Freedom for Expression

December 5, 2012

Studio of Finnish local radio station "Ba...

Studio of Finnish local radio station “Basso radio” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got busy around the election and had lots of time to digest the outcome.

I’m sure Romney was sad with his loss and as such, Clear Channel Communications, controlled by Bain Capital, pulled the plug on Portland’s local commercial progressive talk radio.  That station had been on the air for over 8 years but according to ownership, was pulling in a small audience.

I’m licking my wounds missing our local liberal broadcast and have some thoughts on monolithic ownership of am/fm and over the air television stations.    In the loss of this talk radio station, I see the echo of the loss of other rich and diverse local radio stations over the years.

I am a gen Xer from the mid 60s.  I grew up tasting the remnants of the heady 60s and 70s ideas and culture.   In a time without Itunes, the culture of radio was rich and vibrant.   Cities had many choices for programming because local ownership was required to receive a broadcasting license.  There was a lack of uniformity , but also there were wide swaths of completely different musical culture simply because of geography.

In some ways, the internet has changed that.  In other ways, national corporate domination of the am/fm and tv airwaves has come to the fore after the local ownership rules were eviscerated in 1996.  Now from town to town, everything is the same on the radio.  All of the stations have been bought by a select group of owners who control it all but for a small fraction of the airwaves.

There is so much that is wrong with the current state of terrestrial am/fm broadcasting.

Years ago, the DJ in the booth could choose the music and shows even had live requests and callers on the air in between songs.  Now more often than not, music playlists are programmed the same across the country by a handful of people.  I  believe it is this fact more than mp3 file sharing technology that has stymied the music industry.

This McMusic approach to radio broadcasting has really made the business about nothing more than money.   Gone are the days that most stations have the freedom to put some love out to their audience and pull in a local crowd.  At this point it is hard to argue that any of Clear Channel is in service to the public except to provide a format that satisfies the lowest common denominator across the country.  Sirius and XM have customers because most of the airwaves are dominated by lame schlocky programming.

I am lucky to live in Portland where there are several alternatives for radio programming, one is dedicated to local bands and musicians even.   I have seen these kind of stations come and go.  The stations with the higher power to have a strong signal over larger area ultimately get sold out to larger corporate owners.   If the broadcast is kind of weak, it is not as attractive.  That is why if you hear anything interesting on the radio these days, it’s on the noisy station with a weak signal.

Ultimately Portland’s former liberal talk station was a business venture that the ownership did not wish to promote or grow.  Nothing personal, it’s just dollars and cents right?  To me it seems like the McTalk approach to engaging an audience at work.

We live in a country with around 50 progressive talk radio stations on low powered stations.  They try to balance out the over 900 conservative talk radio stations, many are high powered strong signal.  The playing field is far from fair and it is this massive megaphone to broadcast lies and illusions that keeps us mired.  It is why, with such a decisive electoral victory for the Dems,  the GOP has failed to react to the election results.  They live in their loud, controlled, self absorbed bubble, to the hazard of all that contradicts their upside down view of the world.

There should be a new guarantee by the FCC to allow diverse and local ownership of television and radio across the country.  It will allow greater diversity in programming, create many jobs in broadcasting, allow for greater freedom and exchange of ideas and create a new flowering of American musical culture.   It will get rid of some of the plutocracy and bring back some Democracy to the airwaves.

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Hope Springs

March 20, 2012

America... Republicans want the keys back - do...

Winter is over, time to spring into action.  I believe the spring of occupation will provide a sea change in our political discourse.  When the movement awakens from a seasonal hibernation, the nation will move.  An undeniable mass of people is an undeniable force. It will be awesome to see as well, much more fun than the tired old debates and listening to politicians try to outmaneuver each other.

It will go viral this spring.   It has to.  There is no choice but for the occupy movement to become a cottage industry.  The pols will have to get serious very quickly about engaging the issues that the occupy movement is kicking up.

I hope Obama spends time engaging with the Occupiers.   He needs to understand the outcry and speak to it even more.  They will lift him on their shoulders if he does this and carry him right back into the white house.

If the movement rears up as I think it will, the whole paradigm will shift on a dime into our time, the future is now.

United States of Animal Car

Liberal Maxims

November 11, 2011

Signing of the Constitution

Hello Intrepid Seeker of Truth and Wisdom!  Thanks for reading my first post, a list of maxims from a liberal viewpoint.

  1. Corporate influence in our government is at the crux of the struggle for our Republic.  Corporate interests collide with the interests of humans in the areas of environment, consumer safety, fair markets and personal freedoms.  Liberals believe humans should always trump corporations in these areas.
  2. Liberal economic policies (ie: regulated demand side trading with import tariffs) create rising living standards and sustainable growth while curtailing poverty at home.  Fair trade creates personal freedom, a growing middle class.  ‘Free’ trade creates poverty and wage slavery.
  3. Liberals believe in building, protecting and nurturing competitive free markets.   This is the environment for diverse growth markets to thrive.  Conservatives believe in protecting monopolies.  This creates an environment for wealth to trickle up to the higher end of monopoly chain
  4. Liberal social policies (ie: social security, medicare, various welfare programs) curtail poverty and create opportunity for social mobility.
  5. Money does not equal speech, yet conservatives on the Supreme Court have ensconced this false equivalence in US Law.
  6. Corporations are not people and do not deserve the rights of individuals guaranteed in the US Constitution, yet conservatives on the Supreme Court have ensconced this false equivalence in US Law.
  7. In the past, American workers have had ‘carrots’ to offer in order to achieve concessions from the management.  Mostly these carrots are gone as Americans settle into a 3rd world ‘free’ trade economy.  As the social compact of the 1930s becomes more broken, the people must demand reforms from the ruling class and impose censures (social or financial).  This is the only way to move back toward parity between the elites in power and the will of the people in the rule of law and the passage of law.  What other way is left for the cream to rise to the top in this ‘land of opportunity’? “Power concedes nothing without struggle.” (Frederick Douglass, freed American slave)
  8. Conservative and Tea Party Leaders believe the general population is stupid. They are interested in keeping the general public uneducated and uninformed. This allows the use of lies and half truths to manipulate public opinion.  How many bills have passed into law with innocuous or positive titles: ‘Patriot Act’ or  ‘No Child Left Behind’ that are ultimately hindrances to progress and freedom?  Information is still power if we can bring the information out at the right time.
  9. Conservatives love to attack on topics where they are weak and do not hold any moral authority.  Typically this includes areas where hypocritical beliefs may be easily exposed.  For example, conservative Christians love to berate the immorality of homosexuality instead of discussing the latest pastor or politician found to have homosexual tendencies.  Here is a great example from the weeks news:

    Diversionary tactics are the name of their game.

  10. Conservatives tend to use fear to motivate their voters.  Liberals tend to use hope to motivate their base.   This makes Liberals better leaders and Conservatives better followers.
  11. Conservatives love to find topics that divide the electorate.  Historically, their favorites have been homosexuality, firearms and religious freedoms.  They love to set up ‘strawmen’, a fake controversy and claim the moral high ground in attempt to make their perspective more attractive.  Witness the recent ‘In God We Trust’ legislation.
  12. Liberals can also be devout in a religion such as Christianity.   Jesus Christ certainly believed in the principles of providing for common weal and care and love of common humankind.  This aligns Jesus Christ against many principles of conservatism and in harmony with principles of Liberalism.
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