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.


Alex Bennett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Do I have have to invite the entire "family" to vote.

FSL said...

The fact that Sinton is one of the "founders" of Air America Radio is not a demonstration of his competence. Like most people in the biz he is radio Kool-Aid drinker first (political disposition comes second).
"Abundance of choices on radio today?" In what fantasyland is this guy living. Most markets don't have liberal talk. If they do, it's likely on a station most people can't receive well. Maybe his idea of choices is preachers, infomercials and about half a dozen canned music formats. When was the last time you got your car and could find something you really wanted to listen to? The theory of the least objectionable program has come to and taken over radio.
Set politics and even talk radio aside. Radio was a lot better with the old regulations (so for that matter were the air travel and financial services industry). With the fairness doctrine, ownership caps and requirements for local-live programming radio had an audience, attracted advertisers and made money. Radio groupies don't like to admit that but the old regs worked. Libertarianism is appealing in concept but in radio de-regulation has not worked. I speak as a former listener, a former worker and a former stockholder.
The fairness doctrine just might re-energize talk radio (including right-wing talk). Right now Rush and his ilk preach to an ever-shrinking, ever-aging choir. What would it take to satisfy the fairness doctrine? Not a liberal host for each wing-nut host. Rush, et al would just have to have some guests who don't agree with them and some callers who say something other than "amen" or "ditto." Of course, hosts would have to work harder but the result would be better radio.

ltr said...

Just to let all of you know...

The extension of the last day to vote in the poll by two days was not due to anything nefarious. It was merely because of my own personal holiday plans (hey, I'm only human, right?). Making the date 12/26 was something I should have done to begin with.

And I don't see a whole lot happening in the final two days anyway.

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