Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mike Webb Writes Us A Letter

Mike Webb, who was fired from 710 KIRO not too long ago, recently visited our website and was kind enough to share his thoughts with us. Reprinted below is the letter Webb wrote to us.
I looked over an old critique celebrating my termination from KIRO and "hoping" for a "better liberal" to replace me on the air.

Well, I hope you're happy. Instead of relying on the tried and true American concept of innocent til proved guilty, your blog was joyful over my departure. Now, I have added 5 stations to my nightly network show and can only hope that more like-minded people will get there heads out of the sand and SUPPORT liberal voices who DO make it to MSM.

Without that mainstream, little blogs and lefty websites do nearly nothing to activate voters. That's why, as sad as it is, Democrats are so timid: they know they need the voters. They want to do right by the voters, but they NEED the money, so they have to appease two factions.

That must change, but until it does, it requires pioneers like myself, Bernie Ward, Ray Talieferro and the late Bill Gallant who have paved a path into the mainstream -- hitting middle America with the truth.

Tell, me: Who else on the number one commercial station in ANY market talked to the executive director of The Project for a New American Century? Who scored the first interview with Joseph Wilson?

Who set up a forum template that included "the rock star" (Eddie Vedder), "the activist" (Jeff Sediki) and "lawmaker" Jim McDermott to have a no-holds-barred discussion of liberal politics on a station like KIRO. And all you had to say after the unfair termination of my employment -- instead of backing me -- or at least asking questions -- was "we hope they get a better liberal". Well, I hope you enjoy the stories at night about women's breasts and toy cars because that's about as political as it will get.

Mike Webb
General Manager, Mike Webb Media
First of all - thanks for writing (or typing), Mike. We at NPI are always appreciative of feedback.

I'd like to discuss a few of the contentions Mike made.

First of all, there was no celebration at NPI over Mike's termination from KIRO. We certainly didn't throw a party and drink champagne. There was nothing to celebrate. We merely expressed our hope that KIRO would find a better host (not that we expected anything to happen - we're not holding our breath waiting for Entercom management to improve the station).

Second, Mike knows perfectly well that we had nothing to do with the termination of his employment at KIRO. Nothing we could have said would have made any difference or changed the outcome. Mike is responsible for himself and his actions.

Ultimately, I guess we'll find out whether Mike is indeed innocent or guilty...we'll see what happens in court. But as far as I know nobody at NPI has ever presumed that Mike is guilty. To be honest - none of us have really given it any thought. That's probably because we have better things to do then contemplate Mike Webb's innocence.

As for Mike's comment about blogs - he apparently doesn't know much about the blogosphere, or else he'd know that progressive blogs aren't so little.

Sites like Daily Kos, Atrios, and Talking Points Memo get millions of visitors every week. Our blog and many others here in the Pacific NW are not in that league, but we do very well.

It's interesting that Mike mentioned the "mainstream" media (or, MSM) in his letter. Apparently Mike doesn't consider himself mainstream. Well, we don't share that view. Progressive values are America's values. Conservatives would have us believe we're out of the mainstream, but that's just not true.

However, I think I know what Mike means. The right phrase to use is traditional media (others have suggested corporate media, or even legacy media).

For your information, Mike, this organization (and its blog!) has appeared in the traditional media not once, not twice, but dozens of times.

Last year our executive director (Andrew Villeneuve) had two guest columns published, one in the Seattle P-I and one in the Everett Herald. He was interviewed at least three times last year by reporters from your old station, 710 KIRO, for news segments. He led a demonstration against Initiative 912 that made the five and six o'clock broadcasts on KIRO TV (and the KCPQ ten o'clock broadcast).

The P-I's Robert Jamieson quoted something I said about Ken Hutcherson in one of his columns earlier this year (Flying on a right wing and a prayer). That's just the tip of the iceberg of the media coverage we got last year.

David Goldstein of HorsesAss helped force Mike Brown of FEMA to quit from the Bush administration last September by disclosing that Brown had been previously forced to resign as the "Judges and Stewards Commissioner" for the International Arabian Horse Association.

He followed this up a month later by publishing a devastating report on the family troubles of David Irons, the GOP's candidate for King County Executive. The account was picked up by the traditional media - including your old station, 710 KIRO.

And of course, BlatherWatch made the Seattle Times when its owner, Michael Hood, reported the news of your arrest!

I could go on with more examples...but my point is, the regional progressive blogosphere is not little, nor is it powerless.

In fact, it's very influential. We may not be able to directly reach a significant part of the electorate, but we can reach them indirectly, and that's huge.

One last point I want to make. Until a few years ago, when I started following politics closely, I was unaware that Mike's show even existed. (The only local radio host I knew by name was Dave Ross). As I began learning more about talk radio, I was startled to discover that conservatives practically owned the medium.

But I was genuinely excited when I was looking around for liberal hosts and I stumbled onto Mike's name on some website. I decided to tune in that evening and listen to the show.

I tuned in as I worked on my computer...but I didn't hear what I expected. The conversation (which was basically a rant about Bush) didn't seem interesting. I was, quite frankly, bored.

After about an hour I realized I wasn't even listening to the show any more - I had forgotten about it as I concentrated on my work. I eventually decided to go back to listening to music.

A few months after that experience, I was in my car heading home from an election night party. I tuned to 710 KIRO, hoping to catch a news report about the local election results... but instead all I heard was Mike Webb droning on and on about the Bush administration. So I changed the station to KOMO 1000 AM.

I had the opportunity to listen to Mike's show (or parts of it) a few other times, but it was always national politics. Never local. And it was not intriguing or interesting.

Consequently, when Air America debuted nearly two years ago, I wasn't terribly enthusiastic (unlike some of my friends at NPI, who were ecstatic) but I reluctantly decided to tune in and listen to the O'Franken Factor, as it was called then.

I was blown away. I loved the show. It captured my attention and it was funny. I've been a fan of the show and many of the others on Air America ever since.

That same month, I decided I'd finally try another local host. I listened to Dave Ross (this was, of course, before he quit to run for Congress) and after a couple days I was surprised to find I liked his show too.

In fact, I've found KVI's Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson to be more entertaining and engaging than Mike Webb. I may disagree with their politics but their shows have never bored me.

I just checked out Mike's "WebBlog" to see what the main topics were for tonight's webcast. And perhaps not surprisingly, they are:
Bush Blames Media For His War
Speaking of Freely Speaking
The Healing Power of Prayer
Christian American Hostage Released
I scrolled down the page. Other than a reference to the "The Seattle Capitol Hill Masacre" (Masacre, Mike?) - which was also national news - I didn't see any discussion of local news or local politics.

At NPI, we truly believe in the concept that all politics is local. Think globally - act locally. Unfortunately, Mike only seems to have the first part down. He should follow Dave Ross' example.

Amazingly, Ross not only talks about local politics - he also acts. He ran for Congress in 2004 and was especially helpful in educating voters about the consequences of Initiative 912 last year.

(In fact, Ross invited our executive director on his show in late October to pitch that anti-912 demonstration I mentioned earlier - on the air).

I'm not joyful that Mike Webb is gone from KIRO. Nobody at NPI is. We just hope that the suits at Entercom and CBS Radio will finally have the sense to overhaul the lineups at KIRO and KPTK and add more engaging hosts like Dave Ross, who would focus on a blend of both local and national politics and breathe life into the medium of talk radio.

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