Thursday, December 30, 2010

Joel Jenista, RIP

I remember where I was when The Hardline did their extensive interview with overnight board op Joel Jenista when he revealed his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.  I was leaving downtown on the ramp to the Dallas North Tollway.  Sadly ironic, I thought, that Joel was facing a disease named after one of our greatest sports figures.

Here is what I remember of that interview.  I may be misremembering some of what was reported, and I will welcome correction from anyone with better recall.

Joel had suffered two choking episodes resulting from his increasing lack of control over his ability to swallow.  In one of them -- I don't know if it was the first or second, but I believe it was the second -- he was in very dire straits, and an overnight DJ from the sister station -- I don't remember what it was called at the time, but it may have been The Bone -- noticed his distress and rushed into the control room and administered the Heimlich Maneuver, likely saving Joel's life.  The DJ, whose name I have forgotten, was also in the interview (or was that a different segment? -- I'm sorry, my recollection is not firm on this point).  These incidents took place prior to Joel's disclosure of his illness.

Mike and Corby handled it beautifully, with sensitivity and even with a little humor, in which Joel participated and, I think, even appreciated.  My most vivid recollection of this interview was a remark he made about The Musers.  Since he was the overnight guy, he would be on the board when The Musers arrived to get ready for their show.  (He might have even worked the board for some or all of their show -- don't recall.)   I don't recall the circumstances, but he recounted some incident that was a result of his growing disability -- which he had not disclosed at that point -- and that Craig had teased him.  He took a fairly sharp shot at Junior in the Hardline interview, something to the effect that "Craig had to make a joke about it."  In the months since, I've thought -- you might know:  The Ticket finds a way to generate a bear trap Junior could not have had the slightest idea he was stepping into.

(This reminded me of a similar episode from my years in Chicago, when Walter Payton appeared in public clearly having lost a great deal of weight.  He repeatedly denied that he was in poor health.  A popular local sports anchor known for his playful sense of humor, Mark Giangreco, made some joking remark about it on the air, and shortly thereafter Payton's true condition was revealed.  Giangreco apologized profusely, but one had to have some sympathy for him (having taken Payton at his word), and I have some for Junior.  Shortly after his Hardline appearance, I recall a similarly tasteful interview with Joel on The Musers, and all seemed to have been forgiven.)

The Hardline interview concluded with Joel saying that he would work as long as he could.  It was a great segment.  Dramatic and inspirational -- and heartbreaking.

That's all I know.  Joel did work for quite awhile longer, and could be heard contributing on-air from time to time, not sounding much if any worse than he had on The Hardline.  Eventually those appearances ceased, and it became clear that his duties at The Ticket had come to an end.

The only confirmation I have on his death comes from a posting by VSBB on The UnTicket, which does not report the date of his passing.  And, as always, thanks to The UnTicket for bringing us the news.

I hope you will indulge me a brief musing on our relationship with The Ticket.

We love The Ticket.  The individual hosts and producers and Cumulo-Ticket overlords can drive us crazy from time to time, but we have come to feel that each and every one of them is a part of our lives, and they let us know that we are a part of theirs.  We care about them despite all -- that, indeed, is My Ticket Confession.  I'd wager that there isn't a single one of us who hasn't wondered from time to time how we would react of one of these stars suffered some horrible accident or was diagnosed with some fatal illness.  (I've worried in these posts about Greg Williams, not only his drug use but his gun collections and his sad family history; see Greggo . . . Hey, Greggo.)   What would become of our favorite showgram?  How would the nonstop-funloving Ticket handle it?

We didn't lose a big star, but we've plainly lost a great soul and a great, tough man.  (There is a temptation to call these battles "brave," but if anyone had a choice they wouldn't fight an awful battle like that one.)  He toiled in the backwaters of The Ticket -- that overnight gig must have been lonely, keeping the torch lit during the hours when the P1 Nation was tuned out.  But he soldiered on, and must have done it quite well.  We owe him a debt of gratitude for his yeoman service to the channel we love.

Perhaps tonight he is a star of a different sort.

I haven't heard mention of Joel's death on the station today -- I thought it might be reported on a Ticker, but nothing today during BaD's fill-in for The Hardline.  But I'm sure thatThe Ticket will handle it with respect and the proper attention to Joel's memory.

If anyone in the Confessor Nation knew Joel, or can correct my recollection or add to it, I'd be grateful if you would leave a comment.

Rest in well-earned peace, Joel.

Urgent New Year's Eve's Eve Call to Confessors -- A Little Help Here?

Acolyte Confessor Cancer Monkey is hoping to improve his relationship with NBC5 Traffic Twist Tammy Dombeck in the New Year.  (See comments to prior post.)

He is having some trouble coming up with attractive opening lines.  Actually, he doesn't have any.

He suggested something that contained a reference to "soaking up honkers."

I replied that I thought the phrase was "SOAP up those honkers."

But you know, the acuity of my hearing has been questioned by recent commenters, so I may have this entirely wrong.

So let the call go forth -- is it "soak up those honkers" or "soap up those honkers"?

(I can't even summon up an image of what soaking up a honker would be like, other than repulsive ones.  Soaping up honkers, however, now there's something I could get up all behind that.)

Perhaps that nice young Michael Gruber could check in, or perhaps Celebrity Confessor AP.  (I hesitate to call N.Y. Michael a Confessor, as I don't want to get him in trouble with his Cumulo-Ticket overlords.  Perhaps we can refer to him as an Adjunct Confessor.)

Confessor Nation:  Let us hear from you on this critical issue.

A Very Happy New Year to the Confessor Nation

Please be safe through the weekend, at least.

Got a list of blasts to get to in 2011.

Many, many thanks for continuing to check in and spreading the word.  Your Plainsman's resolution is to attempt to improve my STD's -- in quality, quantity, and fairness -- by listening more, and more closely.  Y'all have helped with that by alerting me to things to attend when I'm by the channel.

Thanks again

       -- Plainsman

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Urgent Message to Ticket Engineering Czar

The Norm +1 with Jean-Jacques Taylor this morning has been a really good show.  They make a very listenable team.  The best I've heard JJT yet.
However, he presents Ticket engineers with a serious problem.

Norm, like most of the Ticket hosts, has a voice that pierces the spitguard and gets clearly into the mic in all registers.  This is a matter partly of his voice's natural timbre, and partly a matter of projection.   Which is to say that Norm, like pretty much every one of the Ticket hosts, has a natural talent for the medium, and devotes professional attention to the sound of his voice.

JJT, through no fault of his own, is not a radio talent and doesn't have the training to project his voice.  In fact, his voice is "soft," comes from back in his mouth and arrives at his lips somewhat muffled.

He also frequently speaks way too quickly, spitting out short syllables and then drawing out certain vowel sounds.

The result is that when you have Norm tuned in at a volume that is pleasant to the ear, JJT cannot be heard or clearly understood.  This isn't a problem when you're listening with phones or in a quiet room, but it's a real problem when the Ticket is on in the background or in a vehicle.  (This isn't just a Norm problem -- it was also a problem when JJT was on with Donovan and Rich, and it's a problem on the Sunday morning showgram.)  This may just be a matter of level -- "more Jean-Jacques," as it were.

This is not discretionary -- The Ticket may have scored a real coup in retaining JJT's services -- I need to hear more but so far I'm liking it -- but the station absolutely must find a way to make him audible and understandable at normal listening levels.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Normathon-athon

So, what do we all think about the Normathon?   A great cause and it's wonderful that he does it.  In fact, The Ticket does a lot of fine charity work that I should have remarked on in the past.  A hearty "good job."



In fact, I doubt that Norm finds it all that arduous to do 18 hours.  He's a professional talker, and he talks and talks and eventually he stops.  I didn't hear very much of it this year, unfortunately, but what I heard was interesting.  I liked the interview with Randy White.  I just wasn't able to stay by the channel much of Monday, unforch.

As far as Norm as a general propposition is concerned:  Great, great broadcaster.  Always interesting to listen to.  Like the way he interacts with his producers.  Mike S makes a worthy on-air companion.

I'll just get off one short blast, and then let you all tell me about the Normathon, or Norm generally -- or Rich Phillips, or Corby D, or Dan M, or the Geminid meteor shower, or whatever you want to comment on.  The short blast is:  I'm not sure Norm is an extremely astute observer of the sports scene.  He knows an awful lot about many sports, but sometimes his opinions leave me scratching my head.  In the first place, he seems to hold contradictory views simultaneously -- was Wade Phillips a bad coach, or was he an OK coach because he once went 13-3?  Norm seems to hold both views.  In the second place, his picks don't seem to me to be particularly accurate.  (Anyone know how he does on the ponies?)   I'll tell you what I'd like to see:  Norm picking against Craig Miller and George Dunham in their weekly picks. 

One more short blast:  Norm has got to be one of the hardest-working guys at the Ticket.  It's only a two-hour show, but his show prep is amazing (with his grundoons' assistance), he fills in all over the broadcast day, he does the Cowboy post-game.  And he did that great piece on the Cowboys' financial condition a couple of months back. 

So::  Two weathered Plainsman thumbs-up for Norm.  But think twice before you give him your money to play with.  Give it to him to donate to the wonderful causes he supports.

So let me hear from you, Confessors:  How was the Normathon?

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Drydock Quick Hits from Confessor Doug -- Part 2

I was going to wait a few more days before I posted the rest of Confessor Doug’s blasts, but there seemed to be a Rich Phillips thread developing from his last post, so I thought I’d better get this into print.
Before I get to them, just a note on private emails:  I love them, love hearing from the Confessor Nation.  Give me good guidance of what’s of interest, and they frequently contain information I lack from my own listening over the past few years.  Unfortunately, my time is very limited.  I sometimes work six or seven days a week, I have a long commute, and there’s always Mrs. Plainsman who needs my time and attention back at the old sod house.   As much as I might like to engage in a private back-and-forth, my blog time – and I have another non-anonymous blog that is being severely neglected as this site has started to get some traction – must unfortunately be devoted to what goes onto the site. 
However, if you have some thoughts to share, please do feel free to contact me privately.  I may not have time for a point-by-point response, but if I think your thoughts are well-stated and interesting, I’d be delighted to post them – but only with your permission, which Doug was kind enough to grant in this case.  And, as I mentioned a few articles ago, I might just invite frequent posters to offer a guest blast now and then.  (Although my own topic list is growing and, alas, is in some cases somewhat stale.)  
Many, many thanks to anyone who writes.  If you have information for me that you would prefer that I keep confidential – I’ve had a couple of those the past year – I will honor that.
Herewith, the balance of Doug’s recent musings.  And thanks again, Doug.
     -- Plainsman
*     *     *
Doug on Rich Phillips and Jean-Jacques Taylor
I know you [addressing Your Plainsman] like him, but Rich Phillips has been a Ticker Guy for 15 years for a reason. I actually love his Tickers. They're informative, to the point, and provide just a touch of snide commentary, but to me, as a host he just doesn't have it.  I feel like Rich isn't secure enough with himself to be a solid host at a station that is known for ball busting. Every playful hypothetical directed towards him is shot down without any sort of delay or suspension of reality. Yes, we understand that Dan doesn't dress his daughters up as the 1995 Indians every time Albert Belle has a birthday. They're playing radio. But Rich doesn't mess around. He has a sort of aggressive defensive demeanor that isn't becoming of a Ticket host. Oddly enough the only guy his chemistry works well with to me is Donovan, but I think that speaks more about the talent and flexibility of Donnie Doo.
JJ Taylor is new. I haven't listened to him enough to have a solid opinion on him, other than he seems like the type to say something shocking because his job is to write content worth reading, whether or not he believes it. But since he's new, he doesn't take the mic with the command he should. It seems like he keeps waiting for a subject to be kicked to him.
Doug on Doyle King
I’m tired of Doyle segments. Now that he knows the bit, he tries too hard to be Doyle. He said some time back that because he was on The Ticket he got way more voice over work. So I imagine he sees dollar signs whenever the Musers ask to do an 840 with him (or maybe Doyle does the asking). I liked it when he was an organic nut job. Now it seems too forced.
Doug (a Professional Copywriter) on Some Recent Ads
I love the ad posts you do (naturally) [hey, thanks!] because since I started listening to The Ticket and its ads when I was 11, I grew an affinity to radio ads. It pains me that I’m currently at a job that doesn’t do radio, because it’s my favorite medium, and one that is so frequently screwed up. The two that kill me right now are:
The In Touch Credit Union spot with the woman and Aubre (but I want to say his name in the spot is Jeff). The spot starts with the guy saying he wants to have a talk and the woman, hopeful, saying “is this what I think it is?” and surprise! They’re both alking about In Touch Credit Union! Then the guy says “so let’s do it!” The girl: “I already did it.” Guy:  “glad we had this talk.” Are you kidding me? No conflict, no payoff liner, no attempt at humor or any point of interest. Why even pay for two voice actors? Awful.
Then the Just Brakes ad. That script has been the same since I started listening. I’m sure you’ve heard it. It’s a phone call between a Just Brakes rep and a customer, yet you can hear them both clearly. Neither of them has a phone effect on their voice. And after 12 years (at least) don’t you think the message has become just a touch stale?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Some Drydock Quick Hits from Confessor Doug

Confessors, I have a special holiday treat for you. Frequent and perspicacious commenter Doug dropped me a private line the other day. He says the holidays left him with some downtime, so he got off a few private blasts. I thought they were very interesting and well-stated, on topics I did not have on my own list, so I secured his permission to share some of them. I’ve edited them a bit for length. My thanks to Doug both for taking the time to write, and to let me publish them here:

Doug on Drydock Showgram Quality and Substitute Hosts

It's implied that during drydock, the quality of the shows will drop off a little, but the substitutes Cat (I guess) comes up with make the station nearly unlistenable.

I remember in a segment just after the 15th anniversary party (which I relive thanks to the UnTicket) Bob and Dan preached the greatness of Bruce Gilbert (before he took the Fan PD gig) because he went out and got radio guys to do radio things. I understand they aren't going to get top talent for four weeks of fill-in time, but The Ticket has plenty of people in their arsenal that I think would produce better radio.

The problem with grabbing TV guys is they're too aware of their day job. I think Mark Followill is the best sub and has deep Ticket roots, won't so much as cuss without thinking twice about it. I'm not saying working blue produces good radio, but I do think good radio is made mostly off the cuff. Doocy isn't bad either, but again, you don't get that same level of honesty. Everything is polished. You're telling me Mike loves everyone he works with and doesn't have a single issue with his day job? Please. It's not their fault, though. If I had a dream job I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize it either. That's my point. The problem is the casting (I left out one obvious one. I'll get to him in a sec).

[On John Rhadigan:] I feel terrible for what I'm about to say because he seems like a total sweetheart of a man. Everyone says that working with John will spoil you because he is the ultimate professional, but holy crap. The guy just has nothing. Great on TV postgame shows, Horrible for four hours. He does waaaay too many resets. He takes a hit of speed before he does a segment, causing him to talk 600 words a minute, he repeats himself too much, he swallows his words like Ditka, and he’ll start a thought, then take an immediate left turn into another thought. He tries to get the Ticket lingo, but gets it just wrong, which is about as annoying as misquoting movies or songs. I’m sure he’s one of the nicest guys in the DFW market in person, but he just tries too hard.

Doug on Alternative Drydock Programming

With Elf gone, The Scrubs about as generic as you can get, and Danny on vacation (but Davey has a day job as a copywriter, which is awesome, so he probably couldn’t do fill-in anyway), I would propose giving the boys at It’s Just Banter a go from noon to 3. [I’d never heard of it, but apparently it’s the TC Fleming/Jake Kemp podcast – Plainsman.] They’re raw, sure. They cuss on the podcast, but they both have on-air experience. Plus they have chemistry with each other which is so important in radio, but somehow over looked during drydock. They’re also hungry to prove themselves. They’ll do their homework and have each segment planned out to a tee.

Then for 3-7 Cirque du Sirois. I love Mike Sirois. Loved him when he was doing Saturday morning Tickers full of schtick. Loved him when he was fill in producer, and I listen to Norm more now because he’s the producer. He’s got something. And he’s in his element when he’s working with people he knows like…his brother. They’ve got a good thing going. I’m almost wondering if Cash was busy this week since he’s not filling in anywhere.

More Doug at a later date. Comments are now open. I would remind commenters, who are almost always respectful – Anonymous, now, you be good – that Doug did not originally write this material for publication. He’s allowing me to republish his remarks because I asked him to let me do it. So keep that in mind as you post your thoughtful reactions. Many thanks

--  Plainsman

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Ticket Confession Wishes Confessors of All Belief Systems a Merry Christmas

Thanks for the gift of your patronage this year, and I hope your holidays are sweet and clean.

I'll be back soon with more blasts, including some STDs from some private correspondence with a faithful Confessor.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Respectful Inquiry

Apologies to the C-Nation for not paying better attention, but I can't remember which weekend show I heard this on. It may have been the Scrubs, but it may have been the Stewart Cedar Cvalcade of Sports, I just don't remember. It was a weekend show with two guys, that's as much as I can tell you.

Maybe I wasn't paying attention because they were talking puck.

Anyway, one of the guys says -- crap, I don't even have a good recollection of the quote -- but the gist of it was this: "Turco and Modano are now gone, and they were a bad influence on the younger players, and look how well the team is coming together now." And they said it in such a way that it was clear that they had known for a long time the departed Stars had been a doleful presence in the locker room, like it was a well-known circumstance to those who follow the Stars.


This is something I've wondered about for a long time, since my series on the Ranch Report awhile back. (You can look it up. I'm typing this outside whilst enjoying a martini and cigar and the less screen-skipping I have to do, the better. Sorry for not providing the link.) Why is it that we get so little inside information from The Ticket? These guys don't hang out in locker rooms, but I am certain that they get an enormous amount of team scuttlebutt from all the pro and even college teams.

Well, there's some evidence, right there. I don't recall anyone ever having said a word about this. Now, I don't get to hear BaD very often, and they're puck-centric so maybe BaD listeners knew all about this.

I do understand that no responsible host wants to traffic in unsubstantiated gossip. But surely there comes a point with respect to certain inside tidbits where the smoke turns into fire. It's not like these guys depend crucially on the goodwill of teams or even stars (see the recent C.J. Wilson contretemps) and need to soft-pedal some of the softer newsy items. In general, the hosts are pretty fearless in their views, and that's something we all value.

I just wonder why they're not a little more forthcoming with the stuff that they hear that they reasonably believe to be credible.

Or am I wrong that inside info comes their way?

Will Some Confessor Please Recommend a Reliable, Reasonably-Priced Shower Radio for Christy?

I wouldn't mind having that information myself.


(Probably not Confessor Christy.)

Thanks to the Confessor Nation for all consideration.

Why Am I Telling You This Nice Little Christmas Story?

Turns out the guy who wrote the original rhyming story for "Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- don't recall his name offhand, but you could look it up (here it is, Robert L. May) -- was an underpaid copywriter for Montgomery Ward catalogue way back when.  MW wanted a Christmas story and asked him to write it, which he did.  Montgomery Ward released it to huge popularity, but the lowly author never saw a dime.  However, some years later, the CEO of MW assigned the rights to the lowly copywriter.  It so happened that the LC's brother-in-law was well-known composer Johnny Marks, who wrote the music for it.  It was recorded by Gene Autry, and the LC made a bundle and everyone was happy.


So why am I telling you this nice little Christmas story?

Because I heard it on NPR when I punched out on Gordon's O-Deck vaginal steam cleaner story, which apparently went on for quite some time because when I punched in after the NPR story had concluded, they were still talking about it, until Junior forcibly brought the whole wretched segment to a merciful conclusion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

White Elephant Memory

This one is a little late.  I actually had started it right after White Elephant Day (WED), but got sidetracked with a suggestion from AP, my rant on "Thicket on the Ticket," and the STDs from numerous Confessors.  Thanks again, can't tell you how much I appreciate it when people comment.  (It also steers me toward topics of interest to The Confessor Nation.)  The different impressions people have of the different hosts is fascinating -- and explains why Cumulus/Ticket management doesn't tinker with host lineups.  Every host has his big fans, as well as detractors.  Dan, Junior, Corby, and Gordon are the main lightning rods, and I find  it particularly fascinating that Craig is in that group.  I'll have more to say on that in future blasts.


And another thanks again to all Confessors who reported on their impressions of WED.  Very entertaining.   In reading these comments, I had a thought that morphed into another thought that resonated with something that Mike R said on Thursday's showgram.

Which means that I'm about to get to the point. 

First, let me say that I'm a big WED fan and supporter.  I am certain that The Ticket does it because of its inherent popularity and the unpredictable fun and disaster that it promises.   So please accept my representation that this thought applies to, oh, somewhere on the order of five to eight percent of overall WED theory.

As I say, I got this theory in reading Confessor accounts of WED.   The thought that perhaps some of the guys we don't hear that often might not quite be ready for prime time.

And I thought -- you know, Ticket management knows this, too.

And then I thought -- maybe, just maybe, there is a tiny segment of the collective intelligence of Ticket management that says to itself:  We get a lot of static from the P1 about this host and that host and this program or that program.  Well, let's see how they like it when we turn the whole day into amateur night.

Just the slightest flash of the old middle finger to the P1.

I thought, nah.

Then, as I was driving back from DFW on Thursday, the day after WED, I was listening to The Hardline.
 
Mike R was talking about the Cliff Lee derby.  He was talking about the Yankees and their ever-escalating offers to the guy.

Mike was very exercised on this topic.  He might have even used the "middle finger" image.  The Yankees do this all the time, he said, because they can.

Then he said -- I swear, you can look it up -- It's just like what we did yesterday.  We did it because we can.

Which I took to mean -- we can throw out pretty much anything, and get away with it.  Because we're The Ticket.  We're the Yankees of Dallas radio. 

That is not untrue.  I'm not saying that what Mike said was wrong, or disrespectful to the P1.  That was certainly not his intention.  I'm saying that there is a part of The Ticket that knows that WED represents, at its heart, sub-par broadcasting if it were offered every day.  By associating these two things, I think his thought was something like -- Just like the Yankees' overbidding on OK baseball talent isn't good for baseball, our throwing out utterly random showgram lineups results in something you don't want to hear everyday.

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm overanalyzing a few Mike R syllables.  But I thought it was a telling moment.

But only about 5-8% telling.  Maybe not the middle finger, maybe just the pinkie.  And just for a moment.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thicket on the Ticket



WARNING:  Mild vulgarity alert.

Confessors, you must trust Your Plainsman:  I am not a prude.

And I'm sure you will all acknowledge that I love The Hardline.  (Indeed, it is part of my confession.)  Mike is an incomparable broadcaster, a historic figure.  Corby is terrific in medically supervised dosages.  Danny = bacon.  Grubes -- well, you know, perfection really doesn't require further description.

And we must also admit that it is highly presumptuous of your lay Plainsman to advise The Hardline, one of the most popular radio presentations in the US, on how to make the showgram better.  Although the fear of presumption has not stopped me in the past, I concede.

So I will make this a respectful suggestion:

Stop talking about female genitalia.

Good lord, as Danny would say.  These guys are in their forties and sixty.  Their vaginal references make them sound fourteen.  It soils the show and the station.  It is on the border of misogyny.  References to "grooming" and odor.  Jeebus.

I like guy talk.   Sometimes guys talk dirty.   Sometimes they speak disrespectfully of women as part of the normal guy bluster and one-upping and joking.  But too often, The Hardline slides across the line to sheer grossness.

Sex talk I can handle.   The gynecology and hygiene I urge them to dial back.

Please -- I'm begging now -- please don't make me punch P2 and suffer through whatever RaGE is slinging.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TORN FROM TODAY'S TICKET HEADLINES -- Who's the Twit Here?

[NOTE:  This post was re-edited 12-11-20 AM to cut out excess verbiage and unnecessary material.  All opinions, even the ludicrous ones, remain intact from original composition.]

First, a gigantic thanks to the incomparable AP for providing Your Plainsman with today's audio and some of the Twitter traffic on the C.J. Wilson contretemps. By the way, AP, that tweet about the other CJ looking at his phone waiting for a call was a real sweet stroke.

I don’t have any better theories about “what happened” than AP himself – I assume AP is a male – which he was kind enough to offer as a comment to my prior post. He writes:

“My take is that Junior was perhaps quick to burn the bridge between KTCK and CJ Wilson with his tweet, and that the fault probably lies with a handler situated between MLB.com and Fernando:

“CJ <-> Agent <-> Handler 1 <-> MLB.com <-> Handler 2 <-> Fernando <-> Musers

“I'm assuming that Handlers 1 and 2 are under the employ of MLB.com, and a game of 'broken telephone' ensued, leading to the accusations of lying by both parties.”

Yeah, almost had to be something like that. Personally, I would not have been so quick to assume that Wilson was being culpably untruthful here. He may have realized right off that there was a screwup and even though he knew he was going to be doing calls that day, he tried to smooth it over by saying that he wasn’t scheduled to do radio that day. Covering for the various intermediaries AP identifies above. But he didn’t think fast enough, because that questionable attempt at diplomacy was quickly punctured when it emerged (via his own tweet) that he was going to do another Dallas show, Ben & Skin.

By the way – I haven’t heard whether he did do Ben & Skin later on. Anybody know?

Has Wilson ever been on the Musers? Does he have a past relationship with any other Ticket showgram?

So what are we to make of this dust-up? . A couple of thoughts.

(1) Fernando/Craig/Gordon May Have Overreacted Even if They’re Right that Wilson Was Being Mendacious. Quite aside from the right/wrong of this episode, was it prudent to make an enemy of Wilson so promptly and on the air? Without any further investigation?  Who is going to win when a local radio station, even one as popular as The Ticket, cheeses off a superstar for a team on the rise, a team where he has lots of pals who The Ticket would like to interview?

And this is taking place against a backdrop of intensified competition from at least one of the local competitors who would only be too happy to call up Rangers PR and say "You know, no one at this station has ever called one of your players a liar on the air."

Look:  I'm all in favor of integrity.  And, as noted elsewhere, we like it that our boys our fearless when dealing with the big shots, including their own bosses.  I'm only musing (!) that sometimes there is a price to pay for fearlessness, and maybe our lads will pay it here.

(2) Maybe There’s Something Else Going on Here.  Maybe this isn’t a Wilson/Ticket issue. Maybe Wilson is having issues with MLB. Or with Rangers PR. And this is his way of gigging that entity.

Or maybe there’s a long-simmering problem between Wilson and The Ticket not directly related to today’s FUBAR. Somebody knows. Somebody will disclose it to Your Ticket Confession, perhaps in confidence.

Or maybe he heard something on the station between the time he agreed to do the interview and this morning that didn’t sit well with him.

Or how about this? (Ooo, this is delicious:)  This was orchestrated between Wilson and Ben & Skin.   As noted, he’s appeared with them frequently, maybe they’re pals. Maybe this was a way to pwn The Ticket (former home of BS) and promote BS.  As Gordon has noted:  in the absence of evidence, the conspiracy explanation must be the correct one.  I was retracing Gordon's LHO Trail of Tears just the other day and I could have sworn I saw Greggo behind the fence at the top of that grassy knoll.

(3) How Important Is The Ticket?  Can you imagine any other outlet being stood up like that and doing anything other than smoothing it over, saying there’d been a mixup or technical problem, and they’d reschedule, and no one would be the wiser? Of course, the fact that The Ticket does not do things this way is one of the reasons we love it so much. And I’m glad they blew up – it’s fun for listeners and website journalists. But there was more than a touch of hubris in today’s proceedings. They called the Rangers’ (current) number 1 starter a liar because they think they can.

(4) How Much of What Happened Today Is the Result of Inter-Showgram Competition?  As you know, Your Plainsman enjoys the sport of listening between the words to figure out what goes on at The Ticket other than broadcast greatness.  It results in wild guesses and probably many wrong ones -- I've had certain people in the know tell me I'm right about a third of the time, and others tell me that I'm amazingly accurate, so who knows; all I can tell you is that I'm guessing.  Here's my guess about this one:

The Musers could not have been happy about being pwn’d by a big-time interviewee which would unquestionably carry with it the prospect of BaD and The Hardline snickering behind their backs. They had to call it out and deal with it right then and there in a way that gave them a victory of sorts.  They had to acknowledge it -- they had to turn disaster into broadcast gold, which they did, which is why Ticket connoisseurs like AP got in touch with me, and I'm writing a big article about it, and P1 Steven and Christy and Scott and Douglas and several flavors of Anonymous are going to comment on it, and take that, BaD and Hardline snickerboys.

I also have a feeling that the brunt of the natural (and healthy) friction between these big-time showgrams is frequently borne by the producers. Which accounts for Fernando feeling particularly abused by these circumstances.

One thing is bloody sure --

(5) We Haven’t Heard the End of This. So let’s get started. Comments open . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . now.

Musers v. CJ: Talk Amongst Yourselves

The (incomparable) AP alerted me to the CJ Wilson contretemps on the Muser showgram today.   Alas, I heard most of the show today but missed this.  Scrambling to get up to date.  If anyone would like to fill us in and share his or her opinion, I'd be grateful.

                                      

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Ticket Confession Congratulates the (Incomparable) UnTicket on Its Third Anniversary Today

An incredible amount of work by DP, AP, and the rest of their enormous staff at UnTicket International Headquarters Plaza.  The Confessor Nation thanks you for sacrificing your time so that we may enjoy The Ticket any time of the day or night

       -- Plainsman

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How . . . White . . . Was It?

OK, Confessors, Your Plainsman doesn't ask much of you (although I suppose slogging through my prose can be something of a chore).

But I do have an assignment to hand out.  No math.

I am in San Diego and will not return until after White Elephant Day.  I'm hopeful that you will take a moment and drop a comment if you hear anything that you find interesting. 

I hope you will pay particular attention to what goes on between the words.  If you saw a transcript of a lot of these showgrams, you would never get a full picture of the relationships at The Little One.  White Elephant Day is a great day for testing theories, revealing animosities, and unearthing new stars given a chance to shine.  I applaud The Ticket for taking these kinds of chances.

So P1 Steven, Christy, Scott, Douglas, Anonymous A through F, and all other Confessors -- get by the channel, as Mike R would put it, and let The Confessor Nation know what you find out tomorrow.

PS:  Thanks to AP from the (incomparable) UnTicket for offering to supply Your Plainsman with segments.  I'm doubtful I'll have time to review any of the showgrams, but if something blows up you know I'll be tuning in to the site. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Well, By Golly, Let's Get That White Elephant Thread Underway! I'll Start.

Geez, I didn't think that White Elephant Day would excite much of anyone, but several commenters to the last post or two have already mentioned that they have some STDs about it (Scorching Ticket Dish).

I never paid a lot of attention to it, although in general I favor it.  It's a way for The Ticket to expose some hosts that people don't hear to a larger audience, assuming that midday hosts end up doing one of the drive segments.  Got no problem with it as a promotional device.  Haven't given it a lot of thought.

The best part about it, from Your Plainsman's point of view -- that is, from the point of view of a guy who needs fresh material to write about -- is that it is an opportunity to test theories about the pecking order at the station, who likes/dislikes who, that kind of thing.   White Elephants and other wife-swap opportunities are, for example, one part of my General Unified Theory of Bad Radio, which is that Dan McDowell and the other guys kind of hold each other at arm's length.  This automatically makes the morning drive the one not to miss (George, Dan, Norm, Tom, and Ty).

As for the others:  The 12-3 Junior/Rich/Danny/Donovan show should be good -- in fact, that wouldn't be a bad permanent team.  PM Drive with Mike, Gordon, Bob, Mike Sirois and Donovan should be interesting for the Bob-Gordon dynamic.   I'm interested in the Gordon-Danny relationship at the station, but there are few too hints of its existence to base much of a theory on, not that that has stopped me before.

Unfortunately  .  .  .  I will be out of town and not able to listen to the stream next Wednesday, so I would invite all Confessors to keep careful notes and let this site have your thoughts.

Hey, by the way:  Why is it called White Elephant Day?  A "white elephant" is a possession whose cost of upkeep, space it takes up, and other costs do not justify having it, but its owner can't get rid of it for one reason or another.  Is is named after the "white elephant swap"-type parties, which it also doesn't resemble?

Have at it, friends.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

George Gets It Right

"The Little Drummer Boy" is the all-time worst Christmas song. 

"Twelve Days of Christmas" is next on my list.

"Jingle-Bell Rock" is also pretty puke-inducing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mark Elfenbein and the Larger Changes

I share AP's regret at Mark Elfenbein's departure from Sunday mornings for a midday gig at 105.3.

This site has had occasion to remark on Elfenbein's unique broadcast sound in this market.  I'll miss him on Sunday mornings.  He had a solid show and good chemistry with his guys.

However  .  .  .

I have also thought that Elfenbein is probably best in small doses.  A few hours of an all-Elf show a week was probably about right.  I wish him the best on his everyday gig (real estate biz must really be depressed), but if I were Fan management I'd look for a strong co-host for him, or at least a sidekick that will offset his somewhat spicy delivery.  He works well with other voices on the show, doesn't seem to have big ego issues.  [[SEE CORRECTION BELOW.]]

Could they have found an everyday slot for Elf?  If it were up to me, I'd ditch the Top Ten and install a nighttime host, and Elfenbein would have been perfect for that. 

Richie Whitt in his report suggests that Elf may have been ill-treated by The Ticket, as a second-class citizen weekend host not worthy of standing with the weekday guys in the recent 15th anniversary celebrations.  So there may have been some behind-the-scenes stuff that made it uncomfortable for him to stay, or easy to go.  Maybe some anonymous insider in the know will lift the veil for us.

I'd been meaning to talik about some of the larger changes at The Ticket, but I don't know exactly what's going on.  New studio; new signal.  Elf leaving.  And all those ads for new sales and technical guys.  Sounds to me like The Ticket is going through some behind-the-scenes stuff, some of it good for P1s, some of it bad. 

Some of it, of course, is natural turnover in the volatile world of local radio.   Well-regarded but poorly-paid second-stringers at the mic and at the board looking for a better living elsewhere.

The Fan is not sitting still.  So far its all-Ticket hiring policy isn't working out for it, kind of like the Bengals' Cowboy poaching.  But they're in there slugging, and somewhere along the line, somewhere during the broadcast day, they're going to strike a little gold.

Note that in the portrait above, that Your Plainsman is "scanning the sports radio horizon," despite the name of the site.  I've been switching channels more frequently lately, checking out the competition when I've wearied of some tired bit or overexposure of one host or another.  Anyone want to steer me in the direction of good sportstalk elsewhere, lemme know.

CORRECTION:  I didn't realize they were going to team Elfenbein up with Josh Lewin..  Wow, an all-Jewish midday on The Fan.  Interesting.  That might be a potent alternative to BaD Radio.  If you're tired of all the bickering over there, Josh and Elf might seem worth a listen.

ADDENDUM, 2:30 pm:  Looks like Todd Archer is also changing his affiliation to ESPN.   Todd's OK, but this is not an immense loss from a daily broadcast standpoint.  The question I have is -- what does it mean about what's going on at The Ticket or, perhaps more meaningfully, what's ESPN's management up to?  Guessing that they're tired of looking foolish in this market (although promoting Hammer to five endless hours of drive is unlikely to prove an inspired strategy) and going to spend some bucks to class up their output.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ticket Sports Saturday Quick Hit

Your Plainsman is working the entire holiday.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it means lots of time in the SRT listening to off-hours Ticket.

I caught Ticket Sports Saturday this afternoon.  It was David Newbury and some other guy.  I'm not sure I caught his name.  Was it Ken Daley?   I didn't catch the name and that may not be right.  But he was a pretty relaxed cat.

Ty and Sean are plenty good, but I thought these two guys were really outstanding.  Nice calm, knowledgeable talk about a range of local teams.  Nobody saying anything was the greatest or the worst, just sober, knowledgeable analysis.  Nobody yelling at me, nobody trying and failing to be clever.  It was just a pleasure to listen to.   I assume these guys were filling in for Ty and Sean (again, no complaints about them, just don't catch them very often). 

I continue to be impressed by The Ticket's local weekend programming.

Last Greggo Post for Awhile Unless Something Interesting Happens

No Hardline yesterday so I turned in The Richie and Greggo Extravaganza. 

Greggo was back, sounding raspy but not, uh, overmedicated or anything.

You know, "extravaganza" is the wrong word to describe that show.  "Experience" would be better.

It's really not good.  It's anything but extravagant.  But since I've only caught 15-20 minutes at a time, and maybe only a half-dozen times, I'll reserve further judgment until I can listen to more of it.  If I can stand it.

The last of my preliminary takes, which is a lot like my first one:  They all sound nervous.  They all talk very rapidly, talk over each other.  In the segment I listened to yesterday, Richie and the other guy were constantly correcting Greg's factual mistakes.  And Greggo, bless his heart, just does not have enough interesting and original to say to be the focal point of that show.  The best guy on it is the non-Richie/Greggo guy who I don't know.  They're always trying to throw the conversation to Hammer, and he tries, starts hammering away, but there's very little there.  He just sounds dumb, and it's sad.   He's more hyperbolic even than Corby.

But it might get better, the balance might improve, they might find a plus-one who will make all the difference.  For now, though, unless Greg disappears again, I'm out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Your Plainsman Wishes All Confessors . . .

.  .  .  a nourishing and safe Thanksgiving. 

I'm thankful that you shop at My Ticket Confession.

Back soon with more blasts.

Plainsman

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where's Greggo? -- Part 23

Tuned into The RaGE yesterday a little after five during a Hardline advertising/Traffico/Traffico/Ticker extravaganza.  I didn't hear Greg or any reference to him.  Anyone RaGE listeners out there who can enlighten us on whether the RaGE participants offered any explanations for his absence?

====

New topic:    Face it, when you're alone in your car or just listening casually, you rarely laugh out loud at The Ticket.  Not because it isn't amusing, but because when you're flying solo there's no occasion for the social interaction that laughter enhances.  But today I had one of those solo LOL moments, actually, a couple -- The Musers' obit photo talk.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Musers: Not So Gentle on Greggo the Hammer

I don't remember the context, but this morning I believe I heard Craig "Junior" Miller make reference to someone being "hoarse," which was quite obviously a not-so-oblique reference to Greg Williams's vocal woes over on The Fan 105.3 RAGE showgram.  "Whatever the cause," he said -- or words to that effect, I was getting out of the shower at the time and my notepad was in my other towel. 

George and Gordon played along, i.e., pretended not to know what he was talking about, while knowing perfectly well.

The takeaway here is that The Exquisitely Gentle Musers disbelieve that Greggo's problem is laryngitis. 

There's some industry scuttlebutt here known only to local media insiders of the sort that used to be reported by Richie Whitt, but, of course, no longer. 



It's not beyond belief that Hammer had and has laryngitis.  (His voice sounds better by the day, on the brief snippets that I catch during Twin Peaks commercials on The Little One.)    I don't even know what kind of historical Greggo-style abuse would cause a loss of voice of the seriousness and duration of Hammer's.  So, in the absence of any definitive reporting by industry insiders -- or, heaven forbid, actual local media reporters -- I don't know that we have a choice other than to go with the official Fan version:  an organic source for Greggo's rasp.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Plainsman Congratulates Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket on Its New Victory Park Studios -- and, As Usual, Has a Few Questions

I expected this, reading between the lines of some of the banter in the programs. No, I didn’t know it was Victory Park, but I figured the lease was up there hard by Turtle Creek.

My Ticket Confession congratulates The Ticket on this move. Although apparently they’re dragging the other raggedy-ass Cumulus properties along with them. One would like to think that this was an acknowledgement of The Ticket’s contribution to Cumulus’s bottom line and an enhancement of the broadcast quality. But no, sounds more like their lease was up and they got a deal.



So although it’s great news – we want our favorite hosts to operate in attractive surroundings – I’m not entirely sure why it should be cause for celebration among the P1 Nation. I guess we’re all expecting that the technical issues that plague The Ticket – signal aside – will abate. Is there any reason to believe this? Has anyone heard that the move will involve improved hardware or software? Isn’t it a lot more likely that they’re just going to move their stuff from the old place to the new place? I didn’t hear the announcment on the station, I’m just reading the publicly released stuff, so maybe something was said about getting some new stuff. But I think it’s more likely that we’ll hear even more technical screwups than we hear every day as they work out the bugs in the new studios. I hope not.

(And by the way – why isn’t there a link to this announcement on http://www.theticket.com/? )

And I’m wondering whether the lessor’s agent maybe needs to get clued in to the new tenants’ actual business. From the release:

“Brokaw said about 85 people will work in the new Cumulus office. ‘It will bring more people to the district,’ he said. ‘It provides Cumulus with a great venue for people to come see their programs.’”

Brokaw needs some gentle instruction on the nature of freakin’ RADIO. And broadcasting from the Old No. 7 Club or the AA Center is going to be just as much a remote as it is now.

At least the hosts can now park in the P1 Garage they’re always flogging.

In any event, I’m a lot more interested in the pending AM power increase, the details of which have been unearthed by the Incomparable AP and reported in a comment to Your Plainsman’s article here (see Comment 10). This power increase is of particular interest given Greg “Greggo” “Hammer” Williams’s move to drive time on 100,000-watt The Fan 105.3 and a fairly direct challenge to The Hardline. I’ll have more to say about that in future articles.

In any event, I hope the move goes well and that I’m wrong about just rearranging the ENCO on the Titanic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Now I Can Die

I heard Rick Arnett and George DeJohn talking romance (not with one another) on The Train Station Fitness Show this morning. 

Actually, as odd as that sounds, it was pretty good.  I mean, they're right that:

(1) You should continue to date your wife.

(2) Spouses should avoid complacency about their health and appearance.

Hard to argue with that. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

That's Some Laryngitis

I thought I could do without The Fart Game today so I switched over to RAGE on 105.3.  Richie and some other guy were talking about Greggo, and the other guy reported that Greggo had "severe inflammation of the larynx, complete with pus pockets."  They said they hoped he would be back Monday.  He said that when he spoke to Hammer's girlfriend, she said he was in the bedroom punching the pillow out of frustration of not being able to broadcast.

O  .  .  .  kay.

How does one develop severe inflammation of the larynx?  Severe enough to generate (one of Junior's favorite words) pus?

Do we have any otolaryngologist Confessors out there?

Howcum? Department

How can a station that takes a fair number of listener calls on-air have such a consistently terrible time actually making that happen?  

It's not limited to remotes.  In a meta-E-Brake today, we heard Norm struggling through uncompleted calls, and then voting for the E-Brake utterly failed when calls could not be connected to the hosts and to us.

If I were Jeff Catlin I'd be screaming at someone.  I don't know who.  It may be The Ticket equipment vendor; it may be the Cumulus tech maintenance guys; it may be the board ops, although for no reason at all I have a feeling that it's not the board ops.

I've listened to talk radio for years and I've never heard a station that so consistently fails to convey calls successfully to the air.  Just incredible.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wade Termination Quick HIts

A few thoughts on The Ticket's performance during the Cowboys' dissolution:

(1)  Great Program Planning.  The Ticket went above and beyond by getting Bob and Craig, and then Norm and Bob, to join The Hardline in impromptu host roundtables to consider the events of the day.  Whatever one may think about sketchy show prep, individual hosts, excessive fart humor, or the Train Station Fitness Show, I think it's clear that The Ticket is dedicated to its listeners and to putting on the best possible programming.  Even Ticket-haters must acknowledge management's superior customer service in this market.

(2)  Hardline Sounded Real Darned Good.   Didn't The Hardline sound great with those additional adult voices?  Mike was a first-rate moderator, Corby's offerings were appropriate and a good change of pace -- this is what Corby brings to The Hardline when the show is at its best.  I've been mulling over The Hardline's sound the past several months, and yesterday's round-table has reinspired some thoughts on bringing in another host, as I urged some months ago in my multi-parter on The Hardline.

(3)  Craig Gets to the Point.  Craig Miller made all the points I've been waiting for a host to make, but somehow everyone has just been missing.  He places responsibility clearly on Jerry and Wade and successfully refutes (in my view) people who say that the talent must not have been what every single pundit on the planet judged it to be.   (Norm is still saying that.)   Craig hit on the explanation for Wade's perplexing positive won-loss record over his career.  His car analogy was perfect:  Wade is handed the keys to a thoroughbred sports car, but by neglect and failure to maintain it, it predictably breaks down.   And I don't know if it was Craig or someone else on the show, but finally someone stressed the lack of onfield leadership.  It only remains to draw the line between the skills of the head coach and the development of onfield leadership -- that is, management is accountable for everything that happens on the field, including the failure to cultivate commanders in the field of play.

(4)  Dan Shines Again.  Mrs. Plainsman arrived home just as Bob and Norm were supposed to come on.  I didn't hear any of Norm.  I did hear some of Dan, and, just like the Game 5 post-game, he was sharp and interesting.  My recent listenings of Dan suggests that he should shift away from Sports Humor and more into Sportsy Sports, with the humor flowing naturally from more substantive contributions.  Hmmm, need to think about that one.

(5)   Rowwwwwr!!  Loved the Craig/George spat this morning.  If you missed it, please go to The (Incomparable) UnTicket and check it out.  Here it is from memory:  Craig was making his case (a pretty good one) that Phillips is the worst Cowboys coach of all time.  George disagreed and defended Wade, or rather said that -- hell, I always get Campo and Gailey mixed up, before my Dallas days -- one of those guys was worse.  Junior pointed out that Campo/Gailey (whichever one it was) had an abysmal roster to work with but still went 5-11.  George ended up saying that he just thought Junior was too hard on Wade. 



This remark triggered something in Craig, who noted that George had done more to ridicule Phillips in this market than any other single human, with his Fake Wade reduction.  It is not overstating it to say that he accused George of hypocrisy (he didn't use that word), said he wished he could operate that way, slam the guy one minute with the cruel imitation, and then defend him the rest of the week.  George told him that maybe he (Craig) could operate that way, if he developed a Jason Garrett imitation. 

When stuff like this happens, you wonder What It All Means.  A checklist of possibilities.

     (a)   Behind the scenes tension? 

     (b)  The normal minor squabbles that attend any close friendship? 

     (c)  Junior a little disapproving of the weekly extreme Wade/Jerry bashing, making likable Wade seem like the simplest of morons? 

     (d)  Junior a little defensive about his theory of the worst all-time Cowboy coach?

     (e)  An eruption of the festering contradictions that accompany mixing comedy (which must always be negative) with observation and commentary (which should be even-handed and analytical).

I'm saying not (a), and some combination of (b), (c), (d), and (e). 

(6)   A Phony Is Ringing.   Deion Sanders was terrible on BaD.  Not BaD's fault.  Sanders was so wrapped up in being precious, and an insider, and controversial, and confrontational, and street, and cool, that after all the verbiage he communicated almost nothing of value.  I felt sorry for Bob and Dan, who were trying their best to be polite hosts.  Sanders was just an unlistenable schmuck.  I wonder if it was because BaD was the main popularizer of the "phong is ringing/Michael Trabtree" clip.



(7)   Craig Gets to Another Point  This is note from a couple of weeks ago:  Alone among pundits, Craig said something  that everyone who has ever run an organization thinks about the Cowboys:  I don't have any exact quotes, but Craig was commenting on some impossibly tangled Jerry remarks, and Craig said:  "That's what's wrong with the Cowboys."  From this statement and his follow-up, his point was (and I'm expanding way beyond anything Junior actually said, but this is what I took to be his meaning because it happens to be a point I want to make my ownself) that when you have management with the extremely primitive communications habits of Jones and Phillips it is completely unsurprising that the team appears unprepared.  There is no reason in the world to believe that either of them makes more sense or speaks more credibly to the organization than they do about the organization to the press and public. 

All in all, The Ticket has done itself proud on actual sports coverage on the Cowboys drama.

PS:  It's interesting that we call Jerry Jones "Jerry" and Wade Phillips "Wade."  But Bill Parcells was usually "Parcells" and Tom Landry is usually "Tom Landry" or "Landry."  "Jason Garrett" is almost always "Garrett."  I was going to make a point about how we use the last names of guys we respect more, until I realized that they usually refer to Jimmy Johnson as "Jimmy," so forget I said anything.

Any Post with "Greggo" in the Title Probably Isn't Good News

OK, something new this morning. 

Before I get to that, Confessor Scott left a very nice comment about Greggo on my previous post about Greggo's whereabouts. Check it out.

Let's review:

(1)  Caught the midday show a couple of times, very briefly.  Hammer sounded OK.  Show wasn't too exciting, but Greggo was the most interesting thing on it.  I think they call it RAGE, for Richie [Whitt} And Greggo.  I don't know if  the E stands for anything, but you can't call it RAG.

(2)  Caught the post-game show the week before last.  Greggo didn't sound drug-addled, but he sounded sick and extremely hoarse.

(3)  Greggo apparently disappeared from yesterday's postgame.  I only heard him say a couple of things, but he didn't sound hoarse to me as he had the week before.

(4)  This morning I decided I could do without "Muse in the News" and switched over to 105.3 The Fan.  Jagger and some guy named Henson?  And some chick.  I don't know who all was on the show.  It was awful.  Anyway, they were talking about yesterday's broadcasting day and they said something about Greggo not being there.  And then someone said:  "Greggo was there, but he has some kind of bad laryngitis."  And one of the other hosts said, with a smirk in his voice:  "OK, we'll go with that."

In other words, the morning guys did not believe that Greggo was off the show on Monday because of any legitimate illness.

Thus, I conclude -- very sadly, because like a lot of other people I grew very fond of Greggo the Hammer --that based on the past several years of Greggo disappointments, and just a few snippets from the past two weeks, Greg Williams is headed for trouble at The Fan, if he hasn't already arrived there.

Again, any 105.3 The Fan listeners are invited to comment with additional information, or to correct my impressions.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

AND AGAIN -- WHERE'S GREGGO?

I'm going to need a hand from knowledgeable Confessors here:

I'm listening to the Cowboys pregame on The Ticket.  Sean Bass and Larry Brown.  They're doing a great job, a very impressive show.   Sean has prepped and it shows.  I've never been wild about Brown, always thought he was OK, but today he seemed to have some really good insights on what was going on with the Cowboys.

And Todd Archer -- on fire!  The best I've ever heard him.    Really incisive commentary on what was going on with the Cowboys.  Why don't we get this Todd on The Ranch Report?  I'm wondering if the Cowboys' suckitude frees some of these pundits to say what they think.  It's clear that sources within the Cowboys are worthless -- there is no reason in the world to worry about Cowboys insiders not talking to you if you're publically critical.  Whatever the reason, he basically implied that Wade Phillips is constitutionally incapable of telling the press the truth about his players.  Good stuff.

But that's not important now.

I thought I'd switch over and listen to the Fan 105.3 Cowboys pregame.  I'm not sure who all the personalities are on that show.  Coach Joe and another guy, and another guy, and Greg Williams.  I don't think Richie Whitt was on this pre-game.   But I will tell you this:  (1) I heard Greggo's voice briefly, see below.  (2) Christie Scales, after her hilarious interview with Jerry, sent it back to three people she named, one of which was "Greg."  (Jerry was almost rude, had no interest in answering questions, the shortest Jerry answers in history, and Christie was brilliant, having another question ready immediately when Jerry would clam up.  This may have been edited, but it sounded to me like Christie was totally on the ball.)    And I see in my internet research that the Hammer is supposed to be on this pre-game show.

OK, here's what I heard:  They were talking about "the frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field, and that led to a mention of NFL Films narrator John Fassenda, and one of the guys said that Fassenda was the best voice of the NFL, and then you heard Greg say:  "I resent that."  I guess it was supposed to be a joke, but since Greggo is not the voice of anything, it didn't make any sense, and the other guys on the broadcast were clearly taken aback.  In retrospect, I wonder whether maybe it was a drop.  But I don't think so.


That was the last I heard from Greggo for the hour or so remaining on the broadcast.  His name was never mentioned again.   When they were talking to Brad Scham, he referenced "Joe" and one other guy by name -- I was jogging at the time and didn't have any way to write this stuff down, was it "Wally"? -- but no mention of Hammer, and when the show signed off, his name was not mentioned.

So here's the question -- did Greggo just blow it again?  I did not hear the first part of the show, so I can't say 100% for sure that he was even on the show.  I certainly heard his voice, but it was so brief that, as I say, I can't say it wasn't a drop.  He apparently is supposed to be on the show, at least as of the time that Christie Scales taped her interview with Jerry.  But for at least the last hour of the show -- no Greg Williams.

So -- have we just experienced another Greggo the Hammer meltdown? 

Sorry I don't know any more about the personalities who are supposed to be on the Fan Cowboys pregame.  All I can say is that if Greg Williams was on that show, then he ran into a problem well before the show was over and was gonzo for over an hour before it ended.  If not, then I apologize to the Confessor Nation -- and to Greggo -- for this alarming post.

I invite knowledgeable Confessors to enlighten this site.  Many thanks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How's Greggo?

I've tuned into the midday show over on The Fan a couple of times.  I found it difficult to listen to for some reason.  Dull.  Lack of insight not compensated for by interesting personalities.  However, I thought the Hammer sounded OK.  Certainly not incoherent.  Pretty much like his former Hardline self.

When I switched over to the 105.3 postgame show during a break in Norm's postgame show last week, there was the same team together with Coach Joe.  In this particular show, nothing much at all was being conveyed.  Greggo wasn't incoherent, but he sounded terrible, hoarse and sick.

I'd love to listen more and do a more thorough report on Greggo's broadcasting adventures on 105.3, but haven't had a chance to do so.  I'm betting there are Confessors out there who sneak over to Greggo's show now and again, and if you have any news about the guy I'd love to hear it.  Or if you'd like to weigh in on his show over there, be my guest.  Mainly, I'm hoping someone can tell me if his health is OK -- he really sounded rough last Sunday.

This is of increased interest now that The Fan is going to put Josh Lewin on middays and move Whitt/Hammer to 2-7, competing with The Hardline.   I don't see Whitt and Williams making much of a dent, but there will at least be some initial curiosity. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh, Danny, Danny, Danny -- or, Little Douche Coupe

Your Ticket Confession forgives Danny almost anything. In fact, it recently bestowed upon the sainted Mr. Balis the ultimate compliment, comparing him to bacon – a little Danny improves almost anything.

Danny requires very little forgiveness, but it is apparent from Confessors’ comments referencing Danny that one of the few things they would edit out of his act is his ┼▒bercoolness about music. About this I would agree. I am an admirer of Danny’s musical talent as it manifests itself on The Ticket, but I am not familiar with his non-Ticket oeurve. I don’t own any Sorta or any of his solo stuff, no particular reason, just haven’t gotten around to checking it out.

But yesterday – oh, Danny, Danny, Danny.

Sneering at – The Beach Boys. (Corby joined him in this sneering, but this particular article is about Danny Danny Danny, and Confessors I hear from don’t get exercised about Corby’s musical tastes.)

Now I will concede that in these the Twenty-Taints songs from fifty years ago about chicks, surfing, high school, and cars don’t sound cool to forty-year-olds. It might not even have sounded cool to those forty-year-olds when they were fourteen. And the Beach Boys didn’t get into groovy trippy lyrics until “Good Vibrations” and Brian Wilson’s collaborations with Van Dyke Parks. And I will also concede that we’re not talking about instrumental virtuosity here.

But oh, Danny – the music, the music.


Brian Wilson in the studio during "Pet Sounds" session

Brian Wilson is widely acknowledged among musical scholars and serious pop music critics as a musical genius.  Look, I know there's a lot of pretentious BS in the musical press on the artistic merit of marginal pop. I am not a scholar of music, but I am knowledgeable about it and I concur with those who stand agape at the alter of Brian. Couple of things:

First: Melody. It’s near impossible to do well. Oh, we can all write a little melody that follows the conventions acceptable to Western ears, but the chances of it being catchy, much less of catching the interest of millions of your fellows, is vanishingly tiny. Brian Wilson wrote dozens of them.  Dozens. And while all were catchy, many were and remain truly beautiful -- even some of the car and surfing songs, like "The Ballad of Ol' Betsy."  Freakin' song makes me cry.   Who can write like that, song after song after song? Paul Simon; McCartney and Lennon; Richard Rogers; Cole Porter; Jerome Kern; Fagen and Becker. Might put Billy Joel on that list. Personal addition – Brian Eno. Others, for sure, but not a lot with the vastness of Wilson’s string of hits.

In the documentary "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," Tom Petty compares Brian Wilson to Beethoven.

Second: Sophistication. Jeebus, Danny, I know there’s a lot of posturing in the musical world, but lots and lots and lots of people who know quite a lot about music recognize Brian Wilson as a musical genius, albeit a naive (untrained) one. Yeah, critical attention doesn’t define great music, but his music is great. And part of what makes it great is that it manipulates musical forms in a way that engages the ear in a very complex way.  Paul McCartney repeatedly acknowledged the Beatles’ admiration of “Pet Sounds” and its influence on "Sgt. Pepper."  Books have been written about Wilson’s construction of his songs – and not just the gorgeous harmonies, but the underlying chordal structure and use of time.  I’ll link to just one site that analyzes one my my two favorite BB songs – "The Warmth of the Sun," a stunning song composed on the night of JFK's assassination with Mike Love.  (My other favorite is “Don’t Talk” from “Pet Sounds,” of which I have actually had a role in recording a cover. “The Warmth of the Sun” is a favorite of many musicians, who point to one particular chord change as nearly revolutionary as a single chord change can be.)



Yes, it's sad to see the remnants of the band continuing to cash in on music that was made all those years ago, and which only Mike Love had some role in composing.  But part of the reason they can keep doing that is that the songs are fabulous constructions, every bit the equal of the Beatles' pop classics.  Brian Wilson never went on to record a "Sgt. Pepper" or "Abbey Road," but what he accomplished in the face of paternal opposition, mental illness, and the ossified studio system in the US at that time -- nothing short of breathtaking.  And what remains on the vinyl is still absolutely transporting.

So, Danny – not my leader, exactly, but pretty close until I saw you in that hat at the World Series remote – your credentials as a knowledgeable music guy are presently in purgatory. The Danny Nation will be listening for your further musical judgments upon which to evaluate your worthiness as a guide to excellent song listening.

But of course, you could give a crap about what we think. 

And we love you for it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Series Quick Hits; or Wherein I Almost Unmask

Mrs. Plainsman decided that she and I would give each other World Series tickets for Christmas, and Mrs. Plaimsman pretty much runs things around the old sod house, so we went to Game 5 last night.  A few observations.

Hardline -- Not So Remote.  We walked past the kids' ballpark where The Hardline was doing their remote.  We were pretty early, so I told Mrs. Plainsman I was going to go down and check out the remote.  I arrived as they were going into a break.  They seemed pretty relaxed, seemed to be having a good time.  Here they are as the spots are running:

Danny "Wool Hat" Balis, Corby Davidson, Mike Rhyner on break
outside the Jim Sundberg Junior Ballpark, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington,
just before Game 5, 11-01-10
On the far right you can see Craig Miller's distinctive profile entering the frame.  During the break he said hello to The Hardline and spoke to a couple of other people he knew.  I thought I would wait until The Hardline started broadcasting again and Craig was freed up and I'd introduce myself to him.  But at that point, Mrs. Plainsman horsecollared me to return to our trek to The Temple, so I maintain my status of never having met or spoken to anyone connected with The Ticket.

Classy Rangers Fans.  The Musers have mentioned this today, and I agree completely -- the Rangers fans were 100% cool.  When the game was over, they didn't instantly pour out of the station.  Everyone was standing and applauding.  Part of it was wanting to view the drama of a World Series celebration live on our own humble ballyard; part of it was to give a final cheer and a nice hand for the Rangers in thanks for a groovy ride this year; but I sensed that a part of it also was to show respect for the Giants and their fans who were present.  (May have been where we were sitting -- fourth row upper deck behind home late -- but the Giants fans were pretty loud.)

Retooling Those Swings.   Nolan Ryan said in a post-game interview that we're a fastball-hitting team and the Giants had us scouted out pretty well and threw a lot of curves and offspeed stuff that got close enough to the strike zone to be taken seriously.  No kidding.  Our guys were way out in front of pitch after pitch.  On the way home, The Memsahib asked:  "Can't they change that when the pitcher isn't throwing fastballs?"  I said I didn't know, but I hope Clint Hurdle does.

Good Dan.  We listened to Diamond Talk on the way home with Sean Bass, David Newbury, and Dan McDowell.  It was a good show, and Dan was especially good.  He was incisive, succinct, and reflected the attitude that most fans seem to have.   Kept the snark to -- well, I'm not sure I heard any.  Very nice job.  Hmm, maybe Dan needs a change of scenery, a show where he's the senior partner and not expected to be a Sports Humorist.  Let me think about that one.  Dan was pretty good last night.

Your World Series Joke, Guaranteed Original.  I sent this to Corby but haven't been able to listen to the entire Hardline, so don't know if it made the air:

     What do you get when you're sick of making lease payments on your apartment?


     Renteria.

Let's Go, Rangers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Elf Quick Hit -- That Sound He Makes

[[This was drafted a couple of weeks ago.  I forgot to hit "publish post."  So this one's a little stale.  Sorry.  -- Plainsman.]]

One day a couple of weeks ago the Musers were teasing Mark Elfenbein about the promo he taped for the show since he appeared to endorse the concept of a fourth playoff game for the Rangers and Rays.  Elf called in to defend himself.  He re-ran the Musers segment on his show Sunday morning.

They got to talking about that ngyah-ngyah sound that Elf makes at the end of all his promos these days.  If I had to describe it, it is a sound of amused anxiety.  I thought sure I knew where he got that sound, but he didn't mention it, so I'll throw it out my speculation --

It's the sound the late Dom DeLuise used to make with some frequency.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is This a Permanent Change? If So, Great

Delighted to hear that The Orphanage is going to 1 PM today.  Another positive development for original Ticket weekend programming, which has made great strides the last year.  Hope this is a permanent change. 

If so, Ticket/Cumulus management deserves thanks.

If not, then thanks for today.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Compare and Contrast: The Hardline in New York -- The Musers in San Francisco

Celebrity Confessor AP from The (incomparable) UnTicket has requested that I comment on the visits of the respective drive-time programs to New York and San Francisco.   (See his comment no. 6 to my prior post on my Ron Washington theories.)   It is AP's feeling that as the Ticket's "baseball show of record," perhaps The Hardline should have been sent to San Francisco instead of The Musers.

I guess the first thing we have to consider in this particular case is that this was probably not a radio station decision -- I'm guessing it was a sponsor decision because the sponsor (StubHub) actually footed the bill for the trip and provided the tickets, if I understood the hosts of both shows correctly.  They chatted with the nice lady who runs StubHub a couple of times on each showgram.   StubHub might well have thought that it would get more bang for the buck by spreading the stubs around a little.

Let's put that aside and examine these road trips from the listeners' perspective. 

A couple of thoughts:

(1)  These are radio talk shows.   They're not The Amazing Race where one's physical surroundings are a significant part of the actual broadcast.  So the value of a road trip can only be discerned in the difference between what we hear every day on the air and what we hear when they broadcast from the road. 

I was struck by this during Cowboys training camp this year.  I always think that it's going to be cool to hear them broadcast from training camp, and then  .  .  .  I can't recall a single Cowboy insight from any of the showgrams this year (in fairness, I seldom heard Norm or BaD) that resulted from their presence at the training camp.  Now there were some bits -- Corby's hit-and-run interviews of Cowboys after practice and various hangers-on, the Musers' encounters on the street at night.  Both of those can be very entertaining.  Were they worth it to The Ticket sending the broadcast teams and technical crews down to San Antonio for however long it was?  Don't know.  Doubt that Cumulus gets more ad revenue from road trips.  Or maybe it's a promotional thing, they do it so they can say they did it.  A goodwill thing, point of pride.  Did it result in significantly enhanced (1) radio broadcasting or (2) Cowboys insight?   Maybe a little bit.  Little tiny bit. 

Point is -- road trips don't do much for me one way or the other. 

In fact, now that I think about it -- this year I don't evem remember the drive shows doing any sit-down player interviews with the hosts.  I may be misremembering this, but in years past I seem to recall that they had players and coaches lined up to do a bunch of interviews but it's not coming to mind this time around.  (Not that I miss player/coach interviews -- they seldom have much of interest to say, and when they do say something interesting, there's always the risk they'll get in some trouble.  So who cares about player/coach interviews and, for that matter press conferences?)   So if you're not going to interact significantly with the activity that has brought you on the road trip, what exactly is the point?

(2) Turning to AP's thoughts on the Hardline/Musers:

I agree with AP that the Hardline is more Rangeriffic.  Even Danny arises from his cynical cultural torpor to show some enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, baseball.   And, of course, Mike is Baseball Jeebus.

I'm not sure that the relatively greater advertised fondness of The Hardline for the Rangers translates into a better experience for the listener.  Hard to say.  I'm not sure the stories of the hard partying when the Hardline boys go out of town is of great interest to the listener.  Sounds kind of like guys whose minds might not entirely be on The Great Game.  We do get an account of their travels to Yankee Stadium and their time at the game, and that's interesting to listen to.  But we didn't get much man-on-the-street this time around.  I will say that I did like Danny's brief reports from Yankee Stadium on the day when they sent him on ahead because the game conflicted with their broadcast.  I know Danny isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for some reason the jamoke just tickles me.  But The Hardline's presence in New York City really didn't leave much of an impression that was a result of them being there. 

The Musers, of course, are broadcasting in the dead of night in San Francisco, so other than their game account, -- which, like The Hardline's was interesting -- we get recorded audio of their encounters.  Which, it must be said, are greater in number than the Hardline.  And pretty well done.  Each guy collected some tape. 

I don't want to say that I like The Musers in San Fran better than I liked The Hardline in New York, or the other way around either.  I will say that each show exhibited their characteristics with about the same vividness as they do in the studio -- the ramshackle, not-much-show-prep Hardline, and the more buttoned-down, spread-the-duties Musers.   Liked 'em both.  Not hearing a whole lot of gee-whiz arising out of their proximity to the Rangers post-season, but maybe some marginal sizzle.  They're both great in their own way.

But neither is a whole lot greater on road trips.

So to answer your question, AP -- I can't say that The Hardline's baseballphilia earns them any greater entitlement to post-season ball on location.   I might feel differently if they had used their their enthusiasm -- and their media contacts -- to more colorful effect in NYC, but they didn't line up much beyond the New-York-is-Cool stuff.  So I'm OK with the Musers in the City by the Bay.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ron Washington and The Other

I offer apologies once again for a sportsy post.  But everything I know I learn from The Ticket, so, uh  .  .  .  there.
I don’t have any grand theory about the success of the Rangers this year.   But I have a theory about Ron Washington and his approach to baseball.
Actually, I have two theories.  The first theory, the dull one, I got from listening to the interviews of the Ranger players from before the Tampa Bay series through the present.  I noticed that in almost every interview, at one point or other, the same word would issue forth from the player’s mouth:  “fun.”  Player after player talked about going out and having fun.  And if there’s one thing that has characterized Ranger baseball this year, especially as the lineup solidified and they got past the injuries, is that it was fun to watch (not solely because of the winning, although that helped), and it looked like the players themselves were having fun grabbing bases, stealing home, dropping the claw/antlers on ‘em.   Surely that’s Coach Ron’s influence.  I do not intend to demean him when I say there is a delightful boyish quality to his dugout presence.  I think he reminds these guys of what brought them to the game in the first place.

You know, before the chicks.  And the dough.
OK, that’s the dull theory.
The more fun theory is this:
To Ron Washington, baseball is The Other.
To Ron Washington, baseball is a, separate, sensate, volitional entity.  It is a thing unto itself that gives, takes, and speaks, and to whom one gives and from which one takes, and to whom one listens. 
Consider the way he talks about it.  I don’t have the time to research all of his interviews, but it appeared vividly in today’s press conference, when he said something like:  When the game tells you to bunt, you bunt; when the game tells you to steal, you steal.   And in another recent interview, he said something like:   You take what baseball gives you, and you give what baseball takes.   There are numerous other examples along these same lines. 

Even his repeated use of the phrase "the game of baseball" bespeaks a certain reverence, a reverence one holds for the mysterious Other.
And even his Ticket-promoted signature phrase – That’s the way baseball go.  Doesn’t that sound a lot like Josh Howard saying that you can’t control what the ball do?  And, like that basketball, baseball is crazy.  (Fun?)  And you have to deal with its craziness like it’s an insanely possessive lover from whom you cannot escape, to whom you must return day after day to do her bidding, whatever she tells you to do, and you give to her what she demands.   You have to listen to what she tells you she wants, make sure you heard it correctly, and then deliver it right then and there so that she will give you what you want.
No, I don’t mean that Ron Washington has a peculiar sexual yearning for the game of baseball.    I mean nothing more than that Ron Washington thinks of baseball as a discrete being, equal parts demanding and benevolent, to whom direct and careful attention must be paid.  And if you do it right, with appropriate respect and loyalty, that attention will be rewarded with victory.
To Ron Washington, baseball is a spirit. 
His relationship with The Other is the source of The Passion of Ron Washington.