Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Can Al Franken save talk radio
Jewsweek ^ | 2-26-03 | Benyamin Cohen

Posted on 02/26/2003 7:06:27 AM PST by SJackson

 
Can Al Franken save talk radio?

Jewish philanthropists have tapped Al Franken to be the liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh. Can he rise to the occasion?
 
by Benyamin Cohen February 25, 2003
 
 

 
   

 
     
   

CAN FRAKEN MAKE SENSE: Jewish philanthropists have tapped the Jewish comedian to lead a new liberal talk radio network.

   
     

 

 

Al Franken is good enough, smart enough, and, doggone it, people like him. Especially Anita and Sheldon Drobny. The Jewish philanthropists from Chicago have given money to all sorts of causes -- abused children, Bill Clinton's campaign, and Jewish studies programs including the R'fa-aye-nu Society's efforts to preserve Judaica hidden during the Holocaust.

And now they're forking over $10 million to start a liberal talk radio network which would star liberal Jewish comedian and political activist Al Franken. It hopes to enlist other well-known entertainers with a liberal point of view for a 14-hour, daily slate of commercial programs that would heavily rely on comedy and political satire.

 

 

         
    Shifting Right?    

         
 

   
 
 
"... Think of it as NPR on steroids. While conservatives tend to be men with Manilow in their turntable, the new network will hope to plug into the liberal leaning college co-ed crowd ..."
 
 

What Franken and company will have that other liberal endeavors don't is an actual network, and that means an organizational structure. It's that kind of structure that is absolutely necessary for liberal voices to find a lasting place in the broadcast pantheon, along with a core audience and a healthy share of cross-over marketing.

That is, after all, the model used by conservatives when they slowly built up the Fox News network and monopolized talk radio. Nobody woke up to find CNN in decline and conservative figures like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly dominating the ratings. Instead, conservatives who were incensed over a perceived liberal bias in the media did what they do best: build a grassroots network that slowly funded a conservative alternative.

If history is any indication, the Drobnys will fail miserably in their mission. Attempts at liberal talk -- both on television and radio -- have been abysmal failures. Just this week, MSNBC canceled the liberal leaning program by talk show veteran Phil Donahue after six months of poor ratings.

The political talk show format has yet to prove -- and may never -- that it can support a liberal voice, says Andrew Tyndall, head of ADT Research, a television news consulting firm. Donahue's chances weren't helped by MSNBC's impatience, he says. "They're very quick to cancel shows," Tyndall says. "Right from the start, they haven't settled on a format and let it grow so people can find it. If it's not working in a few months, they cancel it and move on to something else."

Thus far, liberal forays have been limited to single programs, like Donahue's just cancelled show. With a full-funded network, all Franken will need is a growing number of liberals to listen to him and then help him get on the air in more places. Assuming the network lasts, and the grassroots organization can build a critical momentum (especially among the left-leaning Jewish community), there's nothing to stop this new initiative from succeeding. Whether those things line up is a big question mark.

What isn't a question mark is Franken himself, and that's where he becomes the lynch pin of the idea. Franken is a well-established politico with a solid track record both in comedy and commentary. He's stumped for Al Gore, popped up on just about every talk show you can think of, and is slated to be a regular guest on Bill Maher's new HBO series. Add in his books and other achievements and you've got a serious case of street cred in the media world and political universe. He's also got a distinctive and recognizable style with a following to match. That he can bring aboard those fans and use word-of-mouth to grab more is in little doubt.

And that is exactly what the new network is counting on.

"We believe this is a tremendous business opportunity," says Atlanta radio executive Jon Sinton. Sinton, who would be the new network's chief executive, adds, "There are so many right-wing talk shows, we think it's created a hole in the market you could drive a truck through. We want to take an issue and make it funny and engaging. Our intent is to engage and entertain as a way to enlighten, engage in skit comedy, parody, political satire."

Think of it as NPR on steroids. While conservatives tend to be men with Manilow on their turntable, the new network will hope to plug into the liberal leaning college co-ed crowd. Already in unison protesting a potential war with Iraq, Franken will provide these legions with a voice. Plus, the expected Hollywood backing will add glitz to the glory.

However, more than just the man and the message, the medium itself may present a problem. It's a fact: College kids do not listen to talk radio. Old white men do.

That doesn't seem to stop the Drobnys from channeling their fund to this project. "I feel like there's a monologue out there," Ms. Drobny says. "I just had this tremendous feeling with great passion that we had to make sure we're heard and make sure having a dialogue in this country of ours."

Communications specialist Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who was involved in a study of talk radio in the mid-1990s, said the conservative radio audience is easier to attract and mobilize because right-wingers usually view liberals as way off the political spectrum.

And it also doesn't hurt that there are more people in polls who identify themselves as conservative than as liberal. "The search for the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh may be misunderstanding how Limbaugh starts from a natural advantage," said Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. "His audience is already polarized. The liberals don't need a host, they need a different audience."

Franken unplugged
Regardless of whether or not a liberal talk radio network will succeed, the question remains: Is Franken the man for the job? For those in the know, the resounding answer is yes.

Al Franken is more than just the sum of his parts. More than merely a former Saturday Night Live star with some mediocre films to his credit, Franken hails from the top tier of comedian intelligentsia, the kind who parlay the obvious into the obscenely amusing.

Take this recent remark he made on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. When asked what he thought the big story of 2003 would be, he wryly replied, "I think the big story, I'm gonna go out on a limb on this, might be the war in Iraq. I think that might be a very, very big story to watch for the next year."

For his part, Franken, who caused an uproar with his best-selling book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, feels that it's time for a liberal alternative. "My audience is going to come," he says. "It would be a different kind of show. But I would definitely try to answer the Rushes and the Hannitys. But I refuse to do it by cheating and distorting."

Franken will also be in a good place to debunk one of the more pervasive of media myths: that it's all a bunch of liberals. While it's true that many reporters in the field lean to the left, it's become more than obvious over the past couple of years that the media has gone screeching to the right.

The rise of Fox News and the resurgence of media figures like Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes on MSNBC, along with CNN's scramble to win over the conservative viewers have left many in the liberal establishment scratching their heads. But Franken is a die-hard liberal, and with a microphone in front of him, he could lead a new insurgency to help balance out what the audience hears.

After all, where better to counter the conservative media push of recent years than in their own backyard of talk radio, where Republicans and Libertarians have held a virtual monopoly.

So, can Franken single-handedly be the one-man savior of talk radio, sweeping in on a liberal vine and swiping away the mike from the conservatives? Well, delusions of grandeur have never been far from his mind. In his 2000 book, Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency, the comedian explores what a presidential run by him would look like.

In the book, he dreamed of picking the Modern Orthodox Joe Lieberman months before Gore had the idea. "Part of the premise of the book is that I have an entirely Jewish cabinet, so if you're going to pick a Jew to be your running mate, Lieberman was sort of the only choice. I guess [California senator] Dianne Feinstein, but I picked Lieberman to balance the ticket, because I'm a Reform Jew."

Irreverent? Yes. Marketable? Well, time will tell.

Jewsweek's Bradford R. Pilcher contributed to this article.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-141 next last

1 posted on 02/26/2003 7:06:27 AM PST by SJackson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SJackson
As soon as hell freezes over he will save it.
2 posted on 02/26/2003 7:10:18 AM PST by Piquaboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
If this boob gets an audience itwill be because he baits conservatives into calling his show
3 posted on 02/26/2003 7:10:40 AM PST by uncbob ( building tomorrow)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And, gosh darnit, people like me!" I'm quite sure that I disagree with all three...
4 posted on 02/26/2003 7:12:00 AM PST by RoughDobermann
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
No. He's the prototypical smart-ass twerp who makes people smash their TVs. In fact, I can't think of a worse choice for the Libs. I hope he gets the job!
5 posted on 02/26/2003 7:12:02 AM PST by pabianice
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
I give it six months.
6 posted on 02/26/2003 7:12:13 AM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
What a putz!
7 posted on 02/26/2003 7:12:48 AM PST by Huck
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
The big problem in all this is that Al Franken sucks. Stuart Smalley? Give me a break.
8 posted on 02/26/2003 7:13:01 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost (Ignore Alien Orders)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Jeez. This article is wrong on so many particulars, I don't know where to start.

I do resent being characterized as an old white guy with Manilow on my turntable, considering I'm a young white chick with Mystikal in my CD player.
9 posted on 02/26/2003 7:13:31 AM PST by Xenalyte (shake that azz)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
We should start a FreeRepublic "Dead Pool" on this thing once it get's going. I give it about 18 months before they admit that the idea is untenable & they're sick of losing money on it.
10 posted on 02/26/2003 7:13:46 AM PST by Media Insurgent
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Maybe if he shaves the hair off his back, he will last 5 minutes, that's all it will take for him to become irrelevant.
11 posted on 02/26/2003 7:14:57 AM PST by boomop1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Many years ago, I posted an article about Al Franken's ratings for his very-short-lived television show, Lateline.

The article noted that he set the record for the lowest ratings for his time slot in the history of network television.

I'm not making that up. I wish I still had the article. It was from the NY Post.

12 posted on 02/26/2003 7:16:08 AM PST by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Off topic: It never fails to amaze me that the people making the largest contribution in the fight against the Anti-bush, Anti-Republican, Pro-Israel forces are liberal Jews.
13 posted on 02/26/2003 7:16:13 AM PST by DoctorMichael (The French eat le Ca-Ca! So does Gephardt, Braun, Edwards, Sharpton, Kerry.............)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Talk radio doesn't need saving, it's very popular. I think it's the liberals that are dying day by day.
14 posted on 02/26/2003 7:16:19 AM PST by Normal4me
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: boomop1
Rush will run over him like a tank...back up and spin the tracks.
15 posted on 02/26/2003 7:16:37 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
"Can Al Franken save talk radio?"

- I didn't know it needed saving.
16 posted on 02/26/2003 7:16:53 AM PST by nypokerface
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
I CAN'T STAND HIM (PARDON MY SHOUTING) HE IS SOOOOO OBNOXIOUS!!!!
17 posted on 02/26/2003 7:17:59 AM PST by Betteboop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nypokerface
Can Al Franken save talk radio

Too late. Rush already did that.

18 posted on 02/26/2003 7:18:01 AM PST by The_Victor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
The person who wrote this article is a big, fat idiot.

Franken unplugged

... a former Saturday Night Live star with some mediocre films to his credit, Franken hails from the top tier of comedian intelligentsia, the kind who parlay the obvious into the obscenely amusing.

Take this recent remark he made on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. When asked what he thought the big story of 2003 would be, he wryly replied, "I think the big story, I'm gonna go out on a limb on this, might be the war in Iraq. I think that might be a very, very big story to watch for the next year."

This is obscenely amusing.....? It's hard to imagine anything less amusing than these two. How is Stephie's show doing anyway? Not that I ever watch.

19 posted on 02/26/2003 7:18:12 AM PST by far sider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Re: Can Al Franken save talk radio?

Well, Janeane Garofalo proved a lefty could smoke and take a dump without pulling down their pants.

So, maybe Al can...

20 posted on 02/26/2003 7:18:17 AM PST by sonofatpatcher2 (Love & a .45-- What more could you want, campers? };^)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Piquaboy
gonna-hue is available.

What's wrong with talk radio? Sounds good to me.

Who the hell would ever think this clown is a serious journalist? Who would believe what he has to say?

snooker
22 posted on 02/26/2003 7:20:02 AM PST by snooker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Xenalyte
Yep, every day I look forward to shuffling home, cranking up the ol' phonograph, and listening to my Barry Manilow collection. He has us conservatives pegged!
23 posted on 02/26/2003 7:20:09 AM PST by jpl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
uhm, gotta point out. Talk Radio was a dead format until Rush Limbaugh. Rush saved AM radio, and the talk radio format - with a talk program in the middle of the day, aimed at the lunch crowd.

If Al Franken tries the same format at the same time slot - he is likely to fail for the simple facts that everybody likes Rush. He's funny. Nobody likes Al, he's a condescending jacka$$.

But what do I know.

24 posted on 02/26/2003 7:20:41 AM PST by PokeyJoe (Help out your democrat brothers. Vote Sharpton in the Dem Primaries!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
I guess CNN-NBC-CBS-ABC-MSNBC aren't enough liberal outlets.
25 posted on 02/26/2003 7:20:54 AM PST by Mr. K (all your (OPTIONAL TAG LINE) are belong to us)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
When a Hollywood type takes themselves to seriously, they fail. Al thinks he is the end all.
26 posted on 02/26/2003 7:21:31 AM PST by bmwcyle (Semper Gumby - Always Flexable)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Xenalyte
"do resent being characterized as an old white guy with Manilow on my turntable,"

Especially considering Manilow is an old lefty white guy....I mean jeez, at least they could have said we listen to a right winger.

27 posted on 02/26/2003 7:21:49 AM PST by Katya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
Rush will run over him like a tank...back up and spin the tracks.

In a Clara Harris fashion???????

28 posted on 02/26/2003 7:21:49 AM PST by MadelineZapeezda
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
It hopes to enlist other well-known entertainers with a liberal point of view

Why be redundant?

29 posted on 02/26/2003 7:21:55 AM PST by Migraine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: Media Insurgent
No way lib radio will catch on. Their audience will be too busy stealing hubcaps, spawning illegitimate children and watching cartoons. Paying attention to a talk radio program would require focusing and thinking; libs generally have no depth. Anyhow, don't they have enough already with NPR, 95% of Hollywood people, and 98% of the media? They just don't get it. Their causes are losing popularity so, instead of figuring out why (requires thinking), they do with libs always do: Blame somebody else.
31 posted on 02/26/2003 7:23:50 AM PST by MayflowerMadam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Junior
I give it six months.

Yeah, that's about right. If they really program 14 hours a day, it'll take about six months for half the hosts to be revealed as closet gays, pedophiles, cokeheads, or peewee herman's. If Alan Colmes is smart he'll stay away from this catastrophe-about-to-happen. (Even though he definitely has a face for radio.)

32 posted on 02/26/2003 7:24:59 AM PST by far sider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
I am sure his radio show will have an audience similar to the number of people that turned out in the theater to see "Stuart Saves His Family" Didn't know it was a movie? Heh Heh...Thats the point. Al Franken will be the best thing to happen to conservative talk radio in years.

Maybe he can get Eddie Murphy, Tim Meadows, Jim Breuer, etc, etc to do some cameos and they can have the "Washed-up SNL Comedian Segment"

Give me 4 months on the Dead pool, by the way.
33 posted on 02/26/2003 7:25:02 AM PST by way-right-of-center (it's easy to hide when no one is looking)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Calling Captain Janks..calling Captain Janks...
34 posted on 02/26/2003 7:25:03 AM PST by this_ol_patriot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TonyRo76
They (people who think conservatives "tend to be men with Manilow in their turntable" are the same people who think there is something WRONG with Talk Radio. (Just because liberals can't talk and tell the truth at the same time.) They are soooo 60's.....LOL....TURNTABLE?????????
35 posted on 02/26/2003 7:27:56 AM PST by goodnesswins (Thank the Military for your freedom and security....and thank a Rich person for jobs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Man, from the picture, this guy looks like he ain't firing on all 8 cylinders, let alone "save talk radio." If this is the liberal's "Great White Hope," forget it. I seem to remember past ones like Tom Leykis and Jim Hightower's "Choke & Puke" that were going to change the world, but I think Frankin is going to end up with them. Let's face it although the liberal media dominates network TV and newspapers, at least we have AM/shortwave radio and the internet.
36 posted on 02/26/2003 7:28:46 AM PST by Nowhere Man
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TonyRo76
Conservatives don't listen to Manilow, he's very gay. We listen to country.
37 posted on 02/26/2003 7:30:15 AM PST by Conspiracy Guy (RW&B)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Barry Manilow? Turntable? How would you like to have just signed a $10 million check and the messiah of liberal radio you just hired is that far out of touch. Thats got to make you sleep well. Barkeep, better make that noe a double...
38 posted on 02/26/2003 7:32:01 AM PST by way-right-of-center (it's easy to hide when no one is looking)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TonyRo76
I just read the article again and I found this gem:

However, more than just the man and the message, the medium itself may present a problem. It's a fact: College kids do not listen to talk radio. Old white men do.

That doesn't seem to stop the Drobnys from channeling their fund to this project.

The Drobnys may be rich, but evidently they're dumb as a bag of hammers. Proof yet again that $$$$ and brains don't go hand-in-hand.

39 posted on 02/26/2003 7:33:10 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost (Ignore Alien Orders)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
"... Think of it as NPR on steroids. While conservatives tend to be men with Manilow in their turntable, the new network will hope to plug into the liberal leaning college co-ed crowd ..."

Total fantasy. I remember being a nonaware college student. It is not a natural state of life. If you are the serious type, all you think about are your grades and preparing for your future. During your lunchtime you either study or seek a few moments relief by listening to some music.

If you are the party type, politics is the furthest thing from your mind - beer, clubbing, and drugs are where your thoughts are.

There will be a few sincere leftists who will think such a network is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But as Donahue found, they can't float a network.

40 posted on 02/26/2003 7:34:23 AM PST by I still care
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: way-right-of-center
Give me 4 months on the Dead pool, by the way.

There's a pool? Nobody told me there was a pool. In that case I take 8 months. Six months for two or three of the hosts to get caught with unzipped pants in a porno house, or get blown away by an unbalanced lover, or some other scandals and then two months for the final ultimate crack up.

41 posted on 02/26/2003 7:35:16 AM PST by far sider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

Comment #42 Removed by Moderator

To: SJackson
This is the finest piece of satire written about liberals and talk radio yet. My sides are going to hurt for days.

On a more serious note, all this is a logical response to Campaign Finance Reform. Dems are suddenly realizing that they won't be able to put their money into campaigns as they were before, so they are looking for alternative ways to promote candidates. 10 million dollars to start up, get a bunch of left wing "pundits" and some advertisers and, viola!, instant campaign commercials that avoid all the rules and regulations.

Look for this to happen bi-annually, with new "shows " starting up around 9 months before elections and failing shortly after the elections end. Two years later Dems will find new voices (Al Franken will be replaced by someone else who will bring another perspective to the debate, a fresh voice etc.) and it will begin again.

If CFR is found unconstitutional, look for the network to fail much more quickly as donors put their contributions money back into soft money accounts.

I will now remove my tinfoil hat, thank you for your attention, you've been a wonderful audience.

43 posted on 02/26/2003 7:37:12 AM PST by par4
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
He couldn't save a Green Stamp. He's supposed to be a comedian and he's not funny! When he falls flat on his face, and he will, it's going to register on the Richter scale.
44 posted on 02/26/2003 7:38:03 AM PST by Dionysius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Think of it as NPR on steroids. While conservatives tend to be men with Manilow on their turntable, the new network will hope to plug into the liberal leaning college co-ed crowd. Already in unison protesting a potential war with Iraq, Franken will provide these legions with a voice. Plus, the expected Hollywood backing will add glitz to the glory.

However, more than just the man and the message, the medium itself may present a problem. It's a fact: College kids do not listen to talk radio. Old white men do.

Agitprop Radio-- All Lies All The Time with Music by The Rolling Stones, a Band of Old White Men. Hosted by Al Franken, An Old White Man who is Not a Palestinian. Funded by an Old White Man and his Old White Wife, both of whom are NOT Palestinians. Supported by Ex-Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, two Old White Men, one of whom was the first Old Black Man to be President.

And backed by Old White Men George Clooney, Sean Penn, Richard Gere, an Old White Man who plays an Old White Man President on TV, and Sheryl Crow (an aging White Woman whose breasts are the same size as those of an Old White Man's).

This show will compete for the same small pool of listeners with NPR, a Radio station funded mainly by tax dollars taken from Old White Men....

45 posted on 02/26/2003 7:39:00 AM PST by freebilly (Why do Republicans play hardball like little girls...?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SJackson
Al Franken is a 4-Eyed Little Twerp (and a Bedwetter)
46 posted on 02/26/2003 7:39:51 AM PST by Hillary's Folly
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

Comment #48 Removed by Moderator

Comment #49 Removed by Moderator

To: SJackson
But I would definitely try to answer the Rushes and the Hannitys. But I refuse to do it by cheating and distorting."

Yeah, Right! I noticed he didn't include lieing in that sentence.

50 posted on 02/26/2003 7:43:42 AM PST by Doomonyou (Good Luck, pinhead!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-141 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson