Abdul Hakim-Shabazz announced that he will no longer be doing his radio show with WXNT. Seems the corporate executives are engaging in cost saving measures and will fill his slot with syndicated programming.
Mike Kole who, among other things, is a radio guy out of Cleveland, is properly dismayed by the development. Personal concerns for Abdul aside — one expects he will be fine with penchant for many jobs and knack for self-promotion — Mike identifies the larger problem with this move. Indianapolis has very little local programming.
But I’m a fan of live radio that focuses on local topics. This is something woefully scarce in Indianapolis media. I was spoiled in Cleveland, with live local talk on several full power stations, plus the college radio scene, which I was a part of. When I came to Indy some 10 years ago, it was immediately apparent that radio here SUCKED in comparison. All of the media, really. Being in the state capitol, it always appeared that the media was interested in covering ‘big’ statewide news, at the expense of local issues. If the Star put the staffing into a City Desk that it does into Sports, it would have something vibrant. Alas. So, Abdul- yes, a guy from Illinois and with a foot still very much in the door in Illinois- was bringing better, more interesting, more useful radio to Indianapolis than the natives were creating.
In the context of newspapers, I’ve commented before that they have been abandoning the one thing that might help them weather the storm of new media. Local reporting is the one thing traditional media can do better than some guy with a blog or a commodity wire service. Sure, it’s more expensive, and the profit margins are smaller – for now; but it’s their only durable resource. I suspect something similar applies to radio. I don’t know what WXNT is going to put on specifically, but why should anyone care about them if, say, they end up being one more outlet for some national bloviator? Sooner or later, an Internet outlet that doesn’t have to pay for a radio license is going to eat their lunch if syndicated opinion is the weapon of choice.
I’m wishing all the best for Abdul; and I’m sure he’ll do fine. In addition to the qualities I mentioned above, he’s a gifted shit stirrer, and that’s a marketable asset. I assume WXNT will fade even further into obscurity.
Also, because I just mentioned getting rid of things that help you when the storm comes, here is a gratuitous quote from Robert Boalt’s “A Man For All Season” just because I like it a lot:
Wife: Arrest him!
More: For what?
Wife: He’s dangerous!
Roper: For all we know he’s a spy!
Daughter: Father, that man’s bad!
More: There’s no law against that!
Roper: There is, God’s law!
More: Then let God arrest him!
Wife: While you talk he’s gone!
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!