Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Couple of Final Thoughts on Mike Bacsik

I had speculated that Mike Bacsik was in trouble at the station even before his exclusion from The Great Game.  I didn't hear all of the hosts yesterday, but it appears that at least as far as his immediate colleagues are concerned, my impression may have been incorrect.  They uniformly sang his praises, said what a good guy he was.  That makes his exclusion from The Great Game puzzling -- hard to believe Junior has the juice to exclude a guy who was, overall, good for TGG last year -- but I'm prepared to believe it.

As Mike Rhyner suggested in yesterday's show, Ticket guys -- all of them -- aren't employed by a local family station where everyone can rally 'round a wounded colleague.  They're employed by Cumulus, a publicly-traded national company.  When an employee commits a horrific public gaffe like Bacsik did, there are two --actually, two-and-a-half -- major considerations:

(1)  Bottom Line.   Cumulus does not have a property in San Antonio, but it has plenty of properties in plenty of places that have plenty of Latino listeners.  And even if Latinos don't make up a significant portion of Cumulus listenership, if the story has legs (as it appears that it does), you can imagine that Latino activists would pressure Latino businesses to boycott Cumulus and yank their advertising.  Not a difficult choice to end this crisis before it starts.

(2)  Legal / Human Resources.  These aren't really two things, but maybe one-and-a-half.  The issue here isn't external, it's internal.  The law these days sometimes doesn't require any particularly awful single event to happen to an emloyee in order to impose liability on the employer.  The employer's tolerance of a hostile racial/sexual/you-name-it "environment" may be introduced into evidence.  So even though Bacsik didn't oppress anyone at Cumulus, if he weren't dealt with severely it could be brought up as evidence in a later discrimination case to show that Cumulus tolerates an atmosphere where racial slurs are no big deal.

So he had to go.

The "dirty Mexicans" remark was stupid enough, but let's not overlook the threat to bomb the NBA, which is equally stupid.  For reasons I don't need to explain.  It doesn't even matter if he "meant" either one of these remarks.  If this is what comes out when he's drunk, frankly, he's probably not what you want around a company whose business consists entirely of interacting with the public.

Sorry to see the man go -- Your Confessor had big plans for him.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is Professional Radio Broadcast Management?

We all know that The Ticket is this astounding radio powerhouse.  Dominant in the ratings that matter.  Lousy signal, but obviously doing many, many things right.  So why, so often, does it seem like like it's managed like Chrysler?

It amuses us that The Little One is kind of a ramshackle construction, a bunch of guys just having a good time playing radio grabass, feuding, embracing, launching e-brakes in enormous numbers, generally doing the kind of things that a bunch of smart-but-not-smart-to-a-fault-except-Gordon regular guys would do if they were given a radio station to play with.  For the longest time I thought that was just an illusion, that the casualness was really a reflection of a very unique talent for making the difficult (interesting radio broadcasting) seem effortless.

But a couple of things are causing me to rethink this position.  On April 14 I wrote about The Amazing Ty Walker Final Four Screwup, where The Ticket had major boots on the ground in Atlanta and not a single host had the slightest awareness of it.  Rich Phillips claimed the producers knew about it via email, but the producers weren't talking.  So either no one likes Ty Walker, or there was a complete failure of communicaton.

And then, yesterday, Corby and Mike show up for a remote at American Airlines Center, only to find that it had been cancelled.  No engineers, no nothing, just Corby and Mike phoning in their location to Sturm/McDowell/Lewis.  (By the way, Corby handled that exceptionally well -- he was very funny on the phone.)   The only insight we had on this was that Rich Phillips had told the engineers the remote was off because of the late start of the game.  Corby amusingly suggested that perhaps the show hosts should have been let in on this. 

Rich was not on hand to defend himself.  If he had been there and inclined to disclose what had gone on behind the scene, I suspect he would have said (1) yeah, I mentioned it to the engineers but the show hosts don't report to me and it was someone else's job to give them their broadcast assignments, or (2) I did tell the show hosts, via email, but they don't read their emails carefully. 

Now I'm sure it's the case that remotes are somewhat dicey propositions to begin with, complicated to pull off successfully every time, getting everyone to the right place at the right time, and The Ticket does gobs of remotes.   (Although by this time, you'd think they'd have the remote tech and setup down pat, but there are still many technical glitches with remotes.)  

But, as with the Ty Walker episode, it does seem as though people who need to talk to one another at The Little One just don't do so.  

And what do these episodes have in common?  The Ticket's Own Man of Mystery.  Also observed here.  A broadcaster I admire quite a lot, but there's something up with him at the station that I expect we'll hear about by and by.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Kinda Guessed Right About Bacsik's Position at The Little One

A few days ago I couldn't figure out why Mike Bacsik had been banned from The Great Game.  Yeah, he left his team's dugout to pitch for the other team last year, but that didn't seem as though it should have been a disqualifying transgression.  So I wondered whether there weren't something else going on with Bacsik at the station.

Yeah, well, I don't know about his behavior at the station, but apparently a pretty strong streak of jerkitude was revealed over the weekend in some extremely ill-advised Twitter transmissions.  He wasn't on with Norm yesterday.

So maybe there is something else going on with Bacsik, and maybe it's that he's not all that good a guy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Handful of Draft Quick Hits

(1)  Say what you want about Cumulus, they pull out the stops when it comes to the draft and the result is some entertaining, informative broadcasting.  I don't know much about college football and frankly don't care much about it, but the show holds my attention. 

(2)  Norm is the acknowledged expert, but my ears perk up when I hear the resonant murmur of Bob Sturm.  Don't let the guy anywhere near an interview, but even his occasional asides are worth listening to.  The more I hear of the guy and read his blog, the more admire his real sports savvy. 

(3)  It is disconcerting to hear Mike Rhyner as the yuck-monkey.  I always like hearing his voice, but I'm not entirely sure what he's doing there.  I'm not sure he knows, either.  Throws in a gag or a non-specific observation here and there.  I'm not being critical -- I'm just saying that when he's not running a show doing what he's good at doing, it's faintly discomfiting to hear him just there without a role. 

(4) Junior Miller, along with Sturm the most astute sports mind on the station, delivered a scorching SO this morning, predicting that Dez Bryant would be as productive as Randy Moss over his career.  One of the things I admire about Junior is that he is not one of these guys that is more interested in not being wrong than in the possibility of being spectacularly right.  That attitude makes America great.

(5) I'm still somewhat puzzled by Todd Archer.  After a promising start on The Ranch Report, I didn't think he rose to the occasion, as I suggested here and here.  Again, he's an agreeable radio presence, but what more does he bring?  In his defense, I think he was doing a live instant Q&A online during the draft last night, which was surely distracting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gordon Only Wrecked Yesterday's Show a Little Bit, and Today He's Hardly Wrecking It at All

Junior is off at the Boston Marathon.  I thought they should have had Mike Bacsik sitting in for him and had a Delicious Irony show, but instead Mike Doocy sat in.

Last time Doocy was on the show, as I complained in a prior article, Gordon uttrely ruined the show with his nonstop baiting of Doocy.  I turned it off and kept it off.

Yesterday, Doocy was on again.  I turned the show on and I heard all three of them talking at once, the same old repetitive baiting with the same old gay/drug/criminal-activity witless crap.  I reached for the switch but the bit (if that is what it was -- its incomprehensibility made it hard to tell) stopped, and the show was mostly tolerable for the remainder.

Junior is recuperating today, and Doocy is on again.  Hardly any baiting.  Much better.

ALERT:  I spoke too soon.  Listening right now to Muse/News, and Gordon is every other item into a Doocy tease.  At one point, he reads a headline about HiV and simply says "Doocy" -- no associated gag, just a reflexive attempt to associate Doocy with something disreputable. 

Please don't make me listen to NPR or a show with people actually talking about sports.  Someone please get the OverGordon under control. 

I'll end on a positive note:  Gordon is a genius.  OverGordon is a flogging beyond enduring.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Junior Blackballed Bacsik

I caught the beginning of the Bacsik/Newberry showgram today.

Mike confirmed that Junior vetoed his participation in The Great Game this year.  Guess he'll be calling the game with Norm.

Junior is one of my favorites so it pains me to think that he was responsible for what seems to me rather smallish behavior.  Now, I'll admit that Bacsik's departure from the dugout as coach of [Sponsor] Team Musers to pitch for [Sponsor] Team Hardline was an unorthodox strategy.  But apparently everyone but Junior thought the game was being played for yuks.  You know, like for the fans.  Who expect the wacky and wheels-off from The Little One.  Who in that stadium didn't want to see Mike pitch to Rusty Greer?

So:  Since Junior's attitude seems so out of character for something so minor (and, I would argue, positive for the fans), I am inspired to wonder if there isn't something else going on with Bacsik at The Little One.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Has Bacsik's Name Even Come Up In Connection with The Great Game?

This is a serious question.  I didn't hear the entire draft and I didn't hear the Musers' entire conversation about the draft this morning.  At no time did I hear Mike Bacsik's name even mentioned.  Did anyone bring up his participation (or non-participation)?

It would be understandable if they excluded him as a former professional major league pitcher, even though he coached a team last year and (notoriously) entered the game to pitch on behalf of the other team.

Junior, of course, was genuinely hot about this.  He probably wasn't the only one.

But even if there was some decision to exclude this ringer of all ringers from the draft, you would think that they would at least say something about it.    Did anyone mention his situation at any time?

If not  .  .  .  then I wonder if Bacsik is persona non grata at the station for some other reason.  Which would be too bad, I think.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ty Wal-KAH!!

We listeners and Confessors listen to the shows, and we get to know these guys, and we speculate about them, and what goes on at the station, and who's a nice guy in private and who's a jackass.  And which guys don't like which other guys, and why.  Well, maybe not all of us, but I do.

I'm a little late with this item, but I wanted to think about it.  This Ty-Walker-at-the-Final-Four thing is absolutely fascinating.  The story was featured on both The Musers and The Hardline.  (If BaD Radio or Norm dealt with it, would one of you who heard it leave a comment?  My thanks.)   I'm sure I don't have all the details correct, but Westwood One needed a stringer to do some reports from the Final Four for some local stations.  Someone else there -- Sean Bass, maybe -- declined the assignment, byt Ty Walker took it.  Expenses paid, went to the game, got to pet the bulldog, hit a couple bars, and gave a couple of reports for an Atlanta station, maybe on the air for a few minutes total.  Something like that.

And not a single report from him on any of the Ticket showgrams.

Both Ty and Assistant Program Director Rich Phillips insisted that all of the producers had received an email that Ty was on this assignment.

Here's what I found most interesting:  The Musers did not question Fernando, and The Hardline did not question Danny -- at least not on the air.  Neither did either of them jump in and say hey, I never got any email about this.  So I assume that Rich and Ty are correct that the producers got the email.  The hosts, to a man, denied that they knew anything about it.  I believe them too.

So what we have here are the producers being aware that Ty Walker was going to be going to the Final Four, hosts wondering where the heck Ty Walker had gone, and nobody saying anything to anyone.  Ty Walker didn't tell any hosts; Rich Phillips didn't tell any hosts; no hosts undertook to find out where Ty Walker was during the Final Four; Rich Phillips' supervisor(s) didn't communicate to any hosts. 

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that somewhere along the line, someone did not want to give Ty Walker a platform to broadcast a report on The Little One from the Final Four.

So -- is the hard time that The Hardline gives Ty Walker not just a bit?  (Danny:  "Stay out of this, Ty!"  Gordon:  "Wanna switch your mic off there, buddy?") 

Is Ty Walker persona non grata across a wide swath of The Ticket?  If so, why is he still employed there?  If not, why didn't a single soul, not one, undertake to enlist his services while The Ticket had boots on the ground at the Final Four?

It is interesting that the hosts chose to shine a light on this apparent station snafu.  Which suggests that maybe Ty's OK with them, but not OK with the next tier in production.

We listen to Ty, and he seems OK.  We know he's young, large, reputedly without woman, and a Star Wars fan.  Does a very nice job with the Tickers.  Ocasionally steps in to provide internet-provided answers to pressing showtime questions. 

So he doesn't seem like someone you wouldn't want to hear from the Final Four.

Which suggests that there's something else going on, and consider:  It may have absolutely nothing to do with Ty.  In fact, I'm guessing that it doesn't.  It may be that inter-level communications -- and we have at least four levels here:  Cat/Rich; hosts; producers; and Ticker guys -- are not what they should be.

And it could be that these guys get too much email, and they're not exactly the types to sit in an office looking at email all day, especially email from management with "Ty Walker" in the subject line.

Can any Confessor shed any light on this fascinating episode?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The TeeBox Sounds Absolutely Terrible This Morning

The first radio program in history where the hosts gargle their entire conversation.

Of all the lousy audio we hear from remotes, nothing approaches the lousiness of this one. 

I'm not even sure how it is possible to make a broadcast sound like this.  It's not overdriven mics; it's not a phone line; it sounds like there's dirt in the cables.

George DeJohn was his usual resonant self, but during the handoff it sounded like NASA having a conversation with someone on the moon.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to Send the Bear-Trap Contest Back for Retooling

I know it's just a dumb segment, but the damned thing at least has to have the courage of its convictions.  I think this is my fourth article on how Gordon is screwing up a perfectly good concept with obvious frauds and anecdotes which aren't even bear traps.

There was another one this morning, and Junior even voted for it:  The guy who was going on a hot date and goes to his date's fancy mansion to pick her up.  He is waiting awkwardly with her family and decides he needs to demonstrate his erudition (since he is from the other side of the tracks) by asking if they knew the definition of a word he had just learned from listening to "The Newlywed Game."  The word was "masticate," but -- would you believe it -- instead, he says "masturbate"! 

OK, let's think about this for a minute.  I could complain that this was obviously made up, because (1) hot busty high school chicks who are wealthy tend not to go out with low-lifes like this guy claimed to be, but that at least, could happen.  But (2), in the history of awkward first meetings with parents, has a kid ever, ever asked these total strangers if they knew the meaning of an unfamiliar word as a way to break the ice?  But let's put these credibilty problems aside.

The real problem here is that this is not a bear trapThis was a mistake.  The guy did not say what he intended to say, which is a minimum requirement for a bear trap.  If the bear trap is expanded to include "stupid verbal errors which cause embarrassment," well, then, you've lost the bear-trap's entire reason for being.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rich the Suit

I'm a little behind on my topics here, sorry.  This one's been tickling me lately.

On the Muser showgram on Tuesday, March 23, the gentlemen were reminiscing about talking about taking one's check into an actual bank to deposit.  Someone mentioned that perhaps they would do that someday, when Rich said:   “We don’t allow that anymore.”

Rich is an assistant program director.  I don't know what assistant program directors do.  Come to think of it, I don't know what a non-assistant program director does at a station like The Ticket.  Answers email from irate listeners, I guess.  I've lived here for seven years and other than post-7 PM and 10 AM on Saturdays, I don't recall any program showing the result of any direction other heading in the same one they were heading seven years ago.  

Maybe the PD rides herd on questionable on-air content and noodges the shows in one direction or another, or asks that a particular demo get a little more love on the air.  Which means the assistant program director probably carries some of his water on that subject as well.

I have come to admire Rich Phillips's on-air work, as I reported here.  But I sense that there are some verrrry spicy dynamics going on there.  Nothing I can put my finger on. 

But when I heard that "we" back on March 23, I thought I felt the organisms in that studio stiffen just a little.

Probably just my imagination.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Apologies for the Comment Spam Invasion

This site has recently been attacked by a spammer who leaves incomprehensible lists of prescription medicines.  I used to delete them but am close to giving up.  I looked for remedies on the Internet, but the explanations of how to implement them are couched in the usual expert patois well beyond my capabilities to follow.

If anyone has any suggestions for a set of instructions that normal liberal-arts major white guys could follow to try to fight (or at least reduce, this plague) I'd be delighted to hear them.

In the meantime, thanks for your patience, and keep Confessing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Another Grave Misuse of the Bear-Trap Contest

I've complained in the past that Gordon has reported Bear-Trap stories that were, to my ear, obviously fake.  A couple of them have won.

Today, they introduced another flaw in the process.  They chose as a winner someone who claimed to be a surgeon, one "Blade," who had made a coarse remark to a pregnant woman in the operating room who, it turned out, had suffered a miscarriage some weeks before.  He submitted another instance of whether he berated some colleague in the operating room with the witty "Are you gay, or what?" line, the object of these remarks, of course, being gay.

The problem is not that these stories don't sound real.  The problem is that Blade the Surgeon isn't a bear-trap victim -- he's just a jackass.  Bear-Trap winners must have about them a certain degree of unsuspecting innocence, but Blade the Surgeon is (and, is apparently proud to be) a serial vulgarian.  You can't be a Bear-Trap winner if it is your habit to speak disrespectfully and insultingly.

Hey, this is critical stuff.