Monday, July 30, 2007

Former late night talker Tom Snyder dies

Many readers likely remember when David Letterman's 'Late Night' show followed Johnny Carson's in the 1980s. But likely, it's the older readers here who remember the guy who held the time slot before Letterman. He was the late night king of laid back cool, Tom Snyder. Sadly, Snyder passed away from leukemia yesterday at the age of 71.

Long before cable TV became a mainstay. Long before MTV. In the 1970s, Tomorrow was the place one went for a modern pop culture fix. Snyder was hip way before SNL and Letterman. While Carson programmed his show for older generations, with older guests and older styles of music, former news anchor Snyder embraced the cutting edge and the post-counterculture era. Typical guests included John Lennon, Johnny Rotten and Kiss. Yeah, I know. Sounds pretty quaint in 2007. But as a young kid of the 70s and 80s, this was a pretty big deal. Up-and-coming new wave artists such as Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Jam, Iggy Pop, Public Image Ltd. and many others played on his show, while the only times it seemed Carson had on rock musicians was to make fun of their hair. U2's first American television appearance was on the Tomorrow show. Wendy O. Williams once blew up a TV on the set!

Snyder wasn't an outrageous guy. Hell, he probably didn't even know who half these people were. He was so unhip that he actually was hip. One could obviously tell he didn't really get into the music made by many of his guests. He was a pretty square guy, ripe for parody. Dan Aykroyd did just that on Saturday Night Live. But Snyder was no fuddy-duddy. Though any casual viewer could obviously tell that he did not listen to PiL, he most certainly had no problem holding his own against John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) when the ex-Sex Pistols singer did his damnedest to try and embarass the host. Or when an equally confrontational Howard Cosell unsuccessfully tried to paint Snyder as merely a media whore.

The people Snyder had on the show were amazing. Non-musical personalities appearing with Snyder were also noteworthy. Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Charles Manson and Ayn Rand appeared on the show. Basically, the types of people not seen on Carson. He also interviewed the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra.

All the while, Snyder was a pro at keeping a very laid-back (yet confrontational), intimate vibe, perfect for the late night hours. Think Charlie Rose with more entertaining guests. Think Larry King with better questions and more personality. Or Dick Cavett without the boredom. Or Tavis Smiley without the arrogance. There was often no live studio audience. No house band. No joke-filled monologue. It was casual and intriguing late night conversation, in-depth interviews, casual joking and of course, great music.

Tomorrow ran from 1973 until 1982, when after some ill-advised tinkering, the higher-ups at NBC decided to cancel the show to make way for a younger talent they had been grooming, David Letterman. Letterman was a huge fan of Snyder's, and after moving to CBS in 1992, was given full power to create and produce a show to follow his. Letterman's obvious choice to host it was none other than Snyder, who went on to host The Late, Late Show from 1995 until 1999.

Like Carson, Snyder withdrew from the public eye following his retirement from television in 1999. His main contact with the public at large was via occasional blogging on his website, which he finally shut down in 2005, after announcing he had chronic lymphocytic leukemia. There were rumors as to the seriousness of his affliction, and he had sold his house in Southern California, retreating to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Snyder ended every show with his usual line:

"Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air."

Tom Snyder, you will be missed. Sadly, we'll never see another one like you.

See some highlights of Snyder's career at YouTube. This is basically a best-of clip, as featured on NBC a few years back. Other interviews with Manson, Lydon and Jerry Garcia can also be found there.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's in a name?

The whole thing started last Saturday. Writer and blogger Rick Perlstein was a guest on Mike Feder's show on Sirius Left. While at the Sirius Satellite Radio studios, he discovered something that disturbed him.

Sirius has a variety of talk channels. And two in particular dedicated almost solely to political talk, one for each side. The one for liberal talk is called 'Sirius Left'. And it's right-wing counterpart is dubbed 'Sirius Patriot'. So, Perlstein was a bit miffed that Sirius allegedly was trying to decide who is a patriot and who isn't. He was offended by it, and issued a call to arms for the slighted to voice their displeasure to the satellite radio provider. He kept at it for all of last week, demanding his readers and other web activists voice their displeasure. And of course, this little meme has spread across the internet.

All fine and dandy, but what Perlstein didn't mention, or probably notice prior to his appearance, is that 'Sirius Patriot' is not new. It's been around for years. I knew about it three years ago. And Sirius didn't even come up with the name. In 2000, Salem Communications acquired several AM radio stations in Minneapolis-St. Paul. One of these was WWTC, a long-dying AM station that had gone through many formats and owners over the previous two decades. Salem's other two stations were already airing the company's stock Christian-oriented programming, so the decision was made to test out their new format. This one was made up of wall-to-wall conservotalk, mostly from a roster of hosts from their own syndicated network. Guys like Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt. When WWTC signed on their new format in March 2001, the station and format were dubbed "The Patriot". This is the only Salem talk station I've found thus far that carries this moniker. Since then, they've used simpler branding and uniform logos.

Now, when "1280 The Patriot" signed on, I just scratched my head. My first reaction was that only a right-winger could come up with a name so absurd. Was I offended? Not really. Sure, it's a bit crass, but it's just a radio station after all. Though, the Patriot moniker seemed as equal on the absurd scale as "Fair and balanced". In short, I just didn't think much of it, particularly for a station that was and still is a ratings bottom feeder in the Twin Cities market.

Flash forward to a few years later, as Sirius was looking to change around their political channels. They wanted to rename their 'Left' and 'Right' to 'Liberty' and 'Patriot'. As it turns out, Sirius Right got the name change, and Sirius Left remained.

The outcry over this name game prompted Sirius Left morning host Alex Bennett to chime in, explaining what the whole hubbub is about. He posted his response on his own site, as well as his unofficial Yahoo! Group. And the way he sees it, it's much ado about nothing, and a bit foolish. Here's part of his response:

About two years ago, SIRIUS decided to re-image its talk channels; the programmers were thinking of changing the names of the political stations to SIRIUS Liberty (Left) and SIRIUS Patriot (Right). At the last minute, at my urging and that of others, we kept the name SIRIUS Left, since it was a better name than any other to describe what we were doing. "Patriot" made it through. At that point, I complained that the "Patriot" name was offensive. I even went as far as to argue against it on the air, but the change had already happened and since no one followed me into the breach, the name stuck.

My question is simple: where were all of you when it mattered? The chances are that those pillorying SIRIUS didn't subscribe to the service then and probably don't have it now. Rather, this was brought to light by a blogger by the name of Rick Perlstein, who says that this whole matter came to him while he was a guest of SIRIUS on the Mike Feder Show. One has to assume that Mr. Perlstein doesn't have SIRIUS either, otherwise he would have known about all of this long ago.

To me, this is at best a tempest in a tea pot. SIRIUS listeners are a community, a family if you will, and they have barely mentioned the question. In fact, when this whole thing was brought up to the listeners of program, they thought it to be trivial at best. I suppose the big question is, aren't there more important things to send letters about? This is why I've come to hate liberals and their cowardly little persona, "the Progressive" - sitting down for five minutes to send a letter makes you actually believe you are an activist. To those offended: Have guts, proudly call yourselves Leftists; start living it rather than chasing after causes that are trivial and banal.

I have worked for SIRIUS for 3 1/2 years now. They hired me at a time when no one else would because I was a Leftist. Sure, I was offered jobs if I would change my political stripe, but I couldn't do that and still look at myself in the mirror. SIRIUS has never told me what to say or what to think. They have encouraged me to speak my piece and have never interfered in the content of the program. They were doing this channel before Air America ever existed and they were - and are - doing it better. No one told them to do it, they just felt the channel had to exist somewhere and if not in this new method of distribution, then where? SIRIUS also proudly airs "OutQ," a GLBT channel which is the only radio station of its kind in the country. This is the freest I have ever been, and going back to any other type of corporate radio would be impossible for me to consider.

You are attacking the good guys when you should be savaging the bad. That is what makes me mad. That is what prompted me to write this. One blogger wrote something, and then without questioning if he even knew what he was talking about, thousands took to protesting this trivial matter. The world is melting, people are dying, whole populations are being displaced, the United States has become the bad guy, people starve, 50 million people go without healthcare, genocide runs rampant - and all people do is complain about the name of a radio station on a service they don't even listen to? George Bush would be proud.

The truth is, Bennett is right. Is this really worth the hassle? Especially since there's bigger fish to fry in our society? Bennett has never been one to mince words, and perhaps that's what makes him so good at what he does. And he's been around too long to read talking points faxes, opting to say whatever he wants. Needless to say, this whole controversy is a non-starter. I felt that earlier this week when the Perlstein thing started to gather steam.

Never mind the name game. If people are so adamant about left vs. right programming on Sirius, then they're focusing their energies in the wrong direction. Chew on this: As stated earlier, Sirius has two main political commentary channels: Sirius Left features exclusive hosts such as Bennett, Feder, and Lynn Samuels, as well as Ed Schultz, Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Mike Malloy. Sirius Patriot consists of Bill Bennett, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, Sirius' own Mike Church, and an NRA-oriented nightly show, among others.

But that's not where political talk ends on Sirius. The likelihood of finding more conservative opinion there is much greater than finding liberal talk. Granted, there's a lot more conservotalk than left-leaning talk in the marketplace. And Sirius seems to represent this. For news/talk programming, Sirius offers up the following:

ABC News & Talk: This channel consists mostly of shows syndicated by ABC Radio Networks. Sean Hannity, Larry Elder and Mark Levin, all notorious conservatives, are prominent here.

FOX News has two offerings available on Sirius. One is a straight feed of the Noise Channel (ch. 131). The other is 'FOX News Talk', consisting of the radio shows of most of FOX's usual gang of idiots. Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson and Brian Kilmeade are all here, with programming from the Noise Channel filling in the gaps.

CNN Headline News is the straight feed from that network. Low-rated conservative favorite Glen Beck gets lots of facetime here. Do they still do the headlines thing?

Rounding out the Sirius news/talk offerings, they've got CNN, CNBC, BBC World Service, World Radio Network, two NPR channels, Bloomberg Business Radio, and other channels devoted to comedy, female-oriented talk and entertainment news.

And then there's Sirius OutQ, which is LGBT-themed programming. Outside of the outspoken Michelangelo Signorile and a news program, it's mostly lifestyle chat, entertainment gossip and music programming.

Of course, Howard Stern looms large on Sirius. He's got two channels devoted to his show, his old WXRK/CBS archives, shows about the show and other hosts such as Bubba The Love Sponge. Stern occasionally gets political (he's basically a social libertarian who doesn't like Bush), but the raunch factor, especially on satellite radio, likely turns many off. But Stern is the 800lb. gorilla at Sirius, and he is especially tight with Sirius boss Mel Karmazin. Lots of money tied up in him as well.

So basically, actual liberal talk can be found only on one channel, Sirius Left. See where I'm going with this?

Granted, Sirius was a pioneer in liberal talk on the airwaves. Sirius Left was around long before Air America, when they were airing the feed from the now-defunct I.E. America network, home to Hartmann, Malloy, Peter Werbe and others. Small independent shows, such as The Young Turks, also aired for several years here. They also had an Air America-dedicated channel, prior to that network signing an exclusive deal with XM (think they got burned on that deal?). But as of now, it's Sirius Left and that's about it. And no, I don't consider NPR to be 'liberal talk'. It's a bit more general interest, arts programming and in-depth news.

I have long thought that it would be a good idea for Sirius to roll out a second liberal talk channel. Since Air America left, they've been limited to only one. And it's been a struggle to shoehorn all that talk in one space. As a result, the shows of Miller and Ed are time-delayed. Hartmann is only on for one hour live, to make room for Lynn Samuels. The rest of his show is bumped into the overnight hours. A second channel would help clean some of that up. So, given that Air America is not an option (though Hartmann has long had his own deal with Sirius), how would they go about fleshing out two channels of liberal talk? Here's an idea:

  • Put the JRN stuff (Press, Miller and Schultz) together live on one channel.
  • Seek out other content providers. One obvious place would be Head-On Radio Network, which programs a rather healthy roster of live talk from 10AM-11PM weekdays. carries several proprietary shows as well, including Tony Trupiano.
  • Add non-commercial Pacifica-style shows such as "Democracy Now" and "Free Speech Radio News".
  • Independently-syndicated shows from the likes of Doug Basham and Peter B. Collins (formerly with Sirius Left).
  • Doug Stephan's six-hour morning show, formerly on Sirius Left (hey, why not?)
  • Move Samuels' show out of the way of Schultz and Hartmann. Perhaps a 3PM start time.

    See? That would be enough to flesh out two channels. Call the second one Sirius Liberty. Problem solved. And it gives progressive radio fans, who have been rather frustrated with Sirius' somewhat meager progressive talk options, another reason to subscribe.

    As for the name game on satellite radio? Much ado about nothing. Hell, XM names their alt-rock channels after "I Love Lucy" characters.
  • Saturday, July 21, 2007

    FM? AM? HD? IBOC? Digesting the alphabet soup

    By now, you've probably all heard of a young technology on the radio dial. Supposedly, it will make AM sound like FM, and FM sound like digital CD quality. In addition, it has the potential to double, triple, even quadruple the selection of programming on the dial.

    But the question all of us are asking is, what the hell is HD Radio?

    I've been thinking about writing something about HD Radio for awhile. As readers of LTR know, audio technology, in the form of webcasting, WiFi, podcasting and satellite radio has been a frequent part of this site. I guess what inspired today's entry is the news out of Cincinnati that venerable online (and former local station) will be making a return to the Queen City airwaves thanks to this semi-obscure technology. Today, we turn our focus on a different type of radio animal, HD Radio. Now, I am far from an expert on this, and I may even get a flaming comment from some tech geeks. Think of it as a rube talking to other rubes, trying to explain it all in simple terms.

    But the question is, how does one listen? What does it cost? Can I pick it up in my everyday Chevy beater?

    In short, what the hell is HD Radio?

    HD Radio was developed by a company called iBiquity Digital Corporation. And it is a brand name of a form of digital transmission for your everyday AM and FM radio stations. The HD Radio system allows stations to broadcast crystal-clear audio and a variety of text and data-based services, in addition to more FM channels, without changing to new frequency bands.

    To help avoid confusion with HDTV, a much faster-growing technology, the 'HD' in 'HD Radio' does not stand for 'high definition'. It's basically a brand and trademark of iBiquity. There's really nothing 'high definition' about it, except that the signal it receives is in the form of ones and zeros. In short, it's digital. The 'HD' doesn't officially mean anything in iBiquity's scheme of things. If one were to attach a meaning to it, I guess 'hybrid digital' would be adequate.

    In keeping with the rest of the world, and as the FCC is heavily foisting HDTV upon the masses, to the point that all analog television broadcasting will be kaput in a year and a half, the commission selected HD Radio as the standard for digital radio broadcasting. Evidently, they learned their mistakes from the AM stereo blunder in the 1980s, where they fumbled in establishing a broadcast standard, to the point that when they finally settled on a technology, Motorola's C-QUAM standard, nobody really cared anymore. Hell, the only place I've ever heard AM stereo was in an old Dodge K-Car. Think typical AM sound, but with channel separation. Still sounded pretty cool, though.

    Now, I guess the best way to describe HD Radio is by comparing it a little with its TV counterpart. Keep in mind that TV uses a totally different technology. But some of the main components are similar. The content is sent digitally, rather than in plain analog. Meaning that in pure digital mode, there is no static or ghosting. You either get it or you don't. Today's HD radios, however, are designed to switch back and forth between analog and digital, depending on the strength of the signal (like in digital TV, the digital signal in radio is far weaker than the analog one). So if you venture outside of reception areas, it may flicker back and forth a bit. Kinda like stereo to mono on typical FM. Fret not, they're working on the signal strength issues, and newer receivers will be more finely tuned. And unlike HDTV, in which stations use a separate dedicated digital channel, digital radio piggy-backs on current frequencies, making transitioning a little more complicated.

    Hearing radio in far superior sound quality may or may not be enough to entice consumers to go out and buy new receivers. But the icing on this cake does hold some promise. Namely sideband channels. HDTV is already well-known for this. You can see for yourself on your local NBC affiliate, which will likely have an all-weather side channel. Or your local public TV station, which may have different side channels devoted to children's programming, Spanish-language shows, and even the really cool 'Create', which consists of lifestyle, travel and how-to programming.

    Digital FM (AM is not a possibility) will have something similar. This concept is called IBOC (in-band on-channel). For example, people in Los Angeles listening to KROQ on their HD units can flip over to the HD2 channel to hear a separate "ROQ of the '80s" channel, complete with all the old music they used to play and even really old liners and promos). Or they can hear a secondary channel consisting of jazz, classical music or eclectic rock on their local NPR outlet. People in Sheridan, Wyoming, who would otherwise never get to hear liberal talk on a local station, can tune into KYTI's HD3 side channel and hear the straight Air America Radio feed. Their other two sister stations carry ESPN radio and comedy on their sidebands. And so far, aside from talk formats and AM simulcasts on the sidebands, it's all commercial free.

    The cost to receive the programming? Zilch. So far, many of the big radio companies, such as Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom, Citadel, etc. have upgraded their broadcasting and transmission equipment for this and over a thousand stations nationwide are broadcasting digitally, side channels and all. Clear Channel even went to the workshop and came up with "Format Lab", 75 distinct automated formats for their stations (and others) to pick up. Formats like bluegrass, dance club music, classic and alternative country, golden oldies, blues, indie rock and others. They also have Pride Radio, targeted toward LGBT listeners, and even a channel programming nothing but classic Casey Kasem countdowns from decades past. Aside from audio programming, some companies are exploring other options, such as commuter traffic data.

    So, you're probably thinking this sounds pretty damn cool. What's the catch? Well, in order to hear this stuff through a radio, you gotta get the right equipment. A typical receiver will not pick this stuff up, only the venerable analog signal. An HD Radio-compatible unit is required. And this is where iBiquity and their partners have screwed up. Sure, they promote the hell out of it, but it's all very confusing, particularly since there's a competing (but somewhat compatible) technology out there called FMExtra. The biggest problem is that there's hardly any product out there. There's a few household and tabletop units available, but not as many people really listen to radio that way. Most of the listening is done in cars, and so far, there's not many options available. BMW and Volkswagen supposedly are offering it as an option on their factory-installed units. Some car dealerships are following suit. A few companies have HD Radio car converters available (remember those old FM converters from the '70s? These are a bit more advanced.). And so far, only one company, JVC, manufactures a complete HD-ready aftermarket head unit for about $199, with other companies such as Sony and budget line Jensen to soon follow suit. But that's not enough. In order to grow, people have to have an easier way to hear it. And for that to happen, they need to get receivers out there, and especially in cars. And they need salespeople in the Best Buys and Radio Shacks of the world who know what the heck it is. Often, there are stories about salespeople who have no clue as to what the hell HD Radio is. They're most likely to take you to the TV section.

    Another hurdle for HD Radio is competition. Satellite radio services such as XM and Sirius are fairly well-established, and are widely available from the car manufacturers and in aftermarket kits. Many car receivers made today have connection plugs for easily plugging in an iPod or similar device. And with new technologies such as WiFi and phone-based internet services, the day when we can actually hear internet radio conveniently in the car may soon arrive. Where does HD Radio fit into this grand scheme?

    HD Radio does have some advantages. Namely, the infrastructure is already there. AM and FM radio are not going away anytime soon, and many stations have or are working on upgrading to the technology. Unlike TV, which is being forced to upgrade by the FCC prior to the analog shutoff in February 2009, the commission is letting HD Radio cut its teeth first, allowing the marketplace to determine its destiny. HDTV also has an advantage in that all TVs sold today are capable of digital reception (older TVs are S.O.L.). For radio, this will take a bit longer.

    The HD Radio standard is different than digital radio in other countries. iBiquity's technology is in use only in the United States, Brazil and now the Philippines. This allows digital signals to piggyback on already existing AM and FM ones. Many countries are going with a different standard, Digital Audio Broadcasting, which broadcasts in a different frequency spectrum (and yes, the U.S. has been experimenting with this one). One system found in some European countries is Digital Radio Mondiale. Of course, these different technologies are in no way compatible with each other. Confused?

    The slow rise of digital radio can best be compared with FM radio. FM hit the marketplace in 1940, with stations located on the 42-50MHz band. After WWII, all the FM stations moved up the dial to the present 87.9-107.9MHz, leaving the few FM radios out there instantly obsolete, save for tinkering radio geeks and collectors. FM didn't make an impact in the ratings until KPEN (today's KIOI) in San Francisco became the first to crack the top five in the early '60s. It took until the mid-late 1960s, the advent of stereo FM and distinct formats such as easy listening and freeform progressive rock to actually draw listeners in general. And it took until the early '70s to tweak FM technology so that people could actually listen to it in moving vehicles (i.e. 'circular polarization'). FM receivers weren't really installed in cars until that decade. The FM band didn't overtake AM in popularity until 1978 or so. So, FM radio took over a quarter of a century to get anywhere with consumers, and so far, it has stuck around. Likely, digital radio will take some time as well.

    Like with most other innovations, there are some very vocal critics out there. They claim that HD Radio is a non-starter. That it's dead in the water. That it's useless technology. That it interferes with analog signals. Now, I don't really get some of the more die-hard critics. Hell, there's one guy, who calls himself "Pocket Radio" who seems to be on a personal obsessive vendetta against it, practically spending his every waking hour trashing it. What I don't understand is, why? What's wrong with technology? He obviously isn't footing the bill for it, so who cares? As for interference, most listeners may not notice it. It's more prevalent on the AM dial, since the digital signal stretches the already narrow AM sidebands to even more extremes. Apart from radio geeks who like to DX distant radio stations (i.e. dial around at night to pick up stations from hundreds of miles away), most people are indifferent. Let's face it, DX'ing stopped being fun when every powerful radio station in the land decided to put George Noory on at night and baseball teams started moving their games to weaker AM stations that would cave in to their excessive demands (like in Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Francisco and other markets). DX'ing was more fun back in the day when CKLW, WLS and WABC blasted the country with the hottest hits and jocks in the land. Today, most AM radio sounds the same, so DX'ing is no longer as much fun. And the point is moot anyway, since, as a casual DX'er, I have had little problem pulling in stations from even a thousand miles away after dark. So essentially, casual listeners to analog radio will likely not notice any issues due to HD Radio.

    So, what will be the ultimate fate of HD Radio? Well, it will survive in one form or another. It has to. There's a lot of money tied up in it, far more than was tied up in AM stereo. And the technology will get better. Just like the original FM technology was impossible to pick up in cars prior to a few tweaks, digital radio will get better. The equipment will improve and be more readily available. The signals will get stronger. As will the programming choices. I say give it some time. More listening options are not necessarily a bad thing, are they? Now why would anyone complain about that?

    (Note: I originally posted this entry yesterday, but for some reason, was not pinging correctly. Hopefully, this repost will show up on feeds, search engines, etc.)

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Webb murder: Suspect confesses

    Yesterday, an arrest was made in the Mike Webb murder case. The suspect has now confessed to the slaying.

    Police arrested Scott White, 28 on Wednesday night. White was previously described as a "person of interest" in the case, and was apprehended without incident.

    Investigators had known about White for several weeks but learned of his location only on Wednesday. Assistant Chief Nick Metz said that during questioning at police headquarters, White admitted to killing Webb and hiding his body in the house he rented. White has not been charged as of yet, but a bail hearing was set for Thursday afternoon.

    The decomposed body of the former KIRO radio talk host was found under boxes and a tarp in a 3-foot crawl space at his home on June 28. Day laborers happened upon the body while cleaning the house. Webb had been reported as missing since April 13.

    According to the Seattle police missing persons report, Webb had been hanging out with a "shady character," and text messages were received from Webb’s phone for days after his disappearance.

    White and Webb had apparently met in November and had lived together for a while. Metz would not discuss a possible motive, whether a weapon was found or other details. Nothing was disclosed in regard to White's criminal history, other details about his background or if he acted alone or with others.

    Read more at KIRO-TV.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    The summer, so far

    As the summer season reaches its peak, it seems that news in the media biz has slumped somewhat. Like last summer, there just isn't a whole heck of a lot going on. At least not a whole lot to write about. Meaning that I've been taking a bit of a break (as it often seems like I'm handcuffed to this crazy thing). Now, I'm not saying that I'm about to ditch LTR and venture off into the sunset, but a little break now and then is never a bad thing, right?

    I've been keeping busy, doing stuff such as learning how to outdo Maaco on the car with house paint and a roller and how to build a sideways bicycle. Oh, the fun of summer!

    In today's fun-filled episode of LTR, I felt it would be a good idea to bring you all up to date on various goings-on across the land.

    First off, a breaking news story in the Mike Webb case. KIRO-TV reports that police have arrested a suspect in the murder of the Seattle talk radio host. Scott White, 28, was previously described as a "person of interest" in the case. Police said he was arrested without incident last night. White was allegedly one of the last people to see Webb alive.

    Speaking of Seattle, the city's Town Hall was the location last Saturday night for a big standing room only shindig featuring some of the biggest names in liberal talk. Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Mike Malloy, and the Young Turks (Ben Mankiewicz, and Cenk Uygur) were all there at the event, and there weren't even any fights. Just kidding. The event was sponsored by local libtalker KPTK (1090). If you missed it (and I'm sure many of you did), you can catch podcasts of the event at KPTK's website.

    Elsewhere, Bob and the gang at Air America Place have been quite busy. As of earlier this week, they are now hosting free archives of just about every single show ever broadcast on Air America Radio. That means you can hear what Randi Rhodes was talking about three years ago. Or listen to long-forgotten shows like "Unfiltered" or "So What Else Is News" with Marty Kaplan, or even old favorites like "Morning Sedition" and Jerry Springer. In short, Air America Premium carries newer shows done in the past month. After that, they go to Air America Place. The shows in the deep archives are free, but if you plan on going on a wild downloading spree, consider flipping them a few bucks, since bandwidth can get a bit expensive. This is all donation-driven, so keep that in mind or it will be gone. You can start exploring the vast Air America archives here.

    As stated before, the bandwidth for podcasting costs money. Some sites, such as White Rose Society, rely on donations. Some have sponsor-supported underwriting to cover expenses. Others do it for free (such as Clear Channel and CBS-owned radio stations, which offer a generous amount of podcasts). And others, such as Air America, Nova M and Stephanie Miller, have to charge money in some cases to offset bandwidth costs. Add to the latter Ed Schultz. Podcasts and audio highlights from Schultz' show are from here on out available only to subscribers. The price tag? A mere $5.95 per month. Now, I've never been a fan of charging for podcasts and audio archives, but I do realize that this stuff costs money. One idea would be to offer lower quality files, which take up less space and use less bandwidth. Sure, Mike Malloy's show sounds great at near soundboard quality 128k. But 64k would do the job nearly as well, and use up less space. Nova M does offer a 24k version of the show, which gets the job done and can fit easier on an iPod Nano. Another solution would be the underwriting method, where a sponsor helps to pay for it, in exchange for a commercial at the beginning and/or end. Emmis does this with Jonathan Brandmeier's morning show clips from WLUP in Chicago, and I think it works well. And this way, the audio clips can reach many more ears.

    Sadly, ESPN Radio's best on-air host, Dan Patrick, is leaving both the radio and TV sides of the network after a total of 18 years. He currently holds down a three hour afternoon show on the radio end, and still hosts the afternoon version of TV's SportsCenter. Patrick felt that his efforts as of late have not been up to his personal standards, and he's been feeling a bit burned out. He also wants to spend more time with his children. He won't be replacing Bob Barker on The Price Is Right, as had been rumored. In fact, he's signed a new deal with a company called The Content Factory, which will produce various multimedia projects featuring Patrick, including a radio show. The first person to be offered Patrick's ESPN Radio gig was old friend and frequent co-host Keith Olbermann. Olbermann, citing his busy schedule with his main gig, MSNBC's Countdown, declined. He may however resurface on the radio, in the same role as before on Patrick's new show. Patrick's final ESPN Radio show and SportsCenter appearance will be August 17. No word on when his new one will begin. In the meantime, Patrick will still be hawking sub sandwiches.

    Speaking of Olbermann, he'll be moderating the AFL-CIO's Democratic Presidential Forum on August 7. Congrats!

    Back in May, former Air America Radio VP John Manzo was hired by upstart rival Nova M Radio to be their Chief Operating Officer (COO). And now, he has moved up the corporate food chain to the CEO position. "What took you so long?" quipped Manzo. "Seriously though, what I viewed as a plucky company with exciting potential just a month ago has quickly been shaped into a well-focused organization with a fresh, incredibly sound business strategy going forward." Manzo will continue to oversee all aspects of programming, sales, operations, affiliate relations and web strategy for the Nova M Radio Network and its flagship Phoenix affiliate, KPHX. In addition to Nova M and Air America, Manzo is a 20-year veteran of Saga, Jacor and Clear Channel.

    And finally, speaking of Nova M Radio, since news has been traveling slow as of late, LTR failed to notice that nighttime host Mike Malloy celebrated his 65th birthday on July 1. One gift he received was what he referred to as "geezer slippers." Happy belated birthday, Mike.

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Malloy finally joining XM lineup

    Updated 7/09/07

    One of those little things I missed as the Independence Day holiday popped up is an update of sorts. After months of rumors and promises, Mike Malloy fans will finally be able to hear his show on XM Radio starting next week, July 9.

    XM's "Air America Radio" channel (ch. 167) will slot the first two hours of Malloy's show from 10PM-midnight ET. Thom Hartmann's delayed airing (well, two hours of it anyway) will precede Malloy, from 8-10P, and "The Air Americans" will be on from midnight-4A, via delay. Got all that?

    Although XM calls ch. 167 "Air America," they do break away from the network's feed to air other shows. Most notably, they carry Ed Schultz live in the noon-3PM ET slot, displacing Thom Hartmann to the midnight-3AM shift. They also carry some alternate weekend programming, including Left Jab, Jackie Guerra (formerly of Air America), and "The Agenda with Joe Solmonese."

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