The ads (PSAs) are also on Air America. Annoying, even if marijuana use among teenagers is not exactly an ideal situation, That '70s Show notwithstanding. I read a bit somewhere that there (again) are rumors that the network is having problems, not only guaranteed their home base in NYC after their contract is up in August. And, seriously, it does have problems. I noted in the past that the recent cuts -- involving day time co-hosts especially -- were bad news imho. The most unfortunate one might have been Liz Winstead because Rachel Maddow [who perhaps set her mark while filling in for Franken during the Katrina disaster] is definitely an asset -- young, smart, and evenheaded while still being firmly progressive. She is also a bit um boring, and Winstead balanced her pretty well.
Likewise, though she never was given enough to do, Katherine Lanpher helped tone down Al Franken's annoying tendencies. Franken has some good guests -- I love Tom Oliphant -- but overall his show is annoyingly "safe" in a certain fashion, kneejerk nice guy anti-Bush with a few simplistic talking points. Popular afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes does her homework, but is also annoying (and simplistic, ramming home a few themes) -- she also has the f-ing gay baiting bit, though does not raise up Jeff Gannon as much as foaming at the mouth (sure he has reason) Mike Malloy (no longer on the radio in NY). And so forth. Laura Flanders (weekend nights) has earned her progressive activist chops, but is also a bit tiresome by now.
This is all unfortunate -- a progressive radio station is clearly useful. As suggested, there are some good aspects to the station, especially some of the guests -- the "Ring of Fire" show on Saturday, for instance, had a couple interesting guests, including a report about measuring temperatures at the North Pole to keep track of global warming. [I have a book reserved on the general topic -- need to learn a bit more about it.] The synergy Majority Report has with liberal blogs is nifty too. And, a few weekend hosts (including a new one on worker rights) seem interesting -- in fact, I think it would make sense if they get more exposure during the week.
But, the whole station seems to be in a tiresome rut, a bit too kneejerk for me as well. Apros to this discussion, NPR reporter Bob Edwards was chosen to write a little book entitled Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism, one of those series (there is one out on American Presidents) supplying a good thumbnail sketch of historical events. Having seen the recent movie focusing on his fight against McCarthy, this was a timely book for me to read, especially since I have not really read too much on the man (about a year back I did read a great book on war reporting, focusing on around ten big names).
How about these Murrow productions: "As Others See Us" (review of foreign press coverage of the U.S.), "CBS Views the Press" (examining press journalism -- ala, Editor and Publisher, perhaps), and "You Are There" (historical figures "interviewed" by CBS). The book was under 200 pages, so could not really attack the man in depth, but it suggests why he is the hero of the author. There also are some long excerpts of a few key broadcasts, including his report from Buchenwald.* Amazing reading. Amazing man.
Edwards notes in passing that -- though he later worked for the U.S. Information Agency in his administration -- that Murrow was not a big fan of Kennedy, partly because his brother worked on McCarthy's staff. This struck me, since it was the first time I heard of it, so I checked. Yes, Robert Kennedy did briefly work on the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. But:
Disturbed by McCarthy's controversial tactics, Kennedy resigned from the staff after six months. He later returned to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations as chief counsel for the Democratic minority, in which capacity he wrote a report condemning McCarthy's investigation of alleged Communists in the Army. His later work as chief counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee investigating corruption in trade unions won him national recognition for his investigations of Teamsters Union leaders Jimmy Hoffa and David Beck.
I think Edwards misstepped by tossing in something like that in passing without adding a bit more context. Still, good little book, adding a bit additional flavor to the movie.
* The book mentions the report from the Hindenburg disaster, the reporter (from WGN Chicago) there to record what would have been the twelfth successful landing. Instead, to his horror, he was there to watch thirty six people die. Edwards notes that some now laugh at his "melodramatic" comments ("Oh, the humanity!").
But, I'm with Edwards ... it was appropriate. As was the cry of a woman radio reporter when she had to inform us that one of the Towers was collapsing. I have not seen tragedy THAT up close -- I am willing to wait for that. Listening to that was more than enough. I'd add that as with baseball, listening to it on the radio had a special flavor all its own. The flash of t.v., especially these days, sometimes (often?) does not add too much to that.