Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Phonies

Radio Daze

"Last year, a young man called in to a radio station with a problem. He’d recently attended a bachelor party, he said, and a friend of the groom-to-be, clueless of the unwritten etiquette of maledom, brought his girlfriend along, derailing what was supposed to be a weekend of gambling, girls, and general debauchery. The caller told his story with passion and verve, and then asked the station’s listeners for their advice on how to treat his clueless pal.

Or at least he would have, had this been a real conversation. The young man—who asked to remain nameless in order to protect his chances for future employment—was an actor, and the staged call an audition. A short while later, he received the following email: “Thank you for auditioning for Premiere On Call,” it said. “Your audition was great! We’d like to invite you to join our official roster of ‘ready-to-work’ actors.” The job, the email indicated, paid $40 an hour, with one hour guaranteed per day.

But what exactly was the work? The question popped up during the audition and was explained, the actor said, clearly and simply: If he passed the audition, he would be invited periodically to call in to various talk shows and recite various scenarios that made for interesting radio. He would never be identified as an actor, and his scenarios would never be identified as fabricated—which they always were.

“I was surprised that it seemed so open,” the actor told me in an interview. “There was really no pretense of covering it up.”

Curious, the actor did some snooping and learned that Premiere On Call was a service offered by Premiere Radio Networks, the largest syndication company in the United States and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, the entertainment and advertising giant. Premiere syndicates some of the more sterling names in radio, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. But a great radio show depends as much on great callers as it does on great hosts: Enter Premiere On Call."

U.S. Military Creating an Army of Fake Online People

"The U.S. Air Force may be trying to manipulate social media websites by creating large numbers of phony people to push across desired viewpoints.

Uncovered by Happy Rockefeller of Daily Kos and others, the Air Force has reached out to private technology companies to obtain “persona management software” that would allow a single person to “command virtual armies of fake, digital people” on sites such as Facebook.

These phony users could appear to be anywhere in the world, while offering opinions that give the sense of consensus on key topics deemed important by the military."

Actor Mark Adrian Humphrey conveniently in place on 9/11:


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