During last year’s Reclaim the Media Conference in Seattle — coincident with the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Convention — the ‘mosquito fleet’ of six unlicensed micropower radio stations simultaneously broadcast a Negativland-produced 24 minute jab at Clear Channel’s KJR-FM, taking the station to task for playing lots of 80s song in their “Superhits of the 60s and 70s” format.
Well, now a year later, after Negativland continued its attack on-line, the station has quietly sucked the 80s songs right out of its playlist.
Negativland’s expose was unveiled August 10th on the eve of a massive promotion by Clear Channel to improve KJR’s continued poor ratings. Popular local celebrity Pat Cashman was poised to make a much-heralded debut as KJR’s new morning announcer, with festivities that included a high-profile live broadcast at the base of Seattle’s famous Space Needle. Pat Cashman is well known across the country as the co-star of Disney’s “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” and had a series on Comedy Central a few years ago. In Seattle, Pat is a phenomenon with a huge fan-base known as “The Pat Pack.”
To generate support for their mission, the URL to Negativland’s new “Jack Diekobiscz” website was leaked to a popular Pat Cashman message board where hundreds of fans and lurkers had gathered to discuss Pat’s triumphant return to radio after a year-long absence. Within minutes, visitors to the site began contacting Clear Channel as instructed … .
Fearing negative publicity, and not wanting to take unnecessary chances with their newest audience, KJR-FM pulled all 1980’s songs from their playlist less than 12 hours later. Said Negativland members, “We were amazed that they caved in so quickly. When we do creative projects that might be considered ‘culture jamming’ we always try to pursue it in a funny and oblique way, and this prank is a good example of that. Truth is, we really don’t care so much that KJR-FM plays so many songs from the 80’s, but their lying and disrespect for the listening audience gave us a good idea for a prank, and it was inspiring to us to see how quickly Clear Channel folded under the pressure.”
You can listen on-line to the mediageek radio show recorded live at the Reclaim the Media conference, with features on the micropower mosquito fleet and the KJR culture jam. Just go to the radio show archive page and scroll down to Sept. 13.