Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Star v. The Suit

If you didn't hear the spat between Craig "Junior" Miller and Rich "The Ticket Man of Mystery" Phillips, go over to The "Magnificent" UnTicket (or is it unTicket?) and check it out.

Back? Good.

Apparently The Ticket's Internet feed was unwell. That feed is important. I am able to tell where My Ticket Confession's readers come from, and it is amazing how many of them do not come from The Ticket's tiny coverage area. (Interestingly, almost all of my non-DFW readers come from east of the Mississippi.) These folks are either listening online, or visit the unTicket on a regular basis. A lot of locals do, too. I click on that green LISTEN LIVE link frequently myself.

Anyway, Rich was dealing with this crisis, if it was a crisis, during on-air time. It is difficult to tell what the problem was, because apparently everyone agreed that he was fixing something having to do with the Saturday morning broadcast, which is at odds with what Junior was suggesting at the outset, and it similarly at odds with what I've heard from some online listeners, who advise Your Plainsman that there were indeed problems that morning. It is hard to tell exactly what Rich was doing, or where he was doing it, but it apparently rankled Junior and they had a bit of a set-to about it.  Junior found the timing inappropriate; Rich's position was that he was so busy that he had to get things done when he could.  I won't give you a blow-by-blow -- you really need to check it out.

It may not surprise you that I have a number of TROs (Tepid Radio Opinions) about it, some of which are actually pertinent to the segment:

(1) It is difficult to discern a right and wrong here. On the one hand, Junior and the on-air guys are doing their morning high-wire act, which is harder than it probably seems to the casual listener. Distractions are undoubtedly unwelcome. On the other hand, as noted, that Internet feed is important to the P1 Nation (and I do mean Nation), as noted. Maybe Rich, as the Cumulus executive present, felt it was his duty to set things right and he decided in his management discretion that this needed to be tended to without delay. Would Cat have dealt with it if he hadn't been on vacation (if he still is)? I don't know, but you have to cut Rich some slack for taking responsibility for a technical issue that he otherwise might not have had to deal with. So I can see both sides here. However, I did take Dan McDowell to task for jabbing Tom and others on the air, and when I heard this contretemps, I thought perhaps Junior's displeasure might have been saved for a more private moment. Slight -- very slight -- advantage, Rich. But I concede that if one were in the studio and witnessing what was actually taking place Junior's peevishness might have been justified and perhaps he rightfully felt that the situation needed to be addressed right then. So -- toss-up, uninformed TRO slightly tipping to Rich.

(2) This is another example of the combustible relationship between celebrated and well-paid on-air guys and the somewhat more peripheral players, rendered more combustible here because Rich isn't all that peripheral. He's an assistant program director, sometime host (see below), and hosts the much-teased "Race Week" (ditto). I sense that Rich is actually pretty well-respected up and down the broadcast day, including The Musers. (Gordon is an interesting semi-exception, but that needs a separate post. Dan -- dunno.)

(3) The comments to the unTicket post were fascinating. Both Junior and Rich took it in the shorts, but I like them both quite a bit.

A couple of people judge Junior to be the weak link in The Musers, but I do not. He works much harder than George at show prep, does a first-rate blog, and offers very thoughtful HSOs. He's not the encyclopedia that Bob or Norm is, but he strikes me as extremely perceptive and very fair. When he's gotten some Big Opinion wrong, he will call attention to his earlier judgment and correct it. 

Alexis Smith, KTCK Trafic Twist
So it's irrelevant.  You got a problem with it?

(4) Rich is also criticized in those comments, but (contrary to my early dislike of Rich) I have come to think he is a real asset to The Ticket. The Tickers are masterpieces of audio economy. And "Race Week" -- look out. Mike teases about syndicating it, and the hosts talk about it as though it is a chore to listen to, but think about it -- it's a terrific candidate for syndication. Lots and lots of NASCAR fans out there, and not a whole lot of dedicated sports radio coveratge. I don't care anything about NASCAR, but when I'm doing chores on the weekend and it comes on, I listen. The day might well come when Rich is a nationally-known broadcaster. He's massively knowledgeable and there is a toughness to his reportage and delivery that fits perfectly with the sport and its fans.  Oh, almost forgot:  Terrific PBP guy for the SMU Mustangs, delivers a very exciting and interesting call dotted with his piquant observations.   Rich might have to update his look a little for TV,  lose a pound or 30, but why not? If I had to guess who might be the first breakout national talent on The Ticket, it would be Rich Phillips. (Unless Cumulus syndicates The Musers, then maybe Gordon.)

(PS: Who out there can tell me why he is referred to as Dick Hicks?)

(5) Having said that, Rich remains The Ticket Man of Mystery. Cumulus has identified him as a guy to whom to give some responsibility, and a show, and showgram fill-in. Yet his presence on drive-time isn't technically superior to that of Ty WahKAH. I haven't quite figured it out, but I sense just the slightest wariness in the hosts about his presence hovering at the border of the broadcasts. He does contribute usefully when he switches on his mic during segments, and overall, as I say, I don't get a strong vibe of antagonism. I can't imagine Gordon would have said "someone doesn't like his job" if Rich's management role were really a big problem.  

Actually, since it was Gordon, I can imagine it.

(6) But Rich is also very prickly. When he gets teased, he sometimes strikes back with some heat. I'm not entirely sure that isn't what happened here. Junior started off with a joke, characterizing the work being done as similar to running a test pattern over Brian Williams. Rich could have shrugged that off, but he responded sharply, and Junior shot back even more sharply, suggesting rather pointedly that the time was not appropriate.

Brian Williams (top); Test Pattern (bottom)

(7) George mostly kept out of it. 

(8) We (all right, I) tend to focus on what this means about Rich, but I think it means something about Junior.  Rich repeatedly referred to Junior as "interim program director" in a way that suggested that insiders would know exactly what he was talking about.  That got everyone's attention.  I admire Junior tremendously, but I must admit -- I have sometimes wondered if perhaps his somewhat detached attitude is interpreted by his colleagues as a Marconi-clutching air of superiority? 

(9) But what the P1 Nation really wants to know is -- when Rich says "We're done, OK? It's over!" -- with considerable emphasis -- does he mean (1) "I have completed this controversial but regrettably necessary task, gentlemen, so we may now conclude this civilized little chinwag" or does he mean (2) "Put a fracking cork in it, Miller, your APD has had enough of your snotty insinuations"? Some of the commenters over at The unTicket thought he meant (1), but I'm not entirely sure. Just before the clip ends, you hear Gordon chortling in a very "wow-this-is-pretty-inside-stuff-to-be-going-out-over-the-air" way, and saying "My . . . " just before the clip ends.  I'm guessing that the implied conclusion to that phrase is "fracking Gawd," or a sentiment to that effect.   I'd say there's an even chance or better that Rich -- who reported during the fracas that he'd worked 11 hours every day that week, suggesting that he was tending to management items in Jeff C's absence -- was flexing a little supervisory muscle there.  Whatever he meant, that was the end of it.  Junior fell silent.

(10) If Junior hadn't said anything, would anyone have noticed anything at all unusual about the broadcast?  Was there, in fact, a test-pattern-over-Brian-Williams radio analogue that was audible to listeners?  I didn't hear it.

(11)  Is it possible -- I mean, is it within the power of the mind of man to conceive -- that we're (I'm) mining too much meaning out of a minute of Ticket audio? 


I have a great idea for fight night next year.

Thank You for Shopping at My Ticket Confession.


ap said...

There is one other Rich-Gordon-related moment I caught wind of a long time ago that might interest you. Corby was sharing some behind-the-curtain information about the relationship between the two during a Hardline segment, and he indicated that at one point, Rich refused to work with Gordon because Gordon kept poking fun at Rich for being a member of the Freemasons. I have no idea as to the veracity of this nugget, nor do I have the audio clip in question (I hadn't started my obsessive archival habits yet). This was before Rich was promoted to APD.

Also, your guess in (9) is correct - the last syllable uttered by Gordon was "Gawd".


Douglas Sutherland said...

Adding on to what AP said, I've noticed that whenever Rich chimes in on a topic (save for camping) Gordon will either lay out or subtly cancel it out with an additional piece of information. It's not like The Hardline does with Ty though, because it's slightly more respectful, and less "showy" than the treatment Ty normally gets.

The Plainsman said...

Since posting this article, I've heard from more listeners and others who seem to be in the know. The consensus is that Rich's "we're done here" indeed referred to his having completed whatever he was doing that irked Junior to begin with.

Which also suggests that this little dust-up was probably less meaningful to the participants than it seemed to the always-concerned-about-Mommy-and-Daddy-fighting P1 Nation.

The Plainsman said...


I'm still a little hazy on the details, but listener/correspondents have suggested that the problem Rich was addressing was one that was occurring on weekends, and that Rich's ministrations to the system were the cause of the online problems people were having that day.

Suggesting, contrary to my earlier supposition, that it wasn't that Rich's activities were distracting in the studio -- it's that they were interrupting The Muser showgram's online stream.

Somewhat tipping the scales back Junior's way.

As always, Your Plainsman encourages corrections and differing interpretations.

"Hollywood" Matt Shannon said...

Looks like the Ticket is giving me some ideas for Story Designer Mode in the upcoming WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011. Haha! I'll be sure to upload them for any PS3 P1s out there if I ever get around to creating some of the Ticket hosts/bit players as characters and using them for the cut scenes I could create. For those that don't have PS3, I might see about being able to upload them to Youtube.

The Plainsman said...

Hollywood Matt, welcome as always. I'd be intrigued to see the Ticket-inspired Smackdown matchups you come up with. I have on my list to explore some of the more intriguing interpersonal relationships on display at The Ticket -- I'd love to know how other listeners size up some of the interpersonal dynamics we glimpse from time to time on The Little One.

I have a feeling that Rich and Craig actually get along pretty well. Rich seems to be a welcome voice on The Musers, and as time has gone by we've actually heard a bit more of him on that showgram.

Thanks for checking in, and let us know if you generate any Ticket-related products. Do you have a good intellectual property lawyer? Gordon is probably touchy about his personal brand.

"Hollywood" Matt Shannon said...

Funny you mention intellectual property. Several years ago(circa 2003, as a matter of fact), I wrote up a parody of how 105.3(at the time it was just a talk station known as Live 105.3) was stealing bits from the Ticket. They would change their name to the Stub and would hire guys with names similar to the Ticket guys, but with the opposite character traits. I emailed the parody to all the guys at the station, and they seemed to like it. Tom Gribble even wrote me back, saying that it was, "pure GENIUS!"

About a year later, I had stumbled across this new internet hobby known as efeds, which are essentially online fantasy wrestling leagues. You create a fictitious character, then you and your opponent write up promos to hype up your upcoming match. Then the people in charge write up the show, and decide winners and losers based on the promos that were posted. I decided I should do something with the characters I created from the parody, and thus, the Sports Nutz(George Dunpork and Craig "Senior" Mueller) and their manager, "The Excellent Gordie" Gordon Heath were born. What's funny is that since they are heels(wrestling speak for bad guys), the only character of the three that's not the complete opposite of his Ticket alter ego is Gordie. He's simply Gordo, exaggerated 20 times worse. I've emailed some of my exploits to the Courage Boys, and they actually liked them. In fact, when I met them at Ticketstock a few years ago, they all asked me if they were still the tag team champions.

I have since opened up my own efed, and one of my members suggested I name it SNW(Sports Nutz Wrestling), as it's right up their alley(I portray them as self-important assholes). Gordie is the co-owner, George and Craig are about to be reinstated onto the roster as a tag team, and Myke Rhines is the President. I'll send you a link if you'd like to do a link exchange.

And thank you for the kind words. I in turn enjoy reading your musings here on the interweb.