Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ipse dixit

Know your audience

Sometimes I can pick up KMJ on my car radio. That's the 50,000-watt station broadcasting out of Fresno on 580 kHz on the AM dial. In my youth, it was simply the powerful local NBC affiliate, part of the McClatchy media empire, which also included the Fresno Bee and Channel 24 (the NBC television station). These days KMJ is a bastion of right-wing talk radio, a Peak Broadcasting affiliate with Rush Limbaugh serving as the jewel in the protuberant belly button.

I was randomly scanning the radio band when I hit something slightly interesting. The announcer was talking about a new program from the Franchise Tax Board, the official tax-collection agency for the state of California. The FTB has apparently set up a website where taxpayers can check the status of their income-tax refunds. KMJ's morning newscaster was explaining that those who filed electronically could expect their refunds in a matter of days via direct deposit, while those who filed paper returns might have to wait six to eight weeks to get their checks. Just visit the FTB website to find out how much longer before you're in the money.

Fine. Not exactly a newsflash. I reached for the radio buttons when the KMJ announcer continued: “You can find this at the Franchise Tax Board's website, which is”

Not exactly a surprise there, either. Every agency of the state of California has “” for its web address. The announcer spelled it out as he reported it: “Eff tee bee dot sea a dot gee oh vee. We know that's a long one, so we've put a link on our website.”

A “long” one? Heck, it's about the shortest URL a guy could ask for! As for KMJ, its website is That's every bit as long as the Franchise Tax Board's URL. Some shortcut!

Then I realized that my scorn was misplaced. KMJ is smack in the middle of Free Republic territory. The radio station is undoubtedly at pains to serve its primary audience as best it can. Therefore its announcers must always direct the listeners to the station's own website. By constant repetition, it might succeed in getting them to remember one 10-character URL, but two would be beyond the pale. (Beyond the Palin?) It all made sense.

Later I checked in at KMJ's website, but the Franchise Tax Board information was nowhere to be found. I presume it had already scrolled off since that morning's broadcast. Short attention span, too.


Karen said...

I heard on the radio news (on San Francisco Bay Area KCBS) this morning that a medical supply company is moving its distribution center from a Bay Area city, Brisbane, to a relatively obscure California Central Valley town, Visalia. The reason given for this is that they get a state (yes, they said state) tax credit for every employee they hire in Visalia, but no such credit for hiring employees in Brisbane. They will lay off some 100 employees in Brisbane, and hire new ones in Visalia.

Huh? People in one part of the state are somehow less deserving of jobs than people in another part of the state?

Zeno said...

I heard the same KCBS broadcast. I assume the tax credit is tied to local unemployment rates. Visalia is in the Tulare Targeted Tax Area, a subsidized zone where unemployment is over 20 percent. The Modesto Bee published a report on it. Targeted Tax Areas are on Gov. Brown's list of things to eliminate, but one can see why they were created.

Karen said...

I understand the concept behind Targeted Tax Areas... for out-of-state companies. But to move from Brisbane to Visalia means the net number of unemployed workers in CA is the same. That's the same number of workers not paying taxes.

I also understand Brown's position: we be broke.

Anonymous said...

"those who filed electronically could expect their refunds in a matter of days via direct deposit, while those who filed paper returns might have to wait six to eight weeks to get their checks."

This is very confusing. Normally direct deposit is independent of how you file (in the real world of US 1040 tax returns). Someone who does not have a bank account for direct deposit is not allowed to efile? Someone who does have a bank account is not allowed to put the routing code and account number on a paper return? Inquiring minds from a state that does not have an income tax do not need to know!