Sunday, November 21, 2010

A 15-year listener to WPHT sadly changes his 1210 radio button

The following is an email I sent earlier today to The Big Talker, WPHT 1210AM Philadelphia.

Dear 1210 Staff,

As a longtime listener to Michael Smerconish and 1210, it's with sadness that tomorrow I will be changing the 1210 button on my car radio dial to a different station, due to your station dropping Beck and Hannity.

While I agree with Mr Smerconish that most citizens don't see political issues purely from a "conservative" or "liberal" viewpoint, that is an entirely different matter than the unquestioning acceptance of such views, from either side, by someone in the role of a radio host.

Some years ago I was an announcer, and later host of my own local program, on an NPR affiliate. Having said that (and as the person who downloaded and listened to the nightly NPR satellite news feed) it has long been clear to me that there is far more open-mindedness on most "conservative" talk radio shows, including a willingness to let the other side speak, than on shows leaning in the other direction.

As an example, while Bush was still president, both Hannity and Beck became essentially persona non grata with the White House press office, for their constant drumbeat regarding the financial irresponsibility of the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans. When has Mr Smerconish shown such a willingness to question the actions of Mr Obama and his friends?

Instead, what I have too often heard is Michael passing along their version of various stories without comment or question. And, very surprisingly from the man who wrote books like "Muzzled!" (of which I have a copy), I hear very little about the erosion of civil liberties under this administration -- including their unabashed contempt for allowing commentators to speak with whom they do not agree.

There are other things about 1210's broadcast philosophy which have long troubled me. One has been the station's willingness to give free airtime to Philadelphia city officials on a regular basis. An occasional interview is fine and appropriate, but not a weekly 30 or 60 minute soapbox. And I could not help noticing that more often than not, these officials have expressed disagreement if not downright contempt for people who (I believe) make up a good portion of your listening audience, and principles they have considered important. I have sometimes heard such callers to those programs (when calls are being taken at all, which is not always the case) shouted down by these people, or their questions not engaged with. While 1210 has no control over the behavior of these guests, once again I think the appropriateness of their frequent appearance on the station should be revisited.

For what it's worth, I think the station started to go downhill after CBS took it over. Considering that CBS also employs the likes of Katie Couric, I am not surprised at this decline. In fact, I have been pleased the decline has proceeded as slowly as it has (other than Mr Smerconish's rapid and obvious shift, around that time, to views that just happen to be more palatable to folks like those who run CBS).

Between the sort of pressure to change content that I can imagine might have come down from CBS, and from various leading citizens in the Philadelphia city government who are most certainly not aligned with the views of much of your listenership, I would think 1210 might be in a pretty tough spot, perhaps without much choice to do otherwise.

Whatever the reason, I think it's a sad come-down for what I once thought was one of the finest big-city radio stations anywhere.

And since you are now cutting way back on the informative and thought-provoking content for which I have long turned to 1210, in favor of the pablum Mr Smerconish has increasingly been giving us (which is one reason I have more and more often been tuning to Imus), I will be changing my current 1210 radio button to another station where this content is available.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Airport Scanners and Groping and Equal Protection Under the Law

I've been waiting for this shoe to drop, and now here it is.

While most of us are going to be presented with the unsavory choice of being scanned or groped, some people will be exempted from either, because the searches are “invasive” and “humiliating”.

Well, sure they are, but if that stops ONE group from being searched, shouldn't it stop ALL of us from being searched?

Here's a wild thought. How about equal protection under the law? If we are going to have this insane system in place, then EVERYONE uses it. No exceptions.

Alternatively, if exceptions are going to be made because women in burquas are getting their naughties squeezed by the TSA, then EVERYONE is exempted and this silliness is brought to a complete halt.

One way or another. Equal protection under the law is a liberal principle which is at the foundation of our legal system and society.

What kind of principle is its deliberate absence?

Here's another wild thought. What if all passengers claimed they were Muslim, to avoid both the scanners and the groping?

How would the TSA know one way or another? Would they ask for a Muslim identification card?

Would they say, "oh, you can't be Muslim, you don't look like one"? Oh my, that sounds racist. Against the rules for government employees and contractors like the TSA to engage in such discriminatory conduct, surely.

Of course, I suppose our wise government could require people to wear some insignia on their clothes to indicate religious affiliation. If they did, would they have Jewish folks wear little yellow stars on their lapels?

Here is a link to the
We Won't Fly site.

I am not sure I want to give up flying, but there are some good recommendations here.

Rather than give up flying, I'd like to see these regulations rolled back, and the trolls who created them fired or reassigned (if bureaucrats) or removed from office (if politicians).

Otherwise they'll just move on to the next set of transport methods, and try to make those miserable too.

But for now, yes -- Protest is appropriate and required.