Weekly Schedule
  Message Boards
  Video Archive

Discussion Areas
  Home & Garden
  Post Magazine
  Food & Wine
  Books & Reading

  About Live Online
  About The Site
  Contact Us
  For Advertisers

Frank Ahrens
Frank Ahrens
(Craig Cola/
• Radio Lives: Lida Baden (Video)
• Radio Talk Archive
• Column: The Radio Listener
• Recent stories by Frank Ahrens
• Best Radio Song List
• Radio Lives: Bob Edwards (Video)
• Radio Lives: Donnie Simpson (Video)
• Style Section
• Entertainment Section
• Talk: Style and Entertainment message boards
• Live Online Transcripts
• Subscribe to washingtonpost.com e-mail newsletters
• mywashingtonpost.com -- customized news, traffic, weather and more

Radio Talk
With Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2001; 1 p.m. EDT

Frank Ahrens covers radio for The Washington Post. His column -- "The Listener" -- appears every other Tuesday in the Style section. Frank is also a general assignment feature writer, and his reporting subjects have included everything from minivans to murders, from baseball to bandwidth.

If you're wondering about the inner workings of radio in Washington, around the country and on the Web, or want to know what Frank really thinks of minivans, then don't touch that dial... um, mouse! Please join us for this discussion!

Also, check out another edition of Radio Lives with Frank Ahrens, a series of conversations with washington radio's biggest stars. On this episode, Ahrens interviews WTOP traffic reporter Lisa Baden.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Frank Ahrens: Greetings all, and welcome to the discussion. Thanks for tuning in when you should be at lunch, dining al fresco on such a fine day.
Today's column focused on Pacifica public radio, and the management's attempts to fight back against the protesters who feel the management is ruining Pacifica. Also, a little item about G. Gordo Liddy, who was supposed to switch from WJFK to WTNT a couple of weeks ago, but had a contract contretemps and did not. He finally debuted yesterday on WTNT (570 AM).
I was over at XM satellite radio on Friday, listening in on their format "boot camp:" each program director of each orignial channel had to prepare a 2-minute sound clip to show folks what their channel was going to sound like. More on that as we move along.
Now, your questions.

Mountainside, N.J.: Your article today about Pacifica was revealing. You mention that the Executive Director Bessie "Wash has recruited some well-known nominees to fill empty slots" on the Pacifica governing board. This is remarkable if true: the governing board hires and fires the Executive Director, and Ms. Wash is the last person who should be involved in selecting the members.

Can you give me any more information on this?

Thank you,

Andrew N.

Frank Ahrens: True enough. But someone's got to recruit potential board members, right? Clearly, Wash is trying to get some things done at Pacifica--which some folks may not agree with--and the backing of a friendly board would help expedite her ideas.

Glen Echo, Md.: Your article left out most of the governance issues over which Pacifica is being sued. The current Board of Directors majority has illegally changed the by-laws to ignore local station advisory boards and become a self-perpetuating clique. When I helped to found Pacifica in Houston in 1970, the local board told the national board who'd been hired. Now it's the other way around. This is not progress. Ms. Wash's desire to make the issue "this is all about changing programming to get a wider audience" is a PR ploy. Like most real arguments, it's about power. In this case, it's about whether those who legally hold the broadcasting licenses are acting within their authority. So far, the board majority has lost every court test of that proposition. No wonder they think they need a PR firm. What the board really needs is some more resignations.

Frank Ahrens: Thanks for the posting. I don't really have much more to add to it.

Fresno, Calif.: Particularly in light of your most recent columns regarding the "sameness" of NPR and the bottom-feeding trend in commercial radio, please comment on Bessie Wash's programming decisions at WPFW in recent years which removed public affairs and news programming and replaced it with almost exclusively jazz music. As you know Pacifica rewarded her for gutting public service by making her executive director of the entire network.

Frank Ahrens: Well, I could make the argument that there's plenty of public affairs on WAMU, even local public affairs shows--such as the D.C. Politics Hour and Metro Connection. But there's no jazz on the Washington air except for what WPFW plays. If I had to choose between more public affairs programming but no jazz, I wouldn't.

Los Angeles, Calif.: When did you find out Amy Goodman was suspended without pay? She found out from reading your article.

Frank Ahrens: Yesterday afternoon, from the public relations firm that Pacifica has hired, Westhill Public Affairs.

Washington, D.C.: Hiya Frank,

Love your column. I sometimes have issue with your coverage of Don & Mike, but you've been fair. My question deals with D&M's move to middays. For a long time, listeners of the show enjoyed their dealings and confrontations with management, creating an "us vs. them" environment. Now that they moved to their new timeslot, it seemed that they "sold-out," abandoning a large base of their loyal listeners for the opportunity of gaining new listeners. Question: do you think they will get a hurtful backlash from leaving afternoon drive?

Frank Ahrens: Well, there's an original take on the move to middays. I hadn't really thought about that. Clearly (and thanks for the nice words), Don and Mike believe that whatever hit they'll take locally by moving to middays will be offset by the big national bump they'll get by going live middays in big markets. Parent company Infinity believes that Opie and Anthony is the best best for widespread afternoon drive syndication. That meant, for Don and Mike to grow nationally, they had to move to middays. A bargain they were willing to make. There are a couple of possible pitfalls: At-work listeneing is typically the province of wallpaper stations, like Smooth Jazz and WASH, not raucous talk, like Don and Mike. Secondly, at-work listening is aided by Internet listening, but Infinity does not allow its shows, like Don and Mike, to be streamed on the Internet.

Washington, D.C. native: First, I was going to stop donating to WPFW after they lost The Burner - but I happened to catch a pledge drive and gave.

Now I hear that my money is being spent on publicists? I'm ourtraged!

Frank Ahrens: That's a perfectly legitimate reaction. Of course, you'll be able to hear Bobby "the Burner" Bennett if you subscribe to XM Satellite radio this fall, as Bennett is running the "Soul Street" channel.

College Park, Md.: My impression is that Pacifica simply wants to expand it listernership which is fine by me. But they seem to be doing this in a off-putting manner, somewhat heavy-handed. After all, part of the reason local progressive stations are really good stems from their unique programs. If everything becomes normalized Pacifica ends up being what they criticize most: homogenization. Just my $0.02.

Frank Ahrens: It's a good two cents.

Chantilly, Va.: Frank,

I heard a story (I believe it was last week) on All things Considered about Don Imus. They spoke about his influence with the movers and shakers in Washington and the media big wigs, and also about his not so politically correct side.

Did I, or did I not see on this chat that he was moved to a station that has a pretty weak signal and doesn't cover that much territory?

BTW, loved the interview with Lisa! Who's next?

Frank Ahrens: Thanks for the nice words on the Radio Lives video interview with traffic reporter Lisa Baden:
If i told you who was next, it would spoil the surprise!
This Imus issue is a good one. For years, he has trafficed in a small, but elite and ostensibly influential audience: his guests (and presumably listeners) include folks like Tim Russert, Clarence Page, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Cokie Roberts, etc. However, in Washington--what should be his home base (he is syndicated out of NYC), his ratings have always been very low, even in his target demo (men, 25-54) and even when he was on a fairly good AM signal (WTEM, 980 AM). Now that he's been moved to WTNT (570 AM), a terrible signal, his ratings have dropped out of the top 20 for his demographic. He's literally disappearing from Washington radio. However, he's stills syndicated to, I believe, 9 of the top 10 markets so his guests know that going on Imus puts them national, if not in Washington.

Washington, D.C.: Is it just me or does the fact that Greaseman sings incessantly instead of spinning yarns cause his ratings downturn and subsequent firing? I started listening when he hit AM1390 and he was telling stories just like the old days, but soon enough was back singing these songs that caused me to shut him off. I just tuned in this morning right before 8 a.m., and he was singing! That's not "theater of the mind" and if he's reading this, please get back to the go-to bits and stop singing!

Frank Ahrens: Thanks for the posting.

Arlington, Va.: Frank, this may have been asked ad nauseum in the past, but I have been wondering how come if bluegrass music is enjoying such a huge resurgence in popularity, radio stations (especially country) are refusing to play it? It doesn't seem to make any sense to me... please enlighten!

By the way, I love your chats and read your columns religiously. You rock!

Frank Ahrens: I did a column on this when the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack was very hot earlier this year. Take a gander:
if this doesn't answer your questions, write back.

Fairfax, Va.: How's Liddy going to do when he is in the exact time period as Rush?

Frank Ahrens: Not to mention the exact same time period as Don and Mike! Suddenly, the midday time slot--dominated almost solely by Rush, locally and nationally--heats up.

wiredog: Went to Apocalypse Now Redux last Sunday. One of the trailers (why do they call the "trailers" when they're at the front?) was an ad for XM Radio.

Frank Ahrens: I went to ANR on Saturday night. To me, there are two films that get better and better with repeated viewings: Apocalypse Now and Deliverance. (okay, stop the Ned Beatty snickering...)
Yes, XM is rolling out a big ad campaign by ad giants Chiat/Day. They feature David Bowie, B.B. King and Snoop Dog falling from the sky and crashing into you car, home, barn, etc. Just like satellite radio comes from the sky...get it? I wasn't sure the audience got it, but they laughed.
Speaking of XM, here are some of the formats they'll have, which I picked up last friday:
-- Six channels of "Decades," '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. These were the least impressive channels. XM is trying very hard to not sound like radio you hear today; these sounded just like it: noisy, high-traffic, cheesey-sounding deejays. These channels are a great idea in theory--especially the '40s and '50s channels--but they need some tuning.
-- Five country channels, including the terrific-sounding "Hank's Place," which uses all sorts of ear candy (change going into the jukebox, bar sounds, etc.) to create a nice aural landscape on which they play Hank Williams, etc.
-- 15 Hits channels. On "The Heart," an all love-songs channel that men cannot biologically listen to for more than 2 minutes, there was an unbelieveable deejay who kept switching seemlessly from Spanish to English. Don't ask me why, but it just worked. And somehow, even if you dind't speak Spanish, you still got what he was saying.
-- A Special X channel. I don't even know how to describe this, but it could be some of the most orignial radio you've ever heard. Former WHFS morning man Lou Brutus, fired a couple of years ago, is the madman behind this, which sounds like a mix of Monty Python and Golden Throats. Stay tuned.
-- 10 Rock channels, including The Boneyard, which is Alice Cooper style rock; the Loft, which is acoustic rock; Fred, which is classic alternative; and Unsigned, which is just what it says.
-- 7 black hits/adult contemporary, etc. channels, including Soul Street, Bobby Bennett's channel, and The Rhyme, which is classic rap. (Kurtis Blow!)
-- there are four classical channels, five latin channels, four dance channels, all this in addition to the channels they're picking up from other providers: Headline News, Bloomberg, CNBC, NASCAR, ESPN, you get the idea.
Launch date is Sept. 12; the system will first be heard in San Diego and Dallas, I belive, then roll out across the Southwest and go national around the end of the year. Subscriptions are still $9.95 a month. You can see the XM-ready car radios at Best Buy now.
Still waiting on rival Sirius's complete lineup.

Washington, D.C.: It's hard to believe that current Pacifica management is out to expand listenership -- why are they making life impossible for Amy Goodman, like they did for Vern Avery Brown, their long-time anchor -- they've been driving out their biggest draws. Frank -- did you ask why do they not have a local news program on WPFW? -- people who want to be involved in WPFW can hook up with the local advisory board: www.wfpw.net

Frank Ahrens: I have been flooded with "why didn't you ask...?" questions all day today. All I can tell you is I did what I could in the time and newspaper space alloted. But here's your posting in this forum. Thanks.

Washington, D.C.: I've been a WPFW contributor and volunteer for several years. Until now. Lou Hankins runs WPFW with an iron fist, with absolutely no tolerance for dissent. He frequently berates callers with whom he disagrees, once screaming multiple times, "cut him off, cut him off." I've lost track of how many times he has censored Amy Goodman's Democracy Now show this year. Don't you think it's a slightly incongruous for a station that bills itself as "decidedly not mainstream...progressive...community radio...not your average radio station.." etc. to censor and harass the very program staff and listeners who strongly believe in that stated mission? are there any other stations in the DC area that censor programs and content as blatantly and frequently as WPFW has under Lou Hankins?

Frank Ahrens: Let's get one thing straight first: When WPFW pulls a program or caller off the air, it's not "censorship." Censorship is when the government bans speech, books, actions, etc. Pacifica is a privately run foundation and, as such, has the right to do just about anything they want that's not in violation of their FCC licenses. Further, Pacifica has a "dirty laundry" provision, which says hosts and callers are not supposed to air internal or staff matters. All that being said: Pacifica's background as an advocate for certain types of free speech, and its history of flying in the face of the establishment do indeed make Lou Hankins', and other managers', decisions to pull shows and callers off the air seem incongruous and yes, occasionally cowardly. Especially because the Pacifica matter has spilled out of the stations and onto the street and sometiems constitute real news that the stations ought to be covering.

Arlington, Va.: Frank,

Did you happen to catch Donnie Simpson's appearance on the Russ Parr morning show last week? Is this unprecedented, the competition appearing on the other's show. With the competiton between, PGC and KYS, I would think that the corporate bigwigs that own those station would be shuttering in their pants.

Frank Ahrens: No, I didn't. Details, please. Did he call in, or what? What happened? That does seem unusual.

Alexandria, Virginia: Frank -- fantastic piece on those armchair Marxists at Pacifica Radio. It was hysterical to read about their political infighting as if they were some '70s bank-robbing communist clacque in the midst of an internal power struggle. They sounded like a cross between a bunch of keystone cops and campus Stalinists. My question is this: Where do they get their money? Cleveland Park liberals? Please don't tell me my tax dollars are going to these bozos.

Frank Ahrens: Yes, indeed, some of your tax dollars go to them. Pacifica, unlike National Public Radio and its affiliates, does not take corporate underwriting. Pacifica gets about 80 percent of its budget from listener donations and the other 20 percent from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the organization that funnels federal money to public broadcasters. Mad yet?

Woodbridge, Va.: Read your O Brother column. It was great and I could not agree with you more. It is one of my favorite CD's and it really help me enjoy the movie (which I think gets better with each viewing). Too bad the stations are not willing to take a chance.

Frank Ahrens: Thanks, and agreed. As a fan of the Coen Bros., I think it is their best movie since Fargo. Some of their movies, like the Hudsucker Proxy and the Big Lebowski, are glorious messes, but not very good movies. O Brother is just terrific.

Laurie: Actually,I just bought a nice XM-ready system for my mom-mobile (no, it is NOT a mini-van). I am curious to see how this plays out. Did Martin Goldsmith go to XM or Sirius?

Frank Ahrens: Martin Goldsmith--in shorts!--said hi to me at XM the other day. Can you imagine him in shorts?

Quince Orchard, Md.: D&M lambasted the Grease when he left 101 to go to LA, basing the lambasting on Grease’s leaving his Drive Time slot. They spent almost a week dogging him, saying that the drive time slots were the key to a DJ’s success (or words to that effect), and now they go and do the same thing.

Methinks they’ll get hoisted by their own petard.

Frank Ahrens: I love any and all maritime references.

You Underestimate Your Influence: Don't know if you've been listenining to "Classic Rock 94.7" lately, but it seems that the forum you have provided here has had a positive impact. They are playing more variety and less of that awful Fleetwood Muck/Elton John/Led Zeppelin rotation. If they're still monitoring this chat, I have a message for them: Nice start, keep it up, increase the variety, and don't go back to the worst Classic Rock Misses of the '70s. Thanks.

Frank Ahrens: I'll expect my consultant's check any day now.

The Airless Cubicle: Hi, Frank.

In September, Newfoundland will be celebrating the centenary of Marconi's famous "SSS" Morse code signal received at Signal Hill, Newfoundland. In 100 years, we have progressed from low-frequency Morse Code to high-speed digital transmissions via satellite around the world. We have seen the development of radio as a life-saving device, a form of entertainment, a weapon of war, and a way to teach the public. And in the next century, radio will change in ways I can't imagine.

Marconi, of course, was the Clear Channel of his day. The Marconi Corporation controlled radio for the first decade of its life. Marconi provided not only the transmitter and receiver for ship and shore installations, but the operators as well. They had a tendency not to work non-Marconi stations. This changed after the TITANIC sank in 1912. Radio became a common medium.
Old-fashioned international radio is still not obsolete, despite the thoughts of the BBC's Mark Byford. I have been checking the morning shortwave programs post BBC and have been finding some true gems. There are more frequencies out there than I am giving, but these are good for Washington:

On 5965 kHz, which was an old BBC World Service frequency, Radio Nederlands broadcasts around 6 AM Eastern time, or 1000 UTC. RN has the best news mix on the planet in a one-hour show. Their coverage of international events is very good and their interviewers are tactful and get to the point in a three-minute interview.

On 9885 kHz, Radio New Zealand International provides a news summary, WORLD VIEW, culled from broadcasters, including the BBC, CNN, and Deutsche Welle, at 6:40 AM, or 1040 UTC. They follow this with the National News and close on this frequency at 7:06 AM. Much of RNZI's programming comes from their domestic service.

On 9580 kHz, Radio Australia has ASIA-PACIFIC REPORT following the news at 7:00 AM Eastern, or 1100 UTC. In this Chandrified town, you may wonder why we should concern ourselves with Asian news that seems remote. However, Indonesia is imploding financially; there are Muslim insurgencies in many Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia itself; and if this keeps up we may be facing a new round of refugees in the United States.

On the local scene, China Radio International is still sponsoring a one-hour program in English on WUST-1120 aimed specifically for the Washington area. This is the news China wants the U.S. policymakers to hear.

If you are tired of the same old stories in Washington, then try listening to shortwave radio. What you hear there may be the top story on local radio in a few months.

Frank Ahrens: Hi, Dubya. Great to hear from you. Terrific stuff on the Marconi history; esp. as Clear Channel of his day! Clear Channel radio honco Randy Michaels would be flattered. And thanks for the untiring advocacy of short-wave and the good listings pak.

Wiredog: Frank,
Are we having solar flares again? Last week I was sitting at my desk, listening to 101, when the signal faded out. When it faded back in it wasn't DC101, it was some station that, judging from the accents in the local ads, was in Louisiana. It's weird to be picking up an FM station from that far away.

It faded back out after a couple of minutes, before I could figure out who, or where, it was.

Frank Ahrens: O Dubya?

Glover Park, D.C.: Frankie Baby:

Great article on Pacifica's ongoing problems. I found one quote from Ms. Walsh to be very telling on the whole issue:

Asked if the old left is dead, Wash laughed and said: "We're not dead. We just eat our young."

That's exactly what's going on. The old left is already on the air at NPR. NPR already does a great job of being NPR, so Pacifica doesn't need to do that. Pacifica's future should be in programming for the growing new left that keeps showing up for IMF protests, especially the minority members of that new left.

WPFW has great potential, but they're bleeding talent. Most of their music shows are really good (drivetime jazz is wonderful), but their talk shows are getting more and more like NPR, only less professional.

Like most U.S. business, I don't understand why Pacifica must "grow". There's nothing wrong with finding your niche and playing to it.

Frank Ahrens: Thanks for the posting. I think that Pacifica feels it needs to grow simply because it has hamstrung itself finanacially: since they don't take corporate underwriting, and since money from the feds ain't going to increase, their only way to make more money and keep up with inflation and produce better shows (i.e., hire more staff, etc.) is to get more listeners who will pledge more $$$.

Burke, Va.: Hey Frank, is it true that Gordon Liddy's contract was held up by his insistance that his producer Diana be made executive producer of the program?

Frank Ahrens: I had not heard this. But I'm willing to take intelligence on it.

Arlington Va: I'm interested in XM. How will it work. I'd be willing to fork out say $10 a month, but probably would not want to invest several hundred bucks in a new receiver.

Frank Ahrens: Well, you'll either need to buy a new car receiver or buy a new car that has an XM reciever in it. It works like this: You put the receiver in your car and stick a small antenna on top (some early designs look like little shark fins--topical, eh?). Then you pony up the subscription fee. Then, it's like satellite TV: the signal beams right to your car. It's a national service--the company has two satellites and theoretically you could drive across the country and listen to the same channel. XM testers have been driving aroudn listening and they report only occasional drop-out, such as in heavily wooded areas. It's like with your home satellite dish: if it rains really really REALLY hard, you get something called "rain fade," where your dish is trying to acquire the signal. Once the rain slacks off a little, the signal comes back.

McLean, Va.: Frank-

Do you have a contact for the Arlington-based coalition that sprung up to conteract WAMU's decision to drop the daily bluegrass program?

I recall there was mention of such a group in your article that announced this decision a few months ago.

Frank Ahrens: Yes, the fellow's name is Kevin Appel and his e-mail is:


Mt. Rainier, Md.: There seems to be a blackout on WPFW concerning the dispute between Pacifica management and dissidents. Friends in NY tell me that WBAI regularly carries discussion of the issue. A recent debate between a former Pacifica board member and one of the dissidents, Juan Gonzalez, was aired on every other Pacifica station except WPFW. Any insights on why WPFW is unwilling to let it's listeners even learn about the issue? Could it have something to do with the fact that the Pacifica board is housed at WPFW headquarters?
By the way, I too am outraged that listener funds are going to a PR firm. The remaining illegitimate board members should resign.

Frank Ahrens: It's up to each station's management how strictly they want to enforce the "dirty laundry" rule.

Rosslyn, Va.: In response to Wiredog, there was a "tropospheric" event in the atmosphere last week. The simple explanation is that there was a quick, transitory change in the atmosphere all across the East Coast last week, triggered in part by solar acrivity, that made it possible for a few minutes for FM radio station signals to travel much farther than they normally would. Such "events" are common in August. Hope that helps.

Frank Ahrens: This is the smartest discussion on the block. You even beat O Dubya!

The Airless Cubicle: On the FM band, it's Sporadic-E propagation. The troposphere forms a duct north to south and FM and TV signals in 50 to 100 MHz range pass through that duct.

O Dubya

Frank Ahrens: ...and for the hardcore...

New Jersey: Question about satelite radio -- is it for your car only? As a commuter to NYC, I ride the bus (good ole NJ Transit) and only use my car on the weekends. Can't imagine spending for the radio and the monthly subs for only weekend use. How about portable MP3 player type devices? Also what about the digital cable/mini-dish tv subscriptions that include similar niche music channels? Any competition there?

You know, somebody needs to come up with a single system with a single monthly fee that I can listen to while commuting, at home or in the car ... then I'll buy.

Frank Ahrens: XM has partnered with Sony and hopes to eventually provide home satellite radios. As for handhelds, I don't know. Like you, I too am waiting for convergence: when I can have my cell fon, PDA, pager, radio, GPS and Internet access all in one handy package.

Annandale, Va.: Do you have any ratings information about how Don and Mike are doing in their new time slot or how Opie and Anthony are doing in D&M's old time slot? If not, when will we have an idea of how both shows are doing since the shift?

Frank Ahrens: Too early. Next full Arbitron report comes out in late Sept. and covers summer; I'd even give it another book to get a better answer.

The Airless Cubicle: Frank: "Hoist by your own petard" is an old soldier's term, not a sailor's term.

A "petard" was a type of bomb, usually bell-shaped, which was used to breach a hole in a gate of a castle. The men who did this were being shot at by everyone in the castle, as well as risking friendly fire, so they were called "the forlorn hope."

To be "hoist" by the petard meant you were blown up by your own bomb.

O Dubya

Frank Ahrens: Sometimes this discussion is just a little TOO smart...

Somewhere: "can you imagine Martin Goldsmith in shorts?"

He's on the radio, so why don't you fill us in on what he looks like. You don't have to be so specific, but when you make a comment like that, it causes one to wonder.

Frank Ahrens: Well, it's just because he hosted a very august classical music show as "Performance Today" host on NPR. I saw him in a tux, or a smoking jacket or something. He's a fine, average-looking fellow and he looked, in shorts, like your pop on vacation.

Arlington, Va.: Re: Donnie Simpson

I caught the tail end of the conversation. It was between 6:30 and 7:00. Initially I thought it was a comedy bit (somebody impersonating Donnie) but apparantly the had played golf together the day before. After Donnie was off the air, Parr talked about how even though the stations are competing it doesn't mean that the on-air personalities couldn't get along. It wasn't that long ago that some of the younger DJ's on those station were open taking shot at one another on the air. Maybe they can learn from Donnie and Russ.

Frank Ahrens: Thanks. Donnie and Russ are both class acts and it doens't surprise me they were playing golf: Donnie is a mad golfer. I guess I just wonder what the WPGC managemetn thought about Donnie going on their hottest rival, esp. after WPGC socred the top ratings spot in the most recent Arbitron book.

Los Angeles, Calif.:
You quoted Bessie Walsh saying

" I was in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, and they were telling me that the majority of the population in L.A. is now Latino. Is Pacifica reflecting that?"

Did you ask her why?

Pacifica's LA station KPFK mangement fired almost all it's Latino programmers in the last 5 years. This weekend Juan Gonzalez former co-host Democracy Now will be in LA to address reclaiming the station in the Spanish speaking community.

Frank Ahrens: Thanks for the posting. Good info.

Rosslyn, Va.: Frank, Just an observation about Pacifica.
I've been watching them for years, and they always seemed to revel in being a network, and in some cases, local stations, where chaos is celebrated, and management is irrelevant. Then, they chose to try to impose some management, albeit, in a heavy-handed, ham-fisted way, and the place begins to self-destruct. I appreciate their role as an alternative voice on the radio...but is being "alternative" in such direct contradiction to being well-managed that the two can't co-exist, as your report seems to suggest? Just a thought. Thanks.

Frank Ahrens: That's the big quesiton. It's like back in the old days of free-form radio (the old WNEW in NYC, etc.): the jocks felt that if anyone but they picked the music, the purity of the show would be lost. Which is why jocks thought consultants like Lee Abrams and Michael Harrison were evil personified, because they wanted to impose some order on the free-form. I guess it comes down to this: as a deejay or a talk host or any kind of broadcaster, are you doing the show for yourself or for your listeners?

Frank Ahrens: Thanks a lot for all the good questions today; a couple of vigorous discussions underway. And I appreciate you guys sticking with me as I do this summer semi-hiatus, meeting with you every other week.
See you in two weeks and, as usual, sorry I couldn't get to all your questions.

© Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company


A live discussion forum that offers sponsors a platform to discuss issues, new products, company information and other topics.

  Our Regular Hosts:
• Carolyn Hax: Smart, tough-love advice on relationships, family and work.
• Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon: These sports experts hold nothing back.
• Bob Levey: Talk to newsmakers and reporters.
• Howard Kurtz: The news and what makes the media tick.
• Tom Sietsema: The latest on dining in D.C.
The complete
Live Online show list