About me. A brain in a box. Looking for a piece of the action.
Contact me at spockosemail at gmail . com
The tale of Spocko, a self-described “fifth-tier” blogger who lives in San Francisco, exemplifies how one person with a computer and an Internet hookup can challenge the views of a major media corporation — and what a media corporation will do to stop him.
A bit about the Spocko Method which has resulted in the loss of 100’s of millions of dollars in advertising revenue for the distributors and broadcasters of right wing radio and TV.
In 2004 I started alerting advertisers to the violent rhetoric I heard on San Francisco’s right-wing talk shows on KSFO. I believed that advertisers did not know they were sponsoring this kind of talk and would not want to associate their brand with the talk radio hosts who they were sponsoring.
I asked the advertisers to listen to the audio themselves and decide if they agreed. I included audio of hosts calling for people to have their testicles cut off, brains blown out by guns, burned alive and the genocide of an entire population of a country. Those comments, along with religious bigotry, homophobia and misogyny did not match what most commercial advertisers believed in – – as they stated in their corporate values statements and governance documents.
Multiple major national advertisers agreed with my assessment and pulled their advertising. The parent company of KSFO at the time, ABC/Disney, sent a cease and desist letter to my web host claiming a copyright violation and threatened to sue. The audio was removed, but the web host still shut down my website.
My friends on the Internet spread the word that my blog was shut down and we turned this into a national and international story about violent rhetoric on talk radio and a fair use copyright issue. Advertisers don’t like controversy, and more left while headlines appeared in The New York Times, CBS News, USA Today, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Right wing radio hosts like controversy, it can mean good ratings–unless it costs them money. I wasn’t shutting down the hosts’ horrific speech broadcasts over the public airwaves, but the radio station management had shut down mine. I used reasonable, evidence based letters and blog posts directed politely to the companies paying for a product.
Companies don’t always listen to outsiders, especially ones who aren’t customers, but they do listen to their own management, experts and the bottom line.
I BEAT Disney on a copyright claim
KSFO/ABC/Disney’s threat of a lawsuit was a news event which I used to spread the story further. I was correct in my use of the speech and I had prepared for their response with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF defended my use of the audio and showed how it clearly met all four of the Fair Use standards. ABC/Disney withdrew their frivolous copyright claim. KSFO hosts were furious. They preempted another show and devoted three hours to attacking me.
KSFO hosts continued with their violent rhetoric, religious bigotry and misogyny even after a confirmed total of 33 advertisers left (many more left, but I only counted the confirmed)
What was an Asset became a Liability
I and several of my supporters had convinced advertisers that right-wing talk radio was toxic to their brand. KSFO was no longer a safe place to sell goods and services. The hosts were free to continue saying what they wanted, they just weren’t going to make as much for their employers as before.
In fact, so much revenue was lost by the advertisers leaving KSFO that Disney had to reduce their asking price for the sale Following the sale, I made sure to keep the people in management at Citadel informed of the continued loss of advertisers.
I informed the new owners that unless they changed formats, revenue will continue to decline, since the hosts will not change what they say. My predictions were proved correct. In its first quarterly financial statements KSFO’s revenue was far below projected earnings.
Due to this reduced revenue, one talk show host’s contract was not renewed. A second host was fired six mouths before his contract was completed.
I proceeded to teach this method of defunding right-wing talk radio to several other groups and individuals. The method was successfully used on Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and most recently Rush Limbaugh.
The Spocko Method is NOT a boycott. It is a communication strategy designed to remind companies that they have a choice on who they want to associate their brand with.
If they don’t believe in violent rhetoric and religious bigotry they can take steps to stop supporting it. The pressure to leave isn’t necessarily external, although the more people who education them the better, it is internal. The corporate brand matters to companies, so I used that as a lever to get them to leave KSFO.
When I began the program I also alerted KSFO’s parent companies, ABC/Disney to tell them that I was going to do this. I told them. “You might think this station is an asset, but it’s really a liability.” I know that there were people at ABC/Disney who strongly agreed and were glad to be rid of KSFO.
As the station continued to lose money I keep the Citadel people aware that RW talk radio was not an asset, but a liability. They didn’t believe me, because they needed to see it for themselves.
I had thought that when Citadel started losing so much money that it made the stock drop, they would act and make changes with hosts’ format. But they didn’t. That’s fine, that’s their choice. Instead they blamed “the internet” for their problems, not the programming and a sea change in the mindset of advertisers.
Yes, talk radio still makes money, but 100’s of millions of dollars in lost revenue later and the distributors still don’t want to admit their support of the violent rhetoric, religious bigotry and misogyny is the reason they can’t sell ads.
Decency has won. Not just in the “marketplace of ideas” but in the marketplace of commerce–which in America is often seen as the only one that really counts.
Here are some stories from that time.
Bloggers Take on Talk Radio Hosts — New York Times January 15, 2007
A San Francisco talk radio station pre-empted three hours of programming on Friday in response to a campaign by bloggers who have recorded extreme comments by several hosts and passed on digital copies to advertisers.
The lead blogger, who uses the name Spocko, said that he and other bloggers had contacted more than 30 advertisers on KSFO-AM to inform them of comments made on the air and to ask them to pull their ads.
By Joe Garofoli, Sunday, December 30, 2012
Media outlets battle it out over free-speech rights, USA Today, January 24, 2007
Spocko Takes On The Mouse – CBS News, January 24, 2007
Contact me at spockosemail at gmail . com