Columns appear in print in the U Entertainment Section of the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News

Monday, July 30, 2007

Radio Column July 30, 2007

Listening In

July 30, 2007

By Sandy Wells

KFI news anchor writes and stars in musical about family therapy

In you feel that there’s too much drama in today’s news presentation you may be right. Radio journalists can be as guilty as their colleagues in TV, print and in the blogosphere of sensationalizing stories to capture a bigger audience.

KFI-AM 640’s weekend news anchor Courtney Kramer is ostensibly very aware of the boundaries between news and fiction, or at least is able to separate the two, since she is also a dramatist and actor.

Kramer has turned her journalistic eye to reporting on the fun and foibles of family life in the new musical she co-wrote and stars in, “Mental” now playing in Santa Monica.

The piece is based on a week-long family therapy workshop called the Meadows in Arizona she attended with co-writer Fiona Hogan.

“Mental” is about Mona Clutterbuck, who attends a fictional family workshop much like The Meadows. In order to be treated for her “love addiction,” she is asked to bring in her parents and siblings.

“The parents are basically based on our parents,” says Kramer.

By the end of the week, the Clutterbuck’s secrets about codependency, sex, depression and love addiction are out in the open.

“Love addicts are dealt with a lot in this musical,” explains Kramer. “It’s about people who can’t be alone, who always need to be in a relationship, ‘serial daters.’ If they’re not with someone they’ll just date anyone who happens to be around until someone better comes along.”

She says a lot of problems that afflict individuals are rooted in family issues and one thing that has provided her the most satisfaction is when audience members come back to see the show again with their families.

Kramer studied drama at Drew University and then moved to the “other Hollywood” in Vancouver where she landed some TV acting roles on shows such as “Andromeda.”

After eight years she felt she wasn’t getting enough acting work and enrolled in journalism school. From there she found work at Vancouver’s only all-news station, where thanks to her dual citizenship (her father is Canadian) she was able to hold a full time job. An audition tape sent to KFI got her a job in Los Angeles radio.

She loves working at KFI, the people and the work.

“I love the fact that I can just come to work in my pajamas,” she says. “I love that I can just talk into the microphone and it’s like I’m talking to my friends. I just love coming to work on Saturday. KFI is just such an amazing station to work for and I feel really blessed. I just have to find another one because I’m only working there one day a week.”

Kramer has another project in the works about a stripper who aspires to be a hip hop dancer. She and her partner hope to take the show to Las Vegas.

“Mental” runs at the Edgemar Center for the Arts at 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90405 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through August 26th. (310) 392-7327.

Talk radio bias analyzed

We all know conservative points of view dominate talk radio.

That is one of the facts driving a movement among some lawmakers to restore the old Fairness Doctrine in a quest to bring more “balanced” discussions of political and cultural issues to the public’s airwaves.

Conservatives claim their dominance is due to consumer preference and the “free market” of ideas. They say listeners prefer conservative hosts because either they agree with them or they find them more entertaining than liberals or “progressives.”

A new study, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” published jointly by the nonpartisan Center for American Progress and Free Press confirms conservatism’s dominance in talk radio but challenges the view that consumer preference alone is the cause. They say it’s more about concentration of ownership in the hands of a few large corporations.

News/talk radio’s influence is huge, attracting over 50 million American listeners a week on the more than 1,700 stations dedicated to the format.

The study found that their “analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive. Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.”

Here in the Los Angeles/Orange County market, the study found that conservative content outweighed progressive content 69 to 31 percent.

The authors conclude that if station ownership caps were restored, local ownership increased, and more accountability required of broadcasters to retain licenses conservative radio would be less dominant than it is today.


Mike said...

The only problem is the talk radio people admit to being conservative. When was the last time the TV/cable staions of ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN admitted to being liberal? Ah, they are owned by large corporations too. The report you mentioned is not from non-partisan groups either. The fact is that conservative only have talk radio while the bulk of TV and newspapers are liberal. The only reason for this so called fairness doctrine is an attempt to censor conservative voices. Is that the kind of country we want?

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Burkey said...

@Mike, Ownership of the cable stations is also concentrated. Read Jeff Cohen's book "Cable News Confidential" which gives a look behind the scenes at the various cable news networks he's been a commentator for.

He reveals that guests picked for programs are largely conservative, and also, that conservative guests get to pick who they go up against.

It's a lot deeper than that, for example, MSNBC is owned by General Electric which profits hugely from war.

The "Liberal Media" is a term coined by conservative talk radio hosts who know it is a lie, but they are paid entertainers. Believe them at your own risk.