Ottawa Going from city to city in California last week and now wrapped in the good spirited soul of Canada, it was all I could do in my brief 30 hours in New Orleans to keep up with the wildness of the city and the hate-eration of these times. One thing that had perplexed me had been a tweet from my darling daughter saying something about Betsy’s Pancake House across from her office, the ACORN building on Canal Street. Catching up on the internet and visiting with the home folks I finally got it. It was another “manufactured” media event where the main story is the imitation of real life.
In what is becoming the modus operandi for the “all-the-news-we-can-make-up-all-the-time” Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh’s, they had gotten one of their buddies, some fellow named John Osterlink from Massachusetts who is a talkie host on a New Orleans radio station to try to organize a charade “protest” across from the ACORN headquarters in New Orleans. So, the protest had a radio promo by Beck himself it seems, and the call to arms was the following:
John Osterlind was interviewed by Glenn Beck this morning about the ACORN protest he has organized for today, Sept.11 at Betsy’s Pancake House(across the street from ACORN Headquarters) on Canal from 5pm – 7pm. John is urging everyone to bring signs and come make our voices heard about the need for an investigation of ACORN before they receive another dollar of our tax money. I feel it is especially important for us to show up in large numbers as this is the first protest of this kind that’s been called for by a public figure from “outside” the Tea Party movement. If we show up in force and make it a success, John, and WRNO, will be more inclined to take part in these kind of events in the future. Plus, John’s a cool guy and it will be a lot of fun!
Of course it is a well settled question that has been elaborately documented that ACORN gets no federal money, but hey from the crowd talking about death panels all the time, we can’t expect accuracy, can we?
Talking to eyewitnesses, it seems there were 20 or so people, all white, so it is hard to tell where in New Orleans the crowd might have been drawn, who milled around Betsy’s Pancake House late Friday afternoon. There were a couple of signs and a lot of beer! They plugged into Betsy’s electricity and the joint stayed open to service the motley crowd. Betsy’s is cattycorner to the ACORN building and across the large neutral ground and streetcar tracks, so quite honestly if someone hadn’t noticed them as they were leaving work, it might have been an early Saints tailgating crowd coming in from the Parish somewhere.
When some of the ACORN people walked over to see what was happening and talked to Betsy’s daughter who runs the joint now (Betsy was murdered tragically a couple of years ago in a robbery), and asked how they could have stood for this given all of the business the building has given them along with the other non-profits from the United Way and Red Cross along the block, she simply said: “I need the business.”
Well, sister, this is all monkey business and in fact big business for Clear Channel Communications which owns WRNO and promotes the Beck and Limbaugh shows. The following piece from Dave Walker, television reporter for the Times-Picayune on April 16, 2008 when Limbaugh “came over” to WRNO from WWL, a competitor in New Orleans, says it all, and also says quite a lot about how we got a piece of work like this guy Osterlink in the Crescent City:
WRNO welcomed Limbaugh — who defected on April 1 and who now airs there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays on FM-99.5 — with several days of long segments of a looped portion of “My City Was Gone,” the early-1980s song by The Pretenders that Limbaugh has made his theme song.
The snippets were occasionally interrupted by Limbaugh trumpeting his new home — “Rush Radio 99.5 FM” — plus Limbaugh reruns, plus live-sounding cut-ins by new WRNO morning hosts Michael Castner and Robyn Walensky.
“We got everything from ‘You’ve got to be an idiot’ to ‘You ought to be run out of town,'” said Dick Lewis, New Orleans market manager for WRNO parent company, Texas-based Clear Channel Communications. “By no stretch of the imagination would it be referred to as good programming.”
What it was, Lewis hastened to add, was an attempt to send an audio flare above the cluttered radio dial.
“We wanted to make a very loud statement that the radio station was going to be different,” he said. “The theme music is so identified with Rush, that anybody … coming across the dial would know where Rush Limbaugh was going to be.
“It made a very loud statement. I’m glad it didn’t run any longer than it did.”
It ended in time for the April 7 debut of the station’s full new daytime schedule, which includes the syndicated “The Glenn Beck Program” from 9 to 11 a.m., Sean Hannity from 2 to 5 p.m. and locally hosted programs in morning and early evening.
John Osterlind, who worked prior radio jobs in Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn. and Boston, according to his bio-blurb on the station’s Web site, now hosts weekdays from 5 to 8 p.m.
His Boston stint was marred by a 2003 incident in which Osterlind was suspended from WRKO AM-680, where he was known as “Ozone,” over an on-air discussion about Palestinian suicide bombings.
According to a story in the Boston Herald, station management said Osterlind essentially called for “the eradication of the whole Arab race,” which Osterlind later disputed.
“I may have been out of line saying the Israelis should do whatever they want with the Palestinians,” Osterlind told the paper. “But to be quoted as saying I called for the eradication of the entire Arab race is completely ridiculous. I’m a peace-lovin,’ fun-lovin’ guy.”
My cut on all of this is simple. ACORN’s record in New Orleans is clear. These radio hate jocks and their stunts have done absolutely ZERO in the city to build or protect it. Hanging out, drinking beer, and talking trash on the radio is not a protest my friends. I’ve organized thousands of them, and none of those three things, especially the beer, qualify!
In the meantime Betsy’s Pancake House needs a wakeup call about the New Orleans community. I’ve been in there and seen union brothers from CWA, executives from Red Cross and United Way, cops, firefighters, and working stiffs, and a million politicians!!!! Betsy’s new management may have made a quick dollar and moved a couple of beers, but it’s time for the rest of the community to stand up here about the real New Orleans.