Terrance Heath

No Apocalypse, But A Chance to Resurrect Progressive Radio?

Filed By Terrance Heath | October 20, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: progressive radio, radio network, radio stations

radio-mic.jpgI’m filing this one under “Things I’d Do If I Won The Lottery.” It’s a long list. The only problem with it is that I never play the lottery, because “buying lottery tickets is an irrational act — the odds are hugely stacked against us.” So, I’ve never won the lottery, because I’ve never bought a ticket.

But if I were a progressive-with-loads-of-cash, I’d buy network of radio stations. If you are a progressive-with-loads-of-cash (or know someone who is), there’s a great opportunity to invest in another shot at resurrecting progressive radio.

Remember Howard Camping? The evangelical who made big headlines when he predicted the end of the world on May 21st of this year — and made even bigger headlines on May 22nd, when we all woke up to find the world was still here (and realized that we still had to go to work, pay our bills, etc.)? Well, he’s back.

I happened to be in a cab this morning when NPR aired its latest story about Howard Camping. The story focused on Camping’s latest prophecy: the world will probably end on October 21st.

Probably? Well, maybe that’ll be enough to keep people from quitting their jobs and emptying their savings accounts this time around.

Speaking of savings accounts, what really jumped out at me is that Camping is selling some of his his network of 65 radio stations.

Now mind you, the church only holds about 100 people, Tauszik says. And it’s clear that the ranks of Camping’s true believers have thinned. One source says Family Radio is trying to sell off stations to avert bankruptcy.

“The reputation of Family Radio is marred, and the money is not coming in,” says David Liquori, who traveled the country last spring in a caravan, spreading the word about May 21. Still, Liquori believes the end is coming Oct. 21. He’s just not sure what, exactly, it will look like.

Two of Camping’s FM stations went on the action block in August, to “raise cash to address operating deficits accumulated over the last several years.” According to Wikipedia, Family Radio “consists mainly of FM radio stations with non-commercial licenses (and a few commercial licenses used as non-commercial) and relays, with some AM stations and two television stations.”

I’m not a gambling man (see the note about lottery tickets at the beginning of this post), but if I were I’d bet that hedging his bets with a “probably” on the new October 21st deadline on the apocalypse won’t stop the “thinning” of Camping’s supporters or listening audience, making it less likely that those “operating deficits” will get more difficult to “address.”

That doesn’t mean Camping will have to sell off his entire network, but there’s a good chance that he’ll have to sell off a few more stations. Possibly several. And while Camping may not be willing to sell them to a “godless liberal,” but there’s at least an opportunity for a progressive or progressives with enough money in the bank to make some discreet bids and snap up a few stations, thus making them “progressive-owned.”

The right-wing got a huge head start on establishing a media presence. We on the left made a valiant effort to close the gap. We all know that history, but it’s too important to let another shot at closing the gap slip by. It’s almost certain Camping won’t get his October 21st apocalypse — the bible itself says as much — another failed prophecy might yield a chance to resurrect progressive radio.

Just in case, though, get your bids in before October 22nd.

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For obvious reasons, this is something I'd love to see, but the problem is that all commercial media regardless of political bent is corporate controlled and therefore truly progressive issues such as full civil rights for all Americans are rarely if ever addressed and when they are it's done poorly.

Did anyone see Ed Schultz's segment on Chaz Bono recently on his MSNBC show? Not only did he inexplicably have a non-transperson, Mike Rogers, a gay man, on to talk about transgender issues, but then proceeded to reveal the true depth of his ignorance about trans issues by asking Rogers if the negativity experienced by Chaz, a heterosexual guy with a girlfriend, was gaybashing! It was quite clear that Schultz didn't do his homework on this topic from the get-go, not only because of the gaybashing question, but also because he and his staff apparently somehow believe that a gay person has some kind of special insight into the transgender experience by virtue of their being gay.

The only way truly progressive issues are going to be properly covered in the mainstream media is if there are truly progressive mainstream media outlets willing to do it. As Terrance rightly notes, previous attempts have met with only moderate success and eventual failure, ala AirAmerica, GAYBC Radio, and others. Most of the real progressive voices are webcasting online because the major funding in this industry is all going to conservative content and corporate-controlled, watered-down, pseudo-progressive mainstream media like MSNBC. Those who dare go against the corporate party line in any way like Cenk Uygur or Keith Olbermann are pushed out in favor of yet more corporate-approved pablum.

When WiFi finally goes nationwide and you can access online content as easily as you can now tune in corporate-controlled mainstream media, you can expect that things will change rapidly, but until that happens we need progressives with the will and the resources to step up and present those voices in the mainstream. As conservative media is currently far more lucrative than progressive content, I do have hopes but I'm not exactly holding my breath expecting it to happen anytime soon.

Kathy Padilla | October 20, 2011 2:11 PM

I'll have to check it out. But - if Ed is clueless - Mike didn't help matters by appearing as an expert on trans lives. Assuming he was the only voice in that segment.

FWIW - I know that Mike had no idea Chaz would be a topic that evening. We talked about it. He also expressed surprise that it came up.

I don't blame Mike Rogers in any way, Bil. He did the best he could to answer the questions put to him, as any good guest should. I blame Ed Schultz and his staff for inviting a non-transperson to address trans issues in the first place, and Schultz himself for not doing proper prep for his show segment and clearly demonstrating his own ignorance about trans people and issues to anyone paying attention.