Scaramouche! Scaramouche!

Evidently this family rocks out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” every morning on the way to school. Pretty darned awesome, but it’s the little tike in the car seat that really makes it.

Wel-l-l-l-l-l-l! Dick Orkin’s ‘Chickenman’ on iTunes

A hundred years or so ago when I was attending RIT, my friend and college professor Steve Loar, introduced my classmates and I to one of his personal loves, an old radio show named Chickenman. Created by broadcast hall of fame inductee Dick Orkin in 1966 for Chicago’s WCFL, Chickenman was inspired by the popular TV series “Batman”. Originally scheduled to run just two weeks, the show’s popularity took flight and eventually became nationally syndicated, ensuring its success. Today Chickenman remains the longest running radio show in history and can be heard on XM Radio’s Channel 151 and American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

Each episode checks in around 2 minutes long and tells the tale of Midland City’s Fantastic Feathered Fowl, an anti-hero who roams Midland City seeking criminals in his yellow crime-fighting car, the Chicken Coupe. He has a secret headquarters, the Chicken Cave, accessible through a trap door in his bedroom closet and when his duties as shoe store manager keeps him busy, his mother Mildred fills in as the “Maternal Marauder“.

Back when Steve introduced us to Chickenman in 1990, there were only a handful of episodes were released on vinyl, but every one of them managed to bring a smile to my face. I used to love listening to the White Winged Warrior hang out in the mayor’s office, generally annoying the almost-unflappable Miss Helfinger, performed to acerbic perfection by Jane Roberts.

I recently discovered that all 273 episodes of Chickenman are available via iTunes for download and I’ve been in poultry heaven ever since. If you love snarky, quick-paced humor, comics or just want to have a good laugh, wing your way over to iTunes and check out Dick Orkin’s Chickenman. Just remember evil doers, he’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!

Lessons Rush Never Learned

Ask any parent what’s one of the first things they teach their kids and they’ll probably say “Don’t call people names.” It’s a lesson we all learn and one that helps keep discourse civil between functioning adults. Although we all do it occasionally, there are some that wield it so often it eventually becomes a crutch.

Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh is one such person. Rush has never been known for his ability to discuss topics like an adult, but over at Wikipedia they actually have an entire page dedicated to Rush’s on-air jargon that he uses to belittle and berate others. You can read the entire list, but here are just a few of the more egregious examples Rush uses on his daily show.

This list is just one of many reasons why the GOP has seen its most dramatic decline in membership in decades, despite what Dick Cheney thinks.

Banking Queen – Barney Frank. Reference to Frank’s homosexuality, his seat on the House Financial Services Committee and the controversy surrounding his views that there were no problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rush would often accompany this with a parody of the ABBA song, “Dancing Queen”.

Bela Pelosi – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a pun on the name of Hungarian film star Bela Lugosi, best known for his portrayal of Count Dracula.

Benedict Arnold – Nevada Senator Harry Reid, after the famous soldier and traitor.

Feminazi – “Feminazis” are those that Limbaugh claims are so devoted to feminist ideology (and the pro-choice cause in particular) that they are as repressive and hostile to personal freedom as members of the Nazi party were in Germany.

Nostrilitis, Nostrildamus – Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Senator Dick Turban – Senator Richard Durbin, (D-IL). Limbaugh began using this moniker after Durbin made controversial remarks on the Senate floor which according to Durbin’s critics amounted to a comparison of the alleged abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay by U.S. military personnel, with the war crimes of Pol Pot and Hitler.

“Osama” Obama – President Barack Obama. Limbaugh uses this alternate name for Obama as a reference to Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) mis-speak during a luncheon at the National Press Club (Jan 11, 2005). Kennedy, making mention of Obama’s large win during the 2004 elections, stumbled over Obama’s first name, stating “Osama bin Laden, Osama Obama, Obamamam.”

When Will Brad & Britt Stand Up?

The momentum behind exposing Time Warner’s recent rate hike and bandwidth cap here in Greensboro is growing. Bloggers have been writing and setting courses of action. Local news crews have weighed in and the News & Record’s own Joe Killian has reported on the subject several times. Even our local officials, like Greensboro’s mayor Yvonne Johnson has spoken up and said she’ll do whatever she can to help bring Internet competition into the area. Everyone’s talking, with two notable exceptions: FM Talk’s own morning team Brad Krantz & Britt Whitmire.

Brad & Britt have always done a great job of bringing issues, especially local ones to the forefront here in the Triad. Although they have critics on both the left and the right, they always speak from the gut and give it to the listener straight up. Until Now. In an ironic twist of fate, Brad & Britt remain silent regarding an issue that has people in Greensboro upset and dying to vent on air. You see, Time Warner Cable is one of FM Talk’s biggest advertisers.

Britt Whitmire is extremely tech savvy and has dragged his older partner, Brad Krantz, kicking and grumbling into the world of Facebook and Twitter. Britt’s even joined the fake Twitterer’s club and created for-fun accounts for Fake Dan Rather and Little Rush so we can enjoy his musings at any time of the day or night. But even Britt seems powerless to rock the boat when it comes to corporate sponsorship.

When the news about Time Warner’s preposterous rate changes first broke in Greensboro, I sent an @reply to Britt to see if they could raise the topic on their morning show. Britt’s response disappointed me, but deep down, I understood it. I often must resist writing blog posts critical of services or companies for which I do design work for at the Iconfactory. But unlike Britt, my job isn’t to get people talking about national and local news & events. FM Talk’s management have no doubt cut the duo out of the loop on this important issue, which is unsettling.

At WOAI-AM in San Antonio, Texas, conservative talker Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo is taking the opposite approach and getting his callers to talk up a storm on the subject. He hasn’t bought Time Warner’s excuses for fleecing his listeners and is fighting the good fight against corporate greed. It pains me that folks in Texas can speak their mind, but thanks to FM Talk’s sponsorship from Time Warner, the Triad is left out in the radio cold. If it bothers you too, then head over to FM Talk 101.1′s contact us page and petition management to allow discussion of Time Warner on Brad & Britt. Be professional but firm and let the suits know the Triad needs to talk about this issue on air.

I often hear Britt plug Time Warner on my morning drive to work. I used to get a smile from hearing him promote Apple TV to download the latest movies and TV shows via his Roadrunner broadband service. Now, when I hear him talk about this latest internet gadgets I feel sorry. One day Britt’s going to go download a movie, find out he’s over his bandwidth limit and pay an extra $1 per GB just like the rest of us. We can only hope he and Brad will eventually wake up and do their part as Triad citizens to raise awareness of Time Warner’s greed. If it helps ease the sting of upsetting a sponsor, I’m willing to bet talking about Time Warner’s rate hikes would be a ratings bonanza.

UPDATE: Britt has responded in the comments below and states that it was in no way the management at WZTK that kept them from talking about the Time Warner situation in Greensboro, it was Brad & Britt’s decision alone. Since that’s the case, readers should direct their pleas to discuss the topic on air to the hosts themselves and not the station. Thanks.

Sometimes They Eat Their Young

On Monday, conservative Mark Frum wrote the following in his weekly column:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating!

That didn’t sit well with fellow conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin who launched into a 10 minute tirade on his show on Tuesday on how Frum was out of line. Levin used words like “putz”, “a-hole” and “frat boy” to describe Frum. Turns out Frum’s 15 year old son heard the nasty things Levin was broadcasting and attempted to call into the show to take the radio personality to task. Levin wouldn’t let him through cause he was just a kid, but he did later let Frum himself on and the result was a 30 minute slice of Republican hell. If you enjoy listening to two right-wing ideologues ripping each other apart as I do, then this audio clip is for you. You can read Frum’s account of the dust-up on his blog.

I find it utterly hilarious that the GOP and their neocon allies have fallen so far so fast. The entire party is in disarray and with each passing hour they seem to bury their heads even further into the muck. Oh sure they’ll eventually climb back up, probably stronger than they were before to take their rightful place in American politics. But as of this very moment, we can all see them for what they are and what they are not offering – solutions.

They have no vested interests in helping this country get back on its feet, even if it means swallowing just the smallest amount of pride. No, they are only concerned with currying favor with the base and making sure everyone who disagrees with them knows how wrong they are. I’d like to slap some sense into the entire lot, but then the dog and pony show would be over, and where’s the fun in that?

A License To Hate

Sometimes I almost feel pity for conservative radio personality Michael Savage. For some reason the man seems positively wracked with hatred for his fellow human beings. Over his career he’s managed to spew some of the most foul words that anyone has ever heard, and get paid while doing it. Something seriously fucked up must have happened in his childhood to help explain how he can look down on so many of us. From blacks and jews, to gays, liberals, muslims and more, Savage has done his best to ensure intolerance has a place on public airwaves.

His latest attack came in the form of kids with autism and the parents that coddle them. On the July 16th edition of his syndicated radio show, The Savage Nation, the host put forth this cruel, but not surprising theory for what lies behind children plagued with autism:

“Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is.

What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, “Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

So in Michael Savage’s world, the debilitating illness of autism is simply an act. A racket that parents encourage their kids to partake in so that they can collect welfare checks. Coming from any sane person, this stance would be met with abject ridicule and perhaps even a pink slip, but because of who the messenger is (a right-wing, ultra-conservative radio host), his opinion is allowed to stand unchallenged. Of course the First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but I’m more concerned with why anyone owning a radio network would want this kind of hate speech, directed specifically at children, to be associated with their business. Do ratings unilaterally trump morals? Are ethics only for those with small market share?

Back in January I posted about Brave New Film’s efforts to get Savage’s sponsors yanked. Local radio talk show hosts Brad & Britt defended Savage’s right to say what he says. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s show to see what, if anything, Brad & Britt will have to say. Will they once again come to his defense and if so, why do they hate “the children” so much?

In the end, I think Savage’s latest tirade will turn out to be a huge miscalculation. History teaches us that you can offend, ridicule and insult minorities without so much as people raising an eyebrow, but speak ill-will of children, and you might as well start World War III. I wouldn’t be surprised when all is said and done, it was the parents of autistic children (and parents in general) that finally revoke Michael Savage & Clear Channel’s license to hate.

UDPATE: Today’s show (7.22.08) of Brad & Britt tackled the Savage question, and to their credit, the radio pair seemed pretty sensitive to the kids and their parents. However, I was surprised by the sheer number of callers who phoned in to agree with Savage. Throughout all of this, there seemed to be a point that Britt in particular wanted to make — can you get away with anything as a radio talk show host? Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? It’s funny because this is exactly the point I was trying to make in my last post about Savage’s hateful speech. A bit sad that it took the topic of innocent children for the pair to come to this realization, and I’m not sure if FM Talk’s support of a local Autism charity event is influencing their stance, but I’ll take them at their word.

In related news the radio station Super Talk Mississippi has announced that “effective immediately, Michael Savage and his Savage Nation Radio Show has been canceled.” Glad to see that ethics sometimes trumps ratings.

UPDATE II: Savage has been dropped from another radio station, this time in Cleveland, OH. Station manager Mark Jaycox was quoted as saying: “This guy’s a knucklehead, and I want to get rid of him.” I always did like Cleveland.

‘Britt & Brad’ On FOX

Just finished watching our favorite local talk radio hosts, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire make a brief appearance on the national broadcast of FOX News. They spoke about North Carolina’s role in the upcoming election and responded to questions about their listener’s views on the controversial GOP ad currently running in the state.

I think they did a pretty good job for not being allowed to expound on their thoughts for more than a few sentences and represented North Carolina extremely well. Brad’s point about how NC has changed since the days of Jessie Helms is well taken and with all eyes turning to our state in the next two weeks, hopefully the media will continue to portray North Carolinians as the intelligent, modern people they are. One small note to Britt: Don’t let top billing from the clueless FOX host go to your head :-)

Neal Boortz, Asshat

While I was on my lunch break the other day, I thought I would tune into FM Talk 101.1 and see if I could stomach what Boortz was dishing out, even if just for a little while. It didn’t take long to realize that was a mistake. After bloviating for about 10 minutes on the fair tax, he went into a section where callers who disagreed with him are allowed through the screening process so Boortz can berate them on national radio.

Even before the gentleman came on the air, Boortz made fun of the man because he dared to call the host a hypocrite for his stance on the fair tax. What followed was typical for right-wing conservative radio hosts and a lesson for anyone who thinks they can teach these clowns a lesson by simply making a phone call.

First, the segment was done at 12:56pm right before the hard break, so you knew it wasn’t going to last long. Second, Boortz let the caller get about 20 words out before cutting him off. Literally. Boortz interrupted the caller after he tried to make a very relevant point about just how unfair the supposed “fair tax” was by launching into his “you’ve got to be back up your position with more than just calling me a hypocrite” bit. But as he spoke it was evident that even if the caller wanted to back up his position, he couldn’t because Boortz had cut him off over a minute ago. So Boortz continues to “lecture” the caller about how he’s an idiot, asking him questions he can’t respond to and calling him a “closet liberal”, all while he’s talking to dead air.

If radio hosts like Neil Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingrahm actually had a spine, or the ability to defend their positions publicly, they wouldn’t need to hang up on callers. When presented with well-reasoned arguments they usually resort to tricks like hard breaks, or the covert disconnect.

Thankfully some radio hosts actually listen to their callers and let them get more than 2 words out. These are the good guys and I thank them for being, you know, human. I also admire people who have the guts to call into Boortz and Limbaugh to try and set the record straight, but sadly, most of the time they are just taken back behind the “radio barn” and shot. So the next time you’re thinking about picking up the phone to lecture an asshat, remember the words of Sean Connery in The Untouchables – “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Here endeth the lesson.