Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Festivus update

Damn, this season can get pretty crazy.

With the holiday season and digging my way out of two feet of snow, the blog has taken a backseat over the past few weeks.

However, I must take a break in the action to wish all of you the best of luck in the ongoing War Against Christmas. Today, December 23, I especially would like to wish all of you a safe and Happy Festivus. For the rest of us.

And now, the news...

Air America over the holidays

Air America sends along word of their holiday programming over the next couple weeks. Most of the network's hosts will be off, and will feature guest hosts and/or 'best of' programming. Former WDTW Detroit host Nancy Skinner will sit in for Lionel for several shows. Former WINZ Miami talker Nicole Sandler will fill in for Ron Kuby. The Rachel Maddow and Ron Reagan shows will feature guest hosts including WHMP Springfield, MA's Bill Dwight and Los Angeles personality Terrence McNally. Shannyn Moore of KUDO Anchorage will fill in for Jon Elliott. As mentioned before, expect some 'best of' programming as well.

AAR founder's thoughts on Limbaugh, Fairness Doctrine

Jon Sinton, one of the founders of Air America, raised a few liberal eyebrows last week with his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. He agrees with Rush Limbaugh on something - namely, there is no real need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Here's an excerpt:

As the founding president of Air America Radio, I believe that for the last eight years Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have been cheerleaders for everything wrong with our economic, foreign and domestic policies. But when it comes to the Fairness Doctrine, I couldn't agree with them more. The Fairness Doctrine is an anachronistic policy that, with the abundance of choices on radio today, is entirely unnecessary.


It never occurred to me to argue for reimposing the Fairness Doctrine. Instead, I sought to capitalize on the other side of a market the right already had built.

When conservative talking heads wave a red flag about the possible revival of the Fairness Doctrine, they know it's a great way to play the victim and rally supporters. But I'll let Rush continue with his self-righteous indignation -- and if I want, I'll tune into Rachel Maddow, or one of the thousands of other voices that populate radio today.

There are many different opinions about the Fairness Doctrine (believe it or not, I'm not in favor of it). Regardless of where you may stand, it is a rather interesting take from Mr. Sinton.

One more reason talk radio sucks

Either talk radio is running out of Republicans or their getting really desperate. Will Bill O'Reilly folding "The Radio Factor" early in the new year, there are several replacement products being bandied about. FOX News Radio is positioning John Gibson as a potential replacement for affiliates. If that's not scary enough, the New York Post (I know, I know) claimed late last week that O'Reilly's radio syndicator, Westwood One, had been negotiating with former New York mayor and dismal presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to take over. Further reports that the show will have "9/11" in the title have not been confirmed.

This was, however, a rumor, and people close to Mr. 9/11 said that doing a daily radio show was not in the cards, due to other committments (lucrative speeches and other forms of exploitation) and a possible run for Governor in 2010. As it turns out, an even more vapid and boring 2008 presidential contender, Fred Thompson, wound up getting the gig. So starting March 2, Thompson replaces O'Reilly. Could the further signing of really lame personalities be the death knell of conservative talk radio?

RIAA stops the suing

Filing lawsuits against one's own customers is perhaps not the best form of public relations. And certainly not the most cost-effective. Which is probably why the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents many of this country's record labels, has decided to change tactics in their ongoing battle against illegal downloading.

The trade group has abandoned the mass lawsuits against children and elderly women whom they suspect had been 'illegally' downloading RIAA-covered music. The move was due mostly to the ridiculous expenditures involved, rather than the horrible PR they had incurred by being greedy assholes. Instead, the new plan is to go directly to the internet service providers to discourage the practice.

The RIAA has launched legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003, according to the paper. The lawsuits created bad publicity for the RIAA, especially when children or the deceased were erroneously contacted. However, the RIAA counters critics' arguments by saying that piracy would have been worse without the legal actions.

The trade group has preliminary agreements with major ISPs, under which it will send an email to the provider when it discovers any of their customers making music available online illegally for others. A similar approach has been in use in the U.K. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo helped broker this new compromise. "We wanted to end the litigation," Steven Cohen, Cuomo's chief of staff, told the Wall Street Journal. "It's not helpful."

Meanwhile, Nielsen SoundScan announced last week that over a billion legal digital songs have been sold in 2008, up 28% over 2007. Through Dec. 14, 1.001 billion digital tracks were sold in the United States. Nielsen SoundScan projects the year will end with 1.04 billion tracks sold. Seventeen percent of digital track sales this year have come from the top 200-selling tracks.

In case you're wondering, the biggest selling download this year was Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," with 3.3 million sold.
From Festivus poles to web polls
I know all of you are enjoying the Top Talkers web poll on the right. And you can all enjoy it a little bit longer. Voting has been extended until Friday December 26 at 11:59 PM. Here's your last chance. Time to show those Sirius folks a thing or two (HA HA!).
Otherwise, have a safe and happy holiday.

WVKO is gone

Columbus progressive talker WVKO (1580AM) is no more, as the owner of the station has sold the frequency to a religious group, according to Ohio Media Watch and the station's website.

The talk format left the air at midnight this morning, but will continue via the station's website for now. The new programming comes via St. Gabriel Radio, which owns two other stations outside of Columbus.

Currently, Cowtown Communications, which had leased the station from outgoing owner Bernard Radio, is shopping for another signal in the market, but that may be a bit difficult. The radio industry is currently suffering due to low ad revenue and Cowtown Communications ran WVKO on a "below shoestring" budget. They are, however, eyeing another WVKO - the FM operation at 103.1, also owned by Barnard, which puts a rather poor rimshot signal into Columbus. However, FM signals, bad signals or not, are typically more desirable than AM, so this may be out of monetary range. We shall see...

In the meantime, WVKO is still operating their webstream, albiet with syndicated programming replacing local shows. Thom Hartmann will replace Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes' show has been added, in addition to web-only shows The Young Turks and Sam Seder/Marc Maron.

WVKO had recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Playing catch-up

Been tending to other business over the past week, so I've been away. As for all the emails, I'm trying to catch up on all of that.

But here's what's happening...

Nova M moves in the new year

Come November 1, listeners of KPHX in Phoenix will have to do a dial dance. The format will move from 1480AM to 1190AM on January 1. The new station will be branded as "1190 Nova M."

The 1190 frequency, which has the call letters KNUV, was purchased by the group several months ago. KPHX had been leased by the group.

Taylor out at San Diego 1700

San Diego talker Stacy Taylor is no longer at XEPE (1700AM) in San Diego, according to one reader who emailed in. In his words, he's been "eliminated."

He said on his website, “When I arrived at the studio, the GM was waiting for me at the door with the news.”

DTV - 2 months to go!

Got your converter box yet? Today marks exactly two months to go until the end of the analog era in television. Come February 17, all American over-the-air television will be digital-only.

If you have an older set not equipped to pick up digital signals, and don't have cable, satellite or the equivalent, you may need a digital converter box. Luckily, your government can help. Just to to dtv2009.gov to request a coupon good for $40 off a converter box, which can be picked up at most electronics and department stores (the major chains such as Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, etc. all carry them). A typical box runs about $50-60, so that translates to a net cost of $10-20.

Read previous entries about DTV here and here.

The Man of the Year

No surprise here. Time Magazine, on this morning's "Today" show on NBC, named President-elect Barack Obama its "Person of the Year" for 2008. Who else did you expect?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sirius Pimpin'

As I checked in on this site Monday afternoon, I couldn't help but notice that a radio personality listed on the Top Talkers of 2008 web poll at right suddenly became quite popular. Sure enough, this person went from a scant few votes to over 400, a literal overnight sensation. Hmm... interesting.

Well, it certainly doesn't take a village idiot to figure out what's going on. So, I did a check of my site stats. Unlike other 'surges,' this influx didn't appear to come from a website or message board. Readership numbers (of various "entry links") and vote tallies didn't seem to jibe at first. And said host's website looks like it hasn't been touched in years. So, it seems like a very strong clandestine word of mouth campaign. Or a host is actually (gasp!) stumping for votes on the airwaves. Turns out that yes, this thing has evidently become big enough to inspire individual on-air campaigning activities.

Yes, I have read the testy emails from many of you confirming my suspicions. Some of you are claiming that a few hosts on Sirius Left are going all Boss Tweed on this thing.

And in a scenario reminiscent of an old-time Texas election, some say these hosts are encouraging a little trickery. But just like Jolly Ol' Saint Nick, I know who's been 'naughty' and who's been 'nice,' even without a Sirius subscription. With that, I say hello to our newest readers, Sirius Left's Alex Bennett and Lynn Samuels.

Here's the story. Seems Bennett and/or some of his listeners discovered the poll, and since Monday or so, he's been hawking it on his radio show, encouraging votes for Sirius folks like Himself, Samuels and Mark Thompson. Okay, fine. I guess at this point, if hosts want to campaign, who am I to say otherwise? As a matter of fact, have at it. But some have accused Bennett of telling people how to 'fudge the numbers' using a little computer trickery. I didn't hear it, so I do not know. In the comments on this entry, Bennett denies any wrongdoing, aside from giving a little free publicity to 'the funnest blog on earth.'

When a similar incident happened soon after the poll went up a month ago, sure, I got a little pissy about it. But looking back, that was unwarranted. Heck, I obviously saw it coming. I probably encouraged it. A few weeks ago, I did restart the poll, over a thousand votes already in the bag. It was not really because of chicanery, but mostly because I left off a few names that myself and others really wanted on there, but were accidentally left off. And yeah, the foolishness happened again. And no, I'm not going to get pissed about it. Nothing to really get worked up about.

There's an old saying, 'we learn from our mistakes.' Story goes, when Thomas Edison was working at inventing the incandescent light bulb, he went through hundreds of unsuccessful attempts. In his eyes, he didn't fail. He just discovered more ways not to invent a light bulb.

Another old saying goes, 'if life deals you lemons, make lemonade. So, let's take a look at the lemons:

1. The method was flawed from the beginning. My fault. I was trying a new, rather complicated way of doing it. For some reason, I tend to make things more difficult than they should be.

2. The poll has possibly been 'juiced,' sometimes by semi-nefarious methods.

3. Some hosts have resorted to blatant self-promotion.

4. It's not being taken all that seriously. Or maybe it's being taken too seriously.
5. This Blogger poll widget is kinda goofy.

And with that, we make lemonade:

1. I learned another way how not to make a light bulb.

2. I obviously saw it coming. I even encouraged it somewhat by adding names of people who I knew some die-hard fans would give a boost to.

3. The offenders are obvious to anyone visiting this site. Nobody's being fooled here.

4. Thanks to this silly little poll, this blog is getting lots of free on-air radio promotion. That usually costs a lot of money. Thanks, Sirius! You rawk!

5. Let's face it, at the very root, it's a silly web poll.

6. This has all promoted a lot of interesting activity, discussion, enthusiasm and fun, and has brought a wider mix of readers and commenters. I like that.
7. Chaos can be fun.

8. Finally, as news is a bit slow and I have nothing really to write about, I've actually got a rather interesting topic this time around. And one that will no doubt spur quite a bit of reaction from many of you.

All in all, I have become amused by all of it. I'm not angry. What's the point? It's really all for fun, right? I certainly don't hope that Bennett, with his many years in radio and all, is spending hours or so sitting in his pajamas in front of his laptop clearing his browser cache and cookies folder while casting multiple votes for himself. If that's truly the case, he needs better hobbies. Pronto.

And wouldn't you know it? I actually like Alex Bennett, and I'm probably one of the few I know who does. I chalk it up to sentimental reasons. I listened to him back in the 80's, while living in the San Francisco Bay Area where he did the morning show on Live 105. It was one of the funniest, most entertaining things I've ever heard on the radio. Kept this lonely bitter teen sane during a few crappy years growing up in that hellhole known as Fremont, California. For that, I thank you, Alex.

Sure, most people who read this blog absolutely detest the guy, and believe me, I've read the emails and comments from those of you who feel this way (they're even less kind about Samuels). Bennett's not your typical 'liberal' talk show host. You either like him or hate him. He's not a person everyone likes, like, say, a Rachel Maddow. But I like the fact that he's a bit cranky and off-the-wall. His style of radio is to often challenge and piss people off, rather than reinforce what you already believe. It's old-school confrontational talk radio. Old-timers like Joe Pyne, Bob Grant and Alan Berg did this. And unlike, say, a Sean Hannity, this isn't just reading daily political party talking points memos word-for-word. Bennett obviously knows the object is to keep people tuned in, and say whatever comes to mind. I can't help but to laugh at the fact that years after I grew up listening to him everyday on the radio, he's now pimping my blog on his show. Welcome to the internet.

But back to the topic. So hi, Alex and Lynn! Glad to see you! And since you are now my readers, how's about throwing us peons a bone and put up podcasts of your shows or something? Especially for those of us uneasy about subscribing to "Mel's Folly," knowing full well that he may up and cancel Sirius Left on a whim as he chops away at the two satellite monoliths in his fold to justify that Howard Stern money. Let's hope this doesn't happen. At the very least, I'd sure love to hear audio of the on-air plugs you've been giving me this past week. Email the mp3's to ltradiomail@yahoo.com.
(NOTE: Bennett says that Samuels has nothing to do with this, though some readers have said otherwise. Will someone come to a consensus here, fer cryin' out loud?)

As I mentioned earlier, I do have a plan in place for dealing with this mayhem (though it does seem to be constantly evolving), while at the same time acknowledging all of the choices of the thousands of people who have voted. But you'll have to wait until January 1 to find out. In the meantime, have fun, play nice. Just be sure to vote only once. That's all I ask.
After all, what good is a shallow victory?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The recession-proof Tuesday update

Okay, so it's now official. Break out the cat food and ramen noodles! The National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday announced that we're in a recession, and have been for a year now, pretty much saying the same thing everyone else besides the news media has been saying for months.

But in these parts, the only recession going on is the hairline of the guy typing this. Hey, blogging's still free, right? Though it would be nice if y'all could click some advertising links to the right and send this poor, balding fool a little substinance (or Rogaine money) to get through these rough times.

With that aside, let's catch up with some news...


In case you were wondering, WWZN (1510AM) in Boston has started its liberal talk transition effective yesterday. So far, it's former WKOX/WXKS host Jeff Santos in mornings, 6-9A. Peter B. Collins' syndicated show airs live weeknights 6-9P. Other shows are forthcoming (such as either Thom Hartmann or Ed Schultz in middays, reportedly). Currently, the rest of the lineup is mostly sports and paid programming.

You can stream the station here.

RFK Jr. not interested in Senate seat

With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) about to give up her Senate seat to become President-elect Obama's new Secretary of State, a few names have surfaced for Governor David Paterson to consider. He'd like to name a woman or a minority, but would also be really open to a well-known name. Like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the former senator from the state.

But Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and co-host of Air America's "Ring Of Fire," said this morning that he had telephoned Gov. David A. Paterson and explained that he was not interested in being appointed to the United States Senate. Kennedy has said that he did not feel the time was right, and he wanted to devote more time to his family.

"Baby, if you ever wondered..."

Moving on to the semi-whimsical, many have wondered for the past three decades or so whether there was actually a WKRP in Cincinnati, similar to the faux radio show on the old CBS sitcom. The answer, obviously, has always been no, but that's about to change.

Okay, it won't be a radio station picking up the call letters, but a low-power independent TV station. Henceforth, Channel 38 in Cincy will be known as WKRP-TV (actually low-power WKRP-LP, if you want to get technical about it).

Not surprisingly, the station is heavy with old sitcoms. Unfortunately, there is one obvious show exception, which kinda messes up the whole concept, right?

Bill Drake (1937-2008)

Finally, a sad farewell to a radio pioneer. Bill Drake, the legendary radio programmer who revamped Top 40 radio in the 1960s and helped launch highly successful "93/KHJ Boss Radio" in Los Angeles, passed away Saturday of lung cancer. He was 71.

In the '60s, Drake was known as one of the most powerful men in the radio industry. His formula for success was called the Drake format: less talk, fewer commercials and more music.

  © Blogger template Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP