Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/17/07

Action Alert: Comment on the future of Vermont telecom policy!
by Bill Simmon

The Vermont Department of Public Service is doing a rewrite of the Vermont Telecommunications Plan and next week they’re holding exactly two public hearings for comments — one via Vermont Interactive TV, and the other at Contois Auditorium in Burlington on Wednesday night.

The Vermont Access Network (VAN), a consortium of VT PEG access centers, is covering the Wednesday night event, which will be shown on several cable access channels throughout the state and streamed live on the RETN (Regional Education Technology Network) website. VAN will also set up a special blog for taking comments during the hearing. The plan is to have a blogger on-site (possibly me, actually) to read, filter and pass on comments to the department live as the hearing progresses.

A portion of cable fees can fund public access
Letter to the Editor: Aimee Alluad, Albany Co. LWV
Albany Times Union (NY)

At its Aug. 6 meeting, the Albany Common Council, with one dissenting vote, adopted the recommendations of its Ad Hoc Committee on Cable Access. The council adopted the committee’s final report and recommendations because it recognized that public access television will offer significant benefits to Albany residents through the provision of an independent public access television media center to be located at the Albany Public Library.  The center will have the capacity to:

* Broadcast the unedited meetings of all public bodies.

* Provide, in cooperation with the Albany City School District, educational instruction and programming for students and residents.

* Broadcast community meetings such as those of the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations.

* Promote the culture of Albany through free access to telecommunications technologies for everyone.

Our organizations have supported the concept of public access TV for Albany for the past six years. We believe the committee’s proposal will achieve the goal of a community telecommunications infrastructure that all residents can take advantage of.

The nominal 35 cents a month charge, which cable subscribers will be assessed, will reap the advantages of a citizen-directed media center. However, we believe that the city should consider dedicating a percentage of the annual fees it collects from the cable provider to operation of the public access facility. That would reduce reliance on a subscriber fee. Schenectady and Bethlehem both support their public access TV in this manner.

Aimee Allaud, League of Women Voters of Albany County
Marggie Skinner & Stephen Winters, Council of Albany Neighborhood Assoc’s.

Attorney General to speak at Raymond cable access show
Sea Coast Online (NH)

RAYMOND — The N.H. attorney general’s office has launched a new Internet Safety for Kids campaign titled “Connect with your Kids.” As part of that program Attorney General Kelly Ayotte will be a guest on Raymond Community Television’s “All Around Raymond” series.   —>

[ These last two items are included in their entirety because of their rare importance.  If you are moved at all by them, please click through to their sites, if only to register thereby your interest with their original publisher.  It’s really, REALLY important to do this – they need to know you care about these stories – and only *you* can tell them that. – rm ]

GreenStone Media to Discontinue Broadcasting
From the CEO of GreenStone Media

Dear friends,

As you now know, absent some last minute development, GreenStone Media intends to discontinue broadcasting today, Friday, August 17, 2007.

It has been a Perils of Pauline ride for the past few weeks as we tried simultaneously to provide you with the best, most scintillating programming on radio, and to prepare for any eventuality, including what now appears imminent – pulling the plug.

Yesterday, we were inundated with calls and emails to the shows from our listeners – listeners who have become treasured members of the GreenStone family.

For those who listened over the air, please let your local radio station know how much you enjoyed our programs, and thank them for having had the courage to provide their markets with new and innovative programming. And let your local advertisers who sponsored our programs know how much you care. If you listened to us online, please drop us a note as well.

GreenStone was formed two years ago to address the absence of female-friendly talk programming on commercial radio today. Examining the landscape, rarely did we find women who were hosts of their own shows, and hardly any of the program directors responsible for programming the 11,000 commercial radio stations operating in the US today were women.

We saw that as an opportunity. Advertisers love reaching women – and what better than an audience that is hanging on every word? Women buy 83% of all products and services, make 53% of all investment decisions, and start over 70% of new businesses.

We also knew that women were leaving commercial radio at a faster clip than their male counterparts. Our research showed that most women – and many men too — did not like the hard political talk or sports talk or acid-male talk that is permeates radio today. You wanted to be informed on what was happening in the world, but you also wanted to relax and have a good laugh with friends. And you were weary of shouting matches that pass as discourse. Thus, GreenStone was born.

Among our founders were radio executives who had spent a lifetime in the industry. We sought radio hosts who could connect one-to-one with each listener – as though you, the listener, were sitting across the table in conversation. We knew that a show had to be entertaining as well as informative. Finding and training the right show hosts took lots of time and money and we are so very proud of them and their teams.

At our peak, GreenStone produced 63 hours per week of live, female-targeted talk programming to radio station affiliates. The programming was also streamed and podcast on our website, We will leave it there for a few weeks so you can download podcasts of our best shows.

Right out of the box, The Lisa Birnbach Show won not one, but two GRACIE awards – Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Comedy Show (the latter for her interview with Robin Williams).

We developed fabulous shows, but we were not successful getting station carriage. Perhaps it was because we were ignorantly perceived as being too “feminist” or too “political.” (It is odd that radio executives consider Rush Limbaugh entertainment and not political, but women—well, that’s another story.) All they had to do was listen!

Or perhaps stations didn’t want to invest the time and resources to enable a new talk format to succeed. It takes between 18 months and two years to build an audience – especially for a new type of talk. Many stations facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports don’t want to see their revenues dip while waiting for an untested format to catch on.

The radio industry is also highly concentrated, and we could not get carriage on stations owned by most of the major radio groups. Our station affiliates were mostly in small markets, making it almost impossible to prove that the concept works.

While we created great programming, tragically, we did not have the capital to press on. It was a longer and more expensive process than a small, independent programming company could shoulder in today’s turbulent marketplace. We’re proud of our talent and the progress we’ve made. And we had just begun to gain traction on other platforms. But we couldn’t responsibly predict success in a future near enough to match our investors’ resources.

We believed (and still believe) that women need a voice on commercial radio, and that radio needs women’s voices. We encourage others to build on the groundbreaking work we’ve done to serve this important—and clearly underserved–market.

We thank our dedicated listeners, who have become family to our hosts and our company, our affiliates who dared to try something innovative, our advertisers who believed in and supported us, and our extraordinary talent and radio team.

We are working to help our show hosts find other broadcast homes – and hope that their voices will soon be heard over broadcast, Internet, mobile phones and satellite, so that you can continue to enjoy the inquisitive, irreverent, and independent conversation that you have grown to love as much as we did.

Susan Ness
President & CEO
GreenStone Media, LLC
by Susan Ness | show: Blogroll, Misc.

Book review
Amusing Ourselves to Death: The Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Neil Postman
20th anniversary edition, 2005. Original was 1985
by HRM
Run Away Screaming

Verdict: Recommended

This is recommended reading on the same par as Fast Food Nation. You must read it to understand this popular aspect of American culture. It will change your view. It makes you think. It will make you say “Damn! That’s so true,” and then, “Hell, I can’t do anything about it, really.” So, in that way, it’s frustrating. But, no less important.

Even though it was written two decades ago, everything comes around again. The media allows a important news to be pushed aside – a lying government, an orchestrated war, illness and poverty, neighboring countries at war for cultural differences and beliefs – in order to sensationalize about useless information like self-destructive starlets traffic violations, some sports figure’s indiscretions, and an airplane crash (most everyone in the world is not going to die in a plane crash).

We are a TV generation. It is an essential part of our home. While I refuse to have more TVs than occupants in the house, I’m guilty of many TV bad habits – letting the kids watch since they could sit up, using it as a comfort when I just want to veg out, turning it on as background noise when I iron, allowing it to be a babysitter. Both my husband and I grew up on TV shows, we planned our days by our favorites. I even got extra credit on a history exam once by singing a Schoolhouse Rock ditty in my head and writing out the Preamble to the Constitution. TV is, I’ll say it, a necessary part of our lives. I have nothing against those who chose to disengage. And, I have no dispute that 99% of what is on TV is utter crap and a waste of time (TV news included). But, I enjoy it, like everything else, in moderation. I watch hardly any TV, actually. I like Mythbusters, music videos, some VH1 specials, the occasional movie I come across by accident, The Daily Show and the Academy Awards broadcast. C-Span and the state community access channel are also winners. (I would watch BookTV on C-Span2 every week if I didn’t have kids.) They only shows I was religious about watching were Dancing with the Stars (OK, my guilty pleasure but what’s the harm in watching dance?), and, currently, Flight of the Conchords (TFB).

Back to this book. It is OUTSTANDING fodder to begin discussing television with your 9-10 year old. They must become aware of the power of commercialism, persuasion and manipulation of the truth which is what the media is all about. While I don’t see the harm in Sesame Street like this author did, he is certainly on the mark about how TV teaches us to see the world as discontinuous, devoid of context. We need quiet time with words on paper, literature, philosophy and our internal thoughts in order to grow and understand. I did start talking to my kids about this. I now see TV in a different way. It’s not a good tool for learning important things about the world. It’s a diversion from the real world.

Recommended mode of acquiring: Purchase new. Keep on your bookshelf. Point kids to it to use as a theme/reference for school projects.

Important uses: Provides evidence for the position “TV rots your brain.” Example that some things never change, but they get progressively worse without our awareness. Gives entire new outlook on the sad state of American pop culture awash in irrelevancy.

Recommended age group: 15 to 99. Deep thought and revelation about what you thought was “good” being not so good.

Prerequisite reading: Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley and 1984, by George Orwell

Companion reading: Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, media criticism, media diversity, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television

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