Tuesday, November 01, 2005

First Winstead, Now Maron - getting the Axe at Air America? - Updating the Update

UPDATE: I fixed this post on 11/2 because Marc Maron said he might stay on after all. But later the following week, he declared he's out on Dec. 1st officially, Dec. 15th if he's nice, and real damn quick if he says too much. sigh. I hope he starts updating his blog at least.

This morning I was awoken from groggy dreams of my soon-to-be-lecture on Depression era America by Marc Maron talking about his imminent departure from Air America's morning radio show. At least, for some reason, they've given him the opportunity that they didn't give Lizz Winstead, to talk about his beefs with management on the air. Brilliant at Breakfast who's author is die-hard Morning Sedition fan is sure to have many comments about it. The Morning Sedition blog is all about saving the show today.
It reminds me of the days during the fight over Pacifica, when I used to turn on WBAI to hear the "Atlantica" satires created by Kat radio cafe and the Christmas Coup Comedy Players. That revolution was more serious - and also easier to fight - because of Pacifica's non-profit community-based status and its activist listener base.
Maron is a victim of the problem of radio marketing and the ratings system as much as he is a victim of uncreative, bad management (and perhaps, yes, a little bit, a victim of his own narcissism). Focusing on ratings, ratings, ratings always leads to a rush to the center, as this articlefrom the Village Voice on the Pacifica fight explains. It's true that the desire or need in mass media that the need to capture HUGE audiences reduces quality. The quirkyness of the Marc and Mark combination may not work to create the "pseudo-individuality" that mass media craves.
A bunch of blogs are writing about Maron today, mostly conservative oneswho trumpet any bad news for the station that they can. But in addition to Brilliant at Breakfast, and a Dkos "recommended diary," there's Working Families Party Man.
and (update) this excellent description of Maron's show and the background from real radio peeps at WFMU's "Beware of the Blog"
The switches at AirAmerica, which is attempting to be "liberal" rather than radical or progressive radio (unlike Pacifica) and to build up a mass listener base is in the same fix as the Democratic Party, unable to figure out who its base is, and, in true corporate fashion, afraid of building the base in the direction that will bring more people in. If it's true that Danny Goldberg is going to replace Maron with Jim Hightower, it will make the catering to WASP older voters even more obvious than it already is.
In both the Democratic Party and Air America, the question is not about "whether the masses will be attracted to leftist ideas" (of any degree to the left) but about whether a corporate model can ever produce any genuine "mass" appeal.
More on this bigger theme later.


Anonymous said...

Maron isn't even that super-progressive. He's just a normal, thinking person, as opposed to a right-wing lunatic or someone pretending to be a right-wing lunatic.

reb said...

yeah, he's also super funny. I think the funny thing is the real problem. He'll be the second comedian they've fired.