November 28, 2006

The end of "Air America" in Madison.

I'd say: if they can't make it here, they can't make it anywhere.
Mike Malloy reading long passages from Orwell's "1984" was not mentioned by anyone as something they'll miss should Air America programming be dropped from WXXM/FM 92.1 "The Mic."

The station is set to switch to sports programming on Jan. 1. We asked readers what they will miss about The Mic if the switch is a done deal, and quite a few responded. Some responses were edited for space and clarity:

• Karl Marx observed, accurately, I believe, that in every age the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling classes. It follows that any other ideas will be dismissed by, for example, the owners of the broadcast media as "unpopular," whether or not they are shared by two persons or by 200 million.

For all its flaws, a progressive radio format such as the one that WXXM/FM will abandon on New Year's Day demonstrates the powerfully subversive fact that ideas about getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc., are not at all unpopular. I will miss Madison's part in creating that progressive national sensibility and that the soon-to-be absent voices do it so entertainingly. (Alan Bickley, Madison)....
So... sort of like... it's unpopular because it's popular? Or is it the other way around? Maybe if I read more Marx (and less Orwell) that would make more sense to me.

Moving on:
• With the loss of 92.1, the progressive voice in Madison will again be silenced (well, except for WHA, WERN, WORT, WTDY, the Progressive, Isthmus, the editorial page of The Capital Times and most of the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal, but you know what I mean).

I listen because nowhere else can you find such raw, spittle-flecked emotionalism combined with such robust disinterest in facts. (Dale Aldridge, Madison)
Okay. I'm going to stop while I'm amused. More opinion from the locals at the link.

29 comments:

George said...

Why listen to--or contribute money to--Air America when NPR so totally dominates that market, both with news and more civilized (yet still uniformly left-of-center) talk?

In its most recent fund-raising drive, the local station ran a clip of someone (supposedly a listener) saying something like, "It's the only place I know to go for unbiased news."

No such thing.

pr9000 (paul) said...

"Karl Marx observed, accurately, I believe ..."

That's almost comically obnoxious. Maybe I should start a template:

"(Philosopher people claim to have read, but really haven't) observed, (adverb of more than three syllables), I believe, that ..."

Mike said...

I listened to a fair amount of Randi Rhodes. The hate that spewed from her was spellbinding. I couldn't look away. I am grateful that this attractive nuisance will be leaving my radio dial. It was instructive, however.

DBrooks said...

pr9000 beat me to it. The Karl Marx remark had me laughing. That, and the "demonstrates the powerfully subversive fact that ideas about getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc., are not at all unpopular" and "soon-to-be absent voices do it so entertainingly." As "they" say, you can't make this stuff up. Well, you could, but it wouldn't be nearly as funny or absurd.

Mike said...

"...getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc., are not at all unpopular"

Neither is free ice cream.

jakemanjack said...

[Air America]"I listen because nowhere else can you find such raw, spittle-flecked emotionalism combined with such robust disinterest in facts."

Precisely.

I'm no uber-lib/progressive, but I would listen to AA in the hopes of actually hearing a practical alternative viewpoint. Instead, it was mostly fevered Bush-hate peppered with bad information and conspiracy theories.

Supply and demand: I don’t think there is a huge demand for bullshit on stilts.

Zach said...

What's subversive about instant runoff voting? I think it's a bad idea, because 1) Most people don't have strong preferences about how to order multiple choices, so the incoming information is bad, 2) It dramatically increases the complexity and opacity of tabulation, 3) When it gives perverse results (as all voting systems do) they can be difficult to understand and justify.

A voting system should be simple and obvious for a voter to understand. Instant runoffs increase complexity in return for a tiny payoff for a tiny population that would like their vote for Nader to count for Gore.

yetanotherjohn said...

So let me see if I can view the world through this Karl Marx lens.

"...ideas about getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc., are not at all unpopular"

So since shows talking about these ideas don't generate enough interest to attract listeners who in turn attract advertisers who in turn fund the show to talk about those ideas aren't attracting enough listeners (e.g. shutting down Air America in a liberal town to switch to another format), then the ideas are 'not at all unpopular'.

Lets look at another historical example. Adolf Hitler also went on the radio, attracted millions of followers and convinced enough of those followers to get control of the country and lead it into an unsuccessful war that cost about 1 out of every 11 Germans their life.

So Hitler's ideas would be considered unpopular in pre-war Germany because people were listening to them, but the liberal ideas from Air America should be considered popular because people aren't listening to them enough to support their broadcast.

I would shake my head in wonder at the brilliance of such thinking if the democrats hadn't just won the congressional elections. Instead I will ponder anew what it means when 'nothing beat something'.

HaloJonesFan said...

"...the liberal ideas from Air America should be considered popular because people aren't listening to them enough to support their broadcast."

No, the guy's point is that it doesn't matter how many people listened to Air America--it expressed different ideas from those of the "ruling class", and therefore it never had a chance, and we shouldn't look on its failure as a judgement of the popularity or validity of its ideas.

David said...

So far left subversion of the established order has been reduced to: "getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc."

That's just pitiful.

knoxgirl said...

What a bunch of babies.

Anonymous said...

No, the guy's point is that it doesn't matter how many people listened to Air America--it expressed different ideas from those of the "ruling class", and therefore it never had a chance, and we shouldn't look on its failure as a judgement of the popularity or validity of its ideas.

Except, of course, we can and should. Rush Limbaugh was a voice in the Democratic wilderness when he started out, and yet his program proved very popular, so popular that he has spawned a legion of imitators. All of right-wing talk radio owes its existence to Rush, because when he started, there was no right-wing talk radio, and he was, as the article says, "expressing ideas different from those of the 'ruling class'", liberals.

So how is it that Rush didn't just survive but prospered, to the point where his guys actually became the ruling class for a while, but Air America failed? And how is it that Air America failed precisely at a time when the election results would seem to indicate it should be thriving, as its message is now in sync with the "ruling class", at least the Congressional branch of it?

"[R]aw, spittle-flecked emotionalism combined with such robust disinterest in facts" is a likely explanation.

Garage Mahal said...

As usual, more dishonesty from Althouse. It had little to do with listeners, and everything to do with the owner, Clear Channel.

Anyways, its not even over yet, you can sign the petition here to keep it on the air.

Mike said...

GM: "It had little to do with listeners, and everything to do with the owner, Clear Channel."

It's a vast, right wing conspiracy!

Freeman Hunt said...

It had little to do with listeners, and everything to do with the owner, Clear Channel.

Right because Clear Channel isn't in business to make money, so they don't care about listeners.

Anonymous said...

Garage: Would Clear Channel be making the programming change if Air America were sufficiently profitable?

Radio economics 101: advertisers support radio stations because they want to reach the listeners. If the radio station or program doesn't have the listeners, the station/program won't get the advertisers and therefore will not get the advertisers' money.

Clear Channel's decision to change the programming is not to say that Air America was not profitable, only that Clear Channel expects the new programming to be more profitable, otherwise they wouldn't go through the bother of changing it. Why should Clear Channel pass up an opportunity to make more money -- which by definition in radio means serving a larger market?

Web said...

The first day I listened to Air America, the validation I felt became a personal acceptance of my heartfelt feelings immediately.

This pretty much sums up the station's appeal.

Alpha Liberal said...

Althouse says:
"(well, except for WHA, WERN, WORT, WTDY, the Progressive, Isthmus, the editorial page of The Capital Times and most of the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal, but you know what I mean)."

Oh, baloney. WERN is progressive?? It's a NEWS station! Maybe you prefer they not report news that doesn't flatter conservatives, but that says more about you than them. WSJ is a little less conservative so the wingnuts are up in arms. And WHA is a tlka format covering a wide variety of topics and opinions, liberal and conservative alike.

No doubt, like many modern conservatives, you are just incensed if there is any airing of non-con views. Life's hard that way!

Really, Ann, perhaps you'd be happier in AZ or southern California or somwehre.

knoxgirl said...

dumbass that's a quote from the article

OddD said...

A conservative happier in Southern California? Even The OC isn't very conservative.

Meanwhile, L.A. voted for Angelides and voted to repeal fundamental economic laws. (Prop 65.) Next year, we'll vote to outlaw gravity, as it weighs unfairly on women and minorities.

Garage Mahal said...

Joan

It cuts both ways:

"We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past 12 years promoting the Rush Limbaugh show locally and we're paid back with a letter telling us it's being moved to our direct competitor," laments Glenn Gardner of talk station WTDY and rock outlet WJJO, both in Madison, Wis.

"We weren't even given a chance to bid and hang onto the show. Clearly what they're trying to do is squeeze everybody else out. We contacted [Wisconsin Sen.] Russ Feingold and told him this really needed to be looked at."


My point is they don't care about listeners, or even the stations themselves - as most of their programming is done regionally, not locally. Fox Sports is to replace Air America, so either they were offered a better deal, or Clear Channel is just simply saving money. You can run a radio station in a large market like Phoenix, or LA for $8.00/hour, needing only a board operator to receive in "cyber jocks" recorded programs that are themselves broadcasted into dozens of other cities. Yes great business, but it has little to do with local listeners, who supposedly own the airwaves.

No local flavor, no local events, and no local talent. That's crap IMO. Do you remember radio 10-20 years ago versus today?

MadisonMan said...

Next year, we'll vote to outlaw gravity, as it weighs unfairly on women and minorities.

And on fat lesbians.

I never listened to Air America -- a neighbor who did said he quickly tired of it, as it was all the same schtick -- impeach Bush ad nauseum. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh either, but at least he strikes me as someone who can be vaguely entertaining -- and he changes the subject occasionally.

Dawn said...

George - A petition? Yeah, that'll bring it back!

Please, there was no market for it, even in the People's Republic of Madison. Get over it.

Word Verification: uvebcs

BJK said...

I used to love listening to Air America when I got near the Madison area. 5 minutes of the show, and I felt a renewed sense of conservatism.

No answers, no reasoning, just hate.


I'm sad to hear they're adding sports-talk (I thought 100.5 was the Fox Sports affiliate, BTW). I was kind of hoping they'd put the WMAD college/alternative format back on the air; there needs to be some intermediary between the pop station (104.1) and the hard rock station (101.5)....one that actually plays songs that I want to listen to (which leaves 105.5 out). Granted, I only listen in about 2-3 times a month on average - even less when I pull out the iPod, but Madison radio is just atrocious.

MadisonMan said...

BJK: 105.1

The daughter listens to 104.1...eeesh. I'm sure she says the same thing about 105.1, though.

Anonymous said...

I would occasionally listen to the Air America station locally (5 minutes max, unless I hit a commercial break when I first tuned in) but I never could stand the hosts (whoever told Al Franken he had voice made for radio must have meant he had a FACE made for radio).

I kinda think Air America died because of its base. NPR was mentioned earlier, and the same folks who are eating tofu and donating to their local college station were the market for Air America, and they were not about to switch allegience to a station that did it for 'filthy money'.

I used to listen to Rush consistently up to about 5 years ago, but he is almost as bad as the screechers on Air America anymore.

My favorite national guy was G. Gordon Liddy, but he has kinda disappeared in the last few years.

There is one guy who does a national show on Saturdays, forget the name of network, but the show is called "Weekends with Mike McConnell". He calls the BS as he sees it, from both sides of the aisle.

Ben Masel said...

With an advertising sales staff consolidated with the rest of Clear Channel's Madison offerings, there was little effort to chase advertisers to fit The Mic's listenership.

Running against Herb Kohl in the Democratic Senate primary, I received solicitations from radio stations all over the State, but none from the Mic.

One left of center homebuilding contractor tells me he called to buy ads, and met with 15 minutes of exortations to buy the other Clear Channel properties, "Their listenership doesn't buy houses."

Anonymous said...

I wonder if that was determined by polling data on the listenership, or just an assumption based on who they expected to be listening?

Revenant said...

No, the guy's point is that it doesn't matter how many people listened to Air America--it expressed different ideas from those of the "ruling class", and therefore it never had a chance

Um, the Democrats ARE the "ruling class" of most of the cities Air America aired in. They too promote the ideas of socialized medicine and surrender in Iraq.

The reason the radio stations are failing is not because they're presenting unpopular ideas, but because they're presenting ideas listeners have already heard a zillion times, and are failing to do so in an entertaining or attention-getting manner. Their big mistake was hiring celebrities with little real radio experience.