Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rhodes gets the Buzzflash treatment

Buzzflash is still cranking along in their series of interviews with various progressive talk talents. Last week it was Thom Hartmann. And coming soon are the likes of Stephanie Miller and Mike Malloy.

This week, Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes talks about her radio style, the questioning of authority, handling rude callers, her upcoming line of girdles and drunken horniness. Uhh... girdles and drunken horniness? Better read the article. Here's a taste:

...(My style is) fact-based scatological rants. The stuff is in my head because I read everything in the morning. And of course, all weekend long I’m watching C-span. So I have the facts. But it’s scatological. It just comes out. And one thing leads to another, and another, and another. Sometimes I don’t know how I got there, you know? I need to follow my own train of thought. And then, a caller can change the whole fricking show. Somebody calls in and they have something on their mind that is just like wild, or wildly wrong, or they fricking hate me. And it could change the whole direction of the show.

...I’m number one in New York City. But people don’t know how radio ratings work. We can’t tell people how to vote for us, which always just amused me. It’s like, let’s have an election and not tell anybody how to vote. That’s something that makes radio a frustrating enterprise. But in New York, I’m number one in this crowded radio market, in time spent listening, which is my job. A host’s job time you keep them listening to you. Are you compelling? If you’re interesting or if you’re funny, can you keep them listening to you through the commercials for the longest period of time possible? I’m number one in time spent listening in New York City, but I’m number 33 in how many people are listening to. That’s the company’s job. The company’s job is to market it, and to bring the people in. Your job is to entertain them once they’re in the seats. I’m succeeding at my job.

...Well, I have some fundamental problems with doing radio that I will always have. When I throw in with you, I’m really throwing in with you to have a conversation with you. I swear to God, when people meet me, they shake. Now it’s really overwhelming, because I’m nervous anyway. I get very star-struck, and I shake when I meet famous people. I wish I could be at ease, but I’m one of those babbling idiots that doesn’t know what to say. I shake and sweat. So when people do it when they meet me, it makes me feel like I have to help them, because I know how that feels.

More at Buzzflash.com.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Buzzflash interview: Thom Hartmann

With this interview, Buzzflash rolls out the first in a series of interviews with various progressive talk talents. In coming weeks, they promise interviews with Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller and Mike Malloy, among others.

This week, it's Thom Hartmann, where he talks about his radio background, how he's pulling back a bit from his local KPOJ show, his years with I.E. America Radio Network and self-syndication, his relationship with Air America and how he does a radio show. Here's an excerpt:

...IE America Radio went out of business the same week that Air America started. All the programs on IE America Radio went silent, except my program. Louise and I just went independent, and we bought satellite time on the Jones satellite. To this day, we have satellite time on the Jones satellite in that noon to 3 spot. We independently produced, distributed, and marketed the show for about a year before we entered into distribution with Air America...

...Very often talk radio hosts deal with issues as if they exist in a vacuum. They do political talk radio as if it was sports talk radio. I think that does us a disservice at a certain level. People have decided someplace -- at the RNC or the DNC or whatever -- that the liberal position on this topic is A, and the conservative position is B. And therefore we're going to take A or B -- whichever we are. It's basically my team versus your team. Again, I think that is a relatively lazy form of talk radio, and I just don't do that...

...I think progressive talk radio has just begun to find an audience. Consider it took Rush Limbaugh about three years before anybody really in the industry took his show seriously, and saw it as something that was good enough that it was worth imitating. Progressive talk radio has only been in major markets in a really significant way for about two years, or, arguably, three years. We're pretty much at that point where conservative talk radio was when Rush was just starting to catch his stride, and some of the imitators or additions to the genre, should we say, started coming along. So I'm honestly seeing the progressive talk radio as just begun...

Read more of this interview at Buzzflash.com.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nova M Radio snags Air America VP

From the press release:

Nova M Radio announced today that veteran talk-radio programming/operations specialist John Manzo has signed on as their new Chief Operating Officer.

Manzo brings nearly two decades of radio experience to Nova M, including successful stints with Saga Communications, Jacor, Clear Channel, and most recently with Air America Radio where he served as a vice president and then oversaw all aspects of "The Randi Rhodes Show."

"This is exciting -- Nova M's a young, plucky company eager to get to the next level the right way," said Manzo. "They truly understand the value of strong, productive relationships with their audience, clients and affiliates. Plus, I can't wait to work with Mike Malloy again!"

"We are very excited to have John Manzo join The Nova M Radio family," said CEO Anita Drobny. "We know Manzo is one of a kind professional radio veteran and will be a welcomed addition to our growing company."

John Manzo will oversee all aspects of helping the company add affiliates, growing the radio and web audience and sales, and the development of additional programming. Manzo will join the Nova M Radio Network in mid-June.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rayburn back on The Mic

Closing the book on a long drawn-out drama, Lee Rayburn is finally back on "The Mic."

As in 92.1 The Mic, WXXM in Madison, WI.

The good news was announced Saturday night at a local Stephanie Miller appearance at the Barrymore Theatre. And Rayburn's return also marks a return of a local presence for the station, which ditched his old show last November when management pondered a switch to sports. Since then, Rayburn has been building up a national profile as a frequent fill-in on Air America Radio.

Well, as we all know, the station's hardcore fans did a good job of rallying behind the station and recruiting more sponsors, thus saving it from extinction. And ratings have continued to be strong. Granted, the station has been somewhat of an afterthought since the format switch debacle. Management has been a bit snippy about there not being enough sponsors. No local shows had been added to the weekday lineup. And they devote five hours every Friday and Saturday night playing Mexican music. But it appears that now, they have finally realized they own a station broadcasting at 92.1FM.

In addition to Rayburn's return, The Mic is doing some more roster shuffling. They're adding Mike Malloy's show on delay, from 11P-2A. And they're also giving a four-hour live clearance to "The Air Americans," the new show set to debut Monday night. Gone in this transition is Jon Elliott and Thom Hartmann, who previously aired on delay from 11P-2A.

Rayburn will air on the station from 6-8A, replacing the last two hours of The Young Turks, who continue at WXXM from 5-6A.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Air America 2.0: But will it float?

Over the last week or so, there's been a lot of talk about the 'new and improved' Air America Radio. With a new web presence, new personalities and shows, and a new lineup, they obviously expect great thing to come of it.

Yesterday was a good start, as they launched the new website and logo with a press release, and even featured an in-studio chat between New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former rival Mark Green, now president of Air America. The meeting of the former political foes was packed with New York-area reporters, and will air sometime next week.

But the question lingers in the back of everyones' minds: Is this whole 2.0 thing really going to work?

Lionel was the first addition, and a very controversial one at that. After a fairly successful run at late night radio syndication via WOR Networks, he moved his show over to Air America and late mornings. The goal obviously was to help the network gain new affiliates, or even bump time slot rival Stephanie Miller from a few. Less than a week into it, the results have been disappointing. Not only has Lionel not gained many fresh affiliates, he lost roughly a half dozen that carried Seder on delay. The only station he seems to have been added to is WINZ in Miami, on delay from 6-9P ET. Lots of stations still list him on their website schedules for his former show, but it is unknown if they are still running his new Air America show in those time slots. And judging by the response on various blogs, message boards and even Air America's own site, listeners are very vocal about "The Lionel Show."

Of course, time will tell if the show will grow and expand, and its up to Scott Ellberg and David Bernstein to make this happen. Particularly since predecessor Sam Seder actually improved his ratings on flagship station WWRL in the most recent Arbitron book.

In regard to the other changes, so far the only one that seems to be working is the move of Jon Elliott to three hours later. This was one move that made sense on paper, since it carves out a new shift for the network (Midnight-3A), gets him out of the way of Mike Malloy's 9-Midnight show, and many of Elliott's affiliates delay him to a later time slot anyway. In essence, Elliott's new shift is nearly competition-free, since Lionel is now gone from late nights and FOX News Radio's Alan Colmes wraps up his show an hour into Elliott's.

As a result, Elliott's flagship station, KLSD in San Diego, will now carry his entire show live, immediately following Malloy's, which gets a full three hour clearance starting Monday. Elliott has also been picked up by KQKE in San Francisco, KKZN in Denver, KPHX in Phoenix (ironically), KPTK in Seattle, KPOJ in Portland, KRXA in Monterey/Santa Cruz (which carries the straight Air America feed in overnights anyway), and other stations.

"The Air Americans" is the other new show coming to Air America. Basically, the Mark Riley-anchored show is a hodge-podge of various hosts at the station, including correspondents Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, David Bender and Laura Flanders. The four hour show essentially replaces two cancelled ones: "Politically Direct" (who's host Bender stays with the new show) and "EcoTalk" (which was going to die anyway). Thus far, no affiliate has announced their intentions of picking up "The Air Americans" and rumor has it not many people in the building are optimistic about its chances. Furthermore, there's a chance that WWRL may not even carry it, which in effect would kill the show, given that Air America all too often seems to be a bit too New Yorkish. Buzz about "The Air Americans" is not good. Nonetheless, they will promote the hell out of it, and even have some strong guests lined up.

For the weekends, the network has said very little about the changes and new shows that will debut. The only one we've really heard anything about is Seder's new Sunday show, but that's due to obvious reasons.

So, will Air America 2.0 be a success, or will it be yet another bit of bad luck for the much-beleaguered network? Only time will tell. Should be an interesting few weeks, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Seder to be guest on Malloy's show tomorrow

Now this should be interesting.

The dedicated fans of Sam Seder will be elated to know that the newly-anointed Air America Radio weekend host will be a guest on Mike Malloy's show tomorrow night. Look for it during the second hour.

Seder relaunched his website earlier today, timed coincidentally with the debut Air America's new site. And Seder's new Air America show will start this Sunday, from 4-7PM. And no, there's no word on whether Seder's appearance on Malloy's show means anything more than the fact that he's merely a guest. If there's more to it, then stay tuned to LTR to find out more.

The Seder segment will be on during hour two of Malloy's show, which airs from 9P-midnight on Nova M Radio.

Extreme Makeover - Air America Edition

As mentioned the other day, Air America Radio's new management is looking to make their mark, and part of that is via a new web presence and new logo, in addition to the new schedule that launches next week. And it looks like they've delivered.

Could this be a farewell to those premium links at the bottom of the front page linking to old bits from Marc Maron's show? Or the schedule that still showed Sam Seder filling the midday slot and "The Best of Peter Werbe" on weekends. It looks like they've done gone hired someone to give them some web presence. Well okay, they've still got the ancient audio bits. So nobody's perfect.

According to Mark Green, this is the official beginning of the much-ballyhooed Air America 2.0:

In the past two months, we at Air America Radio have been working hard to re-launch a great idea -- that is, talk radio for progressive patriots...talk radio that's informative, opinionated, entertaining.

This coming Monday/Tuesday, May 21-22, we'll be presenting you -- our loyal listeners, streamers, podcasters -- with a new look, new line-up, and our new blogger on this web site. And we'll let you know exactly when over those two kick-off days our 12 hosts will be interviewing some 30 leading political and public figures in America. People like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, like George Stephanopoulos and Chris Matthews, like Robert Redford and Paul Newman (see ad above), like Eliot Spitzer and Mike Bloomberg, like Gloria Steinem and Ted Sorensen (and David Brooks and Ralph Nader). All only on Air America.

Fasten your seat belts. On Monday, you and millions of others officially become Air Americans.

As mentioned previously, the network is revamping the whole schedule, combining, canceling or adding shows to the lineup. Monday will mark the official launch.

Taking a quick browse of the new site, the nice, bold layout grabs immediate attention. And the news headlines on the left are a nice touch. However, glaring omissions stick out like a sore thumb. Staff and listener blogs are sorely missed here, and really are needed if they wish to compete with the likes of Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and Huffington Post (and if they don't do this, they're stupid). Nova M Radio has even moved toward this somewhat. Interactivity is the buzzword for the much-ballyhooed "Web 2.0" as sites like MySpace and YouTube have become significant forces in bringing people together to look at home videos and get friend requests from crappy garage bands. Allegedly, this is all in the works, and the network has even hired their own blogger as well, Nancy Scola.

Links to the individual radio affiliates would be nice, as opposed to just a mere listing (then again, I guess I'm one-up on them in that regard). Or perhaps a current schedule (like they had before), rather than merely links to hosts' individual web pages that are rarely updated.

And a 100% overhaul of their site still needs to be done, since I did actually find Al Franken and Mike Malloy links while doing a quick browse). The site still looks incomplete. Considering how much Green and company want to improve Air America's web presence, perhaps they should hire a good full-time webmaster, if they haven't already.

But overall, not bad. Seeing as how they've carved out a significant presence in the progressive web media, Air America 2.0 would be best served if they looked into implementing Web 2.0.

Oh, and update the "on demand" sound files. June 2006? I mean, come on! How about some free snippets from current shows, like Ed Schultz and his crew are so prompt with? Year-old talk radio shows are rarely entertaining.

This thing still looks like a work in progress. Nonetheless, you can take a look for yourself at airamerica.com. And not to be outdone, Sam Seder, who's new weekend show debuts this Sunday at 4P ET, has overhauled his own site, which you can see here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Farewell, Falwell

So, you're probably hoping against all possible hope that I'll say something nice about Jerry Falwell. Okay, I will. He's dead. There, that's nice, isn't it?

Okay, that was kinda cruel and mean-spirited. And I'll bet I'll have Malkin and all the other wacky wingnuts after my ass too. Yeah, go right ahead and do that, why don't you. I doubt those asshat hypocrites have ever seen the inside of a church. And perhaps they should all take a good look in the mirror at their own sorry selves. We've already seen how they reacted toward the passing of Paul Wellstone and Coretta Scott King. Or how their false idol Rush Limbaugh paid his last respects to Jerry Garcia and Kurt Cobain. So don't give me that shit.

Anyways, Falwell probably meant well in the way he lived his life. And that's about the nicest thing I could possibly say about him. Hey, even arch nemesis Larry Flynt showed some class. Sure, Falwell was a preacher of both divided politics and divided faiths. His casual condemnation of any who dare disagree with him was probably not what God had in mind. And much of what came out of his big fat mouth could honestly be construed as hate speech. But deep down, he probably did what he felt was right. Unfortunately, one could probably say the same thing about Osama bin Laden.

Quite simply, the man used faith as a cold, blunt weapon of hate. Growing up Catholic, I always felt that spirituality was about love, first and foremost. "Love thy neighbor," they taught us. "Turn the other cheek." Unfortunately, in Falwell's twisted world, if you weren't a white Christian heterosexual American Republican male, you weren't jack shit. You'd be cast to the fires. But who made Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and all those other fanatics judges of our own fates? I highly doubt the Almighty himself decreed this. I'd like to think that the Supreme Being would frown on all of this negativity delivered in His/Her name.

So, why should I take the sentimental route in praising the recently departed in this case? Of course, my condolences go out to the man's loved ones, just like anyone who's suffered a loss. But Falwell's passing should most certainly not excuse him from any criticism from the many, many people he's offended and pointed fingers at in the past. Or the many bodies he's stepped over in his fundamentalist power grab. As I said, he probably did what he felt was right. But at the same time, he became the very antithesis of a good Christian. Quite simply, he was a very cruel, hate-filled man, swallowed by his massive ego and narrow-mindedness.

For example, he certainly did not feel much sympathy for people of the Jewish faith. Sure, he'd suck up a little when there just happened to be a few in the room. Or when he wanted to bash Palestinians. Like when he said, “I believe that the people of Israel are the chosen people of God.” Good enough, but that was just one side of his mouth:

"I do not believe that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew."

"The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior."

"Is (the Antichrist) alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish.

"I know a few of you here today don't like Jews. And I know why. He can make more money accidentally than you can on purpose."
In general, Falwell was deep down a good 'ol Southern boy who grew up in the heart of segregated America. And much of what he spoke was deep-seeded in that perspective:
"There are almost as many alcoholics as there are negroes."

"If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision (Brown v. Board of Education) would never have been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

"I do question the sincerity and non-violent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations."

"I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status."
If Falwell looked down upon people of different faiths, races and cultures, he was really a rube when it came to women:
"Most of these feminists are radical, frustrated lesbians, many of them, and man-haters, and failures in their relationships with men, and who have declared war on the male gender. The Biblical condemnation of feminism has to do with its radical philosophy and goals. That's the bottom line."

"I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men - that's their problem.

“It appears that America's anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them”
Oh, and ol' Jerry really despised homosexuals. More than anything else. I mean, he really, really hated them. So much, that he assumed that if he disliked them, then God must certainly believe likewise:
"God hates homosexuality."

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah's chariotters."

“(Homosexuals are) brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.”

“Homosexuality is Satan's diabolical attack upon the family that will not only have a corrupting influence upon our next generation, but it will also bring down the wrath of God upon America.”

"Someone must not be afraid to say, 'moral perversion is wrong.' If we do not act now, homosexuals will 'own' America!...If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way...and our nation will pay a terrible price!"

Falwell didn't really think much of his competition. He certainly had a 'my way or the highway' attitude toward other churches and faiths:
“Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America”

“If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being”

"We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours."

"I think the Muslim faith teaches hate."

"I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough of the history of his life. He was a violent man, a man of war. Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. And I think Mohammed set an opposite example."

He also didn't like the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the American way of life crouching in on his turf. After all, that cuts in to his power:
"Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions."

"The First Amendment is not without limits."

"In other words, my First Amendment rights and yours end where the welfare of the little people begins, and there are laws about that."

"There is no separation of church and state. Modern US Supreme Courts have raped the Constitution and raped the Christian faith and raped the churches by misinterpreting what the Founders had in mind in the First Amendment to the Constitution."

“Now we're looking at what we really started on 30 years ago, reconstruction of a court system gone awry.”

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."

“The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews”

"Somewhere in the past generation, we've lost our biblical mind and not arranged something better in its place. We need a spiritual brainwashing."
In Falwell's world, blind faith is an absolute. After all, it's a bit more difficult for people like him to brainwash the intelligent. Much easier with the gullible and naive:
“Textbooks are Soviet propaganda”

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
Falwell found the perfect marks when he started peddling his wares to the religious right, particularly during the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Very ironic, given that the first lady was a hardcore fan of that pagan practice known as astrology and the Reagans themselves rarely ever stepped inside a church. Nevertheless, there was a crowd that was ripe to be taken. He immediately coddled the fundamentalist wing of the GOP, forming a sham outfit known as the Moral Majority, and bellying up to the udder of that golden calf. Hey, I'll bet a few of them even fell for it. To further sweeten the pot, he became more conservative demogogue than Baptist preacher. His true religion was conservatism. And of course, anything smacking of liberalism was deemed to be the enemy. He even accused President Clinton of "treasonous behavior." In short, he told the fundie masses everything he felt they wanted to hear:
"We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today ... our battle is with Satan himself."

“(Joseph Farah) hits the nail on the head on every issue. What's more, he lays the blame for America's problems right where it belongs - in the lap of liberalism.”

"Labor unions should study and read the Bible instead of asking for more money. When people get right with God, they are better workers."

“Can you imagine the insolence of these protesters? ... They have the audacity to disparage and demean these courageous soldiers who are enduring great physical and emotional trauma because they believed in the effort to bring freedom to Iraq.”

“The media have a widely-held agenda (that doesn't include support of President Bush) and they are not about to tarnish the image of anti-war protesters by showing them for what they actually are, ...With this tyrannical approach to the news, it's really no wonder so many Americans don't take the networks seriously anymore. And it's no wonder that conservative Internet news sites have grown by leaps and bounds.”

"I am such a strong admirer and supporter of George W. Bush that if he suggested eliminating the income tax or doubling it, I would vote yes on first blush."

Of course, he followed many of the tried and true right-wing talking points. Even going so far as to give carte blanche to soil and tarnish what many feel to be God's greatest creation - this very rock that you and I are living on:
"I believe that global warming is a myth. And so, therefore, I have no conscience problems at all and I'm going to buy a Suburban next time."

"(Global warming is) Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus from evangelism to environmentalism."

"The whole global warming thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability."

Economic evangelism? Hmm... What would Jesus Do?

And in return for these carrots thrown at the lemmings, he injected his own brand of Bible banging. He anointed himself as the arbiter of good and evil. He developed a messiah complex. So much, that he felt it was okay to break a few commandments once in a while to keep 'em all in line:
"The message of peace and reconciliation under almost all circumstances is simply incompatible with Christian teachings as I interpret them. This 'turn the other cheek' business is all well and good but it's not what Jesus fought and died for. What we need to do is take the battle to the Muslim heathens and do unto them before they do unto us."

“...You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops and I am for the President—chase them all over the world, if it takes ten years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”

"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

“We visit prisoners on death row, and some of them are saved, but we believe their sentences should be carried out because they have a debt to society.”
Granted, not every conservative fell for this shuck n' jive. Perhaps the smartest of them all, the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, said it best when he said, "Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."

Of course, with as big a mouth as Falwell's, a few gaffes were inevitable. He made a complete ass of himself when he pointed his judgemental finger at the Teletubbies, those seemingly innocent mainstays of children's television in the 1990s. He even accused the purple one of being part of some sordid plot to turn our kids gay. "He is purple - the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle - the gay-pride symbol." Oh the horror!

But that paled when he pointed the finger at us for the events of September 11, 2001:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Needless to say, that went over like the proverbial fart in church. Feeling the world turn against him, Falwell offered a feeble apology out of the other side of his mouth, tail between legs and all.

I always found it interesting at the time that he didn't lay the blame where it belonged: At the feet of al Qaeda, particularly Osama bin Laden. Perhaps the reason was that people like Falwell, Pat Robertson and bin Laden are cut almost from the same cloth. Namely they're narrow-minded religious fanatics who see the world in black and white. You're either with them or against them and God. There is no middle ground. No a la carte menu to order from. To oppose them is to oppose God. Granted, our religious wackos don't fly airplanes into skyscrapers and behead people. But the mindset is eerily similar. What if our wackos felt murder was a way of making a point?

And like many of his ilk who become drunk on power, hypocrisy reared its ugly head. For years, he blasted Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church, which many believe to be little more than an obscenely wealthy cult. But when his Liberty University was looking at complete collapse in 1994, Falwell had no problem accepting $3.5 million of Moon's tainted money to bail it out. In fact, he even lobbied the president to pardon Moon's tax evasion conviction. Well, Moon does claim to be Jesus reincarnate.

Falwell also lobbied for a pardon for traitor and convicted perjurer Oliver North. He even endorsed his run for the Senate in 1994. And he lent money and promotional support for a lie-filled smear video called "The Clinton Chronicles," the sole purpose of which was to derail Bill Clinton's presidential bid in 1992. Talk about not coveting the truth!

In addition, Falwell was fined by both the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service on a couple occasions for raiding his tax-exempt ministry's coffers and funneling the money into political action committees. He also exploited an organization representing mostly black churches for the benefit of his followers. What a guy!

So, Jerry's worm food now. I guess that since he's departed for whatever afterlife he deserves, people are allowed only to speak kindly of him. I had no respect for him when he was alive, and I'm sure he probably wouldn't have had much respect for my Irish-Catholic heathen ass. So what do I say in a situation like this? Well, only that I hope we all learn from the man's mistakes and turn faith back into a tool of love and compassion, rather than one of divisiveness and hate. Maybe not the best way to honor him, but it most certainly is the best way to honor all of us.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

- Matthew 6:5 and 6:6

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring cleaning

Hi kids! Miss me?

Okay, news has been slow lately. So, I've been taking a bit of a break. Lots of things going on in the outside world, ya know.

Not to mention that this beautiful spring weather brings other things that are not so beautiful - namely every airborne allergen one can possibly imagine. Needless to say, I've been feeling pretty crappy as of late.

But there's oh so much to talk about. so without further ado, here we go:

Yes indeed, Lionel is now on Air America Radio. Lionel wrapped up his WOR gig just over a week ago, and some right-wing dork named Steve Malzberg has been hired to take his place. Nonetheless, Lionel fans (and I know you're out there) can tune in every day now, twelve hours earlier than normal, to hear "The Lionel Show" on Air America.

The rest of Air America's roster changes will be phased in starting this weekend, with Sam Seder's new Sunday afternoon show debuting this Sunday, May 20. Next Monday sees the weekday shuffle, as they launch "The Air Americans" weeknights (8P-midnight ET), bump Jon Elliott to three hours later (midnight-3AM ET) and make other changes. You can see the rest here.

And soon, you'll see a whole new Air America website. That is, if you can actually pull up their website (which seems to have been on the fritz too frequently as of late). I dunno, when I redesigned my site, I worked on it offline, then launched it in mere seconds, with no disruption. Then again, it doesn't seem like a real web-saavy bunch over there. Nonetheless, look for a redesigned presence and allegedly a new logo for Air America sometime soon. Perhaps prior to next week's on-air makeover. So if you haven't listened to or downloaded those year-old airchecks currently at the bottom of their front page, better get a move on. Stop procrastinating.

One show that will be displaced is "EcoTalk" with Betsy Rosenberg. Air America programmers dropped it from the weekday lineup, in order to roll out the new lineup. They did however reserve a Sunday slot for the show, 10A-noon ET. Only thing is, Rosenberg and company are trying to line up sponsors to keep it going. Doing a radio show isn't cheap, and they actually have to pay out of their own pocket. You can read more here.

As Lionel makes his Air America debut today, another liberal talk show makes its return today. After pondering the shuttering of the whole operation, Radiopower.org has rebounded, deciding to rebuild instead. And today, they welcome Tony Trupiano to the fold, with a new show airing exclusively on Radiopower. It will air from noon-3P ET weekdays, displacing Thom Hartmann, who will no longer be on the service. Trupiano has been around talk radio for awhile, mostly syndicated around his home state of Michigan. A few years back, he left radio to run for Congress. As of late, he has returned to the airwaves, often as a fill-in for Ed Schultz. Now, he's back on the air. Other shows on Radiopower currently include "American AM," a Tampa-area morning show, "KC Live," which I have absolutely no information on, and Peter Werbe's Sunday night show, which airs on WRIF in Detroit. Replays of the shows fill out the remainder of the schedule.

Another web radio service serving up liberal talk is Head-On Radio Network, which I regrettably don't get around to covering much (and some of those guys have been getting on my ass about it). Like Radiopower, they carry a generous slate of original programming, running a live lineup from 10A to 9P ET weekdays, with replays filling out the remainder of the lineup. There's been quite a bit of shuffling as of late, a new website layout (take THAT, Air America!) and other tweaks. You can check out shows such as "The Cup-o-Joe Radio Show" with Joe Vecchio, "Fox'd Up" with Jon Fox, Jeff Alan Wolf, Bill O' Brien, Guy James, Mark Levine and Bob Kincaid. They do a pretty bang-up job, pay out of pocket to provide quality talk radio to the streaming masses, and generally kick ass and take names. So instead of bitching and moaning about Air America and their balancing act of trying to please fickle listeners and terrestrial radio people at the same time, you can check out some legitimate alternatives. Check them out at Headonradionetwork.com.

Fans of Stephanie Miller are still gushing over her MSNBC simulcasts a few weeks ago. Don't look for this to become permanent. Miller said she would not want to do it again, whatever that means. MSNBC, in the wake of the whole Imus fiasco, has been in the process of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. Last week was Moral Court radio clown Larry Elder. MSNBC has also been shuffling their own hosts in and out of the slot, and this week White House correspondent David Gregory steps in, and he may get the gig permanently.

If you're a fan of fine theater looking for something a little more esoteric, then head over to Chicago, where "Jerry Springer: The Opera" has made its trek across the Atlantic from 609 performances in London. The production, about the talk show host and former Air America personality, starts on May 14 at Bailiwick Repertory in Chicago. How intriguing is this? David Soul, the former "Hutch" of "Starsky and Hutch" played Springer at one point, and both Harvey Keitel and Kevin Kline have reportedly been courted to play the role. Wow. Just plain wow.

Last we checked, WCMI in Asheville KY/Huntington, WV was still on the air and carrying Air America Radio programming. And they're evidently getting some attention, since the local paper even wrote an article about the syndicated radio show that appears on the station - The Young Turks. "They're one of the hottest commodities in progressive radio," WCMI Assistant Program Director Brandon Millman said recently. You can read more courtesy of the Herald-Dispatch.

Another newspaper article about a talk radio station came Sunday, as the Traverse City Record-Eagle did an article about Petoskey, MI move-in WJML. As you read here last week, the owner of WJML consummated some station-swapping, dealing mostly liberal talk WWKK and a quarter million in cash to another company in exchange for their high-powered Traverse City station. As a result, the best of the former WWKK and WJML have been combined on one station, simulcast in both Petoskey and Traverse City. So, liberal talk fans in Traverse City can now hear Ed Schultz every afternoon right before Michael Savage, and maybe even tune in to Air America, albeit delayed into the wee hours. Provided they don't sleep at night, of course.

Conservodorks are paranoid and live in perpetual fear that liberals are coming after them to force Limbaugh, Hannity, et. al. off the airwaves. Oh boo fucking hoo!

Oh shit. It's back. Just what we need - more unfunny comedy on television.

And finally, a side note to President Bush: Never, NEVER accidently joke about a 281 81-year old woman being alive during the the time of the 13 colonies. Especially if she's the Queen of England. Just plain embarassing. I'm beginning to worry about the 28% that still like this guy. Perhaps expected incoming British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will remember this, as he's expected to be less of a lapdog to the Bush Administration. We shall see.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Life at the bottom

Okay, so the early ratings reports show that WYTS in Columbus sucks ass.

Around Christmas time, the station, formerly known as WTPG, dropped their progressive talk format, which had garnered the frequency's best ratings since the old days of Top 40 hits on the AM dial, for lower-tier syndicated conservotalk. Since then, the new format has not caught on, particularly with the sign-on a few weeks later of yet another talk station, suburban FM station WTDA.

So, would this belly-flop convince the braintrusts at Clear Channel-Columbus to reconsider their hasty move? In a word, no.

See, the current strategy of WYTS is to serve as a flanker of sorts. Meaning that they tie up Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly and sports talker Jim Rome and keep other stations from grabbing them. Namely WTDA. Or any other FM station in town that decides to jump into the talk fray. It's an oft-used strategy, and in this case, it prevents competitors from becoming too competitive with Clear Channel's local gravy train, WTVN. In addition, WYTS serves as an account executive throw-in special, meaning that they have a little something-something to offer to clients who purchase ad time on WTVN.

In essence, it doesn't look like Clear Channel will bring back progressive talk anytime soon. As for anyone else, it looks like the best bet may be WVKO (1580AM), which recently returned to the local airwaves with a newly constructed tower and temporary reduced power (soon to increase). Allegedly, the new owner's goal is to turn around and sell the station for a rather steep asking price (though the station had long been on the market with little interest), or try and sell brokered programming on it. If that fails, the owner does know about the demand for a return of progressive talk to the local airwaves. Jones Radio Networks, which syndicates Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz and others has been in contact. Air America Radio is in the station's Rolodex. Nonetheless, that's about as far as anything has gotten over there. Progressive talk fans in Columbus will just have to wait for the format to return to the local airwaves.

Meanwhile, Columbus area listeners, particularly those to the southwest of town, can try and pick up WAIS (770AM), a small daytime-only station that recently picked up Schultz and Miller.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ratings Roundup Winter 2007: Part 3

And now we come to part three.

Today, Arbitron released ratings books for more markets, including five that have liberal talk radio stations.

In Minneapolis/St. Paul (#16), 1000 watt independently-owned suburban blaster KTNF drops a bit, from its highest-ever 1.7 to 1.1 for the Winter book. This is a tenth of a point higher than their position a year ago. They are clustered in a pack with three other talk stations: Conservotalk FM'er KTLK-FM, which rises just over a full point, Salem's WWTC and female-oriented FM talker WFMP, which they are tied with. Last fall, the station actually bested KTLK in several daypart and demographic breakdowns, particularly with Ed Schultz' show. Since then, the station moved Schultz to his new time slot, three hours earlier.

There's some interesting stuff going on in Buffalo (#52), as WWKB almost triples its ratings in one book, leaping from 0.6 to 1.7, good for 16th place in the market. They are helped somewhat by a change of formats at WHLD, which previously carried Air America Radio programming, prior to their current gospel music format (which has thus far failed to chart). Since the flip, WWKB has picked up Randi Rhodes and reorganized their schedule, to what appears to be greater success. They are also up nearly half a point from a year ago.

WPTT in Pittsburgh (#24), which carries Air America's Thom Hartmann, local talker Lynn Cullen and even FOX Noise suck-up Alan Colmes drops only a tenth of a point, from 1.2 to 1.1, the same point where they were a year ago.

Market #22 Denver's KKZN slides as well, from 1.9 to 1.3, close to where they were last winter and spring. They are still neck-and-neck with Salem conservotalker KNUS.

And finally, in the Queen City of Cincinnati (#28), WSAI, which ditched liberal talk around the beginning of the year for some weird form of Neal Boortz-anchored 'lifestyle talk' has dropped off the ratings charts. They are non-existent. Hope the Clear Channel braintrusts there who were adamant about wiping progressive talk off the local airwaves are satisfied with this little account executive throw-in special they've created.

Coming up on Friday, books for Miami, Seattle, Columbus and others will be released. Portland and Phoenix are set for Monday. I'll likely combine both days into one report, on Monday afternoon.

Ratings Roundup Winter 2007: Part 2

Earlier, I gave you part one of the Winter 2007 Arbitron reports for various markets across the fruited plain. Today, you get a few more.

Just a quick note to add, these ratings are the overall ones, ages 12+ in all measurable dayparts. Demographic and daypart breakdowns are not publicly released by Arbitron, and are rather rare to come by, unless one pays the money to subscribe. Advertisers don't really rely on overall numbers to place buys, but at least these numbers give a glimpse of how stations are doing. So without further ado...

KQKE in San Francisco is still shaking the bay almost as much as that MacArthur Maze chaos currently jamming up local traffic. This time, they move from 1.1 to 1.3. They beat sister conservotalker KNEW by a tenth of a point and high-powered CBS Free FM outlet KIFR, which gets a 0.8. KGO, which some expected to lose it's #1 perch, stays on top with a significant lead at 5.5, almost a full point ahead of its nearest rival, adult contemporary-formatted KOIT. Oh, and ultra-right wing KSFO edges up slightly. In San Jose (#35), KQKE is down from 1.1 to 0.6. And KGO is at the top of the heap.

Down the road in the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz market (#80), KRXA makes a spectacular leap, from 0.6 to 1.1. They are only a fifth of a point behind local conservotalker KSCO. The most recent trend report actually had KRXA tied with them. KGO is the #2 station in this market, and other area conservotalkers, such as KSFO, Fresno's KMJ and the new local Clear Channel Hannity/Savage/Dr. Laura outlet KION all sit at the bottom of the ratings, in the 0.4-0.6 range. KOMY, the former Air America affiliate that recently switched to oldies, has dropped off the ratings list.

In Washington, DC (#8), WWRC, usually good for a half-share, is a no-show in the book this time around, but that's not surprising. Talk radio gets mediocre ratings in this market, save for all-news WTOP and, to a lesser extent, WMAL. Free FM'er WJFK has a 1.6 with their non-political shock jock format and the rest, including all-news WTWP, African-American talker WOL and Clear Channel conservotalker WTNT are below a one share. Given the demographic breakdown of this market and the abundance of news/talk stations, an AM station with a puny signal like WWRC has an uphill struggle ahead of it. Luckily, the station is run on the cheap, with no local programming (syndicated progressive talk programming, and most talk programming in general, is offered on a barter basis, with no upfront money necessary). There are quite a few other talk stations that are a no-show in the book, including WFED, which is directed heavily at Beltway political wonks; 50,000 watt WMET, which is basically Greaseman's right-wing morning show, various brokered talk shows, and Music Of Your Life filling in occasional gaps; and suburban talker WAGE. Not to mention noncommercial stations like NPR outlet WAMU, Pacifica's WPFW and C-Span radio on WCSP. That's a lot of talk! Thirteen stations, including WWRC, air news and/0r talk formats.

Coming later today, books will be released for Minneapolis, Denver, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Buffalo and a few others. You can see all the market ratings results at Radio and Records or Stationratings.com.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ratings Roundup Winter 2007: Part 1

Well, it's that time again. Over the next week or so, Arbitron ratings survey reports for this past winter will be released. And the results for some of the biggest markets have already come out.

In New York (#1), WWRL is holding steady, dropping from a 0.8 to a 0.7 (yes, I would consider this 'holding steady,' given the usual margin of error). This is similar to where the station has been since becoming the flagship for Air America Radio last September, and is not bad considering the signal drop-off after sunset, which comes much earlier in the winter months. In the Long Island (#18) market, this early sunset seems to be a factor, as they slide from a 0.7 to a 0.5. In Middlesex, NJ (#39) they dip a tenth of a point from 0.5 to 0.4.

The verdict is still out on whether the recent changes at KTLK in Los Angeles (#2) will result in stronger ratings. The station dips a fifth, from 0.8 to 0.6. In mid-March, KTLK completely overhauled their schedule with the addition of popular local talker Marc Germain. It's too soon to tell what effect these moves will have.

WCPT in Chicago (#3) rises a tenth of a point, from 0.7 to 0.8, only a fifth of a point behind CBS-owned FM talker WCKG (which this week dropped the "Free FM" moniker from their on-air branding). Salem's strong-signalled conservotalker WIND falls a fifth of a point from 1.2 to 0.7, virtually half their audience, dropping it behind WCPT. Hoffmania points out that conservotalk, so far, has taken a beating in the recently released ratings books, with even WLS, dropping almost a full point in the last year. It should be noted that WCPT carries no local programming. Incidentally, WCPT, with a suburban daytime-only signal, again beats their FM sister station, Nine FM, which covers almost all of the Chicago market via three suburban frequencies. Which begs the question, why not WCPT-FM?

WDTW in Detroit (#10) has been showing signs of life as of late, and this past winter, has risen from a 0.5 to 0.7. In the last year, their audience has almost doubled. Like WCPT, the station does not carry any local shows.

In Boston (#11), the duo of WXKS and WKOX have completely dropped off the ratings chart following their switch from progressive talk to "Rhumba." Ironically, Arbitron survey methods tend to be rather favorable to Spanish-language stations. Obviously, in the case of these two stations, it hasn't.

KLSD in San Diego (#17) has consistenly been one of the more successful progressive talk stations, thanks partly to a larger local presence. The station jumps from 1.9 to 2.2 as every conservotalker in the market drops considerably.

And in Akron (#73), WARF rises slightly, from 0.6 to 0.8 for its final book as a progressive talk station.

You can catch up on market ratings at Radio and Records or at Stationratings.com. New markets are added daily at around 5P ET. Stay tuned here as well for updates.

A virtual potpourri of tidbit goodness

Things have been somewhat quiet lately in medialand. Basically, just a bunch of little stuff. And I've admittedly been a bit lax in putting it up here. My apologies, as I often get sidetracked the last weekend in April when the NFL Draft comes around (and yes, I'm still giddy about Oklahoma blazing inferno Adrian Peterson in a Vikings uniform, though he still has to suffer through Brad Childress' boring-as-hell offense). So, here's some of the stuff you may have missed.

First, one comes, one goes. Sort of. Following the shuffling of Stone Broadcasting's stations in Western Michigan, the deal that sees WWKK (750AM) in Petoskey traded for a 50,000 watt signal in Traverse City has been consummated. Therefore, WWKK, which carried a mostly liberal talk format, is now simulcasting a country format of a Traverse City station, and Stone's conservative talker WJML (1110AM) is simulcasting in Traverse City on WLDR (1210AM). The new WJML combo combines the programming of both of Stone's Petoskey stations. Ed Schultz is on from 3-6P and Lionel from 10-Midnight. Thom Hartmann and Randi Rhodes air in the wee hours of the night, starting at Midnight. Of course, to get to that stuff, you'd have to put up with the likes of Neal Boortz, Glen Beck and Michael Savage. The good news is that Traverse City listeners can now hear liberal talk programming, courtesy of WLDR. So, welcome aboard!

And soon, a station will go away, if it hasn't already. Tiny WLFP (1550AM), formerly WURP, in Pittsburgh is not really a liberal talk station. They have carried The Young Turks for quite a few years, and even aired some weekend programming from Air America. But they also carried Tom Leykis, Don and Mike and G. Gordon Liddy, with Sporting News Radio filling in most of the other gaps. With a pending $225K sale in the works to BusinessTalkRadio.net, the station will soon air the feed of that network. The original plan was to bring Don Imus' syndicated show back to their morning drive slot, but we all know how that turned out. As far as I know, they're still working out a few bugs and the switch will be flipped anytime now. Currently, it sounds like they're running quite a bit of Sporting News Radio leading up to the flip, displacing their other programming, including the Turks. And they currently have a message on their website claiming that a format flip is imminent.

In addition, listeners in central Ohio, particularly around the Athens area can hear Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz on WAIS (770AM). The station is daytime-only, meaning they sign off from sunset to sunrise. But fans who miss WTPG in Columbus can now hear some of the departed programming straight outta Nelsonville, OH. The station has no web presence to speak of, but you can find out more about them at Radio Locator.

And don't count out new liberal talk stations on the horizon. Nova M Radio's Sheldon and Anita Drobny were in Boston last week appearing at an event designed to help work out a plan to bring liberal talk back to the city's airwaves. Thanks to the efforts of a swelling grassroots movement and Jeff Santos, who had the only local show on WXKS/WKOX before it's flip to "Rhumba," the Drobnys have taken an interest in their plight, and are exploring ways to do in Boston what they successfully accomplished in Phoenix. You can read more about the event and see pictures at Daily Kos. Incidentally, since the two Clear Channel stations dropped liberal talk, they have been nonexistent in the local ratings books. And Arbitron surveys have been known to be rather favorable to Spanish language radio stations.

Speaking of Nova M, they are offering listeners the opportunity to leave the country with Mike Malloy. Sort of. It's a seven day Mexican Cruise, departing October 7 and going to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. You can read more here. If Mexico doesn't intrigue you, you can also sail with Air America's Randi Rhodes to Alaska in August.

UPDATED ITEM: Wonder who WOR would hire to replace Lionel when he departs for Air America? Well, look no further - his replacement will be Steve Malzberg. Now, the name sounds vaguely familiar to me, but he was formerly on WABC and the old incarnation of WWRL. And judging by his website, which features links to NewsMax and Club For Growth, in addition to the typically hollow 'support the troops' mantra, he sounds like a run-of-the-mill conservojock. Anyways, Malzberg will also be syndicated in Lionel's slot on the WOR network starting May 7. Uh, I think I'll pass.

And finally, for people wondering who the hell is doing the 9-Noon shift on Air America this week, that is Dave Barber, formerly of WPRO in Providence, as well as the Michigan Talk Radio Network. The Flint, MI native has also worked at WWCK and WFDF in his hometown. And yes, he knows Michael Moore, featuring him on his shows from time to time. And no, Barber will not be hired by the network. In fact, he just got rehired by WWCK for the same time slot. So a double congratulations to Dave Barber. He continues at Air America for the rest of the week.

A minor correction: WWCK program director John Roman has set LTR straight. They haven't rehired Dave Barber, but are running his Air America fill-in appearance this week. Their schedule goes back to normal starting next week. My bad.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

NPR's new younger-skewing morning show set to go

Following on the heals of Public Radio International's upcoming answer to NPR's "Morning Edition" comes NPR's previously announced younger-skewing in-house rival.

MSNBC's Alison Stewart will be co-hosting the new show with Luke Burbank, under the working title "The Bryant Park Project," and will likely debut in the fall.

"Alison's new role at NPR is a radio homecoming for her," NPR senior vp Jay Kernis told staffers this morning. "While a student at Brown University, she was music director for WBRU Radio, the nation's largest commercial college radio station, and anchored news for music station WHTZ Radio New York.

Stewart is excited about the new gig. "NPR has been a part of my life, my real life, not work, for years. I am not only thrilled but also really honored to come aboard," she said.

The new endeavor is described as a "24-hour multimedia news service and morning drive show for Adults 25-44."

Stewart starts May 14, and although she is giving up her MSNBC show, will continue to do some work for the network.

Stephanie Miller does her thing on MSNBC

As many readers of LTR know, this week's morning slot on MSNBC has been turned over to Stephanie Miller, who is even doing her show from their Seacaucus, NJ studios.

The show airs from 6-9A ET, so the radio simulcast will actually be aired on a three hour delay for affiliates normally airing her live. Her MSNBC gig will continue through Wednesday May 2, but who knows? Maybe they'll extend it like they did with Michael Smerconish.

Anyways, if you missed it and want to see highlights, you can find them here:

Crooks and Liars
YouTube (1)(2)

MJbos at Air America Place has converted yesterday's and today's entire shows into video files, available as BitTorrent downloads (since downloading files of this size can only realistically be done via a file sharing program). You can find and download them here. In order to download them (which are whoppers, at between 314Mb and 562Mb) you need to install a BitTorrent client such as Azureus or BitLord on your system.

I'll add more video links as I get them. If any of you happen to discover any more, just add them to the LTRTube group (if they're in YouTube format) or just drop me an email with link.

And if you love seeing Stephanie Miller on MSNBC and can't get enough of it, drop them a line and let them know.

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