You may or may not know that Bruce Springsteen has a new album out, one in which he reunites with his E Street Band. The new release is called Magic, and it is currently the #1 selling album in the country. Since its release on October 2, it has sold more than 500,000 copies. In this day and age, that's pretty good. In addition, critics are raving about it. Rolling Stone gave it a rare 5-star rating, and even Pitchfork Media kinda sorta liked it, and they hate everything.
Twenty years ago, something of this magnitude from The Boss would have been all over the radio. You wouldn't be able to escape it. But that was twenty years ago.
Welcome to 2007.
Believe it or not, many so-called 'rock' radio stations are not playing the new Springsteen album. At least that's what FOX Noise is trying to tell us. Sure, it wouldn't be surprising. The over-compartmentalized radio industry, for some really stupid reason, does not know what to do with aging rockers. And in shades of 2003, they're also claiming that radio monolith Clear Channel Communications has put the kibbosh on the album, and it's lead-off single "Radio Nowhere," a scathing attack on you-know-what, due to Springsteen's often outspoken views on politics and society. Of course, the alleged memo claims, stations could continue to play the shit out of "Born to Run."
Is it because of Springsteen's left-leaning political stances? Is is because his latest single is about how much radio sucks these days? Or is it because he's older than dirt? Whatever the reason, it certainly hasn't stopped him from selling albums. Or concert tickets.
Some stations are indeed playing it. According to Radio and Records' airplay charts, the song is currently #3 on Adult Alternative-formatted stations, and #22 on rock formats. You'd think that at least a few stations are playing it.
But something doesn't smell right. And something even tells me not to trust anything coming from FOX Nuisance. And I'm not one to jump to conclusions either. I'd rather take my time and be accurate. What I found is that Clear Channel did not send out a memo, or at least that's what they're saying:
MYTH: Clear Channel Radio directed its stations not to play music from Bruce Springsteen’s “Magic” CD.Gotta love Clear Channel for having their very own debunking page. They also claim that they did not boycott Madonna and Rage Against The Machine due to their political comments, and that it was Cumulus that banned the Dixie Chicks, not them. They also claim to have not banned Tom Petty's The Last DJ, which was essentially a vicious tirade against the radio and music industries, and John Lennon's Imagine.
FACT: Although Clear Channel owns only 8% of the radio stations in the U.S., in the first days after the CD's release, airplay of music from the disc on Clear Channel Radio stations represented a full 21% of the total radio airplay in the U.S., including airplay from satellite radio. That's according to airplay stats from Mediabse (sic). Further, Clear Channel Radio stations played music from the CD more than twice as much as the nearest radio broadcaster, which came in at less than 10% of total U.S. airplay.
Now, claims such as the ones purported by FAUX News deserve to be investigated. Actually, anything reported by them deserves looking into, but I've said that many times before. And if Clear Channel was going to blackball Springsteen for his politics, they're 35 years too late. Everybody knows what Springsteen's about. Or didn't they ever listen to Nebraska?
So, I decided to see if there was any truth to this, and decided to take a look at the radio trade sites and see for myself. Of the 'active rock' and 'mainstream rock' stations that Clear Channel owns, none are reporting any airplay of Springsteen's new album. Then again, these stations are oriented more toward current hard-rock, so you'll be more likely to hear the latest from Korn or Megadeth. The lone exception is WDVE in Pittsburgh, which is actually playing "Radio Nowhere." It is currently #3 on the station's playlist.
To make things even more confusing, there is another rock format designed for the older folks. It's primarily called Adult Album Alternative, or 'Triple A' or just 'AAA.' This is one of the only radio formats still around that are friendly to older musical artists. Clear Channel owns four stations airing this format - KBCO in Denver, KTCZ in Minneapolis, KZPS in Dallas and KPTL in Des Moines. All four are playing the new Springsteen album, and some are even playing a few other cuts in addition to "Radio Nowhere."
So, what about Clear Channel's classic rock stations? Ah hah! One would think that a format that plays the death out of Born in the USA would be ideal for the latest offering from The Boss, right? Wrong. Seems they'd rather remind us how young our favorite rockers used to be, rather than how old they are now. Some of the rumors about the alleged Springsteen memo claim it was directed at these very stations. Maybe they did get the memo, because it looks like those stations aren't touching it, save for maybe WAXQ in New York. Then again, most classic rock stations resemble the movie Children of Men, where they live in a world where nothing has been born for 18 years or so. For many of these stations, the last album ever released was U2's The Joshua Tree in 1987. Heaven forbid they even acknowledge this century! Now you're just asking too damn much.
Just for a comparison, I did search of some of their classic rock stations and and their playlists to see if they were playing any other new offerings from other high-profile classic rock staples, to see if they were indeed singling out Springsteen. In the past few months, John Mellencamp, Paul McCartney, John Fogerty and The Eagles have released notable new product. Of all these releases, only Fogerty's new one is getting airplay on classic rock radio, albeit on only one Clear Channel outlet, WNRQ in Nashville. I should also mention that WNRQ did do perhaps one of the strangest segues in rock radio history this morning, when the went from Van Halen's "You Really Got Me" into Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Ouch!
So, this little bit o' research showed me that Springsteen doesn't seem to be ostracized by The Monolith due to his stances. It's likely due to his age. In fact, any new product from any artist over the age of 50 is being avoided like leprosy! On friggin' classic rock stations! On radio stations that would rather play the same REO Speedwagon and Foghat hits over and over again! Blasphemy!
Now, it would be a different story if these guys were putting out shit, like Styx currently does. Or were washed-up bands that likely don't even have any original members left. But we're talking about artists who have put out very strong recent product that has gotten a lot of press. McCartney, unhappy at the way his label has been marketing his newer stuff, left EMI after almost 45 years to sign with a label owned by Starbucks, and over the past decade has put out perhaps the strongest, most consistent stuff in his entire solo career. With little airplay, his new album has sold over half a million copies. Yesterday, the Eagles released their first studio album in 28 years. Fogerty made peace with Fantasy Records, got back the rights to his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits after 35 years and has gotten rave reviews for his newest release. He's actually happy now.
Yet you likely won't be hearing any of that stuff on your local classic rock outlet, owned or not owned by Clear Channel. Hey, they didn't play the latest offerings from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones either. And that's a shame.
It's gotten so dire that these guys, in search of any kind of airplay, have resorted to alternative venues. McCartney licensed a song for a Lexus commercial a couple years ago and is angling for airplay at the local Starbucks. Mellencamp also licensed his latest hit single, in this case to sell Chevys. Dylan is doing a radio show for Sirius Satellite Radio. The Eagles took matters into their own hands and released their new album on their own through Wal-Mart.
Meanwhile, commercial rock stations are torturing us with crap like Nickleback, a band that basically releases the same song over and over again.
And they wonder why we don't listen to radio as much anymore.
So, what about this memo business? I'm guessing that it isn't what it seems. If Clear Channel were to banish every left-leaning musical act from their stations, all that would be left is country (though minus the Chicks, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and now Merle Haggard(!!!)) and talk radio. So that's a losing proposition there. Sounds to me like yet another FOX Noise gossip trying to stir up shitstorms.
Clear Channel deserves to be raked over fiery hot coals in hell for many things, and they certainly do for not giving The Boss the airplay he so rightfully deserves. And for dumbing down their crappy radio programming for the many listeners who are much smarter than they assume.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
You may or may not know that Bruce Springsteen has a new album out, one in which he reunites with his E Street Band. The new release is called Magic, and it is currently the #1 selling album in the country. Since its release on October 2, it has sold more than 500,000 copies. In this day and age, that's pretty good. In addition, critics are raving about it. Rolling Stone gave it a rare 5-star rating, and even Pitchfork Media kinda sorta liked it, and they hate everything.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Long before Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and their ilk tried to frighten people into voting Republican, and long before FOX Noise claimed that al Qaeda operatives set the recent Southern California wildfires, a different type of fearmongering took place on our nation's airwaves. But this one was played as an ingenious dramatic hoax. And unlike the feeble attempts of today's propagandist blowhards, a 22-year old actor/producer/director named Orson Welles really did scare the hell out of people.
In honor of Halloween, and the 69th anniversary of a very infamous broadcast, I'd like to share a little story.
The date was October 30, 1938. The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a theatre company headed by Welles and John Houseman, had already done a variety of high-brow dramatic radio presentations for CBS, mostly based on classic and contemporary literature. Adapted titles up to that point inlcuded Bram Stoker's Dracula, A Tale of Two Cities, The Magnificent Ambersons (which Welles later turned into a film) and Heart of Darkness, to name a few. Stars included Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead and others. The music for the show was composed by CBS staff conductor Bernard Herrmann, who later went on to become perhaps the greatest film scorer in history with Welles' Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Vertigo and North By Northwest, and his last film, 1976's Taxi Driver, on his impressive resume.
Unfortunately, as with many other brilliant shows since, there wasn't that much interest. The Mercury Theatre, which had no sponsor at the time, was moved to Monday nights opposite one of the top shows on the air, The NBC Red Network's Chase and Sanborn Hour, featuring Edgar Bergen and his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy. Yes, they was getting their asses kicked by a radio ventriloquist! Obviously, Welles and company needed to kick it up a notch.
For the Halloween broadcast, the same troupe that had done stage adaptations of Shakespeare's works set in Facist Italy and the Carribean (complete with an all-black cast) decided to adapt H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a book about a Martian invasion, in a totally different style - it was to be in the form of a live news bulletin, complete with a faux music program being interrupted by announcer cut-ins, reporters on the scene, sounds of ham radio operators and interviews with fictitious government officials, including a phony Secretary of the Interior who sounded a lot like President Roosevelt, all relaying a Martian attack on New Jersey. Keep in mind that, at a time when Hitler and Mussolini had banded together and started their march over Europe, people everywhere were a bit timid.
To his credit, Welles did announce at the beginning of the show that this was all just a dramatic presentation. Obviously, he knew that most radio listeners were tuned to the radio ventriloquist, and probably did a little channel surfing over to his show during musical numbers and commercials. He made sure the first pseudo-report at the 12 minute mark, about the time that the aliens had allegedly started to emerge from their spacecraft. After that, distraught reporters on the broadcast relayed the news of aliens blasting bridges and buildings and releasing poisonous gas in the air.
"2X2L calling CQ ... Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there ... anyone?"Voice of ham radio operator in The War of the Worlds
Keep in mind that in the early days of radio, people hadn't ever heard anything like this. Even though most of the voices of the Mercury Theatre were well-known (Welles was the star of the popular radio drama The Shadow), most thought that we really were being invaded, particularly with all of the paranoia involving the growing Nazi threat in Europe. While the broadcast was in progress, residents in northeastern cities went outside to ask their neighbors what was happening. As the story was repeated by word of mouth, rumours began to spread, and these rumours caused quite a bit of panic.
The curious quickly started to descend on Grovers Mill, New Jersey, the site of the alleged Martian landing. Eventually police were sent to the area to help control the crowds. To people arriving later in the evening, the scene really did look like the events being narrated on the radio broadcast, with panicked crowds and flashing police lights streaming across the masses. All that was really missing was the sight of Martians incinerating people with death-rays.
The switchboard at CBS lit up. The police and the media were befuddled over the realism of the fake news bulletins. There were instances of panic scattered throughout the US as a result of the broadcast, especially in New York and New Jersey. It was estimated that roughly 6 million had tuned in to the broadcast at one point or another, and about a third of them believed it was true.
In Newark more than 20 families wrapped their faces in wet towels to save themselves from the gas raid, tied up traffic with their calls for gas masks, inhalators, ambulances, police rescue squads...While a doughty little band of Princeton scientists set out to investigate the reported catastrophe, in Harlem the godly gathered in prayer. Eight hundred and seventy-five panic-stricken people phoned the New York Times alone."Boo!" Time Magazine, November 7, 1938
At the end of the broadcast, Welles broke character to remind listeners again that it was all just a dramatization. As per the Howard Koch-penned script, this was done several times during the broadcast.
The broadcast made front page news the next few days. Needless to say, in the aftermath of the program, the people who fell for it were rather livid. CBS defended Welles, claiming that there were disclaimers throughout the broadcast. They did, however promise never to do anything like that again. The FCC investigated starting the next day. Some in Congress demanded that the government exert more control over radio content. In the aftermath, broadcasters have become more careful about what they say and do over the airwaves. Well, not entirely.
And Welles and his cohorts went on to much bigger things. They immediately got a sponsor in the form of Campbell's Soup, and RKO Pictures wooed Welles and the Mercury Theatre to Hollywood, where they stirred up even more controversy by making Citizen Kane, regarded by many as the greatest film ever made.
Today, the Mercury Theatre's broadcast of The War of the Worlds has gone down in history as the most remembered of all the old radio dramas. In 1988, West Windsor Township, where Grovers Mills is located, held a "Martian festival" to commemorate the broadcast, and even erected a monument on the site of the alleged invasion. Every Halloween, many noncommercial radio stations and theater troupes still reenact the broadcast. Likely, there may be one in your town.
Sixty-nine years later, it is still an amazing broadcast, and even sent shivers up my spine when I first heard it years ago. For your listening pleasure, I present to you below, the Mercury Theatre's original broadcast of The War of the Worlds.
You can also download the broadcast directly from the Internet Archive (low bitrate) or at the Mercury Theatre website (higher bitrate). For a different experience, try King Daevid MacKenzie's version, which edits together both the Mercury Theatre broadcast and the Chase and Sanborn Hour, approximating the sequence that many had originally heard when flipping around the dial.
So, kick back, turn off the lights and enjoy. Even to this day, it's capable of sending goosebumps up and down your spine. Imagine the impact it had back in 1938.
Friday, October 26, 2007
"Sammy and Army" are history.
Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams, the morning show hosts at WWRL (1600AM) in New York, exit the station, in a programming overhaul. The two hosted their last show yesterday.
Former Air America Radio personality Mark Riley and current WWRL nighttime host Richard Bey will take over mornings effective Monday. Program director Rennie Bishop calls the move a "creative redirection."
Both Riley and Bey are New York radio veterans. Riley was a longtime personality at WLIB prior to joining Air America, from their debut in March 2004 until this past August. Bey was formerly at WABC radio until starting at WWRL in August. He has also done fill-in work at Sirius Left. And yes, he did host that talk show back in the 90s.
The "Sammy and Army" show was often controversial among Air America fans. Listeners mostly took exception to the 'conservative half' of the duo, Armstrong Williams, who was most notably caught in a scam involving some suspect dealings with the Bush administration. Williams had to fork over $34,000 to settle his case with the Department of Justice when it was discovered that he accepted $240,000 in payments from the Bush administration to tout their 'No Child Left Behind' act on his TV and radio shows. According to USA Today, Williams was hired "to promote the law... and to urge other black journalists to do the same." When the whole matter was disclosed, he lost his TV show and the White House turned its back on him. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington claimed the deal was illegal, as the federal government is forbidden from funding propaganda broadcast within the United States.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was doing a little Googling yesterday afternoon, and lo and behold, I ran across this little item from CBS' Public Eye blog. The headline ponders whether 'extremist' Air America is toning down. Uhh... "Extremist?"
At first, I was going to chuck it aside, along with all the other useless blog posts slagging the little network that could (or couldn't, depending on which side one's bread is buttered). But it was CBS, so I figured there must be a point to all of this.
CBS Blogger Matthew Felling referenced the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, on an item about a couple local stations that recently added the network's programming. One quote about Air America stood out to Felling:
"I do think the liberal programming that has occurred here has been far too extremist… It's not our job to get a Democrat elected to Congress. We need to be funny, we need to be enjoyable, and I don't think that existed at this company three years ago."
The source of the quote? Would you believe Air America VP of Programming David Bernstein? He was referring to the new direction the network is heading in, as they formulate plans to get Air America programming onto more stations. The goal is to bring it to the masses. We saw the first step back in April when he hired Lionel.
Nonetheless, a comment such as this from one of the guys running the network is sure to raise eyebrows. It also runs the risk of raising the ire of the network's loyal listeners.
Felling sought out Talkers Magazine's Michael Harrison (as most media people do in these instances) for his take on Bernstein's comments. “I think Bernstein was smart to say it," Harrison said. "...These other people buy it at a bargain price and realize that it has negative brand identification. Saying Air America Radio doesn’t get you anywhere – it actually hurts you. So it’s smart of Bernstein to say what he’s saying, that they’re going to run an entertaining and progressive programming schedule that fits in more with the mainstream audience."
Harrison added, “It was far too politically motivated and not motivated to gather an audience and generate revenue. It just wasn’t a good business plan. They ran it like a campaign, rather than a broadcasting company.”
“It’s about entertainment. It’s about being a compelling speaker and attracting people to listen. Some political content, sure. And some story telling. Along with charisma. It’s an elusive mix of traits that makes for good radio.”
“The biggest problem that the original Air America had was that it was trying to knock off conservative talk show hosts, when they should have presented their own vision of America. That would be like watching HBO’s “Inside the NFL” and seeing them talked about what’s wrong with baseball, or why you shouldn’t watch baseball.”
Felling himself felt the network was catering too much to 'engaged activist liberals.' By targeting this audience, he claims, Air America ended up turning off other liberals searching for not only good left-oriented content, but also entertaining material, not the gloomy stuff they got with the old regime. Felling says that the 'strident stuff' should be kept to blogs, and that the average folk tuning into stations in the car want something a bit less vitriolic.
What do I think of all this? Believe it or not, I think they're all spot on.
Bernstein is a longtime radio guy, the type of person Air America should have hired long ago. Politics means little to him. In a business as cutthroat and vicious as radio, an upstart syndicator like Air America needs people like this. Stepping in to run a business in an unfamiliar industry is not as simple as it may seem, no matter how much money they have to burn.
Let's face it, as an agitprop tool, talk radio is not all that effective. One look at Radio Martí, a U.S. government-supported $1 billion per year propaganda sinkhole that succeeds solely in being jammed in their target market of Cuba, shows this. And many right-wingers overstate the current importance of Limbaugh, Hannity, et. al. to their side. They're really not that big a factor. If one were to add up the ratings shares of all the conservative talk stations in America, they'd see that at most, only about 4-5% of the American population really listens to it. That means 95% or so could care less about what they have to say. Of course, the numbers are drastically lower for left-leaning radio. In short, political radio on both sides is really just about preaching to their own choirs, so if they're trying to brainwash the public, they're all doing a pretty lousy job of it.
So, what is the purpose of progressive talk radio anyway? And why the hell do I have this silly little blog? Well, as I've said many times, Air America took the wrong approach when they started up in 2004. The network's founders reportedly had an initial goal of trying to get their people elected to office. Well, that only goes so far in syndicated radio.
In the run-up to their debut, I cringed when I heard what Air America's mission was. They obviously didn't understand what talk radio was all about. They did it all wrong. Doing bully-pulpit talk radio, while working little to gain the listeners' trust, is just plain foolish. At least Ed Schultz had the right idea when he created a left-leaning show that was geared more toward the mainstream. Sure, the activist core probably doesn't like him much, but he appeals to Joe Sixpack in middle America, and quite frankly, that's much more effective. Why preach to the converted?
To their credit, Air America at least sought out entertainers, comedians and writers, to bring a little comedy element to the programming. They also signed a few radio veterans, such as Randi Rhodes, who had a very popular show in Florida, and Rachel Maddow, who was an up-and-comer in Vermont. But radio is a tough venue for people that don't possess the skills required. Sure, Marc Maron and Sam Seder became good at it. But Janeane Garafalo, Marty Kaplan and Lizz Winstead fell by the wayside. And so did Al Franken.
The network as a whole eventually became more about the message than the medium. The funny people became either bitter or boring, and many of the laughs went bye-bye. Some Air America personalities, such as Maddow and Thom Hartmann, were experienced enough in the medium to forge ahead and create their own brand of compelling radio. But other shows seemed to cater more to activists and bloggers than to people who listen to the AM band. The network's sponsors were usually drawn from the ranks of politically-oriented organizations, rather than Fortune 500 companies, and ads often included rather scathing political messages. As a whole, Air America became more about activism than radio. And even some affiliates, such as ones owned by Clear Channel, played this up in their promotions, on-air presentation and imaging in a rather cynical and condescending way.
Meanwhile, Schultz and the entertainment-oriented Stephanie Miller were pulling in blue chip advertisers, with the help of a syndicator that was more interested in radio than politics. Both personalities have arguably become bigger successes than Air America. Why is that? Well, they focused on being entertaining in their own right. They target the mainstream, and in return, their shows have experienced widespread distribution by stations that wouldn't dare touch anything related to Air America. This is understandable. Radio station owners are in the business of making money, not donating bully pulpits. That's the nature of the business.
In addition, much of Air America's desired market is likely listening to public radio, which does an amazing job of presenting in-depth news, culture and features without the shouting and demagoguery. Unlike the other side of the political spectrum that heavily consumes AM talk radio, we don't need to be preached to, but we like to be informed, educated and entertained by something unique.
In order to keep the listeners coming back, or to attract desired younger listeners, the programming has to be compelling. To just appeal to a very small base of passionate politically-active people is not commercially viable. Besides, these passionate people will be the first to turn on them, as they did when Sam Seder was replaced by Lionel. This is a tough crowd to satisfy. Meanwhile, the average radio listener often could care less.
And if the goal of Air America is to influence people, they should aim more for the mainstream, rather than rely on a small, devoted base. Salem Communications makes this mistake with their conservotalk outlets, and the result is a bunch of stations with crappy ratings and weak revenue.
Talk radio, as I've said time and time again, is something we listen to for entertainment and information. It used to be more informative, back in the days when we relied on it to learn about what was happening in the world around us. It also used to be entertaining, before all the pathetic attention grabs and shock jock cliches. Talk radio is ripe for something compelling, something that truly breaks the mold. In order to thrive in this kind of environment, one has to understand that. Running a radio network as a campaign tool was a foolhardy notion. Air America needed to be something completely different.
In the three and a half years since Air America has taken to the air, it has been beaten up, ripped apart, laughed at, ridiculed, derided and generally ignored. A lot of that is right-wing bloviating, but there is some truth to the accusations. But while I have often been critical of Air America's approaches, I do admire that they're still kicking. They could have easily dropped off the grid by now, but they kept coming back. In helping to establish an entirely new format, it's easy to become radio roadkill, like CBS' fizzled "Free FM" concept did. Keep in mind that Free FM had big FM signals in large markets and deep pockets at their disposal. Air America, and the progressive talk format in general, is forced to slug it out mostly on tiny 1,000 and 5,000 watt AM peashooters that haven't showed up in the ratings since the pre-FM days of the 60s and 70s when they had actual deejays spinnin' stacks o' wax. In short, stations that a large percentage of their target market has either forgotten about or never heard of. No matter what airs on these signals, that's a tough task. The fact that they were even able to pull one shares on many of these signals is nothing short of astonishing.
Yes, Air America Radio still exists. And they seem to be growing, slowly but surely. But they still have a long way to go. Much of their programming is top-heavy with serious issue-oriented shows that few care about. But they at least have been seeking out actual radio people to assist in the road to eventual success. Air America should first and foremost be a radio company, as this is the medium they are targeting. They should stop bending over backward to please a small and fickle target market. Leave that to Pacifica, Democracy Now and the netcasters. The target of a mainstream radio network should indeed be the mainstream. Let the political stuff take care of itself.
Quite frankly, I'd like to listen to a funny and enjoyable liberal talk network. Let's hope Air America becomes that.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Who listens to what on satellite radio?
The answer to that question became clearer yesterday when radio ratings service Arbitron released the first-ever ratings report covering the individual channels of XM and Sirius during the Spring 2007 ratings period. Here, all the individual channels go up against each other, on a rather level playing field, and provides a rather interesting glimpse at the listening habits of subscribers. There were some obvious outcomes and a few surprises.
Not surprisingly, Sirius' Howard Stern came out on top of the heap. "Howard 100" was the most-listened to satellite radio channel of them all, and the only channel on Sirius to break 1 million listeners in cume, with over 1.2 million listeners total. The average quarter hour (AQH) audience, which is the average number of people listening every 15 minutes and is the main measure used in those 12+ ratings reports Arbitron releases publically, was 96,700. "Howard 100" is one of two channels devoted to him on Sirius, and is mostly a replay of his daily radio show. Behind it is "Howard 101," which consists of a delayed West Coast feed of his show, as well as other hosts including Bubba the Love Sponge and Scott Ferrall. "Howard 101" came in with 502,000 total cume and 30,700 AQH.
XM's only channel to break the 1 million mark was their "Top 20 on 20" hits channel. Further down on the XM rankings was their flagship morning show, the oft-controversial Opie and Anthony, which airs on "The Virus" (XM202), and is partially syndicated in a much tamer version by CBS Radio. They pulled in 216,800 cume/20,800 AQH, still good to make the top 10 overall in satellite radio. By comparison, "XM Comedy" does twice that.
Music programming was strong for both services, with Top 40 hits, country and decades channels finishing especially high. Sirius also hit well with niche channels consisting of 50s hits, heavy metal and classic country. XM's biggest performers were mostly standard radio formats like hits, adult contemporary and new country, though "Willie's Place," which plays old time country, is one of the provider's most popular channels.
As for other talk radio, XM's "Talk Radio," which has recently undergone a great deal of shuffling, is tops, with a 154,000 cume/8700 AQH. The channel features Coast to Coast AM, Bruce Williams, Dave Ramsey, Glenn Beck and others. "America Right," which features conservatives such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, nabbed 132,400 cume/5000 AQH. XM167, which is home to Air America Radio, Ed Schultz, Mike Malloy and others, finished very close behind in cume, with 109,600, but ranks significantly higher than "Right" in AQH, with 7200. Oprah Winfrey's channel is slotted in between the two in cume, but has a rather low AQH. "FOX News Talk," which consists of the radio shows of everyone's favorite FOX Noise blowhards, was much farther behind, with 64,000 cume. In short, about the same as they do on terrestrial radio, which is rather dismal. The audio feed of the TV cable channel did significantly better on both providers.
On Sirius, "Sirius Left" (59,100/3000) tops both the right-wing "Sirius Patriot" (46,800/1700) and "FOX News Talk" (29,800/800). NPR does well with their two dedicated channels, pulling in 82,600 cume and 1400 AQH.
Overall, XM has a weekly cume of 10,332,900, while Sirius has a cume of 6,595,000. The satellite ratings were for persons ages 12+, based on approximately 466,000 in 300 markets during the Spring ratings period (April-June). Granted, some may take exception at Arbitron's rather outdated survey methods, but until something better comes along (Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM), perhaps?), this is what we've got.
Top 10 lists for each provider (and total) can be found on MediaWeek's site in a PDF here. You can see how each individual channel did at Radio-Info, in a rather concise PDF.
Monday, October 22, 2007
NOTE: This entry will be updated as necessary.
They say it wouldn't happen. Evidently, all those affirmations and violated voodoo dolls must have convinced them that Air America Radio was dead.
Ehhh... not so fast.
Sure, it's been an uphill climb for Air America. It still is. Helping to build a new talk radio format practically from scratch is not a task for the timid. But rumors of the network's demise are currently unfounded. In fact, they issued a press release today announcing eleven new affiliates, in areas such as Washington, DC, Tampa, Tuscon, the Pennsylvania Poconos and even the capital of Alaska.
Granted, they're not all flamethrowers. Some of these stations are located in the middle of nowhere or broadcast with less power than a vacuum cleaner. But let's be real here - most of the big 50,000 watt big city torches are already doing well, and have no incentive to change their programming. It's likely that some of these new affiliates may only carry one or two shows. But the signing of these new affiliates does get their product on more stations, and that's never a bad thing. And after losing one station (KOKE in Austin was sold to a Spanish-language broadcaster who installed his own format) and soon to lose two more (KLSD in San Diego and KRFT in St. Louis, a mixed-bag talk station that will flip to sports in January), they could use a few in the plus column.
A few of the listed stations are already airing programming from the network. KJLL (1330AM) in Tucson, Arizona has carried Stephanie Miller for awhile, recently added Ed Schultz and are now airing Randi Rhodes at night. They also carry Dr. Laura, Tammy Bruce, Alan Colmes and infomercials.
The new 3WT is a three-station simulcast in the Washington, DC area. The station broadcasts via three signals, in Washington (1500AM), Warrentown, Virginia (107.7FM) and Frederick, Maryland (820AM). The new talk format launched late last month, and the programming covers the whole ideological spectrum. Rhodes holds down afternoon drive, and Bill O'Reilly and Neal Boortz are on as well. 3WT will soon grab Jones MediaAmerica's Stephanie Miller from weak-powered rival WWRC, which as of late has been more keen on adding brokered financial-related shows to the roster.
The other new additions include:
WTAN (1340AM), located in Clearwater, Florida and WDCF (1350AM), located northeast of Tampa. Both are locally co-owned, and supposedly heavy on paid programming. There is a third signal that was part of the simulcast, WZHR (1400AM), which overlaps with WDCF, but whether they are still part of this arrangement is unknown. On Monday, Tampa native Lionel was added on delay from 9PM to midnight weekdays, and they are negotiating to add Randi Rhodes' show in November. Other Air America programming could be used as filler for time slots that haven't been brokered out. These stations are not highly regarded in the Tampa Bay area, and it almost seems like yet another example of an eccentric local owner who relies mostly on brokered airtime and quick fix formats. The Gulf Coast of Florida is full of stations such as this, and they often tend not to be the most reliable affiliates. They also pull in very little as far as ratings are concerned. We shall see...
Incidentally, one reader claims that the Tampa Bay combo actually airs a fitness show that broadcasts live from a nudist resort. Not sure how that plays on radio, but hey, at least it's different.
KXLJ (1330AM) is a new sign-on in Juneau, Alaska, pumping out 10,000 watts across the tundra. The resident caribou and moose were obviously tired of sports talk. How much Air America figures into the station's programming is unknown.
Ditto for KKEE (1230AM) in Astoria, Oregon, located northwest of Portland. As of today, they are currently running a sports talk format, though this will obviously change.
WBDB (92.7FM) is licensed to Ogdensburg, New York. Air America claims the station serves Watertown, but it really doesn't. As of late, the station has been simulcasting a Top 40 sister that actually is in Watertown. No idea what they plan on doing with the Air America programming.
WVPO (840AM) Stroudsburg and WPLY (960AM) Mount Pocono are both in Pennsylvania. Like many radio concerns, Air America stretched the truth a bit about what market these stations serve. They claim that they're in the Philadelphia market, but that's wishful thinking. Both cover the Poconos, which is roughly 60 miles north of Philly, and these stations have a much greater chance of reaching Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and northern New Jersey. Both of these stations, which simulcast and run a syndicated talk format, are owned by Nassau Broadcasting, which dropped progressive talk from WLVP in Portland, Maine in June, switching to sports talk. Incidentally, WLVP could possibly return to something similar to their previous format when their ESPN Radio contract expires next summer, since Nassau plans to switch two other signals in the market to simulcast Boston sports talker WEEI.
Keep in mind that any station that carries any Air America programming is considered an 'affiliate.' This is common practice in the industry. ESPN Radio, FOX Sports and others do this too. Initially, the idea was to persuade affiliates to take the whole lineup. When they realized that very few stations were willing to do that, they began offering shows ala carte, which is the method most syndicators use.
As for what shows these stations will carry, or when they will add Air America programming, that is not known, save for KJLL and 3WT. The stations that do have websites do not seem to update them. If there are any listeners in these areas that know what's going on, drop an email and let us know. I'll pass it along.
Friday, October 19, 2007
"Did something happen to me?"
That's how Randi Rhodes opened her show yesterday. After three days recovering from a mysterious fall, she explained that she really didn't know what happened to her.
"I was watching football in an Irish pub," she told listeners. "I went out to smoke a cigarette, and the next thing I knew I was down on the cement, face down, bleeding."
In short, she didn't really know.
"I don't know if someone hit me from behind, or if I fainted because I hadn't eaten all day," Rhodes said.
"My fall wasn't broken by my hand, but by my face and a steel grate on the concrete," she said.
Being out of it, and knowing that she was in no condition to work for at least a few days, she didn't know what to tell her employers. After all, she didn't know what happened, and she was a bit hazy. But she had to tell them something. So she fired off an email stating that she was mugged, just to make things less complicated. Hopefully, she thought, it would all just be left at that. Hey, maybe she was mugged. Who knows?
You can listen to the audio of the first segment below:
"I don't know how or why the story grew to me being brutally beaten or attacked," she claimed. Rhodes did not file a police report.
Likely, Rhodes did not mean for all of this craziness to happen. Who would really wish for this? For the past several days, she has had to deal with a crowd of paparazzi and reporters outside her apartment building, making it difficult for her to even leave her home. When she did, it was to go through long days of doctor examinations and dental reconstruction, including four emergency root canals. There were also questions about the state of her eye. Needless to say, she was very angry at the media, who she claimed never even asked if she was okay. She saw them as people who wanted to harass her and infiltrate her apartment building to snap pictures of her injuries. Some went so far as to harass the doorman, asking the whereabouts of a 'secret lift' to her floor. Obviously, she was not cool with that.
Then again, sometimes people can be so cruel.
Yes, believe it or not, the compassionate conservatives on the other side of the fence are obviously really concerned about her accident. The sarcasm is intended. In place of concern, the squakers on that side were formulating conspiracy theories, trying to portray themselves as victims, and spinning humongous piles of bullshit. So much for compassion.
Lemme give you an example about another talk show host, formulating made-up theories about what happened to Rhodes on Sunday night. Most of what was said was mere speculation and politically-charged attacks.
No, I'm not talking about Jon Elliott, who made the mistake of throwing out mere speculation on his opinion-oriented talk show. I already did in three previous entries. This time, I'm talking about Tammy Bruce. Yes, this so-called conservative was among the many forwarding ridiculous conspiracy theories backed by the flimsiest of proof. Funny, isn't that what they're accusing the left of doing?
As the cons chastised the left-leaning media and blogosphere, they came up with their own unproven rumors and lies, just to attack us for using unproven rumors and lies. Is your head spinning yet? Even after Elliott issued an apology (which is something we rarely see with the cons), they still call us liars and hatemongers.
Believe it or not, some of these rabid righties were actually claiming that Rhodes got shit-faced drunk on Bloody Marys and passed out on the street, Jenna Bush-style. Their so-called credible source on this? This little item, based on an anonymous comment on Gawker.com. Now, I should explain to you, Gawker is essentially a Manhattan gossip site, with quite a generous splash of parody. Think TMZ meets The Onion. The Gawker group also publishes the oft-hilarious political blog Wonkette. Recent stories include silly items about various New York celebrities and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's cleavage.
But if these morons who tried to float this turd of a theory would actually stop and think for a second, they'd realize that guzzling fourteen Bloody Marys, a concoction consisting of vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire's sauce, Tabasco sauce, horseradish and whatever else your friendly neighborhood bartender decides to throw in is nearly impossible for normal human beings. Don't believe me? Why don't you try it yourself? Hell, I can't do two without my stomach burning with the intensity of a forest fire. If I, or anyone else, wanted to just get blottoed, wouldn't it just be easier to skip all the other stuff and just do shots? Or dry martinis? Yet common sense, in this case, does not make for a half-assed conservative spin job.
Some of these goons were even claiming it was all just a ratings stunt, without furthering any kind of proof. Tin foil hat, anyone?
The rest were merely crying like babies, naturally, feigning mock outrage that anyone on the right has the audacity to blame one of their own for the attack, as if they all have some sort of moral purity. Furthermore, most of these blogs linked here spun their own stories, using suspect sourcing, and creating their own fiction along the way. In short, they are lying to you, the same thing they accused us of doing. I guess two wrongs make a right, huh?
So essentially, these people attack us for engaging in speculation and pointing fingers, based on a suspect source, yet they do the same exact thing. While we here on the evil, subversive left side of the blogosphere are getting a dressing-down by those high n' mighty wingnut bloggers for jumping the gun too fast on that Randi Rhodes story, they obviously
feel they have carte blanche to make their own shit up.
You have got to be freaking kidding me here!
Needless to say, wingnuts were all over their own half-assed conspiracy theories like herpes sores on Ann Coulter. Yes, indeed - the same holier-than-thous who spent the morning wagging fingers at the left side of the blogosphere for citing a radio show host were getting their information from some guy who leaves a comment on the website. And they feel justified to use silly sources and just pass off their own speculation as 'truth.' Are you shittin' me?
But I guess I'm not all that shocked anymore by all this immature and hypocritical behavior by our counterparts on the extreme right. Let's face it - most of them are cowards, pussies, wimps, whiners and crybabies. Many of these feeble-minded asshats are pretty brazen about being utter hypocrites. But it sure as hell takes a lot of chutzpah from the 24% to be so outlandish. They claim to all be pro-business and pro-free enterprise, yet have spent the past three plus years sticking pins in their Air America voodoo dolls. In their eyes, only conservatives can take advantage of our country's freedoms. Yet they throw hissy fits when we call them facists.
They endlessly blast organizations such as Media Matters for America as being hate-filled liars clubs, yet they have their own versions that do the exact same thing, and have done it for longer. In fact, Brent Bozell's Newsbusters, which is allegedly the right-wing version of MMfA, can't even quote me right! Want proof? Compare the screengrab to the right to the entry it links to. Essentially, these conservative sissies endlessly attack and attack, yet bawl like brats and call us hatemongers when we retaliate. See the pattern here?
Of course, I'll probably be on a few of these losers' shit lists, as they feign mock outrage at the audacity of any of our ilk insulting them in any way. So if you are drinking their flavor of Kool-aid (or Bloody Mary mix), here's a note to you: Yes, I am insulting you. You people are dumbshits and hypocrites. You are a bunch of thin-skinned pansies, wimps, cowards and crybabies. If you really are offended by what I wrote, then go back to sucking on your pacifiers. Or go harass those who do.
And yes, you can quote me on that. Just quote me accurately. If you can.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to send my best regards to Randi Rhodes, and say that I am extremely pleased that she seems to be quickly recovering and wish only the best as her life returns to normal.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Fans of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" who were miffed when Viacom/MTV Networks ordered clips of the show pulled down from YouTube are in for a treat. Because the show is coming to the internet in a big way.
At noon EST today, DailyShow.com goes live, presenting nearly the entire video archive of the show for the past nine years.
That translates to over 16,000 video clips that include headlines, correspondent pieces, celebrity guest appearances and classic commentary segments from Lewis Black and Stephen Colbert. The new site will also feature community-oriented features such as message boards. You won't be able to get complete episodes, but those could, for the most part, conceivably be pieced together by those that really feel the need to do so. And since the online archives so far go back only as far as 1999, fans of the show's original host (and there may just very well be), Craig Kilborn, will have to wait until next year, when the first three years of the show are made available.
Clips from the previous night's episode will be posted early the next morning. A timeline feature will help users locate archived clips by date and search tools. Tags based on names of correspondents, guests or even specific subjects (such as "Iraq") will also help in searching out clips
Comedy Central also has plans to roll out a similar site for "The Colbert Report" sometime next year, as well as the network's other programming.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Listeners in Austin, Texas were in for a bit of a shock this afternoon when they dialed up KOKE (1600AM) and found Air America replaced by Mexican music.
Nothing sinister here. As mentioned here a few weeks ago, the station, along with two other AM outlets in the market, were sold by Border Media Partners to Jose J. Garcia. Garcia took control of the three signals on Monday, and evidently installed his own format. Both the progressive talk format and station website are no more.
This has nothing to do with station performance. Ratings, while far from stellar, were probably about as good as they were going to get with that relatively weak signal. It was basically a matter of a new owner doing what he wants to do with the station.
UPDATE: It seems KOKE was not the sole recipient of Garcia's housecleaning. Sister stations KTXZ (1560AM) and KELG (1440AM) also obtained new formats.
I'd also like to send a special shout out to all our visitors from Newsbusters, who were so kind to link here via the snide headline "Even liberal Austin, Texas doesn't like Air America." Hate to break it to ya, but Brent Bozo and company got it wrong again. This move had nothing to do with Air America. It was merely a case of the new owner coming in with his own formats, something that happens quite often in the radio biz. As a matter of fact, KOKE ranked #3 overall among AM stations in the last Arbitron book. That doesn't say much, since AM doesn't do well in Austin, Texas.
So be aware that when you're drinking Bozo's 'Jim Jones Juice,' it does indeed have artificial flavoring.
An open letter to the conservative blogosphere, in regard to the whole Randi Rhodes brewhaha yesterday:
Okay, we screwed the pooch on that one. There appears to be no mugging. No creepy conservative goons lurking in the shadows beating up defenseless women (at least not in this case). We got our information from a credible source, Jon Elliott, who got his own wires crossed and jumped to conclusions on an opinionated talk show. From there, it trickled down to Democratic Underground and Daily Kos, then to Talking Radio and everywhere else. One of your own, Matt Drudge, even linked it.
I put up my initial entry early in the morning. I wasn't so sure about the whole hate crime angle, as there was no suspect, no evidence, and not even a police report. But people were talking about it, so I wrote about it.
Nicole Sandler, morning host at WINZ in Miami, dedicated most of her show to it, as she furiously tried to get confirmation of the incident. The blogosphere exploded with coverage. Hey, many of you guys even believed it, so what does that say?
Once the suits at Air America Radio arrived at work, they quickly issued a press release downplaying the incident, as details were a bit sketchy. Then, reporters at a few New York newspapers made some calls, to the NYPD, Rhodes' lawyer and Air America. There appears to have been no mugging, and things were blown out of proportion. Rhodes was seriously hurt in an accident, but no foul play seems to have taken place.
Later, Elliott himself issued an apology, "I shouldn’t have speculated based on hearsay that Randi Rhodes had been mugged and that it may have been an attack from a right wing hate machine. I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction. I wish Randi nothing but the best and look forward to a speedy recovery." So basically, Elliott, a rather fiery, passionate guy who unfortunately doesn't get a whole lotta love from many on our side since he's still unfairly viewed as The Guy Who Replaced Mike Malloy, acted out of emotion. Obviously he was wrong, but this stuff happens. And yes, many of us admitted we screwed up as well. Personally, I made it a point to do so immediately when I saw the Daily News account.
But this wasn't enough. Oh no. You guys in the conservative blogosphere were crapping mountains with glee, wagging those self-important fingers with false pride about 'dem librulz is lyers.' What one will see, in browsing your various wingnut screech blogs, is a lot of crowing headlines like these:
Randi Rhodes wasn’t mugged, Air America credibility plunges to NYTimes stock-level depths
Air America Radio Host Mugged, Liberals Blame Conservatives
Randi Rhodes: Still Not Mugged Air America: Still Not Credible
Air America: We Just Make It up As We Go Along
Air America’s Hit-job
Air America Lied! Randi Rhodes Not Mugged
Well, gee whiz! Must be nice to be so infallible, huh? And be able to do your own mugging for the public, screaming from the mountaintops that your shit smells like roses? To be the type that never makes a mistake? To be so damn... perfect? By the way - isn't 'pride' one of the Seven Deadly Sins?
Uhh... not so fast. Sure, we fell for this 'Randi got mugged by right-wing lunatic' thing. It sounded somewhat credible, given the amount of harassment often dished out by their kind upon us. We didn't just pull this out of our asses. A few years ago, I was the lucky recipient of death threats myself from some moronic loser named "AZ Joe." Yes, there are some on your side of the fence that are a bit unhinged.
You see, this really does not vindicate you guys, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. At least we came clean about this. I followed up immediately, claiming that I was wrong. The fact that hardly any of you guys have ever apologized for any of the bullshit you've spewed in the past does not translate to some sort of superiority thing. After all, there's a reason your false idol has slipped from a high 90% approval rating all the way down to a third of that. And that you guys are really only trusted by the ones who have already sipped the right-wing Flavor-Aid. In short, you guys have been reduced to mere conservoporn. Shall I count the ways?
We never forwarded lies about 'weapons of mass destruction' to get us in a war that has already killed thousands.
We never falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was in bed with al Qaeda.
We never flasely claimed that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died, as Pajamas Media and Michelle Malkin did. He's still among the living, and since there's been no retraction from any of you, I assume you must still think he's dead. Or just hanging out with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, JFK and Tupac.
We never forwarded phony photos of Sen. John Kerry eating alone in a mess hall. Well, at least some of you guys retracted that.
We never rammed that whole Swift Boat Veterans for Truth bullshit, the purpose of which was to defame decorated American soldiers who aren't Bushbots, down people's throats. Still waiting for an apology there.
We never accused the Associated Press of lying about an Iraqi source, like Michelle Malkin and others did. Malkin said flat out, "I'm not apologizing for anything."
We never claimed former President Clinton sent troops into Somalia, when it was his predecessor that did.
We never forwarded tin-foil hat theories about the Clintons wiretapping Princess Diana.
We never demanded the head of Osama bin Laden, then turned around and forgot who he was.
We never published the names, phone numbers and email addresses of those who disagree with us, then complain about our own invasion of privacy, like Michelle Malkin did. Repeatedly.
We never whined about the New York Times publishing photos of the vacation homes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, even after Rumsfeld's office had given them permission to do so.
We never believed that "Mission Accomplished" bullshit, and never swept it under the rug.
We don't normally call people who disagree with us 'traitors.'
We never bullied and slandered young children that disagree with us.
We never made up stuff to smear Dan Rather. Seeing as Rather is currently suing his former bosses at CBS, this little house of cards you guys built will likely collapse in the coming months.
We never saw a conservative apologize for the behavior of their perverts.
We never accused the media of being terrorist sympathizers.
We never secured false White House press credentials for a barely existing news service under a false name, as former gigolo Jeff Gannon did.
We never took pride in lying.
We never tagged disgraced Republicans as Democrats, like FOX News has done.
We never turned our backs on our own.
Hate to break it to you all, but you guys are far from perfect. By a longshot. Then again, we aren't perfect either. We are mere flesh and bone, prone to mistakes. Being infallible does not make you a good person. Being humble does. It's too bad most of you conservative screechers just don't have the confidence or self-esteem necessary to own up to your own shortcomings. And that has done more to cripple your credibility than admitting a simple fuck-up.
We owned up. How about you?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Maybe we are all guilty of jumping the gun.
Many reports claimed that Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes was a victim of a horrible assault Sunday night near her home on Manhattan's East Side. Nighttime radio host Jon Elliott was first to break the news, claiming that she was mugged. From there, it spread like wildfire across the internet, and especially the blogosphere, like a cyberspace version of the children's game telephone. Now, the story is evolving. It may not have been a mugging after all.
The New York Daily News has just put up a story, citing law enforcement officials and Rhodes' lawyer, claiming that there was no mugging or attack. Newsday also chimed in. What it appears to be now is Rhodes merely fell while walking her Yorkshire terrier, Simon. The fall does appear to be rather serious, she was knocked out and lost a few teeth.
A source from the NYPD claims that Rhodes never filed a report and doesn't intend to, and never claimed to be the victim of a mugging. Authorities from Manhattan's 17th Precinct then called her attorney, who told them Rhodes was not a victim of a crime, the source said.
Rhodes' lawyer told the Daily News she was injured in a fall while walking her dog. He said she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain. The lawyer said Rhodes expects to be back on the air Thursday. He stressed there is no indication she was targeted or that she was the victim of a "hate crime." Air America Radio also tried to play it down earlier this morning, in an official release:
October 16-NEW YORK-On Sunday evening, October 14, Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.I mentioned earlier about the fingers of blame being pointed about, with insecure right-wing bloggers getting hot and bothered about one of their own being fingered for the alleged crime. As I said earlier, when we were all convinced there was a crime, trying to play victim when something like this happens is pretty shameful.
Evidently, what you'll all be seeing now is a parade of right-wing shriekers claiming it was all some sort of publicity stunt, or some sort of conspiracy to demonize their ilk. I have Google Blogsearch open in another tab, and notice hostile shrieker Michelle Malkin has just weighed in. Like anyone cares about the rantings of a hostility-filled psycho house-frau. Sorry, you're not as ideologically pure as you may think.
Still, the speed at which this story spread, in exaggerated fashion, proves just how fast word travels in the age of the internet, blogs, and other modern day communication methods. Yes, and I admit, I was certainly part of it. Welcome to Web 2.0.
Irregardless of what happened, again, best wishes to Ms. Rhodes and a speedy recovery.