Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (motto: "We ensure nothing interesting gets on the radio") announced its latest underachievement.
The FCC has been investigating Big Radio for violating laws against payola—perks offered to radio employees so that they'll breathlessly hype the likes of Jessica Simpson. The only person hurt was the consumer—at least those who haven't heard of iPods.
To settle a lawsuit, four big companies—CBS Radio, Clear Channel Communications, Citadel Broadcasting, and Entercom Communications—agreed to provide 4,200 hours of free airtime to local and independent artists.
Sounds great, right?
Well, first you have to divide the hours by four radio chains, then spread them out over hundreds of stations.
"You have to start somewhere," says Peter Gordon, who helped negotiate the settlement on behalf of the American Association of Independent Music (and whose label, Thirsty Ear, will release the debut album by locals the Gang Font featuring Interloper this week). "From here, we'll be looking at what's appropriate for what market and what station."
Neither Clear Channel nor CBS will comment on the specifics of the deal until it's finalized, but you don't need to be a math whiz to see that Clear Channel would not need to alter its local programming in the least to comply. The 1,200-station giant already broadcasts one hour of local music every week: Minnesota Music on Cities 97 (KTCZ 97.1 FM). The company can meet its quota within a month by airing that show alone.
CBS, with its 147 stations, is in the hole for at least seven hours locally, between "eclectic" alternative Jack FM (KZJK 104.1) and soft-rocking 102.9 Lite FM (WLTE). Maybe both stations could knock it out by simulcasting a seven-hour Rembrandts concert. —Peter S. Scholtes
Unfit for Print
Civicly engaged alcoholics were left with no media outlet of their own when the Whittier Globe folded in January. Nick Hook, the paper's former "editor" ("I use that word very loosely," he says) claims the problem was his advertisers' lack of humor.
"Every time we'd write something funny, some hippie would get annoyed and pull their ads," he says.
He points to the fact that one of the paper's most reliable advertisers, the Wedge, pulled their ads in late 2005 after Hook wrote a satirical article about organic food titled "How to Avoid Setting Foot in the Wedge Ever Again."
But Hook isn't going to let that stop him from making another bold attempt at what we will charitably call "new journalism." He's making his triumphant return to publishing with the debut of a new magazine: The HindQuarterly.
Apparently, the title is meant to be taken literally. The mag's 24-page debut, titled "The Ass Issue," contains articles about colonics, anal sex, plaster butt molds, and an advice column called, "Ask Nurse Missy."
Hook and his staff (whom he pays with alcohol) will celebrate "The Ass Issue" this Friday with an "Ass Party" at the Hexagon Bar in Seward. The night promises the first performance by Vinnie and the Stardusters in three years, and will feature a "mooning booth," a butt-mold station, and a live donkey.
Everything, it seems, but the magazine itself.
"It isn't printed yet, and our designer has pneumonia," Hook says. "Hey City Pages, do you know of a good printer? Seriously, I have no idea what I'm doing here." —Chuck Terhark
We're number two!
Last week, the New York Times bestowed a not-so-honorable distinction on Minnesota: It has the second-most sex offenders committed to rehabilitation programs lavishly funded by tax dollars.
There are currently 342 men who have been civilly committed in Minnesota. It turns out that California is the only state that has more sex offenders serving indeterminate sentences. And that doesn't include Gary Condit.
What's more, only two states (Pennsylvania and Florida) spend more money per sex offender than Minnesota. The state pays a whopping $141,255 annually for each person locked up under the program. By contrast, it costs just $29,240 to keep someone in prison.
Yet for all the eye-popping numbers, one fact stands out about Minnesota's civil commitment program: After 13 years, it has yet to successfully rehabilitate and release a single sex offender. —Paul Demko
If you need any more signs that we don't have a plan for Iraq, consider the newest recruit to our fighting forces: Charles Storlie.
Some of you may remember Storlie as the Minneapolis Police Officer who riddled undercover cop Dan Ngo with bullets from an MP5 submachine gun ("Shot to Hell," CP 5/21/03). Ngo survived and sued Storlie and the city for $9 million. Now comes news that Storlie has quit the MPD to go to the Middle East as a private contractor.
"If the guy wants to go fight the insurgency, that shows that he's maybe not the kind of guy you'd want rolling on the streets of Minneapolis," says Ngo's attorney, Bob Bennett.
With Storlie on the scene, we offer one piece of advice to our brave men and women in uniform: Beware of friendly fire. —G.R. Anderson Jr.