Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What? He Needs a Holiday?

I've said it before , I'll say it again, and I"ll probably say it in the future:

When incumbent Barb Smtih is unavailable, there is no reason whatsoever that we should have to listen to anyone other than Doyle King doing the traffic.  I'm sure Jason Walker, or whoever it was this morning, is a decent chap, but if you want credible traffic it has got to be Doyle.

I mean, it's not like the guy needs a vacation.

Frankly, her e-brake value aside, I'm not sure there's a lot of reason for him not to do it when she is available.  I was driving towards a traffic situation she was attempting to describe one morning, and it was so garbled and unpunctuated I couldn't tell if the Tollway was open or closed.  I listened for the next traffic report and she hadn't improved.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Corby Misuses "Meshuggenah"

While the station is on hiatus, here's a throwaway observation:

Corby misuses the Yiddish term "meshuggenah." It is heard most frequently when the group is talking about the ambush of Billy Joel, when Corby referred to "meshuggenah comedian Alan King," or words to that effect.

I think Corby must think that "meshuggenah" means "ethnic Jewish Catskills-type," because "meshuggenah" does not describe Alan King in the slightest. "Meshuggenah" means crazy, real crazy, wildly insane. It is not an adjective one pairs up with "comic" or "comedian." (One also sees it used as a noun, to refer to a person or a quality.) If you Google "meshuggenah comic" or "meshuggenah comedian," you come up with nothing.

Mark Elfenbein uses it in a punning way to refer to Michigan fan Stewart Cedar ("Mr. Meshuggenah"), which is perfectly fine. (My notes on Elfenbein's ethnic approach here.)  But Corby needs to brush up on his Yiddish.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Host Disconnect

Or maybe it’s listener disconnect.

The read of every host I have heard on The Ticket is that the Saints victory made it somewhat less likely that Wade Phillips will be fired. That it saved his bacon, at least temporarily.  The thought seems to be that he might survive if the Cowboys make it to the playoffs and win a game.

They may be right, if they’re talking about what might happen if the Cowboys make it into the playoffs and win a game.

But of the dozen or so people I’ve talked to about the game, the feeling is universal that the Saints game showed why Wade Phillips should not get a new contract.  It's the first thing people talk about:  That game, the thinking goes, shows that this team really does have the talent that (you may recall) that all pundits were lauding as the best in the league over the past couple of years – at the beginning of the seasons.  And its failure to play like that every week, and its tendency to play like slugs against weaker teams, is a Phillips/Garrett problem, not a sign of a brighter future with them remaining at the helm.  I’m not hearing hopefulness from my Cowboy-fan chums. I’m hearing disgust, thinking of what might have been. And dread that Wade might be back.

Interesting that this thought hasn’t found much love on The Ticket. Of course, I’m not hearing it from callers, either, so maybe I just travel with a gloomy anti-Wade crowd.

Rich Phillips Checks In

That was an interesting call to the Musers from Hawaii yesterday morning. I thought they were kidding when they speculated that Phillips might have been out partying.

Oh, dear. Slurring, exaggeratedly chirpy responses (I didn’t think his voice could go that high). I can’t help but wonder if the Musers weren’t deliberately jabbing one of their management overlords. (Did I catch someone saying that they were going to tell Ticket management, “We’re not going to do what this guy says,” or words that effect?)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Ticket's Lousy Signal – And What to Do About It in the Short Run

The Ticket is one of the radio monsters. It is the envy not only of sports radio stations across the country, it is a pearl in the necklace of Cumulus that other radio corporations would love to have.

Michael Rhyner grumbles about Cumulus, and it isn't an act. The failure to nourish the station is a scandal. And it starts with the awful signal. 104.1 is 6200 watt; 1310 is, as nearly as I can tell -- and I'm having some trouble getting info off the the FCC website -- a 5000 watt directional signal. That ain't much. A big FM signal is in the 100-300,000 range, a decent AM signal is at least into five figures. I note that they're now on 1700 AM at times, which I think is 10000 watts during the day and 1000 at night. Now, it is the case that one can't just go to the FCC and say "I want more power." The Ticket is stuck with what they've got on those frequencies.

And it is poor. I travel north and south in Dallas daily, and the signal is dreadful in some of the most desirable North Dallas neighborhoods. AM or FM, doesn't matter -- it sputters and pops and goes in and out. 104.1 is routinely kicked off the air by some East Texas religious talker, I think it's KKUS in Tyler. I can't help but wonder if the Ticket's abysmal coverage had anything to do with the Cowboys taking their act elsewhere. It has to be a problem for their ad sales staff.

But Cumulus is a big boy. When WSCR ("The Score") in Chicago started to get huge, its owner moved its signal to another one that they owned that boosted their power immensely. (Moved it twice, as I recall.) Let's take a look at what Cumulus owns in Dallas, in addition to KLIF:

KDBM-FM, 93.3 (The Bone) -- 50,000 watts
KPLX-FM, 99.5 (The Wolf) -- 100,000 watts

Those are decent wattages. If we look at the ratings, we find The Ticket doing pretty well (approximately 13th overall), but doing spectacularly well – like, the best – in the 25-54 male demographic. We find The Wolf at or near No. 1 in the market overall. We don't find the Bone doing that well, 37th or so overall, but there are lots of ties in this list, so it's actually somewhat further down in the public estimation.

What does all this mean? I dunno, but I suspect it means that the Ticket is a helluva lot more valuable than its overall ratings rank would indicate. And yet it's got this crappy pair of cobbled-together signals. It probably also means that The Wolf is bulletproof. And it probably also means that The Bone is . . . nothing special.

So, I propose that Cumulus give The Ticket KDBN's FM signal at 93.3 FM.  No reason it can't keep broadcasting on 1310 AM. You may think that it would be a sacrilege for The Ticket to broadcast on anything other than 1310, but I am here to tell you that people would forget about it in no time. I'm not a radio technician and I don't know how to measure the improvement that putting The Ticket on 93.3 would work, but I'll bet it would be considerable. (The coverage map for KDBN is not available on Radio-Locator for some reason.) And when I say "improvement," I mean (1) better signal in the DFW population areas, and (2) wider coverage for the signal as a whole.

In the meantime, it's amazing that this station with this weak. spotty signal is gaining national attention and honors. Cumulus can milk the poor little Ticket for all it's worth, I suppose, but wouldn't it make more sense to do something to make it a DFW station of the first rank? Wouldn't it be a profit-maximizing decision?

Michael R is right – someone should come in and buy this thing. Or at least Cumulus should throw up a couple of billboards.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's On Norm's Mind?

Can anyone figure out what Norm thinks about the Cowboys? Maybe I need to be listening more carefully. I admit, I'm usually doing something else during the post-game show with Donovan. Great show, they work well together, and Donovan is a favorite of mine.

So it's pretty clear from the Norm/Donovan discussion that Norm has the same feeling any rational observer would have, which is that the Cowboys have some serious, if puzzling, problems. Those problems might include Phillips; might include Garrett; might include Romo; might include Jones (take your pick on which one); might include "heartlessness"; might include "softness"; might include any number of other factors.

Yet it seems to me that when a caller takes a critical position on one of those factors, Norm switches into defense mode. Phillips doesn't drop passes; who you gonna get if you don't have Romo; Garrett's offense works 95% of the time; and the like.

So I dunno what Norm thinks is ailing the Cowboys. Maybe I'm not being fair, or, as I say, not listening carefully enough. If you think you know how Norm would improve the Cowboys, let me know.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Lakeisha, Please

Speaking of The Musers' football picks, I absolutely loved the civilian they were picking against on Friday – Lakeisha.

I wish they had kept her on to chat for a bit; I would like to have heard more from Lakeisha. Is there some way to break down the demographic makeup of the P1 Nation? I suppose it could be roughly extrapolated somehow from overall market ratings, but I would prefer that someone would just tell me. Quite a few callers are black, even though Donovan is the only black host. And, of course, no female hosts. But there seem to be a lot of female listeners who listen for reasons other than having to spend time in the general vicinity of their P1 boyfriends.

Anyway, Lakeisha was a sweetheart – held her own with The Musers, gave Gordon some sass, and not bad radio pipes, either. The Ticket might should bring her in for an air check.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Make Money with the Ticket

First thing we need to know is how Junior and George – actually, probably just Junior – do on their football picks if you don't count the high school games. That is, what is their record when the high school games are factored out?

Let's assume their successful picking percentage is at least as good without the high school games as it is with them. Probably a pretty good assumption.

What we know about those picks is that over the course of a season, their winning percentage is noticeably over 50%. My recollection is that Junior usually wins, although I think that as of this week he and George are about even.

So if you just bet Junior's college and pro picks – legally, of course – at the end of the season, you will have made money.

Friday, December 11, 2009

White Elephant Musings

The host exchange days can be very revealing about relationships at the station. I didn't get to hear much of it this year but caught some of every show. It might be a useful thing for the station to do more often, if for no other reason than to keep hosts in line by reminding them that they could be paired with that guy and have to get up/go to bed at that time. Of course, maybe all those guys at the Ticket really, really like one another equally. Mm-hmm.

White Elephant Day also spotlights, shall we say, potential weak links. Because I want to keep this blog positive, I'm reluctant to single out the particular individual I have in mind, who was my least favorite Ticket guy even before WED. I'll probably have to name names llater on when I finally get around to my long-promised series on what to do to improve a couple of the shows.

Yeah, I know, how does one improve on perfection, and don't tune in if you don't like it, blah, blah. But that's My Ticket Confession – I do like it, I love it, it makes Dallas tolerable.  But yeah, I'd tinker with it if I were a god living in the Cumulus clouds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Listening Too Hard

If I've been away from the radio I try to catch the Top Ten with Chris House. (Chris, by the way, does an excellent job with this recycled material. He doesn't have much to do, but he's not just a rah-rah guy and sometimes has some tasty observations. Keep an eye on him for future daytime assignments.)

So I'm listening and I'm thinking – who is this talking? I've heard these words somewhere, but the voice isn't familiar.

Then I realize – it's Mark Followill from his Hardline interview earlier in the day, one of the snippets of live radio I caught. But it's speeded up – speeded up a lot, as to render the speaker almost unrecognizable.  They've compressed it, undoubtedly for time reasons, and it sounds like Mark Followill might have sounded before his voice changed, or maybe the way is sounds when it's not being EQ'd.

Friday, December 4, 2009

That Dunham & Miller Morning Program Theme – Lyrics Please

Next to the Subway "Five Dollar Footlong" ditty, the ditty that's infecting my medulla these days is the Musers' theme played around 6 AM.

After the repeated "Dunham & Miller" refrain (or is it the verse?) there are some additional lyrics, but someone is usually always beginning to speak over them. Who can provide the full lyrics to the D&M theme?

And the artist?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Ticket Confession -- I'm Worried About the Hardline

As any regular reader (?) knows, I've been concerned about the Hardline for awhile. I always issue two preliminary thoughts: (1) I favored Hammer's departure, and (2) Corby does not suck. However, I have come to think over the months, now years, that have followed, that the show has lacked balance. Love Corby, Love Danny, but they're overwhelming Mike, whose show it more or less is. The problem is balance – the show has lost it.

Oh yeah, there's a third thing I usually try to remind myself – why would anyone think that something as wildly successful as the Hardline is – still is – needs to be fixed? Well, good question. But it's My Ticket Confession – I love the damned thing, but I sometimes I wish it were better.

I've been thinking about a solution I've been meaning to post for awhile, but it would be a multi-parter and needs a little context. In the meantime, let me throw this out:

The Hardline has gotten a lot more vulgar in the last few months. I'm not a prude and past levels of profanity and misogyny seemed to me acceptable for afternoon drive radio. Let me put it this way: Used to be, when my wife was in the car, she could enjoy the Hardline with me. Now, I have to quickly turn to something on satellite before the next clinical reference to female genitalia. In general, the references to women have gotten pretty difficult to listen to. The profanity is also out of control -- effective in small doses, it's now Stern Lite.

Yeah, it's successful, but it's starting to sound cheap and lazy. I listen every day, I love it a lot, but I worry about the Hardline. I really do.