September 15 Dispatch: Hatemonger Hal/Radio and survival in a burning world

Some things covered herein:

Hatemonger Hal Turner pops up on the AM band/Radio and survival in a burning world/American anxiety, bipartisan Sinophobia and the trade war/DX update/recommended radio history

First, some breaking news: Noxious White Supremacist Hal Turner surfaces on WSNR

Hal with some nazi pals. Photo by Jim West, taken from SPLC.org

White supremacist and FBI informant Hal Turner has popped up on WSNR 620 AM (weeknights 9 p.m.). Turner spent this Monday’s show (his station debut) divagating between claims that Covid is a hoax and that the FBI is involved in a cover-up to suppress the role of Black Lives Matter and Antifa in starting the West Coast wildfires. Turner announced that his slot on WSNR was a trial run; most of the callers appear to have been listeners to Turner’s online or shortwave show from places as far as Colorado. The two callers from NYC blasted Turner, who seemingly triggered, responded with even more bombastic babble. Oddly, WSNR management put Turner (a known Holocaust denier) in the slot immediately following Talkline Communications, a major Jewish-interest show.

Update 9/16: Turner was not on WSNR last night. A WSNR listener has forwarded an email from station management stating they were duped by Turner and will not be continuing his show. We will monitor this situation and update accordingly.

Across 110th Street—the soul is back on KCR

Now some good news: The gold standard of soul shows, WKCR’s Across 110th Street is reportedly up and running live once again. In the pre-Internet days and before every bit of obscure vinyl was dug up and reissued, Across 110th Street was one of the best (and only) places to hear heavy funk and classic and obscure soul (Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Review was also really important). The editor of this site spent many hours of his formative years taping that and other KCR shows on a cheap boom box. The show has had more hosts than we can keep track of, but has never wavered in quality. Saturdays 12 p.m. WKCR, 89.9 FM.

Some Thoughts on radio and survival in a burning world

Morning sky in Portland, Or. Photo by Morgan Hobart.

West Coast friends tell us that the radio has provided a key source of information on the horrific wildfires engulfing the region. In many ways radio has the potential to be the perfect medium for climate crises/natural disasters. When you can’t leave your home or temporary evacuation center, you might not have much luck getting online. Try calling your cable provider when the grid is blown. And the local newspaper (likely a hollowed-out shell gutted by private equity owners) might not be printing in the wake of flame or flood.

A decent portable radio with a sufficient battery supply can be a lifeline during a crisis. These days, you can even get a solar or hand-crank jobber for less than $30. Don’t get us wrong, we’re hardly survivalists. The idea of garroting your neighbor over who gets the last rat kabob holds little appeal for us. We’re far more interested in helping to build a world worth living in. Still, at a time when each diurnal crisis sets the whole house of cards teetering, it doesn’t hurt to keep yourself alive.

Of course, access to information won’t do you much good if the information isn’t any good. The best example of this is the 2002 Minot, North Dakota chemical spill. When a train transporting toxic fertilizer derailed, local authorities were unable to get the word out through any of the 5 local radio stations which had all been gobbled up by Clear Channel. While thousands of local residents were getting poisoned, the Clear Channel stations played the usual vapid canned content. Media expert Matthew Lasar broke it down back in 2010, when he wrote: “So chances are that when the Big One comes, we’ll drop our fancy mobiles, get in our cars, and fire up our AM radios. Here’s hoping that six months later we won’t be following debates about why we heard nothing but Rush Limbaugh and adult contemporary pop.”

Morning sky in Portland, Or. Photo by Morgan Hobart.

How it’s all getting covered on NYC radio:

Back on the local radio front: WNYC and WBAI have been providing crucial coverage of the California wildfires. WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show had a Monday segment entitled, The Wildfires Are Making the Climate Crisis Impossible to Ignore. Later the same day, President Trump visited California, where he doubled down on ignoring the crisis, dismissing the state’s National Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. Trump claimed the climate would “start getting cooler,” and quipped “I don’t think science knows.” Democracy Now has also been focusing on the context of the “California Climate Apocalypse,” with special attention given to the role of prison labor in fighting the fires.

NYC-area AM talk radio has predictably discussed the California fires absent of any coverage of the climate. Across the board, hosts have taken up Trump’s claims that the fires stem from forest-management issues, and “democrat leadership.”

Some other interesting things heard this week: American anxiety, bipartisan Sinophobia and the trade war

WNYC recently started season 4 of its United States of Anxiety. The show launched shortly after the 2016 election, and was marked by a strong sense that we were in the midst of a rapid descent. Recent episodes featured sports author (and Pacifica radio host) Dave Zirin, and a reexamination at a 2016 segment on the role of suburban fear in US politics. Host Kai Wright does an admirable job navigating it all. Sundays 6 p.m. 93.9 FM/820 AM.

The BBC World Service has been doing some interesting reporting on the view of the US election from China. While the Chinese Communist Party pushes its own strategic interests, both Trump and Biden are trying to paint each other as weak and incapable of dealing with China. The BBC segment includes a snippet from a Biden campaign commercial deriding Trump for having “praised the Chinese 15 times in January and February as the Coronavirus spread across the world.” It’s doubtful that xenophobic rhetoric grouping China with COVID will peel Trump voters away, but it does show that team Biden has no qualms going low when it seems beneficial. This segment also contains an interesting discussion on the mechanics of the US China Trade War. Heard on WNYC, weekdays 12 a.m. – 5 a.m. (Biden campaign clip can be found here, at the 5:25 mark: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csz7jt).

On the DX front: 900 AM CHML out of Hamilton, Ontatio has been coming in loud and clear in Flatbush Brooklyn after 10 p.m. Thus far, we’ve only hear Canadian news, and are unable to vouch for the non-news programming. The Canadian news casts seem measured by American AM radio standards.

Radio history department:

Over at Radio World, historian John Schneider has a nice article on the Centennial of Detroit’s WWJ.

Return to Freq-Amp homepage.

Published by Frequency and Amplitude, an NYC Radio Roundup

Surveying what's left of the analog NYC-area radioscape.

2 thoughts on “September 15 Dispatch: Hatemonger Hal/Radio and survival in a burning world

  1. Up into earlier this year, CHML/900 AM from Hamilton, Ontario featured an interesting menu of old-time radio shows, most nights after 10PM; this is still noted on their website. Should make for some “different” listening experience, especially for those of us not quite old enough to remember the old radio dramas and whatnot.

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