The alarm clock goes off in my house at 7 AM–to the dulcet tones of the local news station: WSYR. I still listen on 570 AM, although they took over 106.9 FM, as well. I don’t listen to music when I wake up because, well have you listened to the crap music on local radio? I like the idea of finding out what’s going on in the world and the traffic report every 10 minutes is a built-in snooze button.
The problem is that WSYR has gone from being a news station to becoming a talk radio station. Yes, there is some basic local news mixed in. But the overall tenor of the program has become too partisan right-wing for me. I came to that realization this morning. The morning DJ Joe Galuski aired what seemed like an interview–with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Galuski would ask a question and the governor would answer. But then I realized–there was no interaction between the Galuski and Governor Daniels. This was all canned!
The topic this morning was Obama’s proposed deficit reduction plan–and his desire to include new tax revenues as well as spending cuts. Daniels spit out his Republican talking points on cue, Galuski setting them up with a question. Everyone stuck to their script, making it seem like “news.” There was, of course, no mention of Obama’s side of the argument–or even the fact that liberal Democrats have criticisms of the plan from the other side of the political spectrum.
This begs the question, where is this stuff coming from? A little station in Syracuse couldn’t pull this off. But WSYR is part of the behemoth Clear Channels corporate chain. I’m being immersed each morning by the right-wing echo chamber. Even when they have local guests on to talk about issues, say their weekly segment on investment strategies, the discussion of policies that effect financial markets are all from the Republican fantasy playbook: deficits are our most pressing problem, tax breaks create jobs, small businesses create most jobs.
I guess I shouldn’t expect much from the radio station that airs Rush Limbaugh for most of the afternoon. WSYR even has a little comment from El Rushbo each morning, some prattling on about the most recent abomination foisted upon regular Americans by the “Barak Hussein Obama regime.” I guess I just hankered for the past, when the local news station actually had real local news. I should have remembered the criticisms of WSYR leveled by then-dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications David Rubin. He blistered the station for not having decent local coverage of the August 2003 power grid failure that left many folks in the dark. Rubin wrote in an editorial in the Post Standard that the radio station had been gutted by Clear Channels and had no ability to cover a local story:
“I challenge him (Bill Carey, then-news director of WSYR) to compare the amount of local material on the air, as opposed to the cheap, syndicated talk-show filler that the station airs constantly.”
The filler continues unabated–and it is virulently right-wing, as well. Anyone up for non-partisan local news?