Friday, August 12, 2005

Mulling Nick’s Question

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:02 AM |  

Flash, the resident “Centrisity” voice of Minnesota blogging, via an email from Nick Coleman himself, sheds light on the reasons for Nick's departure from the local Air America affiliate.

I want to say attaboy, Nick, when he writes to Flash that he “essentially quit“ his AM 950 gig because, among other reasons --
Station management increasingly demanded control over "topics, tone and guests" and ordered certain hot button topics off limits, such as guns, gays and abortion. I refused to comply.
"If I'm going to be put on a leash, I'm leaving," Coleman told The Blotter. (Insert you’re favorite I’m nobody’s monkey joke here.)

However, having been the butt-end (playing straight man for Nick here) of his tirades, I’d point out there is a big difference between control over topics as in censoring certain discussions and demanding that controversial topics be handled in a civil and respectful manner. Nick has a tendency to confuse “conflict” with “controversy” and “controversy” with “relevance.” A journalist takes the chaos of conflict and distills it down to the basic issues of controversy so people can have a relevant discussion. From my experience, Nick views conflict as an end in itself and thus makes himself irrelevant.

That brings us to the question Nick poses to Flash --
Now here's a question to mull:

Can "liberal" or "progressive" talk radio prosper under an
ownership that is neither?
Well, having mulled for bit, the answer is that if Nick is defining “liberal” and “progressive,” the answer is probably “no.” To “prosper” in a free market, one has to appeal to a wide enough audience that one can entice advertisers and consequently make enough money to support operations if not show a profit. That probably means appealing to a wider audience than is interested in "speculation on the size of the genitals of the Power Line guys.” It doesn't mean a station can't have a point of view -- it does mean its host ought to be able to frame the point of view so it's possible to have a discussion not just a bashing.

Sounds like Air America is getting that message and apparently Nick wasn‘t.

There’s a paragraph of The Blotter article that the “hobby columnist” in me can’t let pass --
For his tenure as weekday morning-show host, Coleman received "embarrassingly low pay," in the low five-figure range--lower, he says, than union wages at a station he described as "pro-union."
Five figures? For a “hobby talk show host”? I can’t make my hobby columnist remuneration get to five figures if I count the places to the right of the decimal point. But there are other rewards.

Update: Dave, Ohligarchy, from western Pennsylvania, dropped by Keegan's while on vacation a couple of weeks ago. Dave has taken to telling his kids stories about Captain Fishsticks and the evil pirate Nick. I had the honor of having my picture taken with Dave at Keegan's so he could show his kids he met the real Captain Fishsticks (kind of a Galaxy Quest moment for the Captain). Paul writes --
The kids were intrigued to learn that I had met the real-life "Captain Fishsticks". On the return journey Monday morning, we stopped for breakfast somewhere near Eau Claire. The restaurant's gift shop had some nautical knick-knacks, including a man in a shipcaptain's outfit. They insisted that it was Captain Fishsticks. Nearby was a dark skeleton wearing a black rag on its head. "And that's Nick the Pirate!"they told me.
Like I said -- there are intangibles to being in the public eye, good and bad.