Archive for August, 2015

In my previous post, Type about Talk, a comment submitted by Bruce K. contains many layers for discussion.  I will reprint the comment here for anyone who missed it.  If you want to respond and interact with Bruce K. then Reply to his comments on the Type about Talk post (the post prior to this one) and add to the discussion.

By Paramount Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Here is the comment in its entirety:

Lately I have been thinking about talk radio and how much I miss it. Oddly enough I started looking for videos on You-Tube to keep up with Bernie Sanders. Then for some reason thought about Bernie Ward and what a disappointment and embarrassment Bernie was to Liberal. I really liked Bernie a lot when he first started on KGO, and even some of his shows before he was a regular. Ugh.

But then I went to thinking about John Rothmann who I used to listen to all the time on that late night weekend slot, and all the other talk show hosts. But virtually any reminiscence of talk radio has me thinking back on what a great diversity and selection there used to be in the Bay Area.

It’s ironic that when I first moved to CA in 1970 KGO to me was an right-wing old man irritant that I never could listen to. Always yelling down the callers, insults and idiocy … a lot like what we hear today after everything has been cut.

There used to be great talk shows on the rock stations, sex advice shows, psychologist shows, political talk shows, science fiction, etc. I could literally be in my car driving and have a selection of very good live spontaneous entertainment and education. I must have spend thousands of hours listening to talk shows. And they started getting better and better.

With a couple of Liberals on KGO finally I felt a little more like something other than right-wing nonsense was being broadcast. The solid middle of the road of Ron Owen, who runs a pretty good show, that is too early for me to listen to very often. But there was Gene Burns, who whether he was Liberal, Libertarian, or whatever could really hold and intelligent conversation. Gene was one of my favorites. And John Rothmann, who I still think is a Republican still used to have really good conversations and let peolpe talk. Same with Pat Thurston, and others.

It has been a very long time since they shut down KGO, and I can only give that Orwellian causes, because there days there is nothing any longer. There used to be all kinds of good TV shows as well, and even speakers in local venues. Almost all of that is gone. There is very little talk radio anymore, and where there is there is about 10 minutes of talk for every half hour.

-Bruce K.

 

In response, I can say many of us miss the talk radio format with interactive live calls from listeners.  The current format of reading Facebook comments or email from listeners is about as exciting as reading the back of a cereal box.  The format lacks forward motion since the host just inserts his or her own talking points again into the discussion after reading the comments and there is no one there to engage deeper into the conversation.  Boring!

The excitement and surprise of live calls is accomplished through the exchange of ideas and hearing reactions to those ideas and the occasional change of perspective as a result.  So many times I’ve felt one way about a subject and then after a phone call or two about it, I could see the other side of it.  I used to enjoy the cops who called in to a show and gave more insight into breaking news stories.  There were always a few listener calls that offered a unique viewpoint of a topic, based on a vast knowledge of the subject.  One host does not know it all.  One host brings preconceived ideas into a subject and has no one to challenge or change them.  It’s all a big YAWN!

A talk radio host can tell us numerous times how times have changed and they have to do things differently now, but listeners know it’s a talking point fed to the hosts by management.  These so-called executives seem to think if they force the hosts to say it enough times we’ll believe it (a bad habit from conservative talk radio).  We know what we hear.  The new format is not working and no matter how many times they try to push that explanation, we know it’s not valid.  After awhile, we give up and walk away.  Everyone who walks away takes ratings with them.

I was encouraged by Ed Baxter and Spencer Hughes.  When Ed was a fill-in host on noTalk910, he supported listener calls and encouraged people to call.  The moment he was given the job as full-time host, he suddenly changed his mind and thought the new format of no calls served listeners more and he explained it with the tired talking-points of management who seem to have no clue how talk radio works.  Then, Spencer, again as a fill-in host, gave long, impassioned speeches about his love of talk radio and how the listener calls are the reason it works.  After filling in for a few weeks, he suddenly changed his mind over a weekend and decided he wasn’t going to take calls after all.  He then gave the same tired talking-points of management.

How can the passion for caller-based talk radio change so suddenly?  Two hosts, who’d said they supported calls,  changed their belief in a short period of time after the promise of a full-time gig.  Gee.  I don’t think it’s the water they drink over there at noTalk.

I have more to say in response to Bruce K.’s comments, but will have to continue next week because I don’t have the time at the moment.

 

Before I go, I wanted to mention a good audio source of music history from the ’50s to the ’60s.  It’s from a post by David Kaye at Google Groups ba.broadcast.  I’ll provide the link, but that forum in general has been overrun by one troll who is stinking up that site as if it was the streets of San Francisco.  Too bad.

Here’s a link to David Kaye’s post:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/ba.broadcast/8jDfi2I5gpM

And, here’s a link to The Pop Chronicles, by John Gilliland, archived by UNT (University of North Texas):

http://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/collections/JGPC/

The Pop Chronicles on UNT is not listed in chronological order so you have to look through the list and choose the audio segment.  There are full and partial songs in the audio mix along with comments from the artists.  The series consists of 55 segments total.  Have fun!  And, thank you, David Kaye, for mentioning it.

See you all next week.

 

 

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By Tokyoship (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve given up on local talk radio.  I know I’m not the only one, just look at the ratings.  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been listening to WOR710-AM in New York and BBC Radio 2.  WOR710 is going up in the ratings so I wanted to find out more about the station.  There is a site that discusses all things radio, radiodiscussions.com, and it includes all major markets in the forums.

There isn’t a lot of activity in the San Francisco forums, but that’s not surprising given the lack of listenable talk radio content in this market.  No one would listen by choice to most of the programs offered.

Some discussions in the forums on radiodiscussions.com address the same issues about our local choices:

Thread topic: Talk Radio Fans

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?664915-talk-radio-fans

I too, am a big talk radio fan, but I’m afraid it’s a dying genre. Younger people don’t care for it, and what’s left of “talk radio” is more “monologue radio”, not taking any callers but just a host talking. I’m extremely disappointed in Gil Gross’ show on 910 for that very reason. I miss true talk radio.

-finatic

 

There are other general topics overall:

Thread topic: Production Standards

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?687602-Production-standards-%28or-lack-of%29

… Attention is radio’s product and it is not in a broadcaster’s interest to degrade the product to make a quick sale. It also explains why blue chip “customers” no longer buy radio.

The phrase “the customer is always right” was coined by Harry Selfridge and he was was talking about customer service in a department store. He did not sell shoddy good nor compromise the integrity of his operation to pander to a customers’ whims.

-Oscar Madison

 

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?687602-Production-standards-%28or-lack-of%29/page3

Are you quoting the Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition?”

The line between “business” and prostitution is so fine, most people in radio can’t see it – or refuse to. Either way, it’s a key factor in radio’s current state of distrust and irrelevance.

-Oscar Madison

 

Thread Topic: How Many Hosts Are Left?

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?686098-How-many-hosts-are-left/page2

Terrestrial radio still has the advantages of ubiquity (with a small u) and convenience. Not so true for AM due to decreasing signal viability and lack of am receiving equipment, but it’s generally easier to turn on a radio than to search for stuff on the Internet. You can tune radios all over the house to the same station without latency issues — try that with Internet streams. You don’t need Internet, WiFi or a phone data plan. But we’re training people — especially young people — to avoid radio because, when they happen to tune in, it sucks.

-wadio

 

Thread Topic: An Investigation Regarding Talkers

This discussion dismisses the idea that radio stations purchase fake callers, but others continue to disagree.

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?683933-An-investigation-regarding-talkers

 

There are a few threads about Limbaugh, and one comment describes what I hear when I listen to him.  It’s especially fitting, I read it as I watched the Simon and Garfunkel concert in New York that aired on KQED-TV last weekend.  I didn’t see the entire show, only the segment where they sang the song mentioned below.

 

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?687040-Limbaugh-on-WOR-lost-half-of-his-WABC-audience-share/page2

Aside from the political monotony and maybe as significant, Rush today sounds like a cranky old man. His voice is hoarse and strident — he sounds like the guy in the nursing home clip at the beginning of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends!”

-wadio

 

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?687040-Limbaugh-on-WOR-lost-half-of-his-WABC-audience-share/page5

That’s an interesting thought. One of the characteristics of GenY is they prefer interaction to a lecture. One way to lose Gen Y is to talk AT them. It’s a big issue among educators. This is a generation that’s used to call & response, pushing a button and seeing a light come on. Talk radio, by definition, doesn’t work that way. Talkers need to learn from music DJs who conduct interactive shows on social media, while using their on-air show as the punctuation point.

-TheBigA

 

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?687932-Talk-Radio-Scoreboard-for-Major-Markets-June-2015

Rush’s search for a home in Boston has been finalized. He’s moving from 50,000 watt WRKO, Boston’s top Talk Radio station, owned by Entercom, to iHeart’s 5000 watts by day/1000 watts by night 1430 WKOX. iHeart is switching the station from Latin Hits to Talk, where Rush, Hannity and Beck will have a home in Market #10. But no local weekday shows will be heard. It will be all network Talk except mornings and overnights when iHeart doesn’t have any of its own shows available.

-Gregg.

 

Okay, enough about Rush.

Here are the New York rankings:

http://ratings.radio-online.com/cgi-bin/rol.exe/arb001

 

There is one reason I listen to WOR710 – the Mark Simone show.  I love that guy.  His show is a mix of callers and news and celebrity phone guests.  It gives me my talk radio fix for the day.  They have some fun calls on that show.  You never know what to expect.  Mark Simone plays with his callers and his callers play back.

Of course, it’s hard to hear the conservative talking points fed to his show and he does have his detractors as I found in this New York forum thread:

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?685447-Mark-Simone-King-of-New-York-Talk-Radio

I agree about the prehistoric guests — especially Dick Cavett — but on the whole I enjoy Simone. Aside from those interviews the show is quick paced and fun. Simone has a good sense of humor and I think what some people see as rude and condescending is just part of his act. I don’t get the fault a lot of people find with him.

-wadio

 

Overall, I’m not a fan of talk radio. But the times I tuned him in on WABC (and when he did that Saturday Night Oldies show) he was an easy-enough listen. On one occasion it was he on WAEB who kept me sane while I was part of an historic Allentown traffic jam on the way to catch a plane for my Dad’s funeral a few years ago.

I can’t say one way or another I’m a fan of his WOR talk-only show. As I said, I don’t listen to that much talk radio except for a half-hour, here and there, of a sports-talk. And WOR doesn’t come in here that well, whereas his old WAEB gig was a loud signal. Strict ‘talk’ may or may not be his truer metier, but whoever said that being the heavy hotdog in NYC doesn’t have as much prestige as it used to was spot-on.

-Steve Green NEPA

 

That was back in March.  Recently, Simone mentioned that he can’t walk down the street without people stopping him to say ‘heard the show today’ or ‘great show today’ so he knows people are listening.

 

hmmm, just saw this thread in the New York forum about the Library of Congress searching for content to archive from local radio:

http://www.radiodiscussions.com/showthread.php?671953-Library-of-Congress-launches-local-radio-archive-project

 

I would love to see Bay Area local radio archived with the LOC.  Then, I could hear some Gene Burns shows and listen again to Pete Wilson.  sigh…

 

I spoke too soon.

I was encouraged when Spencer Hughes welcomed callers and told heartfelt stories about generations of listeners connecting to talk radio.  Spencer said most of the passion listeners have for talk radio comes from hearing diverse opinions of listeners who call into the show, and that one host talking for hours, with one viewpoint, makes for boring radio.

Talk got to Spencer.  I now hear that he’s happy to just talk and talk and talk without calls, unless a caller is brilliant.  Yep.  You have to be brilliant, now, to get on his show.  So, what do we get?  Another person who talks and talks and talks.  Just like the rest of the line-up on noTalk910.  It’s not the best line-up either.  Let’s see, what do we have during the day?  Two guys who have nothing to say stumble through a show from 1:00pm-3:00pm.  Two big selfie sticks blabbering away.

Then, of course, there’s Gil, who allows only Politico correspondents on his show or a call or two from his dreaded wife with the shrieking voice.  For some unknown reason, he thinks it’s a good idea to bring her on the air with him every Friday.  Again, who tunes into that disaster of a show on a Friday?  People tell me she’s still there, with her oh yeahs and screeching in a dog whistle trying to get a point across, and many don’t bother listening to it again.  I haven’t listened to that Friday show for a long time now.  BBC Radio 2 is just fine at that time.

I admit, I stopped listening to that station when I had to keep turning off that yelling lady commercial that aired every ten minutes.  That was it for me.

I was going to go into Spencer’s original point about how calls from listeners are what makes talk radio work.  I was going to defend the listener call-in and ask why would talk radio eliminate the one factor that works?  I thought I’d look up what others say about talk radio without real talk.  That’s when I was reminded it’s probably not real talk we think we hear anyway.

Fake calls have been a staple of radio for some time now, according to these articles I found online.

There’s even a service that provides radio stations paid actors who will pose as callers, as noted in this article:

http://gawker.com/5778740/talk-radio-is-fake-now

 

Do you enjoy those crazy morning zoo shows?

They should have their own radio show awards for phone actors:

http://gawker.com/5779701/your-favorite-wacky-morning-radio-show-is-a-festival-of-lies

 

This guy thinks talk radio is the same as pro-wrestling:

http://www.adweek.com/news/press/michael-smerconish-says-talk-radio-pro-wrestling-fake-149136

 

Do you ever read sfgate for the comments?  I found an interesting column about online publications and the lessons that can be learned from talk radio:

http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/241945/how-talk-radio-listens-to-its-audience-provides-lessons-for-online-publishers/

 

This is an extensive article that discusses CTR (Conservative Talk Radio) and women callers:

http://ejas.revues.org/10513

 

Hate CTR?  This article is for you:

http://www.republicanradio.org/

 

Finally, this is an article about two real callers who taunted a radio station for years, then revealed themselves:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/cuba-boys-radio-callers-who-taunted-wbai-come-forward/?_r=0

 

I understand why hosts prefer email or tweets, it’s easy to sort through written correspondence and there is more control over the content of the message.  It’s also easy to create fake messages.  So, who knows what’s real any more?

 

I’m still listening to New York station WOR710-AM and, although it’s conservative, there’s one host who makes listening to radio entertaining again.  I’ve mentioned him many times now.  It’s the Mark Simone show.  What I enjoy about his show, when he’s not bashing liberals, is his on-air ease.  His opinions can raise an eyebrow, but he has a huge personality and loves to have fun with people.  His conservative slant is tempered by the news guy, who disagrees with many of the things Simone says.  Callers are welcome on his show.  I have to say, they sound like real callers, not the fake ones.  They sound timid or tongue-tied or just want to voice an opinion.  It’s a nice mix of calls and Simone interacts in a friendly, humorous way.  I’ve mentioned before how he sometimes pretends he can’t hear callers, or tells them to get to the point before his listeners go to sleep.  Always with a laugh.  He never sounds annoyed at having to take calls.  He sounds thrilled when the phone lines light up.  His show has the right mix of calls and guests.  He knows many of the celebrity guests who have interesting conversations with him and then, at the end, sell whatever they have to sell.  It’s unobtrusive.  His show page is full of video clips described by Simone in such a way you want to watch them.  That’s talent.

Then there’s Rush.  ugh.  For a few months I had been listening to an hour of him on WOR while waiting for Spencer’s show to air on noTalk910.  I don’t understand his supposed popularity.  Limbaugh coughs up phlegm and wheezes and scrapes his hands together and taps his pen on his desk or slaps his hands as he talks about how everyone is talking about him.  He even plays clips of himself!  He refers to women as info babes and then tells his audience to just sit back and let him think for them.  huh? The article I listed above about CTR and women includes excerpts about Rush’s show:

 

CTR is indeed a male-dominated field characterized by a tradition of macho chauvinism. When Limbaugh “reinvented” talk radio in late 1988, it was obvious that women were going to be systematic targets of his misogynistic, scathing remarks. As early as his pre-syndication days in Sacramento, he coined the portmanteau word “feminazi” to refer to women adhering to the core values of Second Wave Feminism.

Consistent with this view, The Thirty-Five Undeniable Truths of Life which he enumerated on the air in February 1994 include pronouncements such as “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”

 

In the same way, Limbaugh does not refrain from flattering the caller when it serves his purpose, as was the case when Tiffany begged to disagree:

Tiffany: Just because I don’t agree with you on a couple things, my God.

Limbaugh: No, Tiffany, no, you misunderstand, Tiffany –

Tiffany: – partisan politics is that we get labeled for no reason –

Limbaugh: Tiff – Tiffa – Tiffany. Take a breath. Don’t torture me here.

Tiffany: I’m trying not to, you’re so great. (laughter)

Limbaugh: Tiffany, you know, I – I love you. You have to understand this, I love you and I want you to be right. I don’t want you to sound like a kook. I don’t want you to sound like a typical Democrat kook that is coming to define the Democrat mainstream.

Instead of debating the callers’ arguments by explaining his own, Limbaugh chooses to be overly condescending (“I love you and I want you to be right”) and tries to persuade her to change her opinion for her own good (“I don’t want you to sound like a kook”). In other words, he is shifting the discussion away from the rational and the argumentative to the personal and the emotional. Such a rhetorical strategy betrays the host’s representation of women as individuals that can be mollified by a few deceptively flattering words and that are devoid of debating skills.

 

In the short time I’ve been sampling Rush’s show (thanks to noTalk910 and their poor programming choices) I’ve heard Rush refer to feminazis and info babes on his show, and I’ve always been surprised and puzzled when women call his show to praise him.  It didn’t make sense until now, when I’m reminded calls are most likely phone actors.  Limbaugh denies it, but just because he says it doesn’t mean it’s true.  Think about it.

Another thing I’ve noticed is Limbaugh will talk about something early in the day, and Hannity brings up the exact same talking points later on his show.  Even Mark Simone has the same script.  It’s like they’ve all had coffee together and designed a daily plan against liberals that they repeat and repeat and repeat until the listeners know what they’re supposed to think.  That’s explained in the two gawker articles posted above as well, how it’s all scripted beforehand by a service and distributed to conservative hosts.  Yep.  Even Limbaugh, who claims to think for everyone, is probably letting some service think for him, reading words someone else wrote.

So, I give up on my expectations that talk radio will thrive in this new media environment.  Fake callers, fired locals, yelling commercials, amateur hosts, one person’s viewpoint for hours at a time, and a host’s wife with a horrible voice who is allowed air time all make cringe-worthy, yawn-inducing radio.

What keeps me tuning in every day to New York’s 710 WOR to hear the Mark Simone show?  It’s the callers, and their interaction with a host who obviously enjoys hearing what they have to say. Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to it and make up your own mind.

http://www.wor710.com/media/podcast-mark-simone-marksimone/

 

And, here are a few clips from his show page:

In this one Ralph Kramden dances Gangnam style:

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/the-greatest-dance-video-ever-ralph-13799341/

Is that an iPad in the 1968 film ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’?

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/a-scene-in-the-1968-film-13796437/

13 days of Jimmy Nicol:

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/at-the-height-of-beatlemania-ringo-13795551/

Amazing card trick.  I can’t figure it out:

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/an-amazing-card-trick-this-video-12836716/

Rodney Dangerfield on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/tbt-rodney-dangerfield-and-some-of-13774355/

 

Don’t let anyone silence your voice.  Have a blog or website or radio show that allows you to say what you think?  Let people know and let these noTalk stations know we’re not buying what they’re selling.