It really does seem to be bad for many in the arts right now. I would like to say ‘creative media’, but I must have missed any that might have been lurking about in the last few years.  Locally it is as dire as ever and in the Gulf,  if not government owned radio, it would all be in deep deep dollops of it now.  Outside of America the story is pretty much the same, yet ridiculous, childish, arrogantly incapable and naive cliques are running the radios with heavily formatted, massively boring output just the same and nobody but nobody can tell them different.    Hollywood is still the first and last bastion of everything clever and the plethora of mediocrity out there in the form of TV satellite channels leech onto anything going.  What the hell would they do without it?

Across the Middle East (where I am), there are loads of channels all doing what I don’t know, but the larger Showtime and Orbit, must be so proud to boast that they produce absolutely nothing of value themselves, except shockingly pathetic advertising in general and accept even more shocking creative from the agencies as they take the money and run. It is all the same script; dominant husband in his fabulously white thobe, sickly sweet wife in nothing short of a full on burkah as she cooks in the kitchen of her supposed luxury home and then the spoilt little baby being doted on and those are just the beer and cigarette ads! (Ok maybe not). Scotty the dominant voice on Orbit promos tries his best it seems, but must scream ‘beam me up’ sometimes when he has to read certain patronizing scripts. Again, in general, the standard of voice over advertising these products  is ‘dramatically’ uninviting and often smattered with colloquial accents. Having said all that, by comparison Dubai’s chronic City 7 produce more between a few amateur enthusiasts on a no doubt shoe string budget.  Each time I switch it on, I fully expect it to have closed down, but love a duck, it is still there.

All in all across the world, subscription TV can be astonishingly amateur and now we have Orbit and Showtime linked as one, or something on those lines. Unfortunately, the public is not sure because you still have to pay for either.  It seems to me like the ONLY thing the customer benefits from is; if you have an Orbit receiver, you can now receive Showtime if you pay.  Through the same dish, so less clutter on your roof I guess.  WHAT ELSE? Already my roof is like Jodrell Bank or a CIA listening post as I like the Turkish, Polish and Romanian channels, but so hard to get here and they do not cater for English subscriptions. Piracy?  What’s that?

Never mind subscription tv, what about “Free-to-air” TV?  Forget it, I’d rather pay than subject any human to that. Fox Series/Fox Movies with those shockingly awful SEDAR commercials, being run every 5 minutes for 5 minutes at a time.  Also the yogurt and serial ads with that incredibly ‘Liberal Luvee’ sounding 2 year old  (I got that expression from Bollix Media) and so incredulous, yet it is on every other ad.  English is just not the mother tongue you say?  Bollix to that too!   You are right, the majority, do not hear for what it really is as it is not their language, but it is the same in ARABIC for GOD’S sake.  The problem- as we continue to say and always will; nobody cares in the developed world, so in the developing world it goes right over almost everyone’s head.  They are more concerned with making babies and feeding them from the pittance in wages they receive.   Talking of which; radio and television presenters across the region are mostly part time, deluded dreamers anyway and receive as little as $50 for what is a 4 hour filler which hey call it a show…  how quaint?

World-wide Media agenda is also the cause of most of the demise of standards. Heads are everywhere, all left wing, know-it-alls pontificating and killing any standards in the name of mediocrity.  I’ll pick on just one, but there are thousands and if  Sam hates me for it, so be it, but for no particular reason, he was in my mind, so he takes the hit, despite the fact that periodically, he makes me chuckle. Nevermind that, he is not at all as clever as he probably thinks he is.   I am talking about the  monotone, droning, left wing – love thyself above all – journalist Sam Delaney who really is extremely hard up himself.  Listening to the adoration around him and all who just hang on to his every word like the Jonnafan Roff brigade, then I know we are all doomed. Sam speaks like he represents the entire nation, or is that just his deliberate take on it?  But then again, almost all journalists are indoctrinated into thinking the nation needs them and they speak for it?  Back on track here, Sam thinks David Beckham has a ‘sweet and gentle Essex drawl’. WHAT?  I love Beckham, I think he is a brilliant man and a good man above all, but he could be an even more perfect (if there is such a thing) roll model in all reality, if he spoke well. Beckham’s English is shocking and unfortunately makes him sound uneducated, yet he seemingly has no idea what he actually sounds like or he would not say thinks like ‘Nah I ‘fink iss awhrite acktuwally.  With all that money, a few elocution lessons would not go amiss, but then again, with all that money, who the hell would give a F? But then Beckham, like Sam Delaney is one of so many thousands dominating our airwaves with chronic English and so heavily accented that it is often hard for Mother Tongue English to handle. Delaney, speaks well, eloquent, just heavily accented, which is fine in conversation, but as a broadcaster, I am still very old school.  Posh it up just a tad and he would be fine.  You see, even if you put say a strong South Afrikan or Australian accent on a commercial for example, the voice might be strappingly good, but because it is right in your ears from a broadcast point of view, folk take note of the accent and not the content.  To someone like Sam Delaney, this would no doubt be considered ‘brilliant’ and he would promote that.  Sam loves Gordon Ramsey, that ultra crude beyond hell chef who thinks slaughtering mammals for kicks in front of the camera is all a real good laugh. (Him and Janet Street Porter – Yeah you know what I am talking about!) . Likewise, Delaney thnks he can hear everyone else, but obviously cannot hear himself, or if he did, he would know what he sounds like. Perhaps he can … and his ego, like so many others, promotes this dumbing down of society and crudity everywhere. Not for me I am afraid.  Even the BBC has nothing but heavily accented Indians controlling the airwave. THE BBC????!!!  The world’s media has gone stark raving mad under the guise of racial equality, equal opportunities, appeasement or whatever else you wish to call it and a modicum of  ‘TALENT” does not come into the equation, not even remotely.  Surely TALENT is the criteria not the colour or the creed?

Media luvees keep harping back, as and when the public do get a little restless, that they are going for the ‘more character’ presenters. Immediately this shows once more their total inability and lack of media or creative genius for they think ‘character’ means heavy accents or bad language, both crude and grammatically. I actually know it to be a fact that chirpy character DJs rarely if ever get hired as themselves. This is all due to intimidation, because  basically the luvvie in charge hasn’t got a clue, afraid of his or her own shadow and will take no risk which will expose them and subsequently oust them from their prized job.

Glenn Beck of Fox News is being hit hard now by the liberal luvees, all claiming that advertisers are shunning his shows.  I don’t know anything about that, but it seems to me to be a vicious circle. Beck is not particularly one I watch much, but I don’t find him out of line. The clique get away with filling the air with left leading political agenda and convince one and all that ‘this is the word’ and the meek among us fall into place, so all that is ok. ‘Chill baby, let it all hang out, go with the flow’, so that means poor standards as well I guess?

When I was on air here in Bahrain, if you listened around town and read the papers, you might believe me to be an Ogre, the Grim Reaper for one and all’s existence here. So strange at times as I was totally hated and absolutley loved, no middle. Regardless, I was putting millions of advertising revenue Dollars through the station, literally.  The advertising worked and we proved that many times.  We proved that shitty productions did nothing but create adverse comment and people making fun, which product owners perversely thought to be good.  Many of my critics (and they never stopped coming) considered my slicker productions and tighter less incredulous scripting far too sophisticated for the mass audience here, thus would have no effect. On the contrary. Very few punters if any ever said: ‘Oh that is a good quality ad’ , mostly no comments at all, but they worked.

I hear some of the channels are selling 30 seconds plus spots for as little as $8 a pop and advertisers still complaining like hell that they are not getting any value as there is no response from their radio airings in English. Oh dear! Really, it is all to do with content and quality, if you aint got it, you aint got it!
On the other hand, how can something like Virgin Dubai be making money? They appear to play 10 songs in a row, dispersed with excruciating and constant station I.D.s and claims to be the ‘be all and end all connoisseurs of music’.  Who gives a flying stuff; maybe ten kids below the age of 13 with nothing to do maybe?  Watching paint dry is more entertaining. From what Ican tell, Virgin are also racially profiling their presenters. I am not sure but I do believe there is this policy of employing the likes of British, as long as they are brownish in colour British, with strongish immigrant English accents. All designed ‘NOT TO INTIMIDATE THEIR AUDIENCE’ I suspect. Well if that is not condescendingly and totally patronizing then nothing is. I could be wrong though, what say you?   But here we go; the sales men and ladies and wannabees will all spout the usual lines;  ”This is the target audience, we achieve 90% penetration’ and a zillion other clichéd retorts. It is an endless bombardment  of monkey see monkey do, industry clichés trying hard to take the money as if God has spoken. Clients fall for it. The Lebanese running the radio here in Bahrain, constantly, constantly, constantly preach to me and anyone else that Radio Bahrain has half a million listeners and captures huge audiences in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. What an absolute crock of Sh*t.  No matter that I angrily respond with; ‘Do you know who you are talking to?  I know every inch of the transmission path, I know how inadequate and decrepit it is, I also understand propagation and best of all, I am a DJ/broadcaster with a great deal more experience than all of their so-called instant expert sales staff put together.  Without taking a breath they continue on pontificating, like a stuck record and swear on their mother’s and even mine, that; ‘Yanni, this is something special’.

Well anyway, what do I know, as with the likes of Virgin and the world’s luvee media; ‘Oh you’re so out of touch granddad, this is what the people want’, is what we are arrogantly told with dismissive condescending cockyness at that. The only thing they penetrate as far as I can ascertain are my distaste buds. Radio stations play music because they have nothing else to offer up, but in this day and age to claim a serious scientific and social element to it is just delusional. The public are in general ‘entertained’ by music played on radio and it is all very incidental and has nothing to do with education. Yes, they hear a nice song and it helps with the sale of record and gives the artist exposure, but to claim the all mighty authority on it is totally out to lunch.

On the physical production side, I think I must have created my own worst enemy over the years. I have always had my own, what I guess we still refer to as clients, but most are just discerning folk who know what they want and know what they can get from me, thus cost although an issue, to get the cheapest is not. Bedroom wannabees and cheap skate facilities will always be around bringing the market to its knees and in times like this, they can only get cheaper. How cheap is cheap?  Maybe they are still managing to survive in places like Dubai, but whereas over the past eight or nine years, with the advent of a ‘Creative Sound Card’ and ‘anyone can do this’, so many have successfully destroyed any foundation of a quality radio or clever advertising culture.  In reality, this insane scenario means that the advertiser gets no response either, so even a Dollar a pop is money wasted. To pay nothing for something gives the product no respect either, so unfortunately, the very same clients who ‘tender’ for art have absolutely no perception of creative art anyway and see nothing wrong with the dirge they have produced.

Recession, what recession? Media seriously aided the onslaught, now media has to bring back the good times. You would think ‘they’ would learn, but I am afraid that because the art is invisible, it goes even cheaper and it might take a thousand years to recover. Well the world is suppose to end in 2012, so not much point in mentioning hope here is there?


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