Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WJMA,, VAB - How to unFAIL

Wondering about how to handle updates on the Interwebtubes? Read on.

Yesterday I commented on the lack of coverage for the Virginia Association of Broadcasters (VAB) awards -- from the VAB and one of the recipients, WJMA.

It's easy to point out something gone wrong. It's a little harder -- yet far more productive -- to offer up some solutions. Here is mine.

How the VAB should promote their awards.

1) Post the results on the VAB website (and home page) immediately after the announcement at the conference. This should not be difficult. The winners have already been determined. Just cut and past the list to the home page -- or better yet, have it hidden, ( is the appropriate HTML code, btw) , and just have someone make it live. It should take about two minutes.

2) New media is like working in a sausage factory: it's all about the links. Said list should, at the very least, have a link to all of the winners' websites. Make the call letters the link. It drives traffic to the stations, which gives them an additional benefit for being a VAB member and an award winner.

3) Have a graphic for the award. There should be a simple graphic for the VAB award that winning stations can post on their website. This graphic should come with a link back to a part of the VAB site that explains what the award is, and the criteria for winning. It's good for the stations to have such an image for their homepage, and it helps raise awareness of the award -- good for the VAB.

How WJMA should promote their awards.

Let's assume that the VAB won't be doing their part, so there's no graphic to place on the WJMAFM.com homepage. There are still some very simple, yet effective, things WJMA can do to promote their win (and help themselves in the process).

1) Have a text announcement with a link to the News page. Suggested text:

"Congratulations to Phil Goodwin for winning the 2009 Best Feature Reporting and Best Newscast, Small Market Radio Awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters."

At the very least, this will help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for anyone searching for "VAB, award, 2009" This should take 5-10 minutes.

2) Build an awards page. This will take longer, but well worth the investment. WJMA has a long and distinguished history of winning awards for their news coverage. It's one thing to have a wall covered in trophies that no one can see (although you can kind of see them behind Phil's portrait). It's another to put it all out on the web where everyone can.

At the very least, you could have a simple laundry list in a grid of the dates, awards won, and the winning journalist and story. But it shouldn't stop there.

Whenever possible, there should be a link from the title of the award-winning story to an MP3 of said story. Now to go back and fill in 20+ years of these stories would take quite a bit of time and probably won't be at the top of anyone's "to-do" list. But what about this year's entry?

Phil Goodwin had to create an audio file to submit to the VAB judges, Why not post that on the website? Most of the work's already done. And while creating a full-blown awards web page would take time, for now, a simple text-based page shouldn't take more than an hour. Here's a serving suggestion (this took about ten minutes, thanks to ISSDNTek)


2009VABPhil GoodwinBest Feature Reporting, Small Market Radio"Dog Finds Wallet"

Phil GoodwinBest Newscast, Small Market RadioNoon News, 1/15/09

(The links aren't real - it's just to give you the idea.)

Now why is this important? Simple. Ad $$$$.

I could say this is an "award-winning" blog. And it is. I just gave it the "C.E. Conversations Award for Best Blog Written by Two People Named Ken and Ralph."

Big deal.

"Award-winning" is vague and meaningless. A link to a string of real awards by professional organizations is something else again. And if you're trying to persuade someone to sponsor your newscasts, it's a great way to show the value of the investment.

One final thing. I'd change the artwork for the podcast. OK, WJMA still don't have artwork for the podcast, but let's say they had something like the graphic below. (Pretty snazzy, eh? It took about ten minutes with Photoshop.)

I would simply add a line below it, (like I did on the graphic below) and then the award would be front and center on everyone's iPod, or MP3 player, or media player.

(That addition took five minutes. The secret is to save the original as a PSD, so you keep all the layers. Then it's very easy to make changes -- next year I could just change the text to read "2010 VAB Award-winner" and start using that graphic.)

So there it is, some constructive suggestions on how to get the word out without using a lot of money or human resources. And if anyone from Piedmont Communications is reading this, please feel free to copy and paste those images.

I'd love to end the WJMA podwatch!

- Ralph

Day 85 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Last July I posted "Radio in Virginia -- just how old is old media, anyway?". A friend had alerted me that WJMA FM had won some news awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters -- but there was no way to confirm that through the Internet; the VAB's website was several weeks out of date, and WJMA's website was still under construction.

Today I got another e-mail from the same friend -- with the same info. Through a second-hand source, they had heard that Phil Goodwin, news director for WJMA-FM had "won something."

Well, it's been a full year since the last awards. During that time people citing the Internet as their primary news source has grown from 40% to 50%. WJMA finally got their website up and running, and according to their blog,

Creative broadcasters, and we hope we’re in that class, are working to create targeted online promotions and features that leverage cause and event marketing, social networking, and other tools in order to provide real value to existing and potential customers.

Cool. So let's see how much things have changed.

I first visited the Virginia Association of Broadcaster's website, to check out the posting of the VAB Award winners of 2009. Nope, sorry. As you can see from the screenshot below, their most recent post is the banner for the conference that's already over.

Surely, though, WJMA -- rightfully proud of their award-winning news director -- as a "creative broadcaster," would let everyone know about this singular honor.

As you can see from this screenshot, there's nothing on the WJMA home page. According to my friend, Phil Goodwin mentioned the awards in one of his newscasts this morning. But it's not in the podcast for today, nor on the news page.

I checked the general manager's blog -- the last post was May 4, 2009. OK, what about the Piedmont Communications Weblog? Last post, June 17, 2009.

Cue the crickets.

So what's changed from last year? From audience makeup, quite a bit. From radio's apparent understanding of new media -- not much at all. Chances are they don't even understand the headline reference.

Epic FAIL, indeed.

- Ralph

Day 84 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Case of the Mis-Representin' Representative

Two tweets came through on my Twitter feed -- both political in nature. One was the President, urging me to call my representative to ask him to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454).

The second was from said representative, Eric Cantor.

Now this is a massive bill -- about 1,200 pages and the issues surround it (and even the question of whether anyone voting on it has actually read it) are complex.

I'm not going to call Rep. Cantor just because the President (or rather his staffer) asked me to, even if I didn't know his stance. I need to research this a little bit and find out what this bill will do, or won't, first.

But what really cheeses me off is Rep. Cantor's tweet.

First off, it's technically not even from him! It's a retweet (the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an e-mail). So does Rep. Cantor not have an opinion about this bill? Why not talk directly to me instead of passing on what Rep. John Boehner says? Granted, Boehner's the Republican leader in the House of Representatives. Cantor's the minority whip, and as such should support the leader. But surely in his leadership role Cantor has something to say besides "me too."

Secondly, it's misrepresenting the issue. Look carefully at that tweet. It doesn't call H.R. 2454 a "bill." It calls it a "tax." And that's not a mistake. "Bill" is a neutral term; "tax" is not. And of course (to a certain segment of voters) all taxes are evil. Therefore, if this is a tax, it must be evil -- especially 1,200 pages of new taxes! 'Nuff said. No need to think anymore about it.

We've seen the same kind of misdirection with commercial radio crying about the "performance tax."

Just for fun, I called up the text to H.R. 2454 and did a word search for "tax." Almost all of hits were for "tax credit" "tax refund." When the word "tax" appeared by itself, I looked the word in context and didn't see anything about massive, unfair, and oppressive taxation.

But don't take my word for it! Here's the link: H.R. 2454 text. Do a text search for yourself. And please let me know if you see anything differently.

So here's the thing: Cantor -- or rather Boehner called H.R. 2454 a tax, instead of a bill. Of course, it was to stir the emotions and get people to call in.

But I had a different reaction. When you use misdirection to win me to your cause, it tells me that your cause is too weak to stand on its own merits. And choosing to employ that misdirection tells me that you know it, too.

- Ralph

Day 81 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

eBay Reality

I just purchased a rare collector's item for only $0.01 on eBay!

That's how many people would characterize my most recent eBay transaction (but not me).

Sounds great when it's phrased that way, but the reality is far different.

First off, I was bidding on a Lledo 1:43 scale Morris Mini 1000 (pictured, right) for my O-gauge Zen garden. Now not all diecast cars (like any kind of collectible) are created equal. Some, like the Tootsietoy Grahams of the 1930s, are both hard to find in good condition and highly desirable aesthetically. Others, such as the Road Champs vehicles, are cheap toys sold in discount chains, and while they can have a certain appeal, are not necessarily rare or valuable.

Lledo kind of falls in the middle. It was started by one of the co-founders of Matchbox Cars (and some Lledo models bear strong resemblances to their Matchbox counterparts). Lledo specialized in inexpensive models, primarily for promotional purposes. A company could have a Lledo vans, for example, painted in company colors and their company logo decal on the side.

I was looking for a vehicle or two to add to my train layout. I wanted something a little unusual, but I didn't want to spend a lot. The auction I participated in for the Lledo Morris Mini fit the bill perfectly.

Now the bidding opened at $0.01, and never went any higher. It would seem I got a real bargain. Except shipping was set at $7.49 (and I believe it's shipping within the U.S.). Actual shipping costs are probably around $2.00. I don't begrudge the inflated charge -- it meant the seller was guaranteed to make something on the deal, even if the worst happened (which it did).

I think the real value of the Morris (at least for me) is around $7.00-$10.00, and so I set my maximum bid at $3.00. Which meant the most I would be required to pay would be $10.50 -- well within my comfort zone. At no time did I consider the cost to be the amount of the highest bid. I always looked at the total amount I needed to pay, which was bid plus shipping.

Some people ignore the shipping charges, and that's fine. For them, this highly desirable collectible was sold for a penny, and what a bargain!

Well, it wasn't a rare collector's item. Lledo vehicles, in general, have only modest demand and the lack of bidding is a direct correlation to the market's lack of interest. I spent more than a penny, but I think I paid a fair price.

So I'm not ecstatic, but I'm realistically happy. And, for $7.50, that's just fine.

- Ralph

Day 79 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In a couple of weeks, I'll be heading off to the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference. Should be an interesting event. Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 (who I've quoted frequently) will be there, as will some other media mavens.

The large questions that commercial radio faces (or rather ignores) are also in front of pubcasters.

  • Where is the next generation of listeners coming from?
  • Are we radio broadcasters or media content creators?
  • Sure, we can offer more online, but how do we monetize it?
  • How do we sustain (or increase) giving levels in a down economy?
Big questions -- I'll be interested to see what some of the answers are.

In several ways, public broadcasters are ahead of the curve, and in others very far behind. Sometimes when I try to discuss new media concepts with my colleagues they react as if I'm speaking Esperanto.

Will this year be different?

We'll see. I'll be blogging -- and Twittering from the event.

- Ralph

(My business partner and I used to call this the Run-PRDMC conference when we talked with attendees, but we eventually stopped. No one got the reference. Good times.)

Day 78 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I went green (#Iranelection)

Even at this late date, many people I know ask why my avatar's green (it's that digital subdivision again). And while the facile answer would be "to support the Iranian opposition," it's actually much more complex and yet more fundamentally simple than that.

First off, Iranian politics -- like those of any country -- aren't a simple case of good guy vs. bad guy. That only happens in the movies. Mir Hossein Mousavi, like current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was active in the Iranian revolution and supported the taking of American hostages.

So my avatar is not green to support Mousavi.

Secondly, I understand that Iran -- like every other country -- has a digital divide. And, I think, some digital subdivisions as well. Not every Iranian -- just like not every American -- has access to the Internet, or is familiar with Twitter, or understands how to upload videos to YouTube. So the initial burst of protests we saw was from a self-selecting crowd of people familiar with the workings of the Internet. Certainly not representative of all Iranians.

So my avatar is not green in support of a perceived universal protest by all Iranians.

There's a great deal of huffing and puffing that the United States government should Do Something to support these Iranian freedom fighters. This is an internal matter, and the acrimony surrounding the election is something Iranians must settle for themselves. (Imagine how we would feel if other countries felt they needed to Do Something when the results of the Bush/Gore election were in dispute.)

So my avatar is not green in support of foreign intervention.

Why is it green? To show support for the ability for anyone to have a voice on the world stage -- and for that ability to remain. Some citizens of Iran denied other outlets, aired their grievances in a most public forum -- the world-wide web. And in the process, forced their government to address their concerns in that same forum.

Now this is still a very complicated situation. The Iranian government's countered with their own blog posts, tweets, and videos. Rumors are flying fast and furious, and sometimes it's not immediately apparent what's eye-witness reportage and what's disinformation.

But the truth seems to eventually will out, somehow. And that's what I'm in favor of. The events of the past few weeks have shown how much more difficult it's become for any institution to keep a lid on things when any individual can potentially talk to the world.

What will play out in Iran? I can't say. But I support all the Iranians willing to risk their safety (and in some cases their lives) to let the world see what they see. Because I see this as just the beginning.

We've seen such online revolutions for relatively unimportant things, such as the Digg/DRM code suppression controversy, and Facebook terms of use uproar. But this time, those tools are being used for something that impacts the real -- rather than the virtual -- world.

And that's what I'm supporting.

- Ralph

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crowd Control

Warning: mini-rant.

We attended our niece's high school graduation this past weekend, and once again I was reminded of something -- as a culture, we seem to have no concept of audience behavior. Well, that's not entirely true. We do have a concept. Apparently how we behave at football games is fine for all situations.


1) Whatever's happening on the field (or stage) is as removed from the viewer as an  image on a TV screen. So talking, texting, moving around to visit with friends is fine -- just like it is at home.

2) "Whoo" is not an optional way to show approval -- it's required. And if you can get the attention of the athletes/performers by yelling, so much the better. Air horns are good, too.

3) Fun's fun, but traffic's a drag. Once you've seen what you've come to see, leave and beat the crowd out of the parking lot. 

I have no gripes with any of these behaviors at a sporting event -- it's part of the experience. But a band concert, or a ballet recital, or an awards ceremony, or graduation? Sorry, not appropriate. Sometimes just applause is enough. Staying to the end of the event has its own rewards -- you never know what you'll see. 

At the heart of it all is just plain courtesy. Staying to the end shows respect for the performers/athletes and what they're doing. Cheering appropriately maintains the decorum of the event. And sitting quietly (regardless of actual interest level) shows respect for other audience members. 

The young men and women of the Class of '09 comported themselves well at graduation. If only the members of their audience had done the same.

 - Ralph

Monday, June 15, 2009

Watt's Thoughts - Government-run auto makers

I had understood that reorganization of the American automakers through bankruptcy, government loans and funding and reorganization would result from the change.

Specifically, we'd see cars built by Americans that were more in line with prices Americans could afford and be more fuel-efficient. And we'd see the companies dropping inefficient brands such as Dodge cars, Saturns, Saabs, etc., in order to compete more effectively.

Chrysler recently announced it was re-opening its first plant since closing all of them in bankruptcy. The cars they will be building (Dodge Vipers) are priced at $90,000 and get 22 mpg.

So much for closing inefficient brands, and building price-conscious cars. I cannot imagine very many Americans in 2009 being able to buy $90,000 cars. And so much for fuel efficiency -- Obama wants to go to 36mpg or higher soon. (As a side note, my 2001 Saturn gets 36-37 mpg.)

So Chrysler is building muscle cars as the first product of the "New Chrysler."

We will see how GM and Chrysler continue as new companies emerging from bankruptcy with ownership being primarily the US government and the UAW. I'm waiting to see what happens when the UAW demands higher wages from their employer, the UAW, for the autoworkers in a year or two.

Can you strike against yourself?

Comedians will have a field day.

You can subscribe to Watt Thoughts at www.yahoogroups.com and you can view past Watt Thought articles at www.dwightwatt.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Pelham 1 2 3" and "Broken Windows"

As I was driving to work today, I listened to NPR's review of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." But more interesting to me was the follow-up story. When the first incarnation of this movie came out in 1974, the NYC subways were a scary place to go for most city residents. Dirty, crime-ridden, and covered in graffiti, they were symptomatic of the rottenness at the core of the Big Apple.

Today, as the story pointed out, the subways are a different place. They're hardly a garden spot, but for the most part, the subway is relatively clean, and there's a lot less graffiti. A sense of order prevails, versus the near anarchy of earlier times.

This reminded me of one of the seminal thought pieces in the debate on the role of policing in our society, George Kelling and James Wilson's March 1982 article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled "Broken Windows." It examined how the first step in crime prevention isn't police reaction to individual crimes, but rather the presence of dependable authorities on the street, ensuring that basic maintenance and order are maintained. Even more, than 25 years later it's worth a read, with lessons that we've seen applied in many American cities, and to some extent, in the "surge" that helped pacify Iraq over recent months.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Watt's Thoughts - Disappearing Tape

The textbook I use to teach college-level Visual Basic has  a problem for students  that's created a separate problem unto itself. It asks the student to write a program with the results appearing as they would on adding machine tape. I ran into this issue several quarters ago -- some of my younger students had no idea what an adding machine was.

So now when we come to the problem I explain that an adding machine is like a calculator. Adding machine tape, I say, is much like the tape used on some calculators or cash registers.

The other day I was correcting a student who didn't seem to get it.  He had just added a line of equal signs between his input boxes and result box but didn't have the input numbers appear in the result box on separate line and a separator line and the result.  Turns out he had a more fundamental question about the problem. "What is a tape?" he asked.

Shows how technology is changing.  It seemed the cash register analogy wasn't working anymore. Someone suggested it was like the tape you get from the gas pump or an ATM. I wonder how long those examples will hold true!

- Dwight Watt
from "Watt's Thoughts," available at dwight-watt.home.att.net

Day 64 of the WJMA Podwatch.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Save Your Radio addendum

Got some offline feedback for my post annotating the Save Your Radio propaganda informational landing page. A little clarification: commercial radio's strategy is to get what they want through misrepresentation, just another link in a long chain of clueless behavior. But the record labels are doing the exact same thing, for the same basic reason -- a failure to adapt.

Commercial Radio

When radio was the primary audio source for news, sports, information and music, life was good. Content attracts listeners, and radio makes money by selling the attention of that audience to advertisers. It's the same concept with websites. Quality content attracts viewers, and sites with strong numbers are more attractive to advertisers. During the 1980's you could make money in radio without even really trying. And so the trimming began. Less live DJ, tighter playlists generated nationally rather than locally, less news, etc.

Radio was still in the content business, but since there wasn't any real competition, the quality and variety of the content didn't matter that much. Satellite radio, while hardly being a radio-killer, should still have served as a wake-up call that content (radio's core business). Instead of competing by improving programming quality (hard to do with skeleton staffing), focussed on the digital nature of the satellite signal and HD Radio was (still)born.

The NAB lobbied heavily to throw up as many legislative roadblocks as possible. They welcomed the RIAA's demand for performance royalties from XM and SIRIUS. Radio's strategy of handling competition was to kill it, so things could return to normal (that is, with radio being the sole audio provider).

The Recording Industry

The major labels are also in the content business. Initially, they started out selling audio recordings on wax cylinders. Why would you purchase one cylinder and not another? Because of what was recorded on it. Labels moved from selling wax cylinders to heavy shellac platters to thinner vinyl LPs and 45s, to CDs. The type of units varied, but it was always about the content rather than the media it was encoded on.

And as long as home recording remained primitive, labels retained control of their material. You could only own a copy of the song if you purchased the media the label sold it on. End of story. Cassette tapes changed that somewhat, but the big shift came with the rise of the original Napster. That's when labels forgot they were primarily in the content business, and not the selling-little-pieces-of-plastic business.

Rather than move into the digital world and begin selling their content in a new fashion, they shut Napster down. Like radio, the strategy has always been to react to competition by killing it. The wholesale suing of downloaders -- both real and imagined -- by the RIAA was a vain attempt to stop the migration to online music, or at least slow it down.

Now keep in mind that when they plead their case, the RIAA never talks about saving the labels. It's always about getting money for the poor, down-trodden artists. The artists that, according to most major label deals, get only 15% of ever CD sold -- less 20% for returns and breakage, less the recording and promotional costs fronted by the labels (as priced and accounted for by the labels). The artists who have yet to see a dime of the $250 million settlement money from the original Napster case or any other case since for that matter.

When satellite radio came along, the labels tried their best to kill, or at least severely cripple it, which they did with intensive lobbying and the enacting of the unprecedented performance fees. The same thing happened with Internet radio. But little plastic disc sales continued to decline, and revenue continued to fall.

So now they turn to commercial radio, looking for more money from one of the few remaining revenue streams (and it is a revenue stream -- radio stations pay royalties to the song publishers, most of which are owned by the majors).

Repositioning the truth

Radio is now facing the same fees they encouraged levied against others. And to garner support, they've misrepresented the performance royalty as a tax, hoping all the negative connotations of the word conjures up will help their cause.

Record labels are trying to get the performance royalty enacted because they're still wedded to the concept of selling little shiny pieces of plastic and that just isn't working. To garner support, they've misrepresented the performance royalty as a way to help starving artists when, in fact, the labels will be the prime beneficiary.

So on each side of the issue of performance royalty, we have an industry that:

1) Does not understand what business they're really in.

2) Prefers to answer competition by killing it off rather than changing to meet new market demands.

3) Tries to garner support for their cause by misrepresentation of the issues.

Sorry, I'm not rooting for either side in this clash of the dinosaurs. Just wish they'd be honest about what they're really fighting about.

- Ralph

Day 63 of the WJMA Podwatch

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Save Your Radio (in translation)

Visit most commercial radio websites, and you'll see a banner and link enjoining you to SAVE FREE RADIO!

Performance royalties, which radio stations have never paid, are about to be leveled at them. Now what you won't hear is that this is the end of a long campaign. When the SoundExchange (funded by and representing the major labels) went after the nascent satellite radio industry, commercial radio stood on the sidelines and cheered (anything to kill the competition). 

Having established the precedent, the SoundExchange then hit Internet radio stations. Again, commercial radio sat by, hoping that the royalty rates would be enough to kill off these upstarts. 

So now, the SoundExchange makes the case that every other music broadcaster is paying these fees, why not radio? So now we're finally seeing some action. Go to the SaveYourRadio.org website and read the manifesto. Here's my annotated version.
Tired of the negative press they’ve received from suing college kids and grandmothers, the major record companies have now turned their sights on your local radio stations.

[Actually, they aimed (and bagged) satellite radio and Internet radio first -- but the NAB wasn't interested in this fight then]

The foreign owned record companies
[Those damned foreign major record labels! There's Sony/BMG (Japan), EMI (the UK), Warner Music (the US, oops), and Universal Music (also US, oops again). Um, OK so half the majors are foreign. That's close enough.] 

are spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress
[Because, you know, no was else -- like the NAB -- ever spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress. It's just not fair.]

to pass a bill that would establish a “performance tax”
[That phrase is in quotes for a reason. It's not a tax, it's a royalty payment. By using the word "tax" they conjure up the image of money pouring into the the government that no one will ever seen again. Actually, it will pour into the record labels where the artists will never see it again.]

- forcing local radio to pay for the music that is currently provided to you, the listener, free of charge.
[Well, unless you count having to listen to eight commercials in a row as paying a price in pain and suffering.]

Like all businesses, radio stations across the country are struggling to stay afloat - over 250 stations have been forced off the air in the last year alone.
[You'd think commercial breaks with eight ads in a row would help keep the doors open. Hm!]

If passed, this bill would guarantee many more stations would fail, and those that survive would not be the stations you recognize today.
[That is, if you're one of the diminishing audience that hasn't already jumped ship for Internet radio, Slacker, Pandora, podcasts, or even satellite radio.]

It is you, the listener that will feel true impact of this tax
[This time without quotes, notice.]

most as it would ensure a decline in the diversity and quality of programming you expect and deserve from free radio.
[Wow. Where's that station with the diverse and quality programming? I'd listen to that! Playing the same short playlist of market-tested tunes over and over is neither diverse nor especially quality.]

Free radio needs your help in opposing the major record companies’ money grab!
[Those damned labels! Fortunately, sprawling media conglomerates like Clear Channel and Infinity are the antithesis of money-grubbing corporations. Um, well.]

You can help stop the major record companies, and keep government bureaucrats from deciding the price of the music you enjoy by signing onto our petition.
[I'm not sure how we got here. Who's getting the money, again? The greedy record labels or the government bureaucrats?]

This petition will be delivered to your representatives in Washington.

You can contact your Senators and Representatives directly by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. To find out who your Senators and Representatives are, click here. Call your Members of Congress today, and tell them to oppose the performance tax,
[No quotes again.] 
by co-sponsoring the “Supporting Local Radio Freedom Act”.
[Nicely phrased. Especially from said big media companies that have turned most stations into echo chambers for their syndicated and automated programming. Now if the bill required that a local radio station have real live announcers that lived in the area, a news team that covered local news, and played music by local artists, I'd be actively campaigning for it myself.]

Together, we can ensure that free radio continues to serve your local market with the highest quality service and programming.
[ROFL. Especially as they wrote it with a straight face. So explain to me how Ryan Seacrest serves my local market. Or Rush Limbaugh, or Dr. Laura, or -- you get the idea.]
The time to put the genie back in the bottle was when the cork started to wiggle loose. It's a little late, now. And if the most compelling argument they can come up with is to misrepresent a royalty paid to publicly-held companies as a tax paid to the government -- well. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?

 - Ralph

Day 59 of the WJMA Podwatch

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Stimulus spending ,1930s style -- food writing in the Federal Writers Project

Looking back at the public works programs of the Depression, we tend to think in terms of the physical accomplishments of these programs. Dams, swimming pools, new highways, civic buildings. Many of these are still around, serving the public. I remember with fondness the swimming pool at Oglebay Park in Wheeling from my days at summer camp.

Less well-remembered perhaps, are the programs that put writers to work. Laura Shapiro does a nice job looking at food writing in this review of Mark Kurlansky's new book, "The Food of a Younger Land."


Monday, June 01, 2009

New Habits Die Hard, Too

Saturday I spent most of the day doing yard work. No problem, I had my iPod and I had some podcasts to get through. I needed to get gas for the lawnmower, so I put my iPod aside, got my keys and hopped in the car.

Along the way to the gas station, I listened to "Whad'ya Know?" and got involved with Michael Feldman's interview with Patricia O'Conner, author of Origin of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language. When I pulled up to the pump, I instinctively reached for the pause button where my iPod usually sits. Not there.

I missed the rest of the interview while I filled up the gas can. And the show was into a new segment by the time I was ready to head home.


Now during this past week, while driving, I listened to a two-hour episode of "This Week in Law," hour-plus episodes of "This Week in Media" and "This Week in Tech" respectively, a 45-minute installment of "In Our Time," as well as some other shorter podcasts, and never missed a word. 

Yet on a 15-minute round trip to the gas station, I only got to hear a portion of a 10-minute interview. Wow. That's why I don't listen to live radio as much. 

Fortunately, "Whad'ya Know?" is also available as a podcast.

I subscribed over the weekend.

 - Ralph

Day 57 of the WJMA Podwatch