Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is it Bendii Syndrome?

I don't think so, I think it's just a bad cold. Sorry for the sporadic posting.
Maybe I can get Interrobang to grace us with a post.


Success! Aetna Insurance: "We no longer advertise on that program."

From: "ZZZZ, XXXX"
Sent: Thursday, September 7, 2006 2:48:36 PM
Subject: RE: Radio Advertisement (please forward to advertising department)

Mr. XXXXXX - Thank you for your email on this matter. While Aetna's advertisements do not constitute an endorsement of content in or on any program or publication in which we advertise, we appreciate your perspective. We no longer advertise on that program. Best, XXXXX XXXXX

A few things to note about this letter. The phrase used was designed to help them avoid any responsibility for content. It is a standard boilerplate phrase used by sponsors on controversial programs. And I understand WHY they worded it this way. Unlike Lee Rodgers, I don't threaten them if they decide they want to leave for whatever reason they choose. The important words to note: We no longer advertise on that program.

Now I also want to point out the past tense and lack of a reason for no longer advertising. This again is intentional. Why? So if they are questioned (threatened?) by Lee Rodgers for pulling their ads, they can say, "Hey we just did it because of low ratings!" Why might they do that? Because they don't want to be threatened by Rodgers or insulted by Melanie Morgan, arguably the most powerful woman in California radio and one of the most powerful people in California politics. Sponsors would want to avoid her ire and insults. What do I mean? Her comment from January 12, 2007

If there are sponsors who listen to these idiots, and I'm not sure there are, despite what they say," asserted Morgan, "but if that's the case, I know who it would be. It would be some craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever."

If I was Aetna and I listened to my customers (or idiots as Morgan calls them), I would NOT want to face the wrath of Ms. Morgan who was responsible for bringing down Governor Grey Davis, (incidentally costing him his livelihood).

Melanie Morgan is very smart, very articulate and very powerful.

This letter enables spokespeople for Aenta (or the craven little time buyers at their agency as Morgan calls them) to now say, "Please don't unleash your listeners on us Mr. Rodgers! Please don't talk bad about us on your radio show Ms. Morgan. We know you broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people on the public air waves and use your one Million member Move America Forward email list to direct people to action. So please don't use all your broadcast power and the power of your charitable organization, Move America Forward, to call us names."

I see that Aetna was smart how they walked away. Hopefully they won't suffer consequences from KSFO listeners if Rodgers decides to tell them to boycott Aetna(something that *I* never tell my readers to do). I don't now know Morgan will use the Move America Forward members. She has used them in the past for lots of activities, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Success! The First One. Borders Books

One of the criticisms launched against me is, "Those audio clips are old." Or "We apologized!"

Two things. First, some were "old" because those were the ones that I sent to the companies advertising at the time (see below). Second, not everyone apologized for everything (You mean KSFO cherry picked the clips they wanted to talk about on their three hour VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM and ignored others? That's unpossible!)

  • Do I really have to go back and play ALL the clips that the hosts DIDN'T apologize for? Because I can.

  • Must I demonstrate specifically how they were part of a long pattern of violent rhetoric including multiple instances from more than one host? Because I could.

  • Do I need to point out how they tried to explain away their own words using more parsing tricks than Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow combined? I might.

  • And maybe we might just take apart the dates and times of the "apologies" to see what really prompted them and just what they LEFT out that illustrates specifically why managment knew what the host said was the wrong. I probably will.

But first, here is an example of another company, Borders Books, following its own internal guidelines for the kind of shows they advertise on.

This response was my first indication that advertisers were in the dark as to what they were buying and why it was important to educate them so they could make an informed decision. As I learned later from someone at Mahatama Rice, often the advertisers thought they were simply getting a Disney affiliate (with the brand association that name implies), something, "family-friendly".

My letter to Borders referred to Sussman's own "War on Christmas" in which he asked listeners to call up and tell him about retail stores that used the more inclusive, "Happy Holidays" greeting rather than "Merry Christmas". If any listeners caught a clerk saying anything other than "Merry Christmas" he "outed them" live on the radio.

That is what the customer service manager was referring to in the response.

Borders Books Borders Customer Care < > to me
More options Dec 2 (3 days ago)

Dear Concerned Customer,

Michael Tam forwarded your email and asked that I respond, as I am the Customer Service Manager for Borders.

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding a Borders advertisement that recently ran during the Brian Sussman show on Talk Radio KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco.

As a company, Borders is absolutely apolitical and as such, we do not purchase advertising time during shows with primarily political content. Although our media purchasing guidelines reflect this policy, sometimes errors are made or station scheduling changes. As we did not intend for our ads to run during the program mentioned and, in keeping with our stated guidelines, all remaining spots scheduled during the Brian Sussman show have been canceled.

Borders believes in the basic right of our customers to choose what they want to listen to, read and buy. Our stores provide our patrons with a wide selection of products, and an environment in which they can explore, discover and enjoy what is of interest to them.

Additionally, we strive to create an inviting atmosphere in our stores that supports varying beliefs and holiday celebrations for both our customers and our staffs. We specifically communicate to our employees that during the holiday season they should use any holiday greeting they feel is appropriate when interacting with customers.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions or comments.


Customer Service Manager
Borders and Waldenbooks Customer Care

So from now on when I'm out buying items with my Visa or MasterCard I like to shop at Borders Books. I buy science fiction books, gift cards or books on the wonderful state of Michigan.

And just to point out some verification that I wasn't the only one who noted Sussman attacking retailers for their attempt to be inclusive, here is KSFO's own program summary from that week.

Labels: , , , ,

Spocko's Log - Supplemental

Spocko's Log - Supplemental

The facinating work of videomaker Dan McEnroe

EFF letter to ABC Lawyer re: Spocko.

Please read the whole letter at the Electronic Frontier Foundation ( web site.

Read the EFF press release on the issue here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Success! CSAAA pulled ads from KSFO show

This letter was sent to one of my readers who contacted California State AAA after some things he heard on the Brian Sussman show.

California chapter of the American Automobile Association

Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:57:32 PM

Dear Mr. XXXXX,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have pulled this advertisement from the Brian Sussman show as of Friday September 08.


Executive Office/Member Relation

Short and to the point.

What happened in September on the Disney owned radio station KSFO that one of my readers felt compelled to write California State AAA and some other advertisers about? Brian Sussman on his radio show said some outrageous things, but a big part of the reason he wrote was that Sussman playing the Berg beheading audio.

Yes, Sussman did give a warning, but you have a 45 second audio clip from an event whose news value at this time, years later, is dubious at best. So what was it played for, entertainment? Education? To enrage? I don't know. But say you are sailing along in your car and you miss the warning? And your kids hear it, because you just turned on the radio (the show runs 6-8 PST). Or maybe you don't have kids in the car and you hear the beheading clip and then it cuts to an ad for Shreve and Company Jewelers or Verizon Wireless? (Both companies were advertisers during this month.) Gee, do you think that hearing a beheading puts someone in the mood for buying a necklace? Do you think that Shreve's ad buyer wants the connection: "This beheading audio brought you by Shreve's?" Some how I doubt it.

Now maybe Sussman made an apology for playing this audio. Since I didn't use it that audio, he might not have gotten "in trouble" for it, which then forced an apology. I didn't add this audio in my clips on the blog because at the time I was monitoring the morning shows.

And as for context? My reader heard the whole context and he was offended and he wrote the advertisers. They probably did their own through investigation and made their own decision. It was their choice.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Qapla! (That's Klingon for success.)

It occurred to me that some KSFO advertisers might not know how to respond to our letters. I'm sure some are shell shocked by the standard right-wing AstroTurf email campaigns. A thoughtful letter from one of us has a better chance of encouraging them to check out the situation at KSFO for themselves. And when they do, I believe they will be unhappy with what they hear. And whether they decide to stay or go, they will still need to convey that decision back to the letter writer and the station. To help them out, I'll give them some examples of letters from advertisers who have left KSFO and later some who have chosen to stay.

Bank of America

From: "XXXXXXX X" <>
Tue, 07 Mar 2006 20:32:13 -0500
Subject: Bank of America Advertising on KSFO

Mr. XXXX -

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Bank of America is very selective in our where we place our advertising. This ad placement may have slipped through normal screening as we have transitioned to a new media agency and this was our first radio buy with them. We were not aware of the content of the programming on this particular program and concur that this is not an appropriate place for Bank of America advertising. As a result of your notice, we have instructed our agency to pull all advertising not just from the Brian Sussman Show, but from all programming on KSFO. We expect that they will have these instructions by tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 3/7) and all future advertisements will be stopped. Please be assured that Bank of America does not endorse or support comments made by Mr. Sussman in any way, shape or form.

Again, thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Senior Vice President
[Note: As a courtesy, I've redacted the name of the SVP who wrote me back. I have provided it to journalists who wanted to confirm the authenticity independently].


Sent: Thursday, June 1,2006 1:35:53 PM
Subject: Inquiry to Washington Mutual re: radio Advertisement
Dear Mr. XXXX:

It has recently come to my attention that you made an inquiry to Washington Mutual regarding an advertisement which ran on "The Brian Sussman" show on KSFO-AM in San Francisco. We asked our advertising group to investigate the matter and what you heard was a MasterCard advertisement, secured and purchased by MasterCard, that included - what we call in the industry - a "tag" identifying Washington Mutual as an issuer of MasterCard cards. This is something we do in support of the number of financial institutions that issue MasterCard branded cards to their customers to help enhance brand awareness of both organizations.

At MasterCard, we recognize a set of standards designed to ensure the programming we advertise on reflects favorably on our image and the image of customer financial institutions as a provider of valuable, high quality services and products. As such, please know at present we have no future plans to air advertising on this program. Our goal is to keep our advertising on quality programs that favorably reflect our image as a distinguished brand with integrity and responsibility to our cardholders as well as our customer financial institutions.

Thank you for taking the time to raise this important issue to us.


Vice President, Communications
MasterCard International

Most Advertisers Already Have the Answers. Just Look Inside

Now you will note how after they confirmed what the show(s) contained, they simply consulted with their own internal guidelines and standards which told them that they will only advertise "on quality programs that favorably reflect our image as a distinguished brand with integrity and responsibility" as MasterCard's guidelines appear to read.

I'll post some more letters soon, but one thing I want the brand managers and advertisers to note, if you get a polite letter from one of my readers asking you to check out this station and after your research you decide it doesn’t "favorably reflects our image", and you want to discontinue your ads or simply not renew them, please be careful how you break the news to KSFO hosts and the sales team. Why?

On January 12th KSFO had a “Very Special Program” on this issue. It was designed to let the advertisers know that I was a hateful idiot and even though the advertisers simply heard the host’s own broadcast words, KSFO hosts were now the victim of a smear campaign. Now I will again simply reflect to the sponsors what Melanie Morgan said about those who left KSFO.
(see complete story in MediaPost, free registration required)

If there are sponsors who listen to these idiots, and I'm not sure there are, despite what they say," asserted Morgan, "but if that's the case, I know who it would be. It would be some craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever."

Furthermore, if after careful consideration, advertisers choose to follow their own internal guidelines, and leave, it sounds like KSFO hosts will retaliate. (Also from the MediaPost article. Plus you can listen to the whole Jan. 12th show at KSFO's website. KSFO very helpfully put it up for all to hear, so you don't have to take my word for it.)

He [Rodgers] also seemed to threaten former advertisers. Responding to an email question, Rodgers declined to name advertisers that have withdrawn their support, but added: "People who want to play that boycott game seem to forget this is a sword that cuts both ways. We have plenty of people that listen to this radio station that say 'hell, if somebody is trying to shut up the people on my favorite radio station, I don't think I want to give them any money,' so it could work two ways."

Please note: I have very clearly said that I do not want my readers to boycott any of the advertisers' products. Yet that is Rodgers’ suggested response to how KSFO listeners should deal with an advertiser who made a business decision in line with its own values, and decided to discontinue their support.

Also please note; *I* was the one who was in fact was "shut up". A private citizen with a blog. As I write this, Rodgers, Morgan, Sussman and Benner are still using the public airwaves on commercially supported broadcast radio.

ABC/Disney used their power to silence a critic. That is quite clear. But now Morgan positions herself as the victim in this drama. That is also quite clear. This reframing effort by the powerful to be seen as powerless is SOP for certain groups, and should be noted by observers of this story.

I know that some advertisers who left may have come back, perhaps they believed an apology was sincere, or a comment was part of a “comedy” routine, or a comment was a one time slip, and not a consistent pattern. Maybe they were given deals too good to refuse, maybe there were backroom bundling deals cut at the national level. I have no insight into that process. But I also don't have insight into advertisers that decided not to acknowledge the reason they stopped advertising. That's their choice and I understand why they might not want to make a big deal out of their real reasons and quitely walk away.

Why They Scare Me: Look at How they Treat their Sponsors!

They called me a coward on their three hour program, and I admitted I was afraid of them, not just now but in the future because I’m anticipating severe retaliatory moves by multiple people and corporations using multiple methods. And to show you just why I'm afraid, look no further than how they addressed their own advertisers.

Morgan called the people who paid KSFO’s bills, “craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever." Rodgers suggested that if an advertiser left or didn’t KEEP advertising, he will tell his listeners to boycott their goods or services. If this is how they talk about their own sponsors (some of whom might have come back) imagine what methods and resources they will unleash on me and others who simply informed their own advertisers what they were paying for.

I’m afraid. Very afraid.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Q. How many died in the Anthrax letter attacks in the US?

A. 5 fatalities from anthrax. September 2001.

Q. How many others were infected, but survived?

A. 17.

Q. Who were the targets?

Journalists at: ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, New York Post, National Enquirer,

Democratic Senators Tom Daschle (D) and Patrick Leahy(D)

In addition to the death of Robert Stevens in Florida, two died from unknown sources, possibly cross-contamination of mail: Kathy Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, a resident of the borough of the Bronx who worked in New York City; and Ottilie Lundgren, a 94-year old widow of a prominent judge from Oxford, Connecticut, who was the last known victim. The two other deaths were employees of the Brentwood mail facility in Washington, D.C., Thomas Morris Jr. and Joseph Curseen.


Spocko needs a Comedy Break

Can you IMAGINE people using a science fiction TV show to make a point about politics?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It was Spocko's Speech that WAS Silenced

I'd like to talk a moment about power. And what people in power will do to maintain that power by using multiple methods, both legal and otherwise.

On KSFO's "Very Special Program" on Friday listeners didn't hear what this was really all about. As you know, broadcast radio is primarily a one way medium, and even a "open forum" is an illusion.

The station was easily able to frame the issue and the format of the show. There was no third party acting as the moderator. There was no neutral turf, either in a blog or on the radio in which a reasonable debate could take place.

The show and topic were framed by Rodgers, Morgan and by the station management. Melanie was under attack! (Valiant MAF members read that Polly is in trouble, they must not be slow. What red blooded warblogger could resist?) Those nasty "crackpots with keyboards" are out to censor their free speech!

They didn't talk about WHY this was even an issue. All that "legal stuff" just couldn't be addressed! Was it because it was "above Melanie's pay grade" as she put it?

No. They wanted to change the focus. From what they did (shut down my blog and limit my free speech) and why they did it (because they were losing advertisers who were horrified at what they were supporting) to something they are more comfortable with doing: attacking, whining, misrepresenting the truth, non-apologizing or actually apologizing and finally, playing victim.

Here is what they didn't want to talk about.

ABC/Disney's lawyers shut down my blog, silencing my free speech using dubious copyright claims simply because they thought they could get away with it. They wanted to intimidate (and they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those meddling bloggers who helped me get back up).

As an individual, all I can do is attempt to persuade and educate so that advertisers can make their own decision. I don't have lawyers who can scare the heck out of the largest hosting firm in Germany (and one of biggest in the US).

What I also want to point out to people, and it should put a chill down the spine of all free speech advocates, is that I COMPLIED with the Cease and Desist order from ABC/Disney. I also complied with the Terms and Conditions of 1&1 hosting which required me to remove the material within 24 hours (the KSFO audio was removed from the 1&1 host within 6 hours). But they STILL SHUT MY ENTIRE BLOG DOWN. So, if you want to see WHO ACTUALLY used their power to stifle speech look no further than ABC/Disney.

Think about what they did. Imagine that happening to you. No matter which side of this story you are on. And before you instantly believe whatever Melanie Morgan says is the truth, ask yourself, "What aren't they saying?"

On one hand they were saying I violated their copyrights. Why not have an ABC lawyer on the show and ask her? Did I in fact violate KSFO copyrights or was I well within MY free speech rights to do exactly what I did using the fair use doctrine? Why didn't they do that? Because then they couldn't play victim and it would also point out who really was the bully and raise the other question: "WHY did ABC/Disney do this?" Why bother? Just how much money DID they lose?

$1,000?, $10,000? How many advertisers HAVE they lost? Not just now, but earlier from the Sussman show and the entire station? What did they have to do to get them to come back? Did some never come back? How many? How many just quietly said, "This isn't our cup of tea. We won't be back."?

Because that would be an interesting story as well. Has their negative reputation now spread in the advertising community? "Are they now saying, "Oh yeah this is that station that called our buyers, 'craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever'. So now they will know that KSFO's hosts are different. They are "controversial", but not in a good way.

But even if it was only one (and we have third-party independent confirmation of FOUR major national advertisers), I think people need to see that Disney/ABC was willing to use their power in a very dubious manner to promote and protect a tiny amount of revenue to shut up a 5th tier blogger. Just how much damage will this do to the ABC Radio brand? How much to the Disney brand? This story has traveled around the world. What was the cost benefit relationship of this decision? Was it worth it?

But that wasn't something that Morgan, Rogers, Brenner and Sussman talked about. Why? Because they were wrong and they know it. Management knows it. And the lawyers know it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"It's old, and out of context!"

So to protect myself from projectile vomiting I haven't done an analysis or commented on the three hour "Get Spocko" whine-fest on KSFO, but one of the criticisms leveled against me is that the clips were old or taken out of context or "we apologized already!"

Of course just like the way they project, they only see in others what they do themselves, because they KNOW how THEY act and they assume that everyone will act as they do.

I have three words for them. Howard Dean Scream.

How many years have you been using this? Now THAT is out of context. But you never bother explaining that story do you?

Oh and by the way, hello to the nice people at BBDO or GSD&M or media placement firms like Greenstripe or Interep. Any hateful words you find on this blog is most likely a quote from Morgan, Rodgers or Sussman. And please note that it was Melanie Morgan of ABC/Disney station KSFO who said about you, "If there are sponsors who listen to these idiots, and I'm not sure there are, despite what they say," asserted Morgan, "but if that's the case, I know who it would be. It would be some craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever." (link to MediaNewsDaily).

You will all note how polite my letters are (with the exception of when I had to quote to you what the KSFO hosts were saying and your clients were paying to be right next to.)

Be well time buyers, we bloggers respect your work. Unlike some. You have a tough job, these people just don't appreciate you. We do. That is why we are happy for you to listen to the shows. I think even their "non-apology" show will be, how shall I put this politely? Disgusting. Please listen to Rodgers especially, he often reads your client's ads. Kind of scary eh?

Monday, January 15, 2007

KSFO Host Blames Planners For Advertising Pull-Out

by Tom Siebert, Monday, Jan 15, 2007 8:47 AM ET MediaDailyNews MediaPost

WHY IS KSFO, THE CONTROVERSIAL ABC Radio affiliate in San Francisco, losing advertisers? Apparently, media planners are part of the problem. At least that's what KSFO host Melanie Morgan said during a special live call-in session the station aired Friday afternoon to address her morning drive-time team's controversial comments over the past two years.

"If there are sponsors who listen to these idiots, and I'm not sure there are, despite what they say," asserted Morgan, "but if that's the case, I know who it would be. It would be some craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever."

It took roughly two hours for the right-wing talk station KSFO's four hosts to reach media planners on their list of people to blame for the station's hemorrhaging of advertisers in the wake of an Internet flood of audio files of the program's eyebrow-raising content.

SNIP (go see the whole article here link) Free registration required.

Although the program was promoted as no-holds-barred and welcomed calls from both supporters and critics, the deck was stacked. The morning of the special broadcast, those liberal bloggers posted an email blasted the night before to hundreds of thousands of conservatives across the country, written by Morgan, asking them to call into the show as a show of support. The hosts defended sending the email by pointing out the program streams live on, and thus, it has many online listeners.

But that should not be relevant for advertisers, since most of the commercials are not broadcast online.

Morgan's morning co-host Lee Rogers was the most defiant. He claimed he didn't want to do the special, and that "if you're waiting for an apology, you'll be waiting a long time."

He also seemed to threaten former advertisers. Responding to an email question, Rodgers declined to name advertisers that have withdrawn their support, but added: "People who want to play that boycott game seem to forget this is a sword that cuts both ways. We have plenty of people that listen to this radio station that say 'hell, if somebody is trying to shut up the people on my favorite radio station, I don't think I want to give them any money,' so it could work two ways."

Although Morgan claimed that all but one of the departed advertisers had come back, she would not identify them. None of the four confirmed advertisers that departed--Visa, MasterCard, Federal Express and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation--were available for comment late Friday.

The entire special program can be heard at

Emphasis on CONFIRMED advertisers that departed is mine.

I mean I can understand insulting their listeners, some people like that, but the time buyers at an advertising agency? I thought KSFO might get an * next to their name in time buyers computers from now on. After those comments I'll bet KSFO gets seven asterisks and an exclamation point!

A brief interlude for a new group of readers –

Greetings New York Times Business Section readers, and welcome!

You are joining “in medias res” First, Noam Cohen did a good job of summarizing the story so far. There are a LOT of issues in this story that you might care about. You might wonder, what does this mean to me? How does this impact MY business? What should I do? Well first things first. Get educated.

If you have a business and don’t have a blogging policy, get one. Not just for you but for your EMPLOYEES. Two great guides are the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s legal guide for bloggers and blogger rights. If you are at a senior level, you probably know guidelines on stuff like this, but for all the average joes out there, they probably don’t, help ‘em out. Believe me, nobody enjoys getting a cease and desist letter from a multi-billion dollar corporation for Christmas (I really wanted a pair of Homer Simpson underwear and a watch). You help them understand the issues, you will help yourself.

Next. Since this is coming from the business/marketing section you might be thinking, “How can I USE the blogs?” or “How can I Protect myself AGAINST the blogs?” Bloggers are people. So if your first impulse is to USE people and to FEAR people then that will inform your choices. I would suggest trying to UNDERSTAND the people who write these things so you can interact with them. It’s not hard, read a few of them, because often they are your customers who WANT to be heard. They are crying OUT to be heard. They will tell you things like, “Hey, you are hurting your own brand by associating with this violent talk from this radio program. Check them out, it doesn’t seem to be what you stand for as a company.” And then you can decide. A lot of smart VPs of Marketing like the ones at Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America and Border’s Books listened, and chose to operate in a way that simply reflected their own internal values. It seems logical to me, but you would expect that from a Vulcan in a fedora.

There are lots of other lessons here, including ones about fair use and abuse of copyright. But to get personal for a minute, I think we all have a responsibility to protect the people who have a hard time defending themselves. Even powerful journalists are people to, and they have been attacked for YEARS from the right, and sadly, it shows. Bloggers on the left want journalists to do their jobs because it is important, on the right they want them hanged. That is a fundamental difference and one you should all notice.

There are a lot of bullies in the world and we all know that powerless feeling of being bullied. How you wish that someone would help you but you didn’t want to “tattle” because the bully will beat you up HARDER after you tell. Well that is what happened to me. But I had a few friends who helped. And for your business you might want to consider, are we supporting bullies? Does that reflect OUR values? You can say “it all comes down to numbers” but the listeners are people, they aren’t numbers, and if you listen to THEM, they will tell you what they think. As my friend Ellroon said about these “Hot Talkers” on the radio:

[bloggers and citizens] are so sick of this sense of entitlement, this arrogance of power, this conspiracy to yank the country to the fanatic, non-thinking fearful right just to gain a bit more power, a bit more money, a bit more control.

Enough. Americans are not Nazis. We are not hateful, intolerant, greedy, and stupid. We are not going to be told we are.

Thanks for listening.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spocko Speaks! But he doesn't sing and dance

Thank you.

To the generous people who donated money to keep the lights and power on and prepare for a potential future financial assault from a company that “buys their lawyers by the ton.” Your donations are just so kind. And like the widow and the mite, for some it may have been a more significant donation than others, so I acknowledge the generosity of ANY size.

To the man who described himself as:

“just an average joe with a little free time, but i figure if you get enough
average joe's, maybe we can help. please let me know what i can do.”

Well, it will involve a few letters and or phone calls. I’ve sent a list as one of advertisers to all of you Spocko’s Brain Irregulars. Let me know what you hear.

To the woman who described herself as:

"i am no one, just a single mom in the east bay getting up and going to work each day, scratching by. but whatever little role i can play to stop the hate mongering at ksfo i will!"
This was my reply:

You ARE someone. Your voice matters. You count. The forces that want to divide and attack us and each other have been playing this game for years. It is a profitable entertainment. To them you are just a number. To me you are citizen who respects others.

I'll add you to the list.
I'm honored by your help.

And now I’ll add:

You can play a role. Part of that is understanding that the people on the other end of the phone or email are people JUST LIKE YOU. That is why I stress being polite. They don’t usually know what the heck this is about. They need time to listen, decide and choose for themselves and the last thing I want is for the people at the advertisers to feel assaulted. They are just receptionists, ad reps, pr folks, media buyers and marketing types doing their job as best they can. If we politely educate them, they will remember how WE interacted with them, vs. how others attack them.

I don’t know you, but for all I know you work at one of the local advertisers who have been getting calls from people about this issue. Maybe Joe will call you. Hopefully he was polite. The insightful Miss Manners reminds us, “Don’t return rudeness with rudeness.” They were rude, we don’t have to be.


There is a reason that I chose the name Spocko. He’s a man who spans two worlds (that and he looks good in a fedora). For three hours yesterday on KSFO they called me a coward, a liar and a thief. Those who listened heard how they attempted to explain away, attack, mock and cry victim.

Well, they are right on one thing. I am a coward. I’ve listened to what they said. I have no doubt that after these 15 minutes are up people with longer memories and deeper pockets will go after the man, who is flawed, with modest resources (but luckily with a few strong friends). I fear that I will disappoint everyone when they find out that yes I DO sit in front of my keyboard drinking Tranya (but NOT wearing Homer Simpson underwear! NTodd has STILL not provided me a PAIR!). There was a show about the radio industry on PBS recently that showed how some powerful people used the legal system for years to beat up and destroy one man. When people ask what I am afraid of, well, there you have it. And to the man who said,

they attempted to demean you by talking about the fact that you use a character from star trek as a nom de plume

now they have done it

there are a world of trekkies out there who will descend upon them with the wrath of khan

live long and prosper

Vulcan hand salute right back at you.

More later, as they say, "Before fame, chop wood, carry laundry. After fame, chop wood, carry laundry."


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Their Time is Over

Well some time tonight I think a story about this issue will hit the wires. I don’t know what it will say, probably something like, “KSFO issues challenge to blogger, calls him a coward for not identifying himself, demands he submit for bullying on the radio for his sins of letting “Our Advertisers Hear What We Were Broadcasting”.

And it will probably suggest something like “A Very Special Episode” of Blossom of KSFO take place on their turf. Where they will bluster and attack and use either the “We were JUST Joking” or how I was so mean and “it’s all out of context” and you MUST LISTEN to the entire SHOW to understand. Right. Always remember, they “control the box” in this venues and they’ve had 10 years to practice. I’m named after a fictional character on a defunct TV show, a brain in a box. Which one of us is the professional verbal bully?

It is their advertisers they need to apologize to for not respecting the hard work they all put into their brands. Those marketers and ad reps and PR folks who busted their humps to make their product stand out only to be trashed by being next to this “Hot Talk.” Some will still choose to stay. Fine. It’s their choice.

But here’s the thing. From now on, for the rest of this station’s time in this format they will always be “that station” and a little asterisk* will be next to their name in computers of the hard working media buyers and savvy ad agency’s around the world to tell them, “Be careful who you put on This Station. This one is not like the others.”

There will always be a market for this kind of “entertainment”, it won’t go away. Some people need to get in touch with their “inner Archie Bunker” to be happy. That's fine, free speech and all that, but maybe, just maybe it won’t be a safe place for some advertisers to hang out in the future.

I’m not out of the woods yet, I know how the rightwing bloggers think and operate, they will be attacking and sock puppetting this all over the net with their VERY SERIOUS concerns. They will do what bullies always do. Watch for it. And then ask, what does that say about them. Who acts like that? Who attacks like that?

I’ve been called a hero. I’m not a hero, a hero is a journalist in the middle-east working his or her ass off to tell a story that might cost them their life. Consider donating to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

My button for donations is on the right. It’s the button for PayPal right under Spocko's United Reserves Against Killing of Journalists and Liberals (Hey that spells out SURAK, of JAL wow what a coincidence!), and I put it up only at others’ insistence, but if you don’t have money, your kind words are welcomed too.

I’m going to be out all day tomorrow because contrary to rumors on the Internets, I don’t sit in front of my monitor all day in my Homer Simpson underwear (although I would really love a pair, NTodd should look into getting a pair too). So I’m hoping that Team Spocko, and my friends and associates from the Spocko’s Brain Irregulars can keep an eye on this story and gently, politely help it stay on track.

The time of this kind of Talk Radio is over.

For the rest of you? Live Long and Prosper.

Talk to some experts

One of Spocko's problems is long windedness. And I'm not an expert on everything, "I'm a Doctor, not an Expert!" oops that's Bone's line. So Spocko v. ABC/Disney is a convenient narrative to help discuss bigger issues. I need to step back for a bit and people can follow up on the stories that really matter. (Also because this story is getting so high up in the blogosphere I'm getting green blood nosebleeds.)

So if journalists and others want to check in with experts on some of the issues raised I'm going to recommend a few folks.

1) Mark Danner who wrote the excellent book Torture and Truth, whose talk at "A Clean Well Lighted Place" bookstore in San Francisco inspired me to help educate people on the horrors of Abu Ghraib. From his book and the Army's own Schlesinger Report:

"There were five cases of detainee deaths as a result of abuse by U.S. personnel during interrogations... There are 23 cases of detainee deaths still under investigation..."
-- The Schlesinger Report, August 2004

We now know that the number is higher, but I never hear about these five dead or the other 23 on right-wing talk radio. Only about the ones with "underwear on their head."

Mark Danner's website

Check out the book Torture and the Truth

2) Eric Boehlert, who wrote a brilliant series on the radio industry for Salon. Who has an amazing book titled "Lapdogs, how the Press Rolled over for Bush" and who just wrote a great column in Media Matters on how the right wing bloggers attack the media, titled "For warbloggers, 'The Media Are the Enemy'". He can be reached via Media Matters.

3) Electronic Frontier Foundation. Whose blogger's rights series is great, and their legal guide for bloggers should be "required reading at the academy" as my former Captain used to say. And Matt Zimmerman who can discuss issues about fair use and who keeps reminding me to be accurate and to tell you all that "The EFF is providing me free legal representation in the ABC matter. Please consider supporting them!" He inspired me and helped calm me down. EFF contact info.

4) The journalist/blogger/author Allison Hantschel, whose passionate, excellent writing about journalism, blogging, politics and life lifts us all up every day. I wish SHE would get the call to talk about these issues on blogging and journalism rather than say, Wonkette. (Please, please talk to her the next time you want a liberal blogger to comment on journalism and blogging. If I see one more panel with only Wonkette to represent the left on journalism and blogging someone is going to get a Vulcan nerve pinch!) Her blog, First Draft , has excellent first person reporting on the Katrina flooding by Scout Prime, Gaggle coverage by Holden (aka Pony Boy) and Life in Bush's Texas by Tena, is on my reading list every day.

Her book, Special Plans: The blogs on Douglas Feith and the faulty intelligence that led to war, might be interesting reading today for a few people who wonder how this all happened and who on the left blogging world noticed it.

5) Joe Conason, whose story in Salon, about the hosts at KSFO "calling for "traitors" in the press to be killed -- all brought to you by Disney." first drew attention to this on a national level. You want a guy with a sharp wit, insight into deep attacks on liberals and journalists and will sound great on your radio program, CALL HIM. Please. He's much smarter and a better writer than me, and I'll bet he can take on professional verbal bullies on the radio better than a 5th tier blogger can. Plus he has a great deep radio voice we all wish we had.
Contact And I'm sure that his book, Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth will soon be, "required reading at the academy".

6) Paul Krugman. Who got pretty much got EVERTHING right and was writing with insight everyday on the Bush administration, media, and what it all means. A hero and a modest man and a true "rock star" for many of us.

7) Atrios. At Eschaton whose community talked to me and the other uncool kids. How he manages to stay sane and spot on is a true wonder. And also, for never linking to me because he knows I'm long winded and boring most the time, thank you. The last thing I need is more attention.

8) John Aravosis at Americablog,who is braver than I'll ever be. For you beltway types, he is a Washington DC-based writer and political consultant, specializing in using the Internet for political advocacy. He is the creator of, Matthew Shepard Online Resources, and, among other activist Web sites. He also grows great orchids.

Okay, well check these people out and I'm going to get busy on keeping the lights on.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Success! And Thank You MEDC!

We have our first documented success. I would love if we had an actual letter, but I'll let bluestatedon say it in his own words.

Update: MEDC responds quickly (0 / 0)
After I read last week that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation had advertised on KSFO, I sent emails to James Epolito, MEDC President and CEO, and Lisa Dancsok, MEDC VP for Marketing, Communications and Legislative Affairs, to inform them of the situation. I received a personal response via email that evening from Ms. Dancsok, informing me that they were investigating the situation immediately.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Jim Epolito himself. He'd already met with with Governor Granholm about the situation, and needless to say she was horrified that money had been spent on advertising on that station.

The ads ran in October and November, and apparently MEDC's ad agency, who bought the spots, was not aware of the programming content. I bet they thought they were getting the Little Mermaid, not advocates for violence, torture, and hate.

At any rate, the MEDC has already canceled any future ad buys on the station, so KSFO now has one less advertiser.

Kudos to all of you who've brought this situation to light. As a Michigan resident, taxpayer, and business owner, I want to thank Jim Epolito, Lisa Dancsok, and the MEDC for moving so quickly and responsively.

by bluestatedon on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 10:34:19 AM PST
From Daily Kos

As Atrios always says, reward good behavior. Good for "Michigan Economic Development Corporation ".

Which reminds me of another important component. THANK people who respond (even it they choose to remain advertisers.) that is their choice. Miss Manners would not approve of returning rudeness with rudeness.

A friend from Norway reminded me of that when she asked for a list of advertisers who choose not to continue their ads on commercially supported broadcast radio station KSFO.

I forwarded her letter to one of the smartest player in this story, Susanne D. Lyons, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Visa U.S.A.
She got my thank you note direct from Star Fleet Headquarters this morning.

Now I'm off to reward good behavior and buy something from Michigan with my VISA card!!!!

Please send me copies of your stories and emails I'll post 'em when we get 'em.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Fairytale For the Modern Age

-- Posted by Interrobang, at Spocko's request

From Scottish blogger Christopher Dallman at Deacon Barry, comes this delightful retelling of Spocko's story...
Spocko and the Mouse-King - A true fairytale

Once upon a time, in a far off land, there lived a little blogger called Spocko. Now where Spocko lived, there was a radio station which was owned by the Mouse-King. And on this radio station were three bad rats called Mel, Lee, and Tom, who enjoyed saying naughty things about people they didn't like. One of them was even the princess of the land and Mel was heard talking about assassinating her!

Spocko got very angry when he heard this, so he recorded what these bad rats said, and put it on his blog. He also told the station's advertisers what they were saying, and they started to withdraw their advertisements from the station.

When the Mouse-King found out what Spocko was doing, he became very angry indeed! His minions sent a decree to Spocko's landlord, and Spocko was summarily evicted!
Poor Spocko. There is no happy ending - yet. He is still homeless. But he has been found by a friendly giant called Markos, who has shouted out Spocko's story with his great big voice, across the sea for me to hear and post it for you to read.

There may yet be a happy ending, because the story is still unfolding.

A Short Comment from Spocko to His Nineteen Readers: I'm having problems getting the updated list out to everyone who asked. And remind them that the ADVERTISERS are our FRIENDS. BE polite. This is NOT a boycott. They just need to hear and choose. They can choose to stay.

A Short Interrobangish Comment: That's what this is all about, folks. This is not a boycott. For once, the advertisers are on our side. Many of them have corporate policies in place regarding diversity and human rights, non-discrimination and all that good stuff. Our job is merely to inform the advertisers of the content on KSFO, and ask them whether they consider their proximity to KSFO's messages to be good for their brand. Again, as Spocko says, if they choose to remain with KSFO after that, then that's their business (and you are free to behave as you like afterwards), but what we're primarily concerned with here is informing and educating.

Three Tips for Writing an Effective Informative Letter: When writing to the advertisers, the way to get the best effect is to follow at least these three principles.

1) Keep it short and simple. Stick to one or two main points. Use lots of white space, bulleted lists, and other formatting to make it easy to read. A letter of this type should ideally be one page.

2) Be polite. Keep your tone respectful and professional. In corporate communications, you always catch more metaphorical flies with honey than with vinegar. If you're really angry when writing your letter, don't send it until you're calmer.

3) Take some time before writing to figure out what you want to say. That way you're less likely to get sidetracked and you can stay "on message" more effectively.

Good luck!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hailing Frequencies are open Captain!

Is this thing on? Lt. Uhura?