Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Is the Crowd John Thune Runs With

Sen. George Allen: "The thing that's good about Tony Snow is that being on talk radio, he has a pulse on what people in the real world think on issues such as immigration, on taxes, on spending, on energy prices, and a variety of issues and I think he bringing the pulse of people in the real world to the White House, understanding how people react to it and whether they are on Rush Limbaugh's show or Hugh Hewitt's show or Laura Ingraham's show or who knows who, the Sean Hannity's or any other radio show- the fact that he understands the language, the sentiments, the spirit of the American people who want to see action here in Washington..."

Ehrisman Writes a Letter

Dear:
Vernon Brown
Gerald Beninga
De Knudson
Darrin Smith
Bob Jamison
Dave Munson
Pat Costello,

I would like to personally thank you for not stopping by my home before the
last city election. It is refreshing to know that at least one of my local
representatives doesn’t really care about my vote or my opinion even though I
have rarely missed an election in the 14+ years I have lived in Sioux Falls.

Honestly though, I can’t see why you would want to stop by my place anyway. I
don’t have a lot of money or influence, and I refuse to give money to any
politician. I guess I’m old fashioned like that, I actually think politicians
should talk to their constituents in person instead filling their mailboxes
with junk mail.

Maybe you blew me off because I live in councilman Staggers district, and what
does that curmudgeon know? He actually believes municipalities should serve
the public. Where does he get these crazy notions? Must be from teaching
Political Science or something. Kermit doesn’t really count anyway, because if
he did he would of had someone challenging him in the last election.

I try to do a lot of research before I vote, since most of my representatives
are so inaccessible. I really enjoy the guessing game though, makes me feel
like I’m on the Wheel of Fortune. This election I researched your contributor
list. It was like the Who’s Who of Sioux Falls. I doubt you have to pay any
of them back with favors, let’s say with like a $400,000 interest free loan. I
hope you have the honesty and integrity not to do something so selfish.

I know I did a lot of generalizing and stereotyping in this letter, but I’m
too busy to type you each a personal letter. I wanted to know what it was like
to be a politician for a day.

Good luck in your future decision making, do as you please, I now know my
opinion doesn’t count.

I’ll be sure to remember you in the next election, even if you don’t know me.

Invisible voter,
Scott L. Ehrisman

PS - Don’t bother sending me a letter of apology, I still haven’t found time
to read all those postcards you sent me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Nutty Anti-Abortionist

I was going through the vast Hudson archives the other day and discovered that there was one extremely obvious “Get Out of Town” candidate that I have never addressed. I feel extremely guilty for my non-action, though, as perhaps a one-way ticket to anywhere could have potentially saved our state from nationwide humiliation.
Being a tactful person, I tend to shy away from attacking one’s appearance. After all, I’m a pretty hideous creature – I’m short, fat, and old. But I really can’t help myself in this case. Quite honestly, the person in question this week looks like a clown. She has exaggerated features, attempts to dress like somebody half her age, and wears at least three times as much makeup as any person should ever consider. No, I’m not talking about Tammy Faye Bakker…but that’s a close guess.
This person also has a bit of a past. As a young adult (the key word here is adult) she discovered that she was pregnant, and had an abortion. The parents of the man she married didn’t especially take a shine to this young harlot, so they secretly wed in Las Vegas many, many, many years ago.
Around this same time, she (conveniently) discovered the Lord, and became a “born-again virgin”. Thus began her lifelong quest to force everybody to follow her beliefs. She spent most of the ‘80’s as an abortion protester, picketing not only outside clinics that performed the procedure but also outside the homes of physicians. She made the talk-show rounds, and still brags of her appearances on Oprah. She opened a “crisis pregnancy center” that resulted in so many complaints that she was investigated by a Republican governor. Ultimately, she pled no contest to a couple of charges in a plea bargain in which 19 charges, including four felonies, were dropped. The most notable of the charges were promises she made to pay teenagers to stay pregnant so their babies could be put up for adoption.
In the 90’s her crisis center morphed into the Abstinence Clearinghouse. Through this organization she argues that “true feminism” is limiting a woman’s access to contraception, sex education, and reproductive choices. She also protested against the movie Kinsey, argued against cervical cancer research (after all, it’s God’s punishment for premarital sex), and put on “purity balls” where daughters pledge their purity to their fathers. Oh yeah, she also makes a pretty good salary. Her organization has received nearly three million dollars in government funding since 2002, and receives a combined salary of around $125,000 a year from the two non-profit organizations.
Although she was the public face of abstinence for the last few years (and few faces could sway people away from sex as easily as hers), she remained one of the leaders of the anti-choice movement. She was a regular fixture in Pierre for every legislative session, bugging those poor public servants on a constant basis. Her husband also somehow ended up on the state’s controversial task force regarding abortion. Any expert testimony that was against their stand was eliminated from the final report, which was filled with the types of non-provable anecdotal tales this person is famous for.
Earlier this year, her tactics finally prevailed and her abortion bill passed. Her reaction? “We’re going to party.” Since then she’s the go-to girl for any quote from that side of the fence. When scientific polls showed that the majority of the state’s residents were not in support of the bill, her response was that her non-scientific polls showed otherwise. When hearing of other plans from her opponents, she was quoted as saying “I’m hearing a lot of things that are making us giggle.” When the petition drive to repeal the law commenced last month she argued that this shouldn’t happen because our elected representatives had already represented our wishes, and that signing the petitions would put people on mailing lists they don’t want to be on. Hmm. Somehow I ended up on her mailing list, but I guess I’m supposed to deal with that because she’s somehow privy to the only true beliefs any person should have. And we can’t forget my favorite anecdote of the year where she told the daily paper that a local coffee shop had refused to serve her because of who she was. Right. I really believe that story.
Obviously, everybody has figured out who I’m talking about. Leslee Unruh, it’s time. As a conservative Republican I would think you’d like to do your part to lower everybody’s taxes by closing your doors. Pack your bags and hit the road. There’s gotta be some shady televangelist that would just love your sunny disposition and Mary Kay makeup.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Words of Wisdom From Scott Ehrisman

Losers by Association
Scott L. Ehrisman

I recently listened to the Argus Leader Podcasts - all of them. I know, it was a task. Kranz was the only one that made sense, unfortunately he probably doesn't know what a podcast is and Mckenzie is an idiot - glad he was fired (don't you have to get your transmission fixed?).

Today, the Argus announced their much anticipated RibFest lineup (ha, ha, ha, ha . . . . ). Where to begin? Let's go back to last Thursday when I listened to those podcasts. I remember Robert Morast making fun of JazzFest and the people that attend, something about them not being very fashionable (I guess wearing green-striped tube socks and stocking caps in June is waaaaaaaaaaaaay cooler). How ironic an Argus Leader reporter/editor would make fun of JazzFest.

So Let's compare the two:

JazzFest Admission is FREE and sponsored by SF Jazz & Blues Society a non-profit organization that relies on grants and private donations.

RibFest has an admission fee and is "sponsored" by the Argus Leader (owned by the gigantic media company Gannet) and also "sponsored" by SMG, another private company that milks communities for "upgrade" money.

JazzFest's entertainment this year includes blues and jazz singer Mavis Staples, cult favorites Medeski, Martin & Wood and Howlin' Wolf's legendary guitarist Hubert Sumlin. It also has a second stage that includes some the best local talent.

RibFest features, I thought she was dead, washed up 80's rocker, Joan Jett and local queers Khooreiy & the Fireflies (one of 3 of their appearances this year, sorry I mean 2, I forgot Daschle isn't running this year).

JazzFest is hosted in beautiful Yankton Trail Park, surrounded by trees and the Big Sioux River.

RibFest is in the Arena parking lot on blacktop.

JazzFest serves beer in cans and has several food vendors.

RibFest serves expensive, give you a headache tap beer, and ribs (actually rib bones with a couple bites of meat on them).

JazzFest has lots of lovely tank top ladies that make the guys smoking cigars and wearing fedoras more bearable.

RibFest has drunk, yuppie biker chicks and Robert Morast in green-striped tube socks.

Once again the Argus has proven they should change their name to the "Irony Leader". Who is playing next year? Loverboy? Quiet Riot? Eddie Rabbit?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just Say No to "Vikingland"

I know it may be hard to believe, but I actually have a friend or two. Shocking, I know.
One of these friends shares similar opinions regarding music, politics, and the awfulness of the local TV stations. In fact, he occasionally assists me in preparing this weekly segment. If something ridiculous happens on the news, whoever witnesses the travesty generally calls the other to report it.
This past Friday, the 10:00 broadcast had not officially began when I got up to grab the phone. I was beaten to the punch, though, as my phone rang halfway through my treacherous five foot walk.
The reason for our shared laughter and tears? The promo for KELO’s broadcast, which was to feature a segment on “Vikingland”.
I’ve got nothing against the Minnesota Vikings moving their summer camp to Sioux Falls. This time around, the streamlined proposal isn’t going to steal money away from our school system, and while I still have problems with Sioux Valley throwing their money around I’ve learned to accept the fact that five dollar band-aids are paying for scoreboards all across the area.
But “Vikngland”? Oh, hell no. This proposal cannot be hijacked by my buddies across the street. Plus, it raises a few questions regarding borders and citizenship. Will Vikingland be its own sovereign nation? Will it be a colony or township? KELO-Land needs to establish their own real borders before they even contemplate establishing another community. After all, sometimes KELO-Land includes parts of Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming – at least it does when it’s a story involving positive stories or “fallen soldiers”. (By the way, it’s pure evil, if not treasonous, when they describe a person as a “KELO-Land soldier”.) At the very least, they’ll have to hire an actual sports reporter or two, or we’ll be stuck with Perry Groten’s awful clichés.
After sitting through the lengthy promo…I mean story, I wondered how the other stations were handling the story. Was KDLT and KSFY using the term “Vikingland”? A web search found no evidence that either station had even filed a report on the proposal. How did KELO get the exclusive? Was there a deal with Sioux Valley’s Kelby Krabbenhoft? We all know of the hospital’s “unholy” alliance with the station – there must be some reason that Jane Andrews is still reporting on that obese guy from Nebraska and every new drug invented for “seniors”.
Let’s be real – it’s highly unlikely that the team will move their training camp to Sioux Falls. The ‘Queens are still fighting to get a new stadium built, so I doubt that they want to ruffle any more feathers than they already have in recent years. If they decide to come, though, more power to them. At least the groupies will have some real pro athletes with real pro money to father their babies. Maybe one or two of them will even end up on Maury searching for their baby-daddy. Won’t that be a great promo for the moral climate of “Vikingland”?

This Week's Poll


Who Will Win Next Week's Mayoral Election?
Bruce Halverson
Dave Munson
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Munson Survives, Thanks to the Other Wimpy Candidates

Despite my hopes and dreams, Mr. Magoo (and his cronies and henchmen) survived a race he had no business winning. I’m a bit surprised, but I guess I really shouldn’t. The simple fact is that none of the other candidates set forth a convincing reason for anybody other than their pals and family to vote for them.
I’ve held back my comments for a couple of weeks, but I’m really disappointed in the “bottom ten”. They were all milquetoast, giving the same opinions time after time. We get it…a sufficient water supply is extremely important for our city’s future; the streets need to be kept in good repair; and they all believe we need an event center. My God, at least Lora Hubbel stuck her neck out and created a couple of non-existent issues. Insane non-existent issues, but at least she stood out from the pack. We learned absolutely nothing about any of the other candidates. Even this morning I know nothing about Bruce Halverson except that he was the President of Augustana and at one time spent time in a crappy 60’s cover band.
Sure, there were a couple of incidents where somebody made a semi-controversial statement. Mitch Richter threw a couple of barbs at Vernon Brown and Bruce Halverson, but he really was just saying what a lot of people had been thinking for weeks. Let’s add one more for Vernon – please never start another sentence with “when I was a reporter for KELO”. And there was that silly non-issue about a self-proclaimed Democrat actually having other Democrats donating money to his campaign. Funny thing is every single candidate had leaders of their respective political parties giving either money or advice.
Nobody, though, took it to the man they should have been receiving all of their attention. Not a single word of criticism was leveled at Mr. Magoo, and that’s exactly why he has survived and will easily win the runoff. Granted, Darrin Smith really couldn’t say anything about Munson as he has always been conceived as the cause of Munson’s problems. But there were nine other candidates, including two other members of the city council, who could have brought up Munson’s problems with budgets, fund raising, communication, and the entire “I’m out/no, I’m in” moves of the last two months.
I’m not advocating running the sort of negative campaign that we’ve had to deal with too many times in recent years. I never want to see a Daschle/Thune race happen again. But there is nothing wrong with merely raising the issues in a factual way, emphasizing exactly what one would do to ensure these problems do not plague the city in the future. Certainly those who were languishing in the bottom of the polls, both scientific and non-scientific that appeared everywhere (including this blog) in the past few weeks. What did Jamison or Murschel have to lose?
I now really wish I had entered the race. I definitely would have been towards the bottom, if not THE bottom, but I would have made the most of that month or so. I would have taken no prisoners, especially since it would probably be the only way that my enemies at all three television stations would give me any airtime. Next time. I gotta do it next time.

Today's Tips From Teagan the Ipod

Since the loaner vehicle had neither XM or Sirius, I had to make a stop at my humble abode to grab Teagan the Ipod…or I was going to go crazy. Teagan is sort of the “new release” player, so far featuring only music released (or re-released) in 2006. Here’s what I enjoyed throughout the day before Ginger the Jeep was finally returned to me:

1. Tommy Keene, “Driving Down The Road In My Mind” (Crashing The Ether)
2. Deadboy And The Elephantmen, “Break It Off” (We Are Night Sky)
3. Mates Of State, “Nature and the Wreck” (Bring It Back)
4. Eleventh Dream Day, “From K To Z” (Zeroes And Ones)
5. The Television Personalities, “Special Chair” (My Dark Places)
6. Okkervil River, “The Latest Toughs” (Black Sheep Boy)
7. Josh Rouse, “La Costa Blanca” (Subtitulo)
8. The Buzzcocks, “Look at You Now” (Flat-Pack Philosophy)
9. Dumptruck, “Secrets” (Haul of Fame)
10. Kelley Stoltz, “Birdies Singing” (Below The Branches)
11. Band Of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Everything All The Time)
12. Merle Haggard, “Is This The Beginning Of The End” (Sing Me Back Home / The Legend Of Bonnie & Clyde)
13. Steve Wynn, “Killing Me” (Tick, Tick, Tick)
14. Exene Cervenka & The Original Sinners, “Tavern Love” (Sev7en)
15. Prince, “Love” (3121)
16. Billy Bragg, “Help Save the Youth of America” (Talking With the Taxman About Poetry)
17. Calexico, “Cruel” (Garden Ruin)
18. Arctic Monkeys, “Mardy Bum” (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Warrior” (Show Your Bones)
20. T.Rex, “Lady” (Rabbit Fighter)
21. Robert Pollard, “Flowering Orphan” (From A Compound Eye)
22. Tom Verlaine, “Balcony” (Around)
23. Morrissey, “Ill Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now” (Ringleader Of The Tormentors)
24. Stars, “What I'm Trying To Say” (Set Yourself On Fire)
25. Eels, “I Like Birds     “ (Live At Town Hall)
26. Dave Edmunds, “Juju Man” (Get It)
27. Richard Ashcroft, “Break The Night With Colour” (Keys To The World)
28. The Minus 5, “With A Gun” (The Gun Album)
29. Built To Spill, “Gone” (You In Reverse)
30. Jeff Tweedy, “Black Eye” (University of Iowa, 2/19/06)
31. Patty Hurst Shifter, “Happy?” (Too Crowded on the Losing End)
32. Soul Asylum, “Carry On” (Closer To The Stars)
33. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Gold Lion” (Show Your Bones)
34. Sloan, “Waiting for Slow Songs” (Between the Bridges)
35. The Boomtown Rats, “L.A.O.G.H.A.I.R.E.” (A Tonic For The Troops)
36. Billy Bragg, “This Guitar Says Sorry (Alt Version)” (Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy)

Today's Tips From Teagan the Ipod

Since the loaner vehicle had neither XM or Sirius, I had to make a stop at my humble abode to grab Teagan the Ipod…or I was going to go crazy. Teagan is sort of the “new release” player, so far featuring only music released (or re-released) in 2006. Here’s what I enjoyed throughout the day before Ginger the Jeep was finally returned to me:

1. Tommy Keene, “Driving Down The Road In My Mind” (Crashing The Ether)
2. Deadboy And The Elephantmen, “Break It Off” (We Are Night Sky)
3. Mates Of State, “Nature and the Wreck” (Bring It Back)
4. Eleventh Dream Day, “From K To Z” (Zeroes And Ones)
5. The Television Personalities, “Special Chair” (My Dark Places)
6. Okkervil River, “The Latest Toughs” (Black Sheep Boy)
7. Josh Rouse, “La Costa Blanca” (Subtitulo)
8. The Buzzcocks, “Look at You Now” (Flat-Pack Philosophy)
9. Dumptruck, “Secrets” (Haul of Fame)
10. Kelley Stoltz, “Birdies Singing” (Below The Branches)
11. Band Of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Everything All The Time)
12. Merle Haggard, “Is This The Beginning Of The End” (Sing Me Back Home / The Legend Of Bonnie & Clyde)
13. Steve Wynn, “Killing Me” (Tick, Tick, Tick)
14. Exene Cervenka & The Original Sinners, “Tavern Love” (Sev7en)
15. Prince, “Love” (3121)
16. Billy Bragg, “Help Save the Youth of America” (Talking With the Taxman About Poetry)
17. Calexico, “Cruel” (Garden Ruin)
18. Arctic Monkeys, “Mardy Bum” (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Warrior” (Show Your Bones)
20. T.Rex, “Lady” (Rabbit Fighter)
21. Robert Pollard, “Flowering Orphan” (From A Compound Eye)
22. Tom Verlaine, “Balcony” (Around)
23. Morrissey, “Ill Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now” (Ringleader Of The Tormentors)
24. Stars, “What I'm Trying To Say” (Set Yourself On Fire)
25. Eels, “I Like Birds     “ (Live At Town Hall)
26. Dave Edmunds, “Juju Man” (Get It)
27. Richard Ashcroft, “Break The Night With Colour” (Keys To The World)
28. The Minus 5, “With A Gun” (The Gun Album)
29. Built To Spill, “Gone” (You In Reverse)
30. Jeff Tweedy, “Black Eye” (University of Iowa, 2/19/06)
31. Patty Hurst Shifter, “Happy?” (Too Crowded on the Losing End)
32. Soul Asylum, “Carry On” (Closer To The Stars)
33. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Gold Lion” (Show Your Bones)
34. Sloan, “Waiting for Slow Songs” (Between the Bridges)
35. The Boomtown Rats, “L.A.O.G.H.A.I.R.E.” (A Tonic For The Troops)
36. Billy Bragg, “This Guitar Says Sorry (Alt Version)” (Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy)

Hudson Mayor Race Poll Results

I know I should have posted these totals before today’s election, but better late than ever. With a couple of exceptions, I think this could be pretty close to the actual results.

  1. Darrin Smith (21%)

  2. Vernon Brown (18%)

  3. Janoct Adja (16%)

  4. Dan Christopherson (14%)

  5. Dave Munson (8%)

  6. Bruce Halverson (7%)

  7. Casey Murschel (6%)

  8. (Tie) Bob Jamison/Mitch Richter (5%)
Darrel Viereck and Lora Hubbel received no votes.

Monday, April 10, 2006

More Problems With Ginger the Jeep

When my dozen or so readers last checked in the ultraloser Scott Hudson, he was still reeling from not being able to attend the Ray Davies show in Minneapolis. Not only had Ginger the Jeep broke down literally minutes before hitting the road, Ginger broke down again the next day.
Make that three times in as many days. This time it was on the Western Avenue bridge that sits over Interstate 229. Luckily, Ginger restarted and limped back to the dealership. Until this morning, Mr. Hudson was again without a vehicle, and was forced to spend the weekend watching the first season of Scrubs, which was found a couple of weeks ago at Last Stop.
Ginger is still not in Mr. Hudson’s hands, but the fine folks at the car lot provided him with a newer and nicer Jeep while they try to discover just what is wrong with the ailing Ginger.
Mr. Hudson has one more message before he devours his fourth Windsor/Coke. Go vote tomorrow, and please remember his spring slogan, “Anybody But Munson”. Sioux Falls doesn’t need him and his rich goons pushing our city closer and closer to bankruptcy.
Thank you, and in the immortal words of WWE’s Mick Foley, “have a nice day”.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Former Head Of KELO Continues His "Tradition of Caring"

From
San Francisco Chronicle

Cash-strapped KRON is letting advertisers buy into news broadcasts. The boss says it's just a sign of the times.
Evelyn Nussenbaum, Special to The Chronicle

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

"Australia Week" was a major production for the financially strapped KRON (Channel 4). For five straight days in early March, the station dedicated three hours of its five-hour morning newscast to their reporters' adventures Down Under.

There were segments touting "Sydney by Hot Air Balloon," "Shopping in Sydney," "a look at the varieties of fish found in Australia and the many ways of preparing them" as well as a sit-down interview with an Australian tourism official, during which a KRON reporter noted "the diversity of an Australian vacation, whether you're interested in nature, urban areas or both."

If this sounds like a travel brochure for the country, it was. Tourism Australia, the government body that promotes travel to the country, paid the airfare of the station's six reporters and their food and lodging expenses. In addition, Tourism Australia shelled out an undisclosed amount for advertising time on KRON during the special.

The special and others like it have raised more than a few eyebrows in the newsroom. "We're appalled," said one staffer, who declined to be named, fearing retribution. "We essentially let the government of Australia become our news directors."

To Mark Antonitis, KRON's general manager, the encroachment of advertising into programming is just the reality of print and television news today. KRON, until it was purchased six years ago by Young Broadcasting from the Chronicle Publishing Co. (which also sold The Chronicle to the Hearst Corp.), was one of the most respected broadcast outfits in the region, known for its deep bench of reporting talent, in-depth stories and documentaries.

But now business is bad. And "when business is bad, you have to consider opportunities," said Antonitis. "And you have to be creative and do things you might have found difficult in the past." KRON's average rating for its morning news in early March was 1.14, extremely low, with approximately 28,000 households tuning in.

Citing a weak advertising market, Antonitis said he is looking for new ways to make money. That includes charging "product integration fees" to advertisers who want to be included in a story. In February, KRON broadcast an 11-part "Spa Spectacular," in which each featured spa paid a fee -- he won't say how much -- and bought advertising. Anchors offered viewers a chance to buy half-price spa certificates at the end of each segment.

Antonitis is not the only news executive experimenting with letting advertisers inside his newscasts. Reporters at Univision's KMEX in Los Angeles have an arrangement in which they interview Kaiser doctors and patients for health stories and shoot footage at Kaiser facilities because Kaiser Permanente pays a fee in return. Fox affiliate KPTV in Portland, Ore., told the Hollywood Reporter that it recently launched "More Good Day Oregon," a lifestyle-themed extension of its morning news, in the hopes of luring such integration deals. A recent KPTV show featured a local shopping center in a story about last-minute gifts.

Newspapers are not exempt, either. Late last year, the San Francisco Examiner agreed to start labeling a restaurant review column as advertising after media watchdog Gradethenews.org published the fact that the column was produced solely to attract restaurant ads and that the reviews were uniformly positive.

To observers inside and outside KRON, the recent turn of events boils down to a simple question: Is it better to produce advertising-driven "news" than no news at all? Most journalists would choose the latter. While product integration is common in the entertainment business, it's still an anomaly in the news world.

"We draw a strict line between news and sales, and we don't do product placement on our news," said Dan Rosenheim, news director at CBS 5-TV (KPIX). He added that the station does not accept any kind of freebies, including travel. "If this policy is violated we would reimburse, and it might be a disciplinary issue internally."

KTVU News Director Ed Chapuis described a similar policy: "All of KTVU's news reporting is produced without pressure or influence from advertisers."

Among the other local major stations, KGO declined to comment and KQED did not return calls by press time.

"This is fine for any advertiser who wants to get exposure; I don't blame them," said Aly Colón, who teaches ethics at the Poynter Institute for journalists. "But it's a death knell for any news organization that wants to maintain its credibility."

Tension between bean counters and journalists is as old as the profession. Journalists have been wringing their hands for years over the blurring of the traditional lines between news and advertising departments. In 1995, Carol Marin, WMAQ Chicago's star reporter, was suspended for three nights after refusing to end a fire safety story by listing retailers that carried fire safety brochures, because the retailers had also sponsored the report. She ultimately resigned.

The Los Angeles Times' editorial credibility took a hit when the Los Angeles Times Business Journal broke the story that its publisher had agreed to share ad revenues with the Staples Center sports arena, after the Times devoted an entire issue of its magazine to the arena's opening. The incident caused deep divisions between the Times' executive leadership and newsroom.

But the economic pressures have never been this bad, say executives like Antonitis. And when the choice is laying off more employees or making journalistic compromises, Antonitis is clear on where he comes down. "I really don't like to lay people off, and there are lots of families that are counting on me to protect them from the ups and downs of the economic cycle."

Antonitis said he is protecting KRON's credibility by disclosing all partnerships in scripts or the credits. A typical disclaimer, he said, might read: "KRON4 and such-and-such a spa have teamed up to bring you these half-price deals." He also insisted that integrations and contest giveaways are limited to the morning news hours, when viewers expect lighter fare. "You have to find appropriate places inside appropriate newscasts," he said, "and if a hard-news story came along, we would blow out the paid stuff. KRON has maintained full editorial control."

The pressure on Antonitis and those in his industry is real. Advertising growth for local television stations is slowing, squeezed by the proliferation of cable channels and the Internet. But KRON has an additional burden -- the loss of its NBC affiliation four years ago and, with it, the network programming that attracts the highest-priced advertising.

The station also has a corporate parent with a crushing debt load, incurred at least partly by the purchase of KRON itself. Young Broadcasting, which owns nine other television stations in the United States, paid a record $823 million for KRON in 1999, beating out NBC. But the company never made the money back. Young lost $91 million in 2005, doubling its loss from the year before, and carries $782 million in debt. Young's stock has plummeted from a high of $79 a share to $3 in the past eight years. Few Wall Street analysts even bother to cover the company anymore. Antonitis won't say whether KRON itself is making money, although TV newsrooms typically don't make a profit. Sponsor integration is just one of the ways he's trying to stay afloat. Newsroom insiders estimate that half the staff has left, either through layoffs or attrition. They include producers, editors and reporters, including high-priced talent such as Emerald Yeh. Antonitis has replaced standard two-person news crews with one-man bands he calls video journalists, many of them young and inexperienced. They carry their own cameras, do their own interviews and edit their own footage. Last week, KRON signed a deal to become an affiliate with the new FOX network, MyNetworkTV, which targets demographically desirable 18- to 45-year-old men. The hope is that deep-pocketed advertisers will follow.

It's not clear whether the disclaimers for the Australia and the spa stories were detailed enough for KRON viewers to understand the new business arrangements, so it's difficult to know if they cared or even noticed. But faced with the prospect of laying off more people or, in the worst-case scenario, cutting out the news, Antonitis is betting that putting advertisers into newscasts will keep news programming alive.

"Some things we try will work, and others won't," said Antonitis, who added rather cheerfully, "Not one viewer has complained about any of these initiatives."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

KDLT Vs. Hudson, Round 2

It’s probably no surprise that the fine folks at KDLT were not happy with my HD complaints last week. They were angered enough to send Backyard Broadcasting a nice little note. Here’s a copy of their email, along with a response that I sent a few days later:
From: KDLT [mailto:info@kdlt.com]Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 4:47 PMTo: xxxxxxx@bybradio.comSubject: KDLT's response to Scott Hudson's comments
Mr. Hodgson,
    Thank you for your time in regards to this matter we felt there were a few inaccurate points in Mr. Hudson segment on your radio station that were misleading to the general public. Some of the inaccuracies by Mr. Hudson were:
  1. KDLT likes to just put up their "silly little logos."   Those logo's are our legal identification.  We have to do that every hour that is why the station drops back to standard definition format.

  2. KDLT not being able to make up their mind whether to broadcast HD or SD. The episode Mr. Hudson is referring to of "Earl" was messed up leaving New York not KDLT. Some times technical problems do happen that are outside of our control.  For example:  satellites and weather.

  3. KDLT does not have 2 HD channels we have 1 HD channel (KDLT) and 1 SD digital channel (Weather Plus).

  4. Our Weather Plus channel is not the "exact same thing" as the Weather Channel it has a lot more local information it is also broadcasted over air waves free of charge to anyone that has digital receiver capable of receiving it, unlike the Weather Channel or KELO's Weather Now product. The same holds true for HD digital signal of KDLT, it is also broadcasted over the air waves free of charge to anyone that has digital receiver capable of receiving it. Mr. Hudson referred to "Paying for these signals". KDLT does not get paid for any of it's digital signals of KDLT or KDLT Weather Plus.
Once again thank you for your time and I hope in the future KDLT we be represented more fairly then they were this time.
 
Thank you,
John Lane
Studio Supervisor

My Response:
Hello Mr. Lane, I was forwarded a copy of an email that you sent to Backyard Broadcasting concerning an editorial piece that I read on KRRO. I thought that it would be appropriate to respond as I believe that you misunderstood some of my points. As my piece stated in its intro, I am a huge fan of high-def television. I'm also a fan of your station. In an era where the quality level of network television is at an all-time low (in my opinion), your network hosts three of my favorite television shows (Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, The Office). I also occasionally enjoy the various Law and Order shows, Judge Judy, Simpsons reruns, and until recently Seinfeld. Until she left your company, I was a huge fan of Annie Chicoine. I also must commend you for broadcasting the Caribou Show; I don't always find it that entertaining but at least somebody is producing local comedy. On to my rebuttal of your rebuttal. I thought it best that I go through your note point-by-point:
    * KDLT likes to just put up their "silly little logos."   Those       logo's are our legal identification.  We have to do that every       hour that is why the station drops back to standard definition       format.
Of course I know that legal ID's are an FCC requirement. That's not my complaint here, particularly since the "top of the hour" logos would rarely interfere with any programming. And truth be told, this point wasn't really directed at your station. I was mainly referring to KELO. My problem isn't the existence of logos (except FX's promotional logos for other shows that take up almost a full third of the screen), or even KELO's onscreen programming info. It's the fact that every time either your station or KELO presents such material the HD broadcast is downgraded to the analog signal. Since this doesn't happen on KSFY I know that it's a fixable problem. With summer storm season approaching, I really implore you folks to address this problem so that we don't have diminished quality every time you guys have to include a crawl.     * KDLT not being able to make up their mind whether to broadcast       HD or SD. The episode Mr. Hudson is referring to of /"Earl"/ was       messed up leaving New York not KDLT. Some times technical       problems do happen that are outside of our control.  For       example:  satellites and weather.
Certainly, problems do occasionally occur. But it does seem to happen more often than just the isolated incident I described. Funny enough, the actual incident I described was during the just-canceled "Four Kings"...doesn't this prove that it has happened more than once or twice?     * KDLT does not have 2 HD channels we have 1 HD channel (KDLT) and       1 SD digital channel (Weather Plus)

Fine, but it's on the cable system as a HD channel. With so few HD channels, my point was that maybe there were better options for that slot on the cable dial.
    * Our Weather Plus channel is not the "exact same thing" as the       Weather Channel it has a lot more local information it is also       broadcasted over air waves free of charge to anyone that has       digital receiver capable of receiving it, unlike the Weather       Channel or KELO's Weather Now product. The same holds true for       HD digital signal of KDLT, it is also broadcasted over the air       waves free of charge to anyone that has digital receiver capable       of receiving it. Mr. Hudson referred to "Paying for these       signals". KDLT does not get paid for any of it's digital signals       of KDLT or KDLT Weather Plus.
I realize that all three stations in this town operate under the "win with weather" premise. That's fine. If you feel there's a need for a channel running a loop of current conditions with occasional updates on the forecast, so be it. I'm not the market for that sort of programming. As already stated, my complaint is that it takes up a HD channel on my cable system. My question to you, though, is how many people with a HD set use a digital receiver to pick up the local channels? I know quite many people with hi-def televisions, and every single person receives their programming from either cable or satellite providers. It wouldn't make sense not to. So technically, you are right. People can receive your weather channel for free...but few people do. I do have one question, though. With the addition of this channel, can we assume that weather alert crawls will disappear from KDLT? Will I be able to watch my favorite shows this summer without having my signal interrupted every five minutes because a dark cloud was seen ten miles from some small town I've never heard of in western South Dakota? No, you don't have to answer this question. I know the answer. I promise, though, that if you don't interrupt the HD signal with your crawls and other onscreen graphics I will never again complain about your weather coverage. After all, I have my buddies at KELO to kick around with that topic. Take care, Scott Hudson

How Was Ray Davies? I Wish I Knew

In case you didn’t notice, there’s been no mention of the Ray Davies performance at First Avenue that I promised earlier this week. No blog posts from the show; no photos; no reviews.
The reason is simple – I didn’t make it up to Minneapolis this past Tuesday.
The day started off as normal. I saw my son off to school, did a little packing, and started to make my way out of town. First stop was Ernie November’s to pick up the new albums by Morrissey, Flaming Lips, and Tommy Keene. Unfortunately, the store wasn’t open yet so I made my way to Black Sheep to “wake up”. I downed a couple of drinks and read the Argus and USA Today before heading back to Ernie’s. That’s where the trouble began.
As I pulled out of Black Sheep, Ginger Lynn the Jeep sputtered and died. Thinking it was no big deal, I tried to start it again. It fired up…and then died again.
I called up my friends at the dealership, who promised me that they would do their best to get me on the road if I got it towed to their shop. So my next call went to Jim and Ron’s Towing, the city’s best towing company. I say that because I discovered when Jim picked me up that he was a fan of “Get Out of Town”, particularly when I went after city officials. He told his own story about beating the city – it seems that while he was under contract with the city for 24-hour towing services the same people took him to court for parking his tow truck at his residence. The judge laughed and threw it out of court, leading the city attorney to remark in the hallway, “we’ll just change the law”.
We finally get to the dealership, and after explaining the problem I had a seat in the waiting room. The next hour or so was pure hell. Not only had I left my Ipods in my car and had already read the newspapers spread out in the room, but I was anxious as hell to finally hit the road.
Around 11:30 I received the bad news. I needed a new fuel pump. Then even worse news – there wasn’t a fuel pump for a Jeep to be found in Sioux Falls. The next twenty minutes were on the cell – calls for a ride, to cancel my hotel room, and to the beautiful ladies I planned to hang with in the Cities. Then I headed home, destined for a boring day off with no capabilities to leave the house.
One would think the story ended there. Not in ultra-loser Hudson’s life. Two hours after picking up my “fixed” vehicle the next day, it died once again. Luckily, it started back up but the paranoia returned. It drove fine the rest of the night, but I still stopped at the garage the next day to check out the problem. The techs were in a meeting, though, so I made an appointment to come in the next day. A half-hour later, Ginger the Jeep died once again.
My buddy Jim had a nice laugh when his tow truck showed up at my office for another trip. This time it was a faulty “cam” (whatever that is). At least they gave me a loner this time, and four hours later Ginger was back in my possession. For how long nobody knows.

Monday, April 03, 2006

No Get Out of Town This Week

I'm heading up to Minneapolis tomorrow to see Kinks leader Ray Davies at First Avenu. I may attempt some live posting from the show...depending on how many drinks I have before he hits the stage.