NEGATIVLAND PRANKS CLEAR CHANNEL,
An online media prank has changed the programming of a major market Clear Channel FM radio station.
Seattle's KJR-FM, a Clear Channel radio affiliate, quickly and quietly altered its playlist, following an amusing online tirade accusing the station and its Program Director of "false advertising."
Negativland, known for their media-critiquing music collage and culture jamming hoaxes and pranks, outed KJR-FM on charges that it played at least 114 different songs from the early to mid-1980's, despite marketing themselves as being a "Just the Greatest Hits of the '60's and '70's" radio station. Negativland members noticed that it was virtually impossible to listen for even a short period of time without hearing hits from such quintessential 80’s artists as Huey Lewis and the News, Air Supply, Men at Work, Cyndi Lauper, and many others. KJR recently pushed the envelope further by adding "Kokomo," a 1988 hit by The Beach Boys.
In a moment of maniacal inspiration, Negativland decided to point out this ridiculous deception by sabotaging the public’s perception of the station. The group created an online rebuffing of Clear Channel, KJR-FM, and KJR Program Director Bob Case, in a tabloid-style internet magazine parody, complete with damning evidence and scathing audio commentary. Disguised as the abrasive, misguided and over-the-top outlaw media journalist "Jack Diekobiscz", Negativland cited Clear Channel's contempt for its listeners and willingness to lie and re-write music history for profit. Negativland claims their stunt was an obtuse and funny way to draw attention to Clear Channel's much-criticized involvement in the general dumbing-down and homogenization of radio as the company, with the blessings of the FCC, continues to gobble up station after station across the USA.
Timing of the event added injury to insult. Negativland's expose was unveiled August 10th on the eve of a massive promotion by Clear Channel to improve KJR's continued poor ratings. Popular local celebrity Pat Cashman was poised to make a much-heralded debut as KJR's new morning announcer, with festivities that included a high-profile live broadcast at the base of Seattle's famous Space Needle. Pat Cashman is well known across the country as the co-star of Disney's "Bill Nye the Science Guy," and had a series on Comedy Central a few years ago. In Seattle, Pat is a phenomenon with a huge fan-base known as "The Pat Pack.”
To generate support for their mission, the URL to Negativland's new "Jack Diekobiscz" website was leaked to a popular Pat Cashman message board where hundreds of fans and lurkers had gathered to discuss Pat's triumphant return to radio after a year-long absence. Within minutes, visitors to the site began contacting Clear Channel as instructed by "Jack."
Fearing negative publicity, and not wanting to take unnecessary chances with their newest audience, KJR-FM pulled all 1980's songs from their playlist less than 12 hours later. Said Negativland members, “We were amazed that they caved in so quickly. When we do creative projects that might be considered 'culture jamming' we always try to pursue it in a funny and oblique way, and this prank is a good example of that. Truth is, we really don’t care so much that KJR-FM plays so many songs from the 80’s, but their lying and disrespect for the listening audience gave us a good idea for a prank, and it was inspiring to us to see how quickly Clear Channel folded under the pressure.”
Negativland's dubious association with KJR and Clear Channel is nothing new. One year ago, Negativland was invited to contribute audio material to a massive microradio invasion of the Seattle airwaves as part of “Reclaim The Media,” an event sponsored by the Seattle Indy Media Center that was scheduled to take place at the 2002 National Association of Broadcasters Convention being held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Downtown Seattle. Rather than composing a predictable narrative criticism of Clear Channel, Negativland decided to strike out with a more engaging approach that would hit local radio listeners where they lived. The strange absurdity of a Clear Channel station that refused to stay true to its own heavily marketed identity seemed an obvious way to showcase the company's attitude toward its listeners.
Utilizing KJR's own canned liners and jingles, Negativland produced a convincing 24-minute recording that simulated a telescoped version of KJR's format. Host "Jack Diekobiscz" ranted against Clear Channel and named KJR's program director, Bob Case as responsible for the misrepresentation, as he played one 1980's hit from KJR's playlist after another. For the duration of the NAB convention, six pirate microradio stations across the FM dial streamed anti-Clear Channel programming, including repeated performances of the Negativland/Diekobiscz show, sometimes playing in a 24-minute loop for seven hours at a time. Despite some bad publicity and a flurry of e-mails, Clear Channel and Bob Case refused to remove the songs from their playlist until hit with the events of last week.
Visit the Jack Diekobiscz Listen Here website and hear Jack's microradio attack on KJR:
Contact Clear Channel with your questions or comments:
Contact KJR-FM Program Director Bob Case at:
The “Pat Pack” Pat Cashman message board:
More excellent coverage on “Radio’s Big Bully": www.salon.com/2001/04/30/clear_channel/
Negativland Uses Mosquito Fleet To Bite
Clear Channel and the NAB
author: Paul Riismandel, Urbana IMC
On Thursday the Mosquito Fleet of unlicensed micropower radio stations in Seattle joined together for a joint broadcast at high noon taking aim at radio giant Clear Channel communications.
Clear Channel's KJR FM is a station promoting itself as the best of the 60s and 70s, but it also plays a heaping helping of tired old songs from the 1980s, as if nobody in their audience would know or care. Surrounded with canned voice-tracked DJs from who-knows-where and inane chatter, the station is a stark indicator of the low regard with which Clear Channel holds its audience and the people of Seattle.
Negativland takes hold of this absurd hypocrisy and explodes it over the course of a 24 minute simulated broadcast of KJR. The program starts innocently enough with the sounds of KJR's canned liners and jingles, followed by a DJ who introduces himself, but then starts to expose the lie, as he cues up a song from Michael Jackson's 1980s hit album Thriller. The rhetoric only escalates from there as the mythical DJ digs in to KJR's lies and naming KJR's program director personally as responsible for the misrepresenation.
This program was simulcast on over 6 different unlicensed low-power stations throughout the city. The stations have gathered here for the Reclaim the Media conference and to demonstrate the power of low-power FM to the National Assocation of Broadcasters Radio Conference meeting in downtown.
Seattle radio listeners could hardly avoid the broadcast as they tuned across the dial. Negativland's KJR program played repeatedly on many of these stations for six hours, through the evening drive-time commute. The Seattle IMC placed a radio playing the broadcast outside it's downtown storefront space, and many confused and amused pedestrians stopped to listen as the faux KJR DJ rants on about the station's lies and how refusing to acknowledge its lies makes it no better than an ax murderer.
One Reclaim the Media participant even brought a radio playing the broadcast into the NAB Radio Conference lobby, challenging the mainstream radio industry to recognize that people are on to them.
Thursday evening Mark Hosler, a founding member of Negativland, gave a talk and video showing where he explained some of the motivation behind the KJR parody. He explained that while Clear Channel's destructive impact on the radio dial in city after city is something meriting protest, the strange absurdity of a 60s and 70s format station not even staying true to its own identity was too hard to pass up, and indicative of the company's attitude.
Much of Hosler's presentation, and many of the Reclaim the Media panel sessions held on Friday have been broadcast on the mosquito fleet stations via streaming Internet feeds set up by the Seattle IMC.
POSTED ON METAFILTER.COM BOARDS
Sorry for the length of this, but I’m forwarding this Negativland in-house communication in hopes of clearing up some of the misconceptions about that whole KJR thing.
From O.D. Edge
I think the above references on this list to Jack Diekobicz's KJR rant, broadcast to the world via Internet as it was, can be fully explained by describing it as the spontaneous event, with so little preparation, that it was. (That’s not how you spell "Dickabitch", but I don't know how, and neither does anyone else, and that was one of the points I made to Jack. I said, "This thing cannot and will not spread into other major markets if no one can spell your name!" I went on to remind him that almost all publicity still progresses first from region to region via print, now including the Internet, before it ever finds any interest among any other national electronic media. A logically spelled name is a must to get there! But he did not have time to change it, so I guess the CD-R package will have to suffice, but the market for that is questionable too.)
As to the content of his broadcast: Yes, perhaps he over-obsessed on the lying liberal sprinkling of the 80s into the 60s and 70s, but Jack’s final segment, written in great haste, certainly addresses Clear Channel's mode of human-denial broadcasting over the public's airwaves. But Jack had a point there, and I think you must admit that going to all the trouble of producing expensive, highly orchestrated bumpers and jingles proclaiming something without exception, and then actually broadcasting 80s songs in there covertly, should be scrutinized. Were they either hoping or wishing that no one would notice? Were they not indicating there was any difference intentionally? Were they trying to blur history for a certain generation of listeners or was it just a matter of the natural and necessary "history melt" that effects more or less everything as time goes by? And for what purpose? What kind of people think this way? Well, something to think about… By the way, he’s not Jack anymore. On my advice, and with some time to reflect on his career strategy, he is now Rich Dickabitch, though he is retaining the original spelling of his last name, which I don’t remember, against my advice.
Omer D. Edge