Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On the Changes at KUDO

Since Rich and Kevin McClear began the Anchorage-based KUDO-AM progressive talk experiment back around 2004, there have been many changes.

The McClears, with a lot of valuable radio experience in Alaska and elsewhere, turned local talk over to omnipresent Anchorage radio voice, Jack Frost. Though Frost was - and is - known mostly for his commercials, he gave the station its first local presence with strong local roots.

Soon, Frost was joined by Aaron Selbig, who then was editor of Insurgent 49, a web and print progressive outlet. Selbig was also then on KRUA, UAA's small FM station. Frost and Selbig's program, Frost and Fire, was the first good program there. Listenership began to increase.

Even then, many listeners complained about the poor signal strength. Since then, very little has been done to improve the signal, or to increase the station's transmitter power. Until that is done, no matter what format KUDO chooses, the station will gain little traction.

When Frost left Frost and Fire to run in the 2006 Anchorage mayoral contest, Selbig was given a chance to reorganize the station. Some believe that short period, with Camille Conte, Shannyn Moore and Selbig filling seven hours a day of local call-in programming, to have been KUDO's golden age. I'm one of them.

Since the terminations of Selbig, in early May, 2008, and Moore, later that year, the station has struggled in its goal of becoming less of a drain on IBEW, the owners. During this most recent iteration of management and programming, Conte ("CC") was honored by The Nation Magazine for her on-air community service, as one of 2008's "most valuable progressives."

When Sarah Palin stumbled onto the national stage, after her selection as John McCain's running-mate, everyone scrambled to figure out what was up with Alaska's governor. A lot of the lower-48 blogosphere (and the major media that followed its lead) obsessed about Palin's family life. But Anchorage radio host Camille Conte, who is universally known in Alaska as "CC," steered the discussion toward Troopergate--the scandal that proved Palin was not the reformer her supporters claimed but a Cheney-esque abuser of power. CC's daily "Cutting Edge" show on Anchorage's Air America affiliate, News-Talk 1080/KUDO: Alaska's Progressive Voice became required fare for journalists visiting the state--she had better access than anyone else to the key players, who trusted the veteran local host--and CC turned up on radio stations across the U.S. No one else contributed as much to 2008's Palintological studies.

This past winter, Conte was instrumental in directing the public eye to the emerging shortages on the lower Yukon River.

As sad as it is to see this wonderful progressive personality's platform at KUDO eliminated, it is yet sadder that the local media, such as the Anchorage Daily News, KTUU-TV or the Alaska Public Radio Network, have yet to acknowledge her important role in our community.

Some have been hard on Carey Carrigan for his role in the terminations at KUDO in 2008. Having worked in radio for a few years myself, and been through a lot of firings and reorganizations of somewhat marginal stations, I feel more sympathetic to Carey.

Of the KUDO radio personalities, he was probably the least dynamic in his presentations, with the exception of the McClears. Frost was more dynamic, but frequently told brazen lies. Carrigan's presentations sought to truthfully seek a constituency a bit more toward the center of the political spectrum than most programming there.

Listening this morning to KUDO's "The Best of Carey Carrigan" was interesting. I have to say, though, that listening to a replay of his show is almost as wan as being forced to watch a videotape of a Powerpoint presentation.

Shannyn Moore has gone on to become Alaska's most important progressive media personality, appearing often on television and radio. Her Huffington Post columns reach hundreds of thousands of readers outside of Alaska. Her new local radio show on KBYR, The Shannyn Moore Show, will gain a decent audience.

Aaron Selbig has moved to Homer, where he has become an award-winning journalist for he Homer Tribune.

I'm hoping that both Carrigan and Conte will find a new platform for their voices, their ideas, and for their followers.

Who knows - Andrew Halcro's KENI spot will be opening up very soon.....

But until KUDO fixes their signal problems, the station is doomed to have less influence in Alaska than the ideas presented deserve.

Other articles on this subject:

RADIO NOWHERE - KUDO Changes....Again
-- by Shannyn Moore

KUDO makes fatal business decision -- by Gryphen

Tati Broadcasting change direction for KUDO 1080 -- Carey and CC cut from lineup -- by Celtic Diva

Vafancullo KUDO !!!!! -- by RUNNINL8

Lights Out for Local Programming on KUDO -- by AK Muckraker


AKPetMom said...

I have to agree with you on the signal issue. I have to drive around for a while to get signal from KUDO; mainly to the high points in the Valley. Otherwise, I only get to enjoy when I'm past Eklutna or the rare days I go to Anchorage.

Anonymous said...

AM Transmitters are very expensive to operate, it costs a lot of money to pay that electric bill each month.

Poor signal strength and a lousy frequency doesn't help either.

It was just a matter of time before this next step would be taken, really when they ran Aaron and Shannyn off is when the station began its slide.

It is too bad, but there is another outlet on the air, right now, that any or all of these bright and talented people could go over to.

frsbdg said...

My only knock on Carrigan is that he has a tendency to repeat himself. He'll start to read something, get through the first sentence, then re-read it (only slower the second time). Once I caught onto that tick, I couldn't let it go.