FCC May Scrutinize Milwaukee’s Rabidly Right-Wing Radio

A significant broadcast complaint has been filed with the FCC by the Media Action Center. MAC is a broadcaster watchdog with a particular focus on assessing how radio and TV stations operate in the public interest. Of special concern are the hyper-partisan leanings of talk radio – which makes the basis for MAC’s most recent activity here in Wisconsin.

As you may have heard, Wisconsin is in the throes of an historic recall election which seeks to oust Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch for promulgating policies that have decimated Wisconsin’s economy as well as its systems of education and health care (these are just a few of the many beefs the electorate has with the current administration). Read More

Media Minutes: 2004-2012

After seven and a half years, Free Press has discontinued the production of Media Minutes, its weekly headline radio newscast that examined issues at the intersection of media and democracy.

I developed and launched Media Minutes in 2004, as a doctoral student at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Communications Research. I’d left the broadcast industry in 2000 out of disgust at what it had done to stymie the rollout of LPFM, and had thought that my days as a radio journalist were behind me.

This was not to be. During my master’s work at the University of Wisconsin, I co-founded Workers Independent News, the first labor-centric radio news program to be launched in the U.S. in more than 50 years. My work with WIN caught the ear of Bob McChesney, then a professor at ICR, and when I was accepted into that program he e-mailed me out of the blue to ask whether I’d be interested in starting a similar program focused on issues of media policy and reform. Read More

Regulatory Innuendo as Stalking Horse?

Never before has an FCC enforcement action hit so close to home.

This week, the agency issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $44,000 to Chicago radio station WLS-AM. The proposed penalty stems from a complaint filed by a listener regarding news programming aired by WLS that originated with the Madison-based Workers Independent News (WIN) service. The FCC accuses WLS of violating its rules by failing to disclose that it was paid for running WIN newscasts.

(Disclosure: I was one of WIN’s founding producers, helping to develop and launch the service between 2001-2004.) Read More

Occupy Wall Street Makes Its Own Media

One of the biggest stories you’ve never heard of is unfolding in New York City. For nearly two weeks now hundreds of people have occupied Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan under the moniker of Occupy Wall Street. Inspired by this year’s popular uprisings in north Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, OWS hopes to spark a similar movement for democratic change in the United States.

Much of the media have dismissed or denigrated the occupation, with many professional journalists missing its point entirely. The ongoing happening, at present, is not geared toward all-out, head-to-head confrontation with corporate America or the state, but rather to provide a space for folks from all walks of life to talk, listen, and collaborate, in the hope of reaching that point in the future. Read More