Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Radio, Vox Populi and Its Discontents (me)

Here's a thought provoking article by Garrison Koehler on why he's not worried about the state of radio in the US today. Basically he says that liberal English majors like himself don't want to hear an echo chamber and when he is listening to the radio, both AM and FM, he likes what he hears because it's over the top (Rush & Co.), wacky (the religious), the canned (NPR) and pathological (sports radio). And that's fine with him.

Garrison must be listening to a different spectrum than me because if you spend more than 5 minutes on the dial, either AM or FM, what I hear most of is adverts. I actually like listening to sports on the radio and on the weekend or late at night (9 PM-my late) and the only! major problem is the never ending product placement both implicit and explicit. Beyond the advertising what you also primarily hear is banal pop music. R & B, Country, Rock and roll all have moved so close together that they are almost indistinguishable. And then the adds...

Garrison needs to read some Thomas Frank because he's starting to sound like Newt Gingrich with market populist ipod/mumbo jumbo when it comes to the democratic nature of the airwaves. Their soooo multicultural because I heard Hmong square dancing at 3:45 AM on Sunday morning. It's soooo radical because I heard some Serbian nationalist ranting about the crimes of the UN while driving to the Cub game. No Garrison the market has not created a diverse market of ideas and styles it mainly is about selling goods and services, a constant right wing hysterical diatribe and an occasional warm hearted story about lesbian Goa speakers sunbathing in the Keys on NPR.

The airwaves need to be re-nationalized. Ideas need to be presented to an independent arts board that takes into consideration, regionalism, politics, cultural value and worth (yes, this is possible-we do it a little bit with the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and other countries have other models). Let's let the cultural elite rule so that the masses can hear the truth.

1 comment:

OscarTate said...

When people used to tell me this market=democracy crap, I used to respond that if the market gave viewers what they want, we wouldn't have ads. But I don't know now -- we're so thoroughly saturated with advertising -- it has so "colonized our consciousness" that it is as if a circuit has been closed and in fact people do want ads -- The Super Bowl as the wave of the future: Who cares about the game, did you see that Pepsi ad?! The thing to remember is that the radio and television channels aren't selling anything to us -- not one little thing. They are selling us to advertisers. We are the commodity -- that's not empowerment; it's the definition of dehumanization.

Paul