Friday, April 16, 2010

Root root root for the home team -- not!



Dear CBS News:

Traditions (or aspirations) of journalistic objectivity have long been held in abeyance for local sports scribes, who are expected to root root root for the home team.

Localites are similarly mesmerized by spectacle into thinking of the teams' fortunes as their own ("we got killed last night") even though they have neither management nor ownership stakes in the local profit-making sports entertainment troupe. They become "fanatics," often shortened to "fans."

OK, it's all a game and WTF is the fun if you can't choose sides? If you don't win it's a shame!

Which leads me to a network business reporter I heard on the local CBS News AM station, who, in reporting today's stock market losses (said by mindreaders to have occurred in response to the Goldman Sachs accusations), told his interlocutor back at the studio that "we were down over 100 points today blah blah blah."

WTF you mean "we?" Are you a Wall Street stooge?

You mean they. Them. Those *&^%$# people. The ones many folks think stole our 401Ks and IRAs and pensions and nest eggs and homes and jobs. You're WITH THEM? You and them are US?

Fuck you, asshole, I don't want another lying cheerleader. This isn't a game. If you don't win you could die.

You're not us. WE are not with you. Give us some objective reporting.

Thanks,

Dennis Wilen

P.S.: I turned the station off when the local anchor asked the San Diego reporter on the phone why a serial killer defendant decided to plead guilty. "I guess," started our long distance correspondent . . . "

CLICK. You guess? You (*&^%$ GUESS? On what was once The Tiffany Network? On the same radio frequencies as Edward R. Murrow? Fuck you!

O.K. I confess. I was a CBS Radio employee and always thought the network was a class act.

As a matter of fact, as part of Standards and Practices, I was assigned a particular network responsibility at WCAU-FM in Philadelphia (then known as Disco98) that required I go to Manhattan and train for a day or two and file reports back to HQ. I was mostly Production Director (I produced/dubbed/scheduled the commercials and other taped assets) but at the same time was the NY-designated "Manager of Continuity Acceptance."

This meant I was tasked with getting commercials on the air and at the same time SCREENING THEM for bullshit, adherence to CBS standards and the National Association of Broadcasters Code. Typically this meant sending back stuff with fake teletype news sounds or bogus alerts, fake going out of business sales, etc. or too much SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY with cheap reverb. The rule was you couldn't repeat the phone number or address more than three times.

Other commercials required special scrutiny.

If a spot came in for hair plugs, or weaves or hair replacements (Disco98's "Fascinatin' Rhythm" attracted both this kind of male listener and advertiser for whatever reason), I would send it back to the agency if it said the shit was undetectable. I made them add 'virtually' or some weasel word. Same with bogus scientific claims. This was a constant war I couldn't win, the local ad salesman pestering the boss and me, the powerless conflicted advocate of network policy and NAB codes.

Ah, CBS. They had gorgeous thick stationery in their Selectrics, and the official ink color was dark gray.

Not black ink on white, mind you. Dark gray. Classy

I shudder at what I hear on the air now.

2 comments:

John said...

I'm sorry you don't get perfection each time you listen. I guess.

dennis wilen said...

Fair enough. I do have high expectations for CBS, but it's not any worse than the Los Angeles Times and I am personally pissed of at Wall Street.

The use of the words "us" or "we" is a particular red flag for me, drilled into my head by the legendary radio program director Jerry Stevens, my boss at WMMR in Philadelphia.

"Us" or "we" was reserved for the station, not a sponsor, not a team, not a cause.

Perhaps I am oversensitive.