Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Uh, KCBX? You call THAT "Equal Time" for Arnold?

"The equal-time rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it."

["Failure trombone" sound]

Yep, that's right:

["Failure trombone" sound]

That's my lead for this piece, and if everything just worked on your computer when you clicked on that link, you just heard that hilarious "failure trombone" sound.

And that sound -- that "wha... wha... wha... whaaaaaaaa" sound -- describes, perfectly, my response to the weak attempt that KCBX tried to pass off as "Equal Time," last Saturday morning, in an effort to comply with the Federal "Equal Time" law, that radio stations in the U.S. must comply with when it comes to political candidates.

In case you missed it, the week prior, I caught local public radio KCBX host, and SLO County Parks Commissioner, Rick Mathews, using the public airwaves to promote a fundraiser for SLO County Supervisor, Jim Patterson, the same person that appointed Mathews to his official SLO County position, so, the fundraiser, is, basically, for BOTH of them.

Then, after I showed KCBX general manager, Frank Lanzone, how Mathews was using the public radio station as his, and his boss', personal campaign fundraising machine, Lanzone agreed, and told me, "The bottom line is Rick and KCBX made a mistake. We broke an FCC rule. We will announce a fundraiser for (Debbie Arnold's) campaign on one of Rick’s upcoming shows. We owe her that air time. By law," and then forced KCBX host Mathews to: 1) stop promoting the fundraiser that benefits Parks Commissioner Mathews, and 2) make up for his "mistake," by giving Patterson's opponent in the upcoming election, Debbie Arnold, "Equal Time," on his show.

But, what he did on this past Saturday's show, of course, got weird, and led to some excellent local radio: A complete, multi-level, "equal time" failure, which I have now hilariously compiled and mashed together with my "failure trombone," to create my list of "Equal Time Failure Trombone Moments" by Mathews during last Saturday's show:

"Equal Time Failure Trombone" Moment #1

Throughout his broadcast the previous week, Mathews mentioned the benefit concert -- by Inga Swearingen -- three different times -- at the beginning, the middle, and then end of his two hour show -- and, of course, not once did he mention that it was a fundraiser for the same person that appointed Mathews as a SLO County official.

To be clear, he DID, following the second mention of the fundraiser, quickly say, "By the way, this is a political fundraiser, I should mention that," but that was all.

Not once did he ever say something like, "Oh, by the way this is a political fundraiser for Jim Patterson, the same person that appoints me to official SLO County seats, where I also have all of these weird, unethical, business ties."

And that's a VERY important point for "Failure #1," because during THIS week's broadcast, only at the mid-way point did he make the Arnold announcement, and it got weird.

That's when Mathews comes on, and announces that "Due to FCC regulations," he now is forced to announce a fundraiser for Arnold.

So, for ly... errrrr... let me try that again: For ly... ERRRRRR... o.k., one more time: For being less than truthful, and saying, on air, that he DID disclose the fundraiser was for his SLO County government boss, Jim Patterson, when, in reality-land, Mathews did NOT disclose that extremely important point during last week's broadcast, Mathews gets an "Equal Time failure trombone:"

["Failure trombone" sound]

"Equal Time Failure Trombone" Moment #2

Could Mathews have made the the Arnold fundraiser announcement any more cold?

First, he starts it off by announcing, that, "Due to FCC regulations," he is forced to make the announcement, as if to say, "Unfortunately, due to some silly Federal laws, I can't just sit here, on my public radio show, and campaign solely for the same guy that appoints me to official government positions, so, I'm forced, 'by law,' to make up for my 'mistake' from last week, and grumble some sort of announcement at you regarding my boss's opponent."

(I mean, how great is that? Here's an official SLO County Parks Commissioner, announcing a fundraising event, on the air, for the candidate that's trying to get him out of office. Awwwkwarrrrd. [Finally, some good local radio.])

But, I even cry foul on the event he announced for Arnold.

It's a BBQ, with live music by local... well, I really don't know what he is... uh, inheritor of large sum of money, Paul Brown.

Now, Brown seems like a nice enough guy, but, Inga Swearingen is, like, super-talented, to the point where people will actually pay money to watch her perform.

Paul Brown? Not so much.

So, my (funny) point here is, by announcing an Inga Swearingen concert (over and over and over again) on Mathews' radio show -- a concert that people would actually want to see -- and just a single mention of a Paul Brown "concert," is FAAAAAAR from "Equal Time," in a funny sort of way.

But, on a more serious point... on this point... according to the "Equal Time" provisions:

"A station which sells or gives one minute to Candidate A, must sell or give the same amount of time with the same audience potential to all other candidates for the particular office." [bolding mine.]

"Same audience potential?"

Uh, Rick's show is a JAZZ show. Inga is an exceptionally talented, and therefore internationally famous, JAZZ artist.

Paul Brown is a... well, a local guy that got a big inheritance that allowed him to pay to put a local band together, and their music is, um, what? Rockabilly, I guess?

In other words, almost everyone listening to Rick's show would want to go to his, and his boss', fundraising event, because they, being jazz listeners, would love to see Inga's appearance, and, trust me, almost NO ONE listening to Rick's show would want to go watch Paul Brown's appearance, because he's, well, how's this?: NOT Inga... not even close. (No offense, Paul, just makin' an important point, humorously.)

That doesn't sound like "same audience potential" to me. That sounds like an "Equal Time Failure Trombone" moment.

["Failure trombone" sound]

"Equal Time Failure Trombone" Moment #3

So, it's getting to the end of Rick's show last Saturday, and I hear the beautiful sound of Inga's voice. Mathews is playing one of her songs.

And, I instantly think, "Oh, this should be great. How's he going to around this one? Where he makes the announcement of who he just played -- Inga -- without mentioning the fundraising event for Parks Commissioner Mathews, and his boss?"

So, he gets to that point, and announces that, "We just listened to Inga Swearingen," and then he pauses -- this awkward, long pause -- and I could just tell it's killing him, that he CAN'T, forbidden to mention the fundraising concert on last Saturday's show, after mentioning it over and over and over again, the week before, and then he says something like, "You can find out more about Inga at ingaswearingen.com."

Five seconds later, I'm on ingaswearingen.com, where it lists, right at the top of "Shows," you guessed it:

"Upcoming Performances

Friday, March 23, 2012
Jim Patterson Fundraiser Concert @ The Monday Club"

He just couldn't resist, and how VERRRRRY sneaky of Mathews: "O.K., I won't announce the fundraising event for me and my boss, I'll just give out the web site of the artist performing at the event, and let the web site do the announcement."

By doing that -- giving out the web site of an artist that his audience would actually LIKE to see, and where it lists the fundrasing event for Mathews and his boss, right at the top of the "Shows" page -- it COMPLETELY wipes out that one, quick, terse, cold, bitter, NON-"same audience potential" announcement for Arnold's fundraiser, for a sum total of ZERO "Equal Time," during Mathews' show this week.

["Failure trombone" sound]

I also want to point out something very important here, and without even bothering to verify this, I know this:

Had I NOT reported last week, that Mathews is using the local radio station as his and his boss' personal campaign fundraising machine, I can GUARANTEE that he would have continued to publicize his and his boss' benefit concert this week, and Arnold's campaign wouldn't even have gotten that one, cold, bitter, awkward announcement.

["Failure trombone" sound]

If KCBX management is REALLY interested in "Equal Time," they'd take SLO County Parks Commissioner (appointed by Supervisor Patterson), Rick Mathews, off the air until AFTER the election.

Apparently, that's the only way we can be sure that he won't be doing his sneaky, illegal campaigning, that helps keep him in office, using the public, "listener supported" air waves, because what he SHOULD have done last Saturday, for REAL "Equal Time," was announce Arnold's fundraiser three different times, and then play a lot of Paul Brown's "music."

Therefore, I say:

["Failure trombone" sound]

... and what Parks Commissioner Mathews did on his show this past Saturday, does not count as "Equal Time," clearly.

And, now, I end with this great quote from Wikipedia, regarding the "Equal Time Rule:"

"The rule was created because the FCC thought the stations could easily manipulate the outcome of the elections."

A-duuhhh! Ya think?



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