Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Monday, June 29, 2009

Radio: The Last Moonwalk

In the summer of 1977, I was a college student preparing for a career in broadcasting. One afternoon in August, I heard the news (through word-of-mouth) that iconic entertainer Elvis Presley had died. I immediately drove to my local Top-Forty radio station (where I worked part-time) and offered what little assistance I could in getting all the relevant information as well as a healthy sampling of the King’s music on the air. The entire staff pulled together and our hometown station rose to the occasion.

Flash forward to a day in June, thirty-some summers later; I heard the news (through the internet, the contemporary version of “word-of-mouth”) that iconic entertainer Michael Jackson has died.

That night I tuned in our local 70s-80s radio station (the one that boasts of being "First With The Hottest Music News") and listened for a full hour. I heard absolutely nothing about Jackson's demise, no updates on the story, none of his music, no mention at all.

Sad fact is, I doubt if anyone really noticed; if you wanted updates on the story, or to hear any of the King of Pop’s hits, you went to TMZ.com, iTunes, your iPhone…anywhere but radio.

Radio, to put it bluntly, has dropped the ball. The problem is largely due to mismanagement on the national level, but in many cases, (as in the one cited above) a local market manager is in a position to make a difference, yet shows little interest in doing so.

Radio can be, and in many places still is, a powerful, engaging medium. All too often today it isn’t. Until certain broadcasters in our community are willing to deal with that fact, much of Bismarck/Mandan radio will continue its precipitous slide into irrelevancy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Palin Rider, or: Shut Up, He Explained...

More than ever before, David Letterman is my hero. The whole Bristol Palin flap is nothing less than a stroke of self-promotional genius. And make no mistake about it – the governor of Alaska and her wacky family are in on the fix.

Letterman gets a ratings bump. Palin keeps her face in the news (while generating sympathy among her hard-core following)…everybody wins.

It’s brilliant. I wish I’d thought of it. I wish I’d said it.

Having said all that, it feels kind of weird to weigh in on this pseudo-issue. But what the hell…everybody else is.

So here’s my take on it…

Number one: Letterman’s joke. Was it in bad taste? Yeah it was – so what? It certainly wasn’t beneath the dignity of Gov. Palin to drag her daughter into the spotlight to suit her own agenda. And the way I figure it, if you’re old enough to get knocked up, you’re old enough to take a joke.

Usually at this point some mental midget will step in and say, “Yeah, well what if it was your daughter?”

So allow me to clarify my position:

Shut up.”

Then I would continue: If it were my daughter, who got a bun in the oven at such a tender age, I’d say she had it coming.

Whatever happened to the social conservative notion that an underaged, unwed mothers should be sanctioned for her actions? And not just if she sports a “D” next to her name…

Now to Sarah Palin. What really bothers me about Mr. Palin is this:

I don’t believe for one minute that she’s the perky little soccer Mom she’s made herself out to be. Most of us like to think we can spot a phony a mile away; well I think Sarah Palin is a phony. I think the whole shucky, gosh-darn persona is just something she does for her target demograpic.

That’s what really worries me: the idea that in the twenty-first century there is still a hefty portion of the voting populace that find the “official” Sarah Palin persona attractive.

Guess we’re still living in Nixonland after all…