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David Pakman Went From WXOJ’s Basement to Thriving on YouTube

The David Pakman Show started as a community radio show in the basement of WXOJ and now has nearly 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube.

Jim Cryns

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If you ever find yourself sitting next to David Pakman on a plane, I promise you he won’t talk your ear off. He’s a man that chooses his words carefully.

Pakman also seems like a guy that doesn’t suffer fools gladly and always seems to be doing something constructive.

There was a podcast in 2020 which I viewed on YouTube to prepare for our talk, where Pakman was on the Joe Rogan Experience. I was surprised to find it remarkably civil and informative.

“I’ve been on his show twice,” Pakman said. “We exchanged a few messages before I appeared the first time, and I think he’d been aware of my work. It wasn’t a surprise to me when it turned out to be a good exchange.”

Pakman said in his dealings with Rogan, he found him open-minded, and he listened to Pakman’s thoughts. “That has changed a bit in the past couple of years,” he said. “Since my second appearance, he’s been repeating right-wing bullet points; there has been more disagreement.”

Pakman, the eldest of three kids, was born in Buenos Aires, then the family moved to Massachusetts. He later attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He earned his MBA at Bentley College and was an adjunct professor at Boston College.

The David Pakman Show started as a community radio show in the basement of WXOJ. The reason he first stopped by the campus’ radio station stemmed from boredom. “You only had to sign up, and you were in,” Pakman said.

He has nearly 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube and is just short of 1.2 billion views.

Pakman said he realizes he’s privileged and fortunate; some might say lucky to have gotten into the career and current job. “In graduate school, I didn’t know what I was going to do. While doing my show, I talked to a lot of my classmates who went into finance and banking. I knew I didn’t want to do that.”

Radio was becoming more interesting to Pakman. He decided to take a year to pursue the ‘radio thing.’ “Earlier in my career, our audience was a fraction of what it is now,” Pakman said. “Then a radio consultant asked me how much politics was important to me or if I just wanted to be on the radio.”

The consultant suggested Pakman could quickly get a syndicated show earning $250K if he became a Right-winger on the radio. Pakman passed on that notion.

Pakman’s show was doing well when he moved to New York in 2013. “I took on the expenditures with the studio, and things started to grow,” Pakman said.

The show became more popular and more profitable, even with the additional expenses. I figured if I could make it in New York, I could make it anywhere.”

The world has drastically changed since Pakman entered the radio business. I asked him if it had to be as combative as it is today?

“It’s hard to boil down the vast problems into narrow things,” he said. “It’s a combination of a few factors in the United States. Things are worse than they have to be because a lot of people in this country don’t value an education.”

Pakman said there’s also a lack of critical thinking. “You have to teach kids that kind of thought process when they’re 10-12 years old. Just because something is on Facebook doesn’t make it factual.”

The Right-wing thinking is incredibly strong, Pakman says, because it’s being monetized very well.

“Legalized abortion is approved by two-thirds of the country. The people who are against abortion raise crazy amounts of money to combat the procedure.”

Pakman suggested too much-uninformed ignorance is taken advantage of by Republicans. “Even after the 2020 election, recounts and audits, they still claimed it was stolen. If you look at the fine print on Trump’s ads, you’ll see a disclosure that says a good chunk of the money raised goes towards Trump’s personal campaign debts.”

Pakman explained that latent extremism is part of a perfect storm. Pakman also said Trump bellowed things people couldn’t say out loud before he came on the scene.

“There’s a cultish nature to Trumpian beliefs,” Pakman said. “Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said in the aftermath of the 2020 election Trump was actually the winner. Some may believe it literally, but others may be saying it to show they are part of the ‘team.’”

The utter hatred and loathing of Hillary Clinton has long been a puzzlement to some.

“She wasn’t the most likable person. So, that wasn’t a great start for her,” Pakman said. “Political races are popularity contests. In addition, the Right has this sort of mechanism. They’re immune to their own tactics being turned against them. If you reminded them of a lot of stuff they were throwing at Hillary, you’d have to believe some of it was misogynistic.”

Is there a reason to be frightened of the future of politics, regardless of what ‘side’ you’re on?

“I’d say there is a reason,” Pakman said. “There’s a lot of scary stuff going on. Writer Thomas Homer-Dixon said by 2030; we could be a Right-wing dictatorship. Norms are not what we’ve known. The frog doesn’t realize it’s burning in the boiling pot of water.” Pakman said we just don’t converse anymore. “I’m worried about that. We’re not developing skills for learning to think.”

When he’s not up to his neck in politics and the strife of the world, Pakman said he likes to travel. He’s recently taken trips to Spain and the West Coast.

“The world is so toxic; I take three days off each week. And just disconnect from everything,” Pakman explained. “I keep my phone on in case someone calls, but I really try to escape.”

According to Pakman, there’s basically a couple of different components to the structure of talk radio.

“It started with the religious Right and churches,” Pakman said. “They were on low-powered FM stations.” He said the Right takes advantage of deceptively simple topics. “They’ll tell you taxation is theft, and you have a right to lesser taxes. Democrats don’t say taxes should be as high as possible, as the Right would want you to believe. We agree cities should have fire departments and public schools, but some choose to believe funding for them shouldn’t be provided.”

Reading is a source of rejuvenation for Pakman. He said people always ask him on his show what he’s currently reading.

Just in case you were wondering:

“I’m finishing Kim Stanley Robinson and his trilogy on Mars. I also like to read Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, even Bret Easton Ellis.”

Radio listeners have strong opinions on hosts. Some are more forceful on the air; others tend to be more subtle.

“I’ve met so many media people on both the Left and Right,” Pakman said. “Some of the worst experiences I’ve had, no names mentioned, are with people on the Left. People that won’t give you the time of day. People I’ve met on the Right have been kind and accommodating.”

BNM Writers

Airing The Tyre Nichols Video Was A Necessity

There were hard moments to watch in those videos, hard sounds to hear. But they aired.

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Far be it for me not to address this outrageous and embarrassing instance in humanity. After the videos of Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols were shown on television there really seemed to be more outrage emerging from society this time than from the media, for a change. One would think that’s how we wish things to be.

In instances like this, where the video and audio images are far from brief but are instead chaptered as they unfold, there are few options other than to let them run their course. Clocks — breaks hard and soft — are out the window, just as in live coverage.

Because that’s what this was, only the live this time was us, and as we all absorbed and reacted to actions disapprovingly familiar yet somehow foreign at the same time, the impact was still becoming apparent even though we already knew the outcome.

It’s happened before.

Not always like this but we’ve seen it before, police encounters shown on the news overtakes and become the news.

It takes effect as the sights and sounds are digested, dissected, and discussed, often before their potential impact could really be imagined.

In 1991, when the Handycam footage crossed screens for the first time and we learned Rodney King’s name, we didn’t know then but we had a feeling.

We were on the right track, though as newsrooms evolved and street reporting incorporated a different type of storytelling.

I was a cop in 1991. Changes came. Some.

It’s 2023, I’m no longer a cop. Changes will come again. Some.

Turning points — or the overused watershed moments — mean just as much to the news media as they do to law enforcement.

The “why’s” that make this a turning point are more society and community based this time around than they were in 1991.

At least I think so. And I don’t think it makes a bit of difference who’s involved this time.

There were hard moments to watch in those videos, and hard sounds to hear. But they aired. Where they couldn’t air, they were described in great detail; descriptions sometimes can be worse than the real thing. Sometimes, not this time.

And they should air, they shouldn’t stop airing. This is what happened and this is what people need to see and hear and this is exactly why we are here.

Warn them, provide them with a heads up that they’re not going to like what happens next. It’s life and we show life, and we show what some of us do with it when it’s someone else’s.

Overall, I would say the news platforms held their composure, even after the videos were released. I saw, read, and heard some refreshingly neutral coverage, even from outlets where I expected hard turns into the lanes on either side of the road.

Legitimate questions were asked by anchors and reporters and much of the time, the off-balance issues were raised more by those on the sidewalks and those on the other side of the cameras and microphones.

As much as I find myself in disagreement with what I often see on the cable networks — all the cable networks — I did find a sense of symmetry watching CNN’s Don Lemon speak with Memphis City Council Chair Martavius Jones in the hours after the videos were released.

Regular protocols be damned, Lemon and producers lingered patiently as Jones, visibly overcome by emotion, struggled to regain breath and composure enough to be able to speak. Rather than cut away or move to other elements, they stood fast and it became an example of what often requires no words.

There were fewer punches pulled on other platforms as well.

The sounds of the screams, the impacts, and the hate-filled commands were broadcast through car radios.

As were Tyre Nichol’s calls for his mom. They aired. They had to.

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BNM Writers

Does the Republican Establishment Get It?

For many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections.

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In a move that seemed to go against the wishes of the patriotic American grassroots, the Republican party on Friday re-elected RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel. 

The media immediately took notice, as many on television and radio are now wondering why the party would re-elect a chairperson who has been so unpopular with the base of its party. 

Grant Stinchfield discussed this issue Friday night on his program, Stinchfield Tonight, which airs on Real America’s Voice network.

“Ronna McDaniel holds on to her chairmanship of the Republican Party. By a whopping total of — what were the numbers– 111 to 54. Harmeet Dhillon only received 54 votes. Mike Lindell 4 votes. This is proof to me that the Republican establishment is dug in,” Stinchfield — formerly of Newsmax — said. “Don’t tell me they’re out of touch. See, you tell me they’re out of touch, that implies ignorance. They’re not ignorant about anything.”

As sentiment for Dhillon grew in the days leading up to Friday’s vote, many influential politicians and party donors publicly offered her their support and endorsement. These included Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), as well as donors Mike Rydin, Dick Uihlein, and Bernie Marcus.

Also on board were musician and outspoken conservative John Rich, along with the state GOP of Nebraska and Washington State. Countless journalists and media personalities, such as Charlie Kirk, Miranda Divine, and Lou Dobbs, also came out publicly in support of Dhillon. Former President Donald Trump remained neutral, not making a public choice of either of the three candidates.

For many of Dhillon’s supporters, the deciding factor was public sentiment across the party’s base.

“They’re reading the same chat boards. They’re getting the same emails I’m reading. I will literally post something about this race when I was supporting Harmeet Dhillon. There was not one comment – not one – that supported Ronna McDaniel. Everyone wanted change,” Stinchfield said, noting that the party elite saw the same groundswell of support for change.

“Now, nobody has an issue as Ronna McDaniel is some evil kind of person. I don’t believe she is. I believe, though, that she is part of the establishment. She’s been around too long as far as the establishment goes. And she’s been ingrained in doing business as usual. It’s not working.”

In making their choices known, many Dhillon supporters simply pointed to the scoreboard during McDaniel’s reign.

“Think about where we are. 2018, we lost the House. 2020, we lost everything. 2022, we won the House, but we should have really steamrolled the House and we should have taken back the Senate, which we didn’t do,” Stinchfield said. “That means we’re on a real losing track since she took over. I don’t like being on a losing track. I like being on a winning track.

“Something has got to change when you talk about all of this. So how does Ronna McDaniel get 111 votes and Harmeet Dhillon only get 54 votes, when everyone, every Republican voter I talk to said it was time for change?” pondered Stinchfield.

And even more than the losses, for many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections. The most recent example of which came in Arizona, where presumptive gubernatorial favorite, Kari Lake, was “defeated” when countless voting irregularities occurred in some of the state’s most deep-red areas.

“Under her watch, Democrats instituted a mail-in ballot scheme. That may be even worse than losing, when you talk about the House and the Senate and all these things. The fact that we now have a junk mail-in ballot scheme across the country under Ronna McDaniel’s watch is serious trouble. Very serious trouble,” Stinchfield said on Friday. “And so the reason it is is because the Democrats are rigging the system.”

For years – until Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and took the world by storm – the Republican party had the reputation of being the party of the rich. Rush Limbaugh used to refer to this wing of Republicans as “the country club crowd.” President Donald Trump flipped the narrative completely, offering a clear vision of hope and patriotism to working-class America.

Reputable polling — such as Richard Baris’ Big Data Poll — consistently showed Trump running well ahead of almost every Republican candidate during the 2022 mid-term election cycle. In other words, Trump still maintains considerably more support across the country than most of the individual Senate or House candidates experienced.

Many experts believe this is because voters still view Trump as an outsider, while they view the Republican party much less favorably.

“Let’s tell you how out of touch they are, how elitist they are,” Stinchfield said, calling out the GOP establishment. “This meeting that went on, do you know where it is? It’s at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch in California. One of the most expensive resorts in America. You’re lucky if you get a room for a thousand dollars a night down there on Dana Point. Now, it’s a beautiful hotel, but why is the Republican Party holding an event there? Then I went back and I looked at what RedState did. RedState went back and looked at some of the expenses that the Republican Party under Ronna McDaniel’s leadership was spending money on.

“Take a look at this. $3.1 million on private jets. $1.3 million on limousine and chauffeur services. $17.1 million on donor mementos. $750,000 on floral arrangements. Now you compare this to the Democrats. The Democrats spent $35,000 on private airfare. A thousand dollars on floral arrangements. A thousand. Not $750,000. A thousand. And the $17.1 million they spent on donor mementos, the Democrats spent $1.5 million.

“Democrats know where to put the money. It’s not giving donors gifts. Donors shouldn’t want gifts. If you give money, give money. You don’t need the fancy pin to put on your lapel.”

Following her loss, Dhillon warned her party that it must listen to the base, saying, “if we ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.”

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BNM Writers

The State of the Radio Industry and Technology

“As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.”

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After writing some three-dozen columns for Barrett Media, I often hear that I don’t provide a balanced view of the radio industry. Therefore, this week, I will write about the strengths and weaknesses of the radio industry. It may be a little simplistic, but it will make sense at the end. I promise.

The radio broadcasting business continues to evolve in the digital age, with strengths and challenges to consider. One of the most significant strengths of radio is its ability to reach a broad audience. Radio waves can travel long distances, allowing local stations to reach listeners beyond their immediate area. This makes radio a powerful tool for both local and national advertisers. Radio also reaches audiences in their cars, at work, and at home, providing advertisers with multiple touchpoints. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio reaches 93% of adults in the United States each week, making it one of the most widely consumed mediums. Furthermore, radio is a cost-effective form of advertising, with lower ad rates than other media forms. This allows small businesses to reach a large audience without breaking the bank.

Another strength of radio is its role in emergency communication. In times of crisis, radio can provide important information to listeners quickly and efficiently. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all radio stations to have emergency alert systems, allowing them to disseminate critical information to the public promptly. Radio can be a lifeline for communities during natural disasters, power outages, or other emergencies, providing updates on road closures, evacuation orders, and other important information. Radio can reach remote areas where other forms of communication may not be as reliable. This makes radio a vital tool for emergency responders, who rely on it to coordinate responses and disseminate information.

Despite these strengths, the radio industry faces several challenges in the digital age. One of the biggest challenges is competition from other media outlets, such as streaming services and podcasts. The rise of these digital platforms has led to a decline in traditional radio listening, which is likely to continue. 

According to a Nielsen report, traditional radio listening among adults aged 18-34 has dropped by 20% over the last decade. Additionally, many radio stations are struggling to monetize their digital offerings, which has led to a decline in revenue. However, radio has been able to adapt by incorporating streaming services, podcasts, and other digital platforms, which allows them to reach a wider audience and cater to changing listening habits.

Another challenge is the consolidation of the radio industry. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of it, with a small number of companies owning multiple stations. This has led to less programming diversity and less market competition. This can lead to a homogenization of content, with less local flavor and less opportunity for new voices in the industry. However, many smaller independent stations have survived by providing unique and localized content catering to the needs of their community.

Despite these challenges, the radio industry continues to generate significant revenue. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) says that radio advertising revenue in the United States reached $18.9 billion in 2019. The radio industry has been able to adapt to the changing market, with many stations now offering a combination of traditional and digital programming. The industry has also been able to monetize digital offerings by incorporating targeted advertising, sponsorships, and other revenue streams.In conclusion, the radio broadcasting business is facing challenges in the digital age, but it continues to have an enormous audience reach and role in emergency communication. 

Additionally, the industry continues to generate significant revenue. As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.

If my analysis seems a little simplistic or this column doesn’t seem like my typical style, it’s because I didn’t write it. The column was written using artificial intelligence (AI). More specifically, by the hottest tech trend these days, ChatGPT.

How hot? Here are a couple of data points from a report in Axios.

  • In June, generative AI was covered in only 152 articles. Just six months later, the topic has generated roughly 12,000 news stories, according to MuckRack data.
  • At this year’s CES trade show, 579 exhibitors were listed under the show’s “Artificial Intelligence” category — more than double of those categorized as “Metaverse” (176), “Cryptocurrency” (19), and “Blockchain” (55) combined.

ChatGPT is AI technology that allows you to have regular conversations with a chatbot that can answer questions and help with tasks such as writing columns. 

ChatGPT is what Siri wants to be when she grows up.

ChatGPT is currently open and free while it’s in its research and feedback collection phase. If it’s not perfect, it’s certainly a lot of fun. It is also quite helpful when researching a topic (as long as the information you need is pre-2021). It is much more efficient and precise than Google, any other search engine, or Siri. I find myself obsessed with seeing what it knows and can do. If you try it, you probably will be too.

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