Renewal of faith in city planning? Maybe?

July 30, 2015 at 5:46 am | Posted in anchorage, politics | 7 Comments
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I guess I grew cynical over the last several election cycles, and was surprised and unprepared when Ethan Berkowitz won the Mayoral race earlier this year.  Berkowitz, a Democrat [the Municipal elections are ostensibly non-partisan] has now teamed up with Andrew Halcro, one of his Republican opponents in the primary and since taking office earlier this month completed a transition plan that identifies several course changes for the city.

Like new Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Berkowitz reached out to the public for ideas on how to deliver government services more efficiently.  I wrote to both of them.

To Walker, I suggested cancelling the five largest transportation projects now in the planning stages [including the Knik Arm Bridge; the Anchorage Highway to Highway project; and the Bragaw St. extension], and at the same time implementing sweeping changes in Statewide and Regional Transportation Planning processes, in order to prevent such ill-conceived debacles from coming to the forefront in the future.  While he hasn’t been able to halt any of them, at least the climate has changed enough that policymakers are questioning the party line and how priorities are established.  Tiny steps!

In the letter to Berkowitz I suggested that Anchorage’s failure to change its dominant development pattern [despite an effort to move that way, evidenced by the Anchorage 2020 Comprehensive Plan and early efforts to rewrite the Title 21 Land Use Code, before it was co-opted by the Dan Sullivan administration beginning in 2009] is having an ill effect overall, and if left unchecked will destroy what is great about the city.

It doesn’t sound like a budget issue on the face of it, but bear with me.  The more one looks into it, the more apparent it becomes that there are costs to sprawl development that are not being accounted for.  In the big picture, it’s obvious what is happening — there are not walk-able commercial blocks outside of Downtown, so in order to shop, go to an appointment with a service provider or go out to restaurants and nightclubs all but the most ambitious [and blessed with the most free time] are forced into their cars [since there is also not a robust system of Public Transit].  Thus, the traffic is more congested, with all of the associated drawbacks [danger, noise, pollution, frustration, devaluing of property alongside major roadways] — not to mention loss of habitat/open space.

Sprawl — if you want a more specific term with local relevance, let’s call it suburban strip development — accommodates population growth, but in the least efficient manner possible.  Left that way [lacking incentives or directives for anything else], its low density mat will spread far and wide, and unless the city’s boundaries expand with it, the tax base will remain flat.  In Anchorage’s case it has led to the siren song of developers, that Anchorage is “out of develop-able land” [and thus we need to throw that bridge over to Pt. McKenzie and build more of the same over there].  To paraphrase the American Legion motto: all of that Free Parking is NOT FREE!!

The presentation of an alternative scenario will be built on the following basic tenet [courtesy Occupy Wall St.]:
this is not the way

Communities in other parts of the country and in other nations figured out long ago that sprawl is not the way to go.  Sometimes this epiphany came after decades going down the wrong path.  Anchorage is far enough down that path to come to its collective senses and turn around.  Mayor Berkowitz said in a Chamber of Commerce speech this week, “There are times when we should care how they do it Outside.”

We also should stop making policy based on the opinions and public positions of those with an axe to grind, and rely more on sound planning and proven principles than on local folklore.  We’ve got to get past the current mentality, where long term goals are routinely sacrificed for short term gain, without a firm grasp on true consequences.

Planners, urbanists and academics for more than six decades have argued that a more complex, less segregated pattern [with people living in all areas of a town, in random mixture of income level and cultural identity] is a healthier environment that results in more supervision and fewer rampant social ills.  We have some of the ingredients but none of the purpose and vision, and the results are becoming a catastrophe, with Anchorage bubbling near the top on several lists of The Most Dangerous Cities in the USA.  I’d argue that the lousy development pattern is a major contributing factor — for all the reasons Jane Jacobs would cite — and, conversely if you give a place vibrance, purpose and meaning the required sense of ownership and protection of people and assets naturally follows.

Anchorage has been successful in some important ways — there’s a great network of non-motorized trails; wilderness access is still first-rate; and there’s mostly a lack of the most egregious sorts of visual pollution such as billboards and 200 ft tall signs.  There are great parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities.

In order to build on this and provide for future generations, at this point we should embrace Smart Growth principles; Complete Streets; and reconsider long- and short-term planning goals in regards to protecting and enhancing existing established neighborhoods.

The blow-back is inevitable and will be strong.  Home builders already publicly state that any new regulations that don’t exist will add to the already high cost of housing [when actually, prices are always set by what the market will bear].  Quasi-public agencies like housing authorities will come down on the side of less regulation too — they see it as something they should control and direct.  [In the letter to Mayor Berkowitz, I suggested part of the problem in Anchorage is that major players such as the Alaska Railroad, the State Dept of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Ted Stevens International Airport, the School District and others now operate largely autonomously, are guided by an internal culture and consider themselves affiliated with but not accountable to Anchorage.]

In most other U.S. cities the size of Anchorage, there are numerous commercial centers in neighborhoods outside of town where one can, on a single block find small shops of all kinds, restaurants and bars and other sorts of venues in a dense arrangement, with apartments mixed in on second and third floors, and minimal or no on-site parking available.  Many of these are fantastic, desirable destinations.  There are cars and traffic, but not overwhelming… big trees, sidewalk tables, vibrant scenes with a mixture of culture and socio-economic status.  We do not have anything like this here — but we have many blocks, in many parts of town where a redevelopment pattern like this could be incubated.

There would be numerous advantages gained.  Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur with a food cart or a food truck, and want to make the jump to a restaurant.  It’s easier downtown, but rents are prohibitively high and availability limited.  Outside of downtown, you are almost surely stuck in a strip mall [that also may not be affordable] if you want any advantage of a shared endeavor [parking and the presence of spillover customers who came there for other reasons].  With just a few tables, you will need parking for several cars — more expensive than it sounds, because it has to include the dimensions of the parking spaces, access aisles and driveways, drainage infrastructure, landscaping, lighting and so forth; and all this has to be reviewed and permitted by the city, and maintained.  It’s a huge and unnecessary burden.

The stores in a typical mid-sized strip mall could be placed on a city block in less than 1/3 the total area, and have a floor or two of apartments above, with parking provided on-street instead of on-site [or, in larger developments also in multi-level garages and in other ways including diagonal back-out stalls on internal collector roads].  There’s every advantage to the small independent business owner, the general public and the city at large [drastically increased tax base combined with greater availability of adjacent land for other uses].

We have lots of need for housing, and more of it of a specialized sort — housing for seniors; for artists; for chronically homeless, addicted or mentally ill.

The Millennial generation is quickly abandoning the car in favor of walking and transit, and the rest of us should support this trend.  Anchorage has a long tradition of advocacy, by several prominent locals including Suzan Nightingale [1950-96], Ruth Moulton [1931-2006], Laine Fleischer, Walt Parker [1926-2014] and many others.  Cheryl Richardson and Anchorage Citizens Coalition are doing great work in recent years to keep the issues I’ve been writing about here at the forefront, and helping to educate the public.

We have, in Mayor Berkowitz a sympathetic ear [evidenced by his appointment of Halcro as head of the Municipal Development Authority and Chris Schutte as Community and Economic Development Director] and the time is now to voice your concerns to your Municipal and State elected officials!  Tell them what you would like to see, and why.  Developers and major landholders always have the ear of any administration — it’s more rare that the general population has a chance to be heard, too.

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Anchorage Mayoral race hits the fan

March 17, 2015 at 5:36 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, politics | Leave a comment
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It’s not as much of a clown show as six years ago, when 15 candidates [some of ’em completely crazy] were cleanly outdistanced by Dan Sullivan.  Sullivan coasted to a victory again in 2012 and is now termed out.

A somewhat crowded field going into this year’s contest, with the usual fringe oriented also-rans vying for attention along with the front runners.  In ’09, fresh from two terms of Mayor Mark Begich [almost — he had to leave a few months early to succeed Ted Stevens in the US Senate] and shortly after President Obama started his first term, the mayor’s race was crowded with left leaning candidates.  Today three of the leading four are trying to out-Republican each other, leaving Ethan Berkowitz the sole representative of the left.  Berkowitz and Halcro are both veteran campaigners who served in the AK State House and haven’t had much luck running for Governor or in other tries.

Rounding out the Republican front runner field are Amy Demboski and Dan Coffey.

Demboski seems to be in trouble early on, having trouble spinning a story and coddling the far right too literally.

I predict Coffey will nail it after a runoff.  He is the kind of pro-business, go along to get along, not much personality, dull enough to fit in, enough acumen to play the game, dead fish kind of a candidate the majority of us [not including this writer] always prefer.  He comes off as a used car salesman, in a way perfect for the task at hand.  Halcro is the sort of one in a million Republican for whom I would be tempted to vote for — but there’s no way he makes it to the runoff.  And then I recall that even though he’s the smartest one in the group by far, he’s still in it for business interests over regular people, the same as the other two.  They’re like a casino where the house always wins.  Or like 35 years of Lynne Curry columns, where in 1,000 hypothetical employer-employee disputes, management prevails in all but three.

Predictably, Koch Brothers money is infiltrating the race with anti-Berkowitz ads.  The people likely to vote for him are the least likely to be influenced by PAC attack ads, ironically.

The Sullivan administration is still running the election, so who knows if it will be immune from problems, intentional or not?  We’ll find out soon enough — and whether or not more than 20% of the eligible voters will even bother to show up for this.  If they only would — how different the results could be!

Dream on, brothers and sisters.

Fiscally inept, socially bankrupt

March 3, 2015 at 4:36 am | Posted in anchorage, politics | Leave a comment
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Some rants and reactions subsequent to reading the Halcro cover story in last week’s Anchorage Press.

Assemblymember Patrick Flynn sticks it to Halcro [discreetly, politey] in the article: “…the term ‘fiscal conservative’ gets thrown around a lot, and whether or not that’s a valid claim really depends on the prism through which you’re viewing it.”  And he goes on to sketch some common assumptions of what the term means and whether or not Halcro matches the definitions.

Since I’m never as tactful or subtle as Flynn, I’d take it a step further.  I’ve heard all kinds of people for years now going around saying they are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”, and not one of them has any fucking idea what it means.  It’s a nebulous term, it’s pandering at its finest.  It is a way to still associate with a group or philosophy you know is toxic and dangerous, while giving yourself an out.  It’s in effect saying, “See?  I’m as Republican as they are, but they are assholes and don’t care about people!”

Halcro spends a lot of time trying to convince us of his independent critical thinking skills and policies that aren’t tied to Republican or Democratic agendas, while at the same time reminding us he is a lifelong registered Republican.  The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one!

Flynn again: “Andrew pulls from a demographic similar to what supported Lisa Murkowski in her re-election bid four years ago.”  Will the results be the same, too?  The day after the election tally’s certified, any notion of “dancing with the one that brung you” will vanish?  Just kidding!  I was the President of the Chamber of Commerce, FFS!  You thought I was going to throw out the Good Old Boy Network in favor of good public policy that benefits all of the citizenry?  How naive of you!  Well, it wouldn’t be the first or last time the public is taken in by an Establishment candidate standing behind an anti-Establishment banner.

Just once I wish some reporter would follow up with the “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” credo, by asking for an example or something.  They might find just opportunistic doublespeak behind the curtain, eh?

The plain old people who are never going to run for office may wish to think more deeply about such sloganeering also.  What does it really mean?  It always sounds a bit immature to me — I used to think more that way as a young adult, before I realized what was happening all around me and how injustice is baked into the cake.

It was interesting how new Alaska Governor Bill Walker solicited budget cutting ideas from the general public.  On one hand, nobody who stands to suffer from cuts ought to say anything, right? — and in fact, it’s doubtful anything meaningful will come out of such a process.  At least, it’s a long shot, an unlikely scenario.  I wrote in and said, start with KABATA and also suspend and review the five next most expensive transportation projects — and during the moratorium, figure out how to improve the way transportation projects are prioritized — based more on real Planning, and try to take politics out of it.  I would say a lot more, but since I make a living in a profession that’s involved in development, it can be problematic to say too much sometimes.

Sooner or later, though one has to try to stop equivocating and be clear about one’s vision and its implications.

Walker and Mallott AK gubernatorial campaigns merge

September 3, 2014 at 6:41 am | Posted in alaska, politics | Leave a comment
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Big news today!  When I heard rumors about it three days ago, thought: no way is this ever going to happen.  It is unprecedented, or nearly so.  [And it makes too much sense!]  I can think of times when campaigns folded, or faded away due to scandal but not anything like this, where two strong candidates, and the Democratic Party backing one of them decided to merge in order to better compete against a Republican incumbent.

It strikes me as positive, pragmatic and goal-directed.  Who knows what sort of negotiations took place in order to bring it about?  But I suppose that doesn’t matter now.

Walker was more competitive than Mallott, but Walker and Mallott together have a real shot at victory.

AK politics will be in the national spotlight again this week, I predict.

Loving the bully

May 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Posted in politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mitt Romney’s high school days, so so long ago are getting a lot of scrutiny the last couple of days.  This writer of this NYT opinion piece makes it pretty clear that Romney’s response to criticism should be carefully considered by the voting public, and asks a lot of tough questions.

Reading through a few of the top rated comments attached to the column, this one by scottnesich caught my eye:

Step back and think about this man, Romney, and his conscious plan, repeated over and over at many once thriving companies to: Buy the company, run up debt, destroy the company, breaking contracts and faith with long time workers. Busting their union. Stomping on the dignity, the self-respect and the modest comfort and security of so many families. Just to get as rich as possible.

I’ve seen these Romney types at my high school reunions. We all have. Smug. Arrogant. Removed completely from the reality of working hard, paying bills, worrying about jobs, bills, kids, and the future. And in some of them you can see the smirk, the gleam in the eyes, the slick talk. The Bully. 

The kid who leads a pack of his peers to forcibly hold another person down and violate their space and their body isn’t someone who just “changes for the better” in adulthood. This malicious streak simply finds a new outlet. Teenagers who humiliate and degrade others lack the compassion and the essential decency required in a civilized society. In adulthood they will often find their way into jobs that require seeing other people as just “digits”, which are there, as “an advantage” or as “an obstacle” to maximizing monetary gain.

This is Mitt Romney. His story is all of one piece. 1965. 1989. 2000. 2012. It doesn’t matter. The story is the same: “Just let me do what I want regardless of the consequences for others.”

I wouldn’t vote for this type of person. Would you?

Maybe I would.

[Well, in this case I was not going to vote for Romney regardless of anything he did in high school.  I have voted in every Presidential election beginning in 1980, for the Democratic candidate each time.  If this one goes the way I expect, I will be four for nine.]

I take a more optimistic view [however naive or unfounded] of human nature than this commenter, and believe some people do change.  And those who are bullies in one way or another, after they reach full adulthood can turn into reasonable people with a healthy amount of compassion and ability to interact productively.

I’ve noticed some examples of this, getting reacquainted with people from the past [one of the opportunities presented by still living in the town where you grew up].

It’s always a good idea to pay close attention, listen carefully and think about whether responses are appropriate.  It’s also nice to give the benefit of the doubt and allow people the chance to change and mature.  Whether or not Romney has actually done so is a question for the voters to contemplate.

Costco trip

April 12, 2012 at 4:46 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour, politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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dirty subie

Michele sent me to Costco for a couple items today.  I snapped the picture of the dirty Subaru in the parking lot.  We tend to buy a lot from Costco because they have such great prices.  And I know they take care of their employees fairly well compared to the norm these days.  My mom and stepfather were big fans and even both worked there in Sequim, WA in their retirement years.

I have such mixed feelings about the place, though.  I don’t know for sure, but guessing they drug test every employee.  This is something that probably 75% of society doesn’t find objectionable.  But there are problems with it — especially with public opinion on drug laws beginning to turn.  I always wonder why its necessary to delve so deeply into people’s private lives, lacking due suspicion.  Shouldn’t we limit drug testing to critical aspects and job positions, and for everybody else just flag problems in normal performance evaluation procedures?

20 years ago when he was running for President, Ross Perot said something to the effect of, he wanted to get all those pot  smokers in jail where they could make license plates and bust rocks all day.  Haven’t we moved forward from that point of view a little bit by now?  Most of the time I think the only positive accomplishment of the proliferation of drug testing has been to create a whole new testing industry.

The other aspect of Costco I don’t like is having to stop on the way out and have somebody go over the items in my cart and compare them to the receipt.  The corporate culture of Costco seems to be that all employees are presumed to have drug problems and all customers are presumed to be shoplifters [subject to verification].  And it would be nice to treat both employees and customers with greater dignity and respect, if it didn’t affect their bottom line [potentially; subject to verification].

Most days I just forget about all that.  I guess the dirty, filthy Anchorage Spring breakup just has me in a funk today!

KUDO 1080 AM, 2004-10

December 14, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, politics, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Anchorage’s KUDO 1080 AM radio ceased to operate yesterday after 6-1/2 years of struggling.  Phil Munger, writing at his blog Progressive Alaska said: “The fact that the station lasted as long as it did has been a triumph of sorts.”  That’s about right.

From around 1980 until 2004 I supplemented my music radio listening with public radio, listening to KSKA and its national news via NPR and PRI.  In ’04 NPR committed the unpardonable sin of sacking longtime ‘Morning Edition’ host Bob Edwards [a thoughtful anchor with a capability of probing questioning] with a rotating combo of the milquetoast Steve Innskeep and breezy but vacant Renee Montagne [the latter had been Edwards’s faithful substitute host for years].

The timing of the firing was troubling — two months before George W. Bush was reelected.  I always wondered if public opinion was tilted just slightly by the changes at NPR.  The CPB, which oversees NPR and PBS was at the time being run by Kevin Tomlinson, a Bush appointee who also went after PBS host Bill Moyers.

Edwards and Moyers ran afoul of a changing political climate that was coming increasingly under corporate control.  The Bush administration wisely decided to stop threatening to cut off the CPB’s funding and instead began working on it from the inside, to ‘balance’ its coverage.  The blog NPR Check continues to document the insertion of right wing propaganda into NPR’s news shows, that continues to this day in thousands of subtle and not so subtle ways.

Only alt-public network Pacifica, and a handful of independent programs remained with a left wing viewpoint.  Meanwhile, right wing talk radio had ramped up to a 90% share of the talk radio market.

Into this concept of a void, Air America Radio launched on the ironic date April 1, 2004.  The privately funded, NYC-based startup was ambitious and artistically successful, sort of against all odds.  Only Randi Rhodes [can’t recall if she was on from day one, or soon afterwards] and Mike Malloy [who began there in late ’04] had a wealth of previous experience.  Newcomers Sam Seder, Marc Maron and Rachel Maddow had strong starts.  A weekend show, Ring of Fire — hosted by Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — was a particularly riveting and timely program covering politics and environmental issues, and like many of the original shows, it survived Air America’s demise and continues to this day.  Each and every episode of Ring aired on KUDO.

Air America suffered a series of buyouts and management changes, was scaled back in ’06 and ’07, losing its show co-hosts and most of its original shows, but it continued to be well worth listening to as it picked up new talent like Thom Hartmann, the Young Turks and others.

KUDO signed on in Summer ’04 as one of the first batch of Air America affiliates, but it was never exclusively about Air America.  I hadn’t heard of Rich McClear before KUDO, but I understand he was a pioneer of Alaska public broadcasting in Anchorage, Sitka and other places.  He was also involved in the reconstruction of Croatia and Bosnia, and had many interesting life experiences that he spun into interesting radio bits.

McClear managed to counter razor-sharp national programming with an upbeat, homespun local backdrop.  He employed his wife Susie and son Kevin to read local news headlines and community calendars, and himself recorded a series of ‘KUDO Commentary’ spots that were inserted within commercial breaks and where he sketched various local and state political and social topics.  There were other commenters, including Geoff Kennedy and Mr. Whitekeys.

He included NY Yankees baseball and offbeat programs like Joey Reynolds and Lionel.

McClear’s playful lampooning of ’02-’06 Alaska governor Frank Murkowski and his taxpayer funded private jet was legendary, pointing out that the jet couldn’t land in most places in Alaska, as Frank Sinatra raged in the background [“Fly me to the moon!  Let me play among the stars…”].  Some of those spots were played on Hartmann’s Air America show when he interviewed McClear.  I also once heard McClear call into The Lionel Show about a discussion of ‘English only’ laws — he talked about Barrow and Bethel and other places where Yupik and Inupiaq are spoken.  “It’s not English — but it’s also not a foreign language — so should we cut off funds for bilingual education in those places?”

McClear began to experiment with local shows when he became uncertain whether Air America would go out of business and leave him scrambling without a backup plan to fill the air time.  McClear hosted at first, then experimented with a couple other local hosts including Joe Princiotta.  Either McClear or longtime voice of New Sagaya commercials Jack Frost [Frost was also hosting an afternoon conservative talk program on KUDO] discovered Aaron Selbig, an ambitious recent UAA grad who had been doing a weekly public affairs program ‘Insurgent Radio’ on KRUA and publishing an underground newspaper, Insurgent 49.

Selbig followed in the tradition of past Anchorage alt-scene kingpins like Frank Harlan and B-Mac, but he was more serious and more in tune politically.  He was paired with Jack Frost at first, but it was soon made clear that Frost would step down and his protege would continue on his own.

Around the same time, McClear cooked up a plan to unload his struggling startup to a local chapter of the IBEW union.  The union saw it as an opportunity to publicize the benefits of union organizing to a somewhat skeptical local audience.  [And there was probably a lot more to it than that, but I’d just be speculating, wouldn’t I?]

Meanwhile, somebody at KUDO [Selbig?] made a command decision to put Shannyn Moore on the air with her own show.  She had zero previous experience, working as a house painter and contractor, but from the very beginning she was witty, confident, cutting and sort of ironically precious, while tackling diverse socio-politcal issues and scandal from a well-researched basis.  Her slogan, “I’m just a girl from Homer, painting a red state blue one stroke at a time” is both a intentionally self-effacing and a recognition of the complexity and persistence of the task at hand — getting people to quit advocating and voting against their self-interest, regardless of left-right paradigms, political parties and other alignments that exist.

Moore and Selbig, along with Anchorage radio vet Camille Conte maintained a daily solid block of local programs between 11:00 and 5:00 for a year or so, until IBEW became dissatisfied with the direction and replaced Selbig [by then the Program Director] with Cary Carrigan, kept Conte and fired Shannyn.  Carrigan, who had been a lovable but goofy weatherman on Channel 13 news in the ’80s, was pretty much a flop as a liberal talk radio host.  He babbled nonsense gibberish, his saving grace being his guest lineup and regular co-host Linda Kellen Biegel, who provided content and guidance.

Selbig moved to Homer and worked for both weekly newspapers before becoming News Director for Homer public radio, KBBI.

I threatened to stop listening when the Carrigan regime began, but I came back soon.  I also discovered KWMD radio, a public radio station with its HQ in Kasilof, AK that was rebroadcast in Anchorage, Eagle River, Mat-Su and maybe a few other places on various FM dial locations.  KWMD carried Pacifica programs and various national and locally produced music shows, including Friday and Saturday nights from the Spenard domicile of the Rev. Less More and the Spenard Fruit Fly.  Love at first listen!  KWMD was owned and co-managed by Jeremy Lansman, 1980s co-owner of muisc video UHF TV station Catch 22, and currnet owner of KYES Channel 5.  Lansman’s humorous and riveting style was in full flower in KWMD’s station IDs/announcements and atmosphere.

KUDO changed management again, rehired Shannyn [by then she was doing a weekly show on otherwise conservative talk-oriented KBYR; and had began a Lansman-produced weekly TV talk show] and made other positive changes including reshuffling the lineup of national shows and incubating a number of junior local hosts in an array of short shows concerned with politics, medicine, business, adult beverages and advocacy.  Studio 1080 was a kind of catch-all local show that gave various state and local Democratic politicians a platform, and was hosted by new KUDO P.D. Kathy Phillips and occasionally also by Christy Harvey, an Anchorage transplant who previously appeared in an ongoing segment in Al Franken’s Air America program as a representative of the think tank, the Center for American Progress.  Shannyn’s new show now included regular hour-long chats with Jeanne Devon, blogger and editor of The Mudflats, an Alaska politics blog that gained national notoriety in the ’08 campaign by getting the word out about Palin’s incompetence and malice.

Thom Hartmann, Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes and most of the others survived the caving of Air America and continued on other networks or as indies on KUDO.  Sam Seder recently launched a new version of his first Air America program, The Majority Report via podcast.  Marc Maron has produced about 150 episodes, two weekly of his new podcast WTF — deftly deploying his usual self-loathing bits as a vehicle to getting into his guests’ [comedians and pop culture icons] psyches.

Maddow became and anchor show on MSNBC, and lately Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks has run the substitute circuit there and seems on the cusp of getting his own show.  Ed Shultz, who also now does a weeknight MSNBC hour recorded one of his radio shows in Anchorage in ’09, and this year Maddow filmed a segment of her show where she chased AK-Sen Republican candidate Joe Miller down two escalators while asking him probing questions about DADT.  And talked to his supporters and managed to point out the dichotomy between his stated positioning [constitutional scholar/proponent and fiscal conservative] vs his supporters’ motivations [god, gays and guns].

When KUDO ceased operations yesterday, Shannyn’s show and a few of the other local programs on KUDO moved down the dial a short ways to KOAN 1020 AM, an Eagle River-based station that mostly broadcasts Fox News Radio!  Oh, the irony!!  It is nice that Shannyn’s show lives, but I feel sort of like she is trapped at a Thanksgiving Dinner, only the crazy right wing uncles and in-laws don’t pack up and go home on Saturday.

I tuned into KOAN, straining to hear the dialogue over hisses and pops and white noise three times today when Shannyn wasn’t on.  I heard three hodads in the morning gushing over the potential of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in ’12.  Later, a smarmy host sketching Obama and Bill Clinton, dazed and confused and wandering the back hallways of the White House looking for the Press Room, late for a presser.  Then finally, an interview with liberal foil Ralph Nader, attempting to clarify his non-support of a third party Bloomberg candidacy by saying how wonderful it would be.

Fantastic!  And this is better than listening to Hartmann, Rhodes and Malloy?  Not even close!  I hope KOAN dies a quick and merciful death.  There’s no chance it will be enshrined alongside KUDO, the original KABN, KWMD, KBBI, KJZZ, KRUA, KBRW, Whole Wheat Radio and a few others that will be recalled as pioneering Alaska broadcasters.

I intend to follow the podcasts of the dispatched national shows, but my ISP, GCI is not making this easy.  Their cable internet network in Anchorage is string together with bailing wire, duct tape and hamster wheels, and they continue to neglect their customers and core mission while they donate $900,000 to Lisa Murkowski’s AK-Sen campaign, and who knows what else.  And they can get away with it because their competition is even worse!

So it’s too bad that something like KUDO won’t be wafting over the regular airwaves for the time being.  KWMD, off the air since early summer is threatening a comeback, and Out North has an FM license, even a frequency and call letters assigned, but funding shortfalls seem to preclude the possibility of their radio startup for now, lacking a benefactor with deep pockets.

Maybe because I had previous radio experience [producing/hosting punk, new wave and even retro-alternative music shows on KABN-AM 1984-86; and KRUA 1992-98] I was especially captivated and fascinated by the developments at KUDO and radio in general.  More than a general inerest, though, KUDO was a gift, an exceptional and unexpected development.  May it live on in memory and infamy!

An adoring fan,
Clark

10-25-10

October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour, politics | Leave a comment
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Signs advertising meatloaf and Joe Miller, Glenn Hwy.

HA!

September 2, 2010 at 3:48 am | Posted in alaska, politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Sam Seder talking to the public about Social Security

August 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Posted in politics | Leave a comment
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These are New Yorkers — but I imagine you’d find much the same sentiment anyplace in the USA.  The GOP’s attempts to recast Social Security as an ‘entitlement’, and their push for privitization is going to backfire.

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