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31 December 2008

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2008

The time I spend listening to local broadcasts keeps diminishing to the point where this may be the final annual roundup I produce. Between podcasts and an iPhone/iPod application that allows me to tap into radio streams around the world from a pocket device, the banality of local radio shrinks in the rear view mirror.

Some 2008 developments:

And another thing — most of these radio websites are still hideous. Worse than not having any information is to clutter the net space with blinking ads and inaccurate, conflicting data. For instance, the Nova M site(s) are awful, with popups about expired certificates, then the 1190 site not showing Newcomb’s show on the schedule. And the page that I have linked below, shows one time on the schedule, but a different time on Newcomb’s page entry (did not adjust for the DST change). Even the pages for the big time stations KFYI and KTAR are bereft of information about the various hosts. This all is reflected in search engine queries too, for it’s more difficult than it should to locate a show’s web home.

But, let’s visit the 2008 rankings.

  1. Mike Newcomb (Nova M 1190 AM, M-F 4-6 pm) - Mike Newcomb returns to the airwaves after he was uncerermoniously dumped in 2007. Newcomb takes the slot of the Jeff Farias, who lost out in an internal KPHX struggle a few months back. The time off seems to have had a positive effect on Newcomb’s manner, as his program is far and above the best in the market. I like the provocative style and the focus on the callers tackling the host’s questions. My only qualm with the show would be the repeated use of phrases like “in any case” or “let me ask you this”.

  2. Jay Lawrence (KTAR 92.3 FM, SAT-SUN 7-10 pm) — Jay was the first talk host I heard when I moved to Phoenix back in 1990. It’s nearly 20 years later and he’s still broadcasting on KTAR in the same weekend slot. While it’s relegated to weekends, Jay’s show is of quality far above the Monday through Friday fare offered up by KTAR. Where conversation is actually conducted instead of the sensationalist rubbish the rest of the week.

  3. Andrew Tallman Show (KPXQ 1360 AM, M-F 5-7 pm) — As I’ve written about previously, the Andrew Tallman Show at times, is my favorite radio program, but I have to downgrade it for the ridiculous “Wacky Wednesday” program format. Also, reading verbatim from a book (part of the “Theological Tuesday” theme) more than a few verses (even if it is the bible) is just not good radio.

  4. Barry Young (KFYI 550 AM, M-F 8-10 am) - As customary the past few years, I will outsource my report of the Barry Young show, this time to a post on radio-info.com. I caught about a minute of their election special with Barry Young and some unpleasant-sounding hag with a speech impediment who pronounced all of her s’s as sh’s. I mean, she sounded as bad as Ann Landers! It was so bad I began wondering who this Larson woman is and why, with such an obvious lack of broadcasting ability, she’s even on the air. She seemed to know a lot about Arizona politics and sounded like some old local republican operative—is she an ex politician like Hayworth and on the air for her star power or something? Or was she a good broadcaster once until something tragic happened like a stroke or west nile virus and they just keep her around out of loyalty? Basically just wondering who she is and why she’s on the radio… Well, that’s really harsh, and not really about Barry, but his bourgeois companion. I feel the same way about the sound effect, but the retirement loves them their Barry…

  5. Darrel Ankarlo (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 8:30-12 noon) - Ankarlo, since his arrival in Phoenix, wasted no time sucking up the Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Recently, he allied with Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas to slurp at the public money trough to promote his book.

  6. Joe Crummey (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 7-10 pm)KTAR Program Director lashes out at rival station for their “local” program where the host actually resides in California. Fast forward some months later, KTAR hires said fraud for the same nightly “local” talk program. Crummey blessed with a marvelous radio voice, uses it to spin RNC talking points in his own manner. And lately, he’s taken the station group dive into the “if it bleeds, it leads” mantra.

  7. Bruce Jacobs (KFYI 550 AM, 5-8 am) — Earlier this year, Bruce took some heat for his verbal attack on police officer widow Julie Erfle. Bruce strives to be “Hannity lite”, but he’d be more suited to sports talk, where he could share his informed analysis, as opposed to his ignorant, lack of historical context rantings.

  8. J.D. Hayworth (KFYI 550 AM, M-F 4-7 pm) — Hayworth has his supporters, and his self-righteous shtick strikes them well. He comes across bitter and resentful to me, however.

  9. Larry Gaydos/Mac Watson (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 3-7 pm) — KTAR took two annoying obnoxious shrill voiced hosts and them paired them together. Now they can blather over eachother in their ignorance. Bruce Jacobs already has the Archie Bunker bit nailed down.

If I’ve neglected to include a local show, please let me know and I’ll be happy to give a listen. I must confess that I am not paying close enough attention to local radio doings, as podcasts and net streams have largely supplanted my local radio listening.

Here are my roundups from past years:

22 December 2008

Fall/Winter 2008 Read Roundup

I keep making a pledge to review the books I read, but it’s a losing proposition as it seems I can devour books at a much more feverish pace than write a simple blurb about them (even accounting for feedback on web forums or twitted remarks).

So, without further ado, here goes the fall/winter 2008 completed read list:

  1. The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium by Walter Wink — the first few chapters are simply mazing, succinctly laying out what/who “the powers that be” are and how all human created institutions emit a spiritual field…. ….an awesome chapter on “the myth of redemptive violence” and Jesus “the third way”, that posits that Jesus abhors both passivity and violence, and instead implores a third way — nonviolent resistance….the latter half of the book is not as solid, not that the content isn’t top notch, just that the telling is slightly muddled and Wink fails to concisely enumerate practical applications of the book’s first half…

  2. The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen — the political book of 2008 (actually, I think it was written in 2006 or 2007 but I did not read until this year), a far superior title to the similar themed material of George Lakoff. I have written a review of one of the chapters here, but the entire book is an excellent look at voter psychology and science of campaign appeals.

  3. Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill) by David Cay Johnston — did not desire to read this book at release, as I knew it would just make me angry. And I was correct in that assessment, as you cannot help boiling over how working Americans are fleeced by wealthier interests who in audacious fashion, cover their tracks with silly rhetoric about “free markets” and being about unhinged from evil government interference.

  4. Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andy Hunt — Hunt, of Pragmatic Programmer fame, looks at how we can continuously improve our brainware.

  5. Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God by George Eldon Ladd — the man who inspired John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard church movement, a view of the Kingdom in the New Testament

  6. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein — excellent read… …answers questions of how electoral map reverted in 1968 back to how it looked in pre new deal (prior to 1932) times… …how democrats became lost, disjointed, and torn apart by civil rights, wedge issues, and the machinations of tricky dick nixon who is the epitome of all that is wrong about the political process — lying, paranoid, thieving, double faced, inflicted death on the innocent just to prolong a war until election was over… …and the american public who claim to value honesty in a candidate but really love to be lied to, and don’t like hearing truth… …also, the best at campaigning not necessarily the best at governing… …class war, reverse class war, southern strategy, wiretaps, blackbag jobs, provocateurs, racism, riots, student insurrections, etc.… …fascinating read that reads like a blog would today…

  7. The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop — was skeptical of this demographic analysis of how americans have segregated themselves into left/right axis, rural/urban, blue/red state, exurb/city, etc… and still think author makes fallatious case for “migration” when it could be due in large part to shifting sentiments… …still, it’s an insightful read on how the center is decaying, campaign appeals and politics made to party extremists, how we seek to be told and confirm what we already believe instead of welcoming dissent…

  8. Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons —  dark, heavy “graphic novel” (back when I was a young whippersnapper, we called ‘em “comic books”) set in an alternate history where Nixon is president in the 80s and costumed crime fighters are being bumped off… Enjoyed it, despite all the depravity, looking forward to seeing it on the big screen next year and hopefully they don’t deviate too much from the Alan Moore story…

  9. The Brain That Changes Itself: Personal Triumphs from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge

  10. The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World by Tim Harford — while some economists are embracing the irrational actor model, Harford harkens back to rational choice theory, that there is always an underlying economic rationale for what may appear to be mad financial behavior. Very thought provoking as he examines divorce, the pill, and other social/relational questions and how they’ve played out in recent times.

  11. The Shack by William P. Young — the Christian novel of 2008, it brought me to tears… …gripping, touching…

  12. Green Collar Economy by Van Jones — a 21st century economic and environmental manifesto for America… …Jones makes an passionate pitch for joining the interests of economically disadvantaged along with those inspired to the cause of earth care. But Jones is a lawyer and activist, not a scientist, and the big questions I have after the read is how much of all of this is financially feasible. That I agree with the “moon shot” approach, but like the Internet and other technology we are blessed with today, green technology needs an incubation phase.

  13. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller — Miller is such a soulful writer, it’s a dual edge reading experience, as I detect myself bubbling out in his wordy blurbs, and gives you the sense that the enjoyable author would not be somebody you’d like to ask “how you doing” as that query formality would result in a response measured in hours.

  14. Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell — new exodus theology… …1st time read of Rob Bell, good stuff, but very shallow penetration of material…

  15. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell — Gladwell is enduring some criticism for his shallow pop-psychology gleanings, but his discoveries here are nothing more than reaffirmation for me

  16. Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus by Thomas Cahill

  17. In Defense of Food by Michael PollanEat food, not too much, mostly plants… …don’t diet, don’t overeat, don’t pay attention to labels and advisements… …their very presence is an indicator of unhealthiness… …think about what your grandparents would prepare and eat… …real natural food…

  18. Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola — Viola’s followup to his previous “Pagan Christianity” title… …viola is a man on a mission to share his idea that true church is organic, not hierarchical, at least that is the vision of the New Testament church laid out in the bible… …he goes through great pains to criticize the ills of “institutional church” but then is apologetic about it… …then returns to attacking, then apologizes… …he needed an editor on this one for sure as goes in circles throughout his screed… …still, I give Viola credit fore being more on the mark (though i am by no means in total agreement with his vision) than his detractors contend…

  19. The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker — first, this book is mistitled — it’s really more of a story of the author’s skeptical faith journey juxtaposed against the backdrop of projections about evangelical church strength and future prospects a great deal less than mainstream media has often reported. Second, although Wicker backs up her assertion that “true” evangelicals are about a 25% of published numbers with a wide array of divergent sources, she belabors the point…finally, the chapters on threats to evangelical churches from the outside are probably the weakest, and seem incomplete and the finish (well, i’ll spoil it by letting you in that it was her own epiphany in finding a marriage mate coupled with mixed feelings about lessened evangelical influence in future times)…again, it looked like author was groping for backup empirical tidings to make some culturally anchored assertions when in essence these are timeless matters and questions…

  20. Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries by Naomi Wolf — Alarmist Wolf’s handbook for liberty lovers that wish to take back their country from the fascist forces intent on removing those American freedoms.

  21. Great Derangement by Matt Taibbi — Taibbi channels famed gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson, goes undercover, joins fundamentalist pastor John Hagee’s Texas megachurch, participates in 9/11 Truth Movement sessions and other miscellaneous bits of political corruption…

  22. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama — After reading, I did feel more comfortable voting for Obama… …that he seemed “down to earth” willing to listen kind of politico. Of course by next year, I might just as well regret casting that vote, but we shall seee…

  23. Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader by Michael Parenti — a collection of essays by leftist writer Michael Parenti

  24. The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream by John Zogby — Pollster Zogby crunches the numbers to give a peek at America trending to a more multicultural future.

  25. The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight of American Power by Tariq Ali — a condensed history of Pakistan and the influence of its western puppet masters…

  26. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally by Marcus Borg — the title says it all…

  27. Supercrunchers by Ian Ayres — A big recent rash of books in this genre, how the power of numbers and quantitative analysis has transformed marketing into a grander wealth making boom. I do not doubt the success of research based on combing through raw data… …however, always in the corner of my mind is the adage about how “past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results”.

  28. The Numerati by Stephen Baker — see my comment above in the “Supercrunchers” blurb…

  29. Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan To Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross — A friendly bio of the big internet giant Google and its net sphere of influence. Acknowledges that while built in F/OSS (free / open source software), there are still bits of “secret sauce” not to be revealed… …namely, the PageRank algorithm and their server power cluster organization…

  30. Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why it Matters by Bill Tancer — see comment above in the “Supercrunchers” blurb…

  31. Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe — OK, would have been better as 2-3 essay/articles… …repetitive, redundant, without a lot of new info - better choice would be Clay Shirky “Here Comes Everybody” or even for deeper academic look - Yokai Benkler’s seminal “Wealth of Networks”

  32. The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow — the mathematics of randomness for the layman. A delightful read and contains the best explanation to date that I’ve read that explains the Monty Hall problem

  33. Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects by Dmitry OrlovOrlov brings his slideshow into book form.

  34. Churchill, Hitler, and ‘The Unnecessary War’ by Pat Buchanan — Buchanan casts aspersions on the notion that World War II was the “good war” and claims the affair was avoidable. Paints a rather unflattering portrait of Winston Churchill, who is illustrated as a true war pig…

  35. The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo — Pop pop pop psychology…

  36. Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne — as much I was so delighted with “Jesus for President”, am sadly disappointed with this title, which seems more appropriate content for a web article or a free magazine piece…

  37. Wide Awake: The Future Is Waiting Within You by Erwin Raphael McManus — This book has been written many times before.

  38. Dangerous Business: The Risks of Globalization for America by Pat Choate — former Ross Perot running mate (for his second campaign, not the first in ‘92) lectures on the unfettered dangers of globalization. Not that Choate is bereft of valid points, but too often arguments including his are bound up in xenophobia and other alarmist appeals. There are indeed issues but we need to focus on the credible, not the fictional bogeymen.

  39. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott - /yawn