Thursday, October 14, 2010

NPR (and other news orgs) need to adopt transparency

There is this article:
Jeff Jarvis about NPR's restrictions

I agree with everything he said. I also think it's essential to understand the difference that's going on here. Although he didn't mention it, all the old media news organizations are falling in line with this edict: NY Times, Washington Post, AP, etc. Stay away from political rallies, staffers.

But as Jarvis astutely points out, it's a new time. We on the front lines of the new media don't sit on that objectivity fence. Our brands, our blogs, our presence online is indicated by our beliefs. We wear our opinions, loudly and proudly. Call it the New Honesty, if you will.

People want to know who they're talking to, and what those people believe. And if they choose to defer, or hide behind some corporate-speak, they are suspect.

So it is not only preferred that people attend these rallies if they want to, it is ESSENTIAL. It is a fundamental part of our democracy that people are allowed to speak their minds and their hearts, to participate in a rally, or give a donation, or put a sign on their lawn, if they are so moved to do so. NPR, supposedly liberal bastion NPR, doesn't allow them to do this.


That is the reason this story keeps popping up in the news. It's WRONG. It's part of the stilted old-media mentality. The one that also allows Congress to believe that filibustering instead of actually getting things done is a preferred way to do business. One way or another, these people are all going to be dragged, kicking and screaming (or worse, pretending like they don't care) into the future.

Speaking up is the new law of the land. We expect transparency in our government, but it has to start with our reporters, those we trust anyway, taking a stand. How can you believe someone when they say (or infer): "This is wrong/right"--if they haven't stood on the front lines talking to people, taking a stand in their own lives? What credibility do they have?

I don't find a reporter to be "unobjective" if they attend a political rally. I trust that in doing their job, they will present both sides of the story. But who decided that what we do in our personal lives could be controlled by the corporations we work for? Why do we let this continue?

I agree wholeheartedly with Jarvis. Let's make this a trending topic on Twitter. Let's speak out about this in all our social media. It really speaks to the heart of why this country is so messed up right now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jonesy's Jukebox Returns! To the Evil Empire...

Remember back, if you can, to winter of 2003. Terrestrial radio was boring, bland, much as it is now. The only real "alternative" radio station in Los Angeles was the CBS monolith called KROQ. Not much of an alternative. People were turning to their iPods in droves.

Then, suddenly, on Christmas Day 2003, with a blast of The Ramones "We Want the Airwaves," a real alternative was born, and they called it Indie 103.1. From that day till its final terrestrial one, January 15, 2009, we were graced with some of the best radio ever to cross airwaves.

But it was on February 10, 2004, that radio was truly changed forever. That day was the day the irrascible, farting, belching, dead-air-flaunting machine that is Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols began his radio career with his trusty producer, Mark Sovel, Indie's visionary music director, by his side.

There were three versions of Jonesy's Jukebox. The second version had Indie's production director, Chuck P. as producer. But the Jonesy-Chuck P. mix just wasn't the same thing. Jonesy seemed to want more of a lackey, someone he could kick around, and in came Kevin Begley, from Boston's WFNX. Young, green, he suited the bill perfectly. Except for one thing.

The Sovel-Jonesy mix was an equal pairing. Modest Sovel, of course, will deny this, but while Jonesy was the star, the Sex Pistol, the legend, Sovel was also tops in his field of DJdom. For every Jonesy push, Sovel pushed back. Takes a lot of strength to do that. Strength that both Chuck P. and Begley ultimately lacked opposite Jonesy.

You can talk to anyone who listened to Indie 103.1 regularly. Every person will wax rhapsodic over which bits were their favorites. Whose show they liked the best, or listened to the most. Which guest really bowled them over. But among the hardcore listeners, the jewel in Indie 1031's crown is, was, and always will be the Jonesy-Sovel pairing. Or "Shovel," as King Jonesy decreed him to be.

Even today, as news came over the transom about Jonesy's Jukebox once again hitting the terrestrial airwaves, the recurring question hitting my inbox was: "Is he doing it with Shovel?" (Aka, is it gonna be great again? Or crap?)

More on that later.

Cause there's another big ugly pink elephant in the room. During Indie the upstart's years in terrestrial radio, not only were they at first not taken seriously; they were then openly harrassed by the monolith KROQ. The big station (I took to calling it "The Evil Empire" on my podcast and blog) spent quite a lot of time kicking the little station that could. They might say it was all in good competitive fun. But it did get ugly.

After hanging on for five long wonderful years (a Sex Pistols reunion and tour of Europe in the mix), way past when anyone thought they would, Indie 103.1 ended its terrestrial operations, gutted its staff and opted to keep the Internet version of the station, which was still drawing ads, going. It's still going now (

One thing KROQ was good at during those five years and after is stealing Indie's best stuff. Bands, songs, playlist items, even staff. I suppose it's no surprise then, in these recession days when Yahoo has to suck it up and be happy that Bing is now their search engine, that we find, beginning Sunday: Jonesy's Jukebox will once again start spinning the tunes. (YAY! Applause) On the Evil Empire, KROQ. (Hmmm.)

It is with trepidation that one hears that news if one is a hardcore Indie 103.1 fan. But I'm happy to tell you that it's the good version of Jonesy's Jukebox: the one with Shovel alongside. We can only wonder if "Fast Food Rockers" and songs accompanied by melodica are far behind. (This version's focus is more "new music," apparently.)

Those Jukebox shows were truly magic. The more interaction with Shovel the better, in my view. Jonesy can get a bit ornery, even for the most dedicated listener. Thank God, Shovel's there to balance him out, to bring the funny. Radio truly almost doesn't get better than that.

I know it's KROQ, but listen, won't you?
The fourth edition of Jonesy’s Jukebox begins airing Sundays from 7 pm to 9 pm, this Sunday, October 10, on KROQ, 106.7 in Los Angeles. You can also stream it here:

KROQ radio stream


Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Social Network" prism as multifaceted as Zuckerberg himself

Two things are the most fascinating after watching "The Social Network," easily the most fascinating movie of this year. One: most of the people involved with making this movie don't have a Facebook page themselves.

Two: People can see the exact same movie and come away with totally different viewpoints on who did what. Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter, wasn't kidding when he likened this movie to "Rashomon." It is an incredible script, one that is sure to garner Sorkin a long-overdue Oscar. It is as easy to understand if you are a longtime Facebook user, or never even looked at Facebook in your life.

It is a machination of plot, spinning around the transcripts of real court cases. Friend against friend, classmate against classmate. And yet, it speaks to the quintessential question of our techie age: how can we create a cool app/product/website that everyone is going to love and use and make us rich in the process?

What a strange dichotomy that someone who seems to have such difficulty making friends creates the most social product out there.

My friend viewed this movie and came away with an image of Mark Zuckerberg as a "manipulative asshole." I saw the same movie and saw, finally, the whole story laid in front of me. Saw how Zuckerberg pretty much had to do what he did. I don't fault him at all, and I was rooting for him. In fact, in finally paying the amounts in question, he did right by his friends. Saverin is back on the Facebook masthead. All is now right with the world.

And just to be safe, he donated to some New Jersey schools on the day the movie opened. No, I see Zuckerberg as a good guy here.

Incredible director David Fincher also excels. The movie is stunningly shot. Harvard has never looked so good. Jesse Eisenberg, in the lead, does a fantastic job of walking us through the story. His best friend, Eduardo Saverin, played by the new Spiderman, Andrew Garfield, really makes you feel the pain he's going through. Justin Timberlake is just perfect as Sean Parker, creator of Napster.

It's like a multi-faceted prism. You can see each side clearly, as well as how they are all battling to be most beautiful, or in this case, most right. Wars of class and culture come into play. And out of all this morass, we have the incredible Facebook.

If there is anything faulting this movie it is Sorkin's lack of knowledge about Facebook. And the fact that really, its key battle: the privacy wars, was completely neglected in this story. Maybe they are saving that for "Social Network 2: Privacy." I can only hope they have someone who really knows the Internet writing about it this time.

Cause here's the thing. Nora Ephron got it wrong too, when she wrote the almost instantly dated, "You've Got Mail." It's different when you live here. When you live on Facebook, online, on Twitter. There are nuances and details that it's obvious this writer, though brilliant, missed though he combed through mounds of testimony and facts, and got an incredible story fashioned out of it. He missed the heartbeat of Facebook.

This is Facebook basically from the genesis of the idea until it starts branching out into other countries. Then the storyline drops the Facebook part, and focuses on Zuckerberg battling the court cases. By which time, he's already a billionaire. You're just not really sure why, if you aren't already on Facebook.

I can just imagine the Twitter movie. Sigh. I heard Craig Ferguson (who used to mock Twitter himself until he actually got on it and used it) talking to two celebrities this week (on the same show). Both celebrities used the tired old canards: "why would anyone care that I'm getting a haircut? or eating a sandwich? or blah blah blah..." Obviously, they don't get it. It's like that with this Facebook movie too.

And, I'm sad to say, that's what keeps it, for me, anyway, from being one of the best movies ever. It's like Sorkin was so busy making all the partners dance that he kinda forgot what the party was there for. I'll bet, if you asked him right now, he couldn't even explain why Facebook's growth was so incredible (and continues) and MySpace got huge and stopped growing. That's pretty key to this story, and would've served him well as a screenwriter.

So much of the story is built around the "college campuses" idea, it doesn't even really branch out into when other people besides colleges started using it. Or why. Why moms and grandmoms are suddenly on it. There is really a deep rich story there, too.

But for now, if we want the Facebook genesis story, this is it. I think it's a wonderful film. I think it's going to win the Best Picture Oscar and an Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Aaron Sorkin, and it's deserved. Go see it, come home arguing with your friends!