An Open Letter to Local Radio

Eds Note: Nothing like a good old fashioned rant to warm up a cold winter’s day. So here is an open letter from one radio professional to the rest.

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

This is an open letter to 550 AM here in Wausau. Please, for the love of God, reconsider your programming. Everything about it, each and every moment is wrong. It is driving this country in a direction that makes no sense. Anything that resembles journalism has seemingly left the building, and were left with nationally syndicated hosts that use the bully pulpit to demonize those that are critical, to elevate themselves to heights of deity, and to influence our country in ways that sickens me.

Even Pat and Tom in the morning are horribly guilty of pandering, and failing to even engage any sort of idea in anything other than party line bullet point discussions. Making broad and sweeping generalizations about local figures, while refusing to even entertain any sort of discussion. The call in segment is limited to roughly 15 regular voices that seem to be hand picked by the right, feeding into the more conservative host, made to challenge and berate the pseudo liberal leanings of the other host.

Pat and Tom, if your reading this, and I do not think you are, I want you to know that I have met both of you. I liked you both as people. And I know what radio is like, generating content in a seeming vacuum is tough. I get it. But I know for a fact that you’re both smarter than your show, and you can do a lot better. I respect you as broadcast professionals, and I know that one of you came from far away with eyes on the Conservative talk show prize, so this cannot be making you happy.

Please guys, amazing! I know its right there. Stop coddling Sarah Kamke (her mom was my 4th grade teacher) or the putz running for Republican office who clearly has nothing to say. Or the moron the Democrats put up there…jeez you carry those interviews to such an extent it is mind boggling. Why not just say that and stop giving them meatball time.

One more thing, radio hosts are not baristas at Jeannie’s coffee. You are not there to meet everyone in the middle. I have heard people call in with divisive, malicious, incendiary crap, and you just allow it to go out on the air. Please say something and take a stand. I do not care that we see the world differently, but man alive, just take a stand. Be smarter than all of us, be Edward Murrow or Walter Cronkite or George Seldes. Tell me something. Oh, and one more thing, lets stop the hypocrisy about email. You both know that you do not respond to emails sent to you in either through the website or a professional capacity. Just stop talking about emailing people back.

When you look at the rest of them, Rush, Hannity, Savage, I just come away sorry. This is the level of public discourse in my America. Rush sits there, in his addiction recovery chair, his million dollar earphones, his Golden EIB microphone telling us that the Democrats this or the liberal media that — yet we live in a world where this man spent a decade attempting to destroy the life of a President. Yet he calls for us to support our Commander in Chief with blind allegiance. He spent a decade doing just the opposite.

I am really not even going to get into Hannity. His weak Karl Rove apologist crap sort of seems to speak for itself. The pseudo libertarian shtick fools no one. Hannity is a lap dog for Rove. According to Hannity to question authority, to raise the level of debate in America, to be critical of our administration is to be in league with terrorists. Hannity just sits and rails about the media, when in fact he is now it now. You’re the media Hannity. Get it?

And Mike Savage…Savage. Mike Savage. I think your degree is in nutrition, right? Or botany? Today I heard you call Google Earth a tool for terrorists, and it should be shut down. Did you call for the censorship of Google? Under the guise of the government. What is next Mike? Book burnings? Thought police? You’re a Masters degree guy, you needed a library at one point. Are librarians of a political agenda, and need to be vetted by Homeland Security? Where does your thinking stop? You called the District Attorney in Durham, North Carolina a scumbag. So I guess that is thumbing your nose at power, taking on Google, and telling a lawyer he is a bad person. How did your producer let you get away with a clear-cut case of slander in the District Attorney case? You called that person a name that had nothing to do with the elected position they held. You’re mean spirited, short sighted, and a lot of time you’re incorrect. Even about San Francisco restaurants. I also think it is important to remind you that you are, like the rest, a part of the media. You are the media, so your blanket indictments are ultimately self-defeating.

So, 550 AM program director, station manager, advertising guy, and ultimately the big Kahuna, take a look at the programs you air. What good are you doing for this city by putting these negative name callers on the air? I long for a positive conservative to talk about the good things in this world, instead of 10 hours a day of conservative name-calling. Heck, the other side, the liberal side is no better. But you have a chance.

You have a chance to really become a positive voice in the community. A place that people want to listen to, because they hear ideas exchanged. A place where people talk civilly and exchange ideas, and affect change. But until that happens, your station is just one in a million drowning America in mediocre ideas. If this is a political thing, if the Republicans and Democrats are to blame, then do not accept the mediocrity that they give you. I have grown sick of it. I call on you 550 AM, to make my city a better place. To bring people together, to unite us. Dump these bums.

Pat and Tom, get in the game.


9 responses to “An Open Letter to Local Radio

  1. I agree: “Nothing like a good old fashioned rant to warm up a cold winter’s day. ”

    In the mid-1990s, I was on the 55 Feedback Friday Roundtable when Nick Ryan was hosting the show in the old studio. At that time, I think the program was far more consistent with the idea of a balanced, public discourse providing a forum for views from all sides. I won a seat on the Wausau city council in 1998 and I remained on the program for a half dozen years after that.

    Both that program and the character of the station’s on-air product have changed a lot since those days. I left the program after the 2004 elections because I felt it was no longer a good venue for me and I haven’t been invited to appear on the program since that time.

    These days, I will occasionally catch a segment, but it’s not something that I tune in for because the tone and tenor have become very easy to anticipate. I think that you are absolutely right about the discussion being dominated by a relatively limited group of repeat callers day after day. In my view, it speaks to the one-dimensional nature of the programming on 550 Radio, although I do appreciate the fact that they have a local news team and I enjoy working with Matt Lehman, who is a solid journalist, in my view.

  2. I’m sorry, and I respect Dino’s opinion, but Pat Snyder has done absolutely nothing – to my ears – to deserve a place in any attempt to uplift the quality of local radio discourse. His show continues to be the venue for some hateful, vitriolic and flat-out UNTRUE right-wing propaganda, and Snyder himself presides over this sham with little indication that he concerns himself much (if at all) with anything other than a Hannity-esque conservative hack job. From the Iraq War to the marriage amendment, his track record is sorry indeed.

    And, although it may seem unfair to bring this up, Snyder’s infamous drunken motorcycle crash on the way home from a local “gentlemen’s club” makes his unctuous moralizing all the more difficult to stomach. (Even more disquieting was the way in which local government, media and even moral “watchdogs” like former Citizens For Decency leader Dom Gordon were so quick to lavish Snyder with forgiveness and praise on his return.)

    Again, it’s just my opinion, and I welcome political voices from all perspectives on the airwaves, but *please*. Pat Snyder is most certainly part of radio’s problem, and I doubt very seriously if he’s part of the solution. I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Actually Charles, I really wanted to avoid that one stellar fact from Pat’s past, and because I have a hard time telling the two of them apart.

    I said I want them to be part of the solution, because I believe in the solution. I believe that locally owned media has the tools to make a differance. And I think 550 is still owned by a human who lives near here.

    I will stand and take a bullet for free speech, but I will not take a sprained ankle for incorrect deification of issues or hosts.

    We know that Pat really wanted to take a run at National Syndication.

    The Iraq War coverage has been sad, and his avoidance of anything but the right, even when offered any other perspective clearly shows his pandering to be consistent.

    I think that replacing them with anything else would be a step sidways, and there is something to be said for “the evil that you know.”

    But mainly I put them up in the stratosphere of website like

    Not generating any local news, not reporting any local news, merely reading the internet and commenting for 38 minutes an hour.

    The AM version of Stacey Cole and Dave Calloway, only not funny, and with no mediocre music.

    I pretty much did not want to be a negative ninny.

  4. Dino definately needs a girlfriend

  5. Thanks, Dino. This is precisely why I am a NPR/WPR girl.

  6. What this town really needs is an independent community radio station. Oh. Yeah. Right.

  7. Well said, Bill…

    I understand what you’re saying, Dino, but I question just how much better it is to have a local radio show with such obvious parallels (both stylistically and content-wise) to the worst of national talk radio.

  8. I do not want the morning show to be a copy of cross fire, I really do not. I want Pat and Tom to read Wausaublog, to walk down the street, to talk about Wausau.

    I have said all along, Wausau media does not get out in Wausau. The people from the Wausau daily Herald are almost proud that they can run a newspaper and never leave the newsroom.

    Though, the City Pages I think does a good job. Pat and Tammy and Jane…there out in the world a lot more than I thought.

    But Television simply does not bother.

    Radio is even worse. You can hear them looking at the internet during the set break for something to say.

  9. Sheesh. I haven’t been visiting this blog for awhile and I’m glad to see there’s a rip-roaring commentary on the sorry state of radio (and tv) going on here. Hooray for ranting! I even get ticked off at City Pages, which we call Silly Pages at home…because you can just about guess what they will write about and how they’re gonna say it. Yeah, play it safe, don’t offend, not really, anyone (read get sued) and don’t lose the party line. Hey, this sounds a bit vitriolic. Actually, it isn’t meant that way. It’s just that there are people like me who you’d never suspect as a listener or reader who pretty much have had it with the rampant same old B.S. in media, period.
    I gave up on a so-called career writing for a newspaper when the publisher told me I was supposed to be writing for the advertisers and not offending them. All I ever write is grocery lists and stuff like this anymore. I don’t listen to AM550 because I can’t stand it. I make faces at the CBS etc. evening “news” and subscribe to the local paper for the Michael’s coupons.
    Most media is so much whambam shootemup I win you lose sound bite trigger happy byline nonsense. The good stuff not only asks who what when where why and how, but is INTERESTED because they might LEARN something. To be actually interested in the person or subject you are pursuing? What a bonus to humanity!
    I think that’s what sets apart people like Edward R. Murrow, Studs Terkel, Bill Moyer. They jumped in and took the time to find out more.
    Like artists of any kind.

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