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Just Another Business

While I am just as sorry as anyone that the likes of Chris Cantore and so many other radio veterans were sent packing, I still don’t see the big surprise of it (“Why Local Radio Is No Longer Local,” Cover Story, December 31). The radio business is certainly no different than any other business now experiencing the drastic tumult and disassociation of the current bad economy. Other businesses are “redefining” their sales forces and employees and winnowing personnel, so why shouldn’t radio suffer along with everyone else? In this case, I would say to radio folks: Hunker down, hope you aren’t too expensive a burden to the corporation, and keep a low profile until things start to turn around. God knows the politics involved in surviving the radio snake pit — just be nice to the listeners and no, we are “not stupid.”

The success of 94.9 FM shows that a station can stay in the game and maintain its integrity as well as its employees and play great music! It’s a shame that the radio business has come to this, but it coexists along with every other business out there getting whacked by the economy. About all that is left to say is that old, tired cliché: radio — hang in there!

Gail Powell
via email

Bad News

Would’ve been a possibly good article if it didn’t seem like it was written six months ago without being updated before it was submitted (“Why Local Radio Is No Longer Local,” Cover Story, December 31). Hilary is at 94/9 now and has been for the last few months.

Funny how I saw that cover picture on an album cover at Borders yesterday.

Journalism in the 2000s sucks!!

I’ll try reading a main article there in the next six months and see if it’s improved.

via email

The cover illustration by Tom Cocotos was nonexclusive art that was sold to the Reader for one-time publication rights. — Editor

Radio Rundown

I have a couple of comments on your cover story in the December 31 issue, “Why Local Radio Is No Longer Local.” I would take issue with your terminology there. The author talks about radio, and sometimes what he’s referring to is some Internet setup. As far as I’m concerned, unless it goes through the air and can be picked up free with an aerial, it’s not radio; it’s something else. In other words, radio is from 550 through 1700 kilocycles amplitude modulation, over the air, through an aerial, or it’s from 88 through 108 megacycles frequency modulation, over the air, through an aerial. This other stuff on the Internet, you should not call it radio. It’s not radio. Please don’t call it radio, it’s just confusing. And also this satellite stuff that evidently you have to pay for or stuff you get through a cable, it’s not radio — radio’s through the air, picked up by an aerial, free.

Also, he says something about there are 13 local AM radio stations in San Diego. I rather doubt that. As far as I know, there are only 3 stations that have talk programs: KOGO, 600 kilocycles; KFMB, 760 kilocycles; and KCBQ, 1170 kilocycles; and then that thing at 1700 kilocycles — it’s almost irrelevant; we have four or five radios in the house, and I can only pick it up on one or two because it’s at the far end of the band. There are a few other sports stations, but I’m not aware of any music stations left around here — AM, that is, not FM. There’s KECR; that’s a religious station in El Cajon; that’s at 910 kilocycles AM. There may be a few Mexican stations. There used to be KSDO, which was a good station, 1130; Clear Channel sold it to the Mexicans, and now it’s some sort of a religious station. I don’t think there are 13 AM stations, really, in San Diego.

Name Withheld
via voice mail

Thomas Larson replies: My total of 13 AM radio stations came from the Arbitron ratings data for San Diego as well as ontheradio.net.

They are KOGO 600; KFMB 760; KECR 910; KCEO 1000; KURS 1040; KSDO 1130; KCBQ 1170; KPRZ 1210; KSON 1240; KKSM 1320; KLSD 1360; KFSD 1450; and 1700AM.

The AM stations, besides the talk powerhouses like KOGO and KFMB, include gospel, religious, college, and Spanish formats.

Jesus Goes To Rudford’s

Hey, I remember that party (“Crasher,” December 31)! You and your girlfriend were already there when I arrived. Too bad you two didn’t stay for the bonfire, because that was when more friends of mine showed up. And Thom’s too. We were there till about 4:30 or 5:00 a.m., when we went en masse to Rudford’s for breakfast. Burt, the “oldest marcher in the 2008 Gay Pride parade,” stayed up with us too! He’s such a character. I never thought about it, but you are right, Thom does look like Jesus, without that stupid hat and his glasses.

By the way, the actress I would have play me in a movie of my life would be Natalie Wood, although people constantly tell me I look like Anne Hathaway. Now that I think about it, maybe my attractive girlfriends would have made your lady jealous. She’s cute, but I have been told that I am too. Ciao, Bebe!

via email


I read, transfixed, your article regarding the SDPD, Victor Vega’s thumb, and the Critical Mass ride, held the last Friday of each month, at 7:00 p.m., beginning in Balboa Park (“SDPD — Got an Attitude?” “City Lights,” December 4).

It simply does not surprise me that the SDPD would not cite the man who tried to bite Mr. Vega’s thumb off and succeeded in mutilating it. It does, however, reinforce a terrible perception (truth) about the SDPD and virtually every other official law enforcement agency operating in Southern California and San Diego (county sheriff; local PDs like El Cajon, Carlsbad, etc.; DEA; Border Patrol). They are anti-bicycle, period. In this case, the officers involved abandoned their responsibility and knowingly allowed a criminal to escape prosecution for an assault. It is unfortunately the latest in a series of anti-cyclist actions by law enforcement.

In 2007, Marc Carpenter, a quiet, unassuming attorney, who was also a lifetime cyclist, was run over and killed on Highway 67 at the intersection of Poway Road. The motorist was never even investigated. See ya! Ta-ta!

On December 2 of this year, Ed Costa, a 30-year-old self-employed construction worker, father of two (he worked with his family at Costa Construction), was run over and killed in Alpine by a hit-and-run driver, allegedly Travis Weber. Only after family members saw the alleged offender pull into a local bar, the Liars’ Club, right across the street from the accident site two days later, during a candlelight/ prayer vigil at the accident site, did the San Diego County sheriff — whose brand-spanking-new $4 million office complex sits next door — act and arrest Mr. Weber. Weber also had been in an accident earlier on December 2, just down the road on Alpine Boulevard, and was reported to the sheriff as a drunk driver. The San Diego County sheriff knew he was likely the driver/murderer involved and chose not to arrest him. I won’t get into Weber’s criminal record, including DUIs, but suffice it to say that he had to be the primary suspect. What I heard from a DEA agent on December 13 is that the victim, Ed Costa, was “suspected” of being a drug runner, so both the DEA and the San Diego County sheriff considered his death a positive. While taken aback, that attitude did not surprise me.

I have been hit or nearly hit on my bike by offending motorists a dozen times in the last five years, and not once has an SDPD officer or San Diego County sheriff intervened or cited the offending driver. Several of these incidents have actually been witnessed by sheriff’s deputies. The response is always the same — a laugh, a wink, a nod, as if to say, “Too bad, buddy. Why the hell are you riding a bike, anyway?”

They’re too busy writing registration violations and seat belt tickets (revenue!) to bother with helping to preserve the lives of citizens.

Dean Patterson
via email

Free Juries

The December 4 “Judge for Yourself” (Local Events) interview with retired judge Norbert Ehrenfreund was enriching, and he should be commended and congratulated for his comments — honest comments about the jury and the jurors’ unlimited rights and independence; accountable to no one for their verdict, for whatever reason they choose, such as voting “no conviction” against an unjust law tried against a guilty defendant is acceptable.

The Founders saw the jury as the last peaceful barrier against malicious prosecution and tyranical government, thus granting juries complete independence from a judge’s instructions (jury tampering) or any other outside influence.

Knowledge of your unlimited rights as a prospective juror should never be revealed to a judge or prosecutor during the juror-seating process or you will be removed, for prosecutors’ and all lawyers’ first allegiance is to the court bench, not the client or accused. Justice is what you can afford.

Never reject jury duty. Your one “no” vote could save an innocent individual from incarceration when tried under atrocious or stacked nonrelevant charges. Jury duty is how we protect each other from malicious government (potential liars), promotion-seeking cops, judges, and prosecutors.

To fortify Judge Ehrenfreund’s assertions, consider the following:

John Jay, first chief justice, U.S. Supreme Court: “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

Samuel Chase, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1796: “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.”

“All laws that are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury v. Madison (1803).

Alexander Hamilton, 1804, quoted by Joe Sax: “Jurors should acquit even against the judge’s instruction…(if) exercising their judgment with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.” Sometimes called “jury nullification” or jury lawlessness by judges and prosecutors.

Harlan F. Stone, 12th chief justice, U.S. Supreme Court, in 1941 stated: “The law itself is on trial quite as much as the case which is to be decided.”

U.S. v. Moylan, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (1969): “If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision.”

U.S. v. Dougherty, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (1972): “The jury has an unreviewable and irreversible power…to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.”

Norton v. Shelby County: “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

Pass on to friends.

Jay Cook
Valley Center

In The No-Win Zone

This letter is in regards to the lead article in the November 20 issue. First off the bat, “Welcome to Weedmart” was a pretty cheese-ball title for your article regarding the perils of obtaining medical marijuana. Obviously, obtaining marijuana is not as easy as driving down to Walmart to obtain the latest and greatest in overseas-made discount what have you.

Second, those who grow their medicine obviously do so at their peril. Not just from Johnny Law but also from those who will stop at nothing to poach your plants for their nonmedicinal use. This is why most growers not only invest in decent security systems but also sometimes have to resort to keeping loaded firearms handy.

Third, when it comes to medical marijuana, the market is such that being charged way above market prices is pretty much the norm. It is like how Big PhRMA members run their corporations — they have the meds if you have the cash.

Unlike Big PhRMA, however, there are no low-income or medically necessary discount programs when it comes to medical marijuana. If you want your medicine, it is cash on the barrelhead or go without! What you have is about the same type of deal that you get from your local street peddler, really.

As for San Diego County’s war with the State of California regarding medical marijuana (as in the County’s taking the side of the feds in this conflict), the Board of Supervisors is backing the wrong dog in this fight. In fact, I daresay that the whole issue will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court during the Obama administration, and I suspect that it will be the Board of Stupidvisors who will come out on the losing side.

The whole mess boils down to this: the medical marijuana proponents are trapped between two camps. On one side is the “just say no” crowd. This is the one that views the use of any controlled substance by anybody as worthy of being shoved into Marion federal penitentiary and never being let out ever again. In the other camp is the “just get high” crowd. These are the folks who would gladly see marijuana not only legalized but openly available and used. To these folks, the world would be a better place if everybody just chilled out with a couple of Maui wowwee joints.

It’s a no-win zone for those who advocate medicinal marijuana. Consider also the problem that no national study (as in a double-blind research study by at least two nationally recognized schools of medicine) exists to prove or disprove the anecdotal evidence of marijuana’s suitability as a medication.

Frankly, the concept of marijuana as a legitimate medication is up a certain creek without a paddle and heading for Yosemite Falls! When it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that marijuana is a legitimate medication, then I say legalize it as such. Until then, grow and use at your own risk.

I also saw in today’s Los Angeles Times that a medical marijuana dispensary was hit by armed robbers who were after not only the money but the marijuana as well. They got away with both…and the beat goes on.

Robert K. Johnston

Time Well Spent?

I have to say I am impressed by this article I recently read in your paper (“Shopping at Weedmart,” Cover Story, November 20). I think it would be wise to do a follow-up story on Measure Z in Oakland. Measure Z basically makes private adult use of cannabis the lowest priority of police in the city of Oakland.

I had the pleasure of being arrested recently for cannabis, and on that Friday night it took around 12 officers eight hours (10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) to get a warrant and do their “job.” As a result, I now am on probation and am forced to attend “drug classes” because I was afraid of getting a prescription because of rumors I had heard for years that the feds have a list of all medical patients and I did not want to be on that list. Instead, I self-medicated and was happy doing so until the cops came knocking, lied, and obtained a search warrant (I would fight it, but I don’t have 30K for a lawyer). Now I have to find another way to medicate my chronic pains such as synthetic opium or other painkillers like Vicodin.

I want to ask you which use of law enforcement’s time would do a greater good: harassing someone who enjoys cannabis in their own home and is nonviolent or chasing down drunk drivers on Friday night? Also, which would generate more revenue for the county, which I hear has plenty of money (sarcasm off), because I only received a $500 fine and probation and DUIs don’t cost people that much, do they? (Again, sarcasm off.)

I can tell these drug classes are going to be a joke, but they will still force me to pee in a cup, so I cannot use my medicine, and they will try to force-feed me lies about the harms of cannabis (it was the second-most prescribed medicine before the turn of the century; the first-most prescribed was hashish). If we had a Measure Z in San Diego (or statewide), what the cops did that night would never happen again, and they can do things to help people and stop criminals who really do harm people (unlike my growing and using a plant in the privacy of my own home).

Name Withheld
via email

Big Smashing Plans

Re “Laughing Matter: The 5 Dollar Comedy Show” (Local Events, November 20).

I am the woman who was smashing potatoes. Hey, Robert, thanks for remembering. Now I wonder if the other comics talk about it. Or maybe just you, Robert? Whatever. It must be five years since I smashed. You made my day. At least it was memorable. I had so much fun smashing potatoes.

It wasn’t that I was particularly enamored of potatoes per se, but starving artist that I was, potatoes were the best choice — nonlethal, easy to clean up, and cheap. I thought this through. I rehearsed it, damn it. I worked out logistics. Could I haul a 50-pound bag on my ten-speed?

And regardless of what you other comics thought, I had big plans for potato smashing. I envisioned stages filled with truckloads of potatoes. One thing about smashing potatoes, you would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated act. I mean, you can’t halfway smash, you know? You have to smash ’em. It’s one of those in-the-moment acts. It is full-out. I had so much fun smashing potatoes. Have I said that already?

I auditioned for Street Scene. The best part was when I had the guy on the phone. I was pitching him; it was their “unusual street performer” lineup. He was going with me, when he puts the phone down. Then I hear him yell, “Hey! Who handles potatoes?”

But this is the full joke… (I am so glad you even remembered the gist of the whole thing, Robert.) Walk on stage. Put bag of potatoes down. “Hi, I’m Charly. I am the performance art comic, and I’d like to do one of my performance art pieces for you tonight. The title of this piece is ‘A Heap of Potato Salad.’ ” Start smashing. Stop, look at the audience. “I forgot to say that the inspiration for this work is my boyfriend, who is impotent…” continue smashing “…my boyfriend and his new girlfriend…” more smashing “…my boyfriend and his remote…” (I can go on for a while, depending on the length of the set and the audience.) Hand potato to guy in the front row and/or MC and leave. I had MCs introduce me as Gallagher on Crack.

But the best part about smashing potatoes was this one time when I went over to the Vons to pick up the ten-pound bag of potatoes. It was during the grocery clerks’ strike. For some reason I was carrying the hammer in my hand — it didn’t fit in my purse, or something — and as I walked through the strike line, the entire line backed up. They were, like, whoa, things are getting serious. So I’m not catching any of this as I walk into the store, and I get the exact same reaction. People are all making this wide arc. I think they thought I was a disgruntled striker or something. It doesn’t strike me (sorry) until I get to the checkout line. The guy behind me turns to everyone else behind us and says, “Don’t worry, she’s not a striker, she’s just a terrorist.” I swear, the entire line exhales, “Oh, thank God!” It’s La Jolla. “We just can’t have problems with the help in La Jolla.” I usually say this with my Fifth Avenue–Mrs. Howell–La Jolla accent. Sure, it was a work-in-progress, but I got some laughs. Heck, I’ve seen Seinfeld bomb.

Anyways, thanks again, Robert and Barbarella. I may yet finish that memoir, Potato Smashing or Why Stand-Up Comedy Was a Bad Idea by Charly Paige before I die. You have given me encouragement. And good luck with your comedy, Robert. I got out of it because it’s f****** hard. And I’m getting old. But, you know, I had so much fun smashing potatoes.

Charly Paige
Pacific Beach

Care Less

Who cares about Barbarella and what goes on in her meaningless, pointless life? No one cares to know about her husband, about her, about her family, about anything. Really, what is the point about having her in the Reader? What does she do for the Reader, other than talk about how her husband snivels and how she’s an uptight, prissy little rich girl who thinks that her bowel movements smell like roses? No one cares.

Christian Sanchez
The Old Security Guard
via voicemail

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davidtanny Jan. 10, 2009 @ 8:44 p.m.

re: Name Withheld's definition on what radio is

Since the dark cloud of corporate control of terrestrial radio covered most of San Diego, Internet has become radio while AM and FM have become anything but radio.

Since the mid-90s, the definition of what a radio is has changed to mean streaming audio from websites, and that has become the new meaning of radio.

Satellite delivered playlists of music is also called radio.

Podcasts are not, however, radio, but more like shows on demand, but many people are thinking that it's radio.

What is no longer radio, however, are the stuff that comes between the AM frequencies of 540 and 1700 kHz. What it is are mostly right-wing wacko propagation machines in the guise of talk, religion, and news shows. The music played on the AM band tends to be aimed for people in the AARP age group. Generally, younger people think of AM as their grandparent's band, and is not relevant to their lives.

FM is the younger people's parent's band. That band too tends to play music that is controlled by suits in far away places who have no connection with what the general public wants to hear. On the corporate-run stations that's anything but radio, all you get is lite pop rock music aimed at young females, worn out dinosaur rock for what's left of the older listeners, watered-down country and alternative rock, light jazz, adult contemporary that sounds like rock, rock that sounds like adult contemporary, R&B that has anything but house music, and other monotonous ideas.

With younger listeners flocking to radio (Sateliite, Internet, whatever else) and away from merely corrupt AM/FM, the collective numbers for the radio stations continues to fall, with many more stations going below a 1.0, and a sizable portion under a 0.5 rating. As long as radio station decision makers continue to shoot themselves in the foot, the ratings will continue to ebb, advertising dollars fall, and deficits on the rise.

Stations are going dark, asking for donations, cutting back on local talent in favor of cheaper programming, and adding more informercial blocks. In short, radio is out of ideas on what to program to get an audience.

On the Internet, you can find oldies that go far deeper than what The Walrus is daring to do, dance mixes that commercial stations avoids, real comedy that you won't find on the morning talk shows, blues, bluegrass, folk, rock-country, and other genres that go ignored on the AM and FM bands, and so forth.

It makes me wonder why it is worth it for a radio station to keep pushing the same old stuff again and again when the audience doesn't care for it anymore. Get some refreshing talk programming that doesn't slam people and you'll get ratings. Get some music that has a beat, pulse, groove, and a real riff and you'll get some listeners again.

So when will the terrestrial analog streams on the AM and FM bands start acting like radio once again?


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