Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, April 14, 2008

"The bloggers (and the 21st century) invade KUOW! "

Podcast of today's KUOW blogger roundtable:
RealAudio
MP3 (high)
MP3 (low)

blatherWatch has a write-up about today's KUOW blogger roundtable in which I participated:
Life forms stirred Monday morning on public radio KUOW's Weekday with Steve Scher, (m-f, 9a-12p) as a few area bloggers came in to talk politics.

Yes! Public radio listeners finally got a taste of real-time political debate, and some actual partisan friction. Bloggers were lefty David Goldstein from Horsesass; and righties Eric Earling of Sound Politics; Eastern Washington's Tom Forbes from Palousitics; and non-partisan blogger Liz Burlingame, a recent UW poli sci grad who blogs at Seattlepoliticore.

We're always complaining that public radio KUOW, the leading talk station in Seattle leaves political talk to a few returning newspaper harrumphers, whose tedious opining, despite some are editorialists, are restricted on-air by their journalism jobs, and their hypotension. Their comments are usually their columns regurgitated and delivered in soporific tones that threaten drivers' wakefulness. (Maybe it's OK they redeliver their columns on the radio since so few actually read them in their typeset and inky glory.)

We've often kvetched about rarely hearing conservatives on KUOW. This is a liberal town, but unless a rightie is a viable candidate, or in the news in a way that can't be ignored, they must stay in the woodwork they call home.

Here, today, were two, with their sticky, out-of-the-Seattle-box Republican talking points; usually heard only on the few fast-fading, right-wing AM stations who yet have live & local shows.

Eric Earling is a thoughtful conservative who makes larger, gratefully, than only talking points; and he does it with none of the pathological meanness of his co-blogger, Stefan Sharkansky. Tom Forbes is a clonservative talking point machine, but he does it well, and there was a place for at least one of those in today's conversation. Burlingame, who's traveling around the country with campaigns might have been a little cowed by the seasoned and more verbally aggressive company -- she didn't much get into the partisan fray.

It's good for Seattleites to hear this stuff, but more important, it was great radio!

Kudos and accolades to producers David Hyde, and Katie Sewall.

We do a have a crochit or two. It was a bit out of balance -- Goldy, as the liberal -- was outnumbered; though with his famous... er, loquaciousness, he made up for it. And, did we have to take our medicine with this historic show, giving up some of the precious time to the pledge drive, which, because of lagging donations is going into its second week?).

Goldy tells us that this is the first time he's appeared in studio at KUOW. Here's to that it won't be the last time for any of these and other bloggers to get onto the public airwaves over the election months ahead.

Steve Scher knows a lot about a lot of things. He has to. But he's clearly not up with new media. He asked the bloggers if they considered themselves "part of the blogosphere" which took these active bloggers by surprise -- it was like maybe the thought the "sphere" part was an attainment to be reached, or possibly a pejorative. He also showed surprise and delight at the terms, "dead tree" or "legacy" media --had obviously never heard these, the chestnuttiest of new media designations.

He treated the bloggers a little condescendingly as if they were albino lemurs, cute but rare -- a flavor of the month the "real" media must cover (and endure) until they fade so old media can go back to being boring and terminally "objective." (albino lemurs, actually have been fairly treated with an inordinate amount of NPR airtime over the years).

(We kid Steve Scher, and have known and liked him for years. We could never understand the forces he must contend with in the dynamics of KUOW station politics; the learning curves he must scale on a weekdaily basis to do his job as well as he does it. He's also "a towering hunk" and sexually-objectified in the community-at-large and must work hard to both maintain that yet appear to tamp it down. Although he's an intellectual and fantasized superman to so many, he can't know everything, and we understand that).

His ignorance of what is happening, Mr. Jones is endemic of KUOW, and obvious at their website which was last updated in the late 20th century. It's celebrated as the least interactive site this side of the Sheriff's sexual predators list. (which we think they should open up as an online dating site, and make it earn its keep. you'd be surprised at how many Puget Sounders would love to meet a nice, single man who loves children).

There are no blogs on the KUOW site; there are no comments threads; there's no way to voice an opinion other than call in to the show, or send a check.

This top-down approach is another reason why they're not getting younger listeners any more than is AM radio.

We, for one wish they'd allow staff blogs. Then they'd begin to get it. We've heard at one point this was discussed -- permission was granted for a blog or two, but then reneged upon. Maybe they're afraid somebody might be exposed as actually HAVING A POINT OF VIEW!!!

We'd like to hear what Ross Reynolds might opine; what Steve Scher's irks might be; what Marcie Sillman or Dave Beck really think.What are some outtakes from the shows? Which guest said what to another during the break? What wasn't there time for to talk about? What it's like when someone like Al Gore walks in?

Why can't listeners continue the discussions online after the show? You know, basic fucking Internet 101?

We're sure there are others around KUOW who could distinguish themselves add to the discussion and voice some less-than-objective POVs' that might sprinkle a soup├žon of salt into the sometimes bland slumgullion.

Great examples of show and station blogs can be found at the 710KIRO site or NPR's Bryant Park Project.

How about creating an up-to-date online platform that would complement the old? And you know what? in the process, KUOW might challenge a new audience, and reinvigorate the rest of us.

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