As a new technological advanced generation has learned to access radio and music playlists via?apps and smart phones while retiring clunky contraptions of a bygone era, conservatives must use the map laid out for them by their elders by taking a decades old fight from On Air to Online. Progressive media talk venture Air America was on the air or on life support in some form or another from March 2004 to January 2010 but had almost burned completely out before the election in 2008. In October 2006, mounting debts forced Air America Radio to file?Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Air America however gave birth to rising personalities like Rachel Maddow whose bright and sunny disposition has translated over to some of the worst viewership numbers on all of cable television. Democracy Radio in 2002?spawned it’s fair share of progressive mouths in Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller. In 2005 Tom Athans folded Democracy radio and merged it with Air America. Al Franken, the face and financier of Air America, cashed out, joined the US Senate and has largely never been heard from again.
The great experiment to challenge a decade of AM conservative radio and hailed by a mainstream elitist media was over. It had failed. Air America simply could not compete for sponsors or listeners in the same arena as a Rush Limbaugh’s audience of 15 million plus. They didn’t even make a dent.?The ultimate problem with progressive radio is it had no message of its own other than rage. It was and still is largely reactionary to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Fox News. This speaks to a larger ideological problem within progressive media overall but nowhere is it more prevalent then on radio minus NPR who largely skates by now on their logo, (Progressive rage with inside voices) much the way the big three news networks do. There is only so much angry spit wad shooting an average radio listener can take before turning the dial.
AM Radio is dominated by Conservative talk hosts, not because of their anti progressive agenda, but because of a message millions of people are starved for in other media outlets such as newscasts, films and sitcoms. Television always existed as a manor where media could talk at us uninterrupted. AM radio offered the unique ability to interact and the conservative pioneers were wise enough to understand the frustration of the audience and let them have their say. You didn’t have to be a nationally syndicated pundit or celebrity to express an opinion anymore in media. All you had to do was simply pick up a phone, dial a number and be persistent. This was a potent weapon to the media complex uninterested in audience opinions and the likes of Limbaugh and Beck were quickly marginalized by networks. Yet they thrived then and somehow thrive today.
Every attempt by progressives to kill the vast network of am talk radio conservatives has failed. From the Fairness Doctrine to Censure on the Senate Floor to absurd boycotts. And as this new century has turned away from old media of print and television to more integrated media of web and the ability for users to interact online instead of radio call in shows, the lessons of AM radio domination are invaluable to the future of ?social media and open communication platforms.
The question is why aren’t they being utilized more?
Buzzfeed, an entertainment, social aggregation site, came under rapid changes when former Politico editor Ben Smith was hired. NEWS became the first navigation on the menu, and on the drop down: Politics is the first option to select. This was not accidental. There was a clear shift in what Buzzfeed was aiming to become by integrating the content that internet addicts and Gif lovers Googled with the editorial style of beltway blogging i.e Politico. Buzzfeed is The Daily Show for the beltway boys club. But bigger than the editorial changes at Buzzfeed is the ability to submit user content. Anyone can write an article for Buzzfeed. Anyone.
Likewise, The Huffington Post has also adopted community submissions.?To their credit it’s a brave step and one that has progressives on edge and rightfully so.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averages 700,000 viewers a night, The Colbert Report about 500K in the age range of 18-49. These are horrible viewership numbers for even cable and yet to media circles and Twitter, these are two of the most powerful figures in modern day pop culture and politics. The reason is not because college kids and millennials sit down and watch Jon Stewart every night. It’s because they watch clips from the show on the web the next day from websites like Buzzfeed and Mediaite and Reddit with the accompanying headline ?amazing amazing no words amazing something? and then spread them through viral media such as Facebook and Twitter. Rachel Maddow, Chris L. Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell consistently bring up the tail in cable news ratings yet these are somehow prominent figures in media with massive social media followings, or so we’re led to believe. Now MSNBC is throwing the volatile Alec Baldwin into this mess and one can only speculate if his Friday night rant fests will be as engaging as his call in radio show.
The political arena of Twitter is already almost completely dominated by conservative pundits, professional and independent. Andrew Breitbart (84K Twitter followers) has been gone for over a year now and there are 50,000 more people still interested in what he has to say over MMFA Director Eric Boehlert (33K Twitter Followers). When I look at Twitter, I’m not amazed at the sixty million Justin Beiber fanatics or the celebrities or media figures. I’m struck at the moms, veterans, small business owners and what larger media would call ?Average Americans? with a couple thousand followers.
These are people who only want to be heard, out of concern of where we are headed as a country. They want to have some voice, even if it’s presented in the most basic meme of communication. The fact the every day individuals even bothered to create a Twitter account in the first place while they are otherwise occupied with families or jobs is crucially important and under appreciated and every single one of them should be encouraged to take it further. These are the people who have been calling into radio shows for the past 25 years. The message they carry doesn’t just have to exist in town halls and federal parks, or on hold lines.
Buzzfeed, Huffngton Post and others like it that allow user submitted content don’t even require a permit and they don’t require you hold for two hours.
It costs nothing. It’s included in a monthly internet bill and we can succeed at it.
There are already plenty of examples of how the blueprint of call in radio is being successfully translated over the medium of interactive web posting.
Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy website acts almost as an identical outlet on the web as a talk radio does on AM dials. Twitchy editors find tweets from both well known pundits and commentators to accompany the issues of the day, but the focus is mostly on clever comments who are just people looking for any outlet to be heard and through Twitchy they are. They aren’t celebrities. These are frustrated Americans calling into the Internet via social media. They are encouraged to be happy warriors and be clever. It’s no different than picking up the phone and hoping to get the chance to express thoughts to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Dana Loesch, Laura Ingram, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt or Larry O’Conner. With Twitchy there is no abrupt cut off point for commercials or long waits. The internet is the host of the show and people forget a phone call. Like the slogan goes, Twitchy is forever.
Glenn Beck has managed a successful transition from old media to new with The Blaze with some young exciting talent, but he’s Glenn Beck and his brand will always be Glenn Beck. Rush Limbaugh is convinced that Twitter is a liberal media wasteland and tool to push Obama’s message however Bo Snerdley, Limbaugh’s program director has just recently joined Twitter and is utilizing it regularly.
But something bigger happened just last week that is irrefutable evidence that united and using our dominance over AM Radio as the blueprint for social media, there is no platform big enough on the web that can’t be conquered.
John Ekdahl of the blog Ace of Spades submitted a piece to Buzzfeed’s open community about the sudden disappearance of Anti War celebrities on the eve of war with Syria. John is well known on Twitter among Conservative circles, has a modest following and has established relationships in the media as well. But John Ekdahl is not someone The Daily Show talks about. He’s not someone Stephen Colbert bothers with. He was not a nationally known pundit. But that all changed. Ekdahl’s post, trending almost entirely of word of mouth through his five-thousand Twitter followers was promoted to Buzzfeed’s front page in 24 hours. It was to people like hearing a band on a mixtape that you’ve never heard of before and really loving the song and being forced to share it with other people. It was something that could not be ignored. Unlike other Conservatives that attempted to invade Buzzfeed, Ekdahl was speaking the language of the audience and it resonated beyond party lines. Consider this; Ekdahl’s Buzzfeed post has garnered in a week more viewers than the Daily Show has viewers a night. He simply used the rules and content Buzzfeed routinely creates to push their own narrative.?It was masterful. And anyone can do what Ekdahl did.
It takes a few minutes of free time, some basic knowledge of pop culture and someone generous enough to provide a treasure trove of gifs..Which I have at the bottom of this post.
Find a topic. Make a list. Create an account. Link some stupid gifs. Repeat. ?Huffington post is more editorial writing but not difficult to submit content either. Pick the last ten things you tweeted about Obamacare. Provide some links. Hit submit.
Pro Life groups have discovered this tool with a vengeance as well and use it to routinely fight an anti-life message in media, so much to the point that even other progressive new outlets think this is unfair, outrageous and demanded their posts be removed. William Jacobson covered this over at Legal Insurrection this past Sunday and he goes into depth about how conservative groups are going on offense and invading these outlets.
UK Guardian reporter, Fruzsina Eordogh, went as so far as to demand Buzzfeed remove pro life conservative messages and to Buzzfeed’s credit they denied this request. Just like Harry Reid trying censure Rush Limbaugh, a United States private citizen with a microphone or the constant drum beat to intimidate his sponsors, the motivation for progressive media making such ridiculous demands to remove community content must be recognized, it must be mocked and it must be defeated.
They are scared and the recent actions of the Democrat led Senate Panel to define what a journalist is and is not is all the proof anyone needs. This, like the Fairness Doctrine is another transparent, authoritarian measure to control a narrative on the verge of spinning out of their control. These actions are meant to curb exactly these kinds of open source communications.
Interactive news websites not only offer the ability to talk back in comment sections, they offer the opportunity to write a narrative, promote the narrative and trend the narrative and anyone that participates will be promoted through their vast network of Conservatives on Twitter. Buzzfeed measures clicks, not interest and?John Ekdahl’s Buzzfeed post rose to the front page of Buzzfeed in 24 hours.
Every post may not catch or trend as Ekdahl’s piece did, but a hundred or so voices all submitting such types of posts that ridicule and expose progressives in an open community would not and could not be ignored. Conservatives could counter the media they believe is against them and they could do it without leaving their living room, occupying a park, getting arrested or attempting to throw deadly projectiles.
This is exactly how talk radio rose to dominance in the 90’s and though on a down slope of more youthful generational politics, those same exact rules apply to the web. People with jobs or who had lost theirs, trying to provide for families, expressing a frustration that their voices aren’t being heard.
It’s no different than the desire to pick up the phone and airing grievances to a charismatic host.
Old media is dying. Network and print have both been marginalized. Newsweek is gone and Tina Brown just last week was ousted from her opus The Daily Beast. For decades families’ home schedules revolved around the network evening newscasts and NY Times evening editions. Now these increasingly biased and irrelevant figures exist to serve our schedules and needs and they should be made to accept our views or risk becoming relics. Buzzfeed, a liberal media outlet that serves the same purpose as The Daily Show, has dared people it routinely pokes fun of or ignores all together to use its open community posting platform. Huffington post, probably the most credible and read web news site for progressives and moderates doesn’t think we even know about it. Upworthy is a start up like Twitchy that has garnered such attention as has Reddit, which The Wilderness covered last month.
Younger voters jaded by broken promises made by a pop art president will not decide to suddenly one day turn on their dad’s talk radio in droves. They do however visit Buzzfeed daily. They read Huffington Post. They check their Twitter, and pay attention to what trends. Buzzfeed & Huff Post as they exist from an editorial point of view are not our friends. As they exist in an open posting community, they should be our best friends.
Web media is not like progressive television media, which much like Air American in 2008, is on life support . MSNBC owns last place in ratings. Jake Tapper is the lone ratings bright spot at CNN. Pivot TV can barely be found on cable. Current TV became such a burden that Planet Earth’s very own Jor El, compromised everything he has been preaching since 2000 and sold it for a tanker full of oil money to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera America premiered on August 2oth and eventually, it will fail as well. Ultimately their message is no different than the message that bankrupted progressive radio before it. They are terrified to lose the battle of ideals on the web and they should be, because we’ve done it before.
All new media is viral and everyone in social media has a network. We have made great strides catching up since 2009. Take the lessons learned from AM Radio from the past two decades. Use it as a guide for a new era in web and viral media. Participate. Invade. Overrun.
History has proven we will be successful.
How to write Buzz (Yes this exists) – http://www.buzzfeed.com/help/styleguide#moderation
Buzzfeed Community Posting Guidelines – http://www.buzzfeed.com/community/guidelines
r/Gifs on Reddit –http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/
4Gifs on Tumblr – http://tumblr.4gifs.com/
Fuck Yea Reaction Gifs! on Tumblr – http://fuckyeahreactions.tumblr.com/
Huffington Post User Content Page – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/user-generated-content