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Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

Anyone C Ray Nagin’s op-ed?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 5, 2007

If only the federal and state governments would do their jobs, he could do his. I appreciate Ray Ray stepping up to the plate lately to say something — anything — I just wish it were something meaningful. From the op-ed piece, it looks like Nagin’s recovery plan is to “await funding that has been promised to the city” so that the city can get “its house in order.”

How about more transparency?

How about publishing those project worksheets for infrastructure repairs?

Speaking of which, what is it about New Orleans mayors and their garbage cans? Marc Morial marked the city by putting his name on city garbage cans. With the newly-gilt Disney World trash contract, Nagin is dumping 96 gallon behemoths on our neighborhoods. It cost the city a bunch of money to get rid of those Morial cans. What’s it going to cost to get rid of Nagin’s cans?

What would it cost to get rid of Ray Nagin?

How about celebrating the efforts of good people who didn’t flee to the suburbs, but who have truly sacrificed on the front lines to help struggling residents in marginal neighborhoods live dignified lives?

010407_marigny_murder.jpg

How about replacing a police superintendent who’s a little too comfortable with the murder rate? How about speaking out on the issue of crime directly to residents?

I’m convinced that media reform in New Orleans would significantly help to identify solutions for many of New Orleans’ problems — and to light a fire under the backsides of public officials. Just this morning, I scanned past WWL to hear Tommy Tucker and Monica Pierre talking to Darlene Cusanza, executive director of New Orleans Crime Stoppers, about raising the award for crime tips to $3500. Then I wondered, if I’m skipping over WWL because I can’t tolerate their shrill, partisan hosts, who else is listening? Are the residents who might know drug-addled criminals in tough neighborhoods listening? If WWL really wants to reach the people who have crime tips, how is that goal served by turning off so many people that they just tune out and never come back? Or is WWL only interested in firing up its base of right-wing listeners so they stick around through the commercial breaks.

Yesterday, I scanned past the new, self-aggrandizing right-wing Fox News/Clear Channel radio station to hear Andre Trevigne on a soap box advocating for more “personal responsibility” to solve the crime problem. Yes, absolutely, but how about rewarding the great majority of good citizens who exercise “personal responsibility” but who aren’t treated by society with respect. Let’s remember that 90 percent or more of crimes are committed by a tiny majority. Let’s remember that one-half of all convicted criminals re-offend just six months after their release from prison, and two-thirds re-offend within three years. The vast majority of people do exercise personal responsibility, even though the odds are stacked against them. Where’s the societal responsibility to good citizens to ensure that all working people can raise their families in dignity? Where’s the outcry against a mayor who tells people to come home, but who disappears and abandons them when they get here? Is it true, as Gwendolyn Charles said, that the current crime wave is being caused by people “who are coming home to the city with nothing for them to come home to”? If so, where’s the advocacy? Where’s the outrage against the status quo? What’s the use to New Orleanians of yet another partisan radio station which only offers one side of the story?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Einstein said. So let’s create new approaches and new models for our institutions. Just as our public schools are experimenting with a charter approach, making them more directly accountable to parents, we need to be thinking about ways to make other institutions more accountable to citizens.

Here’s yet another excellent rationale for a truly community-run radio station in New Orleans, broadcasting the voices of New Orleanians to the ears of New Orleanians. Neighborhood advocates, and social service organizations, and preservationists, and civil engineers, and crime fighters, and civic soldiers like citizen McBride, all deserve an opportunity to have their voices heard. It’s time to separate Clear Channel and Entercom from their 13 FCC licenses in New Orleans.

Once again, New Orleans citizen activists are showing the way forward for other communities around the country. In varying degrees, all urban communities suffer from the same problems we have here in New Orleans. It’s time to give citizens around the country a more prominent forum for their ideas, and their solutions. Let it start here, because as New Orleans goes, so goes the nation.

Related:

Library Chronicles — The Joys of Media Consolidation

adrastos — C Ray: Come Home to a Safer, Smarter, Stronger City, Murder in the Marigny

Posted in Clear Channel, Crime, Entercom, Katrina Dissidents, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Radio, The New 995, WIST, Worst Mayor Ever, Worst President Ever, WWL, WWWL | Leave a Comment »

Anyone C Ray Nagin’s op-ed?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 5, 2007

If only the federal and state governments would do their jobs, he could do his. I appreciate Ray Ray stepping up to the plate lately to say something — anything — I just wish it were something meaningful. From the op-ed piece, it looks like Nagin’s recovery plan is to “await funding that has been promised to the city” so that the city can get “its house in order.”

How about more transparency?

How about publishing those project worksheets for infrastructure repairs?

Speaking of which, what is it about New Orleans mayors and their garbage cans? Marc Morial marked the city by putting his name on city garbage cans. With the newly-gilt Disney World trash contract, Nagin is dumping 96 gallon behemoths on our neighborhoods. It cost the city a bunch of money to get rid of those Morial cans. What’s it going to cost to get rid of Nagin’s cans?

What would it cost to get rid of Ray Nagin?

How about celebrating the efforts of good people who didn’t flee to the suburbs, but who have truly sacrificed on the front lines to help struggling residents in marginal neighborhoods live dignified lives?

010407_marigny_murder.jpg

How about replacing a police superintendent who’s a little too comfortable with the murder rate? How about speaking out on the issue of crime directly to residents?

I’m convinced that media reform in New Orleans would significantly help to identify solutions for many of New Orleans’ problems — and to light a fire under the backsides of public officials. Just this morning, I scanned past WWL to hear Tommy Tucker and Monica Pierre talking to Darlene Cusanza, executive director of New Orleans Crime Stoppers, about raising the award for crime tips to $3500. Then I wondered, if I’m skipping over WWL because I can’t tolerate their shrill, partisan hosts, who else is listening? Are the residents who might know drug-addled criminals in tough neighborhoods listening? If WWL really wants to reach the people who have crime tips, how is that goal served by turning off so many people that they just tune out and never come back? Or is WWL only interested in firing up its base of right-wing listeners so they stick around through the commercial breaks.

Yesterday, I scanned past the new, self-aggrandizing right-wing Fox News/Clear Channel radio station to hear Andre Trevigne on a soap box advocating for more “personal responsibility” to solve the crime problem. Yes, absolutely, but how about rewarding the great majority of good citizens who exercise “personal responsibility” but who aren’t treated by society with respect. Let’s remember that 90 percent or more of crimes are committed by a tiny majority. Let’s remember that one-half of all convicted criminals re-offend just six months after their release from prison, and two-thirds re-offend within three years. The vast majority of people do exercise personal responsibility, even though the odds are stacked against them. Where’s the societal responsibility to good citizens to ensure that all working people can raise their families in dignity? Where’s the outcry against a mayor who tells people to come home, but who disappears and abandons them when they get here? Is it true, as Gwendolyn Charles said, that the current crime wave is being caused by people “who are coming home to the city with nothing for them to come home to”? If so, where’s the advocacy? Where’s the outrage against the status quo? What’s the use to New Orleanians of yet another partisan radio station which only offers one side of the story?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Einstein said. So let’s create new approaches and new models for our institutions. Just as our public schools are experimenting with a charter approach, making them more directly accountable to parents, we need to be thinking about ways to make other institutions more accountable to citizens.

Here’s yet another excellent rationale for a truly community-run radio station in New Orleans, broadcasting the voices of New Orleanians to the ears of New Orleanians. Neighborhood advocates, and social service organizations, and preservationists, and civil engineers, and crime fighters, and civic soldiers like citizen McBride, all deserve an opportunity to have their voices heard. It’s time to separate Clear Channel and Entercom from their 13 FCC licenses in New Orleans.

Once again, New Orleans citizen activists are showing the way forward for other communities around the country. In varying degrees, all urban communities suffer from the same problems we have here in New Orleans. It’s time to give citizens around the country a more prominent forum for their ideas, and their solutions. Let it start here, because as New Orleans goes, so goes the nation.

Related:

Library Chronicles — The Joys of Media Consolidation

adrastos — C Ray: Come Home to a Safer, Smarter, Stronger City, Murder in the Marigny

Posted in Clear Channel, Crime, Entercom, Katrina Dissidents, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Radio, The New 995, WIST, Worst Mayor Ever, Worst President Ever, WWL, WWWL | 5 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 | 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 | Leave a Comment »

“We shall beat our plowshares into swords”

Posted by schroeder915 on November 30, 2006

Are these the words a true “conservative” would speak? A Christian, or a false prophet?

I flipped radio stations to WIST tonight to hear Michael Savage twisting the prophecy of Isaiah to convince his listeners that if we Americans don’t fight in Iraq, somehow the United States will be overrun with radical Muslims who will cut off our heads if we don’t convert to Islam.

rws.jpg

Really? Are we really so weak to think that the only way out of the mess Bush got us into is to keep on killing Muslims in Iraq?

It’s another one of those strawman arguments which self-proclaimed “conservatives” make when they have nothing else of substance to defend what American voters have overwhelmingly decided is a bad war.

Nobody is saying the United States shouldn’t defend itself from legitimate threats, but Iraq isn’t a legitimate threat to Americans. George W. Bush and his incompetent cabal of neocon war profiteers turned a nation of oppressed people into a breeding ground for terrorists. That won’t stop until American troops get out of Iraq. There is absolutely no way for the United States to kill every last insurgent and terrorist. Attempting to do so will only breed greater animosity throughout the Muslim world, turning more moderates into extremists. Everyone agrees that what has been done in the name of Islam by extremists — like beheadings — is deplorable. But becoming inhumane like them isn’t the answer.

Far better it would be to spend our treasure on safeguarding Americans from the rare possibility that a terrorist would try to attack inside our borders with a plane, or a bomb in a port, or with a sniper’s rifle … or … maybe actually catching Osama bin Laden and the rest of his henchmen who really did plot the 9/11 attacks. Those are the truly difficult challenges which the Bush administration has miserably failed to address.

Far more dangerous a threat to our democracy, and to Americans who risk their lives by signing up to defend our nation from real enemies, are “conservative” radio zealots like Michael Savage who use the public airwaves to whip up a frenzy of fear and hatred. It’s people like Savage who have turned the radio spectrum into an ideological, partisan, hate-filled, toxic wasteland.

For the sake of our democracy, we can’t allow ignorant reactionaries like Savage to have access to such a powerful forum for their hatred.

When his only listed advertisers are himself, a Web site hosting company, and an online right-wing merchandise store, one wonders why a station like WIST would stoop to carrying Savage’s show.

What comes to mind examining the way he portrays himself on his Web site?

msavage.jpg

savagebythebaysitesm.jpg

I see a grisly old man who hides his self-loathing by wrapping himself in the flag.

Consider his credentials:

father, son, husband, brother, ice cream factory worker, busboy, lifeguard, writer, and scientist

Anyone can be a father, son, husband, and brother. Everyone writes. Ice cream factory worker, busboy, and lifeguard hardly qualify as adequate preparation of a respected intellect. Scientist? A lot of them suffer from incredible moral blindspots, ethical shortcomings, social and historical misconceptions — certainly not all, but a singularity of purpose is required to earn a post-graduate degree in a science field. At best, it’s dubious to suggest that being a epidemiologist and nutritional scientist provides a well-rounded background to be considered an expert in world affairs.

Moreover, I find it interesting that Savage is so hawkish when he’s never served in the military himself. If he really believes America is in such peril of being overrun by “IslamoFascists,” why hasn’t he signed up himself to fight them “over there.”

It would be interesting to hear what more devout Christians than myself might have to say about how Savage has twisted the divine hand that authored those words of Isaiah.

Savage might do well to consider the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy:

4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

 

5 Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

 

6 You have abandoned your people,
the house of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
they practice divination like the Philistines
and clasp hands with pagans.

 

7 Their land is full of silver and gold;
there is no end to their treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.

 

8 Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their fingers have made.

 

9 So man will be brought low
and mankind humbled—
do not forgive them.

Ask WIST how broadcasting Michael Savage’s hate-filled rants is in any way remotely helpful to New Orleanians trying to rebuild their homes and their neighborhoods. Tell them that we need more, and better, local news and information, not another partisan talk radio station. Tell them that we care less about party affiliation than we do whether or not we get better levees, heal our wetlands, stop global warming and sea-level rise, and rebuild our homes. Those are conservative Louisiana values.

Related:

WIST is an “entertainment” station

 

Kill corporate media

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, Radio, WIST | 25 Comments »

“We shall beat our plowshares into swords”

Posted by schroeder915 on November 30, 2006

Are these the words a true “conservative” would speak? A Christian, or a false prophet?

I flipped radio stations to WIST tonight to hear Michael Savage twisting the prophecy of Isaiah to convince his listeners that if we Americans don’t fight in Iraq, somehow the United States will be overrun with radical Muslims who will cut off our heads if we don’t convert to Islam.

rws.jpg

Really? Are we really so weak to think that the only way out of the mess Bush got us into is to keep on killing Muslims in Iraq?

It’s another one of those strawman arguments which self-proclaimed “conservatives” make when they have nothing else of substance to defend what American voters have overwhelmingly decided is a bad war.

Nobody is saying the United States shouldn’t defend itself from legitimate threats, but Iraq isn’t a legitimate threat to Americans. George W. Bush and his incompetent cabal of neocon war profiteers turned a nation of oppressed people into a breeding ground for terrorists. That won’t stop until American troops get out of Iraq. There is absolutely no way for the United States to kill every last insurgent and terrorist. Attempting to do so will only breed greater animosity throughout the Muslim world, turning more moderates into extremists. Everyone agrees that what has been done in the name of Islam by extremists — like beheadings — is deplorable. But becoming inhumane like them isn’t the answer.

Far better it would be to spend our treasure on safeguarding Americans from the rare possibility that a terrorist would try to attack inside our borders with a plane, or a bomb in a port, or with a sniper’s rifle … or … maybe actually catching Osama bin Laden and the rest of his henchmen who really did plot the 9/11 attacks. Those are the truly difficult challenges which the Bush administration has miserably failed to address.

Far more dangerous a threat to our democracy, and to Americans who risk their lives by signing up to defend our nation from real enemies, are “conservative” radio zealots like Michael Savage who use the public airwaves to whip up a frenzy of fear and hatred. It’s people like Savage who have turned the radio spectrum into an ideological, partisan, hate-filled, toxic wasteland.

For the sake of our democracy, we can’t allow ignorant reactionaries like Savage to have access to such a powerful forum for their hatred.

When his only listed advertisers are himself, a Web site hosting company, and an online right-wing merchandise store, one wonders why a station like WIST would stoop to carrying Savage’s show.

What comes to mind examining the way he portrays himself on his Web site?

msavage.jpg

savagebythebaysitesm.jpg

I see a grisly old man who hides his self-loathing by wrapping himself in the flag.

Consider his credentials:

father, son, husband, brother, ice cream factory worker, busboy, lifeguard, writer, and scientist

Anyone can be a father, son, husband, and brother. Everyone writes. Ice cream factory worker, busboy, and lifeguard hardly qualify as adequate preparation of a respected intellect. Scientist? A lot of them suffer from incredible moral blindspots, ethical shortcomings, social and historical misconceptions — certainly not all, but a singularity of purpose is required to earn a post-graduate degree in a science field. At best, it’s dubious to suggest that being a epidemiologist and nutritional scientist provides a well-rounded background to be considered an expert in world affairs.

Moreover, I find it interesting that Savage is so hawkish when he’s never served in the military himself. If he really believes America is in such peril of being overrun by “IslamoFascists,” why hasn’t he signed up himself to fight them “over there.”

It would be interesting to hear what more devout Christians than myself might have to say about how Savage has twisted the divine hand that authored those words of Isaiah.

Savage might do well to consider the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy:

4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

 

5 Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

 

6 You have abandoned your people,
the house of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
they practice divination like the Philistines
and clasp hands with pagans.

 

7 Their land is full of silver and gold;
there is no end to their treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.

 

8 Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their fingers have made.

 

9 So man will be brought low
and mankind humbled—
do not forgive them.

Ask WIST how broadcasting Michael Savage’s hate-filled rants is in any way remotely helpful to New Orleanians trying to rebuild their homes and their neighborhoods. Tell them that we need more, and better, local news and information, not another partisan talk radio station. Tell them that we care less about party affiliation than we do whether or not we get better levees, heal our wetlands, stop global warming and sea-level rise, and rebuild our homes. Those are conservative Louisiana values.

Related:

WIST is an “entertainment” station

 

Kill corporate media

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, Media, Media Democracy, Radio, WIST | Leave a Comment »

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 | Leave a Comment »

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 »