"If Venice Patch was a print newspaper, it'd be more of a shopper," says L.A. news-radio veteran Michael Linder. "It's a bunch of earnest people who are trying to find their way. They're trying to get advertisers, so they don't want to speak ill of them... They're trying to get everyone's name in there at least once." He says the situation at Yo! Venice! is largely the same.
Linder's reaction to the limp news scene on the digital streets of his beloved 37-year residence? Internet-only, "progressive free-form" radio station KVB.fm...
... which will lace "news vignettes" with a Top 40/electro rotation. He calls his pet project Venice's own "reality radio" -- and he's hoping to drop it by Jan. 1.
Linder describes a particular spot he's been dreaming up: A reporter (he claims he'll do it himself, if there are no volunteers) spends a night in one of the RV campers currently under seige by the city, "with someone being rousted by the LAPD and someone banging on their window."
Then there's the whole music part.
In Linder's head, the sound of Venice is apparently Rihanna and Bruno Mars -- he has a Top 40 music machine poised to play throughout the daytime (there's a sample on his website). To follow bland with blander, the nighttime electronic set is all easy listening: Crystal Method, Massive Attack, Moby, Röyksopp, Track N Field, the Faceless Orchestra and William Orbit, to name a few.
"It gets chiller as the night goes on," he says -- as if all us Venice heads are just sitting around wishing Prop. 19 had passed or something.
The middle-aged news-o-saur's somewhat oomphless, blunt-edge musical taste can probably be attributed to a couple contemporary-rock gigs he held at Canadian radio stations in the early '70s. But what Linder might lack in fringe electro knowledge, he makes up in hardcore reporting skills: Just Wiki the dude. He's insane. (For a more puffy-chested autobiographical version, visit his website, on which he takes the liberty of quoting himself.)
But times are tough, and Linder was cut out during massive layoff periods at both of Los Angeles' AM news giants: KABC and KNX. Now, since "L.A. is the most saturated [AM and FM frequency] market in America," he's is forced to broadcast his hyper-local brainchild over the Internet, with streaming capabilities on smart phones and iPads.
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It's a giant endeavor: Twenty-four-hour news coverage in a beach town of 40,000. Still, Linder seems somehow positive he won't have trouble finding volunteer reporters; he said the "gadflies, journos and surfers -- all species of Venetain" have already started coming forward. (He won't name any names, but says he's particularly excited about a 24-year-old standup comic looking to contribute.) And if the dude who started the first on-location wartime website in the 90s -- "Berzerkistan," covered via AOL dial-up in nearby Croatia -- says he's going to capture the spirit of a beach town with "stream-of-consciousness conversation," it's worth at least a listen.
"I want to send [volunteers] out into the field," he says, stoked out of his mind. "I want to find out why this guy hangs out wearing nothing but a Speedo and a snake around his neck."
Yup. Sounds like Venice. A lot more than, let's say, Moby.
So whad'ya think, bums of the boardwalk? Will you be listening local in 2011?