Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's My Party and I'll Lie (On Air) if I Want To

The Birmingham area talk radio market is a celebration of one-sided viewpoints by the right wingers and Tea Partiers leaving the large numbers of independent thinkers and voters without an invitation to the discussion. That is unless they want to become the public pinata du jour for not being in lock step with the host and the stations' skewed views.

We have gotten a lot of emails on this subject and decided it is time to present some commentary about it.

"The death knell of radio is predictability. If you can predict what a host is going to say, you will not tune in. It all comes down to that person’s ability to take an unpredictable path that challenges you and makes you stretch, even if you’re opposed to them. Another thing people don’t realize about great hosts is that half their audience does not necessarily subscribe to their beliefs. They’re listening because they’re entertained. They want to be challenged."

And they want to be included in the discussion. 

And they want the truth from both sides, not just the left or the right.

If you listen to talk radio in Alabama, you get more of a sermon than a free and open discussion. Listeners calls are heavily moderated, more so on some stations than others, and since the hosts knows from the screen in front of them what a caller has on their mind, frequently a dissenting voice is put on right before a break, effectively diminishing their time to speak.

Or worse--they are attacked on air and sometimes it descends into a shouting match instigated by certain hosts.

When a politician is being interviewed, few calls are taken by one well-known personality of WAPI's morning drive. It's really more of a one way interview than a discussion. To be fair, that may be the demand of the politician more so than the host, but wouldn't it make for a much more lively interview to hear callers of differing views speaking to the subject at hand, while the political head is on the line? And why wouldn't the host require the politician to listen to their constituents as a requisite for the interview?

Could it be because the host wouldn't get the ego stroke of a pipeline to to the politicians, who may not be so eager to go on the show if they knew it would be more of an public discussion? If we're talking about Alabama politicians, which we are, the answer is oh heck yes.

Public discourse and hard questions should be encouraged by our media outlets despite their political leanings.

We're upset with the Tea Party in Alabama because they seem to have been given a media platform others do not have. It's a one way conversation that seems to, based on some caller's views, bring out the fringe element, i.e. one frequent caller to Hart's show on WYDE "Michael" said this not too long ago:
"Some of these people better watch what they say or they just might go to hell for it."
"Michael" is a strange conundrum of fundamentalist thumper and intolerant right winger who's frequently inflammatory with his comments, and while he certainly has a right to his views, is it the kind of rhetoric that adds to a conversation and elevates the discussion or is it extremism that takes it down the low road and straight into a ditch?

And what does the host say to his audience when he allows this kind of rhetoric to be voiced unchallenged?

You can pick any topic, at random, that is 'ascribed to the left side of the aisle' and tune in any time of the day or night on Alabama talk radio and find that is all the discussion is about--the 'evil left.' 

All right wing all the time. 

It's tiring, predictable, monotonous and leaves out the voice of the independents, who we dare say, are not a small majority anymore.

But there is no room for them at the party on the airwaves in Alabama.

Readers of our site should know we go after everybody. Sometimes the left hates us, other times it's the right who sends us hate mail. But with independents we consistently get kudos and that's our target audience. 

We admittedly do lean more harshly on the right because they make themselves easy targets with their self-proclaimed moral high ground propaganda and 'good Christians' branding while their actions seem to be more about corporate love than brotherly love.

Last time we checked, corporations don't have souls and hearts. They're not living breathing beings, they are profit driven soulless machines whose only purpose is the bottom line, and how much damage they do to people or the environment to get there does not figure into it. As long as it turns a profit.

That's the other part of the problem with media--they are beholden to advertisers for revenue. The advertisers influence the media message today more than they ever have and it's changed media for the worse. Clear Channel Radio (WAPI) is corporate radio. Crawford Broadcasting (WYDE) is Tea Party Radio.

We'd love to see the day come when there is a populace driven forum of ideas and discussion in the talk radio market of Alabama, but we're not holding our breath anticipating it anytime in the near or distant future.

Independents deserve a voice in Alabama. All citizens deserve the truth about topics that have real consequences on their everyday lives and we think that does not happen on talk radio. What's that old adage about three sides to every story? Yours, mine and the truth?

Radio hosts are in a powerful position behind their microphones to influence large numbers of people on any given day about a plethora of topics. We'd like to see more of them step outside their comfort zones and explore and flesh out opinions on all sides rather than staying in the zone of predictability.

The Tea Party is just as predictable and they can be counted on to inflame and fan the fires of extremism, and despite their claims of "our ranks are growing" the general sentiment in America is their time to be nationally relevant has come and gone, Independents are leaving the movement in droves.

This editorial from Oregon Live sums up our thoughts exactly:
There are plenty of legitimate policy arguments one can make against President Barack Obama and his administration. But as far as the Tea Party is concerned, I don't hear any of them.

Instead, all I hear is fear mongering, misinformation, hyperbole and demagoguery. All I hear is Obama was born in Kenya, Obama is a Muslim, Obama wants to kill grandma with "death panels," Obama is a Marxist conspiring to transform America. Blah, blah, blah.

I initially thought the Tea Party was a good thing. In fact, I had high hopes that it might even birth, no pun intended, actual valuable political discourse.

But with each Looney Tune that crawled out of the woodwork -- from Sharron Angle to Joe Miller to Christine O'Donnell and more -- I began to re-evaluate, eventually concluding that I was sorely wrong, and that the self-proclaimed Tea Party, in fact, serves no real useful, tangible or abstract purpose whatsoever other than providing a nutty right-wing balance to the long-established nutty left wing.
In our view, the Tea Party is nothing more than bomb throwers and fringe dwellers that their 'Daddy' Mr. Republican Party has sent out of the room so it doesn't embarrass the 'grown up' right wing establishment.

The "very first Tea Party on air in America for the masses" courtesy of WYDE and CCC, was expected to draw "80-100" but only managed about a dozen, one-tenth of the estimated crowd predicted to "take control of our country." They'll probably blame it on the bad weather, which may have have been a factor, but we won't know until they do it again. And they will. But why should they? Why should Clear Channel Communications, who rose to media dominance during the Bush years, and Crawford Broadcasting give one fringe group frequent and unfettered access to its airwaves?

Maybe this is why:
"The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university's endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. 
In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire."
"In addition, Hicks steered a controversial scheme to use the University of Texas' $13 billion endowment for private investment. Among the beneficiaries were the Carlyle Group, the arms investment firm tied to both George Bush Sr. and the bin Laden family, and George W Bush's controversial Harken Oil drilling project in Bahrain." (Sourcewatch.org)
For a group that rails against big government and special interest groups like the Tea Party (and Mr. Hart of WYDE) frequently does, it appears if it is on their side of the agenda then it's perfectly acceptable. In fact, it's fostered to help get the message out, because after all, they know so much better than the rest of us how things should be in America and Alabama.

And they are not afraid to tell you over and over and over...

'Do as I say not as I do.'

Because it really is MY party and I will lie if I want to but I want you to consider me "Your Source for the Truth."


  1. Right on Max!!!!!
    It's about time somebody said this.
    Radio has become a wasteland with no purpose for the people anymore and the Birmingham market is the worst I have ever heard. I have lived in 10 states with my particular line of work, and the deeper I get into the south, the further back in time it feels like I've stepped.
    What is with southern media and extremism? Do they really think that we all think like that?
    The Tea Party started out with good intentions and quickly went amuck, I don't even recognize what it is now to what was then.
    You can count me in that group of proud Independents and feeling very left out of forums to participate in where my views are welcome anymore.

  2. I see it as another problem going on with radio in Alabama; it's testosterone driven radio.
    Too much testosterone equals too much ego.
    How many female hosts have shows in the state?
    Let's go further, how about minority females?
    Not many, if any.
    They are usually relegated to the male hosts producers.
    Right Mr. Hart?

  3. Airwaves of the free as long as you agree with me.

  4. Brave commentary Max.
    You know they will come after you for this, but you said a lot of what many are thinking.

  5. Go get 'em Max!
    High time they got some criticism. I thought the R's were a "big tent of people and ideas."
    Maybe not so much huh?
    Tea Party not at all. They get kookier every day.

  6. There are some real serious issues going on in Alabama now and last week on WAPI way too much time was devoted to some amazing bullshit.
    Two hosts were competing to see which one could get the most likes on Facebook pages!
    Are you frigging kidding me??????
    It was stupid beyond belief!!!!!!

  7. Blowhards and egotistical useless idiots every last one of them.
    If the signals went off-line tomorrow we wouldn't be any less informed, not in the age of the Internet.
    If you keep listening to them you'll make certain you are less informed that's for sure.
    Radio is just a bully pulpit for senseless chatter and advertising dollars these days with an occasional hissy fit, which is really disgusting coming from men.

  8. "They’re listening because they’re entertained. They want to be challenged."

    Then they would be better off skipping radio in this state.

  9. Didn't WYDE used to call itself the "Voice of Alabama?"

  10. I go to church for my biblical enlightenment and it's not what I want to hear on radio discussions in heavy doses.
    But it's what you get on WYDE.
    I want news, issues and assorted views.

  11. All the hosts at WYDE are Tea Party members and WAPI is the right wing, why should we expect fairness from either?
    Or as you so cleverly played off of, the TRUTH?

  12. Have any of you heard one word on the Campbell story, what Riley did in the last days of office, Bentley's contributors, Hubbard claiming he voted against the pay raise (lie), or anything else that casts an Alabama republican in a bad light from these stations?
    But you have heard plenty about Obama (ad nausea), Paul Hubbert (he kind deserves it), Bingo (get over it already) and the Alabama dems day in and day out haven't you?
    When these turkeys start giving equal time to their guys then maybe they will be credible, because it should be about the people.
    Opinion should be shaped by the folks, not the media.

  13. You mean they threw a party and no one came?
    Maybe the sheets were still drying.
    That was inflammatory wasn't it?
    A lot of people do think it though.

  14. don'ttouchmynickersApril 16, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I love the irony of the RDP's not coming out in the rain!
    I hear salt melts too.

  15. Hart has Deanna Frankowski on a lot who heads the not on a Rainy Day Patriots. She is a Beckite which speaks volumes considering how much off the deep end he's gone to lately:

    "One person listens, Frankowski believes, and that's why back home in Alabama she arranged to have 10 large signs made on white foam board, nine of them marked with a big letter and the tenth with we and a heart. Raised aloft, the signs spelled out "We ♥ G-l-e-n-n B-e-c-k."

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1924348,00.html#ixzz1Jiivnp4H

  16. Tea Party leaders do, indeed, seem much more interested in attacking perceived enemies on the left than in taking on bigoted fringe groups aligned with them—not because Tea Partiers are racist, but because they are not particularly inclined to alienate allies.
    And when you have a movement fueled largely by overheated rhetoric about taking the country back, it’s not exactly surprising that many of your supporters are people who believe civil-rights legislation was a mistake, deem the president an illegal immigrant, and pine for an idealized America that used to be.

  17. Hart lost me on the repeated attack by him and his guests on the Forever Wild program.
    I was in Montgomery at the public meeting on it and Don Casey was the loudest mouth in the room. I was not at all impressed by his domineering and bloviating manner.
    WAPI lost me a long time ago, I decided to try and listen again, but what I heard recently about the lawsuit against the Northern Beltline really irked me. Murphy claimed that all BWRK wanted to do was sue for frivolous lawsuits.
    He couldn't have been more wrong.
    Hart doesn't have the time Murphy has and if he keeps going down this road to ruin then good riddance. Sooner rather than later.
    There has to be a balance and these two radioheads just don't get it.

  18. I don't know why anyone would listen to Michael Hart. I really don't get it. I have not been impressed.

  19. The constituents views?

    Politicians and the paid mouth pieces of media give the listeners the view they want them to have. Besides, the average politican in Alabama could not handle questions from the average citizen.

    Alabama politicians are just not that sharp.

  20. Yes Hummer, WYDE was once under the slogan of the "Voice of Alabama" during the reign of Russ and Dee Fine.
    Something I remember from years past...
    Re: WAPI- Richard Dixon was on in the am slot and Matt Murphy was on WYDE in the afternoon time slot.
    Dixon was much more a bulldog back then. Now he's just mindless buffoonery and a waste of four hours of airtime everyday.
    Murphy has always gotten on my nerves with his whiny vocal tone and hair trigger temper. He's a big suck up and no one really takes a guy like that near as serious as he takes himself to be.
    As for this Hart guy, I don't know where they dug him up from, but some things are best left where they lie. I've listened a few times, and that was quite enough.
    It would indeed be refreshing to have a real voice of Alabama on radio that was more neutral in their views and I am willing to bet it would do quite well with the folks.
    There are a lot of unhappy people in this state about the direction of Montgomery politics and they should be heard. All the way to Montgomery.

  21. i'myourhucklenerryApril 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    According to Inside Radio, both stations rankings are well into the crapper:

    Birmingham Market April 2011

  22. I view this kind of radio as the herd call because people who listen to these pundits hear what they already believe and that validates their thinking that they are right and just.
    Any deviation from that mantra is suspect in their minds, thus opposing or critical opinions are attacked and cast off as liberal. That's the favorite and convenient target that revs up the troops.
    It's a form of madness really and almost drone like if you think about if for a minute.
    The group think has no tolerance for dissent and hard questions, on the right or the left, particularly if those are aimed at their interests.
    Truth is truth, wrong is wrong and both should be more prominent in all forms of media.

  23. "Radio talk is like a light post to a drunk, its not so much for illumination as it is for support."

  24. Bravo BarT!!!!!


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