Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Saturday Aircheck

Excellent quality: Charlie Greer, WABC NYC November 27, 1968.  

At WABC Greer did middays and overnight. Given WABC's 50,000 watt clear channel signal, Greer became a popular all-night disc jockey heard on more than 38 states punching his way through famous tongue twister commercials for an all night clothing store called Dennison's in Union, New Jersey.

Greer also spent time with New York City's WCBS-FM in 1973. Died in October 1996.

Click here to listen.  (Hat Tip to Rock Radio Scrapbook)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sheen: SiriusXM Bows Tiger Blood Radio

Friday brought good news for the millions of Americans frustrated by the lack of coverage of Charlie Sheen, according to a story by Eric Sass at

"Tiger Blood Radio," named for the implausible trans-species kinship claimed by Sheen, will air for precisely 24 hours, beginning 6 a.m. EST on March 5, on Sirius channel 108 and XM channel 139.

According to the company, Tiger Blood Radio, named for the implausible trans-species kinship claimed by Sheen, will be a 24-hour limited run channel on Sirius channel 108 and XM channel 139. The channel will explore the breaking news, facts, fallout and career implications of the Charlie Sheen controversy.

Tiger Blood Radio will take you behind the headlines, exploring the media frenzy and reaction, the medical, psychological, psychiatric and pop culture/celebrity angles and beyond. Additionally, through a recap of news coverage, it will offer a timeline of recent events.

A large part of the "reporting" would appear to be salacious details from Sheen's personal life, as related by a succession of porn-star girlfriends to Playboy Radio. Content will include Playboy Radio clips featuring Sheen's current live-in girlfriend and "goddess" Bree Olson, a Playboy Radio contributor; ex-fiancée Ginger Lynn sharing stories on Tiffany Granath's Playboy Radio Show; and adult film star Kacey Jordan talking to Playboy Radio's Night Calls about her times with Sheen.

Mariah Carey 'Embarrassed' About Khadafy Gig

Beyonce donates fee to charity

Singers Mariah Carey and Beyonce have sought to distance themselves from the tainted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, for whose entourage they both performed at glitzy New Year's eve parties, according to a story by Reuters.

They joined Canadian artist Nelly Furtado, who used her Twitter account on Monday to declare she would give away the $1 million she received to perform a 45-minute set in Italy for Gaddafi's family in 2007.

Pop stars' association with Gaddafi and his sons has caused considerable embarrassment this week as the Libyan ruler orders a brutal crackdown on an uprising against his rule.

The music press has highlighted how artists including Beyonce and Carey have earned large paydays for sometimes brief appearances at lavish parties hosted by Gaddafi family members, including his son Muatassim. The stars have faced calls from fans and the public to give back the money they made.

Beyonce said she donated the cash she earned at a private party on the Caribbean island of St. Barts on New Year's Eve, 2009 to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti after learning the promoter had links to Gaddafi.

"Once it became known that the third party promoter was linked to the Qaddafi (Gaddafi) family, the decision was made to put that payment to a good cause," she said in a statement posted on her website.

On Thursday, Carey confirmed she had performed at a similar function "thrown by the sons of vicious, crazy dictator" Gaddafi and expressed her embarrassment, although she stopped short of promising to give the cash earned to charity.

A statement on her website said: "At the time, Libya was not in the news...Now it's become an issue in hindsight, which is sort of ridiculous."

Read more here.

Let The Charlie Sheen Backlash Begin

While his co-star's antics continue to draw attention, Jon Cryer kept busy with a humorous appearance on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show - as her receptionist.

Charlie Sheen may be breaking world records with his tweeting, he may be attracting mondo ratings with the many interviews he's given on various TV and radio shows, but is he really, as he has suggested, "winning!" when it comes to the hearts and minds of Americans? Is he convincing the people who buy tickets to see his next movie, program their TV to watch his next TV project, and otherwise help him support his five children, two ex-wives and, who can forget, the goddesses? 

Not so much, accortding to the TV column by Lisa de Moraes at

According to new studies, conducted by marketing and consumer research companies HCD and Rasmussen Reports, Sheen's Scorched Earth Media Tour - in which he's been railing against his "Two and a Half Men" employers Warner Bros. TV and CBS - has backfired. 

Hardly any of the 748 people HCD polled after Sheen's campaign erupted on ABC's "Good Morning America" were buying Sheen's cured-himself-of-substance-abuse-with-a-blink-of-an-eye gag. 

About half of them said they don't even believe Sheen feels bad about the decision of the network and studio to cancel the show for the rest of this TV season - a decision they made after Sheen's wild rant on a syndicated radio show went viral. 

About 60 percent of the poll participants said they thought Sheen was mentally ill after seeing him on "Good Morning America."

Must Read:

REUTERS:  Sheen's legal case against studios not so crazy

Stern Wants Sheen For His Sirius Channel

Through the wonders of television technology, Howard Stern was again able to appear on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' (Weeknights, 12AM on ABC) without the bother of having to fly there. The pair have used green-screen magic for interviews before, and it remained almost seamless, according to

Must Read:

WKSC-FM Willing To Become 'Charlie-FM' For Actor Sheen

DC Radio Station Caves to CAIR, Fires Talker

Former U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy has been forced to walk away from his popular morning drive-time radio talk show in Washington after the station's management insisted he avoid discussions of radical Islam, cites sources close to Grandy.

The station, 630 AM WMAL, also reportedly banned Grandy's wife from future broadcasts. The outspoken "Mrs. Fred" was a regular guest on his show.

Grandy, who before entering politics played "Gopher" on the hit TV show "The Love Boat," refused WMAL management's terms and left his broadcasting job with the station Tuesday. WMAL confirmed his resignation in a brief statement on its website.

In recent months, Grandy invited Muslim activists on his morning show, "The Grandy Group," to debate the threat from the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He also hosted several U.S. security officials - including former CIA, FBI and Pentagon officials - who all warned the Brotherhood was infiltrating Washington through its U.S. front groups.

Read more here.

DeMint: PBS, NPR Execs Make More Than Obama

Opinion: If these outfits can afford to pay lavish salaries to their heads, they don't need taxpayer help

Written by Senator Jim DeMint, Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
When presidents of government-funded broadcasting are making more than the president of the United States, it's time to get the government out of public broadcasting.
While executives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are raking in massive salaries, the organizations are participating in an aggressive lobbying effort to prevent Congress from saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by cutting their subsidies. The so-called commercial free public airwaves have been filled with pleas for taxpayer cash. The Association of Public Television Stations has hired lobbyists to fight the cuts. Hundreds of taxpayer-supported TV, radio and Web outlets have partnered with an advocacy campaign to facilitate emails and phone calls to Capitol Hill for the purpose of telling members of Congress, "Public broadcasting funding is too important to eliminate!"
PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.
The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. According to CPB's 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $298,884 in reportable compensation and another $70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year. That's practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.
Today's media landscape is a thriving one with few barriers to entry and many competitors, unlike when CPB was created in 1967. In 2011, Americans have thousands of news, entertainment and educational programs to choose from that are available on countless television, radio and Web outlets.
Read more here.

Mr. DeMint, a Republican, is a senator from South Carolina.

Must Read:

NPR David Folkenklik, All Things Considered: Funding Battle Puts Public Radio, TV On The Defense

Or Listen Hear:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ESPNer Charms Cop After Being Pulled Over

Doug Gottlieb had quite an interesting radio interview with “The Program” on 810 AM WHB Wednesday. The ESPN college basketball announcer got pulled over for speeding in Stillwater, Oklahoma—where he announced Tuesday’s Oklahoma State-Baylor game—while on air, and the entire incident was captured for your listening pleasure.

According to, Gottlieb announced he had been pulled over, and the interviewer didn’t skip a beat, continuing to play a game of true or false:
“The Fighting Illini is not a tourney team—I don’t care.”
Gottlieb reiterated he’d been pulled over, and the interviewer continued his indifference as he repeated to ask about Illinois’ tournament qualifications multiple times. The ESPN announcer answered the question as the police officer approached his car (Illinois is, apparently, a tournament-worthy team) before leaving his bluetooth earpiece on so listeners could hear the glorious conversation with the cop.

The police officer quickly recognized Gottlieb, and he began to inquire about how long the announcer was in town and how he enjoyed living in Connecticut. For his part, Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State basketball player, turned on the charm by telling the cop he’d rather be living in Stillwater.

The cop thought that was doggone swell, and the conversation quickly turned to Oklahoma sports before the officer said goodbye without giving Gottlieb a ticket (“You were only going, like, 7 over”), and the former Cowboys hoops star seemed mighty pleased with himself for not dropping his name.

Read more here.

Pittman's Old-School Approach to New Success

As Pandora continues to blaze a trail for streaming radio’s presence on everything from iPhones to refrigerators, whither the traditional radio companies? Bob Pittman, chairman of Clear Channel’s music and entertainment divisions, is betting on old-school local radio as the key to streaming radio’s success, according to a story by Andrew Hampp at

Earlier this week Clear Channel acquired Thumbplay, a subscription-based streaming-music service, in an effort to compete with Pandora and its ilk as well as expand the company’s own efforts in free, ad-supported music streaming. Platforms like iHeartRadio, which streams 750 of Clear Channel’s stations nationwide, helped the company gross an industry-leading $175 million in digital revenue in 2009, according to SNL Kagan. While that figure may still be a tiny percentage of the nearly $6 billion that parent company CC Media Holdings reports each year, it also represents the fastest-growing sector of an industry long plagued by the perception that consumers have ditched radio for TV and the web.

“Lucky for us, 93% of the country still listens to radio. It was about 92% in 1970, so that’s actually gone up,” Mr. Pittman told Ad Age. “If TV is America's hub then radio is America's companion. We live with consumers and they consume radio a little more than they do the internet every day. It’s still a little less than TV but a little more than everything else.”

Mr. Pittman is a well-known media veteran from his stints at AOL Time Warner, where he most recently served as the company’s chief operating officer, and MTV Networks, which he co-founded. He joined Clear Channel late last fall as chairman and a minority investor, having invested in emerging companies like Zynga, Thrillist and Next New Networks through his private equity firm Pilot Group. He spoke with Ad Age about Clear Channel’s plans for future growth in digital, competing with Pandora and why we’ll see more apps from the company later this year.

Read more here.

Sheen Sets Guinness Record

Charlie Sheen may or may not be “winning,” in life, but he has won a rare honor: the “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers” Guinness World Record, according Mashable.

Guinness community manager Dan Barrett says the agency “just researched and approved” the record this morning. According to Barrett, Sheen reached that milestone in 25 hours 17 minutes. As of this writing, Sheen’s Twitter account, @CharlieSheen, has close to 1.2 million followers. Guinness did not have had a previous record for that category, Barrett says. Sheen also set a Guinness record for “Highest Paid TV Actor Per Episode — Current” at $1.25 million.

Sheen joined Twitter on March 1. In a matter of minutes, Sheen acquired more than 60,000 followers and a Klout score of 57 — without even tweeting. According to a report in Advertising Age, Sheen was able to get his account verified so quickly because Internet startup brokered his account with Twitter.

Sheen, of course, has been all over the news since he publicly disparaged Chuck Lorre, producer of Sheen’s successful sitcom Two and a Half Men in a bizarre interview with Alex Jones of InfoWars last month. Since then, Sheen has been interviewed by various other high-profile outlets making equally odd statements. The public meltdown has made Sheen a continual trending topic on Twitter and the subject of several YouTube parodies.

For Guinness, this is the second high-profile application of the brand’s records system to social media. Last month, the Nabisco cookie brand Oreo and rapper Lil Wayne squared off for the record for the most Facebook likes. Lil Wayne won that contest handily.

TV Anchors State Union's Case

They say WEEK's and WHOI's owners want leeway to move newsgathering elsewhere; station manager denies it, desiring 'flexibility'

Peoria Journal-Star Photo
Employees at WEEK-TV, Channel 25 are sounding an alarm regarding their contract negotiations: Local TV news hangs in the balance.

That's because station owners want to be able to have local news gathered and broadcast from outside the area, said members of the WEEK-WHOI broadcast team who went on record Tuesday with issues surrounding their labor negotiations, according to a story by Steve Tarter and Paul Gordon at the Peoria Journal-Star.

The contract covering anchors, reporters, photojournalists and producers at WEEK-TV and WHOI-TV, Channel 19 expired Feb. 18. The next bargaining session between the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, representing station personnel, and Granite Broadcasting Corp., operator of the stations that merged in March 2009, is set for March 21.

The union has authorized its leadership to call a strike and local union president Garry Moore said some type of job action is possible, though he declined to say if he meant a walk-out.

"We understand the economic climate. This is not about money," said WEEK anchor Mike Dimmick, reiterating that jurisdiction - which covers where and by whom the news is gathered and broadcast - is the sticking point in the talks.

"We believe local news should be local," said Gina Morss, concerned that language proposed in contract talks would allow the company to "hire out" its news product.

Mark DeSantis, president and general manager of WEEK and WHOI, said employees are overreacting. "We are looking to try and get some flexibility in a new contract. We propose modifications that reflect current industry realities."

"We have no plans to move the news to Fort Wayne," said DeSantis, referring to the Indiana city that is the control room hub for several Granite stations, including Peoria. "People want the news from who they're accustomed to getting it from. We don't have any plans to move the newscast. We are just looking for flexibility."

DeSantis said that contract language reflects changes in the industry.

Read more here.

Must Read:

PEORIA JOURNAL-STAR:  Newsflash: Fort Wayne, Indiana, not Peoria

Deace Moves His Brand To Multi-Platforms

Former WHO Radio talker to consult, do sports talk show

DesMoines Register photo
Former WHO Radio talk-show host Steve Deace said Wednesday he will become a political consultant and will co-host a nationally syndicated sports talk radio program.

Williams Petroski at reports Deace says he is establishing his own company in an effort to create his own brand during an era in which the Internet has dramatically changed the media landscape.

“This way I can make some money doing TV, some money doing an Internet site, and some money doing a radio show,” he said. “I can put it on multiple platforms and not require each one to pay me a princely sum, but enough on each one that I am still making the kind of money that I am worth and that I need to make.”

Deace, 37, who is known for his Christian fundamentalism and conservative political views, resigned from WHO effective Jan. 28 in what was described as friendly parting.

He said Wednesday he is forming a company, Veritas Group LLC, which will serve as the “central hub of his media endeavors,” as well as political consulting.

“I’ve received a total of 11 directed or indirect job inquiries in the past few weeks that would allow me to do either politics or media,” Deace said. “However, I’ve decided to pursue a path that will allow me to be involved in both politics as well as media simultaneously.”

Must Read

DES MOINES REGISTER: WHO Radio moves conservatively to fill Steve Deace's drive-time gig

Jobs Unveils Apple's iPad 2

Steve Jobs asserted Apple Inc.'s command over the hottest market in computing and demonstrated his flair as high-tech's most celebrated pitchman, according to a story by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Nick Wingfield at

The Silicon Valley giant's chief executive, who took a medical leave of absence in January, was the surprise master of ceremonies as Apple unveiled a second version of its iPad tablet—a product that has created a multi-billion dollar business in less than a year and left rivals scrambling.

Mr. Jobs, who strode onto a San Francisco stage Wednesday to a standing ovation, showed off the thinner, faster iPad 2 in a presentation full of swipes at competitors flooding into the market. The crush of tablets includes Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.'s recently released Xoom and the forthcoming Playbook from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd.

Apple has a more than 90% market share and "our competitors are just flummoxed," Mr. Jobs said, adding that if 2010 was the "year of the iPad," he might call 2011 "the year of the copycats."

The iPad 2, which like its predecessors starts at $499, will ship in the U.S. on March 11 and in 26 more countries on March 25.

Read more here.

Alex Jones: The Most Paranoid Man in America

This article by Alexander Zaitchik appears in the March 17, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone

Illustration by Matt Mahurin
It's just past 9 a.m. when Alex Jones pulls his Dodge Charger into a desolate parking lot in Austin. From the outside, the squat, single-story office complex that Jones calls his "command center" resembles a moon base surrounded by fields of dying grass. But inside, blinking banks of high-tech recording gear fill the studio where he broadcasts The Alex Jones Show, a daily talk show that airs on 63 rradio stations nationwide. Jones draws a bigger audience online than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined — and his conspiracy-laced rants make the two hosts sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft.

A stocky 37-year-old with a flop of brown hair and a beer gut, Jones usually bounds into the studio, eager to launch into one of his trademark tirades against the "global Stasi Borg state" — the corporate-surveillance prison planet that he believes is being secretly forged by an evil cabal of bankers, industrialists, politicians and generals. This morning, though, Jones looks deflated. Five days ago, a mentally disturbed 22-year-old named Jared Loughner opened fire on a crowd in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and seriously wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner was reported to be a fan of Loose Change, a film Jones produced that has become the bible for those who believe 9/11 was an inside job.

Read more here.

Ronald McDonald Sidelined

Chicago Tribune
As McDonald’s Corp. morphs into a more upscale chain, there’s one person you won’t see munching salads, sipping a cappuccino and surfing the Web: Ronald McDonald, age 48.

Leslie Patton at writes while Ronald still plays an ambassador role, he isn’t tied to the menu, says spokeswoman Danya Proud. Even as mascots like Burger King’s King shill on TV and the Web, Ronald has ceded the limelight to budding singers and dancers who sell mochas and frappes -- not Happy Meals.

“We haven’t been seeing a lot of Ronald McDonald,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “They’re beginning to appeal to much more sophisticated individuals.”

Amid intensifying concern over surging obesity rates, the chain has distanced itself from its fast-food origins, adding café-friendly items such as fruit smoothies and dolling up restaurants with free WiFi and padded seats. While the shift helped to revive sales growth last year -- McDonald’s has credited McCafe coffee for revenue growth in six of the past seven quarters -- the new adults-only ambiance leaves little room for Ronald.

“He kind of represents the old McDonald’s, with the high- fat content foods that are kind of falling out of favor,” said Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. “It’s clear that McDonald’s is advertising coffee, they’re not advertising burgers.”

Read more here.

Brooke Mueller Accuses Ex Charlie Sheen

Accusations of abuse, anti-Semitic text, making death threats

Brooke Mueller, who filed a restraining order against her estranged husband Tuesday night, has unloaded a barrage of shocking accusations against the actor, claiming he recently spoke of wanting to have people killed and sent her an anti-Semitic text message about his manager Mark Burg, according to a story by Cristina Everett and Nancy Dillon at

Despite Sheen saying he's not anti-Semitic following his verbal attack against "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre last week, Mueller provided the court a copy of the actor's text message that read, "I must execute mark b like the stoopid jew pig that he is."

According to the legal document, Mueller also said Sheen asked for $20,000 in cash from child support payments so that he could have untraceable money in order "to knock off a few people because the people I hate violently are going to get severely punished."

The new allegations are part of Mueller's emergency restraining order request that was granted by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday night. Sheen, 45, has since been temporarily stripped of custody of the couple's two boys, who were whisked away from the actor's home by authorities.

Sheen, who has been ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from Mueller, denies ever sending his ex the text message.

Read more here.

Must Read:

CNN INTERNATIONAL: Why we can't stop watching

NYTimes to Start Charging Online `Very Shortly'

The New York Times will start charging readers for online access “very shortly,” Chairman and Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. said in London Wednesday, according to a story by

The daily will introduce a “metered” model based on one used by the Financial Times newspaper that allows readers to view some articles for free each month, he said at the FT Digital Media & Broadcasting conference. He declined to elaborate on when the model would be introduced.

“We can no longer afford to have iPad and iPhone apps for free,” Sulzberger said. “The metered model will still allow people to engage with your journalism when they are not deep loyalists, and still make ad dollars from that.”

The New York Times Co., which publishes the namesake newspaper and owns magazines, TV and radio stations, reported a 26 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit and lower revenue as print advertising and circulation revenue continued to shrink. The newspaper is following peers like the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal into charging for online content as print advertising drops and readers increasingly move online.

Read more here.

Elton John To Attend Royal Wedding

The royals just can't say no to Elton John.

According to a story by Joe Gracely at, the music icon confirmed to Canada's CTV that he and partner David Furnish will be there to see Prince William and fiancée Kate Middleton say 'I do.'

"We do have an invitation," John said, according to  "I've been trying to be discreet."

And while the singer previously told the press he didn't expect to be invited to the wedding because his relationship with the two princes, William and his younger brother Harry, was never as strong as his dear friendship with their late mother Princess Diana, John had only kind words for the future groom and his bride-to-be.

Middelton, 29, "is Diana in personality. She is very discreet; she is a very beautiful girl. They have been together a long time and I think she has handled the pressure so much," he said.

John added that he hopes Prince William, 28, "becomes king at an early age."

"I think we need young people like him to lead," the "Candle in the Wind" songwriter declared. "I think he will be a tremendous king - not that Charles won't, but I think William will be... tremendous."

The rest of the invitations are reportedly earmarked for family friends, foreign royals, diplomats and other special guests.

Read more here.

Judds Receive CRBs' Career Achievement Award

Country Radio Broadcasters, the trade association that produces the annual Country Radio Seminar, presented the Judds its 2011 career achievement award Tuesday evening (March 1) at the Nashville Convention Center, according to a posting by Edward Morris at

Honored also during the two-hour ceremony were broadcasting executives and/or on-air personalities Dale Carter, Barry Kent, Lee Rogers, Charlie Cook, Bill Payne and the late Dene Hallam, all of whom were inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Joe Galante, former head of Sony Music Nashville and the man who signed the Judds to their first contract with RCA Records, was presented the CRB's President's Award.

Still flirtatious and wisecracking, Naomi Judd and her daughter, Wynonna, took the stage to accept their award and recall their long and fruitful association with radio figures.

"Our whole lives have been about friendships," said Naomi, who noted she was "38 years old with two scared kids" when she came to RCA in 1983. That year also marked the release of the Judds first single, "Had a Dream (For the Heart)."

Between then and 1991, when Naomi withdrew from performing because of illness, the Judds scored 14 No. 1 singles, won four Grammys and sold millions of albums. They also became a top touring act.

"I've known about everybody in this room since I was 18 years old," said Wynonna.

"You all literally allowed her to fulfill her destiny," Naomi chimed in.

"One of my goals this year," continued Wynonna, who recorded and toured as a solo act after Naomi's first retirement, "is to get back on country radio."

Since Naomi's recovery from hepatitis C, she and Wynonna have reunited to tour intermittently. They are currently on their Last Encore tour.

In years past, prominent artists serenaded the career achievement winners with a medley of their hits. But there was no live music at this year's ceremony.

Galante, who spent 39 years -- from 1971 until 2010 -- with RCA Records and its successors, was cited for his "significant contributions to Country Radio Seminar."

Read more here.

Must Read: 

CMT.COM: Tim McGraw, Faith Hill Presented Artist Humanitarian Award at Country Radio Seminar

"We Listen to NPR To Avoid This Sort of Stupidity"

The tedious, annoying complaints of public radio listeners

From Farhad Manjoo at

I'm an NPR groupie. I listen to public radio for several hours a day—more often than I watch TV, more often than I do actual work. There's only one thing I hate about my daily companion: my fellow listeners. Not all of them—just the ones who write in to complain whenever anything related to pop music, celebrities, technology, or other subjects that appeal to people under 40 comes across their precious wireless.

For proof that NPR letter-writers are the stodgiest, whiniest, most self-importantly insufferable snobs of all time, just search through the network's archives, which records the letters that All Things Considered and other NPR shows read on-air once or twice a week. Among the many, many topics that listeners have deemed off-limits for NPR, you'll find blogging ("another example of the slow decline of our once-educated society"); Tiger Woods ("what a waste of my time"); the National Enquirer (NPR's citing it as a source "shook me to the core"); adulterous Gov. Mark Sanford ("Can't NPR reporters find more important events going on in the world?"); comedians Adam Carolla and Mo Rocca; the rapper Waka Flocka Flame ("For this, I donate part of my precious pension?"); Twitter ("the CB radio of our era—just as much hype, just as much lasting impact"); Bristol Palin ("The only thing this story provoked me to do was change the station"); Levi Johnston ("We do not care about this subject"); Mel Gibson ("Shame on the producers of ATC for allowing such a scrape at the very bottom of the barrel"); heavy metal legend Dio ("You didn't have to do it just because he died recently"); e-books (they can't compare to "the smell of new paper"); the iPad ("a foolish waste of time"); the thought of children using the iPad ("Hopefully, this will be followed up by an uplifting story about the great things that are happening to children in the realm of outdoor play and unhooking from screen time"); and, perennially, sports. "You can't mention sports without someone saying, 'Why are you covering sports—it's just a bunch of Neanderthals, it's just a bunch of fascists!' " says NPR sports correspondent (and Slate sports podcast "Hang Up and Listen" panelist) Mike Pesca.

Read more here.

Farhad Manjoo is Slate's technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. You can e-mail him at and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kimmel Kartoon: Charlie Brown and Charlie Sheen

Glenn Beck: Charlie Sheen Is 'Dead'

Sheen's Sons Removed From His Home

Beck's TV Ratings Off From Last Year

The Financial Times picks up on the current Glenn Beck meme — how “Prominent US conservatives have begun to distance themselves” from Beck. The story points to recent articles from the conservative commentariat including Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin and Peter Wehner.

Chris Ariens at writes some are wondering whether Beck’s recent commentary — whether off the wall or simply uninformed — is done in the name of ratings.

A spokesman for Beck would not comment, but one person close to Beck challenged the notion that the moves were motivated by ratings, noting that he remains the third-biggest US talk radio host after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to Talkers magazine.

Beck’s television audience was down 40 per cent in January, but this reflected a similar decline for the preceding show’s audience and Beck still beat the combined audiences of MSNBC and CNN, the cable rivals to Fox News, this person said.

The February ratings are out and year-over-year Beck is down again, the most of any FNC show. He’s dropped -26% in total viewers and down -32% in younger viewers. Of course, last February he had FNC’s second most popular show, after “The O’Reilly Factor.” Last month, he slipped to fourth.

Read more here.

Hat Tip: The Wrap

Must Read:

Z ON TV BALTIMORE SUN:  Fox News dominates in February ratings -- again

Sheen Tweets To 400,000 Followers

First Charlie Sheen surpassed Moammar Khadafy in nuttiness. Then he soared past 400,000 followers on Twitter, according to a posting at

Sheen started a Twitter feed this afternoon and within a couple of hours had crossed the 100,000 mark, before even posting anything.

When he did make his first tweet -- just before 7 p.m. eastern time -- it simply said, "Winning! Choose your vice."

The photo he linked to from the post showed him with one of his girlfriends, Bree Olson. She holds a Naked fruit shake and he holds chocolate milk.

In another post, with a second picture of himself as an Oscar statue, he wrote simply: Winner..! 2012...

His short Twitter bio describes him as an "Unemployed Winner...."

Sheen has repeatedly used the term 'winning' to describe how things are going for him in recent days.

His huge number of followers in such a short time period is an indication that people want more of Sheen's insanity, which has spilled out over the past few days in one interview after another.

Starting last week, Sheen has gone on a media rampage, the first pieces of which involved him attack "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre. That led to CBS ending the show for the season.

Read more here.

Must Read

PEOPLE:  Charlie Sheen Surrenders His Children to Police

Press Secretary Fired Over Leaked eMails

House Oversight & Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa today fired his spokesman Kurt Bardella after Bardella leaked emails from reporters to a New York Times journalist working on a book on Washington, according to a report by ABC News’ John R. Parkinson & Matthew Jaffe.

On Monday evening Politico reported that Bardella had supplied the New York Times’ Mark Leibovich with emails that he had exchanged with reporters. Issa told Politico that he would investigate the matter. On Tuesday he announced Bardella’s firing.

“While our review of allegations raised by Politico is not yet complete, it has become clear that the committee’s Deputy Communications Director Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project,” Issa said in a statement Tuesday.
“Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.”
Despite Issa’s swift firing of Bardella, the scandal could prove damaging, since the congressman is the Republicans’ chief watchdog, overseeing a committee that regularly handles high-profile Congressional investigations.

Read more here.

Sad Thong Song

Former Anchor Tried To Deduct Thong Underwear, Bedding On Taxes

WBNS (Columbus) Anietra Hamper owes the IRS some money after she tried to deduct a variety of expenses.

A former Central Ohio news anchor is learning the hard way that cotton thongs are not tax deductible.

According to a story by Nina Mandell at, Anietra Hamper landed in court after claiming a variety of beauty-related expenses on her tax return, including manicures, teeth whitening, gym fees, sportswear, bedding, cotton bikini underwear and thongs she insisted were necessary to do her job.

The 38-year-old spent quite a lot of cash on her appearance too, according to the lawsuit. She applied for a whopping $167,356 in expenses between 2005 and 2008.

"Petitioner's clothing purchases for work consisted of such items as traditional business suits, lounge wear, a robe, sportswear, active wear, lingerie, cotton bikini and cotton thong underwear, and evening wear. She also deducted expenses for an Ohio State jersey, jewelry, bedding, running and walking shoes, and dry cleaning costs," the suit alleged.

Hamper's lawyers argued the expenses were all just part of her very public job.

"Consistent with the requirement that petitioner maintain a neat, professional, and conservative appearance, and as a part of her community appearances, she incurred considerable expenses for clothing and for maintaining her appearance during the years at issue," they wrote in court papers.

A tax court denied the expense deduction.

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frank Rich Joins New York Magazine

New York Magazine editor-in-chief Adam Moss announced today that Frank Rich will be joining the magazine, beginning in June. Rich will be an essayist for the magazine, writing monthly on politics and culture, and serve as an editor-at-large, editing a special monthly section anchored by his essay. He will also be a commentator on, engaging in regular dialogues on the news of the week.

“Frank Rich is a giant—a powerhouse critic of politics and culture, a rigorous thinker, a glorious stylist, a skeptic and optimist at the same time. There is just no one like him in American journalism,” said Moss. “He is also a friend. I have had the privilege to work with him for almost 25 years. Since the day I came to New York, I have hoped I could persuade him to join us here. I'm ecstatic that he will now be bringing his wisdom to our growing audience. This is a very big day for New York.”

Rich joins the magazine from the New York Times, where he has been an op-ed columnist since 1994. He was previously the paper’s chief drama critic, from 1980 to 1993.

Read more here.

Country Music HOF Inductees Named

Named are Reba McEntire, Bobby Braddock and Jean Sheperd.

Clear Channel To Buy Thumbplay

After less than a year in the music subscription business, Thumbplay is giving up: The company is selling off the struggling service to Clear Channel Radio, according to Peter Kafka's Media Memo blog.

Thumbplay will hang on to its once-booming ringtone business, but only temporarily; it intends to sell that off in a separate deal.

Terms of the Clear Channel deal weren’t disclosed, but a source familiar with the company tells me investors who put some $41 million into the company don’t expect to get all their money back.

According Kafka, Clear Channel will be buying a business that only managed to sign up 20,000 subscribers, who pay $10 a month for unlimited music, since March 2010.

But the radio company seems more interested for now in using Thumbplay’s technology and team to build out its existing, free Web radio service. That is, it is competing with Pandora, more than Rhapsody, Rdio and Spotify.

“This is step one,” says Bob Pittman, the investor who put his own money into Clear Channel and came aboard as its “chairman of media and entertainment platforms” last fall. “Three percent of all radio listened to is digital, and it is early still. We need to get ahead of the curve and not behind it.”

Pittman says Thumbplay’s technology will be integrated in the coming months into Clear Channel’s “iheartradio” service, which offers 750 free Web radio stations and boasts 25 million monthly uniques. He says all 65 Thumbplay employees working on music services will get jobs at Clear Channel.

Read more now.

Piers Morgan Thanks Charlie Sheen

Just minutes before the start of Piers Morgan's 9pm show tonight host tweeted that he'd be interviewing Sheen LIVE.

Literally, four minutes...apparently the Piers people weren't entirely sure he'd show up until he arrived.

Minutes later Charlie Sheen appeared on set looking just as bad as he did this morning on Today.  Presumably much to the furor of ABC's 20/20 who already got scooped by NBC's Today show earlier today.

However for those expecting (or hoping for) totally unhinged behavior on live TV, Sheen announced in the first minutes that he was not bringing the "crazy."

And in the context of some other behavior this week, he was reasonably calm and conciliatory, though, obviously, far from well.

Read more here.

Must Read:

Z ON TV, BALTIMORE SUN: Charlie Sheen 'exclusives' - Enough already, really!

Report: New York Times/CBS News Poll Slanted

"Poll Shows Support for Embattled Public Sector Workers" is the headline over the New York Times' news article about its own poll. If you actually read the poll, it says that 22% of those surveyed in the poll are either public sector workers or their household members. Back them out of the poll, and one could hang a different headline over it, according to a posting at

That's not the only way the poll is skewed.

One question reads in part, "Some states are trying to take away some of the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Do you favor or oppose taking away some of the collective bargaining rights of these unions."

This question measures how people feel about "taking away" "rights" — words repeated for emphasis — as much as or more than how they feel about collective bargaining for public employees. You'd expect people to be reflexively opposed to taking away rights.

Another question asked, "If you had to choose one, which of the following would you be willing to do in order to reduce your state's budget deficit 1. increase taxes 2. decrease benefits of public employees 3. decrease funding for roads 4. decrease funding for education."

The spending cuts all have specifics attached to them, while the tax increase is unspecific and abstract. If the pollster really wanted to weigh taxes and spending, the poll could have asked, "increase the income and sales tax you pay." If the spending cuts had been phrased as "save money by having public employees contribute to their health care and pensions in the same way that private sector workers do," rather than "decrease benefits of public employees," that answer would have been more popular.

The way it was phrased, respondents might think the benefit of a public employee was that your children learn to read and criminals get arrested, rather than something to do with pensions or health insurance.

Read more here.

Must Read:

NEWSBUSTERS:  CBS Suppressed Public Support for Arizona Law But Eager to Hype Public Disagreement with Wisconsin’s Walker

The 'King's Speech' Gets Cleaned-Up

Weinstein Co. is betting that a PG-13 version of the "The King's Speech" can help it capitalize on the R-rated film's Oscar win for best picture, according to a story by Michelle King at

Already, the historical drama—which has taken in $245 million at the box office world-wide to date—is seeing a bump in online ticket sales: Fandango on Monday sold twice as many tickets for the film as it did the Monday preceding the Oscars, according to a spokesman for the film-ticketing site.

Weinstein Co. hopes to extend that further by releasing a more family-friendly version of the film than the original version, the company said. The company, which distributed the film, hasn't said when it will release the new version.

The version of the film that's currently in theaters features a scene in which Colin Firth's character, King George VI, is encouraged by his speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, to curse repeatedly to help overcome his stutter on the eve of World War II. The scene will be altered in the PG-13 version.

The Motion Picture Association of America approved the change, agreeing to waive a rule requiring distributors to withdraw the original version of a film for 90 days before an alternate version is released.

Read more here.

Hyperlocal News Sites Can Be Profitable

Independent NJ Hyperlocal News Site Takes on AOL’s Patch

Hyperlocal news can be truly local, serve the community and also be profitable, the CEO and publisher of New Jersey’s told attendees at an MIT Enterprise Forum of New York City held at The New York Times’ headquarters late last week, according to a posting at

According to Michael Shapiro:
“ was cash-flow positive in year one.  We were profitable in year two.  We’re the only profitable hyperlocal represented on this panel tonight.” 
In 2008, Shapiro left his law practice in New York City to start with his wife in order to become more active in their community of New Providence, NJ, and to spend more time with his family during their son’s illness and recovery.  Today, according to Shapiro, reaches more than 400,000 unique users per year.

Shapiro described the business model of, which is to employ local residents as paid freelance reporters covering local news and events, in addition to hiring local residents who often have strong connections and relationships within the community, to market the site.  \

He noted the recent partnership between and Seton Hall University, in which advanced journalism students from Seton Hall cover local news in South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey, led by a professor serving as the towns’ metro editor.

 In addition, Shapiro mentioned that recently licensed the site to a not-for-profit that has launched sites in Paterson and New Brunswick, New Jersey, hiring former Star-Ledger reporters to serve as the editors of the two sites.

Read more here.

TX Gov. Blocks Media from his Twitter Account

In a move that runs counter to the open nature of Twitter, Texas Governor Rick Perry has blocked several members of the Texas media from accessing his Twitter account, according to a story by Lauren Dugan at

Twitter has been a difficult beast for many politicians to tackle. It has led to a number of scandals and public feuds when short tempers couldn’t stop themselves from furiously typing 140-character diatribes. On the other side of things, many politicians still struggle to attract followers. And while Twitter is apparently trying to get Washington on board by using political liaison Adam Sharp to teach them beneficial Twitter habits, one lesson has apparently been lost on Governor Perry.

Try following @GovernorPerry right now, and we’re sure you won’t have a problem. Unless, that is, you are part of a group of Texas journalists.

According to, several members of the Texas media have been blocked from following Governor Perry’s Twitter account.’s Tom Benning reported that he was presented with the following message when he tried to follow the Governor:
“Could not follow user: You have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user.”

Read more here.

Piers Morgan Discusses Progress On Show

CNN’s bombastic Brit takes on his critics, his ratings and—of course—Fox News

From Ben Grossman, Broadcasting & Cable:
It seems like Piers Morgan has been on CNN for years already, with the amount of attention he has garnered. From massive promotion at launch to early high-profile chats with Oprah and Howard Stern to constant attention to his up-and-down ratings, Larry King’s replacement has been no stranger to the press.
And that’s exactly how he likes it. With his numbers already boosting CNN’s recent performance in the 9 p.m. ET time slot but still trailing his competition, Morgan will use anything he can (care for a Twitter war, anyone?) to draw attention—and viewers—to his show. 
But while he often leads with his chin on CNN or NBC’S America’s Got Talent, sitting in his Beverly Hills hotel residence he is more thoughtful and respectful than those who don’t know him may expect. And while he is very up-front about the challenges he has ahead, he is also quick to fire back at the critics who pan everything from his numbers to his neck (seriously). 
In a wide-ranging interview with B&C Editor-in-Chief Ben Grossman, Morgan talked about what is working and not working so far, his rivals, and his plans for Rupert Murdoch. 

Click here,  for an edited transcript of the conversation.

Opinion: Radio Unprepared for Sheen's Meltdown

From Brian Lowery,
Nobody needs to hold any bake sales for the “Two and a Half Men” star, who before the implosion earned well over $1 million an episode for the CBS sitcom. Still, he chose an unlikely medium to unleash his bizarre tirades against the producers of his show — a medium painfully ill-equipped, as it turned out, to deal with a fast-moving story outside its sweet spot in a newsy way.
Sheen began his peculiar media tour on Dan Patrick’s radio show (which is simulcast on FOX Sports), where he talked as much about baseball as his sobriety. The actor followed that up with Alex Jones — a syndicated and online host whose conspiracy theories include an active role in the 9/11 Truth Movement, of which Sheen is also an advocate. Finally, the actor closed the week by calling “The Loose Cannons” on FOX Sports Radio’s Los Angeles flagship KLAC-AM (570), where co-host Pat O’Brien gently suckled the pampered star like a newborn colt.
Throughout Sheen’s stream-of-consciousness rants, none of these hosts ever really pressed him regarding his eccentric behavior, which has included trashing a New York hotel room, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor after being charged with assaulting his wife and being hospitalized with abdominal pains in January after a party the website TMZ described as involving “a briefcase full of cocaine.” Nor was he asked about his use of what the Anti-Defamation League saw as an anti-Semitic inference in trashing his show's producer, Chuck Lorre.
The bottom line is, despite his “They picked a fight with the wrong guy” bravado, Sheen has managed to achieve the nearly impossible — going from coddled, protected star to nearly radioactive in Hollywood. Sure, there will be jobs for him, but if “Men” completely fizzles out because of his tantrums — costing the network and studio millions, not to mention the rest of the cast and crew their jobs — it’s likely goodbye, top-rated network sitcom; hello, “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.”

Nelly Furtado To Give Back Gaddafi Cash

Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi's bloody suppression of a huge popular uprising is generating international outrage. But it's also raising awkward questions for some of pop music's biggest names, according Zachary Roth at The Lookout blog at
Earlier today, Nelly Furtado announced on Twitter that she would donate the $1 million she was paid by the Gaddafi "clan" in 2007 to play a concert at an Italian hotel.

But she is hardly the only big-time star who has reportedly cashed in by performing for members of Libya's hard-partying first family.
• According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, Mariah Carey was paid $1 million to sing just four songs at a lavish New Year's Day 2009 bash on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, hosted by Col. Gaddafi's son and national-security adviser, Muatassim.

• The following year, according to another cable, it was Beyonce (estimated by Forbes to earn $80 million a year) and Usher who provided the "million-dollar personal concert" at Muatassim's St. Barts blowout.

• And Lionel Richie reportedly performed at a 2006 concert in Tripoli to mark the 20-year anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Libya -- it's not known how much he was paid. Richie, who is said to enjoy immense popularity across the Arab world, has been honored as a "celebrity humanitarian."
But there's no evidence that any of these performers plan to imitate Furtado by giving up the tainted cash.

Read more here.

Boehner Rips Bid To Regulate iNet

House Speaker John A. Boehner lashed out against efforts to regulate Internet traffic before an audience of evangelical Christian media leaders meeting in Nashville and pointedly responded to President Obama by comparing the challenge of the burgeoning national debt to the Sputnik-era space race.

According to Mark A. Kellner of The Washington Times, in a speech to religious broadcasters that received a sustained ovation at his conclusion, he said free expression is under attack by a power structure in Washington populated with regulators who have never set foot inside a radio station or a television studio.

“We see this threat in how the FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet,” Mr. Boehner said.

“The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller, and potentially running roughshod over local broadcasters who have been serving their communities with free content for decades,” he said to loud applause from members of the National Religious Broadcasters, a trade group holding its annual convention here.

But, the Ohio Republican warned, one threat “dwarfs others in terms of the danger it poses to freedom and our children’s future.”

Read more here.

Report: Group-Buying Websites Create Buzz

Not necessarily bucks for clients

According to Sarah Lundy at the Orlando Sentinel, Joe Liguori says his foray into the world of Groupon was a successful one — but he likely won't do it again.

The restaurant owner agreed to offer a Groupon deal — $10 for a $20 of food — for his customers at Pizzeria Valdiano's four locations in Central Florida.

"It was a good experience," he said, adding that 500 Groupons sold. "[But] I looked at it as a marketing program and not so much as a way to get revenue."

Liguori said the promotion created "a buzz" but lacked sustaining power. "As far as getting [these customers] to come back, I just didn't see that," he said.

Many Central Florida businesses are experimenting with the power of social-buying websites that offer 50-to 90-percent-off deals. It's a consumer-tech trend that started in larger cities and now sweeping the country.

Groupon, the most widely known site, debuted in Orlando last April, and a few similar daily discount services, such as LivingSocial, Eversave and Odeals, have followed.

The concept is basically the same. Each service offers a daily deal, and consumers have 24 hours to act. Some sites offer incentives to share the deals with friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Read more here.