Radio Plenitude


I spend a lot of time bitching about the state of the radio dial, but this American ether still has some life in it. New York now has a second Russian-language station, prompting the first to juice up its programming. San Francisco listeners can hear not one but two shows starring the strange and funny Hal "Dr. Hal" Robins. And new low-power community stations are getting ready to roll out in Shutesbury, Spokane, and Immokalee.


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  1. Hate to piss on the parade – but it looks like you missed this one.

    “McCain Introduces ?Our Democracy, Our Airwaves? Act”

    Statism rolls on.

  2. This is just another reason for immigrants to avoid assimilating.

  3. Re Dr. Hal, I used to wonder if Dr. Gene Scott wasn’t some kind of Subgenius-influenced performance artist. Surely he couldn’t be serious, I thought (being carried on the college network didn’t help). The fact that he WAS serious makes it even funnier. He has fundy credentials going way back, having been thrown out of Anal Roberts’ organization for smoking cigars and drinking beer.

    One of his funniest moments was a rowdy song on the moral strictures of Southern Baptists, called “Go to Hell Real Ugly” (about prohibition of wearing makeup), with subsequent variations on the refrain (“Go to Hell real horny/sober/etc.”). He also mocked the media furor over the fact that Jimmy Swaggart “took a peek at the Grand Canyon.”

  4. Kevin: When Steve “S.M.” Koppelman first showed me a tape of Gene Scott, back in college, I was convinced that he was a SubGenius-style performance artist. I later learned otherwise, and became even more of a fan. Is he still on the air?

    Jeff: I’m aware of the McCain bill. I’m not sure how it contradicts what I wrote in my post. I’m the last person who would claim that the government doesn’t load down broadcasters with a lot of foolish rules; all I’m doing here is praising some interesting stations and programs that have managed to get on the air nonetheless.

  5. Are you all talking about Dr. Gene Scott, the nutty LA preacher? I haven’t seen that guy on TV anywhere in 10 years at least.

    I used to like it when he would march off the set because he was pissed there wasn’t enough money rolling in. At least he was honest about it, I guess.

  6. Between satellite radio, internet radio, and WiFi, who the hells cares about broadcast radio anymore?

  7. PLC – ditto.

    Jessie – I understand. However – praising the existence of a radio show that airs on a community station at 3am on Friday morning seems – as Tyler Durdin might say – like polishing brass on the Titantic.

  8. PLC – Broadcast radio is still the freest means of getting information. There’ve got to be hundreds of thousands of people that listen to talk radio everday, from Rush and Dr. Laura, to local, to Larry Elder, to Phil Hendrie, Coast to Coast, Savage Nation, All Things Considered, and on and on. It may not be bleeding edge techonology but it’s a major source of news/information for a lot of commuters and those of us not *cool* enough to snatch the latest hardware.

  9. Citizen – the point is that in five years alternative means of recieving audio programming will have proliferated to the point where they provide ample competition for broadcast audio. Thus, there is no reason to spend even two seconds of your life worried about radio and the FCC. Its just a waste of energy.

  10. “”Thus, there is no reason to spend even two seconds of your life worried about radio and the FCC. Its just a waste of energy.””

    Ahhh that’s where we part ways. Ignore ever expanding statism (of which the FCC is only 1 manifestation) at your peril. What you cherish will soon be under the pervue of the state – if it isn’t already.

  11. there is no reason to spend even two seconds of your life worried about radio and the FCC. Its just a waste of energy.

    Then why are you wasting your time telling us that we shouldn’t think about it? Get a life, PLC.

  12. PLC – Do you doubt that the iron fist of the state will extend it’s suffocating grasp around those media as well?

    Re:Dr. Gene Scott, is he that fat asshole that used to spew late-night gibberish about the pyramids and what-not, and then solicit cash in the name of Jesus while showing home videos of his daughter riding in equestrian competitions?

  13. Herzog did a documentary on Scott called “God’s Angry Man.” I’m sure he made “Bob” proud!!

  14. Warren: Yes, that’s the man.

  15. “Then why are you wasting your time telling us that we shouldn’t think about it?”

    I’m attempting to be charitable, and save you useless, foundless angst. Excuse me if I care for my fellow man…

    “PLC – Do you doubt that the iron fist of the state will extend it’s suffocating grasp around those media as well?”

    Not only do I doubt it, I can assure you that “the state” will not control the content of media in the future in any real sense. Do you think the government is controlling the content of the internet now? The only reason the FCC controlls the broadcast spectrum is because they can claim it is a limited public resource. Bandwidth from the internet is unlimited.

    Beyond that, I’m sure you will all be disappointed when, 10 years from now, 95% of all people still listen to maybe 10 channels. There will be a vast spectrum of choices available, entry costs will be negligable, but most people will want to listen to pretty much the same stuff they are listening to today. If anything, consolidation will increase in the future, driven by consumer demand.

  16. Jesse:

    I don’t think he’s on TV any more, but I found him on the shortwave once when I was going through the dial. The last time I listened to him, he was ranting about celibate priests giving marital advice. “Now me, I’ve been married and divorced…. I’ve been in, and out–both literally and figuratively.”

    He’s also got a website, which might list his radio schedule. I forget the URL, but a simple Google should do it.


    I remember he threatened to cut off the satellite feed to specified cities because he wasn’t getting enough donations from there. “It’s not that I need the money, because I don’t. But I’m not gonna sit here and let you insult God by treating me this way. Now I’m tired of wasting my time preaching to you people, so here’s some more footage of my mansion and race horses….”

  17. Not only can you listen to Dr. Gene Scott on the web. You can watch him too. 24 hours a day. As I write this, I’m watching him draw one of his crazy charts.

  18. Cool! Too bad I don’t have broadband. Send him a couple of extra bucks for me, huh?

  19. Fyodor,

    Your story about radio as a component of performance art reminded me – They Might Be Giants still uses as a part of their stage show (while on tour) channel surfing the local radio, and covering a couple of songs that come up as they spin the dial.

  20. That’s excellent — now if only diversity and competition could start bumping rock radio up to the same bar.

  21. Now if only ClearChannel would clone WKTU in northern New England.

  22. Jesse, I remember once when Negativland did a live performance over KGNU, Boulder via telephone lines, and since it was a radio broadcast, they chose as their topic the poor state of radio and included a sampling of what they could hear on the radio dial during their performance. We in Colorado heard the sounds emanating from their radio and thought, “Hell, don’t sound so bad compared to what we can get HERE!!!”

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