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MORGAN: Smith’s departure a sign of talk radio’s slow death

“Media is in undergoing a huge, evolutionary transition right now. The technocrat class is playing whack-a-mole as they try to de-platform conservative and libertarian voices while new platforms keep springing up.”

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While working as an oilfield surveyor in the ’90s, talk radio was a must. Whether standing next to my tripod in a wheat field or trying to stay awake while driving across the endless plains of Kansas, the radio was always tuned to the local talk radio station. It kept me up to date on issues and let me hear from different sides.

Talk radio back then was gritty and informative. Here in Alberta, I would listen to Dave Rutherford in the morning, and Dave Taylor in the afternoon. One was conservative and one was liberal. I enjoyed both because they were entertaining and informative. They didn’t just have guests and callers – they took them on. They engaged, they questioned and they opined on everything. I didn’t always agree, but that didn’t matter. It was engaging and it made one think. Peter Warren on the weekends was legendary. Those days are gone.

The beginning of the end around here came when Dave Rutherford was fired for being critical of his own radio station over their poor coverage of the Alberta floods in 2013. One could tell that this was a final straw of sorts, as Rutherford had been increasingly chafing under increased efforts to control his show. As a veteran broadcaster, Dave simply wasn’t going to take it.

After Rutherford’s firing, the station floundered through a number of hosts and formats. Those all pretty much failed until Danielle Smith was hired and put into the prime daytime slot. Many conservative listeners were hesitant to embrace Smith after the unfortunate end of her time as Wildrose leader, but she won them over as she continued the talk radio style and tradition in much the same style as Dave Rutherford had. Like Rutherford though, the pressure from to control her content became too much.

I am only guessing here, but I think the beginning of the end for Smith came when she had former UCP candidate Caylan Ford on the show. Ford was immersed in a controversy due to a number of false allegations of racism which were released by a “progressive” NDP-front website with the intent of derailing the UCP campaign.

Smith gave Ford an entire segment to explain herself and the progressive cancel mob went wild. Demands were made for Smith’s firing. Sponsors were threatened, the station caved and even deleted the archived show. Even Mayor Nenshi and Rachel Notley got in on the dogpile. As a result, Danielle Smith was neutered as a host and the character assassination of Caylan Ford remained undefended until recently.

How humiliating it must have been as Smith to have been hung out to dry by the station for having done her job well. It was quite literally, the news of the day. It was a controversial issue and there were two sides. Smith quickly discovered the hard way that there is only one side when the risk of a cancel mob appears.

As a regular listener, I caught some serious undertones a few months ago when it was clear that Danielle Smith was upset about something. She talked around it, but made it pretty clear that she had been instructed not to talk about certain things COVID-19 related. She then put it to the callers in a small act of rebellion so that they could speak to the subject even if she couldn’t. I am just guessing here, but I suspect that this was when Smith decided that she had enough and gave notice.
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Talk radio is a dying format. It is a victim of modern times and it will not be able to beat the many new mediums which catch our attention. Streaming services, podcasts, and satellite radio have eaten up so much listenership that radio stations are broke and vulnerable. That is why they now cower in terror at the prospect of a mob complaining to their precious few remaining sponsors. Unfortunately, this move to vanilla radio is only making the inevitable demise of the platform all that much sadder.

I listened today to an afternoon host talking with an expert on the issue of child marriages in Canada. It really is happening and it really is legal. It is a concerning issue worthy of talking about and asking questions. The host and the guest took no callers though and managed to chat about the issue for the entire segment without once touching upon a giant elephant in the room, which is the religious and cultural aspects of this issue. Religious and cultural fundamentalism is behind nearly every child marriage and to pretend that this is an issue among most Albertans or Canadians is willfully blind. If you are only going to talk about 75 percent of an issue for fear of offending somebody, you may as well not talk about it at all. The use and point of talk radio here is lost.

Talk radio will continue to dwindle until it is little more than a news reading and traffic service. They can’t afford to discuss issues any longer.

Media is in undergoing a huge, evolutionary transition right now. The technocrat class is playing whack-a-mole as they try to de-platform conservative and libertarian voices while new platforms keep springing up. I am optimistic that balance and new forms of political discourse will emerge, but we are in for some tumultuous times as we find that balance.

Dave Rutherford has retired while Danielle Smith is already seeking new platforms to work from. I am looking forward to the new age of unfettered political discourse when it gets here. It can’t remain bottled up forever.

The heyday of talk radio is gone though. There are a few good, gritty voices still working the airwaves out there but they are fading. It’s the sad end of an era.

Cory Morgan is the Podcast Editor and a columnist for the Western Standard

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. That's Dr. #SAND to you...

    January 16, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Go to Amazon and buy a bunch cameras hidden in spy stuff, pens, USB chargers, clocks, anything.
    Then record the fascists.

  2. ninetyninepct

    January 16, 2021 at 9:54 am

    The fascist Liberal / NDP leftists hate free speech and now Trudeau wants to regulate us so we won’t be offended an so we are fed their Liberal approved garbage.

  3. Mars Hill

    January 13, 2021 at 11:38 pm

    The ccp will get chased out of America within a month, it’ll spill over to Canada and once JT is gone (jailed I hope) we’ll have a golden age of free speech, liberty and prosperity.

    • ninetyninepct

      January 16, 2021 at 10:10 am

      That and small Government is the WEXIT / Maverick policy.

  4. Ron Voss

    January 12, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Talk radio is a dying format. And the cowardly stations are responsible for their own demise.

  5. Charles Martell III

    January 12, 2021 at 11:35 am

    Canada’s Broadcast Standard Council are a den of vipers . . .
    I remember when they were attacking Sun News Channel over a decade ago.

    Canada’s Corporatist Govt Funded media are far-left and the last thing they want is a debate.

    Whether it be the Klimate File, the Fraud US Election, the Failing Schools/Universities in Canada or our inept, corrupt Crime Minister & his Cabal of fools. Last thing they want are real questions and being held to account.

  6. Dianne Brodrick

    January 12, 2021 at 12:23 am

    Are they also run by the union UNIFOR like CBC, CTV and Global all Liberal?

    • ninetyninepct

      January 16, 2021 at 9:55 am

      UNIFOR’s Dias is a very dangerous individual. He can shut down this entire country with one phone call. He is a radical Trudeau / NDP supporter and openly hates Conservatives, exactly like Singh.

  7. Guest

    January 11, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Ya, like holy cow eh? 11 Jan 2020
    I listened to her show today and she made mention of the Broadcast Standard Council a couple of times during her show. This is really sad that the Cancel Culture cry babies who want everything one sided run to the regulatory establishment for enforced censorship of Conservative voices on radio.

    I started listening to talk radio back in the 1980’s and it was a free for all debate on air. Good and bad. However, today talk radio is dull and boring on the CBC good God it would put me to sleep and it has.

    One thing we know is that Mrs. Smith won’t be quieted by the radical left cancel culture.

    It’s no wonder the owners of these media companies are begging for Trudeau to fund them and he is. That’s not a free press nor is it a free society when the radical left can cancel culture the people they don’t agree with.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets — Gee, did he get it wrong?

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

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Across Canada’s untamed urban frontier, when pickup truck drivers aren’t wrestling wild hogs, they’re on the road tailgating electric cars and cyclists for sport.

And the biggest polluters aren’t factories in China, India and elsewhere ceaselessly spewing smoke and chemicals into the air.

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

Thank goodness he ventured out of his urban bubble to set people straight on the devastating impact of the vile permeation of pickup trucks in North America.

Hopefully, Gee’s Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, with a heaping topping of utter contempt, didn’t dribble down his elitist chin whilst he penned a recent snobbish attack on the character of pickup truck drivers.

It doesn’t take long for the initial surprise at the absurdity of his sanctimonious reasoning to turn into laughter.

Gee lamented that last spring – in the midst of a pandemic yet – Americans bought more pickup trucks than cars. And, if you can imagine, for years, Canadians have had the audacity to make Ford’s F-150 a best-selling vehicle.

“For heaven’s sake why? Most people no longer use pickups to haul bales of hay. They drive them to the mall to shop or the soccer field to drop off their kids. Why anyone thinks they need to do that is an abiding mystery,” anguished Gee.

“Once the vehicle of the cowboy, the contractor, and the good old boy, pickups have become the continent’s mainstream ride,” wrote Gee.

“A vehicle that started as a practical tool for hard-working people has become, for many, an obnoxious assertion of dominance and division,” wrote Gee.

What a clever ploy! Pretend you’re purchasing pickup trucks to haul things, make a living, or for safe driving in brutal weather conditions, when the real intent is to achieve dominance and create division.
Do pickup truck drivers hold super-secret meetings like the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group to achieve this nefarious goal?

Gee referred to a survey – no, he didn’t identify it – that claimed three-quarters of pickup drivers use their trucks only once, or not at all, for hauling each year.

That would come as a shock to farmers, contractors, tradesmen, delivery companies, utility repairmen, movers, people who haul loads to the dump or the whole team’s gear to regular sports events, and a host of other pickup truck drivers.

“Buyers can drop $100,000 on luxury models, which most will spend more time polishing than loading,” he wrote.

“Even if they weren’t polluting and dangerous, the parade of pickups would be a blight on the roadscape and a finger in the eye of other drivers – a way of saying to everyone else: ‘I am bigger, badder and richer than you.”

No, Gee didn’t say what message is sent by purchasers of the $93,000 Audi e-tron Sportback or the $170,000 BMW i8 Roadster, or other expensive electric or hybrid vehicles he prefers.

Gee’s entitled to his opinion. But it evolved into a personal attack on people who drive vehicles he doesn’t like. He portrayed them as reckless bullies on the hunt for targets.

That’s inexcusable.

“In the charming practice known as rolling coal, some pickup drivers blow past cyclists and electric vehicles and deliberately spew black smoke at them,” claimed Gee.

Yup, those hordes of pickup truck drivers – even the soccer moms – spend their spare time modifying diesel engines so they can hunt down targets to spew sooty exhaust fumes on. Great fun!
Can anyone possibly be so detached from reality?

But Gee wasn’t finished flinging wild accusations: “Then there is safety. Anyone who has travelled a Canadian highway lately has been tailgated by a speeding pickup driver. Being up there in that big cab over the huge engine seems to make the drivers think they own the road; lesser vehicles be damned.”
Now that’s a fabricated, irrational fear, right up there with monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.

And the good old boys Gee mocked still drive pickups. They’re everywhere. They’re the first to stop on the highway in frigid, stormy weather to pull vehicles that jackknifed and slid off the road out of the ditch, never expecting more than a thank you.

He’s right about farmers not using pickups to haul bales, particularly in Manitoba now. That’s because there are no bales to haul to feed the cattle they’re forced to sell because of drought and grasshoppers.
Meanwhile, many people, especially in Alberta, are using their pickup trucks to move their possessions out of the homes they’ve lost because clueless and destructive environmentalists successfully campaigned against the energy industry.

Gee was applauded by his colleague Gary Mason who tweeted: “This is a column I wish I’d written.”

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

Most Canadians are fed up with condescending so-called elitists who look down on them believing they have the right to tell them how to live and what to buy.

Rev those engines, folks!

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

WAGNER: Election of Maverick MPs would send a clear message of Western defiance

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats?

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The May poll showing emerging support for the Maverick Party is good news for Alberta. The party is beginning to build its profile and may become competitive in some ridings. As time goes by, more and more Albertans will hear about the party and see it as a viable alternative worthy of their vote.

A federal election will likely occur this year (very soon, according to Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun), and almost all of Alberta’s seats are currently safe havens for Conservative MPs. A result like 2019 where every seat except one goes Conservative will be met by a shrug in Ottawa. That’s just business as usual. 

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats? A result like that would set off a firestorm. Nothing would catch the attention of people in Central Canada more abruptly than Albertans sending some so-called “separatist” MPs to Ottawa. Bloc Quebecois MPs don’t raise too many eyebrows down there. They are, after all, from Central Canada too, and share the same “progressive” values and anti-oil sentiment exhibited by most of the other parties. But sovereigntist MPs from Alberta? That would be something else altogether.

There are many good Conservative MPs from Alberta who undoubtedly do their best for their constituents. But right now, the West needs MPs who can speak out publicly without the fear of retribution by party leadership whose ambitions are always to please Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – MPs, that is, whose only loyalty is to Alberta and the West.

From a Western regionalist perspective, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the status quo. Alberta needs something different now, something that offers a full-frontal challenge to Central Canada’s political elite. Electing politicians from the old-line parties just won’t do it. But electing Maverick candidates might.

The ridings most likely to show support for Maverick candidates are in rural Alberta. Ridings like Battle River—Crowfoot and Red Deer—Mountain View are unfamiliar to people in places like Toronto. But if those ridings sent Maverick MPs to Ottawa, people in Central Canada would suddenly hear about them, for all the right reasons. 

The large Wexit meetings that were held in the wake of the October 2019 federal election generated some attention down East. A prominent Toronto-based magazine, The Walrus, even produced a cover feature on Wexit with two major articles, The New Separatists and Meet the Albertans Who Want to Start Their Own Country. But as the Wexit meetings dissipated due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and perhaps declining enthusiasm, Central Canada once again forgot about Western discontent.

Having a Maverick presence in the House of Commons would ensure Western concerns would not be forgotten or ignored. Maverick MPs would be a continual reminder that things are not okay and big changes are needed. 

It’s true that only a provincial government can hold a referendum on independence. Even with elected MPs, a federal party cannot initiate any measures that would lead to Western independence. As a result, some people question the necessity of a federal sovereigntist party. However, if a referendum on Alberta independence were held under the Clarity Act, the House of Commons would determine whether the referendum question on independence was “clear.” The presence of MPs whose only loyalty is to the West could be crucial in getting a fair judgment on that point. 

Maverick MPs would represent the West’s interests in other important matters as well, of course. We know that Quebecers believe there are advantages to sending committed sovereigntist MPs to Ottawa because they repeatedly elect candidates from the Bloc Quebecois. The West can do likewise.

If Alberta and Saskatchewan send full slates of Conservative MPs to Ottawa after the next election, no one will be surprised and Canadian politics would continue as usual. However, if Alberta – and perhaps the other Western provinces – send some Maverick MPs to Ottawa, that would convey an unmistakable message of defiance.

It would be a clear signal that the West has had enough.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

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A disaster relief program announced Thursday for drought-stricken Manitoba farmers is too little too late to save too many.

And the package, although welcomed, doesn’t address other critical problems.

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

Farmers are exhausted from hauling water to thirsty animals and a prolonged fight for survival.

An exodus from the devastated industry is underway. Forage livestock commodity producers – beef, sheep, goats, buffalo and horses – are planning, in some cases, permanent exit strategies.

“This could be the end of the industry here. By the time most people are forced out, they’re not going to have enough money to go back into it,” Orval Procter, a beef producer and councillor for the R.M. of Woodlands, just north of Winnipeg, told the Western Standard.

“These announcements are wonderful but there needs to be strong dialogue provincially, federally, with all the commodity groups to figure out as best a path as we can to benefit everybody.

“This is a small drop in what we need. Not all of what we need is money. We need good planning and regulations or restrictions to add some control to the marketplace.”

Agriculture contributes $7 billion a year to Manitoba’s economy and $1 billion of that is attributed directly to livestock. 

The ripple effect of an exodus would devastate communities and businesses within them.

Manitoba’s suffering its fourth year of drought. Areas where cattle production is prevalent are hardest hit.

“Livestock producers are unique in that we’re struggling, and we have live animals that we’re dealing with. Grain producers who are struggling aren’t putting animals at risk,” said Procter.

Over the past two years with feed in short supply, farmers have had to sell one-third of their breeding stock.

But for 11 years, the resilience of economically crippled farmers and producers has been severely tested by a string of blows including BSE (mad cow disease), flooding, drought, economic recessions, and the impact of COVID-19.

“Because we’ve had so many issues, nobody has the financial resources, and nobody knows where we can get enough feed. It’s dire,” said Procter.

Through it all, they’ve mostly had to go it alone because there was “minimal recognition” by the government of the crushing economic damage to the industry, said Procter. 

He helped organize a July 21 rally to call for immediate federal and provincial government help. Nearly 100 producers showed up. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler didn’t attend for health reasons and didn’t send anyone from the agriculture department in his place.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited drought-stricken areas Thursday and announced federal/provincial relief programs.

Through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s Hay Disaster Benefit, insured livestock feed producers will get an extra $44 per tonne to offset replacement feed and transportation costs. Changes to the AgriInsurance program allow some crops damaged by drought to be sold as feed.

“What they’re really announcing is a top-up to the insurance programs to make sure there’s enough money to increase benefits to producers for hay shortages based on the extra cost. That price is typically set almost on a national scale, so when you get in situations like we have, where the price is triple what it was last year and they pay you out on last year’s costs, it doesn’t let you buy much,” said Procter.

He’s concerned about the cattle.

“There’s about 450,000 cows in Manitoba. Most producers are being affected by this,” said Procter.

“One of the biggest things that scares me, and nobody’s talking about it, there’s obviously going to be a huge influx of cattle into the market. Where are these cattle going to go? Are we going to have days with 5,000 head showing up an auction mart with three days selling? How many days before they’re moved? Who’s going to want them?” 

Every bit of hay that comes into the system is desperately needed. Eight bales saves one cow.

But pleas for more Crown land and wildlife management areas to be opened for haying and grazing, appear futile.

“The department has let land out, but they’ve not let all of it out. Areas still aren’t open and that’s to no one’s benefit,” said Procter.

“There’s no engagement. We asked for a contact to meet with, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been given that. We got a roundabout response that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

Meanwhile, skyrocketing feed costs and negative sales returns have resulted in producers receiving up to $400 less per animal than the cost of raising it.

“We haven’t even been in a break-even position for some time. We get 19% of the final cost, feed lots get 19%, and the rest is taken up by slaughter plants and retail,” said Procter.

“I’ve got receipts from 2002 – $1.87 a pound for a 400-500-pound steer was pretty common. I got the same price a month ago.” 

Producers are demanding a “government-driven investigation into the system that prices meat products, from the farmer’s gate to the consumer’s plate.”

The price producers receive isn’t reflected in what consumers pay for meat products.

“What’s hamburger worth? That’s your cheapest cut,” said Procter.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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