Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Middle-of-the-month soundbytes

In this edition, we look into The Young Turks' life after Air America, the apparent demise of a pioneering online liberal talk outlet, and, will the next big progressive talk star be... Morgan Fairchild? Read on.

1. The continuing evolution of the Turks

Cenk UygurToday marked the last day of The Young Turks' show on Air America Radio. Last month, head Turk Cenk Uygur announced that the show and network had decided to part ways. Uygur and company planned to take their act online, via their own multimedia site, as well as in projects for the Brave New Films website, a venture backed by documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald ("Outfoxed").

The new show, which will air from 3-5P ET (12-2P PT), will stream from The Turks' website, will include only 12 minutes of advertising per hour, as opposed to the radio standard of 22 minutes, and will include a four-hour free-wheeling 'rolling post-game' show, which in essence sounds like a rather informal online video chat. The new time slot will obviously be easier for Uygur and company, given that their West Coast location forced them do their Air America show live from 3-6A PT. One would guess that this will allow them to have a somewhat normal sleep schedule.

As for what Air America will replace them with in morning drive, the most recent word is that they will not even bother to syndicate another morning show. Will the webstream be silent? Will it be a replay of a day-old show from another host? Will they go outside and merely slot in a local morning show from one of their affiliates (such as Richard Bey on WWRL in New York, Nicole Sandler on WINZ in Miami or Lee Rayburn from WXXM in Madison)? Or will they go in-house? Obviously, giving fan favorite Sam Seder the slot would mollify die-hard fans. There's also new weekend host Charles Binder. Not much is known about Binder or his proposed new show, except that he's a prominent New York lawyer with an as-of-yet unknown timeslot. Whatever Air America plans to do with their vacant morning shift, they'd better do it quickly. Many of the stations that formerly carried The Turks have replaced them with Jones Radio Networks' Bill Press, who picks up new affiliates this week, with XM Radio and stations in Seattle, Detroit and other markets being added.

UPDATE: Rayburn's show will be relayed via Air America from Madison for the next few weeks as a fill-in.

2. KTLK looking for a host

Following last month's departure of Marc (Mr. K) Germain, Clear Channel's KTLK (1150AM) in Los Angeles is still looking for a replacement. They've already had weekenders Johnny Wendell and Mario Solis-Marich holding down the shift, but it appears they're looking for a long-term local solution. This week brings us an odd pairing - former Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant and Morgan Fairchild. Yes, THAT Morgan Fairchild. Only in L.A...

You can hear the show today and tomorrow on KTLK from 3-7P PT (6-10P ET).

3. Non-religiously speaking

First came "Freethought Radio," a small weekend show on WXXM in Madison, WI that found its way onto Air America's national slate. Now comes a similar show from the nearby Twin Cities. A group called Minnesota Atheists has signed a six month contract with local station KTNF (950AM) to do a show on Sunday mornings from 9-10A (CT). The format of "Atheists Talk" sounds rather similar to "Freethought Radio," with an array of interviews and special guests, news reports, round-table discussions and call-ins.

"We want a seat at the discussion table," said program founder August Berkshire. "This is our way of doing it."

Berkshire said the nonpartisan show will try to dispel myths about atheists - no, they're not a bunch of grumps trying to outlaw religion - and warn people about what concerns them: a supposed erosion of the separation of church and state, and the government's discrimination against nonbelievers.

Hot topics will include anti-gay-marriage laws, restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research and creationism in schools.

Occasional special segments will cover atheist history, science and book reviews, and there will be short interviews with local atheists.

It won't be a rant-fest, Berkshire said.

"We're not trying to convert people," he said. "We're trying to engage them in a discussion. We want people to realize atheists are their neighbors, family, nice people, and that they should get to know us."

The group has an initial six-month contract with KTNF. They'll have to sell their own advertising, and have already sold half of their ad spots.

4. RadioPower.org signs off for good

A departure that completely slipped by the nose of LTR is that of webcaster RadioPower.org, a progressive talk radio pioneer which apparently shut down last month after five years of operations. Currently, the former four stream service is down to one, airing ambient techno music. Which means, the formerly popular progressive talk channel is no more.

Since 2002, long before Air America and progressive talk became big, owner Shelby LaPre gave a spotlight to progressive talkers, in addition to music webstreams featuring techno, punk and ambient music. LaPre claimed last year that listener donations helped the service to operate for 5 years, reaching on average between 2.5 and 3 million listeners per month with their various music and talk radio streams. RadioPower was also one of the first streaming services listed on iTunes.

Originally, the talk channel merely relayed the feed of the old I.E. America network, which carried shows from the likes of Mike Malloy, Thom Hartmann, Peter Werbe and others. When I.E. America folded in early 2004, LaPre continued on without them, and even served as the primary streamer for Hartmann's show before he was picked up by Air America.

Defections were common over the years. Old shows were replaced with obscure local and online shows of the time, such as The Young Turks and Guy James. Most recently, after merely piggy-backing other streams, they aired a slate of mostly original shows from the likes of Tony Trupiano, Kacey Sherrod ("KC Live!) and Henry Raines ("American AM').

But it's hard to compete as a small player in a world with many options. Air America's the most widely-known name. Nova M Radio has Mike Malloy and a wide variety of weekly shows from various up-and-comers. And Head-On Radio Network has aggressively built a rather impressive online-only operation. Not to mention, as opposed to 4-5 years ago, progressive talk can now be found on many AM stations in many markets. Many of these stations stream their signals. All of this meant that RadioPower became an afterthought.

This is not the first time RadioPower has been in danger of going kaput. Last year, LaPre claimed that the high costs of running an online service would lead to its demise. In addition, bigger names like Malloy, Hartmann and The Turks had since moved on, and competition was obviously stripping RadioPower of listeners and supporters. Still, RadioPower was a voice when a voice was difficult to find, and one can only reflect on the importance of RadioPower to the history of modern progressive talk.


Jill said...

Giving Sam Seder the AAR morning slot would make the most sense, except that there's a question as to whether Sam would be willing to do a show that won't air in New York. And of course there's the issue of whether Mark Green is capable of admitting that he made a mistake, as he did with shitcanning Seder and bringing in "Lionel". In that inability, he keeps the Danny Goldberg legacy alive.

The crappy way that progressive radio hosts are being treated by commercial radio networks, even those purporting to be progressive, is converting me to the view that the future of progressive radio will be webstreams, eventually delivered as easily and ubiquitously as AM radio is today, via internet radios receiving signals over ubiquitous wireless networks. That will completely upend the corporate radio model.

Melina said...

With the price of wifi radios dropping, its going to be very possible in the near future to stream quality content from all over the world. There is no reason to think that cell phones, stereos, and all radios sold wont have a wifi card or chip in them sooner than we think.
Third world hubs already send signals 50 miles or more, and its only the capitalism model in big cities that is preventing free wifi from being available everywhere. Its only a matter of time before streamed content is easy find, and the programmer who make it easy to dial into stations with little tech knowledge and much like radios currently work, will have a product that will revolutionize the future of broadcasting. Those who have a foot in that door now and are ready to provide content are going to be in a good position....
Fuck Mark Green and his lousy programming decisions! He has just added another nail in the coffin of AAR by adding more crap to the ever dwindling original lineup.
Bring back Seder & Maron!
Get rid of Lionel!


Toby Mikle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

  © Blogger template Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP