Friday, January 03, 2003

Buzzflash interviews Randi Rhodes:
BUZZFLASH: A lot of "mainstream media" think that there is no audience for progressive shows or outlets. What are your comments?
RHODES: Oh, I am so glad you asked. I am a ratings and revenue queen. Number 1 or 2 in the ratings usually. So what are the "mainstream" talking about? Well, they say Liberals don't make money because no one wants to hear them. Okay, let's think.
First, remember that more Americans are registered or identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans. So here's the dirty little secret of news talk. There are advertisers making huge "buys" on really low rated shows that air nationally. If advertisers only go where the listeners are why do they buy cable news, Oliver North, or Rush Limbaugh who has horrible ratings?
They are buying CONTROL of CONTENT. It's leverage, whether it's radio, cable or network. They control millions of dollars of any company's revenue source. So that if something is said or done to disrupt their global business, they take their advertising elsewhere, or threaten to and then shut down the message.
And, think about this . . . how many products are on TV that you can't even buy? Plastics, computer chips, prescription drugs, soybeans. I mean honestly. This is the story that NEVER gets told. People just think, "Well, if your good enough, you'll have a big audience and that's what advertisers want." "Whose being naïve now Kaye?" I am always number one or two in the market. Rush is somewhere around 21st. I replaced G. Gordon Liddy!
I hope this gets told over and over because it is how they control our news, our Information Awareness. Get it?
Thank you Randi. This is perhaps the best formulation I have seen of a thought that I have had for some time. It is obvious to all but those with a certain political agenda that the failure of progressive radio to make inroads nationwide has nothing to do with ratings. There is a glass-ceiling in the radio business that prevents successful liberal talk show hosts from rising above a certain level. There have been multiple cases of such hosts achieving ratings success in their local markets. Yet they are never picked up for national syndication and/or they ultimately get cancelled by the local station to be replaced by Limbaugh clones. Now, I have never completely bought into the notion that the Limbots are successful because their ideology is closer to that of the network owners (though that is a part of it). You see, most of the owners are greedy capitalists and if they can make money off of a progressive radio show they would certainly do so. Ideology for these people is a luxary that is tossed aside when it might hurt the bottom-line. Randi proposes an alternate explanation: progressive/liberal talk show hosts are harder to control and are more likely to bite the hands that feed them. In other words, if Randi or Mike Malloy or Peter Werbe were to get large national exposure they might actually attack some of the things that the network owners care about (i.e., the other things that improve their bottom lines). The simple fact of the matter is that Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, North and Schlessinger are much more compliant minions. They are also in it for the money and will gladly punt their ideology if it means lining their pockets with more of the stuff. So, if the networks want radio personalities that they can make money off of without having to worry about them attacking their methods of making money then the only logical course is to hire Limbots. They may not maximize the profits of the radio business. But they do it enough that they are worth forgoing the heartburn that would come form hiring Rhodes, Werbe or Malloy.

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