After doing commercial talk radio for almost seven years, I recently decided to switch formats. Beginning this September, I have embraced 100% advertisement-free programming, financed by listener subscribers.
Some folks tell me I’m crazy. How can my show pay for itself without ads? Who’s going to fork over cold hard cash for alternative talk radio, when so much is available for free? Won’t my audience shrink to a small fraction of what it once was?
My response: I’m running a truth jihad here, not a run-of-the-mill business. And there is something fundamentally dishonest about using advertising to finance media.
Advertising ALWAYS places implicit limits on your speech. How many times have I been annoyed by ads for miracle cures, survival equipment, guns, gold, God, and God-knows-what-else, and had to suppress the urge to make fun of the damn ads the second I was back on the air?
It’s not like I have a major beef with the products. I love God, gold, guns, survival equipment, and any miracle cure that actually works. But I don’t like having to hear the same damn ads over and over and over, without being able to at least make fun of them.
When you stop and think about it, advertising-financed media is pretty ridiculous. You imagine you’re getting something for nothing – but what you’re really getting is watered-down content riddled with bullshit.
When I was doing commercial radio, my listeners tuned in to hear conversations between me and my guests. But every fifteen minutes or so, some obnoxious asshole would interrupt the conversation and try to sell something.
Imagine you’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down with somebody you’ve always wanted to have a serious conversation with – and just as you’re getting into it, some huckster bursts into the room and starts hawking organic herbal hemorrhoid cream in five special flavors. Kind of puts a kibosh on the conversation, don’t it?
Advertising is rapidly becoming the curse of the internet media, just as it has always been the curse of the lamestream media. When I go to my favorite news-agglomeration websites and click on stories that catch my interest, my computer often sickens, and sometimes freezes, from an attack of pop-up ad parasites.
Pop-up ads are like those tiny robot insects that follow you around like hungry horseflies singing commercial jingles, as portrayed in the dystopian novels of Philip K. Dick.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Philip K. Dick. I just don’t want to live in one of his dystopian novels.
Internet advertising has one and only one effect on me: It makes me want to puke. I have never, in my life, seen a single internet ad that elicited any other kind of reaction.
The mavens of internet advertising would have us believe they can tailor ads to our preferences, so we will only see really cool ads for products we love. BAAAAARRRRRRF!
I briefly experimented with allowing AdSense ads at my blogspot sites. I could have made some serious chump change that way. But by God, were those ads ever ugly and stupid! Not to mention inappropriate. The AdSense algorithm figured out that I talked about Israel a fair bit – but completely missed my anti-Zionism – so it littered my blog with ads for pro-Israel groups and Jewish dating websites. It figured out that I mentioned Islam occasionally, so it responded with ads for Islamophobic groups…and seemingly went out of its way to splatter my blog with pictures that most Muslims would consider obscene.
Would Michelangelo or Van Gogh or even any self-respecting second-rate hack painter allow jerks to fling turds at their canvases, in return for a few shekels of chump change?! I think not.
So let me propose a new model for the new media. From now on, to hell with advertising. Let’s all do our best to avoid any site with ads, and to boycott and/or harass anybody who advertises anything.
So how will professional communicators finance their operations? The way I’m doing it now: By asking people to pay a modest, reasonable amount of money in exchange for a quality product.
I’m not saying you should pay for every single article you read, every single youtube you watch, every single radio show you listen to. That’s too…anal.
Instead, how about if we all just pay a subscription fee for our favorite stuff?
If there were no ads, but instead everyone paid a small subscription fee to those they believe are putting out the best product, the media-scape would improve dramatically.
This would liberate writers and broadcasters to really do their best work. Instead of pitching to the lowest-common-denominator in hopes of attracting the kind of big, dumb audience advertisers love, media pros could call it exactly the way they see it.
Scary thought, that.
We’re talking about turning the whole media business upside down…and escaping the Matrix of lies we’ve been living in.
The old model – the advertising-riddled commercial model – was aptly described by former head of the New York Times editorial staff John Swinton:
There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.
There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.
The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?
We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.
(Source: Labor’s Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)
Me, I’m testing a slightly different business model.
I am being paid to express my honest opinions, no-holds-barred, IN-YOUR-FACE, while seeking out and exposing the most important and/or provocative information I can find. You may not always agree with me – in fact, if you did, you’d have to be some kind of freak, because I’ve got so many outrageous views I can barely keep track of them myself – but at least you know I’m calling it like I see it.
Each subscriber to TruthJihad.com pays me four dollars a month. For that, here’s what you get: Sixteen talk radio shows, four weekly TV news broadcasts with Jim Fetzer, eight Press TV op-eds, fourteen VT articles, several TV appearances, and miscellaneous blog and website scribblings…and best of all, NO ADS!
All for four miserable bucks a month.
Most of that stuff is available to anybody – freeloaders as well as subscribers. But only subscribers get early access to radio shows, free downloads, and the ineffable feeling of satisfaction that comes from having the same honest relationship with your sources of information that you hope to have with your sources of food and other essentials.
So come on, everybody, repeat after me: INTERNET ADS SUCK!
The internet was invented, by Al Gore or whoever, for no other reason than to eradicate the plague of hucksterism from our communications. It is an inherently non-commercial medium. An ad on the internet is like a crutch at a track and field competition: It’s out of place and in the way; and if you need it, you’re in bad shape to begin with.
So please, folks, send a few bucks to your favorite voices in the independent media – especially those who eschew advertising. I urge you to show special support for:
*Serious investigative journalists who have been known to take on red-pill issues – folks like Wayne Madsen of WayneMadsenReport, Dave Lindorff at ThisCantBeHappening.net, and Russ Baker over at WhoWhatWhy.com (be sure and plug 9/11 truth as you hand them the money).
*Principled folks who ignore the taboo against anti-Zionist perspectives – you can find them just by scrolling through my radio guests.
*And, of course, yours truly – by going to TruthJihad.com and signing up as a subscriber.
And if that sounds like an ad, don’t worry – it’s the last one you’ll hear from me in a long, long time.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He is the host of TRUTH JIHAD RADIO; a hard driving weekly radio show funded by listener donations at Patreon.com and FALSE FLAG WEEKLY NEWS (FFWN); an audio-video show produced by Tony Hall, Allan Reese, and Kevin himself. FFWN is funded through FundRazr.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.