Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How I Got Called Out on "Radio Or Not" and Twitter-Blocked by Its Host

I got called out on the "Radio Or Not" program and Twitter-blocked by its host earlier today.

I learned of online radio host Nicole Sandler of "Radio Or Not" back in 2013 when alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked went a bit nutty. She was doing a gig somewhere and somewhere along the way instigated an anti-gay rant. The situation went viral and it was a mess for a while. Nicole Sandler was familiar with Michelle and attempted to do an interview with Michelle. As I wrote before, it was a mess. Not because of Nicole, but because Michelle was doing this weird countdown from the 20 second delay and was acting all paranoid.

I kept listening to "Radio Or Not" after the Michelle Shocked situation died down. It is a lefty political show and I mostly enjoyed it. Her shows are typically broken down into two interview segments -- sometimes with guests, sometimes with recurring commentators.

I eventually began supporting her financially. It wasn't a lot. If you listen to her latest show, you will know that it was $5. But I've given her money every month for nearly two years. When Ed Schultz left Sirius XM back in 2014, I even wrote to the company and recommended that they look at "Radio Or Not" as a replacement show.

And I've stuck with her during some rough patches. Like when she angered the online black community over the whole Patricia Arquette Oscars speech earlier this year where she obtusely refused to listen to or understand the complaints of black people online as they pushed back against black erasure. It was painful to hear Sandler become the focus of that debate on Twitter long after Arquette (wisely) sat back and extricated herself from the discussion.

One of the things that Sandler does really annoys me. And it's not just her. Other people from more populated states do it also. Like Rachel Maddow, for example. They make fun of the "flyover states" like Iowa. We don't represent this country, as the argument goes. We're not diverse.

I would argue that we're as diverse as any other state. We just have fewer people, more space, and cheaper rent. But we have white people and black people. We have a growing Hispanic population, as well as Asians. Central Iowa is home to a growing refugee population. We have evangelicals, and Catholics, and Methodists, and Amish. We have Jews and Muslims and Sihks. Cedar Rapids boasts the longest-standing mosque in the United States. We were the third marriage equality state -- and we didn't reverse that decision, unlike California. The University of Iowa is home to the longest running LGBT Student Union. And I was foster parenting and adopting my kids long before Florida quit fighting that particular battle.

Yes, we have Steve King. I can't vote for or against him because I live in a different district. And we also have Joni Ernst as a U.S. Senator. I actually did vote against her and I still cringe when I think of her pig-squealing commercial. But she's hardly been the most radical senator out there. And she actually shows up to vote for or against legislation -- even if I disagree with her votes.

So Nicole Sandler has been doing what others do lately. They rag on Iowa for its "first in the nation" presidential status. "Why Iowa??" I actually sympathize with that idea. Mostly because I get sick of pollsters constantly bugging us here in Iowa. I also think that that "first in the nation" status has increasingly tainted the statewide political discourse. It has become this nonstop process that never lets go of the state. I mean, there are politicians who don't do anything but prepare for the next presidential cycle. That means that they are constantly mugging for the cameras and visiting focus groups throughout this state while neglecting to work for their own local constituents. I think that this is wrong. And I think we need to put a formal limit on the campaign cycle.

But that's a separate issue from Iowa and how relevant or irrelevant we are to the rest of the country.

So I've cringed a bit each time I've heard Sandler snipe at this state, just like I do with others in the media. Unlike others in the media, I actually have a connection with her. So last week when she spoke (again) about the Iowa Caucuses and how out of touch we are because we chose Santorum (by way of Huckabee), I decided to reach out.

I reached out to her on Twitter and pointed out other Caucus wins in previous years, such as Barack Obama, John Kerry, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Bob Dole. We don't get all of the eventual nominees, but we get a lot of them. Plus, (and I didn't say this on Twitter, but it's worth stating here) the idea of the Caucus is not to decide the actual nominee. There are 49 other states and they all contribute to the nomination process even if Iowa kicks it off.

I have since learned that she thought I was being "pissy." She responded to my Caucus response by saying that she worked for six years for a Des Moines-based radio station while actually living in Florida. Because that actually addressed the subject that I responded to. But I dropped it (outside of pointing out that this says more about the state of her professional industry in how they outsource talent).

Anyway (and I realize that I'm jumping around a bit here), this is where my head has been for the past year. I have been frustrated by the general Iowa dismissals and the situations like that whole Arquette mess for months. I have wondered whether or not to drop my pledge for a while. I even brought it up this past weekend with Husband Mark and sought his input.

So when I listened to her show again yesterday and heard another bit about Donald Trump's latest speech and how the rubes in Iowa didn't get the joke because we don't know what a "schlong" is, I decided it give up my pledge.

Let's set aside the fact that Trump's "schlong" speech took place in Grand Rapids, MI, and not anywhere near Iowa. Iowa may not have a huge Jewish population. But we have a Jewish population. And we're not culturally removed from the rest of the world. We have TV here. We have Internet here. We sometimes travel. And we sometimes even chat among ourselves. Many of us know what a "schlong" is.

So I adjusted my pay account and discontinued my pledge. And I wrote something about it on Twitter: "Just updated my recurring paypal payments. Tired of listening to Iowa-bashing from this one online radio program. No more money from me."

I didn't call her out publicly. I just did it and tweeted about it. I could have been more direct with her about this annoyance instead of earlier attempts at nudging. Maybe I should have been more direct. But I wasn't more direct. I simply discontinued my payment and tweeted indirectly about it.

She saw my funding change and then saw my tweet. She apologized and said she was just having fun. She told me that I could have called in to the program to talk about all of the great things in Iowa (which really wasn't my point). I was busy working so I didn't respond right away, though I did note that the one Trump rally actually took place in Michigan instead of Iowa. It was probably not the right information at the right time.

Because Nicole had a "Fesitvus"-themed program today, she led with an "airing of grievance" against me. I missed part of it due to a phone call, but caught up with the whole bit later. She noted that I was angry and pissy and couldn't take a joke. She noted that I stopped my $5 monthly payment and that she didn't want my money anymore. She then doubled-down on the whole "Iowa Caucus is a joke" bit.

I noted on Twitter that she did a segment on me.

Sandler asked me on Twitter, "Why are you still listening? I insulted your state and you won't support my show any more. So stop listening. Happy Festivus."

I responded with "That's fine. I enjoyed yr show. Just tired of the ongoing state jabs. But I can unsubscribe from yr show."

Which got me a, "learn to take a joke. We make fun of Florida all the time. Get over yourself and lighten up or go away."

This is true. She has a weekly "Flori-Duh" segment where she highlights crazy and stupid happenings in her state. That's different than essentially saying that Iowa itself is a joke. Just because.

So I responded with "You make funny (sic) of stupid incidents in FL. You make fun of corrupt govt in FL. You make fun of Iowa as irrelevant."

Which got me an "ok bye!" and I was blocked by Nicole Sandler.

I had planned on calling into her show until I heard how hostile she was being this morning on the show and on Twitter. She said that I could call in and talk about Iowa if I wanted. But I decided that it would be a waste of time.

I didn't react to a joke. I responded to a series of drips by one in a series of coastal snobs. The Trump bit was the final drip, though I was still interested in resolving things -- until her Festivus comments toward me.

So I have unfollowed her on Twitter (which essentially she did to me when she blocked me). And I've unsubscribed from her program, listening just long enough to today's first hour via iTunes to hear the portion that I missed while I was on the phone.

And that is how I got called out today on "Radio Or Not" and Twitter-blocked by its host.

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