“..it’s called ‘intelligent radio’..bill..”

I was intending to post on Ralston’s vapid attack on our public radio services. (Can’t link to the full article and don’t recommend buying the Listener at the moment; certainly not to read Ralston. Suggest a quick look in the supermarket.) Fortunately, I didn’t, because Russell Brown covers it exceedingly well.

Ralston derides Radio New Zealand as “dreary”, “dedicated to servicing an audience that also passed away years before.” It is a “rest home” serving “an insipid menu of stewed apple and bananas” with a side order of “smug, hand-wringing liberal contortions.” And so on.

The usual diet of half-baked ideas and smug prejudices strung together with nary a thought to anything except the sound they make, that we’ve come to expect from Ralston.

Noelle McCarthy’s point-by-point rebuttal is caustic (and a must-read along with Brown). She begins by observing on Ralston’s discovery of RNZ’s “zombification”:

“Thankfully he chose the [Listener] in which to break the story, rather than on his radio show, as now there’s a chance of more than a dozen people actually hearing it at least.”

She goes on to describe her experiences rejoining RNZ after a spell with bFM: the incredible breadth of stories covered up and down the country, the rejuvenation that’s been changing RNZ’s sound for some time now — and which Ralston somehow seems to have missed. Hell, McCarthy’s probably half Ralston’s age.

As Russell Brown puts it (quote of the week?): “… Ralston is not exactly looking to win the argument on mere facts.”

Russell demolishes one bit of Ralston’s silliness, that, “It is impossible to tell how many people do listen because [RNZ] no longer participates in the industry ratings survey… ” responds Brown:

“But “impossible to tell”? Really?

This page carries research conducted every 10 weeks by Nielsen Media, which finds that the “total weekly live audience for Radio New Zealand National is 525,000 or about 16% of the 15+ population.” That’s an increase of nearly 150,000 over 2006.”

PhilU labels Ralston’s ill-informed attack “reactionary..drivel..really” and points out that Ralston is talking about RNZ as it was 5–10 years ago. That’s my impression too, as someone who listens to National and Concert most days.

This is an important. First, Radio New Zealand provides the single best source of news and analysis in the country, if you include Morning Report and Nine-to-noon. TV news and current affairs is a total joke (and who was partly responsible for that, Bill?). The Herald has improved out-of-sight from the dire little provincial rag that it was even ten years ago, but it’s far from perfect, particularly in election year.

The Right is attacking public radio on the false basis that not enough people are listening, and “if no-one is listening to them, they are not performing any role.” Public radio in NZ continues to, “perform a vital role in sustaining the nation’s intellectual and cultural capita” as the ODT puts it. It gives us all access to broadcasting that represents the uniqueness and diversity of our life in NZ, and which may not be provided in the market place.

Last words then to PhilU:

“..it’s called ‘intelligent radio’..bill..

…and ‘being without’ either bfm..or national radio..would really ’suck’.

they are both large pots of the cultural glue/goo that make this place special..”

[Footnote: Heh, looks like I finished up posting on this after all…]


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One Response to ““..it’s called ‘intelligent radio’..bill..””

  1. MacDoctor Says:

    I’ve been hearing about the impending demise of radio my whole life. Seems like it’s yet to happen. Although I rarely listen to radio (prefer an iPod and podcasts), my wife and daughters all listen often. My youngest daughter tells me its the only way to know what music is worth listening to. She also tells me internet radio sucks… And, apparently, podcasts are for old people like me 🙂

    Agree with you about the quality of radio news compared to TV. Often the TV news feels more like a visit to youTube…

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