Archive | May, 2005

Court Chief Controversy for Profit – Saga Casts Its Lot With Racism

We’ve got a “new” radio station in Champaign-Urbana. New, in that the old Oldies 92 has flipped format to be called “The Chief.” The change mostly means the addition of the 80s to the oldies line up. Oh, and the firing of all airstaff and more automation.

I really haven’t listened much, and have only heard the spots with the deep voice saying, “If you owned a radio station, you’d play what you want. Here, we play what the Chief wants.”

Normally, a minor radio format change wouldn’t merit mediageek coverage. But here in Champaign-Urbana, “The Chief” is a loaded term.

You see, the Chief is shorthand for Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois’ racist mascot. The Chief is a big controversy here, since progressive minded folks and native americans would like to see him gone, while the Board of Trustees and others appeal to “tradition” to keep him. Nevermind that the Chief bears no actual similarity to any native american tradition or tribe of any sort — the closest relation to the Chief are the native american stereotypes I saw in old Loony Tunes cartoons as a kid, which I think Warner Brothers pulled from circulation back in the 80s.

See, even the big media conglomerates can be more progressive than the U of I.

So, naming your newly automated station after a controversial university mascot is a ballsy move, and I wonder what’s motivating Saga, the corporate owner based in Michigan.

Frankly, it seems more like a cheap shot to drum up some controversy and publicity than any sort of long lasting station identity. But, to me, that’s like courting controversy by naming your Brooklyn based station, The Heeb.

The station has been dropping in the ratings over the last few books, so I guess Saga felt like it had to do something. However, the thing that most made the station drop was Saga buying it in the first place, and screwing up a station that had a very loyal local following by ditching the personalities and qualities that made people like it in the first place.

So, once again, a big radio owner makes the race to the bottom rather than actually provide quality programming and local service. I’ll be investigating this further when I have more time and the Media Reform conference is over.

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Opening Night: Hersh, Klein, Goodman and Sanders

Tonight was the opening night for the short Media Consolidation conference here at the U of I, with Seymour Hersh giving the keynote. Drew wrote a nice, concise summary of Hersh’s talk at BeTheMediaBlog, and Andrew has already posted the audio.

Rep. Bernie sanders gave a rousing speech, unafraid to utter words like “working class” and “socialism,” and also not afraid to point out the topics the corporate media is unwilling to cover, such as the erosion of the financial security of the middle class. I’ll probably have this audio posted within the next day.

Naomi Klein gave a somewhat rambling overview of her experiences in Iraq, which were nonetheless interesting and engaging. For instance, did you know that most American reporters have Iraqis doing most of their data gathering for them, including interviews, pictures and video? That’s because even the “green” zone is pretty dangerous. However the Iraqis doing the real reporting don’t get credit, ostensibly in order to protect their safety.

Wrapping things up tonight, Amy Goodman gave a typically rabble rousing speech that touched on many of her stock anecdotes, like her experiences in East Timor 14 years ago, but also playing to the home crowd, giving mad props to the independent media scene in Champaign-Urbana.

We’ll have some highlights on Friday’s radioshow, and the full audio of everything will become available via links either here at mediageek or at the Be The Media Blog.

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Creating Alternative Media: Examples from Urbana-Champaign

I’ll be participating in a little session during the lunch break at the Wednesday Media Consolidation conference along with some of my comrades in independent media from the ‘hood. It happens at 12:30 PM in the Krannert Center Lobby, between the session featuring Phil Donahue, John Nichols and Naomi Klein and the one featuring Len […]

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Be The Media Blog Revving Up

With just a few days to go before the big Media Reform conference the Be the Media Blog is starting to see some action. This blog is a continuation of a project begun at the first Media Reform conference back in 2003. It’s a venue for grassroots and independent media makers to comment, report and reflect from a perspective that may differ somewhat from the mainstream of the media reform movement.

Madison-based media activist Kristian Knutsen strated the blog in 2003. I took over hosting for this year’s conference and restored the archives from 2003.

If you’re an indymedia-affiliated or grassroots media maker who’s going to St. Louis and you’re interested in participating in this group-blog, drop me a line.

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