Saturday, May 2, 2009

I see a hole.

It's time to fill it.

Actually the creation of said hole began several years ago.

Before that time we were told that our Federal Government would make sure that we all had access to local information and programming via the thousands of radio stations that dotted the good ole US of A. The Federal Communications Commission made sure that their transmitted signals were separated but overlapped enough so that most of us could be served by this medium. Congress approved rules and regulations that required license holders of these stations to serve their local communities by airing programs that addressed the major issues affecting these areas and by supplying a certain amount of local news and information to people who live in those towns and cities served by these stations.

Then they started digging the hole.

"They" are those politicians and radio station owners who decided it would be a great idea to relax some of those rules and regulations because it interfered with "entertainment programming" and required too much effort and people to have to prove every three months that they were actually airing information that covered the major issues in those communities.

Then there was the "bottom line."

A growing segment of radio station owners were upset about having to use any of their revenue
to spend on programs that didn't produce much revenue. The government went along. FCC inspections of station public files were few and far between and eventually disappeared all together.

And radio was becoming a "cash cow."

The emphasis turned to doubling or tripling revenue. The licensees with deep pockets stepped up to buy "groups" of stations so they could own not just a single station's listeners but the entire market share of several individual stations' listeners. Congress and our government went along and changed the rules allowing more stations in each market to be owned by these potential donars to their campaigns.

Wall Street liked that.

As a result several of these "independent" broadcasters were now owned by investors who demanded higher revenue for every quarter from each group listed on the exchange. Group owners became "leaner and meaner" to meet these unrealistic expectations and people began losing their jobs.

That hole got deeper and deeper.

You see, buying up these expensive stations in the major and medium markets created a huge debt load for many of these group owners and they no longer owed the banks millions but billions of dollars. In order to make the minimum payments or "service the debt" they began to layoff huge swaths of employees in order to pay the bills.

and deeper ...

As the banking crisis hit and the competition for the advertising dollar became more intense, the revenue decline reached double digits. The new broadcast technologies allowed what we call "corporate syndication" to emerge. Local personalities were let go and replaced by "voice trackers" from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. More local community connections are lost. And now ...

We've hit bottom.

Radio giant Clear Channel has recently announced ... after laying off nearly 600 more employees ... some 2400 since the first of the year ... that it will create regional news hubs for its stations that have lost their local news presence.

"Live and Local" is near the end.

Other huge radio groups are expected to follow Clear Channel down this hole and nothing is
being said about the loss of local information services to the community. This is still a requirement for license holders of these radio stations. If they can't afford to provide these services then they should lose the license to operate.

Solutions?

In the next few weeks I will do what I can to provide some of these lost services via the internet. In the meantime it is up to us to let our elected officials know how we feel about these cuts and ask them if they support regulations that require broadcast owners to serve their communities with local news and public affairs.

Senator Ron Wyden (D- OR)
202-224-5244
202-228-2717
http://wyden.senate.gov/contact

Senator Jeff Merkley (D- OR)
202-224-3753
202-228-3997
http://merkley.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Representative David Wu (D - 01)
202-225-0855
202-225-9497
http://www.house.gov/wu/email.shtml

Representative Greg Walden (R - 02)
202-225-6730
202-225-5774
http://walden.house.gov/ContactGreg.Home.shtml

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D - 03)
202-225-4811
202-225-8941
http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_email_form&Itemid=206

Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D - 04)
202-225-6416
202-225-0032
http://www.house.gov/formdefazio/contact.html

Representative Kurt Schrader (D - 05)
202-225-5711
202-225-5699
https://forms.house.gov/schrader/contact-form.shtml

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jury Duty



The long arm of the law has reached out and found me once again.


Three times in six years I've received the call and once again I failed to make the cut.

In my county the eligibility for jury duty arrives every two years and while most folks I know rarely get the letter, it never fails to fall in my inbox at the appropriate time.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind the attention and after so many talks by the county judge and the informational video that follows, I'm very aware of my civic responsibility to this effort.

After disqualifying myself by being late the first time, I did show up for the next call on time but was one of 50 left sitting and waiting ... and waiting till they said "go home."
This time I'm up early to make the 10 mile drive to the courthouse and finding my place in line while waiting with the rest of the call-ups to clear the security check. The line's down the walk and out to the street.

There's a reason why they refer to these as "cattle calls."

It turns out the third time was not a charm as I was one of only 10 whose number was not called.

The four-hour wait wasn't that bad except they confiscated my newspaper so I wouldn't be too informed about any possible cases that I might be in on.
Fat chance.
Though I did notice that courthouse officials had no problem with a number of potential jurors hunkered down over open laptops with wireless connections.
Oops!
I'll see you guys in 2011 with laptop in hand.
I guarantee my number will be called.
Turner out ...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Monkeys and Jobs
Things to consider while we wither away from this terminal dose of spring fever. But as I write this the clouds are returning and I would suspect that we are not far away from that "fine Oregon whine" of "Why does it rain all the time?"

First the monkeys:

They are back in their cages at the Oregon Primate Center and apparently are not conspiring to take over the planet as some have feared. and they were not set free by anti-research zealots. According to a spokesman the nine monkeys escaped after a worker forgot to lock their door.

Jim Newman, a spokesman for Oregon Health & Science University, which runs the center says, "The one (worker) who made the mistake has been here many, many years and is a very good employee." Newman added that all center workers who deal with the monkeys are being given more training on how to correctly secure the doors and on what to do if an animal escapes. The monkeys, meanwhile, are getting extra treats.

We need to create more jobs ..

According to Oregon Live:


The federal government could boost the economy and generate more than 1 million new jobs by spending $100 billion on transportation infrastructure and environmentally friendly projects.That's the chief conclusion of two reports out today by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington D.C.-based think tank.Each $100 billion invested in transportation infrastructure and in green jobs would expand the economy's annual output by about $160 billion and generate approximately 1.1 million jobs, the reports say.

As for jobs? ... they are everything.

The whole idea of job creation is wealth creation. Unfortunately much of this effort by the Obama Administration is being criticized as just another tax and spend gimmick by Democrats.

I'm no expert but I think the old adage of spending money to make money still applies here. Without jobs we have no money to spend in the marketplace. Without jobs we will not be funding the government that is currently trying to create jobs using taxpayer revenue.

As for job cuts?

It means that companies that can't afford to keep their workers and have decided to let them go have created a situation that will eventually lead to fewer customers for their products. That's called a downward spiral. It seems to me that it's time to create an upward spiral. Cut everywhere but employment if you must. Keep people on the job so they can make money to spend in the marketplace. And let the employed pay their taxes to lower our debt.

As for the work we do? it's beyond money ...

Jobs, work, passions, hobbies, pastimes ... anything we do that inspires creativity in us is vitally important. It's our purpose in life to stay active.

"Pursue or perish" are actually very real choices for all of us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The good stuff

Mars practice ...

This week a crew of six embarked on a simulated mission to Mars. Although they will not leave the confines of a dedicated isolation facility in Moscow for 105 days, their mission will help prepare for a real human mission to Mars in the future. Once all six crewmembers had entered the special habitat, the hatch was firmly closed for the last time in 105 days. Accompanying European Space Agency-selected participants are four Russian crewmembers. During their stay in the facility, the crew will experience all aspects of a mission to the Red Planet, including launch, the outward journey, arrival at Mars and, after an excursion to the surface, the long journey home.

Yes, you can find a job ...

Help wanted: pharmacists, engineers and nurses. Believe it or not, even some banks are hiring, at least for their technology teams. While the recession has claimed 4.4 million jobs, the economy has created others, many of them for highly trained and specialized professionals. More than 2 million jobs openings now exist across a range of industries, according to government data.

Human-like robot makes runway debut ...

March 23: A week after being introduced to the public, a human-like robot takes to the runway during Tokyo's fashion week. Msnbc.com's Becca Field reports.

Check out the video here


A spider bite gone right ...


A bite from a poisonous spider usually spells doom. But for David Blancarte it meant a miracle. After a motorcycle accident 21 years ago, paraplegic Blancarte lost use of his legs. A recent bite from a toxic brown recluse spider sent Blancarte to the hospital. He stayed in rehab for eight months. During rehab a nurse noticed that his leg entered a spasm. “They zapped me and I felt the current,” Blancarte said. The nurse indicated that his nerves had been “sleeping.” After running some tests, Blancarte was able to walk—for the first time in two decades.



The Miracle Bird ...


The AP reports that a Sandhill crane that was captured in central Wisconsin with an arrow through her body was released Wednesday after what a veteran bird rehabilitator calls a truly amazing recovery. Bird watcher Don Darnell from Eden Prairie, Minn., spotted the crane standing by the road near Wisconsin Rapids as he and his wife were driving through last Labor Day weekend.

"We couldn't believe it. This bird had an arrow clean through it," Darnell said. "We got out of the car to see if we could get a hold of it but it was too fast and got away."
There's always some good news somewhere ...
Turner out