Freedom of speech is under attack. Radio stations all over the country are having to think twice about the content they post on social media for fear of being censored, throttled, or even banned from platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
In January, former President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and Twitter after hundreds converged on the U.S. Capitol. Big Tech blamed him for the alleged insurrection despite conflicting accounts of what took place on that day.
The fallout from that event further divided a nation still reeling from a global pandemic and a contentious election. Conservative talk radio stations who spoke out in favor of Trump felt the wrath as general managers’ report losing clients who felt compelled to separate themselves from the firestorm of controversy. Talent was caught in the crosshairs of the imminent threat posed by Big Tech who was silencing voices on the right.
The growing list of conservative voices who have complained about being censored on social media include Candace Owens, Dan Bongino, Mark Levin, Joe Pagliarulo, and former Pittsburgh talk show host Wendy Bell.
In Pennsylvania, where tensions were high following the election and subsequent riots at the Capitol, one conservative news/talk station is pushing on and using workarounds to overcome any attempt by Big Tech to censor its message.
News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg is led by general manager Pat Ryan who was recently promoted to Vice President of Magnum Broadcasting. Ryan sat down with Barrett News Media recently for a one-on-one discussion about several subjects including how he manages people who view the world differently than he does.
As the landscape of talk radio shifts dramatically following the death of talk pioneer Rush Limbaugh, stations like News Talk 103.7 FM are doing a great job of finding unconventional ways to deliver the message of conservatism.
Ryan Hedrick: Is interest in radio waning from a local market perspective?
Pat Ryan: It is on the way up. The local newspapers here were all absorbed by the USA Today monster and they are not producing local content. Our radio stations speak to local politicians, state senators, and business leaders. We love our platform here. We are not limited in anything, other than our imagination.
RH: Big Tech has banned conservative voices like former President Donald Trump and other advocates who have expressed conservative beliefs. How do you balance expressing your views/beliefs via social media without fear of not getting banned or suspended?
PR: I do not make any apologies. I think the radio station reflects the market very strongly. The first go around for Donald Trump where he had the highest per capita turnout was Fulton County, the same county where the station is licensed to. Franklin County is heavily Republican, Western Maryland, the values are much the same. In fact, I would say that in the Tri-State area, the values are much the same.
RH: Do you place a greater emphasis on what you post on social media or the content that you create and air on the radio?
PR: I would say the launch of our new website has given us an advantage on the methods and options that we have when it comes to creating and distributing content. Take for example a guest like Congressman John Joyce who represents a large majority of our listening audience. Joyce was one of the federal politicians who was ahead of the theory that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. Once our radio interview with Joyce is complete,we recap the interview by writing an article that is published on our website. The article is not written from any other perspective other than the banter that we had with Joyce. Listeners and readers can come to their own conclusions as to what was said. After publishing the article on our website, to use social media to boost the story and get more eyeballs on it.
RH: As a general manager, how do you manage people that view the world differently?
PR: Our clients that do not necessarily align with us politically are wise because they want that conservative audience. They have a message to share, and they know that there is great value in sharing their message with everybody. In fact, we routinely share the message on the air that all people are welcomed to share their message with us. We especially want to hear if a particular group feels like they have been denied service. The radio station has an obligation to help those people out. We want to help our community out and do whatever we can for prospective clients.
RH: Are you guys monitoring the rise in censorship against conservatives by Big Tech? Does this trend concern you?
PR: I am not concerned about it. Luckily, the radio station’s website is off the Amazon’s fields. We have seen some of Big Tech’s throttling but in this area, people know where to come for conservative content. They listen to us on the radio, they read the TriStateAlert, and they consume, engage, and share our social media links. Knock yourself out [Jeff] Bezos, and Jack [Dorsey], if you want to throttle us, go ahead, and knock yourself out.
RH: Given the rise in censorship today, how do we get back to a place where talent can feel comfortable rather than being always under a microscope?
PR: Just be yourself. Being real is a great quality and a great way to sidestep any controversy that may arise or get censored. Talent that shares life experiences and takes the listener inside of their reality is creating a scenario that is hard to censor and hard to argue with.
A Great Broadcaster Isn’t One You Grew up Listening To
When it comes to broadcasting, the voices of your youth remain the best, the purest.
When it comes to broadcasting, the voices of your youth remain the best, the purest. Anytime I hear a clip of Lindsey Nelson or Curt Gowdy, I am transported back to 1973 and a big glass of Ovaltine. Bob Murphy, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, even Howard Cosell. Regardless of what they said or how they said it, those voices are burned into my memory.
Now that I’m in the broadcasting world, I’ve learned the mark of a great broadcaster isn’t someone you grew up listening to; it’s how easy they make it all seem. For those that know, most criticism of broadcasters is either based on jealousy or ignorance.
For every play, there are basically two reactions by the audience. 1. S*%&, my team just gave up the game-winning home run. Or 2. Sweet, my team just hit the game-winning home run. For every call, half the audience is mad. A national broadcaster can never win. That’s how they are judged by a biased, one-sided fan and a Twitter handle. But we know that is the wrong standard to use when comparing the voices of today.
The national greats, Jim Nance, Al Michaels, Joe Buck, or the local greats, Charly Steiner of the Dodgers, Gary Cohen of the Mets, Dan McLaughlin of the Cards, to name just a few, all different, all so good. Their true talent? They make it look and sound so easy.
We know it’s hard, really hard, the names, pronunciations, stats, camera shots, commercials, talk, don’t talk, six voices in their heads, replay, slow motion, obscure rules, fourth-string defensive backs, recently called up relievers, sit in St Louis and call a game in Arizona, and yet these broadcasters, night after night, deliver a flawless performance of the games they work.
One quick story, and yes, I’m guilty of being a bit of a super fan. When a younger Joe Buck called Mark McGwire’s famous 62 home run in 1998 for Fox, he knew the guy who caught the ball. Fifty thousand fans, and he knew the guy’s name? Yes… Who caught the ball in a sea of Cardinal fans? Yes. (Tim Forneris, grounds crew member). Somewhat lucky? Sure, but to be able to pull that off takes a little luck and a whole lot of hard work. That’s the mark of a great broadcaster. “Just Lucky,” some would say, and they would be wrong. The work put in for that level of detail deserves credit. To know the name of a grounds crew member? Be able to recall it when it was needed? It’s not easy, it’s not luck, it’s just great to work, and it just happened to pay off that day.
With all that said, there is a broadcaster today who’s so far ahead of everyone else; he has lapped the field. He’s so good that he goes virtually unnoticed. Nobody outside of the broadcasting world knows his name. He proves, every four years, how simple it looks but how hard it must be. He makes the impossible sound so second nature; any one of us could do it.
He’s great for NBC golf, very good when he was broadcasting Notre Dame football, but when Dan Hicks calls Olympic swimming, he is off the charts. Granted, when a swimmer from Romania wins a gold medal, Australian fans don’t throw things at the television, claiming he is biased. But there is no one better to bring you the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Imagine having these names, Rylov, Kolesnikov, Ceccon, Xu, Glinda, roll off your tongue like Murphy, Larkin, and Gonzalez of Spain in one Men’s 100 backstrokes. They all finished within fractions of seconds of each other. He calls the race, gets the names right, watches the splits, keeps the right swimmer in the right lane, and makes it sound exciting in an empty arena. I’m at home and need someone to use the teleprompter to point out which swimmer is the American.
Not counting all the preliminary heats he calls before the finals, there are 37 men’s and woman’s swimming events. He never gets a name wrong, never flubs a pronunciation, knows all the coaches, parents, friends, and backstories.
Other Broadcasters keep some sort of order knowing the same players year after year. Hicks learns names and stories for one race and might never use that information about that Lithuania swimmer, Rapsys, ever again. It’s a whole new crop every four years. I’m more in awe of his work than some of the swimmers and their performances.
I don’t know if you agree or even give the broadcaster of Olympic swimming events a second thought, but the next time a sports fan in your world is quick to criticize a broadcaster, ask them, “Who calls the Olympic swimming events for NBC?”. I suspect they will have no idea, and that in and of itself proves my point. He’s the best nobody knows because it’s so easy, anyone can do it.
End The Shtick: Mispronouncing Last Names Isn’t Funny
Ah-det-oh-KOON-boh if you’re using the Yoruba pronunciation. Or, you say An-tet-oh-KOON-poh in Greek.
That’s how you properly pronounce the last name of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s only one of the most popular players in the NBA, a two-time MVP and recently crowned champion.
When you’re preparing for a broadcast, taking the time to learn how to accurately say the name of one of the subjects should be the norm. It’s disrespectful not to. Google and YouTube can be your best friends for phonetic breakdowns.
End the shtick. Be better at your job.
Can you imagine if Mike Tirico and the dozens of other broadcasters working the Olympics for NBC just decided not to learn how to properly pronounce the last names of competing athletes? It would sound foolish.
This is where news anchors, in all size markets, deserve more recognition for properly doing their jobs. Do you know how quickly all credibility of a broadcast would disappear if the anchor refused to learn how to pronounce the names of foreign diplomats?
We need to stop giving sports broadcasters a free pass to sound uneducated.
Early in a broadcast career you’re basically a sponge. Personally, I liked to sit back, take notes, and really learn from those who have done it much longer than I could dream of.
Vividly I recall sitting in a very small, and hot, press box, shadowing a play-by-play broadcast for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. I doubt I was even cleared to talk on the radio yet, so it really was just a learning experience.
The Northwoods League is a summer baseball league for current college athletes.
Gabe Neitzel was calling the game for ESPN Madison, where I interned during school. Late in the broadcast I remember a representative from the opposing team approaching him and letting him know that he had been saying the last name of one of their players wrong.
He was pissed.
Not because someone had corrected him but because someone hadn’t corrected him sooner. There was a misprint in the pronunciation guide. Neitzel quickly fixed his error and continued calling the game.
Afterwards he said that he was a “broadcast diva” and liked to make sure he was saying everything correctly. I thought to myself, that’s not diva-ish at all, you just like to say names the right way. As the athlete probably very much appreciated. I know I did.
Listening to Tirico during the opening ceremonies, I enjoyed the effort he and his team put in to learning how to flawlessly say every single flag bearers name. That’s also why I get so frustrated when I hear Major League Baseball announcers refuse to acknowledge that some letters in Spanish are pronounced much differently than in English. Take a class. Rosetta Stone. Learn the basics.
Once again, Google is a great resource.
During the 2021 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens selected Odafe Oweh. Except until draft night he had gone by his middle name “Jayson” because he felt Odafe was too hard for others to pronounce. When he switched back to his real name he said people were just going to have to get used to it.
As they should. Good for you, Odafe. Sorry you felt you had to go by a different name for so long because others refused to adapt.
I don’t want to sound as if I am the most refined broadcaster in the world. Far far far from it. However, there is a certain level of respect, in my opinion, that comes with accurately saying someone’s name. Making up a nickname because you’re uncomfortable with the pronunciation isn’t the move. Purposely sounding ignorant isn’t either.
Side note: Giannis isn’t said with a ‘gee’ to start, it’s ‘yaa.’
Media Forced to Cover the News
In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
They say the key to effective humor is making sure the joke contains at least a little bit of truth. You get right up to the line and then hit the punch line, leaving your audience wondering exactly where the truth ended and the ridicule began.
Of this, Fox’s Greg Gutfeld is a master.
The comedian/television talk show host has a knack for hitting home with real people, by feeling what they feel and expressing those thoughts in a cogent, funny, and often irreverent manner.
Last week, Gutfeld penned an opinion piece on FoxNews.com, in which he took aim at the mainstream liberal media, specifically CNN. The title of his piece was Greg Gutfeld: The crime problem the media pretends doesn’t exist actually found them at a baseball game.
In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Many fault the corporate media for downplaying the escalating violence and rioting in Democrat-controlled inner cities in recent years.
Gutfeld, co-host of the networks The Five, and host of Gutfeld!, says the recent incident forced their hand and made them discuss the issue.
“Now obviously CNN covered the shooting, doing live shots outside the center field gate,” Gutfeld wrote on FoxNews.com. “Why is that important? Because it was refreshing to finally see CNN cover a crime story. For once. If you watched their network you were told crime was largely made up of hysteria. Just an idea, but nothing real.”
In reading Gutfield’s comments, one can recall the infamous clip of the reporter standing in front of fire-filled riots last year, telling viewers it was a “largely peaceful protest.”
Gutfeld had previously commented that the only way big, corporate media would cover crime is if they were impacted. This game, he said, forced them to face the issue and report the facts that have been affecting much of America, outside the media bubble.
“For a brief moment that bubble popped Saturday night at a baseball game – where the true reality of our crime epidemic hit home, or rather home plate,” Gutfeld wrote. “They got a taste of how the rest of DC lives. Where policies the media supports have turned their neighborhoods into a John Wick movie.”
Gutfeld will continue to be irreverent, as he has been since he joined the network in 2007. He’ll surely continue to deride and mock the Left and their establishment media elite, right up to the line.
He summed up his piece, writing, “So will they learn any lessons from this? Will they reexamine their news coverage, especially regarding crime, and how they dropped that ball when it should have been a routine catch? Of course not. They’ll forget about it by tonight. And say the game was postponed due to climate change.”
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