Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Ticket Is More or Less Off the Air This Morning

I noticed it driving through Plano early this morning.  104.1 FM was gradually dying, succumbing to the superior power and/or atmospherics of that East Texas talker.  It is now completely off the air.  The 1310 AM signal is all but unintelligible in parts of downtown. 

The top-rated station for the most desirable demographic and it's unhearable in the heart of its listening area.  This has been going on so long that technology can no longer be blamed.  It is sheer upper-level management incompetence.

What would happen if, next time contract renewal comes around, Mike Rhyner or Junior Miller or George Dunham said:  I'll sign up for another few years, but I want a clause in there that if that signal doesn't improve to such-and-such a level -- and these things can be quantified --  by such-and-such a date, I can leave the station with $XXX,000 in severance and no noncompete.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Copenhagen Room Found -- With Mike's Flashlight

Your Plainsman is nothing if not indefatigable in search of obscure of the etymology of Ticket references.  Unfortunately, I fear that this will expose me as the least-hip P1 in the Nation.

And, as I say in the following article (posted earlier tonight), many of y'all may already know where Michael Rhyner's reference to "The Copenhagen Room" in his introduction to E-News comes from.  I didn't.

As always seems to happen, the flashlight gave it away.

So -- Mike introduces E-News by saying "Whaddya say we get a little flashlight goin' here?"  And the undermusic is "Flash Light" by Parliament (next article).

And you take that clue and do a little Googling, and you come up with an essay by Wayne Ewing, a producer who was going to make a movie with Hunter Thompson about his stint as a "night manager" for the tragic San Francisco porn kings Jim and Artie Mitchell, who produced "Behind the Green Door" and many other features, and ran the notorious O'Farrell Theater.   Here is an excerpt from his article:

"Hunter insisted that Deborah and I take the full tour of what he called “the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America.” On the first floor were three venues – the New York Stage where one girl would dance while others gave lap dances to the audience, the Copenhagen Room where patrons sat around the perimeter with flashlights and girls performed in the middle or on your lap, and the Ultra Room, a room with private cubicles from which you watched while the girls did each other in the box and you fed them tips through slots in the glass.

"'Be careful not to touch the walls,' one girl thoughtfully warned Deborah with whom I shared a cubicle."

You can read the whole article here.
 
Founders of The Copenhagen Room, Jim and Artie Mitchell
Jim would later shoot Artie to death.  Brothers Emlio Estevez and  
Charlie Sheen would later portray them in "Rated X."
 
So there you have it.  Get a little flashlight goin' and step into the Copenhagen Room.  I had always pictured Mike as an usher in a red blazer and black slacks with a flashlight to show you to your seat in a night-clubby kind of place.  Nope -- turns out the patrons are the ones who needed the flashlights.
 
The Hardline, bringing a little class to the culture-starved P1 Nation.

KNTU 88.1 FM Pays Homage to The Ticket -- I Think

Your Plainsman was doing some personal financial work around 8:45 tonight and had "North Texas Jukebox" turned down low. It's the Sunday night show on 88.1 FM KNTU, the University of North Texas college station, where one can go online and request any song of any kind. I thought I caught a hint of something I recognized. I turned it up, and sure enough – it was that goofy song that The Hardline plays under E-News. I always wondered what that song was; now I know, because the DJ identified it when it was done playing: it's "Flash Light" by Parliament.  I suspect that every Ticket listener except me already knew this, as it seems to have been a hit, and has made numerous appearances in movies and TV shows.



If that weren't cool enough, when the DJ was ready to move on to the next request, he said that he was "leaving the Copenhagen Room."

I wasn't sure that was a Ticket reference. But since I can't find anything on the Internet linking that song and the Copenhagen Room – whatever that is – I can only assume that the DJ was paying tribute to The Hardline.

By the way – if anyone out there knows the significance of the Copenhagen Room and can enlighten someone who has only been listening since 2004, I'd be grateful for the information.

Friday, March 26, 2010

That Musers' Deep Throat Informant and "Poltergeist" Medium -- Separated at Birth?

I've noted this before, but thought I'd re-run it since the Musers' Deep Throat Informant reported on his/her presence at the Ron Washington cocaine ingestion episode.

The Deep Throat Informant sounds almost exactly like the tiny “Poltergeist” ghost hunter that visited Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as they attempted to rescue Heather O'Rourke from  .  .  .  well from the poltergeist.  The actress, Zelda Rubinstein, died earlier this year.

Check it out and see if you think Gordon got any inspiration here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_nLiys-TqY

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Corby Issues the Line of the Year (So Far)

On Tuesday, Corby let loose with a sentence so perfect, so hilarious, that its slight vulgarity may be completely excused. The gents were discussing “Dancing with the Stars,” and Corby had called to Mike’s attention that Mike’s reputed lust-destination Pamela Anderson was among the contestants. Mike grunted dismissively, Corby and Danny abused him roundly for his faithlessness, and then Corby said, deliberately and with great conviction:

“You cannot turn your back on the ass of yesterday.”

The way he said it, with such utter gravity and sincerity, it would not have sounded out of place in the Gettysburg Address. His remark passed without comment, because the next thing he said was what he imagined Reggie Bush said to Kim Kardashian upon his departure, which was also amusing, and which got marked, but which I cannot recall verbatim. You’ll hear it again, Confessors, in fully-mastered drop form, of that you may be certain.

But I ask you to consider the perfection of Corby’s locution. It would not have been as funny if Corby had said:

       "You can’t turn your back on the ass of yesterday”

Or:

       “You cannot turn your back on yesterday’s ass”

Or:

       “You can’t turn your back on yesterday’s ass.”

No, by omitting contractions and using the construction “ass of yesterday,” he made it worthy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. It even makes a good poem:

       You cannot
       Turn your back
       On the ass of yesterday.

Now there’s a drop for you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Perfect Thing About The Hardline

There are many quite superb things about The Hardline, of course, but there is one thing that is absolutely perfect.  One thing that should never, ever be changed.  One thing that represents the ideal marriage of performance, design, architecture, engineering, construction, and feng shui.  What is this paragon of that which cannot be improved?

Insulation.

Because The Hardline custom studios are possessed of exactly that combination of soundproofing, fiberglass wall stuffing, glass, sheetrock, wall posters, and discarded I Fratelli pizza boxes so arranged that when something amusing takes place, during those moments of precious on-air silence, originating in some distant room, pitched at a decibel level that could not be any more perfect if Glyn Johns were twiddlin' and tweakin', one can detect, just barely, the irresistible chortling of Michael Gruber.

There is no jollier sound in the universe than Grubes's throaty larfing, but it would not be nearly so jolly if it were one VU meter tick one way or the other.  Bleeding through the exquisitely-composed walls of The Hardline custom studio, it's one of those sounds, like a bull's-eye fart drop, that one cannot hear without laughing. Absolutely. Dead. Solid. Perfect. 


Monday, March 22, 2010

Gordon Wrecked Last Thusday's Show

Your Plainsman lays awake at night trying to think up catchy titles for articles.  Sometimes, sleep arrives too soon and you just have to go with what you got.

Have you ever known someone who was incredibly talented, both witty and funny, an astounding mimic, possessing a fabulously associative intellect, all of it wired to operate at maximum speed so that even if you thought of something clever, interesting, or cutting to say, he always managed to say it first and get the laugh or the gasp or the admiring female gaze?  And, despite the pleasure that you may have taken in being in the company of such a star, didn't there come a time, every once in awhile, where you wanted to say -- or perhaps you did say -- "Plainsman, give it a rest"?

Gordon is that guy.
Only, since Gordon is on the radio and you are in your car/workplace/Oval Office, you can turn the showgram off or change the channel.

Which I did last Thursday.

George was off doing the North Texas game and Mike Doocy sat in.   Doocy is a good guest host, kind of gets the gig and goes along with what the showgram is about.  He's smart, knows some sports, accepts the gags tossed his way.  The show started out great.

Gordon sabotaged it at every turn.  He would not leave Doocy alone.  The poor man couldn't utter a phrase without Gordon (1) making one or another gag out of it, and, worse, (2) making the same gag or another out of it, either an aberrant-sexual-practice or drug-use joke.  A couple of these would have been OK, but they didn't stop.   The stop-down to the showgram was bad enough, but the references were not redeemed by being amusing.  Was there something inside going on?  Some allusion to Doocy's past?   I came to think so, but that made it worse, because (1) Your Plainsman, at least, did not know the reference(s), and (2) it was rude.

I actually had the privilege of turning the showgram off twice, because the next day when they replayed the Fake Tiger call to Doocy at 6:40, it flamed out almost immediately for the same reason, so it was back to "Morning Edition" and a riveting report on the crisis facing anvil manufacturers in Burkina Faso.

Jeez, Gordon, we love ya, man (in fact, Your Plainsman is preparing a laudatory article that will appear after a decent interval), but sometimes even a real smart guy has gotta know, you know, when to put a cork in it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Correction to "Confessional Quick Hits" (March 18), Quick Hit (1)

In my report on the number of ancestors to be examined if one searches one's ancestry back 20 generations, I calculated that the number to be examined was 2 to the 20th power, or 1,048,575 people. That is incorrect – that's only the number of people in the 20th generation. The aggregate number of people to be examined in all generations is (2 to the 20th) + (2 to the 19th) + (2 to the 18th) + . . . . + (2 to the 1st). The actual number of ancestors back to the twentieth generation – counting your parents as the first generation – is 2,097,150.

Your Plainsman apologizes for this gross error.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Confessional Quick Hits

Couple of thoughts from the broadcast day:

(1)  20 Generations.  In discussing the new Lisa Kudrow show about searching for ancestors, Corby (jokingly, I think) talked about going back "20 generations."  That isn't so crazy, necessarily, since 20 generations is about 500 years, which takes us back to the 1500s, which isn't that far from when Danny's ancestors came over on the Mayflower, or whatever it was he was claiming.  However, if one really did try to go back 20 generations, he would be examining a large number of people -- 2 to the 20th power, to be exact.  That works out to 1,048,575 people.

(2)  What Were the Rangers Thinking?  In listening to today's conversations about why the Rangers didn't fire Ron Washington, I didn't hear this one (but I usually don't get to hear Norm or BaD Radio, so they may have touched on it):  The Rangers were for sale at that tme.   Disarray and lack of discipline would have made the team (admittedly, only marginally) less attractive to purchasers, and that would have been an issue only if Washington had been fired (since the the whistleblower was not blabbing at the time).  There was no likely successor to Wasington in place at that time.  So it made more sense to stay the course and disclose Washington's issue to shoppers at such time as they were doing their "due diligence" on the Rangers.  

(3)  More Ron Washington.  Gordon sensibly asks, "wasn't the world a better place without HR?"  Sure. But HR didn't explode on the scene in the last 25 years all by itself.  It was compelled by the interference of courts and legislatures in hiring and firing decisions.  Some of this interference has been necessary (ending certain kinds of discrimination), but a whole helluva lot of it has been absolute nonsense (forbidding employers from making reasonable distinctions between good and bad employees and imposing their own notions of "fairness" on the hiring and firing process).  My point here is that you can bet that the Washington situation was far more drenched in legal considerations than HR considerations.

(4)  Another Unbelievable Bear-Trap.  The one Gordon just told about the guy who was holding forth on "Wayne" as a middle name.  It was going fine until the wife says "Didn't I tell you his father killed his mother and went to the chair"?  He said, "no, I don't remember that."    First, if this were true, of course she would have told him.  And this supposedly wasn't the first time they were getting together.  Second, if she had told him about it, one of them would have remembered.  Third, there were very few executions taking place during the time when that mother and father would have been alive.  Fourth, the electric chair was not a common method of execution during that period.  Fifth  .  .  .  hell, it doesn't make any sense and it didn't happen the way the bear-trap guy says it did, if it happened at all. 

The Bear Trap Contest is starting to become like Hypothetical Thursday -- what I call "NPR Moments," because that's when I am compelled to change the channel for a few minutes until the inauthentic broadcasting abates.

(5)  Junior v. Keith.  No, not that Keith.

Junior said he feared Keith Olberman's intellect.  He needn't worry.  Olberman is glib but his intellect is a mile side and an inch deep.  Junior's intelligence is far more subtle and penetrating.  He could hold his own and, after enduring a verbal barrage or two, would prevail in any debate.  Any debate about cycling, anyway.

(6) Baby Doll Ad.  I was really disappointed to hear this ad a little after 5 pm Wednesday.   I've heard other sports-radio stations (other markets) run these ads for "gentlemen's clubs."    The station will run them for awhile, then station management awakens to how awful they sound and how cheap they make the station seem.  And the station stops accepting those ads.  Put aside the content -- the chicks they get to read that copy all sound stupid and amateurish.   Same with The Ticket.   Those smarmy ads never fit in with The Ticket and after awhile they went away.  Then there was the Baby Doll ad yesterday, which was the sleaziest, smuttiest ad for a strip joint I have ever heard.  Same stupid amateur chick reading it.   It came as close to a soliciation for prostitution as you're ever going to hear on the radio.  It almost makes me wonder if, despite the great numbers for The Ticket, the economy has made it hard to get the rates The Ticket needs to pay all the on-air talent.

I wish all Confessors a fine weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Can We Get a Little Love for Cumulus, Please?

Cumulus takes something of a beating from the P1 Nation.  This site has taken its shots, as have other sites and commenters.

Lately, I've been lecturing Cumlus on the need to give The Little One a better signal -- in particular, I've urged that it simply deliver up to The Ticket the 93.3 frequency.  (I haven't found jobs yet for the i93hits folks.)  Or, at a minimum, we'd like The Boys to have some better in-studio hardware.   We'd welcome a billboard or two along the Tollway.

But this site is dedicated to fairness and The Larger View.  The Larger View is that The Ticket is still a terrific radio product.  We know that not only because we like to listen to it, but because we have some pretty persuasive evidence that we are not alone.  The ratings are through the roof, even though the Arbitron measurement methodology has changed. 

I will ask fellow Confessors to take my word for it:  When a new corporate owner comes in in any industry, the temptation is almost overwhelming for various persons regarding themselves as experts -- not to mention the Rhyner-reviled consultants they trail along with them -- to tinker with the  merged entity's existing formats and formulas. 

Cumulus did not do that.  Not in any way that is visible to the Nation, that is.    While Cumulus may not be nuturing the goose that continues to lay those golden shares with improved studio toys, neither has it tinkered overmuch with The Little One.  The result is that we continue to enjoy that distinctive combination of guy talk, sports, stammering, inside lingo, close-to-the-edge naughtiness, bits, and charming self-consciousness.  

Radio is a tough biz.  A radio station, I gather, is something like a restaurant.  If it's a gigantic hit, it throws off cash like crazy.  If it's OK, it operates on a razor-thin margin.  If it's average, it's probably a cash-flow loser.  The big winners are rare and the stress of maintaining their success as they age is enormous.  The temptation to fine-tune what's already working must be almost overwhelming.

So consider what Cumulus has done with The Ticket. 

Nothing, pretty much.

Yeah, Cumulus should pop for some big-boy promotion and some improved infrastructure.  But if we can't have that, at least we still have The Ticket in its more-or-less classic format.  That it has survived some high-profile ownership changes suggests that Cumulus may, just may, know what it's doing.  That it has exercised, shall we say, creative restraint in its dealings with the touchy talent at The Ticket. 

Corporate management with a sense of what keeps it afloat -- far out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Have You Thought About It? WBAP Just Did

Alert Confessor James reports in a comment to the prior article that on this very day, WBAP News/Talk 820 AM has begun simulcasting on 96.7 FM, the signal formerly occupied by KPMZ, the Ron Chapman-programmed "Platinum" 60s-70s station licensed to Flower Mound.  Citadel Broadcasting just up and freakin' gave it to 'em.

I don't know the ins and outs of why Citadel Broadcasting gave WBAP the FM signal. Doubt that it was signal-related.  (820AM is 50,000 watts, clear-channel omnidirectional at night.  96.7 FM is 90,000 watts, not too shabby.)  Whatever the reason, it unquestionably made WBAP, which has a strong local news and Limbaugh/Hannity/Ingraham lineup, stronger still. 

But when The Ticket arises from its Cumulus-induced slumber and fills the ether with a fresh new 93.3 FM signal, the airwaves will sizzle with the exodus of ideology-exhausted WBAP listeners to The Little One.

Or some other overblown, mixed, and inappropriate metaphor.

That Lousy Ticket Signal -- and What to Do About It, Part 2

A few months back I suggested that The Ticket switch signals with The Bone (93.3 FM), which is now something called "i93hits," I think. My thought was that Cumulus should simply give The Ticket the much better signal of a much worse-performing station in its station lineup.  They could give The Ticket 93.3 and do something else with 104.1.

I don't know if "i93hits" is doing better than "The Bone" at that address.  Probably too early to tell in the way radio-station-gestation periods are measured.  But how good can it be doing if it's playing the same thing everyone else is playing? I dunno, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' radio stations.

But I do know that radio conglomerates do move solid stations to better signals that they own, or add simulcasts.  (I couldn't find when The Ticket was given 104.1, but I think it was during Susquehanna's stewardship, and Cumulus also simulcasts The Ticket on 1700AM.)  Case in point: WSCR-AM "The Score" is the pioneering sports-talk station in Chicago.  Its owner gradually improved its AM signal since its founding in 1992, and it now broadcasts at 670AM, a 50,000 clear-channel signal formerly held by NBC affiliate WMAQ.  But The Score apparently isn't stopping there.  I found this in a recent online edition of "Talkers" magazine, the talk-radio-industry bible.

“The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lewis Lazare writes that although a source with CBS Radio tells him there is nothing on the drawing board to put an FM simulcast on its WSCR, Chicago, he believes the company will do it soon – perhaps before the White Sox take the field in April. Lazare notes the languishing ratings of AC WCFS-FM and speculates that WSCR – which finished 10th in the market adults 25-54 in the January PPM – could really capitalize on an FM signal. Previously, there had been chatter in Chicago that Bonneville might take an underperforming FM and flip it sports but there has been no movement there.”

So I republish my previous suggestion that Cumulus give The Ticket 93.3 FM, a 50,000-watt FM signal licensed to Haltom City; I don't know where the transmitter is.  (104.1 FM is 6200 watt licensed to Sanger.)  A strong signal that reaches the entire DFW metro area.  Don't know anything about radio station economics, but I have to believe that a move like that would instantly enhance ad rates and increase demand for ad time on The Little One.

Because more people could hear it, and because the people who hear it now could do so secure in the knowledge that they would not lose the signal while crossing the street, or have it magically transformed in mid-bit into a Christian talk-radio station from Tyler.

Now, I do have it on good authority that Cumulus is taking some regulatory and engineering steps to solve some of its lousy-signal issues.  I am skeptical that they will do much good at the current power authorizations for 1310 AM and 104.1 FM.  But perhaps things will get better without an entirely new signal for The Ticket.

If Cumulus decides not to heed Your Plainsman’s generous counsel, perhaps it could spend a couple hundo and chip in some new cables, plugs, and iPod playback hardware for the studio.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Greggo . . . Hey, Greggo

If the comments to online articles about Greggo's recent parting with John Clay Wolfe are any indication, our sympathy reserves are pretty much exhausted.  Mine too.  But, as his wife says about Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman":   He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid.   .  .  .  . Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.

As I reread Richie Whitt's report on his recent conversation with Greggo, a disturbing vision emerged:  Something bad is going to happen to Greg Williams, or to someone around him.  Destitute; erratic behavior; possibly still using; self-deluded and deluded by others; subject to depression; prospects vanished; publicly humiliated as his private business is made public.  And isolated.  And a fondness for guns.  And a brother who was a suicide.  Go back and read the first few paragraphs of Whitt's article on the Greggo/Ticket divorce, "The Hard Lie."  Things have only gotten worse for Greggo since then.

And yet, think:  We have all been hugely entertained by this man, and for years.  He got himself to work and put on a show for a long time.   It is beyond any doubt that he has brought his present troubles on himself.  But -- and I'm no expert on the ways of the mind -- in reading everything that has been written about this man it is all but impossible to escape the conclusion that his behavior has its footing in a clinical foundation that can be treated, if not altogether repaired.   Yeah, I know, you have to let addicts hit bottom.  I've had that experience with a loved one.  Two, in fact.  That strategy is fine right up to the time he doesn't get up.

Unlikely that Greggo tunes in to this site.  But I'd feel pretty lousy if one of us many pundits, bloggers, posters, or commenters, now that we're done clucking our tongues, didn't say something. 

Greggo, look around.  Nothing you see, not one thing, not one person, including the one sitting in your chair, can help you.  Not one thing you own beyond those four walls.  That includes the telephone.  Talking is nothing, it can't help you.  Nothing and no one in your current experience can help you.

But there is help to be had. 

Get up and get out of there. 

Pack a bag, or don't.  Drive yourself, by yourself, to any one of any one of dozens of organizations -- and you know some of them yourself -- who are waiting to help you.  They will welcome you. 

Your fans may be shaking their heads as they read about your recent reversals, but they are still fans, and they're legion.  They may believe that you are the author of your own low state, but they don't like it that you're miserable and failed.    Right now you're just a story to us, but if you get out there and where you need to be you can become a great story, one of the great second acts in DFW history. 

That road trip will be a hard one, the goodbyes will be agonizing, and it will never, ever end as the demons keep your taillights in view. 

But if you can stay awake and keep the car on the road as you do the difficult things you must do, there will come a day when you can pull into a parking lot, show some ID, walk down the hall, settle yourself into a comfortable swivel chair, and take a deep breath as you adjust the headphones and turn to speak into the microphone.

Just as you did for all those years.

Do it.  Get up now.  Do it.

Nitpicking This Morning's Muser Errors

Unfair and and entirely unnecessary commentary on this morning's program:

(1)  Junior kept referring to the former heavyweight champ as "Jack Johnston."  His name was Jack Johnson.

(2) Junior mistold the priest/rabbi joke this morning, or read a lame version of it.  The Rabbi is supposed to deny that he's ever eaten pork.  Then the priest confesses to having sampled the pleasures of the flesh.  "I don't blame you," rabbi says, "It's better than pork." 

(3)  I didn't get to hear the end of the Bear-Trap of the Week contest, but I did not believe the story of the blind guy running into the other guy.  Nothing about it made sense.  (a) The guy didn't see some guys playing with hockey sticks a block or so back and think that one guy was following him tapping a hockey stick.  (b) Blind guys with sticks walk slowly.  They don't catch up with normal-gaited people.  (c) People who hear any kind of tapping coming up behind them turn around to look.  (d)  If there was a crowd around to disappear into, the guy would not have heard the tapping.  The story was fake.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

But Greggo . . . Why One Hundred FOUR Thousand?

Radio -- it's a tough business.  Really tough.  Lotta people want to get into show biz, and they'll do anything to get a foot in the door.  Once there, they find they have to continue to work for non-celebrity wages to keep the gig.

Danny Balis, in my judgment one of the most compelling broadcasters in Dallas (and one of the most misunderstood -- I'll hit this topic another time) -- let slip a few days ago that he makes $30,000.  I don't know if he was making a humorous point in the context of what they were discussing at the time, but it had the ring of truth.  (I think he says he makes more from his music than from his Ticket engagement.)  And I'm guessing, but I doubt Cumulus has included in his compensation package a piece of Hardline-generated profits.  (Sometimes I wonder if Grubes has him on retainer.)

Anyone following the Greggo-Hammer-HeeHoo saga has already read Richie Whitt's (rather balanced)  account of HeeHoo's phone call to him to report on the climactic meeting with John Clay Wolfe.  Wolfe was offering $24,000 plus a share of the profits -- in other words, a piece of the show, a nice incentive for good behavior -- and some pretty stiff disincentives for bad behavior.   Faithful Confessors are aware that I believe HeeHoo to be a genuine radio talent, but man -- nine days and he's out.  Show of hands please -- how many of you out there think he put gasoline in the diesel's tank?  Yeah, me too.  And he and his Significant Frail held firm at $104,000.

Couple of questions:

How many stations did HeeHoo think Wolfe was going to sign up in nine days?

How did HeeHoo and the Significant Frail settle on $104,000?

What is the approximate magnitude of advertising revenue HeeHoo and S.F. believe to be generated by a one -- one, that is -- kilowatt AM station in the Seymour/Wichita Falls metroplex?  Makes The Ticket's anemic collection of signals look like a freakin' blowtorch.  I don't know KSEY's target demo other than guys trying to sell 2004 Sentras (not  .  .  .  that there's anything wrong with that), but I suspect Arbitron has detected a significant bovine share. 

Sometime Confessor "insider" suggests in a comment that there's a Wolfe-to-HeeHoo email detailing additional Wolfe proposals to keep HeeHoo before the microphone. 

I certainly hope so.  Barb Smith seekers aren't going to drive traffic to this site forever.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm Shocked -- Shocked, I Tell You . . .

.   .   .   to discover that The Ticket and its dad Cumulus actually do not need my advice on how to be a successful radio station. The Little One continues to kick broadcast toches in the latest Arbitron book for men 25-54.  Incredibly, the Cowboys had a better season but their radio ratings went down after moving from the signal-challenged Ticket to 105.3 The Fan.

One of these days I’m going to get around to trying to dissect whether The Ticket is ascendant because of the quality of its presentation, or because its competition is so abysmal.  Sometimes when I’ve overdosed on The Ticket I’ll switch to another channel.  I ask myself if it’s possible that the dreary stuff I hear out of the other sports talkers only seems dreary because I don’t listen enough to “get” whatever schtick the program is offering. I haven’t answered that question yet. Someone is listening to these stations.  Someone likes these stations better than The Ticket.

And if it is true that The Ticket is truly a superior content provider, why has its formula been (apparently) impossible to duplicate? It’s not like the format has any intellectual property protection; when a format is successful, imitators spring up all over the place.  Can it be the case that of the tens of thousands of people wanting to get into broadcasting, the only talent for The Ticket broadcast strategy ends up only at The Ticket?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.  Station managers and program directors, stay tuned for the kind of valuable advice that, as noted, is worth every penny you pay to visit this site. 

In the meantime, I welcome the thoughts of all faithful Confessors.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Greggo Dances with Wolfe

Your faithful Plainsman gets up early on Saturday so you don't have to.  John Clay Wolfe reported on his website that he would comment on the end (for now) of his relationship with Greg "Greggo" "the Hammer" "HeeHoo" Williams.  He said he would address it in the 7-7:30 segment of his Real Deal show on 97.1 KEGL today.  He got to it at 7:38 and finished at 7:40.   As Neil Young and The Hardline would say, innarestin.


First, a tip of the hat to my commenter "insider," who offered some additional information on the HeeHoo-Wolfe relationship in his comment to this article which Wolfe confirmed this morning.  First, Wolfe said that had built out his FM studio, in part, in anticipation of HeeHoo doing a syndicated show from there.  He suggested he'd built it out for other reasons, but that it was "overbuilt" now because the HeeHoo gig had fallen through.  Second, one of Wolfe's sidekicks mentioned that HeeHoo had brought a "negotiator" with him, who "insider" identified as HeeHoo's girlfriend.  Insider, my thanks.

There were a couple of other tidbits in the segment: 

     (1)    Wolfe suggests that this was more than a handshake deal.  He was pretty emphatic that this was an honest-to-god agreement, not just a "let's see how it goes."  He didn't say anything about it being in writing, but it doesn't make sense that Wolfe would have made a big capital investment without an enforceable agreement.  A little later in the program, he said that "Greggo is on contract strike."   

[You know  .  .  .  if Wolfe and HeeHoo did have a contract that was more or less complete and definitive (i.e., with real dollar figures and and specific duties to be performed on both sides), and Greggo has walked out on the deal, Wolfe could sue him.  He might be able to sue for lost profits, but even if those were regarded as too speculative, he might be able to recover his out-of-pockets in building out that studio (especially if building out the studio was part of the deal, or if HeeHoo understood that Wolfe was going to build it out in reliance on HeeHoo performing the contract).  Although Wolfe is using it for his own show, so it's not like he didn't realize any value from the investment.  Still, to the extent it was "overbuilt" for HeeHoo  .  .  .  .]
  
     (2)   Wolfe has the same love-hate relationship with HeeHoo that much of the P1 Nation has.  He started out singing Greggo's praises, said how well the two-week trial run had gone, what a great talent the guy was, how much he likes him, how he wishes they could have done the deal, how he was welcome to join The Real Deal next Saturday.  In the next sentence, he says that HeeHoo "might be a little greedy," although he acknowledged -- insincerely -- that maybe he (Wolfe) is cheap.  And, of course, by his account HeeHoo walked out on a done deal. 

Show-biz people.  You never know where you stand with them.

Is this dance over?  Will it matter to HeeHoo that his former partner called him "greedy" and a welcher on the air?    Dunno.  

But here's the deal about Greggo:  Here we have this acknowledged broadcast talent, a lot of on-air fun when he's straight.  People are still fond of him (your Plainsman, too), and even those who purport not to like the guy are fascinated by him (all the Ticket-influenced sites are still crowded with Greggo posts and comments years after his departure).  Flawed guys with talent like his get multiple chances to succeed just because the gift is so rare.  Somewhere in North Texas there is a program director or station manager who is thinking -- I can make a deal with this guy.  Even on a non-sports station, a HeeHoo sports-and-general-interest show could easily find a home.  It could even be a music station.  And syndication was already in the air.   But whatever the format, I guarantee you someone out there is thinking about reaching out.  It might even be Wolfe.  We're going to hear Greggo again.  Maybe not for long, but again.

Even if that PD or SM has to deal with the girlfriend.

Friday, March 5, 2010

All Right, I'll Bite, Volume II: Where -- Rather, Who -- is Jason Walker?

Your Plainsman noticed a spike in traffic to the site late last week, which usually means that some much more popular site has linked to this one. Sure enough, someone commenting on "Too Much Glare Friday" on Gordon's site was reporting on his search for infromation about former Ticket Traffic Twist Barb Smith, and found what we believe to be her "anonymous posts on this site.

He also linked to some messages from someone purporting to be “Jason Walker” at Radio-Info.com someone purporting to be "Jason Walker at Radio-Info.com.   This “Jason Walker” strongly implied that Ms. Smith was terminated for cause. When a poster asked whether she was fired or she quit, “Jason Walker” responded: “There again, I know the answer to that question, but it is not for me to say. However, it should be pretty obvious. In this day and age, no one quits an on-air gig, unless they win the lottery.”

I don’t know whether Barb Smith was terminated or resigned.*

And I don’t know if “Anonymous” who posted here is the real Barb Smith.

And I don’t know if “Jason Walker” who posted on Radio-Info.com is the real Jason Walker.

But I do know that if the posting “Jason Walker” is not the real Jason Walker, someone had better tell the real Jason Walker about that post so that he can get back on that message board (and pay a visit to his supervisor) and deny that he went public with the suggestion that Ms. Smith was terminated (whether she was or not, or whether he believes that she was or not). An employee who publicly proclaims that a co-worker was fired, presumably for cause, has committed a pretty serious breach of company confidentiality, not to mention collegiality. If you were an employer and one of your employees went public about the firing of a co-worker, what would you do with that employee? Me too.  And if you were a colleague of the blabbing employee, how would you regard said blabber?  Yup.
_______

* I have no idea, but I suspect a mutual and amicable parting of the ways after each side expressed some dissatisfaction with the other. And there may have been an agreement providing for some severance, releases – and confidentiality. It’s also possible that Barb/Jason/Doyle/Alexis are not employees of Cumulus or The Ticket. They may be employed by an independent traffic network, although I note that Doyle King’s Wikipedia article states that he is a “substitute traffic director” at The Ticket, suggesting that it may actually be a salaried/hourly W-2-type position. It’s possible that all of the traffic guys are independent contractors, which makes the issue of resignation v. termination of reduced legal interest.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Many Thanks to All New Confessors

Your Plainsman's little site here has had a real spike in traffic recently, owing largely to Ms. Barb Smith's appearance.  I suspect I'll get another when people realize there's been a disturbance in the Greggo universe and they see the interesting comments from "Insider" in the last post on his parting company -- for now -- with KSEY-AM.

I'll have further observations on the Greggo/Hammer/HeeHoo situation soon.

Many thanks to you all and to new followers.  And also to some faithful commenters, who, I'm pleased to see, are respecting the overall gestalt of this site, which is to try to observe our beloved Ticket objectively, and with respect and affection -- even when it drives us nuts, as old friends sometimes do.

New post tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Can Depend on Greggo -- He'll Always Let You Down

So it appears that the return of Greg “Greggo” “the Hammer” “HeeHoo” Williams to non-drop radio via KSEY-AM 1230 (Seymour/Wichita Falls) has run its course. John Clay Wolfe, his benefactor at KSEY, has announced that he and HeeHoo have parted company over HeeHoo's compensation, and he will once again vanish from the airwaves.



Key phrases from Wolfe's blog entry:

       “he and I could not agree on the terms I believed we had ironed out in the beginning

       “we couldn’t have been any further apart from getting a deal done

       “the terms that I offered to Greg upon inception of this project . . . will still be on the table in the same form until further notice

Sounds like an early handshake deal, a “let’s see how it goes” deal.  It apprently goes good (according to Your Plainsman's commenter Anonymous, HeeHoo "sounded better than he has in a long time").  (Thanks to Anon for the report.)

Comes time to settle on more permanent terms. Turns out, there’s no agreement. Either there was an honest misunderstanding at the outset; or J.C. Wolfe is reneging; or HeeHoo is trying to leverage his good reviews into a better deal than the one he had agreed to in order to get his foot in the door.

We can’t know the right and wrong of this situation. Maybe the emerging talk of possible syndication of the show suggested to HeeHoo that the handshake deal needed to be enhanced. Maybe some HeeHoo behind-the-scenes unpleasantness suggested to Wolfe that he take some steps to minimize his risk. And maybe there was just a plain old misunderstanding.

One thing I don’t see in Wolfe’s account is any talk of an agent or a lawyer involved on HeeHoo's behalf. An agent eager to get his client back into live radio might have been expected to counsel his client that he was no longer commanding the attention of program directors at major metropolitan radio outlets (who don’t have a lot of mad money themselves these days), but instead was sitting across the table from a guy who is trying to make a go of a 1-kilowatt AM that only reaches about 23 of HeeHoo's old fans.

Somebody in this little drama is deluded. I join most – although, I sense, a declining percentage – of the P1 Nation in wishing HeeHoo the absolute best and an eventual return to broadcasting to something other than open prairie. But just like you just gotta start somewhere, sometimes you just gotta re-start somewhere.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Danny the Producer Produced a Small Jewel Last Thursday . . .

. . . when The Hardline was discussing the Talker magazine “Heavy 100.” Mike had come to “The Monsters in the Morning” and was considering the listing of the collection of wacky characters who appeared on the show. [What follows is my recollection of what was said, may have word wrong here and there.]

Corby started to read the list of characters, laughing and commenting.

Danny interrupted and said “You read it.” There was an interesting lilt to his voice when he said it, like he had some broadcast strategy in mind.   (Kind of like Jason Walker saying "crane.")

Mike says “you want me to read it?”

Danny says yes.

Mike finishes the list, reading straight through it.

The reading was instantly funny because Mike is a great broadcaster and a naturally amusing speaker.

It was a brilliant little touch by Danny and a telling moment.