Saturday, December 25, 2010

A belated note on Isaac Newton's birthday

Happy Newtonmas, everyone. (And most importantly, happy birthday to my Non-Prophets partner in crime Gia Grillo!) Here's an announcement I epically borked, but hopefully I can make up for it. The fine crew of Seattle's Ask an Atheist is shifting to AM radio in January. They have run up against a phenomenon that is sweeping cable television nationwide: to wit, the loss of public access channels. Very few cities now have those any more, let alone the ability to offer shows that take live calls. In that regard, we're still quite lucky down here Austin way.

The gang held a benefit comedy show earlier this month, which I totally failed to announce in time. But they are still accepting donations on their site to make the transition easier. Best wishes to Mike Gillis and the rest of the SeaTac crew in the continuation of their fine contribution to godless media! We need more dedicated shows around the country and globe. And not so long ago, AETV felt like a tiny oasis in an endless desert...


  1. group hug extension in 5, 4, 3...

    I hope Ask an Atheist does well in their new format. I like that they do the show with a different flavor than AETV.

  2. I agree with Ask an Atheist that the internet only reaches the same stagnent pool of atheist's or militant theist's rather than fresh, ordinary middle ground people who should be the main target audience. Also, local programming whether in the form of tv or radio are both important to the cause. I think radio has a potential to reach more people, especially if on a mainstream FM band rather than a back of the alley AM band but it's a start.

  3. Martin,

    Thanks again for the boost! And I had a blast shooting zombies with you on XBox Live!

    To sweeten the pot a bit, anyone who donates to our Radio Transition Drive will receive online access to watch our recent Ask an Atheist Comedy Benefit Show!

    As for the merits of AM radio, don't doubt that it's mainstream as well. Just because the reality-based community doesn't use it, doesn't mean that millions of others don't as well.

    If anything, we're stepping behind enemy lines into the dark realm of Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, with an audience less likely to have heard our side of the debate than anyone I can imagine.

    We're also broadcasting in an area far more to the center/right of the Seattle area, and the calls we get should be better and more frequent.

    And we'll always be archiving and streaming on the internet, so that venue isn't going anywhere.

    Thanks AETV for inspiring our show and opening up the next wave of the atheist visibility movement.

    Mike Gillis
    Producer, Ask an Atheist

  4. It's also the case that corporate media giants pretty much have all the good FM frequencies locked up, and all you'll get on FM are commercial music stations and network news stuff, with the occasional lucky college or co-op station lurking around the 88 end of the dial.

  5. What Martin says is also true. The spots on FM radio are locked up by big names and big money and it's nigh impossible to get in, even if we did have the sort of BIG money it'd take to buy air time.

    Remember that Penn and Teller openly talk about they were just incredibly lucky that they pitched "Bullshit" when a skeptic/atheist-friendly exec was in the big chair when they pitched it.

    There's an odd assumption that no one wants to watch us or hear what we have to say. That there's no market for us, even though when we do get a hearing, we tend to shock them by doing well. There is a lot of demand for reason and skepticism in a sea of woo-woo and dogma.

    On a locally-owned AM station like KLAY, we'll get access to a lot of listeners - more than we had on cable access -- but they actually have affordable rates to buy airtime.

    The closing of SCAN has forced us to grow up fast, and that's what we see happening. We're being promoted to doing this professionally.

    Still not getting paid, though. :)


  6. Community access tv is dying across the country, partially due to new technology like optical fiber (FIOS) and other advances that I am not equipped to understand, much less explain. Passing of an era, I am afraid. But another door may have just opened.

    A bill to expand community radio nationwide - the Local Community Radio Act - passed the U.S. Senate. The bill now awaits the President's signature.

    I don't know details but it looks like something that may be ideal for folks like "Ask An Atheist." And the best time to get into new stuff like this is right at the beginning.

  7. @Martin. The christian's have managed to unlock the FM dial range of the mid to late 90's through using propaganda like counseling/inspiration music shows like Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Delilah.

    I would say it's a matter of content, popularity, determination, the right propaganda, political ties, political correctness and funding to conquering parts of the FM dial. Even newer multi-million dollar media like XM/Serius are being proselytized by christian's so atheist's have a long way to catching up.

    I wonder if it would be possible to start on the FM dial through using college/PBS sponsored stations in the late 80's FM dial range?

  8. I think radio shows promoting hard sciences, skeptical thinking, critical thinking skills, religious awareness, fallacy awareness.,etc are good forerunner's to eluding about atheism without actually saying it.

  9. Best wishes, indeed!

    By the way, Newton was born on January 4, 1643 according to our calendar, so I'll be celebrating Newtonmas on January 4!

  10. My dad was born on Jan, 4 (but not in 1643)


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