October 16, 2006

UMass Lowell: An October Suprise

UMass Lowell: An October Suprise

Our first and biggest funder, UMass Lowell, told us on Friday (yes, the 13th) that they’ve done enough for Open Source, for a while anyway. Lowell’s interim chancellor, David McKenzie, a man we haven’t met yet, said the decision was his, under budgetary pressure.

We wanted UMass Lowell around for the longer term. We loved the association along Thoreau’s own Merrimack River with both town (as in: Kerouac, Whistler, Tsongas) and gown (as in: green chemistry, nanotechnology, and endless regeneration of immigrants and industry). We had planned with UMass over the next five years to build a community radio station around a new studio in Lowell and a new-media communications curriculum at the university.

So we put some of those dreams on the shelf, with real regret and with still more abundant thanks.

It’s not easy to get a radio show off the ground, and UMass Lowell supported us through a year and a half of a then untested concept that debuted on three stations. Support from UMass Lowell gave us time to build an audience of more than 150,000 listeners a night on thirty-one stations. Around 80,000 different people come to our website each month, from more than 150 different countries. 8,000 people download our podcasts.

We are thrilled and omnidirectionally grateful to have germinated a thriving young conversation and a new global community, and we haven’t the least hesitation in promising, with your help, to keep it all growing on the air and on the page.

It goes without saying, but let’s say it just in case: We are reaching out — a little more urgently than we were last week — for new sponsors, large and small, and new ways of paying for what has always been, and will always be, a lean mean staff of professionals. We have wildly grand ambitions in the global transformation of media, which is to say: of human conversation. We need your help and encouragement as we have from the start, or maybe just a little more so.

In the meantime, count on smart interactive radio and web content like the show on how to watch football we have scheduled for tonight.

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  • Old Nick

    PLEASE consider setting up a PayPal account on your site. Many of us, I’m CERTAIN, would find ways to pony up contributions for the continuance of Radio Open Source.

    I’m not asking you to beg for money.

    I’m asking you for a way to let us, your constituency, contribute funds for the health of your unique and priceless enterprise.

  • Potter

    I just donated ( the other day) extra $ to WGBH specifically for RadioOpenSource during their pledge drive. I hope it mattered that I said so. Yes I would give through paypal as well.

    I’m toasting to you great folks tonight with the expectation you will keep on keepin’ on!

    (BTW- I meant to say that I was in NYC last week and went up and down the radio dial at night and you were a real bright spot there too…..AM or FM… decidedly intelligent radio: mental nourishment.)

  • Mary


    I set up a paypal account last week, as it happened (before the UML news). Look for it soon. Thank you very much.

  • fiddlesticks

    “It’s not easy to get a radio show off the ground, and UMass Lowell supported us through a year and a half of a then untested concept that debuted on three stations.”

    Well, Radio America just filed for bankrupcy.

    “Support from UMass Lowell gave us time to build an audience of more than 150,000 listeners a night on thirty-one stations. Around 80,000 different people come to our website each month, from more than 150 different countries. 8,000 people download our podcasts.”

    Just ask of your listeners to give you one buck and you’ll be set for life.

    As for me, I donate to WBUR and that’s enough, for now. On point is a great radio program. It’s not as partisan as this show and offers more of a variety of guests. It isn’t so determined to push a left liberal agenda as you are.

  • pryoung

    yes, indeed, that great radio program is at this very moment featuring a non-interview with Bush uber-crony James Baker, who can say nothing at all about the work of a meaningless commission that is providing cover for what we all know is a lost war in Iraq.

    “On Point” routinely hands over entire hours to the likes of William Kristol, Pat Buchanan and Tom Friedman, Michael O’Hanlon, etc., individuals who surely do not lack for a public forum for their (often thoroughly discredited) ideas. I think we should ask more of our media than that it strive to conjure some phony “balance”. I would listen to a strong conservative program were it to seriously probe the limitations of the deadening mainstream discourse. Chris Lydon is at least a curious and edgy presence in his show.

  • http://www.scienceaddiction.com DevanJedi

    Tell us where to send the checks/paypal contributions/other and we will help.

  • http://www.hjvgrisham.org Vaughn Grisham

    Put up a donation link already! I’d love to chip in what I can.

  • http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger dweinberger

    I’m all for the paypal approach. But – just curious – how much good could it do? Could you be listener supported that way?

    Well, put up the paypal link and let’s find out…

  • jdyer

    “Around 80,000 different people come to our website each month, from more than 150 different countries. 8,000 people download our podcasts.”

    I have a hard time believing these figures.

    If there were as many hits on this website why are there so few posters, here?

    I don’t think that even the The New Republic web site makes such grandiose claims and they have hundreds of posters.

    The discussions there are more varied and lively and all points of vies are represented. I was hoping that posters from a wider political and social spectrum would post here. But so far this has not been the case.

    C’est domage, au revoir!

  • babu

    Count me as pleased to subscribe, donate, support, pledge.

    And that turquoise crib you inhabit is surely not the only one on earth that fits. I think this is an exciting moment; there’s a big opportunity embedded in this.

    Let’s find it!!

  • momos

    I am a starving graduate student with zero money. I can’t tune in regularly to hear you on my public radio station, WNYC, because of the owlish hours of student life. But I love your podcasts and download them freely. I will gladly donate what I can. If everyone pitches in at even this humble level, the loss of UML’s sponsorship will be negligible. C’mon open sourcers, we’re not all fat free riders, are we?

  • Samnang

    I enjoy Open Source, because it brings back the best of intelectualism that I got in college. I think that any university, could benifit from an association with show like Open Source. Open Source is pioneering a new way of delivering information and curriculum that could put other forms of distance education into obsolescence.

    Secondly, I like to listen to a good radio show that doesn’t have idiot callers on all the time. I’d rather read their comments online or have the blogger-in-chief summarize them.

  • Pingback: Joe Taylor Jr. » Blog Archive » Why Public Radio Shows Cannot Ask Listeners for Money, Even If They Should()

  • http://www.scienceaddiction.com DevanJedi

    One reason for few comments on the site may be the registration requirement. I’m not saying it is a bad requirement (it has its merits), but it definitely keeps the infrequent visitor from posting comments.

  • rc21

    UML is a state funded school. My problem with this show as well as NPR is that it uses taxpayers money to push a leftist/Democratic agenda. Something I find quite unfair, and morally wrong. Your program should reflect the ideas and attitudes of the whole nation, not just those left of center. So I’d say UML did the right thing. Now that your funding will come from private donors you can broadcast what you like, knowing you are not screwing many taxpayers.

  • http://caveblogem.wordpress.com Cave_Blogem

    I’ll match the first $100 sent to ROS through Paypal.

  • fiddlesticks

    “I enjoy Open Source, because it brings back the best of intelectualism that I got in college.”

    Hey smanang if you think this show is like college, you didn’t go to a very good school then. Either that or else quality of intellectual life has slipped badly.

    You should read Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind if you want a good education.

  • hurley

    Bad news, epecially for Chris and Brendan and Mary & co. I’m really sorry to hear it. A pity you have to suffer the usual boors to kick you when you’re down.

    Why not take your lean, mean blogging machine on the road for a while? I’d be happy to make inquiries on your behalf in Rome and elsewhere.

    Chin up.

  • plnelson

    “I set up a paypal account last week, as it happened (before the UML news). Look for it soon. Thank you very much. ”

    Go out on the web and you will see horror-astory after horror-story of people having problems wih Paypal, including, especially, having their dredit car5d accounts mysteriously locked due to one error or another.

    One of the great failings of the web is that there is STILL no easy, simple, safe, universally-accessible way to make small payments to anyone.

    It would be great to have a little coin-slot on my PC where i just drop a few quarters and they disappear into the ether and materialize in some else’s donation cup.

  • Potter

    plnelson has a point. I just remember I got a scam email from a Paypal poseur a couple of weeks ago. It was a dead ringer for their logo but something fishy about it alerted me. Paypal is dealing with this. If you go to their site you can read about what to watch out for. Still you have to be careful. Perhaps these people plnelson speaks of fell for the scam.

    There is always the check-in-the-envelope method.

    I love the idea of true listener supported radio. I am 100% with Babu, this is an opportunity, an occasion for us as well as for ROS.

    We will also continue to support the local station and be vocal about what we like hoping they will continue to give programming space to the show.

    Complaints about balance arise from the poor sports in the minority here who also know how mindless the alternatives are and choose to hang out her for some mental stimulation *even as they trash*.

  • plnelson

    “UML is a state funded school. My problem with this show as well as NPR is that it uses taxpayers money to push a leftist/Democratic agenda.”

    UML is a state funded school and the state in question is Massachusetts which is a Democratic state, so it seems like a good match. What do you think is on the agenda in states like Alabama, Idaho, Wyoming, or Kansas?

    I also take issue with any suggestion that the Democrats are leftists. The US does not have a political party on the left. In terms of the world’s major democracies the GOP is way to the right of almost any major party in the democratic world, and the Democrats would be considered center-right.

  • plnelson

    I think the REAL question the UML withdrawal should force us to ask is what do we MEAN by “radio open source”?

    As a software engineer I’ve been following the open source movment for a long time, and I use many open source products. Some corporations sponsor open-source development nowadays, but much open source development is done for free by people who have other day jobs, or are looking for other day jobs and are hoping to trade teir fame and reputation in open-source development for some job offers. And orginally that’s how it was ALL done (this corporate open-source thing is mostly recent)

    If this were really “radio open source”, and not just another version of “On Point ” or “The Connection” or (WPR’s) “Here on Earth” Chris, Brendan, and Mary would have other day jobs with employers who were willing to be a bit flexible on hours, and would be doing this part-time, and most of the day-to-day production, scheduling, lining-up guests, background research, etc, etc, would be done by an enthusiastic team of volunteers.

    I don’t think it’s really in the spirit of “open source” to have core of highly-paid fulltime professionals (the Lowell Sun published Chris’ salary yesterday) with the rest of us just consumers paying rent. It’s always possible in the FUTURE if the concept of open-source radio takes off that a group of corporations will sponsor some kind of consortium and offer Chris a salary the way OSDL now does with Linus Torvalds. But for now it seems to me that this is an opportunity to really consider the true meaning of “open source”.

  • plnelson

    “I love the idea of true listener supported radio. I am 100% with Babu, this is an opportunity, an occasion for us as well as for ROS.

    We will also continue to support the local station and be vocal about what we like hoping they will continue to give programming space to the show.”

    More out-of-the-box thinking is needed. As I mentioned above, “open source” is not just a phrase- it really MEANS something and I don’t see the evidence that ROS grasps the principles and spirit of it. It’s a good, stimulating show but it still works on the same model as lots of other public radio call-in shows all over the US.

    And that’s the other problem, as anyone who’s heard WGBH’s increasingly strident and desperate pledge drives can attest. That model of broadcast radio and its funding and programming system is going AWAY. I listen to lots and LOTS of radio, including public radio, but guess what – I don’t listen to it ON the radio. I use my iPod or PC. I time shift; I archive: I listen to shows from all over the world. I’m still a member of WGBH and WBUR but they keep ignoring my suggestions on how to get modern so I don’t know how much longer I’ll bother if they persist in a 20th-century paradigm in the 21st century.

    Shows like ROS and Car Talk and On Point and Prairie Home Companion and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and Fresh Air etc, etc (not to mention excellent shows most people here have never HEARD of such as By Design, Poetica, The Night Air, etc) do not NEED to be associated with a radio station! My wife has an iRiver with a radio in it. I have an iPod without one. But I listen to far more “radio” on my iPod than she does on her iRiver.

  • Potter

    plnelson-FreshAir, you must know, sells tapes, no podcast. You can listen on the radio, online and tape your own. I am not willing to give her up for technology.

    I am not sure that “open source” means quite the same as you describe in this context. Correct me; it is more a general hommage to the spirit of it, community, sharing, openness.

    In fact a bunch of us were not longing for any old host to come back on the air for free or peanuts, but specifically for Chris Lydon who along with Mary McGrath over the course of a number or years proved to be more than just very good at what they do. They have a faithful following an potential to gain more.

    I found one figure for Ashbrook in 2002. WRNI alone was paying then comparable to what UMassLowell pays Chris. I like the idea of everything for free but you get what you pay for.

    If Bob Dylan wants a certain amount for his talent, he’s going to get it cause nobody puts it out quite like him.

    And the sum we are talking about feels about right for the job and not “highly paid” when you compare to other successful radio hosts and (more importantly) the value we all get.

    It’s great to get podcasts for free- but maybe we should be paying for them in some cases. I don’t know. In fact maybe we should pay a dollar everytime we post here. That might take care of some problems.

  • plnelson

    “plnelson-FreshAir, you must know, sells tapes, no podcast. ”

    I use stream-grabbing software to crea

  • plnelson


    Sorry for the abbreviated response above, but I hit **one wrong key** in my and it POSTED my partially-composed (or decomposed) message! Is there some REASON why ROS has to use this antiquated posting/blogging/forum sw that does not allow edits, previews, etc??! Aaargh!

    Anyway, as I was saying . . .

    plnelson-FreshAir, you must know, sells tapes, no podcast. ”

    I use stream-grabbing software to create MP3’s.

    “I am not sure that “open source” means quite the same as you describe in this context. Correct me; it is more a general hommage to the spirit of it, community, sharing, openness. ”

    But why SHOULD it just be an “homage”? The open source paradigm is a powerful concept that has been extended to all SORTS of things that go beyond computer software. If ROS is going to appropriate the TERM why not benefit from the CONCEPT?

    “I like the idea of everything for free but you get what you pay for.”

    Ever heard of Linux? Ever heard of Apache? You can get both of those without paying a PENNY and they are as good as, or better-than, anything Bill Gates with his billions can buy. (also check out Open Office, Firefox, etc, etc)

    “In fact maybe we should pay a dollar everytime we post here. That might take care of some problems”

    At least they could afford better forum/blogging software! But I agree, which is why I was decrying the lack of any technology for making small payments over the internet, above.

    Still, the old fashioned public-radio broadcast model funded by whining begathons and institutional money (like UML’s) is obsolete. The current ROS crisis is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem and it’s only going to get worse as the grayhairs who currently support the old public radio model die off, and as public broadcasting becomes more and more of a political football in Washington.

    Also, it’s irrational at its core. I listen to public radio shows produced in Ilinois, Minnesota, California, Kentucky, New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. I also listen to another half-dozen or so shows produced in other countries. Most of the above are not NPR and are not carried by the two NPR stations I’m a member of.

    I listen to 4 locally-produced shows – Car Talk, On Point, From the Top, and ROS, but I don’t listen to them on WGBH or WBUR. So how am I paying for WPR’s “Here on Earth”? Through some kind of public radio KARMIC BARTERING? I listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me via their website, but WBUR carries them, so by contributing to WBUR I’m indirectly supporting a show (WWDTM) that people who listen to Here On Earth might ASLO like? So that raises their spirits so they contribute more money to HoE? That’s a totally bizarre concept, but it’s the kind of twisted logic that public radio is forced to use to rationalize their role in this 21st century world.

    I really hope that things work out for Chris and Mary, and ROS, but i think they have to free themselves from an obsolete model. You know the old saying: you go to sleep with dinosaurs you wake up with extinction.

  • Potter

    plnelson: The current ROS crisis is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem and it’s only going to get worse as the grayhairs who currently support the old public radio model die off and as public broadcasting becomes more and more of a political football in Washington…….Also, it’s irrational at its core…..

    So how are you paying for what you are getting? Or are you figuring our how not to? Or are you rationalizing through “karmic bartering”?

    Pardon my ignorance- I really am ignorant about this and only mean to understand.

    Could you please read this article, which seems convincing to me, which draws the same conclusion about the old model but with a different prescription? (I am not advocating anything, simply exploring.)

    Podcasts: For Free or Not for Free?


  • plnelson

    “So how are you paying for what you are getting? Or are you figuring our how not to? Or are you rationalizing through ‘karmic bartering’?”

    I don’t have any WAY to pay for it. That’s a big problem the with the current model: There’s a complete disconnect between payments and services provided in the public radio model! I contribute money to local NPR stations which support programs I DON’T listen to and then I listen for FREE to programs from other stations I’ve never paid a cent for. It’s insane. It’s like buying tickets to Celtics games so you can go to Boston Chamber Music Society concerts for free.

    I recently wrote to the producers of a radio show I listen to in Australia (ABC Radio National’s “The Night Air”) telling them how much I like their show, and offering to make a contribution. Predictably, they thought the whole idea was silly (it’s paid for by the Australian taxpayers). I didn’t expect otherwise but it was just my way of telling them how much I liked their show.

    For years I’ve been trying to convince WBUR and WGBH to set their membership fees at a level that would ensure an adequate stream of revenue to avoid the frequent whine-a-thon begging spasms that interrupt their regular programming. I suggested that they could start by offering members the perk of being able to listen to their regular programming via streaming audio sans-pledge-drivel.

    So yes, I agree with the Paul Marszalek proposal to offer podcasts and archive shows for free to members and charge a fee for others. The ONLY problem with that is the one I mentioned earlier which is that there’s no good, safe, simple, way to exchange small quantities of money over the internet. But a consortium of public radio stations could put something together to make that easier. They won’t, of course, because that would mean embracing the Internet to a degree that they are not comfortable with.

    The current system is irrational. People who like ROS are totally dependent on obscure offers of support, random acts of corporate generosity, complicated deals between WGBH and the University of Massachusetts, and other random whims. Unlike the real world, in the world of public radio there is no relationship between the utilization or preference for a product or service and the recompence those who are served by it are able or required to provide. The system has always suffered from this flaw but the new wrinkle is the internet.

  • Potter

    For years we also have wondered why we have to suffer through these “whine-a-thons” as you put it when we have paid our dues.

    Thanks plnelson. I think there is a lot to chew on about going out of the box and raking a new path. Again- as Babu says- it’s an opportunity.

  • babu

    For the record, I’ve made a couple hundred small, safe transactions through PayPal to the likes of eBay, Amazon, etc. Also some large ones.

    My ruling caveat is “When it’s time to pay, slow down and pay attention”.

  • Ben

    Hopefully ROS can find something a little more solid than PayPal, it does get to be a hassle on the receiving end of transactions, but from experience PP is at least a good start. I’m in, give me a button. And some more spot cleaner.

  • http://www.cadence90.com/wp/ Lisa Williams

    What Old Nick said. I know where to send the requisite chocolate and baked goods, but where do I send money?

    Yes…looking around for it now…WGBH? Um…no…that’s not it, they’re going to use it to tile some floor in that big building they’re putting up, I know it…

  • babu

    Hey Folks,

    While they’re sorting out the PayPal stuff why NOT just write a little old check, put it in an envelope, lick the stamp and float it off to


    Open Source Media, Inc.

    15 Mt. Auburn Street

    Cambridge, MA 02138

    I can hear that wave hitting the continental shelf off of Boston Harbor, can’t I?

  • plnelson

    “I can hear that wave hitting the continental shelf off of Boston Harbor, can’t I? ”

    Uh, no. What you hear is that tiny drop in that awfully big bucket.

    While we’re all going on about bake sales and putting on a play in the old barn to raise money, let’s keep in mind that many of us are ALREADY station members, often at MORE than the “basic” level, and we’ve got the mugs and tote bags and umbrellas to prove it.

    This is NOT off-topic: Today the Boston Globe, faced with declining earnings as a result of competition from the Internet, asked its unions to accept pay rates tied to its (declining) revenue stream. The proposal specifically EXCLUDES revenue from Boston.Com, the Globe’s Internet presence.

    Public radio in general and ROS in particular, are faced with the same problem as the newspaper industry. They are using an old media model to try to live in a new media world. It’s just a rearguard action while still in retreat. But where is old media retreating TO?

    What I’m struck by in this discussion is the complete lack of imagination and outside-the-box thinking displayed by most people here. ROS is just an “hommage” (sic.) to the open source paradigm? That’s like having a restaurant called “Captain Mike’s” with a fish on its sign and lobster traps out front, that doesn’t actually serve seafood.

    I don’t care whether public radio adopts an open source model, a pay-as-you-go model, a pure public sponsorship model, a members’-only model, or WHAT, as long as they pick something sustainable! Asking us to dig deeper in our pockets while listening to longer more strident pledge drives, and running ads by sponsors that every year sound more like the ads on commercial radio is getting tiresome. Lurching from funding crisis to funding crisis is distracting. It’s like the war in Iraq – we’re asked to keep making sacrifices but no one has a plan to actually RESOLVE the basic issues! People who are reaching for their checkbooks here are like Congressmen who authorize another 6 months of troop deployment while hoping that in that time somebody will think of something.

  • Potter

    I must have take that from “Hommage A Piazzolla” an excellent CD.

    I agree plnelson, it does not matter what they pick as long as it is sustainable. I think “most people here” if you are talking about the thread just do not know and they just want to help by digging in which is a heck of a lot more direct and immediate than asking your boss, relatives or acquaintances if they would like to sponsor.

    I would not hold ROS to a path or business model because of their name either. What works in one set of circumstances may not work in another. And if a component of funding is listener contributions ( and it probably should be a la some of the more palatable suggestions in the article by Marszalek) so much the better. It’s important even symbolically though it may make a difference.

    So yes, sell Tee shirts, baseball caps, etc. whatever. Sell subscriptions to archives/content. I like it free for a month or two weeks or 6 months and then ( a la the NYTimesSelect) charge to have access to archives. Sell books or take commission on the selling of. Or do what WBUR does urging access to buying on Amazon through their site to support the station.

    Regarding The Globe: Charlie Sennett ( of the Globe) was on Emily Rooney’s show last night talking about just this subject. He was very excited about the expansion/extension of his work onto the Boston.com site, just as things are tightening at the physical paper.

  • plnelson

    “Regarding The Globe: Charlie Sennett ( of the Globe) was on Emily Rooney’s show last night talking about just this subject. He was very excited about the expansion/extension of his work onto the Boston.com site, just as things are tightening at the physical paper. ”

    I don’t know who Emily Rooney is, but did she ask him why the contract the Glose is trying impose on the Newspaper Guild specifically excludes revenue from Boston.com?

  • fiddlesticks

    If the program was a little more evenhanded politically and didn’t treat consevatives with such contempt they would have a better chance in getting public support.

  • seenthat

    I enjoy listening to the show when I have the chance, but I don’t regulary check in to the site; mainly because I don’t have the three hours to wade through the vast amounts of information.

    But the recent announcement about the loss of UMass Lowell’s funding drove me beack to the site. While you were a fine reporter, and an excellent long-format talk-show host, your “loss of funding” post is so much verbal “can’t we all just get along” high-mindedness, I couldn’t stand for it to go answered.

    Chris, let’s face it – politics is your life. In fact it was politics that got you your present gig – in which you talk about politics – and now it’s politics that’s pulling your funding. And let’s be fair here – you are not your own best defense in this matter.

    I’m not in the UML loop like I once was, but this is what I remember from the UML/Lydon “contract”: Christopher Lydon will consult regularly with the University of Massachusetts Lowell provost who is designing a University of Massachusetts at Lowell communications major.

    Fact check: UML Interim Chancellor Dave MacKenzie has indicated that UML hadn’t even decided if there was going to be a communications program at the university. How much consulting could you possibly do, Chris? After checking around – there has been apparently NO movement towards building such a program.


    Contract: Christopher Lydon will contribute to WUML programming and staff training and will help to launch a Lowell based WUML local radio program, sometime in 2005, with a closely linked web site-similar to his national program.

    Fact: Other than his own show, and guest appearances on the WUML morning program (who many of those have you made, Chris?) Lydon has NOT made any further contribution to WUML programming, and has NOT trained any UML staff. Though I’ve been told that (perhaps) two UML students have ever been involved (as interns) with the program. There is no WUML specific local radio program (or website) produced by Lydon or the “Open Source” staff. I understand, it’s a hard thing to organize from an office in Harvard Square!


    Contract: Christopher Lydon will speak in public and in recorded advertisements and otherwise become an active part of the University of Massachusetts Lowell media promotional program.

    Fact: Lydon has appeared in one television commercial for UML. He has spoken at numerous (but I’m not sure the exact number) of UML sponsored events.


    Contract: Christopher Lydon will host a national-network radio program known now as “Open Source,” May 1, or thereabouts, of 2005 with a closely linked website. The “Open Source” radio program and the website will credit the University of Massachusetts Lowell as a partnering the production and WUML will have the rights to simulcast the broadcast and will become the permanent source of the broadcast in 2006. Public Radio International is under agreement to distribute the program to its public broadcast network throughout the US. WGBH radio is under agreement to broadcast the program in greater Boston at 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday evenings.

    Fact: Most is true, though “closely linked website” as mentioned at the end of the first sentence is dubious. UML is mentioned sparsely (and only recently!) throughout the “Open Source” website. Same with the UML on-air credit; UML is mentioned twice on the show, just once more than some of the other – financially less important – sponsors. Hardly a UML promotional tool. In fact, only last week – over a year and a half after the show debuted – did the program have a UML professor join the topic du jour! (I’m still uncertain as to whether that’s a “good” or “bad” thing!)


    Contract: University of Massachusetts Lowell will contract with Christopher Lydon for $12,500 per month beginning April 1, 2005

    Fact: UML also took on four (though some sources say six) of his producers – there’s no mention of *that* money. However, they are now – thanks to the show – State Employees! An amazing bit of fancy footwork, considering the recent UMass funding cutbacks!

    I’d say I’d look forward to your thoughts on these points, but that would mean I’d have to check back in to this damn website.

    But maybe I’ll do it anyway.

  • Potter

    plnelson: Emily Rooney is on WGBHTV at the same time that this show airs.

    See this from the show last night about the same story happening in the music bis vis a vis the internet.


    However the Charlie Sennet story is not available online. It was part of the same show and I believe it was discussed that the Globe is having to come from the 20th into the 21st century. The Boston.com site is the growing tip.

  • Old Nick

    I don’t want to crowd this thread, and I want to leave space nearby seenthat’s post for Chris to respond to it should he care to do so.

    However, from where I sit (Northwestern Washington State), the details of Chris’s personal income (and his expense account) aren’t germane to my appreciation of his radio + blog product. I don’t care how much he makes (or must spend on expenses). I care only that this enterprise continue to provide us the intellectual stimulation we’ve learned to expect from ROS.

    And I will contribute (monthly if necessary) what little I can afford to keep the enterprise going for as long as possible.

    Bring on the PayPal!

    Also, I invite anyone and everyone so minded to compose a testimonial of their appreciation of ROS, and either post it here, or email to ROS for their private evaluation—and to boost their morale.

    They deserve it.

  • rc21

    To Seenthat: Thanks for shedding some light on the situation. That is quite a bit of money that UML and by extension the taxpayers are shelling out. Maybe they figured they were not getting what they paid for.

  • Samnang

    Who is seenthat? I think he should be honest about who he is and how he is connected (or, more accurately, disconnected) to Radio Open Source. That kind of lambast doesn’t come out of no where. This is one guy who shouldn’t hide behind a screen name.

  • plnelson

    ” plnelson: Emily Rooney is on WGBHTV at the same time that this show airs ”

    Oh, that explains it. I never watch TV.

    (I never listen to ROS when it airs, either, I usually listen to it on my iPod while mowing the lawn or turning my compost piles. I think that one of the benefits people often overlook about podcasting and timeshifting is the way our perspectives about global warming or the Transcendentalists or Islam and the west are transformed or influenced if, while the discussion is ensuing, we are raking leaves, driving to Home Depot, or sitting on the toilet.)

  • http://www.radioopensource.org Chris

    In answer to “seenthat’s” charge of “politics” at UMass Lowell (or in my secret heart):

    Then-Chancellor William Hogan invited me to Lowell toward the end of 2004. He had it urgently in mind to enrich course offerings to students with the theory and practice of Internet media; and also in a measure to make a mark for Lowell and its university in the “new media.”

    As we all got to know each other, producer Mary McGrath and I became very enthusiastic sharers in UML’s ambition. That bumpersticker “new media” slogan covered (1) building a studio facility large enough for a staff of eight; (2) transforming the university’s own radio facility into a community voice for the Merrimac Valley; (3) fixing the digital transformation of media somewhere near the heart of the UML curriculum — to “rebuild the civic culture,” as the Provost John Wooding told me over our first handshake.

    In the Lowell Sun piece, State Senator Steve Pangiotakos says that I was good for my part of the bargain. “He did everything he was asked and got us national exposure,” Panagiotakos said. “He’s into 15 of the biggest radio markets in the country, which is great for branding, but there was a local component to bring him in, and we weren’t able to come up with the finances to put that together.”

    I admired and encouraged UML’s vision of putting Lowell students at the forefront of a recharged citizenry, liberated and linked by the Web; I had hoped to continue to be a part of it. I made myself available, and still do, to deliver on every promise and every hope of our original plan — with visits, talks, interviews on and off the air, regular contributions to the conversation on WUML, fund-raising events for the university and enlistment of UML undergrads as Open Source interns.

    So I too am disappointed that the communications course has not yet been outlined, as I am disappointed that the plans we saw for a professional studio in Lowell will never be realized.

    If “politics” is a pattern of plans among people in power, where the plans, people and power are eternally shifting, then “seenthat” can boast of a great instinct for the obvious. Truly the only veiled element here is the real identity of “seenthat.” You’ve been asked now, by others on this thread as well: unmask yourself.

  • Katherine

    seenthat: Just so you know, we’re not “State Employees” in quite the way you imply. We’re paid by UMass Lowell, but through a series of temporary contracts — and with no benefits.

  • plnelson

    “seenthat: Just so you know, we’re not “State Employees” in quite the way you imply. We’re paid by UMass Lowell, but through a series of temporary contracts — and with no benefits. ”

    What do you MEAN – ‘no benefits’?

    WE get benefits from your work!


  • Potter

    No benefits?

    To compare then reduce the amount by the cost of a decent benefit package.

  • http://caveblogem.wordpress.com Cave_Blogem

    seenthat signed his post on “From Our Story Meeting, Nov 28” as Mike.

  • babu

    I’VE ALWAYS understood Lydon and Radio OpenSource as a work in progress – finding its shape and levelas it went. That’s part of its draw.

    Currently my take on it is colored by 10 months of nearly daily particpation yielding the following:

    1. Lydon’s brief with the UMass Lowell’s former Chancellor was probably unrealistically broad. I think it’s good to have the ROS mission unhitched from UMass. Too parochial to provide a lasting fit.

    2. The almost universal dilemma of spam and web ranting has proven to be an unexpectedly strong detractor here. It traces to the bad behavior bred by humans engaged without normal social contact — eye contact, body language, voice, etc. It appears to be a neurologicsl fact of life on the Web. Lydon’s model needs to face this squarely and morph creatively.

    What better starting point than a natural call for re-imagining the mission and its form.

    I’m standing by.

  • babu

    PLNelson: “People who are reaching for their checkbooks here are like Congressmen who authorize another 6 months of troop deployment while hoping that in that time somebody will think of something. ”

    I disagree. People who reach for their checkbooks understand the venerable stages and cycles involved in change. In my work, city planning and design, I recognizee 25 year cycles before new ideas proposed are fully integrated into public life and then set upon by the next generation of activists and pro’s. That’s how it works.

  • thoreauman

    As an informed Merrimack valley resident, the listeners of Open Source should know the reality behind all the empty words about bringing anything to the Lowell area. Christopher Lydon has ignored the community broadcasting happening right now and for decades past on WUML. Grass Roots Radio will be having there next national meeting in Lowell next summer due to the stature of the station in student and community radio. Chris has never made contact with any of the people he said he would be ïmpowering”. It is telling that the show no longer even allows callers. I personnally consider the show elitist propaganda and am surprised anyone outside the metro area would air the program.

  • plnelson

    “PLNelson: ‘People who are reaching for their checkbooks here are like Congressmen who authorize another 6 months of troop deployment while hoping that in that time somebody will think of something. ‘

    I disagree. People who reach for their checkbooks understand the venerable stages and cycles involved in change.”

    How is that different than the answer my hypothetical congressman would give?

    Aren’t you BOTH saying that “these things take time to sort themselves out” and we don’t know exactly how MUCH time it will take or what the final result will be, or whether it won’t just be money down the drain? In neither case do I see a plan.

    “I recognizee 25 year cycles before new ideas proposed are fully integrated into public life and then set upon by the next generation of activists and pro’s. That’s how it works.”

    THAT 25 year cycle is a result of the natural span of a generation. So you can at least point to some biological fact to set people’s expectations. But there is no natural cycle for the uptake of a new technology or paradigm. For example, web-based social networking, e.g., MySpace, has gone from Zero to Ubiquitous in about 3 years. In the early days of radio the first commercial radio station in the US (KDKA) went on the air in 1920. By the 1930’s radio was a staple of American life and a major force in social and political change (e.g., FDR’s ‘fireside chats’).

    Public radio in the US is like the US government – constantly reacting to the latest problem, lurching from crisis to crisis, putting out fires, wheeling and dealing and spinning to try to prop things up, but NO ONE seems to have a vision that enough people buy into of where it’s all going.

    I don’t know about you but I follow lots of public radio news and blogs regularly, and I’m telling you: people are in a panic out there. Between funding threats and right-wing activists and the FCC trying to control content, and satellite radio taking key market segments, and the rise of podcasting and streaming and multimedia technologies, and the general segmenting and subsegmenting of US culture, and the dying-off of the grayhairs who used to be public radio’s greatest supporters, there is no prominent person with a clear vision of public radio’s future that has much buy-in right now. This ROS thing perfectly encapsulates the bigger picture.

  • plnelson

    “As an informed Merrimack valley resident, the listeners of Open Source should know the reality behind all the empty words about bringing anything to the Lowell area.”

    I should mention that I’m ALSO a Merrimack valley resident and ‘thoreauman’ actually brought up a key point that I neglected to mention in my litany of public radio’s problems:

    Public radio used to have a connection (no pun intended) to its local community. But what does that MEAN these days?

    WGBH and WBUR have a listening area that extends from southern NH to Rhode Island, and out past Rt 495. That’s probably about 3 million people. What do we have in common that represents a “community”? How do you do “local” programming on the scale?

    It’s scarcely better in greater Lowell. WUML is a college radio station that fills most of its broadcast schedule with the typical music mix of college stations. It has a few non-music shows (e.g., TOL) and on Sundays WUML does its community outreach thing with a few small segments to some of Lowell’s many ethnic communities. But mainly WUML is about music. If they were serious about their role in the community they would eliminate half their music content and replace it with something meatier.

    But it faces the same basic problem the big stations do: Greater Lowell is VERY diverse. Not only does it have one of the most complex mixes of ethnic groups of any US city, but WUML’s listening area includes leafy-green suburbs with nuclear families, a large mix of white-collar professionals, urban homesteaders, a very active arts community, a large blue-collar working class demographic, and some of America’s remaining manufacturing segments. I like to hang out at the Western Ave (in Lowell!) complex, because I’m an artist, and that mix of manufacturing and art is good example of Lowell.

  • rc21

    To plnelson: You are right about public media having a tough time reaching local people. Especially around Lowell. Probably one of the most diverse cities in New England.

    I dont watch much T.V. But I usually watch New Hampshires public station more than Bostons. I love New Hamshire cross roads and Fritz Weatherbee. They seem to have a bit more local programing. Are there art galleries at the western ave complex. Or just artists who hang out?

  • plnelson

    “Are there art galleries at the western ave complex. Or just artists who hang out? ”

    The Western Ave complex is an AMAZING place. It’s a set of building that used to factories. It’s STILL used for manufacturing to a great extent but several floors and parts of buildings have been turned into artists’s condo’s. It’s not galleries, per se; it’s mostly working artists and their studios, although the Arts League of Lowell often puts on shows there. To get to the artist’s condos you go up and down in a freight elevator.

  • momos

    plnelson – You make an important critique of public radio, but your assessment is a little too harsh. Unlike the rest of “old media,” public radio has never been stronger than it is now in terms of financial security and audience size (though the exponential growth in listenership has recently begun to plateau). It’s precisely this success, and not so much the stubborn grayhairs, that has made public radio managers so cautious and averse to major change. Public radio’s last 10 years have been enviable. NPR is the only broadcast network in America to recently expand, not shrink, the number of its international bureaus. These are hardly dooms day times with an even bleaker future for public radio, as you seem to suggest. I agree they should get on the ball with Internet distribution, and I also strongly dislike the abandonment of local programming. But again, the shift away from local programming is a case in point about success driving public radio’s conservatism. Research by two long-time public radio consultants has found that public radio listeners do not listen to a show simply because it is about local issues. They listen only if the show is of national quality. Of course, to meet such standards stations have to spend far more money per hour than if they simply paid the carriage fees for national PRI or NPR programs. So the trend for many stations is away from local and towards national. Either a station tries to become a production house for national programming that it can sell in other markets (like WBUR with Car Talk, Only a Game, On Point, etc), or instead buys all its shows from national producers and does very little of its own production (like KUT in Austin TX). This is all driven by audience research and financial concerns, not just hopeless gray-haired tools bent on irritating you. In the end I agree public radio management needs a shake up, but it’s a little extreme to revoke your contribution on only these grounds.

  • plnelson

    “Public radio’s last 10 years have been enviable. NPR is the only broadcast network in America to recently expand, not shrink, the number of its international bureaus.”

    A lot of that is due to the recent HUGE infusion of funds from a single wealthy private donor (Joan Kroc). Her $200M bequest is greater than NPR’s entire annual operating budget.

    Anyway, I didn’t say the grayhairs ar blocking NPR – I’m saying they’re pretty much what’s keeping it afloat.

    Success should not equate to conservatism! I’ve worked for high tech companies all my life and in our industry it is AXIOMATIC that when you are successful and growing and doing great is the BEST time to enter new fields, try new ventures, or reinvent yourself. That’s when you have the resources, the morale, the drive, and you can make changes on your own terms instead of being forced by desperate circumstances. The biggest, richest, most successful high tech companies have always followed that model.

    All I can say is I’m NPR’s ideal listener – educated, affluent, and young enough that I could still be a supporter for decades to come. And yet I am listening to LESS and LESS NPR programming with each passing month, and what I do listen to is increasingly outside the funding stream (local station support) that NPR relies on. Consider me the canary in your coal mine.

  • seenthat

    Let me say that I am flattered that you’d rather know who I am than discuss the issue at hand. Lest this discussion stray too far from being civil discourse, and because I have nothing to hide (or gain) by being anonymous: my name is Mike Smith and I’m a UMass Lowell alumni.

    Before I go any further, my problem is not is with ROS as a program. It’s a fine outlet, and one that I hope will continue to grow. But the UMass Lowell / ROS deal itself was ill-conceived, that much is now clear.

    First, there was the problem of money. UML thought they could buy instant name recognition and an enrollment bump on the cheap. And you, Christopher? Well, perhaps you thought you’d get a chance to get back on the air (and on the internet) doing what you love, in an appropriate environment. However, these things cost money. And money is something the UMass system does not have. At the time the deal was inked, it was obvious to students at WUML, those WUML alumni who are in the broad/narrowcast business, and even some UMass administrators that the funds for ROS, new studios, and a new program were just not going to be available.

    Second was the alienation factor. You have stated, Chris, that, “We had planned with UMass over the next five years to build a community radio station…” Statements like that, show a lack of actual – physical – interaction with the students at the current radio station. While UML’s radio station – WUML – is student run (as it has been for over 50 years!), it is, despite your comment to the contrary, ALREADY a community radio station – it has a two-hour daily live talk/public affairs/opinion program, and it hosts MANY programs catering to Lowell’s varied community. Students were wary of a perceived “takeover” of their station (with plans of news studios, etc) by ROS, mostly because they had no real contact with anyone from the program. To say, “I made myself available, and still do…” is noble, but to say that to a student 25 miles away (limited by money, time and transport) is doublespeak. You’ve been conducting this entire UML relationship from a distance, and now the lack of personal interaction has brought you no good. Sadly, despite your high ideals and your flowery prose about the Merrimack Valley while invoking the name of Jack Kerouac, you have alienated yourself from the very “community” you were purporting to engage.

    So all of the blame does not rest with the university, Christopher. And that’s what this was all about. Now go out there and find some solid funding!

    Do I have inside information? No. Everything contained herein and in my previous post has either been published in one of the local newspapers, or readily given in response to my queries. I would not post personal information like salaries, if that information had not already been available as a matter of public record.

    Ahhh, the wonders of open-sourcing!

    For the record, I stand corrected – to a degree – about the ROS producers being “State Employees.” Thanks for setting me straight, Katherine.

  • plnelson

    “While UML’s radio station – WUML – is student run (as it has been for over 50 years!), it is, despite your comment to the contrary, ALREADY a community radio station – it has a two-hour daily live talk/public affairs/opinion program, and it hosts MANY programs catering to Lowell’s varied community.”

    Two points –

    1. I agree that there never was any logical basis for a ROS / UMass Lowell relationship. Even if ROS represented a move toward “community” programming, what “community” could ROS be said to represent? It’s part of the larger theme I’ve been banging away on in this thread about public radio not really having a clear vision of itself and its mission.

    2. I disagree that WUML is a “community radio station”. The station appears to recognize that it’s in a large, diverse community but it only does the MINIMUM necessary to acknowledge that. It has a TOL during the week, and it consigns a cluster of ethnic programming to a Sunday ghetto. The rest of the time it’s a typical college music mix (indie rock, hip hop, punk, local bands, etc) for kids who can’t get their heads out of their earbuds. If WUML was serious about its role in the community it would slash its music programming in half and replace it with more varied content. Even if we imagine that the “community” it serves is mainly UML students, there is a lot more to being a student than listening to music. Furthermore you can get ska and punk and hip hop and indie rock etc, etc, music anywhere on the Internet 24/7 – you CANNOT get greater-Lowell news and public affairs programming anywhere, anytime.

  • rc21

    Lowell and by extension UMass Lowell is mostly made up of blue collar, middle class people. I always wondered why Chris or a group like them would want to associate themselves with Lowell . I think a place like Cambridge might suit ROS better. They would have more advocates for the work they do.

    I do know that the majority of students were against this gig right from the begining. You could read about it in the papers.

  • Brendan

    rc21, I think you’re romanticizing the idea of a college in the UMass system that is, by extension of its location, blue-collar and middle-class. You’re using code words here; you’ve substituted “blue collar” and “middle class” for “not liberal or elite enough for Lydon.”

    Are you saying that the administrators of UMass Lowell are too blue collar or middle class to support a public radio show? That this was not belt-tightening, but a social decision based on the inability of the classes to intermingle? That’s offensive to both us and UMass Lowell, but if you mean it you should go ahead and actually say it.

    As for Cambridge, where are all of these advocates, and how are they going to help us? Is there some kind of liberal elite support society headquartered here? If so they have yet to announce themselves or send a check. But tell you what. I’ll bring this up the next time I drink brandy and play snooker with the rest of the media elite and find out what they know. Then I’ll call Bank of America, because if I’m not a member of the middle class, then surely there was a mistake on my last statement. Perhaps they can add a couple zeros.

  • rc21

    Umass Lowell is quite liberal as are most schools in New England. But most college kids and I know at UML the kids wanted to run their own station and run it the way they saw fit. By the way they have been doing things on there own for many years prior to you guys coming on board.. Many felt that they were being shoved aside by the great Chris and his people. The kids felt it was their station they were paying the ever increasing tuition. and it should be their station. This is common knowledge. It was in the papers. The fact is Lowell is still a blue collar town and so is the school. How many kids do you think attend from Weston, Wellselly, Newton, Concord,Sudbury, The numbers are extremley small. I like your shows and I like the station. My guess from what I read in the papers and hear is that you guys were canned for financial reasons. not political I’m sure you guys were loved by the schools administration. But perhaps if your show had more of a Lowell feel or a merrimack vally feel you would have garnered more support.

    My reference to Cambridge was sort of in that regard. Many of your shows are for the NPR crowd. Wine and cheese liberals. Ivy leauge types, what ever you want to call it. You can deny it all you like. But as Bill Belicheck once said ”it is what it is” That does not mean good or bad. With Chris’s ties to NPR and many of the people in the area I thought he could perhaps muster up some support from his old connections.

    In closing I don’t think their was need to take such offense to my post it was certainly not meant to be offensive. I was just giving you the view of an outsider who lives in the valley. As I said I enjoy the show and the people who post. I wish you were more even handed politically, but it is your show, I do find you guys more respectfull than Air America, who I also listen to.

  • Old Nick

    rc21, ol’ buddy: what’s offensive about your post(s) isn’t your opinions, but your stereotyping. I’m a lifelong NPR listener and a social progressive. I’ve never once in my life made more than $20,000 a year, and I don’t like wine. OR fancy cheese. I worked mostly in bars and restaurants, along with a couple of other jobs classifiable as ‘blue collar’ (including an associate membership in the Teamsters Union), but if you’ve read my posts, I’m not, I don’t think, a ‘blue collar’ writer.

    Most folks aren’t classifiable — or stereotypical.

    Are you?

  • Old Nick

    Two corrections for rc21:

    “…what I find offensive about your post(s) isn’t your opinions, but your habit of stereotyping.”


    “Most folks aren’t easily classifiable…”

    Also, I’m not trying to chastise, but to merely give you a sense how your habit of stereotyping hurts the (presumed) purpose of your posts here. I mean, presumably you want to make a positive impression with your views. But great tact is necessary for that. Lumping people into stereotypes won’t help your ambitions.

    That’s all.

    See ya’ round the threads.

  • rc21

    Old nick; Yes I think everyone is classified to a certain extent. Check out the thread on Identity politics. We all steryotype to a certain degree. both on the right and the left. How many times have I heard liberals call people who dont support gay marriage homophopes. or people who dont support affirmitive action racist. The right does it also. (If your against the war you are not a patriot ) is one example.It is actually done in all aspects of life, not just in the political spectrum.

    Not everyone fits totally into every box its more about generalities. Also I dont expect my views to to have a positive impression on very many people at this venue. I dont mind. My original post was also meant to be a bit sarcastic that is sometimes hard to accomplish by nondirect verbal communication. sorry.

  • Old Nick

    Rc21, I owe you a “sorry” too. I typed the two posts above before my morning coffee. (There oughta be a law.) It was too early in the day to sense that I was just cranky. (At my age, it takes a couple of hours to distinguish unusual morning crankiness from normal, constitutional grumpiness. Be glad you’re not there yet [hopefully!].)

    So, I’m sorry, remorseful even, for my less-than-gracious commentary.

    I too have learned (the hard way) that humorously-intended sarcasm doesn’t translate well in a blog. I’ve tried to eliminate that sort of style from my writings online; but, well, nobody’s perfect. Least of all me. :-(

    See ya.

  • Old Nick

    You know, my frowny up there was a typo: I’d meant to give a sarcastic :-).

    But now that I’ve just watched My Tigers error their way into a 1-3 hole in the World Series… :-(

    Talk about an October Surprise!

  • jazzman

    I don’t want to rain on the good intention parade of all the ROS junkies/fans but do the math:

    Chris’ salary: $150K

    Average Salary for 4 assistants: $300K (half Chris’ salary)

    Studio Rental: $20K

    Server: $10K

    Utilities:/Misc Expenses: $20K

    Total: $500K

    These may or may not be fanciful but I’ll bet they are within +/- 100K of what it would cost to privately fund the ROS experiment for a year. If the 100 most rabid ROSers (and there are by my count approximately 30-40 junkies consistently posting over the last year– I include myself [with thanks to Nick’s index] donated $1000, ROS could be funded for about 10 weeks. I don’t believe that is feasible even if we could afford such a donation, it wouldn’t go far. I think the only answer is to actively seek the equivalent of the UML initial charter from philanthropists or interested parties. Maybe some “lefty” like George Soros would like to have a social minded channel with demonstrated growth potential broadcasting to the world. I’m sure Chris is scouring his vast network of connections to make something happen and I hope he is successful but as plnelson says it will take more than bake sales, raffles, or neighborhood fundraisers to support this venture. While this may sound pessimistic, I’m an eternal optimist and believe ROS has a future – we just have to think large scale.

    ROS for ALL,


  • rc21

    To Old nick no problem I am sure I went a little overboard. It is easy to do. Sorry your Tigers went down. Baseball is a funny sport. Probably the most unpredictable of the big 4 when it comes to championships.

  • momos

    rc21, you repeated a common phrase, “wine and cheese liberals.”

    Liberals want a fair society in which everybody has a chance. Liberals believe in legal protections like environmental standards that prevent big companies from polluting the environment the rest of us live in, and making sure workers get decent health coverage. Liberals believe in things that big business (which is interested in maximum profits) doesn’t. In short, liberals traditionally stand up for the little guy.

    So where does the phrase “wine and cheese liberal” come in?

    This is a phrase introduced by business interests on the right to discredit people with liberal ideas who are unsympathetic to corporations. Suddenly being a liberal is not about supporting a just society and making sure everyone’s got a chance. Instead a liberal is somebody who consumes elitist products, preferably imported from France whenever possible. It’s a sly trick, because it puts liberal people in the position of the rich upper class businessman — the guy in the Lexus with a trunkload of brie and his stock broker on the cellphone who represents a system liberals object to.

    The wine and cheese stereotype has been so effective that we might think all Democrats are a “tax-raising, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show” (to quote the famous right wing attack ad on Howard Dean).

    Now compare that stereotype with the reality as described by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, based on emperical research:

    “More whites consider themselves Republicans rather than Democrats. Pluralities of suburbanites, Protestants, married people, and those from households with incomes of $30,000 or more also self-identify as Republican… In contrast, the Democratic party is more attractive to less wealthy and minority segments of the electorate. African Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, as are a plurality of Hispanics, city dwellers, union workers, whites who earn less than $30,000 per year, singles, widows and divorced people, and single moms.”

    A political scientist at Washington University in St Luis has conducted an interesting new study on the popular journalistic image of rich latte-drinking Democrats and poor NASCAR Republicans, and finds one reason that it persists is that in the wealthy coastal states where the media are located class is less of a predictor of party affiliation that in the rest of the country.

  • Old Nick

    Yup. What momos said.

    To the definition/characterization of liberals in her/his (?) penultimate paragraph, I would add only this:

    “African Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, as are a plurality of Hispanics, city dwellers, union workers, whites who earn less than $30,000 per year, singles, widows and divorced people, single moms, and, even wealthier people imbued with the human gift called conscience”.

    (With due thanks to Garrison Keillor, of course!) 😉

  • rc21

    To momos; Liberals and democrats are not necessarily the same thing. There are degrees of liberalism as well as degrees of conservativism. I am quite sceptical of all polls especially after doing a bit of research. almost no poll is done by totally non partisian groups. Most polls are conducted in a way so as to achieve a predetirmined outcome.

    You claim liberals want a fair society in which everybody has a chance. So do conservatives. So what’s your point? You claim liberals believe in environmental standards that prevent big business from polluting the environment that we live in. Most conservatives I know also like to live in a clean environment and also support common sense environmental standards. So once again I ask what is your point?

    You claim liberals want to make sure workers get decent health coverage.

    Again so do conservatives. They tend to think it may be better done through the private sector. Again what is your point? Liberals believe in things that big business doesnt (maximum profits) in short liberals stand up for the little guy.

    I got news for you big business is made up of liberals and conservatives. As to liberals not believeing in business making big profit,here is where conservatives probably differ with liberals. Conservatives think it is ok for big business to make maximum profits because in so doing they are probably creating new jobs for the little guy, and affording higher wages for the little guy, and also letting the little guys profit sharing rise. So in short the conservitive is for standing up for the little guy. So finally I will ask again what is your point? 9 of 11 richest senators are democrats. So much for the little guy.

    Reading your opening you are suggesting conservatives would like to see an unjust society where only the rich business man can succeed all others must fail. Conservatives would also like to have an environment that is polluted with toxins and the water. Is unfit to drink causing us all to die within a few generations.

    We would also like to see people dying in the street. or perhaps performing operations on themselves.

    And last but not least we would like to see big business make zillions and zillions of dollars leaving the rest of us in abject poverty. lLving in the streets.Our children dying of fammine and disease. Only the liberals can save us from the evil conservative.

    You forgot a few. Liberals care about minorities. Liberals care about women. Liberals care about the children, and liberals care about gay people.

    Lets see. Conservatives hate minorities they would like to see a return to slavery, conservatives hate women they all belong in the kitchen. conservatives hate gay people. (read the bible) although secretly many admit they have attended an Elton John concert. And as unbelievable as it may seem they even hate children. No rational reason is given for this.Leading conservitaves say it is probably due to a gene that most conservatives have whereby they are predisposed to hate everyone. But some say it is due to the loss of unskilled labor jobs. Children can no longer be used by big bussiness for cheap labor.

    Some of The wealthiest areas of the country are Boston, NYC, most of the north east and parts of California Berkley, Hollywood etc.All are heavily democratic. The wine and cheese steryotype has been effective because it is true to a large extent. Have you ever been to Cambridge? The rich, eliteist, far left east and wast coasters drive the dem party. It is not the middle of the road dem who has the power. Just ask Joe Lieberman. Blacks and minorities vote dem because they have been bought off and brainwashed. How are the 100% democratically controlled cities of Detroit,WashingtonDC, Gary, Newark,Philly(only 300 murders) etc etc doing .Yes blacks in these cities are thriving under democratic leadership. The only people making money in these places are the funeral homes.

    Once again my original post was made part in jest and fun. There does seem to be some thin skinned people. Thats ok. Please excuse me I have to go kick a kid to the curb, and pollute the Merrimack river. While I’m at it I may try and deprive some minoritiy of a civil right or two. Us conseritives are such a mean evil lot. By the way I like to think of myself as libertarian. They hate everyone including big business.

  • momos

    rc21, there’s no thin-skinned delicateness here. I enjoyed your post, which I disagree with, and hopefully you won’t feel wounded as I respond.

    Of course conservatives don’t want to live in pools of toxic slime, and neither do liberals. Yet conservatives (especially libertarians) are often opposed to environmental regulations, while liberals support them.

    Environmental problems are a good example of what economists call “the tragedy of the commons.” Avoiding the overuse of an environmental resource depends on the collective action of everyone who uses it. If consumers acted together, they could make sure to use enough water so everyone got their fair share but not so much that the well dried up. But no single user has an incentive to reduce his consumption, so collectively the resource gets used too much. The same goes for air pollution. Everybody wants clean air, but no individual manufacturer has an incentive to reduce its emissions. So while everybody wants clean air, everybody continues to pollute, and we all end up with global warming.

    These are the kinds of situations in which liberals support government regulation or taxation to correct for the failure of the market. Government intervention can make the individual, private cost of using water or polluting the air reflect the collective cost to society. This mitigates against the problem of overuse by private decision makers.

    Conservatives oppose this view. They insist that the market alone will solve the problem. More specifically, libertarians object because they generally believe government should not intervene in public affairs at all (except, usually, in the case of national defense, although libertarians are also usually isolationists in foreign policy).

    In your post you put words in my mouth, essentialy accusing me of saying conservatives drink the blood of malnourished babies. I had to laugh, but come on man, do you really think I believe all that? If you go back and read my post you’ll see it’s entirely about liberals. There’s not one attack against conservatives. For the record it’s you who brought up the idea of conservatives being haters. Bitter, angry, mean: every family’s got the sourpuss who’s colder than a witch’s tit.

    Your underlying theme is that liberals are rich elitists living in privlidged enclaves that are totally out of touch with the rest of the country (the shorter way to say this is “wine and cheese”). What I’m pointing out is that this description of “liberal” has only to do with social class — social class defined by consumption habits. It has nothing to do the cannon of ideas developed by the likes of John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, and John Dewey that a liberal believes in. To be a liberal is to believe that the state has a role in providing positive liberty (freedom to achieve certain ends; negative liberty is protection against external coercion) for individuals. Liberals support a greater degree of government intervention in the market, anti-discrimination laws, universal education, progressive taxation, and believe government should provide for a degree of general welfare, including benefits for the unemployed, housing for the homeless, and medical care for the sick. This is the platform of the Democratic Party. It has nothing to do with being rich or eating cheese.

    And the reason I cited the Pew Research Center study (which by the way is actually an impartial, non-partisan source) was to show that the people who support these ideas — Democrats — are “African Americans…a plurality of Hispanics, city dwellers, union workers, whites who earn less than $30,000 per year, singles, widows and divorced people, and single moms.” Hardly a wine a cheese crowd.

    The stereotype just doesn’t hold. It describes a small number of clueless Hollywood stars and self-absorbed postmodern academics, but has nothing to do with the masses of ordinary working people who belong to the party of liberalism — Democrats — and struggle like everyone else and love their country like everyone else.

    I suspect there are probably things we probably do agree on. I’ve worked in the heart of the ghettos in north Philly and I fully agree citizens there are not well served by their local Democractic leadership. The blowhards and bimbo environmentalists in Hollywood are a joke, just like their shitty movies. Big business doesn’t give a damn about the American blue collar worker if it can make a quick buck by moving production to China and padding the pockets of upper management.

    Here’s one more: as a libertarian you should be apalled by the churchy crowd insisting on interfering with people’s personal business, from what kind of video games a 16 year-old kid can and can’t play to the private sexual choices of consenting adults, to demanding we all sing patriotic hymns in public school.

    Anyway, while you go kick a kid in the gutter and pollute the Merrimack, I’ll put on my pink fairy tutu and make a friendship cheese plate for Osama.

  • rc21

    To momos: good post I liked it. I do agree with you on quite a bit. As someone who cares about the environment, I am in favor of regulations that prevent pollution.I’m a libertarian,but I’m not adverse to compromise. I actually would like to see more compromise on many issues. Conservatives support many anti pollution bills, They just use a little more common sense in my opinion.

    You are right I put words in your mouth. This is because by ommision you infered that it is liberals who are for the common man and conservatives are for big business, I don’t think it was much of a stretch for me to come to this conclusion after reading your post. Of course I over dramatized a bit as we all do. I was trying to get you to see my point.

    As I stated earlier there are many degrees of liberalism as well as many degrees of conservatism. On the left you have hate America groups like ANSWER, code pink, Michael Moore, Ward Churchill and his ilk etc . On the right you have The bible thumpers Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, etc Most Dems and reps/libertarians fall somewhere inbetween. I still claim tht the far left and special interest groups have hijacked what used to be the party of the common people. Look who the major financial player in the democratic party is right now George Sorios. You can’t get much further to the left than him. Yet he and his group are the ones forming and driving the policy in the democratic party at present time.

    I agree with many liberals on what is good for the nation, but I disagree on the approach. The private sector can and will do more to alleviate the many problems we have. Yes some will profit more than others and some will abuse the system. Do you really think big Govt can do a beter job? Sorry the answer is no. The govt financially rapes us constantly, stealing our money for more failing social programs of which almost none have proven to be effective. Especially when you figure in the cost.

    Yes I’m appalled at the churchy crowd who try and legislate what people can and cannot do in the privacy of their homes. Singing patriotic songs should never be mandatory. I would be against any law that would force this on the people. Are you appalled at the secular elitests who do things like pulling the plug on a young women valedictorian. who had the audacity to thank god for her success in overcoming a hard life filled with many trials and challenges. Are you appalled at the far left taking over our universities and establishing speech and thought codes reminiscent of 1936 Germany or communist Russia. Free speech has effectively been banned on many campuses.

  • rc21

    To mommos; This is for you to also think about in respect to the elitest liberal politician and what they believe.

    The cardinal rule of the left; People are pawns,burdens and useless.

    It underscores every reaction(They think they analyze,but analysis is cerebral,not viscral. They have to ”problem”

    Thats why people need big government programs for everything under the leftist mindset. Of course the real masters the super rich liberal realize this is crap,so they manufacture it. If they didn’t,someday someone might ask why they should listen to Kerry,Kennedy,etc. about anything-because like Marx they talk alot about employment and work but avoid it like the plauge.

    The poor common folk are to be kept in government “schools”. To be indoctrinated into spineless, sloth and self pity, stripped of their dignity and self worth. Make them slaves by telling them they are to be mastered by their passions,not to be masters of their passions.

    That way when it comes time to vote, they are reduced to baby birds in nests responding to the politician with the most regurgitated worm.

    If you pummel them enough, they wont even realize they are eating vomit.

    That is from a fellow who seems to know the reality of the wine and cheese set.

  • momos

    rc21: I agree with your description of public “shools.” The US public education system is a sad joke. I’m a product of it and I’m still recovering. The “sucessful” students it churns out can do nothing but consume; they’re totally incapable of producing anything or thinking for themselves, and everybody else ends up in jail within 10 years of high school. When this country needs skilled people with brains for demanding jobs it just imports immigrants with PhDs on restricted visas. Cheaper and quicker than educating your own people. But atrocious schools are not a conspiracy by liberal ogres to oppress the poor. They are the result of a structural problem having to do with the way education is funded in America, a society that no longer respects teachers and learning, and parents who are overworked and expect schools to pick up the slack with their kids.

    I accept that there are degrees of left and right, and that you position yourself in the “sensible middle.” But I don’t agree that liberals are “far left.” That territory’s mine, brother. People on the left think liberals are best described as “center-left” and way too often cave to attacks and demands from the right. Liberals are seen by the true left as soft and too willing to compromise.

    You’d be surprised, George Soros is actually a solid liberal — not the radical leftist Fox would have you think. He’s a total believer in the free market, which is where he made his own money, and he hates Communism, which he was born under in Eastern Europe. When the Soviet Union collapsed he put millions of dollars of his own money into pushing the Eastern bloc to adopt “our” system. They did, and Rumsfeld seems to think Eastern Europe longingly looks to the US more than Old Europe. Conservatives portray Soros as being farther left than he actually is in order to undermine his credibility with the mainstream. (Of course none of them have ever done half of what he has to transform formerly Communist dictatorships into capitalist free market democracies, but that’s not the point when you’re in shout-fest talk radio showbiz.) They do this because he is one of the biggest benefactors of the Democratic Party and it’s in their interest to paint him as an extremist.

    ANSWER, Code Pink, etc, these groups are in fact further to the left than Soros and wouldn’t consider themselves “liberal.” So your characterization of them is fair. Except they do not “hate America.” Michael Moore is a populist and ANSWER and Code Pink are modern versions of ’60s protest groups. They certainly hate Bush, but they don’t hate the country. Let’s be fair. Ward Churchill is an extremist and I won’t try defending him here, even though I think in America you should have the right to say what you want.

    I said before that I’m farther to the left than liberals. It’s more complicated than that. I have a libertarian streak on social issues. On the left that position is described as “progressive.” My leftist tendencies don’t necessarily mean I love ANSWER and Code Pink. At least Code Pink’s tactics are a little more creative than ANSWER’s, but I generally can’t get behind the activists (but I love Billionaires for Bush). I guess the reason is mostly cultural. They’re not interested in talking to people they disagree with, they generally can’t take a joke, and for all the screaming they do many of them are surprisingly ill informed. Hmm, sounds like Bible thumpers.

    I do agree with you on one thing. The Democratic party certainly has been hijacked by interest groups. These are usually single-issue groups, like pro-choice groups or environmental groups who don’t care about anything else aside from their agendas. Add to that an entrenched Democractic establishment of a few rich donors and strategists who are only concerned about “electability” (remember when they decided Kerry was “electable”? Whhaaaat??) and what you get is total incoherence. Married white men have a hard time relating to the party because they don’t see where they fit , since they’re generally not part of one of the interest groups. To win them back the Democrats need to start talking comprehensive big-picture stuff, not minutae driven by one constituency or another.

    But come on, the right talks as though Democrats would purposefully destroy America and then shit all over it if only they had the chance. Let’s get real. Democrats, even the rag-tag interest groups, at the end of the day are regular Americans who worry about their phone bills, drive cars with leaking radiators, love running around outside, and hand out candy to kids on Halloween just like anybody else. They are not sub-human “freak shows.”

    Well, nobody’s enslaving me and feeding me regurgitated worm vomit, fun as that sounds. I don’t register with any political party. I always vote and it’s always a choice between a candidate who sucks ass and a cadidate who sucks tremendous ass. Which is why I never vote Republican.

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