A Simple Request…

…for everyone in the mainstream media, alternative media, and talk radio – even conservative talk radio:

Unless you work at a Red Wing outlet store and are changing your shelving, could you never, Ever, EVER use the term “Boots on the Ground” again?  It’s gone so far beyond cliché, light leaving “cliché” right now won’t reach us until our great-grandchildren are getting AARP cards.

“Troops in the field” actually works.

Thank you all in advance for seeing to this.

That is all.

What Conservatism Needs In Minnesota

In the middle of a year that promises to be a good, if not great, year for Republicans nationwide, Minnesota Republicans are hoping to flip the House, so as to at least contest control for the state, and praying for an upset in the Senate and a come-from-behind miracle for Governor.

It was ten years ago that the conventional wisdom was that Minnesota was purple, flirting with red.

Today, it’s a bluish-purple state – some bright-red points, some dingy blue swamps. 

In 2002, after the death of Paul Wellstone, the DFL was in disarray;  they lost the state House, the Governor’s office and Wellstone’s Senate seat.   The grownups controlled all of the state offices except the Attorney General; the DFL held the State Senate by a hair, and was well behind in the House. 

Inside six years, they turned that into nearly-complete domination of Minnesota.  They held Mark Dayton’s old and barely-used Senate seat, they took Coleman’s they took both chambers of the Legislature in 2008, lost them in 2010, and took them back in 2012, and have controlled all of the state Constitutional offices – Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor – for eight years now. 

How did they do this?

The 24 Month Campaign:  Ben Kruse got it mostly right Monday morning on the morning show on the lesser talk station; Republicans need to learn something from the Democrats.  For them, their 2016 campaign will start in earnest on November 5.  The Republicans, in the meantime, will meander about until State Fair time, 2016. 

I know – to be fair, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson started their governor’s races back in 2012 in all but name; Mike McFadden was aggressively moving his Senate candidacy at the State Fair in 2013. 

In contrast, the DFL’s attack PR firm “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota” never stopped campaigning.  The group – financed by unions and liberal plutocrats with deep pockets, including Mark Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger – does something that goes beyond campaigning. 

It bombards Minnesotans with Democrat propaganda, 24 months every campaign cycle.

The Communications Gap:  The Minnesota GOP has plenty of strikes against it; while it’s made up a lot of financial ground since its nadir two years ago, it’s still in debt, and still scrambling to get back to even.

But even when it’s in the black, it only does so much communicating – and then, it only does it in the run-ups to elections and, maybe occasionally, during legislative sessions (and that’s mostly the jobs of the GOP legislative caucuses). 

In the meantime, the Democrats (with the connivance of regional media whose reporters may not overtly carry the water for the DFL, but whose management largely most definitely does) shower the Minnesota voter with a constant drizzle of the Democrat version of “the truth”. 

Which means the low-information voter – the one that might start thinking about next month’s election any day now – is kept on a constant drip, drip, drip of the DFL’s point of view.  It means the baseline of thought for those who don’t have any strong political affiliation of their own leans left of center; they assume that raising taxes helps schools, that Republicans are rich tax evaders who hide their wealth out of state, that there is a “war on women”, and on and on.

There’s No-one To Fly The Flag – Nobody Seems to Know It Ever Went Down: So how was the situation different when the GOP was contending to take MInnesota away from the left? 

Other than the DFL having an endless parade of checks from plutocrats to cash? 

For starters, back then Minnesota had a number of overt conservative voices on the media, statewide, day in, day out.  It was when Jason Lewis was at his rabble-rousing peak; I call him the Father of Modern Minnesota Conservatism, and I’ll stand by it.  With Lewis on the air, a lot of people who didn’t know they were conservatives, figured it out – and a lot of conservatives who figured they were alone in the big blue swamp realized there were others out there. 

And Joe Soucheray was on the air three hours a day talking, not so much directly about politics, but about the absurdities that the left was inflicting on the culture.  It may have been a decade before Andrew Breitbart noted that Politics springs from Culture, but Soucheray knew it, and made it a constant topic for a long, long time. 

Lewis and Soucheray had record audiences – not just in the Metro, but outstate, where both had syndication in Greater Minnesota. 

And between the two, the media’s left-leaning chinese water torture had competition.

And for a few years, MInnesota had a couple of voices that did for conservatism in the state what Rush Limbaugh helped do nationwide; dragged it out of the basement, aired it out, made it relevant to the challenges Minnesotans faced then and today, and made being conservative, unapologetic and smart a thing to be proud of. 

And this happened at a time when Minnesota conservatism…came out of the basement, aired out, and started grabbing Minnesota mindshare. 


Feed The Cat:  Of course, this doesn’t happen on its own.  While conservative talk radio is still, along with sports, the only radio format that’s paying its bills, the format has atrophied – largely because it’s become, for money reasons, a national rather than regional format.  Syndicated network programming – Limbaugh, Hannity, Prager, Hewitt, Michael Savage, what-have-you – delivers ratings on the relative cheap.  And they deliver political engagement, nationwide.  

But they don’t have a local political effect like a solid, firebrand local lineup does. 

But radio stations pay for very little in the way of “local lineup” anymore; KSTP has turned Soucheray into just another sports talking head; AM1280 has the NARN; AM1130 has Jack and Ben and, temporarily, Dave Thompson. 

Minnesota business – at least, the part of it that realizes that a conservative outcome benefits everyone, themselves included – needs to pony up and sponsor the next generation of rabble-rousing Conservative media with a cause; the fact that it’s actually a good ad investment is a collateral benefit, compared to flushing money down ABM’s drain. 

And yes, I’m focusing on radio – but this rabble-rousing presence would need to cover all of the social and alternative media, not just the traditional AM band.  Still – there is no (affordable) medium that reaches, or can reach, more Minnesotans.

And through that, maybe, we start turning the intellectual tide in this state. 

It’s happened once.  It can happen again.

Needs to happen again, really.

Just Stupid

The lefty media has been giggling like schoolgirls over this story – a Texas waitress, who got not one but two $2000 tips from Rush Limbaugh – and gave the money to a pro-infanticide group:

“That was like blood money to me,’ Tierce told The Dallas Morning News.

Tierce was the former executive director at the Texas Equal Access Fund, which provides money to women who can’t afford to get abortions.

She was the “executive director” of a nonprofit that provided infanticide to poor women, AND a waitress?


Tierce said it felt right to her to give the money to the TEA Fund.

‘It felt like laundering the money in a good way,’ she told the newspaper.

‘He’s such an obvious target for any feminist or sane person.

Yeah, Ms. Tierce seems pretty sane to me.

The part that I get the chuckle over? Ms. Tierce, and the media bobbleheads who’ve been reporting the story, keep saying that Ms. Tierce “gave Limbaugh’s money” to the infanticide charity.


When Limbaugh left the tip – of his own free will, mind you, not as part of some “living wage” wealth transfer – it became her money.

She gave her own money to her own group.

This story isn’t “Man bites dog”. It isn’t even “dog sniffs dog”. It’s “Deeply morally ugly woman gives her own money to a group she used to run, while taking a snotty, stupid swipe at someone who has the temerity to “share the wealth” of his own free will, rather than at government gunpoint”.

Swirling About The Drain

I hate to indulge in schadenfreud. 

But I’m only human.

Arbitron numbers are in for the Fargo-Moorhead area – and the two big lib-talk hosts at KFGO (which is sort of the WCCO of the Fargo metro area) are sucking fumes.

Joel Heitkamp is off sharply, according to Rob Port

But even more sweet?  Mike McFeely – the sportscaster turned incompetent liberal talking head – is sucking pond water. 

Conservative talk thrives in liberal bastions like the Twin Cities, Chicago and LA – as a contrarian Jeremiah, and a rallying point for the areas beleaguered conservatives.  You’d think, orthagonally, that liberal talk would work for the same reasons in relatively conservative places like Fargo (although Fargo is the most liberal major city in North Dakota). 

I guess not.

The Host I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

Back in the eighties, the first time I worked in Twin Cities radio, you could always tell when a station needed a publicity boost.   There’d be an “incident” – a disk jockey would “say” something “objectionable”, or “insult” a “guest”, or some other shenanigan on the air, which would “lead” to a “suspension”, which would get all sorts of coverage from “news” people. 

For example, back in the late eighties, “Cadillac Jack” at KDWB “insulted” British pop tart Kim Wilde on the air, and was “suspended” for a week. The Strib, the City Pages and the Twin Cities Reader all slurped up the “story” like puppies racing toward spilled hot dogs. 

Of course, the “incident” was about as real as a pro wrestling match; it was a PR stunt coinciding with a jock’s planned vacation.  In radio, then as much or more than now, if you actually screwed up for real you got unceremoniously fired, very very off the air. The number of  such “incidents” that actually happen, spontaneously, in major-market radio is microscopic.  How microsopic?  The “real” incidents are practically legends in the radio business. 

“Blaze” of “Glory”:  Jason Lewis “quit” his afternoon-drive show on Genesis Communications (heard locally on AM1130 KTCN) yesterday.  A monologue ended with a vow to “go Galt” and stop “feeding the Beast” – after which he stomped out of the studio.  His producer vamped for a bit, and then, luckily, longtime Twin Cities talkradio journeyman Dan Conry just happened to be available to finish out the last half of Lewis’ show. 

So I can be forgiven for having an eighties flashback, can’t I?

I don’t know much – I’ll be talking with people I know in the business over the weekend – but if I were a betting man (and I’m not) I’d bank on the following:

  • Lewis’ departure from his Genesis deal had been coming for a while
  • The “I’m going Galt!” departure was a PR stunt.  For what?  For his “Galt.io” website (if Lewis had jammed any more Galt references into his “departure”, laws of physics would have been violated)?  For his next venture, whatever it is? 

It’s savvy marketing, and it’s classic radio – the kind of thing the pasty-faced computer-programmers who dominate the industry today have forgotten how to do. 

Lewis, in his day – his first hitch in Twin Cities radio, at KSTP back in the nineties through the early 2000s – was one of the fathers of modern Minnesota conservatism.  There’s no overstating how vital he was in putting grassroots libertarian-conservatism on the Minnesota agenda during those years; had there been no Jason Lewis, conservatism would likely have remained a backroom aberration in the MNGOP for much longer than it did; the “moderate vs. conservative” battle would have stayed mired in the eighties for another decade or more.  The Tea Party in Minnesota built on a basis of activism that Jason, more than any single person, established. 

His first hitch?  That was some heady stuff. 

Changes:  Lewis’ second stint – his return to KTCN and then Genesis, since the mid-late 2000s – was a little more subdued. 

Lewis was different in his second go-around; the ebullient crusader for truth and justice was replaced by a hectoring professor who was always the smartest guy in the room and who made damn sure you knew it.  He became less a party guy (although talk of him running for Senate kept circulating every election cycle) and more of an ideological libertarian-conservative.

And that’s not a criticism; it’s a perfectly valid character for a talk radio personality (see also Mark Levin), and not necessarily a bad idea in a talk market that had filled up with crusading everymen – including yours truly – since his first debut in the nineties.   Although part of me thinks his second go-around would have been better with Joe Hanson producing him; Joe could cut anyone’s unnecessary pretensions off at the knees

The industry has changed a lot over the past 20 years, of course; the days of drive-time talk show hosts, even on small networks like Lewis’ 40-odd stations on Genesis, drawing low-to-mid six figure salaries were coming to a close (damn the luck). 

I hope the next chapter in Jason’s media life is a good, rewarding one.  I can’t imagine him “retiring” (or anyone else, these days, for that matter). 

I remember during Jason’s time at KSTP, during my own long break from talk radio (1987 to 2004), listening to Lewis doing his thing as I drove home from work or tootled around town in a car full of kids doing my errands, pondering what life’d have been like had I stayed in radio, and thinking “that’s the host I always wanted to be when I grew up”. 

And in my little one-day-a-week talk radio hobby, I guess that’s what I’ve been shooting for for the last ten years.   To be a little like Jason.

Not exactly like Jason, of course.  I make a lousy professor.  But to be seen as someone who knows what he’s talking about, and who wants to convince the unconvinced, and wants to take my – our – political beliefs to the street and change things?  That’s what I wanted.  It’s what I shoot for. 

And so I wish Jason all the best, and hope I haven’t heard the last of him.


Word has it that Fast Eddie Schultz – the single liberal talk show host in the business who understood anything about doing radio – is calling in the dogs and whizzing on the fire.

(Yes, I know – Stephanie Miller. But her only good idea is copying Laura Ingraham’s show in every single particular; otherwise, she’s just another shrill Taylor Marsh clone).

On the one hand, Schultz was literally the only liberal in talk radio who understood anything about doing radio, as opposed to standup comedy, essay writing or speaking to a roomful of people. They’re very, very different things.

On the other hand? Schultz may be the only host in talk radio who is actually as dumb as the left thinks conservative talk hosts are.

So adios, Fast Eddie. It’s one step further on the journey to forgetting you ever existed.

Death Rattle

Liberal-talk radio outlets in major – liberal! – markets are flipping formats:

2014 will mark the beginning of a massive change for liberal talk radio across the country. In New York, WWRL 1600 AM will flip to Spanish-language music and talk, throwing Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and Alan Colmes off the air. In Los Angeles, KTLK 1150 will be dumping Stephanie Miller, Rhodes, Bill Press and David Cruz off the air in favor of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. In San Francisco, KNEW 960 will leave Miller, Hartmann, and Mike Malloy without a radio home in the market.

Liberals – among them the Daily Kos – are trying to portray the flip as a “demotion” for Limbaugh; he (and Beck and Hannity and the whole Premiere Radio rogues gallery) are moving from a 50,000 watt station to…another 50,000 watt station (albeit one with a little less range, but one which still amply covers all of Los Angeles with plenty of oomph to spare).

The real demotion?  In LA, liberal talk is moving from one station to…zero.

And New York.

And San Francisco.

Not Minneapolis, so far.  But how long can Janet Robert afford to keep her long-marginal station on the air with nothing but ads from community coffee-house collectives, unions and non-profits?

The NARN Broadcast

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism, as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • I’m in the studio today from 1-3.  Our guest today is Twin Cities radio legend Tom Mischke.  We’ll be talking about ancient Talk Radio history, Don Vogel, the Phantom Caller, two or three generations of Twin Cities media history, and probably beer.  I’ll also be talking with Cam Winton, moderate-GOP candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, doing what we can do to help him shock the world on…Tuesday?  Yep – Tuesday!
  • Don’t forget the King Banaian Radio Show, on AM1570 “The Businessman” from 9-11AM this morning!
  • And – whoah!  Brad Carlson is  out tomorrow!  I’ll be filling in for Brad on “The Closer” from 1-3 tomorrow. I’ll have gubernatorial straw poll winner Jeff Johnson on the show.  Tune in!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of honest news. You have so many options:

Join us!

UPDATE:  I forgot – I’m in for Brad tomorrow.  I fixed the note above…

Chalk Up A Win For Brad Carlson!

Now, any radio station can compete on weekdays, when network shows lock horns with other network shows for mere money.

But the real acid test for a radio station is how do they do on the vital weekend shift – when stations cut the network crap and have to get real.

And so as the Northern Alliance Radio Network rapidly approaches ten years on the air, it’s with a tingle of homer pride that I relate the big news; this past month, AM950’s sole entry into the local weekend talk market, “LeftMN Radio”, realizing that Brad Carlson’s “The Closer” edition of the NARN dominated them in every possible way, gave up the ghost and cut their losses.

The show – which used to broadcast for an hour on Sunday afternoons, during the last half of Brad’s show – was hosted by Steve Timmer, and also by Tony Petrangelo and Aaron Klemz, two of the precious few Minnesota leftybloggers who don’t deserve to be under police surveillance.

Citing Klemz’ departure for a job at “Minnesotans Against Mining”   “Friends of the Boundary Waters” as an excuse for leaving the air, the show apparently had its last broadcast either last week or the week before (the show’s blog, near as I can tell, lists shows according to their preceding Monday). 

I’ll count it as a win.  A minor one – certainly not like driving Ron Rosenbaum from AM1130’s weekend lineup, much less making them surrender the entire talk format on weekends a few years back – but yet another win for the little station that could.  Between that and Dennis Miller making “The Late Debate” flee to mornings, and it’s been a great summer for AM1280. 

Congrats Brad!

NARN Tomorrow

First things first:  congratulations to AM1280’s Dennis Miller for chasing AM1130 out of weekday evening radio.  I count that as a big win for AM1280, the little station that could.

Tomorrow on the NARN, it’s going to be a fun show. 

For starters, I’ll be talking with GOP gubernatorial candidate Senator Dave Thompson.  The race is 15 months away – even the convention is still nine months out – and the race is already heating up.  Got questions for Senator Thompson?  Call in!

Then we’ll be talking about the Daycare union jamdown with Representative Mary Franson.  This battle took a small, disappointing turn last weekend – but it’s nowhere near over yet. 

Tune in tomorrow from 1-3PM on AM1280 The Patriot – the station that isn’t moving its programs all over hell and half an acre!

Y’Know How You Know Western Civilization Is Collapsing?

Friday night, I was out with some friends out at a bar on Lake Street in Minneapolis.  I’d heard there was a thunderstorm warning – but I didn’t expect the deluge we got.  I think the wind got up to 60-70 miles an hour on Lake.  The power went out, and stayed out.  As I walked back to my car (unscathed, thank goodness, unlike a few cars up and down the street), I thought “this is gonna be a doozy”.

I started trying to find my way back to Saint Paul; I drove around South Minneapolis, checking out the extent of the damage and the power outage; the damage lessened the further east you went, but many roads were blocked; there were pockets of power up into the thirties, but for the most part Minneapolis was blacked out down to 46th, sometimes 50th and further.

Along about 10 o’clock, I wondered “what’s Saint Paul like?”  And for that matter the rest of the metro?

So I flipped to WCCO, expecting to hear their usual severe-storm-and-aftermath patter; Mike Lynch and a crew of newspeople talking about the storm, and taking calls from people around the metro with their observations.

LYNCH: “Tom in Prior Lake, go ahead”.

TOM IN PRIOR LAKE: “Ya, da wind come up and a maple tree about yea big fell down on da shed”

LYNCH: “How big?”


This is how WCCO has been doing weather since the earth’s crust cooled.

So I flipped the radio to 830 – no, it’s not a preset on my car.

And what did we get?

“Best of Mischke”.

Weather on the 20s.  I think.

And now the world has changed for the worse.

Loony Bait

Watch for the the chuckle-and-snark set from the leftymedia to their yapping to “puree” over this:

The Rush Limbaugh Program is considering ending its affiliation agreement with Cumulus Media at the end of this year, a move that would bring about one of the biggest shakeups in talk radio history, a source close to the show tells POLITICO.

Should the move take place, 40 Cumulus-owned radio stations would lose the rights to the most popular talk radio program in the country. In addition, the show might be picked up by competing regional radio stations in Washington, New York, Chicago, Dallas and other major markets.

Now, the left’s been trying to paint this as a rejection of conservative talk radio, and specifically a result of the “boycott” of Limbaugh after the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle:

According to the source, Limbaugh is considering the move because Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey has blamed the company’s advertising losses on Limbaugh’s controversial remarks about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student. In Feb. 2012, Limbaugh referred to Fluke as “a slut” because she had called on congress to mandate insurance coverage of birth control. The subsequent controversy over those remarks resulted in a significant advertising boycott.

“Significant” in terms of headlines.  It was a fairly minor event, commercially – some companies regretted taking part pretty quickly.

But its greatest significance might be giving Lew Dickey an out for his incompetent management.  Cumulus  – whose management has always skewed left of center, politically – is one of the most rapidly-collapsing of the old big-media holding companies.

Here’s their stock value over the past ten years:

Lew Dickey and the left-leaning wastrels in management are looking for an excuse for their own dismal performance.  Limbaugh and the Fluke flap provides them a handy out.

And that’s all it is.

But look for the chuckle-and-snark set – who only know what they’re told about the radio industry – to try to present this as a verdict on Limbaugh, or on conservative talk radio.

It’s not.

Here Today, NARN Tomorrow

As Ed announced on Hot Air earlier this week, last Saturday was his last regular Northern Alliance broadcast.

So some might ask – what’s the NARN’s future?

The answer:  Lots.

The show will carry on on Saturday at the usual time (and Brad’s show on Sunday, of course, is unchanged).  I’ll probably focus more on Minnesota politics – I mean, with Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Miller and Mark Levin, AM1280’s got the national stuff pretty well covered, right?   I’ll likely also have a group of regular guests in the studio to talk important Minnesota stuff.

So tune in for the new NARN – same as the old NARN – Saturday from 1-3PM (and Brad’s show on Sunday from 1-3) on AM1280 The Patriot, or on the Patriot’s live stream, or (fingers crossed) the show’s new video and chat stream.

It Actually Works

So I told someone I spent some time talking with Tom Emmer on Saturday.

“Oh”, said the person I was talking to, “he’s the guy on those billboards with the guy who looks like David Byrne or Ric Ocasek…”

The Do-It-Yourselfer

It’s a bit of a whack upside the head to see that George Chapple – better known as “Dark Star” – has passed away:

Chapple grew up in Ohio and Long Island, NY. He was a Vietnam veteran, and originally came to the Twin Cities with his parents in the 1970s.

After dabbling in the auto business, Chapple became known to radio listeners in the 1980s via Steve Cannon’s WCCO Radio show where he handicapped horse races at the newly-opened Canterbury Downs (later renamed Canterbury Park).

Before that, though, he was a regular caller on sportstalk shows all over the Twin Cities, including KSTP when I was there in the mid-eighties.

The brief Strib obit skips past what was a convoluted and almost comical path to sports-radio celebrity.  When I first met Dark, he was hosting a cable-access handicapping show at Canterbury Downs, in the next press booth over from the KSTP Sportstalk show I was producing.  I ran into him again in…er, 1988?  He and, of all people, Mike Gelfand were hosting an evening sportstalk show on the old AM1470 in Anoka, doing a remote broadcast from an old Chi-Chi’s in Brooklyn Center.  In both cases, he bellowed out “Mitch!” – to me, one of the lowliest peons on Twin Cities radio – like I was Steve Cannon himself.

It wasn’t long after that that he got his job at ‘CCO.

And I spent years thinking of that example – going from regular caller to night-time host, one of America’s dream jobs.  And the lesson of that example – make your own opportunities, and be both creative and persistent about it – was in the front of my mind in 2003 and early 2004 when I first broached the idea of an all-blogger talk show to AM1280.

So anyway – RIP Dark Star.

Play Misty For Me, Part IV: Promises Carved In Sand

In an episode of Hill Street Blues (or maybe NYPD Blue, but I think it was Hill Street, on account of the fact that I watched Hill Street addictively, and maybe saw one episode of NYPD Blue), Dennis Frantz’ character (either Sergeant Buntz on HSB, or Sergeant Butt on NYPDB) and his new partner, a young Asian fellow (who, I’m told, was named “Rodriquez”, which seems odd for a character that I recall being Asian) just out of detective school, are cornered and kidnapped by a psychotic killer.

The two detectives are sitting, disarmed and helpless, in chairs facing the killer.

The killer looks at the two men, brandishing the most evil-looking short-barreled shotgun I’ve ever seen.

The killer demands “You don’t wanna die?  Beg!”

Buntz warns his partner “Don’t do it.  As long as you stand up to him, he’s not gonna kill you.  He’s a gutless little worm who gets off on having power over better men”, or something to that effect.

“SHUT UP” yells the killer.  “Beg!”

The newbie looks at Frantz/Buntz/Butt, and then at the shotgun.  And he breaks down, starts to cry, and begs fervently for his life, as Frantz’s face goes white.

There’s a shotgun blast.   You might guess how it turned out, in that Frantz’s character survived the length of both shows (although his showbiz career didn’t).

The lesson?  Don’t be Dennis Frantz’ partner in a Steven Bochco crime drama.

Also don’t give bullies what they want.


Two weeks ago, after an episodewhere U of M professor Bill Gleason accused “The Late Debate”‘s Jack Tomczak of “stalking” him (by showing up in a public building where he publicly announced he’d be, carrying a baby and a stroller), Dr. Gleason filed a complaint with the FCC.

Gleason – a world-class researcher known for his frenetic publication schedule, beaver-like work ethic and outsized stature in the scientific community – said that he’d withdraw the complaint if Tomczak issued an apology on Twitter, on the air, and in writing.  Gleason was to approve the apology.

Tomczak issued the apology a little over two weeks ago.

Apparently because the apology wasn’t delivered with the right degree of self-abasement, and notwithstanding the very high likelihood that the FCC complaint will be rebuffed without much in the way of comment, Hope 95.9’s management suspended Tomczak last week.  That’s why I was on the air guest-hosting last night.

The episode illustrates three things.

Hope 95.9’s management is incredibly naive.  Like Frantz’ partner, they figured that if they caved in to a bully – moreover, a bully with a paper-thin, flimsy case – with enough verve, everything would get better.

Predictably, Dr. Gleason will apparently not confirm that he’s mailed any sort of rescission letter to the FCC.

Maybe it’s because there’s no “rescind” button on the FCC’s online public complaint form.

Or maybe it’s because Gleason has no intention of rescinding his complaint.

And – above and beyond all that – maybe it doesn’t matter.  Because…

The FCC Doens’t Adjudicate Personal Complaints.  It’s in the business – among other things – of regulating the public airwaves, including ensuring broadcasters follow the rules that go along with having a broadcast licence.

Say, hypothetically, that you hear a morning DJ say one of the Seven Deadly Words.  You file a complaint with the FCC, saying your sensibilities were offended.  The FCC’s machinery grinds into action…

…about the time you get an apology from the DJ, who has converted to strict evangelism and is repenting of his ways.

Satisfied, you write the FCC asking to rescind your complaint.

What will the FCC say?

“That’s nice”, likely, but “we’re not here to enforce your ever-changing sensibilities; we’re here to make sure that radio stations follow the rules”.  The Seven Deadly Words were said – ergo rules were broken.  The FCC, legally, jurisdictionally and procedurally cares not one institutional jot about your feelings, then or now; merely that rules about the use of the public airwaves were broken.  You were good enough to report it to them, and for that the FCC thanks you.  Contribute to the station’s legal defense fund, or don’t return the FCC’s call when it asks for more info, it it helps your conscience – but your job, from the FCC’s perspective, ended when you clicked the “OK” button on the complaint form.

Gleason’s offer to “rescind” his complaint is equally meaningless, even if he does send the letter.  The FCC doesn’t enforce rules about not hurting peoples’ feelings; they regulate how stations use their licenses.

That is it.

And either Gleason doesn’t know that, and is being ignorant, or he does, and is being a narcissist.

Barring the overreaction of some naive management, there isn’t a teapot small enough to hold this tempest.  At least not as far as the FCC is concerned.

I’d bank on it.

Back On The Night Shift

Tonight, I’ll be sitting in for Jack Tomczak on The Late Debate, on the 95.9 in metro Anoka/Ramsey.  TLD is the second-best franchise in Twin Cities conservative alternative media (and hence the second-best franchise in the Twin Cities media) behind the NARN (who else?) and I’m happy to pitch in.

Tonight, we’ll be talking about the foolishness of caving into the demands of a mentally ill troll, because their “promises” for relenting are carved in sand, notwithstanding the fact that his FCC complaint is a fraud and a sham that I predict will get politely ignored, and the very fact that he thinks he can rescind the complaint is itself an indication of his bad faith and abuse of the system, since the FCC rules on offenses against the public airwaves, not on individuals’ ruffled feathers  with Ron Paul supporter Corey Sax about this past month and its impact on the Republican Party of Minnesota.

And in the second hour, we’ll have a True North round table, with a group of writers from True North joining me to talk about the state of the state, the party, conservatism, and our publication.

That’s on The Late Debate – the best way there is to tide over the time between NARN broadcasts!

Let’s See If I Can Follow This

According to the Twin Cities’ leftysphere and mainstream media:

  • Writing thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of abusive and harassing tweets about people you disagree with, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including over “work” hours?  Not stalking.
  • Claiming on a large conversation thread on Twitter that someone has been convicted of driving while intoxicated?  Not Stalking.  (OK, it’s legally more like defamation, but it’s part of the previous bullet).
  • Leaving dozens, maybe hundreds, of Google-turds all around the web under a transparent sock-puppet ID (whose source is trivially easy to trace), and setting up a sock-puppet website about an embarassing incident (naturally, with the parts that aren’t embarassing carefully excised away for the perp’s enjoyment) under a false but drearily transparent sock-puppet ID,  with the help of a “source” who should have known better (and does, today), and engaging in this behavior against many, many people under many, many monkers and doing that and much, much more with such demented abandon that when something bad did finally happen, he felt the need to make sure people knew it really really wasn’t him who was responsible, this time:  Good heavens, no – not Stalking, silly wingnut.
  • Going to a public building, with intentions publicly displayed under one’s own name, with a clearly-stated express intent well within the bounds of free speech, and obeying the rules – including the ones about “threatening people” – and doing it while carrying a baby and hauling a stroller:  “Stalking”

I’ve always tried to treat people the way I’d like to be treated.  Seriously, I do – I mean, a good chunk of the Twin Cities left think that “Expressing any sort of conservative opinion” is a form of assault, but beyond that I do try to keep things on the up and up.

But I have had about enough.

Radio Business

It’s not often that I do things to try to improve competing radio stations.  Indeed, I usually try to vanquish them.  And as the record re the all-important Saturday afternoon day part has shown, the Northern Alliance has done just that; first driving KTLK completely but temporarily out of talk, then taking down Ron Rosenbaum.

But I’m going to make a big exception today.

Yesterday, word got out that FM95.9 suspended Jack Tomczak from the Late Debate.

And it occurs to me, and not a few others, that Jack and Ben could actually do a lot better on another station – one that gets less panicky in the face of specious FCC complaints.

So, this weekend, I’m going to ask you to do something unthinkable; email Andrewlee@clearchannel.com, and ask them to put “The Late Debate” on AM1130.

Play Misty For Me, Part III: Static

Yesterday, we talked about the complaint filed with the FCC by Dr. Bill Gleason, world-class researcher, and The Late Debate, a talk show at plucky little FM station “Hope 95.9” in Ramsey hosted by Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, and about why the complaint was of no merit.

I’m predicting that the complaint gets ignored and politely rejected, sooner than later, because nothing in the complaint involved any are over which the FCC has jurisdiction.  The complaint spoke of…:

  • “Untruthful statements” – While Gleason never specified in his complaint what the “untruthful statements” were – opting to leave it to the FCC staff to cull through a blog post that looks not a little bit like a ransom note to find them, whatever they were – the fact is that even if Tomczak said something that’s untrue, defamatory and malicious, that’s the province of civil court.  Not the FCC.  And it’s a demonstrable fact that Bill Gleason – for all of his well-documented talent as one of the world’s leading researchers – is a bully.
  • “Harassment” – Actual harassment is something to take up with the local police.  While broadcasts can harass people, that refers to using the broadcast airwaves to try to systematically mess with people – not merely talk about an attempt at an ambush interview (which is, like it or not, protected constitutional speech,  provided that there is no physical threat involved – and even that is the job of the police, if there is any genuine worry).

If I were a betting man – and I’m not – I’d bet money that this complaint will be politely but completely rejected in a few weeks.

Of course, the general manager of a radio station is not paid to be a betting man.  A GM’s main job, before all of that “get ratings’ and “turn a huge profit” thing, is to protect the station’s FCC broadcast license, which is the station’s reason to exist.

And when the subject of “FCC complaints” comes up, General Managers get justifiably skittish.  And the management at Hope 95.9 reportedly are being skittish.  They’re not (I’m going to guess) big-market talk-radio management, with lots of experience at dealing with everyone from crazies to well-organized special interest groups leaning on them over every stance every host takes.  They run a little Christian station in the north ‘burbs.  I know nothing about them, but they remind me of the management I grew up working for in North Dakota – very sensitive to any feedback they got from the community.  Anyway – they’re reportedly leaning toward telling Tomczak and Kruse to apologize to Gleason.

This is a mistake.

It’s imperative that broadcasters follow the rules.  But nothing in Gleason’s complaint referenced anything that the FCC has jurisdiction over.   And while every married guy in the world knows that apologizing for things you didn’t do is common sense in a marriage, it makes less sense for a broadcaster; it devalues the rules and the process for enforcing them.  It means every bully who doesn’t like being portrayed as a bully will get it in their heads to scamper off to the FCC when someone stands up to them and puts the story on the air, on the flimsiest and most facile of pretexts.

Which is what Gleason is doing.

If it were my station – and it’s not, and I have no financial skin in the game, so my opinion is worth exactly what you’re paying for it – my response would be something along the lines of…

Dear Dr. Gleason,

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.  While we realize that you may have been offended by our broadcasters’ remarks about you, nothing in the broadcast violated any FCC rules.

If you feel you’ve been harassed, you need to contact the police.

If you feel you’ve been defamed, you need to contact a lawyer.

If you are offended by Mr. Tomczak’s portrayal of you (leaving accuracy aside for the moment), or the language he used in his Twitter exchange, you need to take that up with Twitter, and with Mr. Tomczak directly.

While we do not seek to gratuitously offend any listener, you have complained of nothing for which this station or Mr. Tomczak are legally liable to the FCC.  Therefore, while we regret any perceived offense, we must decline your request for an apology from station management.  As none of your grievances with Messrs. Tomczak and Kruse relate to FCC offenses, we will not be directing them to apologize to you.

I thank you for being a loyal listener.

Mitch Berg

Hypothetical General Manager

Again, it’s not my license.  But if management is considering knuckling under to Gleason’s spurious complaint, I hope they reconsider.

If you’re a Late Debate fan, it might not hurt to give the station a polite, to the point call to support ’em.

Play Misty For Me, Part II: No There There

Earlier today, we took a first glance at the complaint filed with the FCC by professor William B. Gleason (an associate professor in chemistry at the U of M Medical School) against “Hope 95.9FM”, a little low-power FM station in Ramsey, in the north ‘burbs (with a couple of AM signals serving Saint Cloud) which is the home of The Late Debate, with Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse.

You can read the text of the complaint in this morning’s post, or at Dr. Gleason’s blog, (which I hasten to point out has never been described as “something that the FBI Behavioral Unit could use as a case study in odd-looking”; you be the judge), because, lest you missed it this morning, Dr. Gleason is an elite researcher at the very tip-top of his field, at the very bleeding edge of research into saving lives, who barely manages to squeedge in time to blog and write dozens of Twitter tweets a day during breaks in his lab schedule (under his own name and a carefully-honed pseudonym).

Let’s walk through the complaint, point by point:

  There are actually three radio stations involved.

They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”

So far, so good.

Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:

link to post – click her [sic]

The Twitter exchange in question – starting last Tuesday, May 10 – bounced back and forth between the two.  You can read the conversation here, on Tomczak’s Twitter Feed (starting, essentially, with this post), or here on Gleason’s.  Name-calling ensued.

And as a result of the name-calling – Tomczak felt Gleason bagged on stay-at-home dads, and took umbrage – he decided to go, last Wednesday, to visit Gleason at the University of Minnesota.

Now – is that harassment?

Well, if it’s in a public place, and Tomczak doesn’t break any laws to get there, or when he’s actually there, and doesn’t do anything to warrant anyone telling him he’s a trespasser (or leaves without making a ruckus if someone does call him a trespasser, and goes through channels to deal with that), then he’s no different than any leftyblogger who, say, brings a camera down to the State Office Building to try to catch state legislators (as “Spotty” from Cucking Stool is apparently wont to do), or what Channel Five does when they want to catch, say, loafing public works workers.

Of course, Channel Five doesn’t phrase their requests for interviews with terms like “asshole“.  Which was Tomczak’s sole mistake.  But, I hasten to add, that took place on Twitter – a place where the FCC has no jurisdiction.

Still – does that sound threatening?  Tomczak noted that he would “bring my 8 month that you think I’m wasting my time with.”

So Tomczak wasn’t doing anything wrong – and even if he was, “Harassment” that doesn’t happen on the air is not the FCC’s jurisdiction.  If Bill Gleason felt “harassed”, going to the FCC is of no more use than going to KARE-TV’s Ron Schara for a “Minnesota Bound” segment.

Harassment is law-enforcement’s ‘job.

Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed.

Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.

It’s hard to know what Gleason meant by this – which, given the frenetic pace of research and publication that a U of M Medical School chemistry professor keeps, is probably understandable.  Go ahead and read the whole exchange – on Tomczak’s twitter feed, or Gleason’s version of it – and find something that’s “untrue”.  There was the sarcastic reference to checking for alcohol on Gleason’s breath at 2PM – which wasn’t really an “untrue claim” as it was a bit of sarcasm.

Here’s an example to help you sort things out:  if someone, for example, states as a mater of fact that you have a conviction for driving while intoxicated on your record, and you don’t?  That’s an untrue claim!

And if someone makes that claim based on information he got from a source that even a five-year-old knows is bogus – say, a spam advertising site – and then blusters about it?  Then that someone is failing in his responsibility to check his facts. And that is defamation, and while it’s very difficult to prove in court, it’s legally actionable.

But what if Tomczak really did say something untrue about Gleason? Something untrue that might damage the reputation and livelihood of a professor at the absolute bleeding edge of his field?   What if, as Gleason says in his complaint…:

This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone.

This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.

Well, no.

The FCC’s website itself tells you that their complaint process deals with…:

  • Obscene or indecent programs – saying the seven words you can’t say, or showing the four body parts you can’t show, basically.
  • Unlawful or illegal advertising – there are things you are not allowed to advertise.
  • Disability access
  • Emergency alerts
  • Unauthorized/unfair/biased/illegal broadcasts – this seems to be the issue,, here…
  • Cable modem or signal issues
  • DTV issues

So what does the FCC mean by “Unauthorized/unfair/biased/illegal broadcasts”?

  • Illegal or bribed advertising on a public broadcasting station (e.g. advertising alcohol during certain hours)
  • Biased or distorted news stories by the media.  Maybe this is what Gleason is alleging – but if so, the content on the blog post that is his sole “evidence” gives us nothing to go by.
  • Unauthorized broadcast of telephone conversations – and by that, they mean conversation, with an actual person.  I ran afoul this one in 1986 when I worked for Don Vogel.  We busted another local radio station plagiarizing our material.  We called their control room on the air.  We – Don, Dave Elvin and I – didn’t know about FCC regulation 73.1206, which bars broadcasting telephone conversations where the recipient doesn’t know they’re on the air.  The stations’ lawyers huddled, and decided that if they had a 73.1206 complaint, we had a plagiarism complaint.  The lawyers decided we had offsetting penalties, and to let it all go.  Whew.  Oh, and it doesn’t include answering machines, I found out; answering machines can’t give permission, and have no knowledge.  Which is a long tangent indeed, for something that wasn’t in Gleason’s complaint.  I beg your indulgence.
  • Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group – The word “Broadcasting” is rather important there.  We’ll come back to that below.
  • Announcement of Station ID or Call Sign – That means “they went more than three hours without broadcasting their station ID (“WWTC, Minneapolis/Saint Paul”, in my station’s case; that’s why you hear that at the top of every hour on every radio station in the business – because it’s the law).
  • Unfair contests, hoaxes, lotteries – lotteries are illegal.  So are hoaxes like “the dam burst, everybody run for shelter”, which some DJ at a station in Valley City North Dakota did in the seventies.  Once.  At the very end of his short career.
  • Unlicensed broadcasters – “pirate radio”.

So Gleason is complaining that Tomczak’s statements were untrue; other than the sarcastic jab about “alcohol at 2PM”, it’s hard to see what was untrue and, here’s the kicker, that was on the air.

Does it relate to “harassment”?  Not sure if Gleason is alleging that “people talking about him in the air” is “harassment”; I suspect it’s the unplanned visit at the office.  But the office is a public facility; Tomczak reportedly walked freely to Gleason’s office door.  Gleason can’t willy-nilly bar people from the office during his endless grueling work hours for no reason, even if he’s armed…with a baby.

All of this happened – I’ll emphasize this – off the air.  If Gleason feels threatened or harassed, the U of M Police are the agency with jurisdiction.

If Gleason feels he was defamed, then the civil court system is the place to bring a defamation suit.

If it didn’t happen over the airwaves and didn’t break an FCC regulation regarding content or behavior on the air, then it’s really not the FCC’s department.

To paraphrase the late Johnny Cochrane, “If it’s not on the air, the FCC doesn’t care“. 

My prediction – as someone who’s spent sixteen years doing one form of radio or another since 1979, at eight different radio stations, and is from a generation of radio people who had to learn the laws and rules to get on the air in the first place?  The FCC will look at this complaint, notice that there is nothing in it that is their jurisdiction, and send Mr. Gleason a polite demurral in a few weeks.

But the problem here isn’t Professor William Gleason.

More on that tomorrow.

Play Misty For Me, Part I: Dead Error

Everyone who’s ever worked in radio, especially talk radio, over the past 35 years has had three major pop-culture touchstones.

From the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati”, a young radio guy learns that Loni Anderson truly is unattainable – and that for every Gary Sandy, there are dozens of Herb Tarleks and Less Nessmans.  Nessmen.  Whatever.  And that turkeys can’t fly (see:  AM950).

More seriously?  From Play Misty For Me starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, you learn that interacting with your audience can be a mighty dicey proposition.

(And of course, from Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio you learn that you’re only as safe as your least stable audience member.  Apropos not much).

I’m writing this purely as an aside.  Just for information’s sake.



Speaking of radio, Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, hosts of “The Late Debate“, which airs from 10PM to midnight Sunday through Thursday on a three-station cluster in Anoka and Saint Cloud, celebrated the one-year anniversary of their show last weekend.   It’s a conservative talk show that specializes in the six-way cattle-call panel discussions.  And, improbably (according to radio conventional wisdom), they make it work.  It’s a fun show.  Here’s hoping they celebrate many more.

And they celebrated their first year on the air with that greatest of radio traditions – a dust-up with a listener “filing an FCC complaint”.

And on the other side, you have Dr. William B. Gleason, a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  Gleason is known far and wide for the frenetic pace and prolific output of his research work, the frequency and importance of his academic publications, his almost-suffocating work ethic, and the deep respect his fellow chemists have for him.  It would be fair to say that he’s a rising star among the U of M’s tenured professors – perhaps one of the most valuable professors at the U of M Medical School, a giant on whose shoulders other giants stand, and one of the U of M Med school’s genuine treasures.   [1]

And he doesn’t write a blog that bears a striking resemblance to one of those ransom notes pasted together from letters clipped out of magazines.  [1].

Now, when Doctor Gleason’s not keeping up his frenetic pace at research, he tweets a bit – under his name and another sock-puppet ID.  It is.  And his left-of-center politics occasionally lead him into conflict with conservatives.

That’s what happened last week on The Late Debate.

What happened?

Well, we’ll get back to that.

In the keen, razor-sharp analytical mind of Dr. William B. Gleason, the version of what happened resolved itself into a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission…

…which isn’t quite as big a deal as it used to be; you can do it yourself, online,  If you feel like AM1280 The Patriot is beaming microwaves into your house to try to control your brain, the FCC has a site to collect the complaint.

And here’s the one Gleason filed.

There are actually three radio stations involved.

They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”

The web address of the show in question is:

link to site – click here

Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:

link to post – click her [sic]

Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed. Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.

This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone. This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.

I request an apology for this broadcast made by station owners as well as disciplinary action by them for Mr. Tomczak’s behavior.

I have been in contact with the management of the station(s) on which the Late Debate is broadcast. They have been thoroughly professional in handling this matter. Yesterday there were three lengthy telephone conversations as well as exchanges of email.

I have made suggestions about how to resolve this matter. My understanding is that Mr. Tomczak will be making an apology. I am hopeful that the matter can be rectified. If so, I will withdraw my complaint.

Lawyer friends – place your rhetorical and legal bets!

Now, one hesitates to get into an argument with a giant of science like Gleason, a man of such airtight, impeccable logic and cool, calculated reason (as exhibited here and here during his few dozen daily breaks from his grueling schedule as a world-class research academic).

But, improbable as it seems, Professor Gleason’s FCC complaint is a lot of ado about nothing.  And in the next installment of this series, at noon today, we’ll show exactly how,

But more importantly – and worse?  FM 95.9 would be wrong to “apologize” to Gleason because of it.

More at noon.

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