water.

 

The Solution
Louisiana has created the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), which is composed of a diverse group of stakeholders in this process. CPRA is currently conducting public hearings on its comprehensive plan for coastal redevelopment. By constitution amendment the state has dedicated all revenues from Offshore Oil and Gas revenues to go towards restoring the coastline, which will be overseen by CPRA. Louisiana has the potential to receive $200 million over the first ten years and more in later years as the revenue sharing provisions would expand to new wells.

 

Why Louisiana Matters to Everyone

 

Oil and Gas Industry
9,300 miles of pipelines cross the marshes of coastal Louisiana. The network of energy facilities located in and around the Louisiana wetlands produces or transports nearly 1/3rd of the nation’s oil and gas supply, and is tied to 50% of the nation’s refining capacity. 80% of the nation’s offshore domestic oil and gas supply is transported through these wetlands.

 

Water Transportation
10 major navigation routes are located in South Louisiana. 5 of the busiest ports in the US, ranked by total tons (469 tons), are located here. This represents 19% of annual US waterborne commerce.

 

Fisheries
Louisiana is by far the nation’s largest shrimp, oyster, and blue crab producer and provides 26% of the commercial fish landing in the lower 48 states.

 

Habitat
The North American Flyway passes directly over south Louisiana. More than 5 million migratory waterfowl spend the winter in Louisiana’s marshes. The Mississippi River provides drainage for 41% of the continental US.

 

Please help us by contacting your senators and representatives today. We need your help. URGE them to support the OCS Revenue Sharing Bill.

 

Thank you very much.

Posted in Coastal Restoration, Hurricane Protection, Louisiana, Political Campaigns, Rebuild New Orleans, United States Congress | Comments Off on Urge Congress to support revenue sharing for Louisiana

Do we really need two mayors?

Posted by schroeder915 on December 4, 2006

And do we really need two “recovery czars”? Anyone remember Donald Powell, Bush’s appointed “recovery czar”?

Choice quotes from the Associated Press story on Nagin’s appointment of a hurricane recovery czar:

The city has made strides, Nagin said. “I just need somebody to take me to the next level.” …

 

“We think he’s the best in the world to help us through this recovery,” Nagin said during a news conference called to announce Blakely’s appointment. …

 

Nagin had said in a recent interview a recovery director previously didn’t make sense because “I couldn’t really communicate to the person their authority, how the money was flowing, how (the recovery) would be set up. All that clarity is in place (now).”

Clarity? Really? Maybe now that we have a competent surrogate mayor to guide the recovery to the next level, he’ll enlighten us with that newfound clarity.

And maybe now we can also free Ray Nagin from the burden of toiling for that “big government salary” he complains about.

By the way, I wholeheartedly support the appointment of a manager to oversee New Orleans’ recovery. I just wonder about the competence and visibility of Donald Powell and Ray Nagin.

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Ray Nagin, Rebuild New Orleans | 5 Comments »

Is commercial radio listening to you?

Posted by schroeder915 on November 15, 2006

When was the last time local broadcast media — radio in particular — did a detailed story about your neighborhood’s planning process?

Has the local broadcast media covered the move by the Archdiocese to destroy the architecturally and culturally unique St. Francis Cabrini Church, scheduled to fall under the wrecking ball this Friday?

Do you think you might like to have some airtime to get the word out about your neighborhood battles?

You could, if you had an outlet.

First, you need to challenge the broadcasting license of a commercial broadcaster.

If the guys who get paid to cover important issues of concern to the community aren’t serving the community, then they don’t get to keep their broadcasting licenses. We just need to remind them, and the FCC, of that small detail.

When they do hire talent, broadcasters need to make sure they hire hosts who are well-informed and balanced in their interviews. That’s not what we’re getting with WWL. Neither is it what we’re getting with that other new Republican radio station. In their lineup of crooks and liars, at least “The New 99.5” Clear Channel/Fox News station in New Orleans “didn’t hire ex-FEMA head Mike (heckuva job) Brown.” But it can’t be too far off given the Bush regime apologists they hired as hosts.

Posted in Clear Channel, Historic Preservation, Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, Neighborhood Preservation, New Orleans, Radio, Rebuild New Orleans, Unified New Orleans Plan, Worst President Ever, WRNO | 19 Comments »

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 »