Well, it looks like the long wait is over. Almost.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's long-running Senate race, paving the way for a resolution in the seven-month fight over the seat.
The high court rejected a legal challenge from Republican Norm Coleman, whose options for regaining the Senate seat are dwindling.
Justices said Franken, a comedian, actor, writer and former Air America Radio talk show host, is entitled to the election certificate he needs to assume office. With Franken and the usual backing of two independents, Democrats will have a big enough majority to overcome Republican filibusters.
Coleman hasn't ruled out seeking federal court intervention.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Well, it looks like the long wait is over. Almost.
The theme for today seems to be arrivals and departures. There's a few of note to readers of this blog. And there were some rather noteworthy departures in the real world during the past week, by now known to all but the most detached cave dwellers.
Going: In the famous celebrity column, the passing most widely reported was that of pop icon Michael Jackson, who died last Thursday at the age of 50. I had started writing a highly elaborate entry about Jackson last week, with the working title of "Thirty-two short stories about Michael Jackson." It was one of those rambling epic articles that would never be finished. Quite frankly, it was destined to be ridiculously long, not overly entertaining, and in some instances, was somewhat mean-spirited (I've never had a soft spot for weird, self-destructive child abusers). Plus, it just didn't make sense for this blog. I felt it better shelved.
A side note: From time-to-time, I have conjured updifferent blog entry ideas that tend to be a bit off-topic. They tend to get rather elaborate, but many times get tossed aside if I just can't make it work. For example, I had an idea for one about philandering right-wingers (called "Young Republicans in love"), which dealt with the promiscuous exploits of Sen. Bob Ensign, South Carolina's disappearing Governor Mark Sanford, and a lesser-known figure, conservative writer, pundit and former radio talker Jessica McBride, who shagged Milwaukee's police chief a few months following a glowing puff piece for a magazine. Ahh, family values. Nonetheless, I had a ton of ideas but really nowhere to go with them. Hence, it, along with many others, suffered the fate of the Beach Boys' legendary Smile LP, an unfinished epic that will never see the light of day in it's originally-intended form (aside from Brian Wilson's update a few years ago and a few Beach Boys recycling projects from the 1960s). And in keeping with that, some of these epic entries do not go wasted. I have been known to return to them and recycle bits and pieces when appropriate.
And yes, many off-topic epic entries actually do see the light of day, such as the recent tribute to the history of television (in honor of DTV Day). Although it was a bit long, it turned out to be so damned funny that I had to share it. I haven't heard from many of you about it, but I do hope you liked it.
We also saw the passing of Farrah Fawcett earlier just a few short hours before Jackson's demise. For children of my generation, she is probably best remembered for The Poster. You know the one, red one-piece swimsuit, flowing blond hair and blinding smile. That poster seemed to be in every auto shop and suburban boy's bedroom. It was one of the most iconic images of the 1970s. It was certainly hard to miss.
Finally, there is perhaps the strangest celebrity death of the past few weeks. Television commercial pitchman Billy Mays suffered a fatal heart attack following a bizarre circumstance. And yet, Kevin Trudeau still walks the earth. Go figure.
Coming: Now, back to the main gist this blog. Air America dropped a line about a new show, “The Inside Story with Ana Marie Cox.” It will air Saturdays at 9A ET and Sundays at 12P ET on Air America affiliates nationwide.
You may be quite familiar with Cox. She is currently Air America’s Washington, D.C. based national correspondent. She is perhaps best known as the founding editor of the political blog, Wonkette. After leaving in 2006, she was named Washington editor of Time.com. Prior to that, she served on the editorial staffs of Suck.com, Mother Jones and Radar. She is currently writing for The Daily Beast. Cox also published her first novel in 2006, “Dog Days.”
Going: I received tons of emails about this one. David Bender, host of Air America's "Politically Direct", did his final show this past weekend, airing some of his favorite interviews from the previous four years. He had announced his departure several weeks prior. Apparently, he will spend his upcoming free time traveling.
Going: Controversial San Francisco talker Karel Bouley, a.k.a. Karel, has lost his San Francisco affiliate, as otherwise dance hits-formatted KNGY dropped him from their lineup. Karel fans needn't worry, as he is still featured on another station, KRXA in Monterey. He is said to be looking for a new Bay Area station.
Karel had previously worked at KGO in San Francisco, but was dismissed last year following an accidental dropping of the F-bomb live on air.
Coming: Liberadio(!) with Mary Mancini and Freddie O'Connell a weekly show on Vanderbilt University's WRVU, is going daily.
Beginning Wednesday, July 1, the show expands to include an additional live hour every Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 to 10:00 am (CT) on BlogTalkRadio.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Just when you thought it was all over at KPHX (1480AM) in Phoenix, word comes that it could very well return to the airwaves on July 6. This, according to the Phoenix New Times.
Kathleed Osborn, who claims to be the senior account executive with "Phoenix Progressive Radio", sent out an email announcement and media kit to prospective advertising clients and some in the media heralding the return of liberal talk to the Phoenix airwaves.
KPHX's lineup will look something like this:
Bill Press 3-6A
Stephanie Miller 6-9A
Thom Hartman 9A-12P
Randi Rhodes 12-3P
Mike Newcomb 3-6P
Mike Malloy 6-9P
Ed Shultz 9P-Midnight
Now, Stephan Lemons at the New Times is still a little skeptical. But apparently, the venture will be without Sheldon and Anita Drobny. It will be spearheaded by station owner Jose Molina, who will flip the format from adult standards. Readers here will recall that the defunct Nova M Radio moved thier programming to another station, KNUV (1190AM) at the beginning of the year. Nova M burned out in a glorious ball of flames a mere few months later.
So, come July 6 (or even before - or after), we shall find out whether KPHX will once again be Phoenix's progressive talker. Stay tuned.
Gotten quite a few emails on this one. And it appears that the rumors are true. Ron Kuby's midday show on Air America is no more. It is being replaced in national syndication by recent hire Jack Rice, who was originally slated to be on live in Washington, D.C. only.
From the Doin' Time page on Air America's website:
Monday, June 22nd was the final edition of “Doin’ Time With Ron Kuby” in its current incarnation. Ron remains a member of the Air America family as we discuss his future role. His – and his team’s – hard work over these last many months is most appreciated. You can continue to access Ron’s show clips and podcasts at www.airamerica.com/ondemand.
Jack Rice – who launched “Live In Washington” on our DC station last week – will move his show into the 12-3pm ET slot effective today, Tuesday, June 23rd.
We’re also excited to announce that Randi Rhodes is back on Air America! You can listen to Randi live weekdays from 3-6pm ET in Washington, DC on WZAA 1050AM or you can stream her show online at www.airamericawashington.com.
Thanks for your continued support and please let us know if you have any questions. Please use this form to contact us: airamerica.com/contact.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A few demises to note today. One's a well-known Miami talk show host who was dismissed from his job, another a national radio icon hosting his last show next week, and finally, we mark the real-life passing of a late-night television icon.
Rogers, WQAM part ways
First, after 12 years, Miami midday radio talker Neil Rogers, of note to some readers here, has been let go from sports talker WQAM (560AM).
The parting of ways is almost not surprising, given Rogers' increasingly scaled-down schedule, his 'telecommuting' from places such as Toronto and Amsterdam, his enormous paycheck and, of course, his prickly demeanor.
Owner Beasley Broadcasting recently signed Neil to a new contract that even allowed him a Summer-time schedule of working just Tuesdays and Thursdays, initially set to kick in next week.
But in recent weeks, Rogers, 66, got into hot water last month after accidently dropping an unbleeped 'f-bomb' on the air, and directed it at one of his bosses. He was angered over the departure of his longtime producer Jorge Rodriguez.
Rogers’ current contract is for five-years and pays $800,000 annually (down from $1.5 million). No word on whether Beasley will buy it out or settle. There is no noncompete clause, meaning that Rogers could work for another station at any time. However, Rogers has no plans to seek another on-air job at this time.
Rogers has been in Miami radio for 36 years.
Kasem hangs up his headphones
Meanwhile,a nationally-known radio icon is preparing to count backwards for perhaps the very last time. Casey Kasem, who had been hosting nationally-syndicated countdown shows since 1970, will do his last show during the July 4 weekend. Kasem and his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, mutually opted to cancel American Top 20, which airs weekly on mostly adult contemporary stations.
But that won't be the end of the road for Kasem. In recent years, Premiere has restored and remastered tapes of Kasem's old countdown shows from the 70s and 80s and currently offers them to oldies stations and satellite radio via syndication (which is perhaps one of the best ideas they ever came up with).
In addition, Kasem, 77, will continue with other lucrative projects, such as voice work, cartoons (hey, he was Shaggy in "Scooby Doo"!), and whatnot. He can also devote more time to outside causes, such as Lebanese-American and Arab-American issues (Kasem is Lebanese). He is also a vegan, and was a big supporter of Dennis Kucinich during his past two presidential runs (though he was a Nader guy in 2000, but don't hold that against him).
So, a tip of the hat to a legend and inspiration, Casey Kasem. Just be careful what you say when the mic is on.
Finally, a real-life departure, this one of a longtime fixture on late night television. Former Tonight Show sidekick and announcer Ed McMahon passed away early this morning. He was 86.
No cause of death was given, but McMahon has been known to be suffering from many health problems over the last few months, including bone cancer and pneumonia. He also had to deal with a neck injury and many financial problems in recent years.
You can read more via the L.A. Times.
Air America Media and Randi Rhodes have seemingly mended fences, as their new Washington, D.C. outlet WZAA 1050 AM has struck a multi-year deal with her new syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks (a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications) to air her show live (3-6P ET). They will begin airing it today (June 23), and stream online via the station's website.
From the presser:
“I’m thrilled to have Randi Rhodes on the Air America Washington team,” said Bill Hess, Air America Media’s senior vice president of programming. “It’s about time we were reunited. Randi’s ability to cover a variety of issues each day in an entertaining, aggressive style makes her the perfect fit for the ride home in Washington, D.C., where she’s now based.”
WZAA 1050 AM is the latest in a series of major-market radio stations to add “Randi Rhodes.” The program can be heard in such markets as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Portland. Airing weekdays from 3-6pm ET, Rhodes enlightens and entertains listeners with her trademark candid, incisive opinions, as well as her biting sense of humor, as she discusses everything from news and current events, to politics and hot topics. Please visit http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/ for more information.
To make room, the local “Live in Washington w/ Jack Rice” (which had been airing on Air America's national feed via weeknight delay) moves to the 1-3P slot, and will continue to be the region’s only live locally-focused talk show in that daypart. The odd man out in D.C. appears to be Ron Kuby.
Incidentally, frequent fill-in Nicole Sandler is now listed as the late night host. Whether this is a permanent move is unknown.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
So many emails and so many inquiries have arrived in my inbox, and up until now, I have had nothing to report on Air America's new station in Washington, DC. Well, now I do. The station launches tonight at midnight.
Here's the press release:
Air America Media will debut the new 1050 AM throughout the Washington, D.C. region on Wednesday, June 17 at 12 midnight under new call letters WZAA and also streaming online at www.airamericawashington.com. The station will feature Air America’s independent political voice in the nation’s capitol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including Ron Reagan, Rachel Maddow, Ana Marie Cox, Montel Williams, Lionel, Arianna Huffington and Carlos Watson. The station will feature several prominent, Washington, D.C. personalities on programming throughout the day on Wednesday, including Helen Thomas, Chris Matthews, Senator Bernie Sanders and others.
“We are thrilled to have our voice on-air and online in our nation’s capital,” said Bennett Zier, chief executive officer of Air America Media. “Our roster of talent will provide sharp and insightful commentary to our listeners.”
“We plan to utilize our new Washington, D.C. broadcast facilities to originate nationwide programming with our talent,” said Bill Hess, senior vice president of programming of Air America Media. “Now that we’re in our new D.C. home on Idaho Avenue, we’re also producing regularly-scheduled local programming.”
Martin Sheehan, former Clear Channel and ESPN Radio executive, has been named station manager, overseeing day-to-day operations.
The weekday program schedule, also available on the station’s website at www.airamericawashington.com, will include:
6-9 a.m. – “The Lionel Show”
9 a.m.-12 p.m. – “Montel Across America”
12-1 p.m. - “The Rachel Maddow Show”
1-3 p.m. – “Doing Time with Ron Kuby”
3-6 p.m. – “Live in Washington with Jack Rice”
6-9 p.m. – “The Ron Reagan Show”
9-11 p.m. – “Hollywood! CLOUT”
11p.m.-1 a.m. – “The Jack Rice Show”
Air America Media is operating 1050 AM through a local marketing agreement (LMA) reached with Bonneville International Corporation.
A few things to note:
More updates as they arrive.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The ubiquitous box sits by the wall in the living room, it's kaleidescope of colors the center of attention. To paraphrase The Dude in The Big Lebowski, it pulls the room together. For over sixty years, this cultural icon was like a window to the world, bringing the images of society into our homes. We were informed of the daily news headlines by nicely groomed people staring right at us as they were seemingly chopped off at the upper torso. We saw all our favorite sports teams, watched our favorite movies, laughed at mindless sitcoms and gazed drearily into the night at mind-numbing infomercials peddling the latest snake oil. All with blurry images and glorious static.
We'll all see the same stuff we did before, for better or worse. But instead of occasionally fuzzy and ghostly images, it will all be in crystal clear digital, and for those with even fancier sets, in razor-sharp high definition. Today, June 12, is the official passing of the torch to the digital television era in the United States.
By midnight tonight, all full-power analog television signals across the country will be turned off for good. It may mean little to those who watch their television via cable, satellite or whatever the land-line phone companies call their service. But for people who watch television via a good ol' fashioned rabbit ear antenna that pulls the images and sounds out of the sky, it means quite a bit.
Today is a milestone in the history of television. And what better way to salute the idiot box than to take a rough look at other key dates (not completely verified, though) in its history? Perhaps this will help to explain the decline of modern civilization as we know it. Here it is, the unofficial LTR History Of Television (so far):
1873 - Willoughby Smith discovers the photoconductivity of the element selenium, which would later be used in the earliest mechanical television sets. Little did Smith realize that his breakthrough would lead, years later, to such banality as FOX News, VH1 reality shows and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Had he known that, he would have invented Pop Rocks candy instead.
1894 - Paul Gottlieb Nipkow came up with and patented an electromechanical television device with a spinning image rasterizing disk, though he never built an effective working model. The original design, featuring someone in a wooden box flipping pictures, never fooled anyone.
1891 - Larry King born.
1900 - Constantin Perskyi coins the phrase 'television' in a 1900 paper, which he read at the First International Electricity Congress in Paris. The original term, 'photoconductive spinning wheel moving picture box', didn't roll off the tongue quite as well.
1907 - Boris Rosing transmits silhouette images using a Nipkow disc, a mirror drum and a cathode-ray tube. Feeling sly, he chose to show very fuzzy images of his wife in her bloomers. Hence, the earliest, crude porno is born, and helps usher in the early television era.
1925 - John Logie Baird transmits the first television pictures in his laboratory, with a choppy screen featuring a piddly 40-line resolution. The quality is so poor, nobody realizes that he, like Rosing before, was actually showing raunchy stag films.
1926 - The first big hit television show, Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover sneezes, is a smash, even with its five second length.
1927 - Not content with inventing everything else connected with television, Baird comes up with a crazy (and workable!) idea of recording television programming on simple 78rpm gramophone records. Gets fined by local video store for not rewinding.
1927 - Soviet engineer Leon Theramin comes up 100-line TV. Beat that, you imperialist capitalist pigs!
1928 - The first television station ever, W2XB, is born in Schenectady, New York, even though nobody there knew what the hell television was, or what exactly they were supposed to show.
1928 - The first-ever commercially available mechanical TV set reaches stores. It's the size of a piano, has a three-inch screen and sells for $1500. Really, what's the point?
1929 - BBC-TV comes into being. A year later, Baird installs a set at 10 Downing Street, where British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald and his family watch the first ever British television drama, The Man With The Flower In His Mouth. Sadly, it was 90 minutes of some guy with a flower in his mouth. Obviously seeing where this will lead, MacDonald orders the stupid contraption removed the next day.
1931 - Allen B. DuMont perfects a long-lasting cathode-ray tube (CRT). Also, Canadians launch their own television station, VE9EC in Montreal, again with nothing to show whatsoever save for sneezing politicians, flower-munching Brits and fuzzy porno. The idea catches on once they add hockey.
1934 - Philo Farnsworth demonstrates a non-mechanical television device, the precursor to modern-day electronic television. The electronic system held up better than the gerbil wheel featured in its predecessor.
1936 - Those enterprising Brits begin transmitting high-definition video (200 lines!!!). Also by this time, the BBC is broadcasting movies, Shakespearian plays and television series to a country with no sets. So, explain to me now why you all hate HD Radio.
1939 - First major league baseball game televised. Later that year, the first sports bar is born in Chicago, where hundreds of fans could gather to watch the Cubs lose for free without paying to get into Wrigley Field.
1940 - RCA and CBS demonstrate color television, though they had yet to perfect the black and white version.
1941 - The U.S. adopts the 525-line video standard still in use today. Yes, our soon-to-be discarded modern-day television technology is as old as Dick Cheney.
1942 - The FCC suspends all television broadcasting because of the war, and few people notice. Allen DuMont petitions for an exception and gains approval, only he has nothing to show, no stations to show it and nobody to watch.
1945 - The DuMont Television Network is officially born anyway.
1945 - NBC also launches its own television network, and luckily, they are not in fourth place.
1947 - Deciding that people would watch if there were actual worthwhile shows on the air, NBC takes action. They offer up Meet The Press and Howdy Doody, both featuring wooden puppets in their respective casts. Also, both NBC and DuMont broadcast the World Series.
1948 - CBS and ABC begin network programming, bringing the total number of networks, four, up to the same level as the number of people actually watching.
1948 - The first big television stars are Milton Berle on NBC and Ed Sullivan on CBS. Needless to say, in 1948, anyone could be a star on television.
1949 - The first Emmy Awards are presented, because every medium, regardless of lack of content, deserves its own trophies, dammit!
1951 - Seeing as they could monopolize the Emmys if they actually had some shows, CBS ponies up I Love Lucy and a couple soap operas.
1952 - National Educational Television (NET) launches as the first public/noncommerical network.
1952 - Hockey Night In Canada debuts on CBC, launching the joke, "Why do Canadians do it doggy style? So they can both watch the hockey game."
1952 - The first political ads appear on U.S. television, leading to the slow decline of the medium. Also, NBC's Today launches and sends birthday greetings to their first centurions.
1953 - The debut of TV Guide. Literacy rates drop in its wake.
1953 - The infamous and futuristic TV dinner hits the freezer sections of local supermarkets, then living rooms across post-war America. Pass the Salisbury steak and chocolate hockey puck, please.
1954 - On New Year's Day, NBC and RCA team up to broadcast the Tournament Of Roses Parade in the first-ever coast-to-coast color broadcast. The garish psychedelic images shown inspires Dr. Albert Hoffman to perfect LSD.
1954 - NBC launches the long-running Tonight Show with anal-retentive moral crusader Steve Allen as its first host. So those of you who bitch (wrongly, at that) about new host Conan O'Brien are easily reminded that at one time, it was much worse.
1954 - Disneyland launches on ABC. Modern-day marketing travesties such as High School Musical, Miley Cirus and the Jonas Brothers can be traced to this seemingly innocent moment.
1956 - Rock and roll hits the big time, and the networks are freaked out. Ed Sullivan agrees to book Elvis Presley, but opts to show him only from the waist up. Which is still better than Steve Allen, who suggests Presley sing his raunchy new hit "Hound Dog", an R&B tune originally sung by Big Mama Thornton about a promiscuous male Lothario, to an actual Bassett hound while wearing a tux. So stop bitching about Conan already!
1955 - After years of CBS, NBC and ABC poaching DuMont's talent lineup (most notably Jackie Gleason) and their strongest affiliates (like KDKA in Pittsburgh), the fourth (and forgotten) network goes belly-up. The Big Three to DuMont: "I drink your milkshake."
1956 - Zenith introduces the first wireless remote control to the marketplace, the Space Commander. The couch potato is officially born.
1956 - AMPEX introduces the first Video Tape Recorder. First tape returned to the video store unwound.
1957 - American Bandstand debuts, and elevates rock and roll only slightly higher than Sullivan and Allen's efforts. Hey, it's got a good beat and I can dance to it.
1958 - TV game shows are fixed. Really?
1959 - American Bandstand almost shuttered during the disc jockey payola scandal. Young pretty boy host Dick Clark was just as corrupt as frumpy middle-aged Alan Freed, who had been playing rock and roll when it was just raunchy R&B music. However, Clark put up a much more squeaky-clean public front, and got away with it. The scandal ruined Freed, who hit the bottle hard and died a few years later. Clark escaped unscathed, became a zillionaire and helped launch the careers of sanitized 'rockers' like Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Where is the justice?
1960 - Presidential candidate Richard Nixon discovers that, unlike with radio, one cannot show up to a televised debate looking like complete shit.
1960 - The Flintstones debut on ABC. Yabba Dabba Doo!
1961 - A teenage Geraldo Rivera (then known as Jerry Rivers) grows his first moustache. Gets ass kicked badly on playground after school.
1962 - Heeeeere's Johnny! Johnny Carson becomes host of The Tonight Show, replacing Jack Paar.
1963 - Call the medic! Doctor Who debuts on British television, as The Doctors and General Hospital debut in the U.S. Coincidence?
1963 - "The JFK Assassination" is the season's biggest hit.
1964 - The Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan, garnering the largest viewing audience in television history. In a wise move, producers opt not to show John, Paul, George and Ringo only from the waist-up.
1966 - Color TV becomes standard in all television broadcasting. Buddy Ebsen never looked better.
1966 - Star Trek debuts, as the geeks begin to take over television.
1967 - The Overmyer Network debuts as the fourth national commercial network. They got as far as the two-hour Las Vegas Show, a name change to the United Network, tons of wasted money and the network's demise. All in a 30-day period. What? They actually expected viewers with a name like The Overmyer Network?
1967 - The first NFL-AFL Championship Game aired on two networks, NBC and CBS. Yet, for some reason, no one at either top-rated network is smart enough to actually remember to record the damned game. Today, only a few clips of the very first Super Bowl are known to exist.
1968 - The networks have a lot to learn about sports programming. Some dumbass at NBC decides to cut out of the last few minutes of the Raiders-Jets football game, as Joe Namath and company appear to be sewing it all up, to air the sappy family flick Heidi. Viewers miss the thrilling upset, as the Raiders scored two touchdowns on three plays in the final minute to win 43-32. NBC's switchboard is flooded with calls from pissed-off football fans, who missed what would later be called one of the most memorable games ever played.
1967 - The final episode of The Fugitive draws a record number of viewers. But the story doesn't end there. O.J. Simpson is still looking for the real killer.
1969 - Sesame Street, Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Brady Bunch debut. Coincidence?
1969 - 600 million viewers around the world can attest to the fact that Neil Armstong moonwalked better than Michael Jackson ever could.
1970 - The birth of Monday Night Football. Now, Americans can do as the Canadians do.
1970 - Not much liking the liberal fare distributed by National Educational Television (NET), which often dealt with subversive anti-American and morally reprensible topics such as war, poverty and race relations (sarcasm alert!), the network's various affiliates, financial supporters and even the Nixon Administration work to get it shut down, and succeed. PBS, which launched the year prior, takes its place.
1971 - Both All In The Family, featuring racist demagogue and right-wing icon Archie Bunker, and Soul Train, a variation of American Bandstand that actually features black people, both debut. Coincidence?
1972 - Home Box Office debuts. Bleary-eyed viewers suffer panic attacks when they see the uncut versions of raunchy flicks like A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango In Paris in their living rooms. A new era begins.
1973 - NBC's first post-Tonight Show entry, Tomorrow, with Tom Snyder, gives stoned college students yet another reason to stay up late, blow off homework and get high.
1974 - Future cable news shouter Nancy Grace expresses first mock outrage when some girl she kinda knows gets stood up by her prom date.
1975 - The birth of the X-BOX's grandfather, as Atari's home version of Pong hits Sears stores. And it looks bitchin' in hi-def!
1975 - Sony launches the Betamax. Now Americans can watch porn in the comfort of their own homes, rather than be seen walking by themselves into seedy mob-owned movie theaters.
1975 -Live from New York, Saturday Night Live debuts.
1976 - The VHS tape format introduced. Be kind, rewind.
1976 - Anarchy In The U.K.! The Sex Pistols cause controversy when guitarist Steve Jones utters the word "fuck" on live British morning television.
1978 - Another attempt at a fourth network, this one from Paramount. It would be built around a revised Star Trek with the original cast and some bald chick. Plans for the network were scrapped and Star Trek became a really, really boring movie instead.
1978 - The Laserdisc launches, with the poorly chosen moniker Discovision. Lynyrd Skynyrd fans opt for Betamax.
1979 - The birth of ESPN. Da da dah!
1980 - Saturday Night Live begins three decade run of utter lameness once the last original cast member leaves. New cast member Charles Rocket stirs up controversy when he utters the word "fuck" on live late night television. Luckily, few people were watching at the time.
1980 - The new fad is lowly-rated UHF stations that air scrambled pay-tv programming every night. Those that paid a ridiculous $30 or so each month could see uncut movies with the help of an often-malfunctioning 'descrambler' box. For those without, you could almost see scrambled boobies!
1980 - Millions asked, "Who shot J.R.?" Today, nobody remembers or really gives a shit.
1981 - MTV debuts, showing
shitty reality shows music videos 24/7. As the only artists actually doing videos at the time were Rod Stewart and a number of obscure British synthesizer bands sporting lipstick and sculpted hairdos, the playlist is not very refined.
1982 - Police Squad!, one of the funniest television comedies ever produced, lasts a mere six episodes on ABC, failing because it was so fast-paced, people could not get up and go to the bathroom during its half-hour running time. The doomed show later spawns three hit movies. Gotta love network executives.
1982 - NBC's new Late Night With David Letterman gives budding yuppie college students yet another reason to stay up late, blow off homework and get drunk on wine coolers.
1986 - FOX debuts as the fourth network. Civilization begins to decline on this date.
1990 - David Lynch's bizarre prime-time soap Twin Peaks debuts, leading viewers across the country to yell, "WTF?"
1992 - The beginning of the late-night shakeup. Johnny Carson retires and is replaced by Jay Leno. A snubbed David Letterman moves into direct competition at CBS. since the Overmyer Network never returned his calls.
1993 - Sensing pending brilliance, NBC slides obscure comedy writer Conan O'Brien into Letterman's old Late Night gig, giving delusioned Gen-X college students yet another reason to stay up late, blow off homework and ponder their hopeless lives.
1995 - The biggest daytime soap opera this year is the O.J. Simpson trial, proving that, once and for all, people will watch just about anything on television.
1995 - Even with four broadcast networks and hundreds of cable outlets, the people behind UPN, The WB and Pax (a dubious venture featuring infomercials, religious barkers and Mama's Family reruns) all decide we need more networks.
1996 - WRAL-HD in Raleigh launches as first-ever digital high-definition station. Sharper picture, same ol' crap.
1996 - Zenith introduces first HDTV-compatible front projection TV in the U.S. And like all front-projection sets to follow, it's a piece of junk.
1997 - The first commercial DVD players hit the market. No more rewinding fees!
1999 - The debut of HBO's The Sopranos, arguably the greatest television series in history. All the rest sleep with the fishes.
2000 - Survivor debuts on CBS, launching the never-ending 'reality' freak show fad. It only goes downhill from here.
2000 - Paramount releases the final two titles in the Laserdisc format, Sleepy Hollow and Bringing Out The Dead. Wait! Studios were still releasing Laserdiscs in 2000?
2001 - Pop Idol debuts in the U.K., inspiring many more international versions, including our own. It goes further downhill from here.
2001 - Biggest hit reality show of the year turns out to be something called "September 11 Terrorist Attacks".
2002 - Yet another [BEEP!] 'reality' show, this one featuring Ozzy Osbourne's foul-mouthed [BEEP!] family, debuts on MTV. Kill your [BEEP!] television. Right [BEEP!] now.
2006 - UPN and The WB merge into The CW, and FOX pushes MyNetworkTV from their loins. Three years later, few can name a single show on either network.
2009 - Another shift in late night television at NBC, as Conan O'Brien deservedly gets the Tonight Show gig, Jay Leno takes over a full hour of prime time and the utterly lame Jimmy Fallon is tapped for Late Night, giving feeble-minded college students yet another reason to stay up late, turn off the TV and actually do homework.
2009 - Not to be outdone by NBC, CBS devotes their entire 10PM hour of weeknight prime time to variations and clones of their CSI franchise. Wait! They've already been doing this for years! As for ABC, they just schedule more shit that nobody watches.
2009 - The U.S. ditches the old analog standard for television and moves completely to digital transmission. Okay, so at least we half-way killed our televisions. Bring on the digital era!
Kinda slow on the news front, and I've been spending the past few days on what I think is a pretty cool tribute to analog television. Nonetheless, here's what else is going on...
The analog ending
Unless you've been living under a rock, have no grasp of reality, or are George W. Bush, you should all know by now that today is D-Day, as in 'digital'. That means full-power analog television in the United States will go bye-bye today. What this essentially means:
1. This applies to all full-power signals. They will broadcast in digital-only from tomorrow forward. It does not necessarily apply to low-power stations or translator stations. They are exempt, but some may be shutting off analog anyway. The FCC has not set a shutoff date for low power TV broadcasters.
2. Your old TV may not be very effective without a digital converter box. Sets built in the past several years should be okay. I'm sure you know whether or not this is the case. In addition, those little portable sets you take with you on camping trips and wherever else are now paperweights. Send 'em to Canada or Mexico - they've got analog for the next two years at least. Also, if you still record with a VCR, it's analog tuner will not be very effective anymore. Split a cable off from your converter/cable box and you should be okay, though you may not be able to record one channel while watching another.
3. If you are still unprepared for this, and call TV stations, the FCC, etc. bitching about the loss of your favorite stations, I'm afraid television has already rotted your brain and God is trying to tell you to stop watching.
4. For those of you in the 'rabbit ear' crowd, if you haven't 'rescanned' your converter box/TV tuner, you probably should. With the switchover, some stations are changing their RF frequencies (which is their actual channel, rather than the virtual channel - don't ask) . If you're kinda confused over this, and I don't blame you, don't worry about it - just rescan. You may notice a few just-added channels or subchannels in your lineup.
Radio station celebrates the Big One Hundred
Wow! Has it been 100 years already since the precursor to KCBS in San Francisco first started broadcasting? It seems like just yesterday that they started experimenting with this crazy radio thingy.
But yes, all-news KCBS is celebrating its centennial this year.
It all started down the bay in San Jose, where engineer Charles Herrold conducted some experiments and was even doing regular broadcasting. In the very beginning, he just used a simple greeting like "San Jose calling."
On December 9, 1921, Herrold received a commercial license for his station with the callsign KQW. It was the 21st licensed radio station in the United States and the 11th in California.
Now, some may contest which was indeed the very first radio station in America. Many claim it to be KDKA in Pittsburgh, which was the first to obtain a license. But prior to KDKA, there were many unlicensed stations across the country, and a few of them exist even today. Many cite what is now KCBS as the very first continually broadcasting radio station in this country, and quite possibly the world (and no, I will not get into any comment debates with any of you smartypants, so hold off).
KCBS has a site devoted to their history here.
Peter B. Collins returns via podcast
Thanks to one of our readers for this heads-up. Peter B. Collins, who ended his radio show a few months ago, has returned with a regular podcast.
He will do 2-3 per week, at roughly 45 minutes to an hour in length.
You can find them at his website, Roots Up Radio or on iTunes.
No Republicans on Rachel
Wingnuts have long made hay over Rachel Maddow's reluctance to book right-wing guests on her radio and cable news shows. Funny, they don't seem to question Rush Limbaugh, who only allows left-leaning callers if he can walk all over them, or any of the FOX News meat puppets, who merely book left-leaning punching bags.
This blog from Baltimore Sun critic Dave Zurawik touches on this very topic, as if it is so damned catastrophic in the shape of things today. Whiny wingnut site Newsbusters.org also pisses and moans about it.
Hey, it's her show, she can do whatever the hell she wants. Much of cable news is at times almost unwatchable because it's typically pundits and 'strategists' yelling back and forth at each other. Since there are many right-wing radio and television talk shows, why not a left-leaning one that is more sedate and gives its viewers what they want? Why should she model her show after every other one on cable TV?
Let's be honest, the crybaby conservative brigade just hates that there are any liberals on TV. Further proof that most wingnuts only like America if it conforms with their own narrow world view.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The changing of the roles in the ideological landscape of 2009 has been nothing short of entertaining. During the past eight years, right-wingers across the land were shouting "love it or leave it," meaning that, if you have a bone to pick with our Republican government, then you could leave the country and go elsewhere. I seem to recall they even referred to us dissenters as 'traitors' or worse.
Flash-forward to 2009. Many Americans have grown tired of the right-wing rhetoric and cavalier attitude toward the common people and voted for an overwhelming Democratic-controlled government. The right-wing are now in the position that the left were in previously, as they are now the ones currently complaining about the government.
Hey, love it or leave it, right?
Rather than use positive means to make America a better place, many of them are hell-bent on standing in the way. And unlike the left, who just wanted to end a meaningless war and make this country a better place for all, the right-wing just wants to wreak havoc. We are seeing it with many of our elected Republican officials, who are behaving like whining children. And much of this attitude seems to be coming from an expected place - right-wing talk radio.
And at least one radio owner has gotten fed up with this unconstructive attitude. The owner of Genesis Communications has stepped forward to cry "enough, already":
That fingernails on the chalk board you hear across the radio airwaves are the voices of talk hosts attempting to take on Barack Obama. Bold yes, smart, maybe not. There are a limited number of hosts that have the mental capability and entertaining personality who can pull this off succesfully. We have several in our company on the national and local level.
There is risk in this. Risk of more regulation in a Democrat controlled government and risk of losing listeners. The constant pounding by so many in unison on "why this guy is bad and we are all heading to hell" is causing listener fatique. The information may be accurate, but without balance, may not be wise. Our Industry is an industry of entertainment. If we do not entertain while informing, we lose credibility and we lose market share. The great hosts entertain first, criticize second and inspire third. There needs to be some balance between talking about Obama and other life experiences. Putting a smile on a listener's face in this environment is a challenge that needs to be met. Bash away at Obama all you want. Don't forget, however, that talk radio listeners want to hear opinions, but they also want to get away from the significantly stressful reality they are experiencing. They are looking for solutions, inspiration and entertainment.
If a host cannot entertain and inspire, they should find another career. Right now, Talk Radio has too many hosts that need to find other careers.
Now, Bruce is obviously a conservative. But at least he's talking sense. Rather than be the voice of negativity and hatred, right-wing talk radio needs to get back to the original mission of entertaining and inspiring. I especially get the feeling he's talking about Rush Limbaugh.
Over the past six months or so, Limbaugh has been the most vocal proponent of obstructionism. He even came out and said that he hopes President Obama fails. Now, saying that while the United States is in the middle of devastating economic turmoil isn't very inspiring, is it? Does Limbaugh actually want us all to succeed? Honestly, I don't think he really cares, just so long as it doesn't affect him. Because in Limbaugh's America, it's all about what's good for him. The rest of us can just go pound sand.
And in his most recent expression of inspiration, he seemingly wants this whole country to fall apart, going so far as to work for the demise of America's automobile industry. Yes, he is encouraging a boycott of General Motors.
“Nobody wants to support an Obama company,” he said, not too long after GM filed for bankruptcy reorganization and a government bailout (and subsequent majority ownership). Limbaugh also said, “a lot of people are not going to buy from Chrysler or General Motors as long as it is perceived Barack Obama is running it, because people do not want his policy to work here because this is antithetical to the American economic way of life.”
He also cited a Rasmussen poll, showing 17% of those surveyed favor a boycott of GM products. Wow! A whopping 17%? Wasn't that George W. Bush's approval rating? Actually, it’s closer to Limbaugh’s.
The fact that he wants this country to fail, if only to spite people he doesn't like, says volumes about this disgusting pig of a man. For a quarter century, Limbaugh has painted a vivid picture of his so-called 'ideal' America, and his idea of a land of opportunity. Thing is, the only opportunity that matters to him is his own. Who cares about the rest? It's all about him. He doesn't give a shit about you or I.
Even the Democrats agree. "While it's not surprising that Rush Limbaugh would root for the failure of a national institution for partisan political gain, it is surprising that the other so-called leaders of the Republican party are silently going along with him given how many hard working Americans rely on GM for a living," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.
To be fair, even Limbaugh’s clones are getting in on the act. "Every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise," conservative talker Hugh Hewitt wrote online last week. But these guys seem to just parrot whatever comes out of The Messiah’s big mouth.
On the surface, Limbaugh appears to be biting the hand that feeds him. After all, GM has always been a huge advertiser on radio in general, and has even been a big sponsor of talk radio, across the ideological spectrum. And in this day and age, that kind of support is hard to come by. But does Limbaugh really care? Has he amassed so much wealth and power that he can tell his sponsors to stick it where the sun don’t shine. Remember, it’s all about him.
But is anyone really surprised by all of this? If you are not with him, you are his enemy. No grey areas. Limbaugh, on the surface, never misses an opportunity to wrap himself in the American flag, when it serves his own self-indulgent purposes. Yet in reality, he is constantly wiping his fat ass with it. America is only America if it feeds his own massive ego.
The late George Carlin once claimed that he didn't think Limbaugh believed half the stuff he said on the radio. It was merely just for shock value. I have long felt that too, but it's quite likely that over the years, he's started to believe his own bullshit. That he actually thinks what comes out of his mouth is indeed the gospel. Millions of dollars, tons of ego gratification (and massive amounts of prescription narcotics) will likely do that. He constantly boasts about being an 'entertainer', yet he lost that focus years ago. Now he has a self-absorbed messiah complex.
What we have here is a hollow shell of a man, a lonely, pathetic figure cut off from reality in his ivory tower mansion on the beach, completely withdrawn from the concerns of his fellow man and woman. He doesn't care about anyone, he is too wrapped up in his own greed. He has become a living, breathing embodiment of Charles Foster Kane, also a pathetic fictional creation who wound up consumed by his own ego and lust for power, spending his last days withdrawn from reality in a cavernous mansion, all alone, and not particularly liked by anyone.
Fame and fortune can be a double-edged sword. Some can handle it well. Music icon Paul McCartney is way more wealthy and popular than Limbaugh ever will be. But he still feels quite comfortable walking around in public, talking to fans, and has a solid reputation as one who is gracious and eager to please. McCartney has been known to use his own power and wealth for good things, such as the humanitarian causes he supports, devoted to bring peace and make a positive impact on the world. U2's Bono is another good example. Sure, some may snicker at his self-appointed role as world diplomat. But he knows he wields tons of clout, and feels that he can use it for good. Limbaugh, on the other hand, cannot handle fame and fortune. It has made him greedy, selfish and narcissistic.
What good is all that money and power if you can't use if for good? If it only makes you a self-loathing recluse?
So, why does anyone still give a rat's ass about the unhinged rantings of this self-absorbed mound of self-indulgence gone awry? And why does the modern-day conservative movement, and the Republican Party for that matter, yield so much power to a former disc jockey with a drug habit and lust for Dominican boys? A man with serious self-destructive tendencies. If Republicans were smart, they would seek out better role models. And I don't mean Ronald Reagan. Reagan's been gone so long from the scene that most of what they think they know about him has turned into myth by this point. They need to take a check-up from the neck-up, and stop putting so much faith on flawed false prophets, or they may find themselves deeper in the political abyss. That goes for Newt Gingrich as well. He's a failed political has-been with an axe to grind. He will get you nowhere.
After all, Rush Limbaugh, it is plain to see that he cares about nobody but Rush Limbaugh. If this country spirals into another Great Depression, he could give a shit, so long as it doesn't hurt his bottom line. If he starts to lose income or sponsors, then we may see him break a sweat. But he has jumped the proverbial shark, in that he feels that if he's too nice, he'll lose fans. He thinks they still want blood. In short, he's painted himself into a corner. And since he doesn't know how to get out of it, he's wrapped himself in his own insecurity and projected his own self-hatred upon the people who still hang on his every word.
Thing is, I don't think Limbaugh just hates America. I think he hates everyone in it.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
The radio business has been a pretty rough ride as of late, and one sure sign is the demise of the industry's 'bible' - Radio & Records magazine.
After 36 years, it's publisher has decided to axe the publication and merge much of its content with sister Billboard, which has given much more inferior coverage of the industry, concentrating mostly on the music business.
The magazine's last print issue will be this Friday, and their web page has already been shut down, with only a farewell message in its place:
Dear Radio & Records Reader:
Given the consolidation of the radio and music industries, Nielsen Business Media has determined that the best way to leverage its assets and resources in support of these industries is to consolidate its music brands.
Consequently, we have decided to consolidate R&R magazine and RadioandRecords.com into Billboard magazine and Billboard.biz and to expand their coverage of the radio industry. In particular, the R&R airplay charts, which are powered by Nielsen BDS and which have become a key tracker of industry performance, will now appear in the pages of Billboard magazine and on Billboard.biz.
If you are a subscriber to Radio & Records, the remaining value of your subscription will be automatically applied to a new subscription to Billboard magazine starting with the June 20 issue that mails on June 11. If you already receive Billboard, your subscription will be automatically extended by the remaining value of your R&R subscription.
The magazine began in 1973, and has long been a primary go-to publication for radio news, airplay charts, ratings reports and industry job listings. It's music charts, while never topping those of Billboard, were used by several radio countdown shows.
Once the internet became a force, many rivals stepped up. Some sites were all-encompassing, such as Radio Online and All Access. Others concentrated on regional industry news, job listings, industry schmoozing and whatnot. And a few years ago, R&R was purchased by its leading rival, Billboard. And now, it is no more.
When I was in the biz, before all the cool content came to the web, I often read through the pages of R&R. I checked out what other stations were playing. I scoured through the job listings, hoping to better my own position in the world, and caught up with what was happening in the world of radio. But times change, and many sites have started to eclipse R&R. Essentially, they couldn't keep up.
So, farewell to R&R, and the passing of an era in the radio industry.
P.S.: While we're on the topic of final farewells, let us tip our hats and raise our glasses to two icons of different fields. Chicago blues legend Koko Taylor passed away yesterday at the age of 80. And in a real shocker, actor David Carradine, most famous for "Kung Fu" and "Kill Bill", was found dead in a Bankok hotel room earlier today. He was 72.
Gee, go away for a day and something happens...
Anyhoo, looks like Air America has landed a pretty noteworthy new affiliate, as liberal talk returns to the airwaves of our nation's capitol. It could happen as soon as next week, once the papers are signed.
The station is WTOP (1050AM), which is owned by Bonneville International and is currently simulcasting an all-news format with its FM sister WTOP-FM. Air America will lease the entire signal via a local marketing agreement, which is quite common in the industry.
Here's the presser:
Air America Media is coming to Washington, D.C., airing progressive talk programming on radio 1050 AM through a local marketing agreement (LMA) reached with Bonneville International Corporation. The LMA will enable Air America to broadcast its independent political voice, featuring such talent as Rachel Maddow, Montel Williams, Lionel, Ron Reagan and others throughout the national capital region. Air America will manage programming, marketing, and sales operations for the facility, beginning later this month.
“We are looking forward to bringing all-new, progressive news/talk programming to 1050 AM and actively engaging listeners across the most politically-influential radio market in the United States,” said Bennett Zier, chief executive officer of Air America Media. “This agreement and our full-time entry into the Washington, D.C. market are an integral part of Air America’s strategy to expand our listening audience.”
“Air America will provide the Washington area with new content that cannot be heard on any other D.C. radio station,” said Bill Hess Air America Media senior vice president of programming. “Air America’s talent, producers and executive team will actively apply their knowledge of the D.C. metro broadcast market and the top public issues of the day to present a compelling listening experience.”
The station’s new call letters, on-air launch date, programming line-up and other details will be announced shortly, Hess added.
Now, WTOP is not a signal powerhouse. The daytime reach, from Silver Spring, MD, isn't too bad (3,500 watts, with an application to boost to 10,000 watts), but the station drops to a mere 44 watts at night, which will give so-so coverage north of the city but a bit more static in Washington proper. Folks in Baltimore may even be able to hear 1050 during the day.
This station returns liberal talk to the D.C. airwaves several months after WWRC changed its format. And at this point it's all Air America, meaning no Ed, Stephanie, Thom, Randi, etc. This is an Air America deal.
And no word on whether there will be any local show, or if Air America will fill out its heavily-gapped schedule by the time 1050AM starts carrying them.
UPDATE: A few things to add on...
1. Air America initially approached Bonneville a few months ago regarding a lease deal on 1050AM. Bonneville has been looking for someone to pick up the signal, as it is currently redundant for what they want to do in the D.C. market. As part of the LMA, Air America will essentially lease the signal from Bonneville, and then handle operations, programming and advertising sales. Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed. Air America has hired some local sales staff, and will occupy a small space in Bonneville’s Washington offices.
2. It won't be wall-to-wall Air America after all. According to the Washington Business Journal, some of the AM station's sports programming will carry over, airing occasional nights and weekends, according to Bonneville Senior Regional Vice President Joel Oxley. Don't worry, there shouldn't be too much of that, since most of the play-by-play stuff Bonneville controls local rights to (the local professional baseball, soccer and NHL teams, George Washington University and the Naval Academy) will air primarily on WTOP and WFED (1500AM). The soon-to-be renamed 1050AM will essentially collect spillover in case of scheduling conflicts.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Guam media executive Evan Montvel-Cohen, also one of the founders of Air America, pleaded no contest in Circuit Court late last week to a charge of first-degree theft.
The no-contest plea was part of a deal with prosecutors who agreed to dismiss other charges of credit card fraud, forgery, money laundering and second-degree theft.
In return, Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter said his office will not seek jail time for Montvel-Cohen if he pays about $30,000 in restitution to a former business associate here.
The money must be paid before Montvel-Cohen is sentenced July 28 by Circuit Judge Randal Lee. If the money isn't repaid by sentencing, Van Marter said his office can ask for a jail sentence of up to 18 months.
Montvel-Cohen was accused of stealing more than $62,000 from a Waimanalo landscaping firm, Ultimate Innovations, where he worked as a business manager in 2005.
Many here may remember Montvel-Cohen from his brief tenure at Air America, where he left prior to the unveiling of a massive controversy over where he and his partner, Rex Sorenson, got their financial backing from. Turns out that, in the capacity of his executive position at the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, Cohen acquired loans from the nonprofit in order to help fulfil his share of the investment.
Now, don't let any of those wingnut pundits fool you with their lies and spin. Air America didn't loot any Bronx youth centers, and neither did Franken, though they'd like you to actually believe that. This was all Montvel-Cohen, and his most recent escapades give further proof to that.
Click the tag below for previous entries regarding the Montvel-Cohen case.