I’m giving my DXing series on the WFMU blog a rest this week, because this last weekend has been my first opportunity to really test the reception possibilities here in Brooklyn. With the rest of the family off on a Florida vacation, I’ve set up a radio listening post in the kitchen for the last couple of nights. I’ve even been serious enough to keep a log of sorts. Over the coming weeks I’ll go over the recordings, and sort it out for future posts.
So, as I’m dumping the cassette audio into my laptop for all that, I’d like to talk about some of my more conventional media intake for a moment. In fact, this post is a follow up to a couple of my previous posts regarding AM talk radio that I actually care about. Like Lionel. I’ve said enough good things about Lionel’s show on this blog, and you can read the posts here and here. His program has been has been as sharp and manic as usual, and I continue to recommend it. However, I’m just mentioning him again here to let you know that WOR is now offering a FREE podcast of this show. It’s a commercial free hi-fi MP3 delivered to your computer within hours if you subscribe with this link. Or you can just download the individual hours of each show on the this page. Check it out.
On the other hand, Air America just started charging for their podcasts. They now require that you subscribe to their “premium” service to subscribe to their podcast (like Rush). And if you get lucky, you might be able to stream a live video of Jerry Springer doing his radio show right on your home computer! Now that’s entertainment.
Speaking of that, experiencing Air America on WLIB here in New York lately has gotten kind of depressing in general. Both Al Franken and Mark Riley sound lost without the original co-hosts who gave their show weight and substance. And somebody must have told Randi Rhodes that her recently perfected George Bush impression was either accurate or humourous. Because it’s neither, but she just continues working it into her monologs. I have to turn the radio off.
What’s worse is the loss of Mike Malloy on WLIB. While often hyperbolic and quick to fury, Malloy provides an important function on the Air America talk show roster. Went I went out to a “meet and greet” session with Malloy in the East Village, I came away with one memory that encapsulates the Mike Malloy radio experience. I passed a couple walking away from the event and overheard the woman say to her husband: “I told him his anger helps me...”
And when you’re really pissed off about the American political landscape and the cavalcade of Bush Administration fuck-ups, Mike Malloy can provide the perfect prescription. He can be harsh, but these are harsh times. If you’ve never heard Malloy, here’s a clip that’ll give you an idea of his style. And here’s another that's one of my favorite moments on his program. It's Malloy pretending to be a right wing moron for a guest from the "Christian Action Network" who's very concerned about homos frolicking through Disney World.
So, while Malloy continues in his late night slot on the Air America network, on their flagship station WLIB his show is now pre-empted by “The Satellite Sisters.” It’s happy helpful radio with a bunch of real-life upper middle class white sisters who chat about "lifestyle" issues. It makes the Al Franken show sound like wild-eyed pirate radio. Some of the urgent topics recently on the Satellite Sisters show– “As you listen to the weather forecast this winter, think what it means for your animals” and “Look a salesperson in the eye when you say goodbye,” and most importantly “Wipe down exercise machines and mats at the gym after using them.” I'm NOT kidding. I cut and paste this crap from this page on their website.
Before the Satellite Sisters landed a syndication deal with ABC/Disney, their chirpy show originated here at New York's jumbo NPR outlet, WNYC. But even some public radio listeners (who should be accostomed to fuzzy and precious programming), were nauseated by the self-important yuppie sisters when they were on WNYC. An article in the New York Observer in 2002 said “so much invective about the show hit the WNYC Web site that the Webmaster posted a reminder that vulgar or overly personal attacks are not welcome.” That's the difference. Malloy helps you accept and even appreciate your own justified anger at Bush madness. The Satellite Sisters in turn, needlessly enrage with empty sterile fluff in an era of bad news and bad governance.
The official Air America excuse is that ABC gave them an offer ($$$) they couldn’t refuse to steal the last couple hours of programming on Air America’s flagship station. The unstated reason is that Malloy’s show wasn’t pulling in Arbitron numbers. But they never promoted his show in New York either. And replacing the fire of Mike Malloy with an blithe Disney product that’s too cute for the NPR crowd isn’t just bad programming: It’s insulting to their New York listeners and gives the impression that Air America is running away from their original convictions and intent.
Add to that the dopey sports and cooking shows they've brokered off on the weekends and a lame cruise giveaway promotion they’re running through the weekday programming, and WLIB just sounds much more desperate and unimaginative these days. You would think that the mothership station of Air America would have more vision and more guts.
Marc Maron, the driving force behind the once brilliant “Morning Sedition” on Air America is kicking off his L.A based nightly program this week on the network. Let’s hope that Air America’s flagship station can find room on the schedule to offer him some time. Of course, an infomercial featuring anti-aging supplements might bring in more quick cash...