Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Glenn Heller, Alan Chartock & The WAMC Pirate Network

If Albany Eye had not mentioned Glenn Heller and his anti-WAMC website the other day, I would not have known about Heller or his site. Even though I have searched for WAMC many times via google, I never accidently stumbled on wamc.net instead of wamc.org.

This weekend I spent more time than I should have trying to analyze Glen Heller, his website and his blog, or rather I should say his websites and his blogs. What I found is that Heller is not simply a gadfly, obsessed with attacking WAMC and Alan Chartock, but he is an intelligent man who raises serious questions about Chartock and his network of radio stations. Furthermore, Heller is not a man entirely too focused on Chartock and WAMC. Indeed, in some ways, Heller is not focused enough.

For starters Heller has too many websites and too many blogs. Here is a partial list of them. (Sorry but I don’t have time to link directly to all of these).

wamc.net
hudsonwatch.net
berkshirerecord.com
berkshireeagle.net
berkshireeagle.blogspot.net
wamcnet.blogspot.com
wbcr-lp.blogspot.com

Because Heller has so many blogs and websites, he in unable to keep them all updated. He needs to consolidate them.

Heller has two primary focuses scattered over several sites. The first is the liberal media of western Massachusetts and eastern New York. His second focus is G.E. and its pollution of the Hudson River. Heller’s attack on G.E. and his desire to see the Hudson River cleaned up is not typical of someone with Heller’s conservative bent, and is something his liberal detractors ignore. In many respects, Heller’s web site about G.E. and the Hudson River is his best work. I would like to see a liberal look at it and find something to complain about.

It’s easy to take a superficial look at someone like Heller and dismiss him as a gadfly because he questions Alan Chartock‘s enormous pay raise in 2004, forgetting that Schenectady gadfly Pat Zollinger, through sheer persistence, managed to get Mayor Sam Stratton to forgo his pay raise this year. The truth is Heller raises intelligent questions about WAMC and Alan Chartock and questions that should not only be asked about Chartock’s network of stations but about the media in general. As more and more radio stations, newspapers, television stations and other news outlets are bought up by fewer and fewer people, people like Heller and the questions he asks become increasingly important.

If there is any event in broadcast history that reminds me of Glenn Heller vs. Alan Chartock it is Charlotte Observer reporter, Charles Shepard, vs. PTL executive director Jim Bakker. I doubt Chartock will like the comparison, but he and Bakker are alike in many ways. Both are very talented men who can wear several hats at the same time. Both created empires through their organizational and leadership skills. Both are extremely gifted fund raisers. When The Charlotte Observer began attacking and reporting about PTL--the way it was organized, it’s executive salaries and perks, possible illegal activities, etc--Jim Bakker responded much in the way Chartock has.

The difference between Chartock and Bakker, besides the fact that Bakker ended up in prison as a result of The Charlotte Observer’s investigation, is that most of the media supported The Charlotte Observer, while around here the media for the most part has not been supportive of Heller. Is that because of liberal media bias or because of bias against bloggers and other web based forms of journalism?

All of this makes me wonder if Chartock’s attack on the First Amendment rights of internet users on March 6, was not because people have attacked his friends in politics, but because of Glenn Heller’s attacks on Chartock and WAMC.

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