by Brian Wilson
am but an insignificant grape, currently toiling in the vineyards
of Infinity Broadcasting. Thanks to the FCC-inspired "Era of
Consolidation," that also puts me under the corporate umbrella
of Viacom, owner of CBS, Originator of Stern, Broadcaster of Super
Bowl 38C and other notorious programs that have recently roiled
reactions in the public, political and regulatory sectors.
Suits have been in a major twist since JJ’s Super Bowl Pop-Out ad.
The relationship to Infinity radio properties is tangenital (sic).
The perpetual charges of "Smut à la Stern," the well-publicized
Opie & Anthony "Sex In St. Patrick’s" incident and
the laundry list of suspensions for the DC-based Don & Mike
show Infinity owned programs all have created Corporate
cause for concern, a direct result of the national hyperventilating
since Ms Jackson’s Tempest In A C-Cup.
the plethora of strongly worded memos to air talent, bored board-ops
and janitorial personnel "Re: Death and Dismemberment (And
Worse)" that will befall those who "air or allow to be
aired any indecent material" has created blizzard-like conditions
in station in-boxes as well as a cacophony of confused conversation
among the underpaid and overworked.
the Vocabulary Challenged, these allegedly instructive directives
provide only a diaphanous "definition by example" of what
all might agree constitutes "indecent." Sure, the latest
"Comprehensive Big Memo From Mel"* contains page after
titillating page of transcribed air-checks from the SOS (Seriously
Offensive Shows) heard on sleazier stations around the country.
But these are extremes by any measure. The vast majority of on-air
talent does not have to resort to any of the 7 or 8 words on the
FCC’s Verboten List or engage in titillating on-air dialogue with
callers who otherwise spend their days writing "Letters to
Penthouse," enjoying a rich fantasy life. Most provide entertaining
programs well within the oft-referenced "community standards."
in attempting to navigate the New Effluvium with the confounding
hair-splitting logic of recent FCC rulings, consider a couple current
conundrums facing on-air types throughout Radio Land:
may not say "You are an "asshole."
may say "You are an ass. Whole subdivisions agree with me."
may not say "I got to f__k this hottie in the back seat!"
may say the experience was "f__king great!"
publick skoolz are regularly graduating Functional Illiterates into
the listening audience, who among them are going to savor the grammatical
gymnastics and linguistic nuances shown above? If the maternally
protective motive is to shield tender ears from coarse language,
what sort of prophylactic does mere punctuation provide? Obviously,
it doesn’t. But is does provide plausible cover for the Corporate
Legal Beagles when they have to present both a cogent and digestible
defense at their next License Lifting Hearing before the FCC.
actual Atomic Clock measurement, Ms Jackson’s Right One was on display
for parts of a nanosecond. Sharp-eyed parents went ballistic over
the wanton display! "How do we explain this to our children?"
came the plaintive wail. "We never expected The Children to
be exposed to THAT on a fine, family-oriented Super Bowl show!"
(Ahem) pardon me but during that same family funfest, the
kiddies also saw and heard the exciting news about the 4 Hour Erection.
How did you explain THAT to the crumbsnatchers?
the dreaded Double Standard monster has raised its ugly heads over
here. Within hours of the arrival of the recent "Really Really
Big Memo from Mel," the Howard Stern Show was airing a "Best
Of" tape containing such rule-breaking content as: use of the
word "penis" in a lascivious way, discussion of oral/anal
sex in a lascivious way, other content of a "titillating nature"
i.e. "in a lascivious way." The Suit’s explanation for
Howard’s continued employment goes thus: "Howard is contractually
obligated to pay his own fines." Fine. But as anyone who’s
been in The Business for more than 10 quarter-hour segments knows,
the payment of fines is just an expensive stretch along the rough
road leading to Loss of License-ville. Those of us who have been
instructed to eschew airing Monty Python’s cutesy "I Bet They
Won’t Play This Song On The Radio" are left to ponder the enforcement
chasm between Mel’s Memos and Stern’s Shows. The Inner Children
are left to wonder how their big brother gets away with it while
they are preemptively denied much less offensive tools of their
is the case in every social-political skirmish, the real battle
is in the back rooms and board rooms for bucks and bennies much
bigger and infinitely more important than My Next Show. Meanwhile,
the little guy in the trenches takes the heat and the audience unwittingly
loses another chunk of Freedom. Frothing Politicians, Corporate
Bean Counters and Myopic Regulators predictably paint their prohibitions
with a very broad brush. Not to eliminate foul language (or attractive
body parts) from the "public airwaves," but to make the
schlubs on the payroll and public at large easier to control, all
the while giving the appropriate appearance of being shocked
SHOCKED! at something they intentionally cultivated in their
never-ending pursuit of ratings and oblation to Corporate’s Yahweh,
The Bottom Line. The simple freedom of choice to change the channel
is not beyond the comprehension of Suits in the public or private
sector just contrary to their goals. Sadly, that all-to-obvious
option is routinely overlooked by way too many in the audience.
At least the Guys With Ties can correctly point to our increasingly
litigious society as a real source for their anxiety attacks.
never fear! Maximum Concern from the Government-Corporate Complex
in the next Memo)
Wilson [send him mail] is
a talk show host, author and speaker. He's heard on better talk
radio stations across the country through his Vacation Relief Service
and most recently vented his libertarian views on KSFO/San Francisco.
© 2004 LewRockwell.com