We may have to get progressive talk shows put on the Endangered Species List, now that the president has reinstated it. Otherwise there won't be any voices on the air except the voices of the right, whether "centrist" (corporate) or explicitly far-right (corporate). As Brad Friedman notes in his report on Peter B. Collins's forced departure (see below), the economic crash is threatening to finish off those last few figures who have managed somehow to resist the oligopolistic tide that has by now all but submerged the US media.
That purge, now near-complete, has actually been in the works for years. It was the purpose of the vast "de-regulation" of the media begun by Reagan back in '87 (soon after the corporate press obligingly refused to look too deeply into Iran/contra) and continued by Bill Clinton nine years later (and a fat lot of good it did him.)
Those grand strokes were the eventual result of a big semi-covert effort that had started up much earlier, when, in the early Seventies, the US Chamber of Commerce and the top tier of its membership (some dare call it "the ruling class") resolved to take the country back from all those citizens who had been acting up against the war, for civil rights for all, for the environment, etc. Such was the groundwork for the Reagan/Clinton hand-off of our airwaves (and the cable system) to the likes of GE News Corporation, Disney and Time Warner, and the aptly named Clear Channel. With that network in charge, and quite absolved of any public obligation, those trying to tell some truth out loud soon found that they were struggling to be heard.
So now Rush Limbaugh's voice--along with those of Hannity, O'Reilly, Ingraham and the aptly self-named "Michael Savage," among others--bellows inescapably from coast to coast, while those who are at least as talented, but honest, rational and well-informed, have got to work like hell to find, and build, their audience (which is, increasingly, on-line).
For the dominance of all those rightist blowhards is not based on the market, although their fans keep saying that it is, in countless fuming posts and letters to the editor. Contrary to that talking point, the crackpot views of Rush et al. have only fringe appeal--as we, and all the world, saw clearly on Election Day, and as we see especially clearly now that the economy's collapsed. Most people out there were quite thrilled to see Jon Stewart clean Jim Cramer's clock. So where is that big audience for Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and all the other hirelings out there channelling
Let's face it: There's been no such big audience for quite a while. When sharp
progressive talkers have been able to compete, they've done quite well--just
ask Phil Donohue, who lost his show five years ago despite the fact that it was MSNBC's top-rated offering. (Internal memos shortly made it clear that he was dumped because he was against Bush/Cheney's war.) And now that network has Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow in prime time, with Joe Scarborough shunted to the mornings. Meanwhile, Thom Hartmann has been besting Rush in markets where he's had the chance--but, by and large, he hasn't had the chance; and neither has Peter B. Collins, or any other able dissident.
So what this country needs, ASAP, is media reform; because the media culture now in place is not a genuine expression of our real opinions or desires, but a gigantic corporate imposition on us all. For far too long we have assumed that what we see and hear (and read) comes mostly from the right because Americans are mostly on the right: not just throughout the "heartland," but, ludicrously even in New York, L.A,, Chicago, San Francisco. Thus we must reform the US media --break the oligopoly, restore the broadcast code, and build a genuinely non-commercial public system) so that we'll know not just what's really going on, but also, even more important, who we really are.
Peter B. Collins going off the air
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Another progressive talker falls victim to the rightwing corporate stranglehold of our public airwaves...
Blogged by Brad Friedman on 3/13/2009 8:25PM
The Peter B. Collins Show will come to an end, as of next Friday, according to an announcement by Collins on today's broadcast. After nearly five years on the air, the economic climate, and the stranglehold of rightwing corporate control over the public's airwaves has made it impossible for him to continue.
We've been a regular weekly guest, as well as an occasional fill-in host, for Peter since not long after he first began broadcasting his syndicated show, first heard on Monterey, California's KRXA 540am and, until next Friday, on stations in San Francisco, Eureka, CA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT and on the Internet. His call to us earlier today with the news, a few hours prior to our weekly scheduled appearance during the final hour each Friday, was heartbreaking, but hardly surprising in today's climate for nearly everyone but the vast majority of rightwing whackjob radio hosts propped up by rightwing corporate interests.
After a quick segment, during our appearance on today's show, discussing a number of this week's developments in elections issues, we turned to the matter of his leaving the air, and our belief that the playing field is indisputably rigged against non-rightwing talk radio. It's not a matter of "Progressive Talk" having failed in America, it's a matter of progressives, to this day, not having been given a level playing field on which to compete. Period.
See the bottom of this article for the audio of today's hour, including Peter's announcement (and his very kind "emphatic endorsement" of us to take over the still-available 3p-6p PT daily timeslot on San Francisco's Green 960.)
As our friend and progressive talker Thom Hartmann pointed out on his show this morning, Stephanie Miller, another friend and progressive radio host, noted that she's syndicated on some 60 affiliates from 9 to Noon ET each weekday, while rightwing whack-job Laura Ingraham is on some 300 stations during that same time slot.
Yet, Hartmann noted, Miller beats Ingraham in almost every single market where they air at the same time. Does that sound like fair competition, or that "Progressive Talk" has failed? We haven't failed, corporate America, however, has failed you.
More details on all of that, in the audio of today's hour posted below. It should also be noted, by the way, that PBC mentioned he'd be open to the idea of an angel from heaven dropping in to help meet his $5000 monthly nut. If someone could do so, a long shot we both realize, then one of the nation's most intelligent, informative, insightful, entertaining and important progressive voices would likely be able to stay on the public airwaves, where he belongs...
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