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(en) Alarm!--Interview with Peter Werbe

From The Alarm!Newswire <wires@the-alarm.com>
Date Tue, 17 Sep 2002 02:10:44 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

 By Fhar Miess
 The Alarm! Newspaper Collective

 What follows is a recent interview with Peter Werbe, a radical left
 talk show host whose show was terminated at Santa Cruz radio station
 KOMY on October 6, 2001.  He has since moved to Detroit, where he now
 broadcasts his show.

 Alarm!:  According to KOMY, why was it that you were fired?

 Peter Werbe:  The Mom & Son show got on the air and said that they
 apologized to the people of Santa Cruz for allowing me to broadcast my
 criticisms after September 11 and that they were no longer going to
 make their radio station a medium for my criticisms of Bush-at one
 point they may have even called it pro-Taliban, which is of course
 ridiculous.  It?s just typical of (although that?s Mom & Son) ?mom &
 pop? stations across the country.

 There?s two facets to control of the media by conservatives and
 corporations.  One is obvious:  big corporate control by the Clear
 Channels and Infinities and what have you.  They have their national
 powerhouses that they put on their local stations.  But then there?s
 also this range of very conservative individual owner-entrepreneurs
 who have this lock-very frequently-on sectors of the country that
 aren?t served by any other station.  Some of them, they?re the one
 station in town.  It?s ridiculous to have a station in Santa Cruz that
 has no left-of-center programming given the politics of that city and
 how liberal that city is.

 But it?s no different in Detroit where I broadcast from.  There?s no
 liberal talk show host in a city like Detroit.  The city of Detroit
 proper voted ninety-five percent for Al Gore and the surrounding three
 counties voted the majority for Al Gore, and I?m just talking about
 liberal Democrats.  So, it actually is a testimony to people?s
 capacity to think independently with this complete strangle-hold that
 the Right and corporations have on the media, that people still-to use
 voting as one index, which isn?t the greatest one to me-but still,
 Bush still loses.  No matter what kind of kid gloves the media use
 toward Bush-I mean they knew that he had lied about serving in the Air
 National Guard, that he was AWOL for a year, which is really
 desertion.  They knew, they had tips about his girlfriend having an
 abortion, about the drug use and all that and they just kept hands off
 and they allowed him to define himself as a uniter and a centrist when
 obviously, as we?ve seen since he got in, he?s far right wing.

 But even with all that, whenever you take a poll, people generally
 come up with what I?d call social democratic, progressive views of
 tolerance, generosity and what have you.  And the reason they have to
 keep people like me off [the air] is that, God, their whole house of
 cards would collapse if the Left got an equal shot at speaking to the
 American people.

 A!:  How much do you think the political climate had to do with it?
 Do you think you would have gotten the same treatment if the attacks
 on the World Trade Center hadn?t just happened?

 PW:  Oh no.  He [owner Michael Zwerling] was OK with it [the show].
 And one of the things that was so weird, on the one hand it was all
 ideological that they couldn?t let an extreme leftist on the air.  On
 the other hand, he said that my show never had any advertisers.  Of
 course, this little station doesn?t have an advertising department,
 and shows in radio don?t have advertisers, stations have what they
 call ?run of the station? ads.  In other words, if you wanted to
 advertise The Alarm! on KOMY [fat chance, ed.], you?d get one in the
 morning, two in the midday, two in the afternoon, two at night.
 That?s what you?d pay for.  People can specify.  But, apparently, all
 of his patriotism would have completely evaporated if I could have
 bought him.  Essentially, he runs it like a tyrant.  He?s known for
 getting people to work for free.  He has all sorts of complaints
 lodged against him with the State of California Wage and Hours Board.

 A!:  How have you been received since then?

 PW:  Oh, good.  One thing that does happen in syndication is that
 stations come and go for any number of reasons.  Half the time you
 never even find out.  They just say, ?we?re not taking your show
 anymore.?  You say, ?Why?? They say, ?Well, we just decided, goodbye.?
  They?ve gone country & western, they?ve replaced you with somebody
 else, they?ve cut some other deal.  In some regard it?s not that
 unusual.  There were a number of cases after September 11th where
 editorial writers were canned, a couple of them in small towns, but in
 the main, people have been able to express themselves I think fairly
 well.  I don?t want to make it a rosy picture because a lot of people
were subjected to threats and what have you in the academic community.
  Dick Cheney?s wife and some little academic group started naming
names like it was Joe MacCarthy.  But the Right-this was a God-send to
 the Right.  You may know that Bush as it was-lucky me, I hit the
 trifecta-Bush is the only person in America that personally benefitted
 from September 11th, but in a sense, the whole Republican party did.
 They were down the drain probably by November of 2001.  I mean, Bush?s
 popularity was plummeting, and people caught on to him real quickly.
 Now, everything is submerged behind the imperial war machine and this
 fight against terrorism.  And they?re having difficulty because these
 pesky terrorists-they just won?t strike again!  And they can?t find
 Osama bin Laden.  So, like in Orwell?s 1984 they had the three-minute
 hate where they?d project the photograph of Big Brother?s enemy, so
 Osama bin Laden-remember how many times we used to see his face on
 television, if you watch television?  I don?t even watch television
 and I must?ve seen it 250 times.  So, I think if you do, you must?ve
 seen it 2,500 times.  And now, when?s the last time you saw a
 photograph of Osama bin Laden?  Now it?s ?Target:  Saddam!?  It?s
 repulsive, but I think that there?s a critical mass growing.  People
 are so dissatisfied with life in Bush?s America.  You know, he?s
 wrecked the economy, they stumble from one crisis to the next.
 They?re gonna catch Osama bin Laden dead or alive?  Where?s he?  Now
 another major war.  Corporate criminals?  You know, he [Bush] and
 Cheney are corporate criminals.  And in all of this, he?s just hoping
 to keep one step ahead by rattling everybody?s cage so that we don?t
 think about all of those things.

 Endnote:  Peter Werbe?s nationally syndicated radio show can be heard
 from 9a.m. to Noon, Pacific Time, at i.e. America Radio Network:
 http://www.ieamericaradio.com/ or Sundays from 11 pm to 2 am Eastern
 on WRIF in Detroit:  http://www.wrif.com/

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