Monday, January 08, 2007

Grassroots efforts and double standards

One of the biggest developments in talk radio as of late is the growth of the power of the listener. One listener in the San Francisco area decided he was sick of being offended by the racist and violent rants of KSFO personalities, and decided to do something about it. And listeners in Madison, WI prevented a format flip of WXXM in late December. And those efforts inspired groups in Boston, Columbus and elsewhere to save their progressive talk stations.

So far, the results for these grassroots groups have not yet been forthcoming. WTPG in Columbus ended their progressive talk format earlier today, amidst a rally/funeral for the station organized by listeners. They plan a new format to begin tomorrow. Still, the groups are still pushing forward, in the hopes that other stations may decide to pick up the programming.

But liberals are not alone in this effort. Clear Channel in Columbus, which has not been a poster child for community relations as of late, has caught flack from local conservative radio listeners (okay, conservative listeners with really, really bad taste) due to the dropping of Glen Beck's syndicated show, in the proposed WTPG shakeup. And, after mocking liberals for organizing rallies and petition drives to save their stations, Beck fans even had their own rally planned. Plans were changed when Beck was picked up by another station in town, WTDA, a low-powered adult hits on the FM dial, which flipped to a talk/sports hybrid format as of today. So far, no other station in Columbus has stepped forward to pick up liberal talk.

One of the biggest mockers of recent grassroots efforts undertaken by liberal listeners is failed talk show host Brian Maloney. After washing out of radio a few years back (his Sunday afternoon show on KIRO in Seattle was dropped over two years ago to expand NFL programming - he claimed he was fired because he dissed Dan Rather), Maloney turned to the blogosphere, and developed a rather unhealthy obsession over Air America Radio, and especially Al Franken. As "The Radio Equalizer," Maloney made a name for himself posting ridiculous rumors, incoherent rants and petty attacks toward his perceived enemies. And he kissed ass for his buddies, particularly Limbaugh and Hannity, who likely don't even know he exists. And of course Bill O'Reilly, who, in the best pseudo-news tradition, used Maloney once on his show as some kind of 'expert' on Air America's woes. Kill your television, indeed.

The Radio Tranquilizer loves to trash Air America. He gloated with embarassing glee off over a tiny AM station in Corvallis, OR dropping the format. Unfortunately, he reported on it weeks, or possibly months, after the station quietly switched to country music (hell, LTR didn't even see the switch as noteworthy, since KTTH was a pretty crappy station anyway). It seems he has an axe to grind with virtually any radio talker who's had a more successful radio career than him. Especially Franken, where the psychotic obsession has taken on "Taxi Driver"-like resemblances via constant speculation about his Senate plans, his salary, and everything short of reports of his eating habits. In short, the Tranquilizer has become the most pathetic and sleazy blogger this side of Perez Hilton:

"If there was a case for liberal talk show hosts to be doomed to eternal damnation, wouldn't it have something to do with standing by and watching a children's charity get raided so that their paychecks wouldn't bounce?"

And in his typical smarmy asshole manner, the Tranquilizer pulled no punches in bashing anything smacking of liberalism, the followers of which he refers to as 'moonbats'. When the world mourned the passing of Gerald Ford, the very first thing Maloney did was to rifle through liberal blogs such as Daily Kos and Huffington Post, desperately looking for posts attacking the late president, in a half-assed effort to bolster his weak arguments. He didn't find much, except for a few trolls in the ccomments section (yeah, we get those too). Gee, doesn't that just 'up the bar' of journalism?

Most recently, he mocked the protests and petition drives in Madison, Columbus and Boston:

"As a result, a real funeral should be held, this time to mourn their own faded cause...

"With so few demonstrators to voice rage and anger over the cancellation of so- called 'progressive' programming in Wisconsin's capital city, their "mock funeral" succeeded only at making a mockery of political activism...

"How about some background on the self-destructive flaps that helped to kill off Air America's talkers? Fresh off their station-restoring victory in Madison, one wonders whether we can expect funeral processions and other protests from their fellow-travellers in Ohio."

Okay, so Brian Baloney is a crybaby conservative moron. And we find out today that he's a hypocrite as well. After lampooning liberal drives to save their progressive talk stations, he decides to launch his own drive to 'save' Boston-area talk station WRKO. See, Maloney's issue is that there just aren't enough conservotalk stations in the Boston area. Never mind that WTKK and WTTT are already doing it, and WRKO is currently running the likes of Limbaugh and Savage. What's to save, you ask? Well, the reason Maloney's panties are in a twist is because WRKO has allegedly been tweaking its format to de-emphasize conservative blowhards and to create a broader approach. Or, as the Tranquilizer puts it:

In recent months, we've seen multi-sided debates between callers and hosts disappear, while fluffy, non-controversial programming takes its place...

And we've also noticed an obvious clampdown on conservative opinions, in addition to an apparent edict against criticism of Governor Patrick outside of (Howie) Carr's program.

So, WRKO currently runs Limbaugh and Savage. And they carry longtime local host Howie Carr. So, what's to save? Well, what's really pissing him off are rumors that WRKO is trying to sign as their new morning guy conservative Democrat Tom Finneran, a local politician who got into some hot water over some redistricting mischief. Last week, he plea bargained his way out of a perjury charge related to the mess by pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. And Maloney and a few of his buddies are hopping mad that WRKO dare hire a Democrat, albeit a rather conservative one. Sure, Finneran is now a convicted felon, but Baloney sure doesn't have a problem with the felonies Rush Limbaugh committed. Or even convicted Watergate felon-turned radio talker G. Gordon Liddy. Another smack of hypocricy? Quite frankly, Finneran should find himself in good company.

It should be noted that Baloney, an even more crass and obnoxious self-promoter than Tila Tequila, has picked up a fill-in gig or two at WRKO in the past, as some sort of half-assed effort in keeping his failed radio career afloat, a career that is currently deader than anything at Air America will ever be. There's probably quite a bit written between the lines of his recent attacks on the station, as we know that he does indeed hold a grudge against much of the radio industry. Still, one must find it rather amusing that he's gone to this great an effort in doing the one thing that he mocked so-called "moonbats" for doing. And no, WRKO is in no danger of dropping conservative talk anytime soon. Pot, meet kettle. Still black.


Fred Flintstone said...

I don't disagree with your observations and I'm still not comfortable with this particular rant.
In attacking Maloney you risk becoming like Maloney.
Did YOU once work in radio? If so, that makes you "failed," as well. This is the same tactic used on the radio boards to invalidate any criticism of radio: The "bitter ex employee" barb.
Maloney took a shot at radio and it didn't turn out. Whatever else I may think about him, I don't fault him for trying. If that's your best shot at the guy, it makes your arguments look weak.

raccoonradio said...

We'll see if AAR/libtalk gets back on air in Boston. WRKO and WTKK try to grab the anti-establishment
audience. The establishment being
the Democratic Party which controls just about all of the state. (Who
knows, if AAR gets back on in town
it could provide an amen corner
to the likes of Deval Patrick,
new governor).
Given a better signal, local
hosts, and more promotion,
who knows.

As the Boston Herald noted, sometimes having a chequered
past isn't so bad for talk hosts.
It attracts controversy, which is what talk radio thrives with. (And they can use the show as a kind of image rehab.) Jerry
Springer, Pete Rose, Ollie North,
"Talent On Loan From Oxys", etc.

ltr said...

Yes, Frasier, the thought did cross my mind. And I decided to do it anyway, since I do like irony.

And I did once work in radio, though I certainly didn't cry like a baby when I left the business (I chose to leave). I don't fault Baloney for the effort, but rather the way he's made a complete ass out of himself since. He could have left with at least some dignity.

Nonetheless, this whole "Save WRKO" thing is one of the most ironic (and outright hilarious) things I've ever seen.

And I've lost interest considerably in what's being said on the radio boards anymore. I've pulled back considerably from that scene. It was fun a while back, but now it's just a trollfest. I'm keeping quite busy here.

Fred Flintstone said...

> It was fun a while back, but now
> it's just a trollfest.

Won't disagree with you there.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! Thank you so much for laying it all out so well. I was thinking of doing to same piece -- now I can I can focus on something more productive. This baloney guy is piece of work. It is so great that you took a shot at doing some photo-shop work. Not a bad effort. Isn't it ironic that if you do a google search for "liberal talk radio" that you find several links to radioequalizer...barooosk

raccoonradio said...

>>Nonetheless, this whole "Save WRKO" thing is one of the most ironic (and outright hilarious) things I've ever seen.

At first I thought Brian was poking fun at the "Save Boston's Progressive Talk" site (which technically went up after the plug was pulled; "Bring Back.." might be more accurate)

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