Monthly Archives: March 2005

All hail the death of radio

— Clear Channel suffers and rock radio is gasping its last and, more importantly, does anyone care?

Thx to breezyg for passing on Mark Morford’s analysis of the passing of terrestrial radio. Morford is appropriately brutal:

Corporate radio sucketh, whole and large and true.

We know this. Everyone knows this. There is not a single person out there right now who is listening to any of the one zillion lifeless Clear Channel or Infinity-owned rock stations anywhere in the nation who is saying to themselves, gosh this KLOG station is just exceptionally good and clever and smart and plays amazingly fresh music and makes me want to listen all the time and oh my God I am so going to pick up the phone right now and try to be the 157th caller so I can win tickets to go see Dave Matthews live in Portland! Woo!

OK, maybe there’s a few. But you probably don’t want to know them, because they’re the type who never slam ice-cold shots of vodka or have never heard of Rocco Siffredi and they wear pink capri pants or backward baseball hats and drive Ford Escorts with weird stuffed animals in the windows. Mostly.

This is the problem with rock radio. It has become the last option, the thing you listen to only when all other options fail, when you’re too tired to pop in a CD or too lazy to reach for the iPod or just a little too buzzed on premium tequila and postcoital nirvana to care about searching your glove box for that old AC/DC tape. In short, rock radio is for people who buy their Matchbox 20 CDs from Target.

Morford hopes, as do I, that blogs, podcasts, CD burning, iPod playlists and live Net streams will add up to a Next Big Thing for music, but for the moment, can we just get the bloated carcass that is FM radio in the ground before it starts attracting buzzards?

Rich on the rampage

Frank Rich’s take this morning on the appalling state of The News oughta be mandatory reading:

What’s missing from News is the news. On ABC, Peter Jennings devotes two hours of prime time to playing peek-a-boo with U.F.O. fanatics, a whorish stunt crafted to deliver ratings, not information. On NBC, Brian Williams is busy as all get-out, as every promo reminds us, “Reporting America’s Story.” That story just happens to be the relentless branding of Brian Williams as America’s anchorman – a guy just too in love with Folks Like Us to waste his time looking closely at, say, anything happening in Washington.

Rich offers a sober view of the industry, but what he doesn’t do is explain how the death of News evenutally translates into the death of Democracy. As I’ve noted before, the reason we have a free press is so society has a reliable, independent watchdog to protect it from the inevitable kleptocracy and powermongering of the power elite.

If the press doesn’t do its job, we’re fucked. And these days, between:

  • corporatization of the media,
  • PR’s near-total seduction of the press function, and
  • the administration’s repeated attempts to buy journalists and insinuate party hacks in the press corps,

not only is the henhouse not being responsibly guarded, the task of watching the chickens has been outsourced to Fox and Egg-Sucking Weasel Security, Inc.

Representative democracy, as envisioned by the framers, works pretty well so long as you have an educated, self-interested public that can be counted on to inform itself regarding the issues facing society. Maybe it never occurred to folks like Jefferson and Madison and Franklin that people wouldn’t behave that way. From their perspective, it was perhaps inconceivable that voters would pursue ignorance with as much gusto as we do in 21st Century America.

What we do know is that a system where the representatives are whores and the represented are stupid doesn’t work so well. And in such an environment, we ought to be especially distressed to look over and see our own watchdogs getting treats and belly-scritches from the thugs who have come to rob us blind.

[Thx to the pit’s institutional journalism correspondent, Pat Vecchio, for passing this on.]