Tuesday, April 06, 2004

THE JANEANE AND BARRY SHOW. Here's how I get my Air America. I click on the website, and get the audio stream running. Then I start up a little freebie program called WireTap, which captures the stream and saves it as an AIFF file. After about an hour, I shut it down and save the file. Then I copy it to iTunes, convert the AIFF file to AAC, and move it to my iPod. Finally I use an attachment called the iTrip so that I can play the iPod through my car radio.

If you're thinking this is no way to reach ordinary listeners - the sort that might possibly be weaned away from right-wing talk radio - well, you're right. But if you live in Boston, you don't have much choice.

My convoluted work-around did enable me to catch about 45 minutes of Janeane Garofalo's Majority Report last night. (I listened while driving to work this morning.) Her co-host was old friend Barry Crimmins, and their guest was Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, host of a popular left-leaning weblog called the Daily Kos. The Kos stepped in it last week when he wrote this about the deaths of the four private security workers in Fallujah:

I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Zuniga fessed up to coming across as "an insensitive jerk," but Garofalo and Crimmins were having none of that, insisting he had nothing to apologize for. (Barry also worked in a plug for Al Giordano, who'd written a post to that effect.) I don't think we've tuned in Rush Limbaugh today, Toto.

Garofalo has a nice sense of pacing - better than Al Franken, based on my limited listening so far. She's obviously very smart, and she asks good questions. I would have liked to hear more from Crimmins, but Garofalo did most of the talking. On the other hand, this is only the second time I've heard The Majority Report, and I'm already getting tired of her constant reference to "new-metal conservatives," her term for latter-day right-wing extremists. It was cute the first time, okay the second time, but now ...

A couple of observations. One is that Garofalo and Crimmins have both had long careers in comedy, yet neither made much of any attempt to be funny. I'm sure it's not easy - this is the Bush White House we're talking about, after all. But the whole question about Air America is whether it can balance its righteousness with enough entertainment to attract, you know, listeners. I don't have any suggestions except to point out the obvious: they've got to figure this out.

My other observation is how weird it is to listen to a talk-radio show that is this far to the left. I've become so inured to right-wing talk that Rush could deliver an ode to Franco, Bill O'Reilly could demand war against France, and Sean Hannity could insist that John Kerry is a traitor, and it would pretty much blow past me. But to hear talk-show hosts who are to the left of my muddled liberalism is startling, though refreshing after a while.

It just shows how our expectations of what a radio talk show is supposed to sound like have been shaped by the rather ugly status quo.

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