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December 12, 2004 - Where is Australia?

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World’s Laziest Journalist

Sunday, December 12, 2004

By Bob Patterson


Colin Campbell, in a story about satellite radio on the front page of the New York Times Circuits section for Thursday, December 9, 2004, gives listeners in the US a heads up: it seems they can expect  “a slightly more Canadian flavor on the radio: more Canadian music, more Canadian news and more Canadian comedy.”


That makes sense.  Most of them speak the same language as the folks in the red states.


As a kid, I loved listening to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.  I can also remember the shock of reading an AP story from Canada that mentioned a highway.  I wondered: Were there that many folks scurrying about on their dog sleds that they paved the trails through the back country between Montreal and Ottawa?  A few discreet inquires provided me with one of those “St. Paul” moments that litter a child’s education: It wasn’t all dog sleds, “Mush, you huskies!” and Eskimo hospitality.  I learned that up North, they had General Motors cars, read Life magazine, and watched Jackie Gleason on TV.  Their country was, in fact, struggling to overcome their image as a “mini-me” version of the “lower 48.”


Eventually, I got the chance to go beyond the borders and learn that American culture wasn’t ubiquitous.  I knew that the Europeans had homegrown movies including one titled Ecstasy, that featured Hedy Lamarr skinny-dipping.  Then along came Brigitte Bardot and Hollywood knew that they had to get rid of the Hayes Code.


So now we have the prospect of the radio folks figuring out that maybe they could have some Canadian channels and get more listeners up North, and provide their US customers with a large selection of listening options.


If this trend keeps up, who knows, they might get real radical and offer the Americans something drastic like maybe a live feed from the BBC?  Then, of course, it would only be a matter of a decade or two before they would need more content and figure it out: The folks on Australian radio speak in the English language, too!  What a co-inky-dink!  Just think - Americans listening to Triple J or the news from Oz.

If they tuned in, American audiences could learn about thing like the hot Aussie bands and the actors and actresses who are competing for the invitations to Hollywood.  It would be comparable to a sports fan that knows which of the players in the minor leagues is likely to move over to the major league. 


Heck, the cable TV news people never did figure it out.  As far as I can learn, the cable and/or satellite companies don’t offer the customers in the United States an Australian channel.  Why not? 


It seems that cable TV offers multiple channels with variations on the United States point of view.  Why doesn’t cable TV live up to it’s potential and offer viewers in flyover country a chance to see Australia’s ABC?  They could be really adventurous and offer foreign language channels with a distinctly different point of view.  Perhaps the cliché about being well informed means different American networks only?  


Once the folks at the satellite radio companies see some success with the Canadian channels that Campbell wrote about then it will just be a matter of time before they become curious about other similar sources of revenue.  Maybe the cable folks will copy the radio success story?  Who knows where all this could lead?  It’s possible that eventually folks in the Hollywood area just above Sunset Boulevard, could get Sky Rock from Paris on their basic satellite radio package?  Heck, with some language skills, a subscriber in (for instance) Concordia, Kansas could twist the radio dial and perhaps monitor the day’s events in Darwin, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, Peking, Moscow, Berlin, and/or Paris.  The folks who teach foreign languages in the various high schools across the USA might actually endorse the idea of urging their students to listening at night to a station that was relevant to their school work.  What would it be like if someone teaching French to kids in Del Rio, Texas (it’s a stretch I know, but stay with me on this) were to ask the students about a rock group that was on the radio the previous evening rather than inquiring about the location of the “my aunt’s pen”?  That might work.  (Heck, in Del Rio they might think a reference to your aunt’s pen was referring to the time they had to drive the truck down to the train station in the rain to pick her up the day she got out of prison.)


Is there an underground music scene in Coober Pede? 


Wouldn’t it be kinda cool to be sitting in Santa Monica on your lunch hour and tuning in to a late night talk show being broadcast live from Prague?  By the way, who is the new Kafka, there?


Maybe when this satellite radio thing gets going, they will get a “bloggers on the air” channel?  Some of the Internet bloggers could talk about obscure subjects that don’t get much play in the major media.  Don’t you get sort of tired of it when the evening Axis of Buzz programs all use essentially the same plugs in the same order for the latest efforts by Britney Spears, Clay Akins, and the entire cast of Horny Housewives (or whatever the title is)?  [Don’t you half expect actress Sheryl Lee to show up on that series as an “in joke” to evoke memories of Laura Palmer?]


Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have some bloggers talking up some lesser-known topics such as the Orphan Train Museum, Duane Eddy’s influence on Rock music, and/or Guiseppe Zangara’s speedy trial and execution?


Australia seems to be missing from the US’s media map.  If the mavens of cultural imperialism are so sure of their product, why don’ they let the audience do some comparison evaluations on the cable TV or satellite radio? 


Speaking of worldwide audiences, our regular readers have been doing a good job of spreading the word about Just Above Sunset online magazine.  If you are a new reader and like what we are doing we would ask you to send the homepage URL (http://www.justabovesunset.com/) to five friends.  If you don’t like what we are doing, then send it to ten people who (or whom?) you would like to rile up.  The fun part will be if you don’t tell the recipient if they are part of the five or the ten group.  They’ll have to figure it out for themselves.  If they like us, they’ll appreciate the tip.  If they don’t like us, you can always tell them that you tried to warn them. 


Bill Cosby has been quoted as saying:  “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”


The disk jockey is supposed to use his vast knowledge of music to select a relevant closing song.  This week he says: “I just want to hear this one.”  He’s going to play Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”  We’ll be back next week doing our best to present a column that sparkles.  Until then, have a gem of a week.




Copyright © 2004 – Robert Patterson




Editor’s Note:


Until satellite radio or broadcast stations find the bandwidth – using the term correctly – to make such stations available, the curious can listen to much of what Bob mentions via their computer if they have a high-speed connection.


See MEDIA IN FRENCH in these pages for television links, if you are in Del Rio, Texas thinking about you aunt’s pen.


For radio links?  See Radio Paris from broadcasting.com for live streams.  They do not list my favorite, the jazz station TSF - and TSF has actually played Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”  - and Brigitte Bardot and Claude Bolling doing “Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don’t Love Nobody But Me)” of all things.  But it’s mostly straight-ahead jazz.


KCRW down the street in Santa Monica used to stream the techno-trance club music from NovaPlanet - live from Paris.  But they stopped that years ago.  Now there is only the internet.


Streams from Canada or Australia?  ComFM lets you browse and go where you will.  That’s how my nephew learned Turkish.  And how else would you find 2 MM – the Greek station in Sidney, Australia?  Or 3 FM doing techno-trance live from La Vallette, Malta?


But you need your computer and a fast connection.  Can’t listen in your car.








Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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Paris readers add nine hours....