CNN Hires Right-Wing Radio Bozo Glenn Beck

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Nice_sweater_glenn The other day in one of my DX posts I included a clip of “The Glenn Beck Program” and briefly discussed my general dislike of his radio persona and my aversion to his show in general. Apparently, some of the bigwigs over at CNN found Beck’s glib schtick a little more charming than I did.  He just signed a contract with the cable news network and will soon have a show of his own on their “Headline News” channel.

While I don’t really watch television, it saddens me that Beck’s sleazy radio work has advanced his presence in the media. Under fire from the Fox News ratings juggernaut, CNN (from what I’ve read) has made a number of compromises to their programming to make their content more glossy and Republican friendly. But this might be a new low.

Along with right-wing talk stars Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Beck’s program is syndicated by Clear Channel’s “Premier Radio Network.” Now based in Philadelphia, Beck is widely heard (on about 200 stations) in the U.S. Nationally, he made his biggest splash as the ringleader and keynote speaker for Clear Channel’s pro-warRally For America” gatherings around the country in 2003.

While Beck political spiel falls in line with the armies of right-wing talk hosts who infest the American AM dial, he’s best known in talk radio circles for routinely making outrageous and psychopathic offhand remarks and discussing world issues in a rather cheeky jingoistic manner. A reformed alcoholic, Beck is reminiscent of a barstool loudmouth with a mean streak. However, instead of just being a tavern nuisance, Glenn Beck is broadcasting to a national audience. And now the once respected cable news giant CNN has seen fit to add Beck’s sophomoric hyperbole to their prime time line-up.

Like the mannish and reckless Ann Coulter, Beck becomes another outrageous and flaky TV pundit who will say anything to pollute a debate and get a cheap laugh on behalf of the Republican party. The coarsening and dumbing-down of TV and radio political coverage has created a glut of news and information programming in moral free fall. It seems the checks and balances of U.S. media (like accountability and public outrage) are irrevocably broken. I suppose Rush Limbaugh made irresponsible and vicious right wing commentary acceptable and marketable in the name of “entertainment.” Nowadays, making offensive remarks about the unempowered, and calling for the torture and death of people you disagree with passes as hilarious satire. And I guess CNN just wants to join in on the fun.

Beck_with_flagsWhile it might not be fair to judge Beck’s upcoming CNN program before its launch, there’s no reason to believe he’ll be any more reflective or thoughtful on TV than he’s ever been on the radio. Over the last couple years on his program Beck has called Cindy Sheehan a “tragedy pimp,” and said the victims of Hurricane Katrina are "scumbags." And apparently it only took him a year to start really hating some of the families of 9-11 victims. Chances are the same kind of chuckle-nuggets will flow from his television show too.

Talk host Lionel has a somewhat similar history to Glenn Beck, having also launched to fame from WFLA-AM in Tampa, and spending some time on cable TV as well as being one of Premiere/Clear Channel’s crew of talk hosts for a while. But while he can be as flip and silly as Beck, Lionel ultimately respects the power of "the word" and the responsibility of being a national radio voice. Instead of using easy insults or crafting an emotional attack, Lionel sticks to the facts and makes his argument with logic and compassion for all concerned when the topics are serious. On Tuesday night Lionel weighed in on the announcement of Beck’s new TV show, and I thought you might like to hear it. Just for fun, here’s a couple of clips of Lionel discussing CNN’s decision, and the wonders of Glenn Beck in general.

Lionel on Glenn Beck – 01-17-06 pt 1

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Lionel on Glenn Beck – 01-17-06 pt 2

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A personality like Glenn Beck is representative of the pornification of media. Rather than edify or really entertain, Beck stimulates. He stirs up the bloodlust and mook-hormones of his fans, and angers the hell out of some people who think or care or stand against violence. But unlike Limbaugh, O’Reilly or Hannity, Beck doesn’t come off a chiding chirping Republican talkbot. He has a disarming "ordinary joe" grin on his face as he advocates death, despair and torture. The rise of Glenn Beck is just another victory in the neo-conservative media campaign to get common folks to vote against their own interests and morals. Perhaps his detached goofiness is even more dangerous than the growing media pantry of more strident neo-con voices.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)

Adventures In Amplitude Modulation – Part 5

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Rf2200_guts_1 This post features a few highlights from a few listening sessions from the second weekend in October of last year. I was holed up in an efficiency cottage south of Albany, and it was the last time I really had a few days to scan the bands. As I said before, when I get out of the city is when I try to listen to radio in a more meaningful fashion. For one, there’s more time without the interruptions and diversions of being home. But more importantly there’s less radio noise in lower population density areas which makes picking up distant stations more likely.

I’ve made a couple trips upstate since October, but each time I’ve stayed at a chain motel that seems to be impervious to radio waves. I assume under the concrete the damn thing was a steel building. I have actually featured radio I heard on those trips in this blog series, but if you must know the truth I recorded those listening sessions in a car sitting in the motel parking lot.

I know, I AM a geek. I kept envisioning a cop rolling up and wondering what I’m doing with a slightly exotic radio and a tape recorder out in a parking lot on a winter night. Probably receiving instructions from Al Qaeda…

Anyway, I didn’t really tune into anything especially amazing or unprecedented on that trip. Listening/recording sessions in years past have been more fruitful (and I hope to go through some of those tapes for future posts). But that weekend the noise level wasn’t so bad, and the dial was full of voices. And I heard some interesting and disgusting radio, a little bit of which I will share with you here.

Soundtronic Recently a reader left a comment that he had been given a shortwave for Christmas, and was “kind of disappointed,” remarking that even late at night most of what he was able to pick up was “Christian stuff or Spanish language stations.” And that kind of thing can be a real problem for somebody who is curious about shortwave radio and tries listening to it for the first time.

For one thing, a majority of what you’ll hear moving across the dial (besides static from gadgets and wiring) is either not in English, or is some Christian garbage you wish was in an unfamiliar language. That’s because shortwave in America is mostly Christian propaganda, AND most of the rest of the world uses shortwave for information and entertainment, and most of the world’s listeners aren’t native English speakers.

Shortwave_mystery Let’s face it, if you know another langauge, or several of them, you’re at real advantage listening to shortwave. But If you’re a pathetic unilingual American like myself, you’re probably going to search out broadcasts in English. Although now and then I stop twisting the turing knob for a bit when I hear some Asian, Latin or African music I like. When the music’s good, I’m not so concerned that I don’t know what hell they’re talking about. And while some of the major languages aren’t so hard to identify (or at least I think I have a good idea of the region of origin). Here in New York, you hear a lot of languages and a lot of accents. But sometimes when I’m listening to shortwave I’ll stop at and listen and realize I don’t have A CLUE of what language it is or where it might be spoken. The BBC itself broadcasts in over thirty languages.

But the other thing about shortwave is that LATE at night is not necessarily the best time to DX shortwave, or listen to English Broadcasts. AM can be great for DXing late at night, but shortwave is better in the early evening for a number of reasons. Generally, that’s when a lot of international broadcasters “beam” their English broadcasts toward North America. By then it’s getting dark in Europe and Africa, and it’s when they assume people would be home and listening– from the dinner hour to the “prime-time” television part of the evening. While not as many countries spend time and money catering to American audiences as in the past (They know most Americans DON’T listen), there are still a number of (typically state-run) stations around the world who do broadcast in English for a few minutes to a few hours everyday. And most aren’t going to go all the effort and have the show run here in the middle of the night.

If you’re new to shortwave radio, or are thinking about messing around with one, the best thing to do is to spend some time on the internet doing some research. Read the experiences of other listeners, read reviews of the radios, and possible check out some stations that stream their programing. Not only that, but you might want to check out a number of sites that feature lists of English broadcasts from around the world. You probably won’t be able to receive most of them, but you’ll have an idea when and where to look on the dial.

Rf2200 Or you can just scan the dial, like I often do. While a digital reciever is good for finding specific frequencies, it’s much easier to find busy sections of the bands with by wheeling through with an analog tuner. Many digital radios do have automated scanning, but don’t depend on that dig out far away signals, and they stop on RF noise just as much in the city.

So, here’s a few clips from that weekend in October. I was listening with one of my favorite radios, my Panasonic RF-2200. It’s from the late 70′s and it’s one of the best analog portables around. They regularly go for $200 or more on ebay. There’s a lot of ‘em out there, and it’s a workhorse that has amazing AM reception and great shortwave reception too.

Here’s a few clips that I found kind of sad. Sometimes a listening session ends up being more of an overview of what’s going on in the world, rather than a fishing trip you’ll brag about. And during this weekend, there were two disasters– an earthquake in Pakistan, and horrific mudslides in Guatamala. And it was just over a month since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. As Ken had mentioned in a recent post, if you throw in the Indian Ocean Tsunami from the end of the 2004, there was just a horror of natural disasters around the world within one year. And when things are bad around the world, the shortwave radio is still an important source for news, and perspectives on the news from countries and cultures around the world.

And speaking of disasters, shortwave is also a good way to hear a lot of good old fashioned American ignorance. Like in this first clip.

WBCQCreation Nation 10-09-05  13:09

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Intelligent_design This is a fairly new show on WBCQ, one of the few stations (I think there’s one other one) that ISN’T a Christian outfit. However, they have to pay the bills one way or another. While there’s some cool programs on WBCQ, sadly there’s also been plenty of ignorance, hate and stupidity broadcast from their Maine transmitter over the last few years. Sometimes American shortwave is like the worst open-mic night on Earth.

I didn’t make out the name of the host of “Creation Nation,” but it doesn’t seem that important. But you have to wonder what inspires this character do a whole show about how much he and the good lord really hate homos. And what is that accent? Philly? Sounds to me like a guy who might have made a wreck of his life and then "found" Jesus. Or maybe he’s just an extremely closeted self-hating kind of person. It wouldn’t be the first time.

God_hates_1 “Creation Nation” is where “intelligent minds meets intelligent design.” And how does that happen? Well, it’s simple. He tells you “what immorality is like, and how not to follow it.” In fact everything he says is simple. He’s a simple man. And hey if this guys nasal recitation of passages from Leviticus does inspire any homosexuals to turn away from their abominable misdirected lifestyle, all they have to do is say out loud: “Jesus I’m a sinner.. Forgive me, make me new again,” and crap like that and POOF that queer desire is gone forever. Christianity is SO easy.

And then, in a compassionate moment he asks his listeners to pray for the non-listeners, you know, the whole world. But he wants us to especially pray for the hurricane victims and the “old people who are going to freeze this winter” because they can’t afford heating oil. He doesn’t mention if the prayers will warm them up any, but maybe a few more will get into heaven or something.

And remember, this station is heard around the world. It’s SO sad that there are the types of Americans who’s words reach thousands of miles beyond our borders. Why? Well, time on WBCQ is quite affordable (cheap!) from what I’ve heard. Hey, if YOU want to put together some worldwide radio yourself, call up Allan Weiner! What the hell. Think about it. You could even make money. Change the world! The possibilities are endless. (I have no financial interest in WBCQ)

WHRI (WWL) United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans 10-08-05  39:01

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The reception here is a little noisy, but it’s the best I could get at the time. There was a bit of antenna adjusting going on.

Super_dome After Katrina, 18 Louisiana stations, and one shortwave station in South Carolina formed a temporary network to serve the region during a time of trouble and inform the region and the world what was going on after the disaster. (Based at WWL the big news/talk station in New Orleans, The United Broadcasters Of New Orleans ceased to exist November 4.) It was a unique response to a crisis, and highlights what real radio (as compared to satellite services and internet streaming) can still do better than any other form of broadcasting– provide real service to a region of the world.

I heard quite a bit of that weekend over shortwave, and here’s one segment of that. A lot of what I heard was talk hosts fielding calls from hurricane victims with questions about what to do, and callers telling their stories of personal loss. For example, a woman in this clip complains about how she doesn’t know what to do with the 2 cars, an SUV and a boat that washed up in her yard.

And there’s plenty of disaster public service announcments warning people about the dangers of mold and poisonous flood waters, and information about how they can be reunited with their house pets.

The hosts are in good cheer here for the most part, and their New Orleans accents are authentic and somehow reassuring. While New Orleans culture and spirit won’t be killed by all this, the city is crippled for many years and will NEVER be the same.

Af the very end I turn to an adjacent Catholic broadcast talking about some Catholic energy bubbling over at an Louisiana evacuation center after Katrina. Amen.

WPHT – Glenn Beck 10-08-05  10:17

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Beck_2 How I dislike Mr. Beck. I almost don’t even want to write about the guy because I don’t want to think about him that much.

Smarmy. That’s the best word I can think of. Smug, glib, and just in general somebody who thinks he’s far more intelligent than he really is. Not that he’s not good at what he does, up to a point. I just find him consistantly repulsive, and not a deep thinker. Thankfully, no stations in the NYC market carry his spew lately.

Glenn Beck is a national host these days, but ironically he launched his syndication gig after a tenure at WFLA in Tampa where he had replaced a much more thoughtful guy, Bob Lassiter.

This is creepy radio. Apparently, Beck had asked on the air for somebody who tortures for a living to call in and talk about it. I believe this clip starts pretty early in a call from “Mitch” (which he eventually says is a pseudonym) who claims to be an “intelligence officer” who has tortured people on behalf of the U.S. government for three decades.

Is he for real? I’m not sure. Could be an act, or worse. Might be telling the truth. But the matter of fact manner in which he discusses blowing out eardrums with a high pressure hose and drilling on live teeth is enough to make you depressed, if not ill. Whether it’s a put-on or not, "Mitch" is a convincing immoral asshole. A perfect fit for the Glenn Beck program.

Abu_cheerleaders_1Obviously titillated by the gruesome topic at hand, Beck tries not to giggle too much while making jokes and lobbing softball questions at Mitch to assist him in justifying his theoretically sickening career. Beck says he was put off by the miscreant behavior of U.S. soldiers and contractors at Abu Gharib. Not that all the torture was so bad, but he was offended by all that “kid stuff.” (Perhaps those pyramids of naked prisoners reminded him of his high school days or something.) According to Beck, if we’re going submit people to cruel and unusual punishment, we should get “pros” to do it. You don’t want some amateur blasting out eardrums incorrectly. Somebody might get hurt.

By the way, this was a Saturday late night re-broadcast of a Friday morning show (which was discussed on this page at Media Matters For America) broadcast on WPHT-AM in Philadelphia. Late at night there are actually very few right-wing shows on the air. Which is a relief. (And the world IS a better place since whiney and miserable Steve Malzberg lost his overnight gig on WABC.) However, a few stations replay daytime Republican propaganda talk shows overnight– because they’re too damn cheap to hire a real person to fill that slot.

That’s all for now. And hey, think about putting on your own shortwave radio show. The world needs you!

 Thanks for listening.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)

 

Adventures In Amplitude Modulation – Part 4

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Radio_post_1 Indulging in television or FM radio may be recreational behavior, but it isn’t a hobby like listening to distant stations on medium and short wave. The main reason is that DXing and broadcast band listening takes a little work– as well as some curiosity and patience not necessary when tuning into clear, predictable and popular local VHF signals.

And it’s kind of a sport. Like fishing. The propagation of radio waves changes from month to month and day to day, and besides the local stations that are always there it’s always a bit of a mystery what you’ll find on the dial on any given evening. But perhaps the biggest draw for many of us who scan the AM & SW dial by night is the allure of novel and exotic broadcasting.

While I admit that hearing news and commentary from Atlanta, Havana or Moscow on the radio is still a little exciting to me (even in this era where you can almost do the same thing via internet streaming), it’s the fringe broadcasting, especially on shortwave, that I continue to find compelling and often humorous. And this is where the epidemic of Christian broadcasting on shortwave in the U.S. can actually get interesting for a minute.

Bcl2000 Most of audio samples I’m offering in this post are programs broadcast on the monster U.S. Christian shortwave stations. The big ones that come to mind– World Harvest Radio, Family Radio and WWCR (World-Wide Christian Radio) are really more networks than stations, with multiple frequencies broadcasting simultaneously and covering the entire country and much of the world with Christian propaganda, as well as a few shows focusing on listener fan letters and the DXing hobby, AND a startling number of programs that specialize in fear, suspicion and raw paranoia.

While shortwave doesn’t appeal to very many Americans, there’s a significant portion of the existing audience that does exist who are isolated and disenfranchised out in the heartland. And they are afraid of a lot of things most of us don’t spend a lot of time worrying about– like the U.N., Freemasons, homosexuals and space aliens. Much of this consternation is lumped together in overwhelming concern over the coming "New World Order."  I’ve never been quite sure of what that the heck that is, but from what I’ve heard it’s going to be a lot less pleasant than the old world chaos we’ve enjoyed over all of these years.

There’s a wide variety of these kinds of programs. The content of these shows range from deeply Christian to secular, from tangible alternative news to the ravings of disturbed individuals, and everything in-between. The common thread is a distrust of authority, and a concern that the world scene is spinning out of control… and maybe Jesus can help.

Beyond the questionable credibility offered by these programs, you gotta give these right wing type broadcasters credit for creating the exact opposite of mainstream AM conservative talk radio. Shortwave paranoia broadcasting almost never takes the side of power and privilege (unless you count the ultimate power of the baby Jesus and his dad the cloud being). It’s the sound of self-appointed visionaries and the worried voice of the little guy you hear amid the static and whining noises. These marginal media figures appeal to the fearful and umpowered huddled around their radios looking for guidance and truth. As I’ve said before about shortwave (and some AM broadcasts as well) it’s radio that still isn’t just about money– it’s about power and identity. And somtimes it’s about being really apprehensive about the future.

So here’s a few MP3 clips of radio trepidation I’ve picked up on assorted shortwave sets over the last few years. The reception varies as does the credibility of the claims and concerns you’ll hear in these pieces. However, nothing you’ll hear in these MP3′s is less believable than anything Scott McClelland might offer in a typical White House press briefing.

 01 – The Mystery Religion – rebroadcast 10-18-05  54:54

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Pale_horseThis is the late William Cooper with a discussion of the unknown (or little known) religion of the power elite of the world– The Mysteries. According to Cooper, it’s the secret religion of the movers and shakers of the world, and it’s all about keeping us dumb and productive. Apparently, it has something to do with some powerful being known as “Mithra.”

William Cooper was one helluva character. His strange life came to an end in a shootout with the cops at his home in November, 2001. His book, “Behold A Pale Horse,” he outlines his assorted conspiratorial theories and concepts. Cooper used to make a big stink about the government UFO cover-up. Yet in later days, including this broadcast (originally from 2000 or 2001 I believe) he considers UFO believers to be a “looney tune fringe element.” I think he always had a freshly arranged bouquet of opinions at any one time.

I personally was always taken by his "sound"– a paced and emotionally-steeled voice of doom that always made me stop and listen for a while as I was slipping across the dial. In the end, Cooper might best be summed up as a disturbed contrarian who loved attention and had a driving sense of mission. William Cooper said a lot of stuff, and while I doubt it was ALL fantasy, what’s still amazing to me is how SERIOUS he always seemed to be. He was a colorful and strange guy. I miss his show and was happy to come across this rebroadcast.

This was recorded in my Brooklyn apartment in the late afternoon. There is a little fading and another station is chewing on the signal. And I had problems with the recorder I was using. However, it is most of an entire “Hour of the Time” program, with a chunk of 3 or 4 minutes missing in the middle. But if you do listen, you’ll get the idea(s).

02 – The Silent War – 10-07-05  16:17

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Pastor Pete Peters is a controversial guy. The author of a pamplet entitled “Death Penalty for Homosexuals is Prescribed in the Bible,” and renowned as someone more in favor of white Protestant Americans than other types of folks. Pastor Peters pisses a lot of people off, and has been cited a number of times as a dangerous broadcaster.

But listen to his dramatic metaphors for the ongoing cultural war against the devout and disenfranchised. “They” are firing on the common folk– shooting situations instead of bullets, using data instead of gunpowder and computers instead of guns. How can you defend yourself from that?

Peters isn’t very specific about what’s at stake or how to defend yourself, but even if you think he’s full of shit you still get an urgent sense of needing to so something after hearing this moving call to arms. “If you wanna win you better believe that we’re going to gain the victory.”

03 – Man-Made Diseases 12-30-02  16:37

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HIV and other nasty viruses were invented by human beings to kill other human beings. That’s the theory here.  Depopulation. Dr. Boyd Graves will tell you all about it.

04 – The Parasite Issue – 11-22-02  6:43

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Wet_parasite_1 This is a scary one. It’s a problem escalating out of control, and nobody is talking about it. Some kind of nasty little-known critters are camping out in our digestive tracts. Are they worms? Blobs? Republicans? They’re not specific about the nature of these parasites, but they are supposed to be pretty darn gruesome. Why haven’t we heard about this before?

Listen at your own risk. If you’re curious, drop a string down your gullet and see what you might catch, or take a long lingering look in the toilet before you flush next time. It’s all new information to me. It’s like the most unappetizing infomercial I’ve ever heard.

Also on this clip, a Bible show host concerned that Jesus broadcasters may end up facing prosecution if they don’t promote and condone homosexual sex, and a little bit of Catholic confessional confession.

05 -  Nukes From Mexico, Yahweh Not Gay – 04-23-05  7:21

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Lastly, here’s the current king of shortwave conspiraciesAlex Jones. This is a very short and unrepresentative clip, but at least you get to hear the gruff voiced Jones (who sounds quite a bit older than his 31 years) squawking darkly from his shortwave pulpit. Jones is always extremely controversial, and has plenty of fans and a number of detractors. Either way, I don’t think there’s another broadcaster out there more worked up over this New World Order problem. He has several websites, a bunch of videos, and a reputation as one of the most pessimistic voices in broadcasting. And watch out for those suitcase atom bombs sneaking over the Rio Grande.

Also, in this segment a some hard-core Christian kookiness. Stop the madness and pick up an orgone generator today! And just a few carefully placed magnets may be enough to protect you from being a mind control slave. Elvis Presley is NOT God! Like I said, some of these people are very very serious.

Thanks for listening.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)