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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What was I thinking?!!! 

Ok... here's the deal... over the past year i've been spending more and more time in my car... and i don't know about you, but i go through listening cycles... there was my "Ska" period and my "Bluegrass" period and my "Goofy Morning Show" period and even a period where i listened to a lot of Radio Disney (which is troubling since i don't have any kids)... but, as i said, over the past year i've been spending a lot more time in my car, and have found myself tuning over to MSNBC more and more... i live on the west coast, so with the 3-hour time difference, the MSNBC lineup works pretty well for me from about noon until 6pm... and while i don't necessarily agree with the political point of view of every host (or even any host), the conversations are lively without being shrill... and i think that by-and-large, the hosts are all pretty damn smart without being smarmy...

so i was surprised when about a week ago i heard an announcement on XM during some programming on another channel (maybe it was Opie and Anthony on 202) that there was some new sports programming coming and blah blah blah and

ohyeahweregettingridofmsnbconchannel130sorrybegoodbuhbye...

and i thought, "what the fuck?"... then i heard it again and again and eventually managed to write down the phone number they gave in the spot (i've sent email to XM's customer care group, before, back when their radios were coal powered, and i'm still waiting for a reply)... so last tuesday (the 15th) i called and left a message saying, in effect, "heeeeeeyyyyyyyyy... don't do that!"... then i hung up and felt pretty proud of myself and had a cookie...

so imagine my surprise when, last friday (the 18th), i got a call from "Bud" (i don't remember... could have been someone else) thanking me for my comments and calling to discuss the programming changes.

i shit myself... right there... in my car... with the motor running... actual poop...

i thanked "Bud" for the call and we got into a brief discussion about some of the recent XM programming decisions, and the increase in the number of channels at the expense of audio quality, and blah blah blah... and then i said to "Bud", "i'm surprised you're pulling MSNBC instead of one of the other channels... i have to figure it has a pretty good number of listeners for one of the news stations" and "Bud" said, "no... actually the Arbitron® numbers are pretty small... in fact, since we started running the spots noting the change, we've only gotten about 70 calls or so"...

now i have a wee bit of radio background, and generally you figure that 1 call or letter or bomb threat is equivalent to about 100 listeners... could be more... could be less... with satellite radio and a targeted audience who's probably pretty technologically sophisticated, i could imagine the ratio might be smaller... but taking the best case, 70 calls would equal about 7000 listeners, which is about 1/10% of XM's approximately 7Mil listeners... yup, they made the right choice...

so i thanked "Bud" for the call and cleaned up my car and went inside and had another cookie and fell into a deep sleep...

but then i woke up and thought, "heeeeeeyyyyyyy... i call shenanigans... 70 calls doesn't sound right"... so i started looking around on the internet(s), looking for any mention of MSNBC being dropped from XM... and there was very little... a couple of postings on XMFAN.com and XM411.com and a posting on The Daily Kos from a writer who was lamenting the loss of MSNBC... but nothing else... even the XM web site was silent...

so i thought, "well, maybe there are only 70 of us who really listen to MSNBC on our XM radios, but maybe there are a lot more and XM just hasn't figured out how to count us... yeah... that's it!"

so with coffee in hand, i set about to create a campaign to Save MSNBC on XM Satellite Radio... first i stole a lot of little head shots from the XM and MSNBC websites of the various MSNBC personalities... then i stole the MSNBC logo and the XM logo and threw them all into photoshop and came up with a really crappy badge (you can see it on the right hand side of the page)... i do graphic design for a living (sometimes) and my dearly departed dad was an amazing commercial artist and this little logo/badge thing just sucks ass and would have killed him if he were still alive! but it had that 'grass roots' quality that so many powerless ventures seem to have... the hopelessness seeps right through... so i figured we might as well go with it...

then i registered the domain www.savemsnbconxm.com (or NAMBLA) and thought, "so how do we save MSNBC on XM?" and after a few minutes of holding my breath and getting light headed, i knew the answer immediately... we don't... no... i mean, we create a petition and then get signatures and then the owners and management of XM Satellite Radio realize the error of their ways and the little house is saved and grammy can live there the rest of her days...

yeah... right...

but i had created a crappy graphic and spent $12 for a domain, so i was committed... i went looking at the various online petition sites (did you realize there are more than one? and that there are, like, 1000's of petitions on an insanely twisted array of topics? personally i think you have a better chance of becoming a successful entertainer by winning one of those "reality" shows than you do in changing anything with a petition, but who am i to doubt the wisdom of the founding fathers... if they saw fit to grant each and every one of us the right to petition the government, then we damn well have the right... no, the obligation... to petition a corporation!

yay

so anyway, i created this petition over on petitionspot.com (complete with an amusing proclaimation and the crappy graphic) and set the whole bloody process in motion...

what i didn't do was provide a way for this whole venture to benefit -me-... you see, i'm a former broadcaster who's currently a podcaster and would love to increase the size of my audience from the 1000 or so it is now... i -should- have routed all the traffic to the petition through my website (schnauzerlogic.com) or show blog (schnauzerlogic.tblog.com), but i am so guileless that it never occured to me to benefit from the (minimal amount of) work i did to put this all together... cest la vie!

the other thing i failed to do was to understand how petitionspot works... you see, i have to manually approve each and every 'signature'... which was kind of cool for the first 10 or so... but today my damn mac sounded like a pinball machine, pinging and dinging every few seconds as another signature came in...

every time a bell rings...

but then another thing happened... i started to get a few hate messages (?!)... yah... i know... people manage to get angry over the stupidest things!!! i mean, why should you care if i want to keep a favorite station on the air... its kind of like a bad relationship where the husband screams at the wife, "YOU BETTER NOT CALL THE DJ AND REQUEST YEllOW SUBMARINE BY THE BEATLES AGAIN OR I'LL KILL YOU"

except in that case i'd agree with the husband...

so i figured that maybe i would write about this little experiment and see what happens... XM has said they're pulling the station on September 4th, so we've only got a few weeks before the deadline (again, whatever that means)...

and since i started the petition its gotten mentioned over at the Daily Kos and TV Newser and Lost Remote and some other blogs and as I write this around Midnight west coast time, there are 200 signatures (which, if we use Radio math, would equal about 20,000 listeners)... so i think i'll keep pinging the folks at XM and MSNBC letting them know how its going, how you doin', what's new, how are the kids, didja see the game last night... you know, that kind of stuff... and see if i get any kind of response at all...

so far i've written the two heads of programming at XM, Eric Logan and Lee Abrams and Hugh Panero and have heard nothing (although its possible that they're not getting reception if they're indoors away from a south-facing window)... i've also written to a whole host of folks over at MSNBC and was surprised to get a very kind note from someone over there at least acknowledging what we're doing (and saying its given them a giggle... which is always the point)...

tomorrow i'll send an update with the latest numbers and copy of the petition and include a larger distribution list... and then i'll do it again... and again... and again... mostly because i'd like to get some kind of acknowledgement from XM about why they're doing this... i have some theories, but i'm tired and need to get to bed...

in the meanwhile, i'd welcome any advice about how to get the attention of the 'right' people or, in the alternative, a bribe to get me to stop all my futile gestures (i'm not very smart or proud)

and if you're even slightly amused by this all, then please check out my show, Schnauzer Logic...

and, as i always say at the end of my show,

Show Up
Pay Attention
Tell The Truth
And Don't Be Attached To The Outcome!

cheers
robin

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