Monday, April 20, 2009

The Foxification of the Wall Street Journal and the commerical radio cash grab

Yeah, it's rough out there in radioland.

Radio-advertising revenue is down 9% from last year and doesn't look any better for the rest of the year. Things are so difficult that even commercial radio stations are doing the public radio thing - asking for money directly from listeners, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

And it wouldn't have that right amount of News Corp./WSJ right-wing sheen without a ceremonial first dig at Air America Media. The liberal lightning rod got first mention in this little article about it's proposal to beef up it's membership program. In this proposed new membership program, currently in planning stages, top donors could possibly access to Air America talent and tickets to special events. Lionel could also come to your house and wash your car. Okay, just kidding about that last one.

The Journal sez:

Air America, formerly radio home to comedian and disputed Minnesota Senate-contest winner Al Franken, says it is weighing a fee-based membership program, even though it is on the path to profitability. Charlie Kireker, a Vermont venture capitalist, now heads the company’s board, former Clear Channel Communications Inc. executives are running the business, and fresh programming like a show from Montel Williams is filling out its roster. “Air America has a very passionate audience,” says Chief Executive Bennett Zier. “They want to get more involved.” Mr. Zier says the company would never represent itself as a nonprofit.

Now, Air America's mention (and front and center at that!) in the article is a bit misleading. Air America's new membership programming doesn't sound all that different than similar programs offered by conservojocks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and others, except that it would likely be much cheaper. Does the Wall Street Journal think those guys are begging their listeners for cash? The article makes it seem as if Air America is gunning after NPR, which doesn't appear to be the case.

Most of the article uses various independent radio stations that are soliciting donations directly from listeners, without offering tangible goodies. Now, there's nothing really wrong with that. Mom-and-pop broadcasters are really hurting right now. If the listeners are willing to support them, then more power to 'em. Radio is in quite a slump right now.

But I wonder about the WSJ's motives in writing this article. Perhaps they'll be going the begging route soon?


Mike Schwartz said...

Several of our LTR personalities also offer listener clubs with fees averaging $50-$70 per year like Ed Schultz, Bill Press and Stephanie Miller. I joined Stephanie's club last fall because I find that the show (which doesn't air here in NYC) always makes me laugh. I appreciate having access to the show archives for MP3 download and I overlook the fee as an entertainment expense.

FSL said...

Talk about bias. LT, before you comment on the splinter in the Journal's eye, look to the plank in your own.
(1) You neglect to mention this is not the first time AAR has tried fund raising. Remember three bumper stickers for $50.00.
(2) The article devotes as much attention to an Oldies station in Cambridge and your buddy Zwerling in Santa Cruz. I suppose find some evidence of bias in those choices, too?
(3) The main point of the article is how desperate the financial picture is in radio. That's an observation with which you apparently agree but why pass up a chance to take a cheap shot at anything Rupert Murdock owns.
(4) In your world it's only bias if you don't agree. If you agree, it's THE TRUTH! It's amazing how alike you and Maloney are.

ltr said...


You're wrong (and I always take great pride in saying that).

1. I have mentioned AAR's various fundraising activities. As a frequent stalker of this blog, you should know that.

2. What AAR is doing doesn't have really anything to do with the little stations mentioned. The fact that the article mentions KSCO is merely a coincidence (though I do know that Michael Zwerling is certainly not shy about what's going on at his stations, and, considering that we have both corresponded with each other directly, I can certainly attest to that. All in all, I find him to be a pretty funny guy.

3. I think the article somewhat misses the point on the financial woes of the industry. I merely took their bias to task. And if you think I'm going to shed tears for the cruel things people say about News Corp., think again. I don't think you should either, but we all know what side you butter your bread.

4. This sounds quite amusing coming from someone as biased as you, who likes to accuse everyone else of being wrong just for the sake of propping up your own fragile ego and pitifilly low self-esteem.

Now, if you think you have all the answers, and you are some sort of messiah sent to school the unwashed among us, then let's see what you can do. You already have thirty or so usernames, why not put it to use:

http://www.blogger.comStart your own blog. Fire up that "Radio-Monitor" again. Let's all see the pearls of your wisdom. Hey, maybe you'll get some readers this time. Unless you get your kicks shitting all over everyone else's hard work.

If you take up my little dare, I'll even link to it. See? I can be a cordial guy sometimes.

FSL said...

I commend your cordiality.

I don't think Rupert Murdoch is the devil just because I don't often agree with him. He runs a large number of conservative outlets. That's the product he sells and mostly he does a good job producing and marketing his product.

The Wall Street Journal has long been the voice of the Northeastern, board room, Ivy League, Republican elite. That's their audience. As I keep pointing (although nobody wants to believe it) people go to the media for confirmation, not information.

That said, there is much I can admire in the Journal: Well written. Solid reporting. And it does sometimes challenge its readers to think outside their accustomed mind-set.

Murdoch also owns The Times of London and he has not dumbed it down nor turned it into a right-wing rag. I can also enjoy the outrageous antics of the New York Post in a world in which the MSM is way too pretentious and takes everything way too seriously.

And yes, some more depth and insight into radio's current financial state would have been a plus (I assume some Journal readers must wonder about radio stocks).

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