Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DUAL OPEN THREAD: (1) Transition Fail, and (2) Super Bowl Quick HIts

Really gotta thank the faithful Confessors who have kept us up to date on the latest tension over the continued technical problems related to the transition to Victory Park, or perhaps Victory Plaza.  I've been so busy out on the plains that I haven't had time to listen much, much less to write.

Please post any further information re Transition Fail (or Transition Improvement -- the watchword here is fairness) and any thoughts you have on the week in Indianapolis. 

No Top Ten tonight (Rotten Radio instead); listening between the lines I gathered from Jake's narration that this was also the result of a technical fubar.

Again, my hearty thanks and welcome to all new Confessors and commenters.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Enough, and My Solution

I thought the SweetJack plague was over. 

I was wrong.

It's back, worse than ever.  It's saturating the Ticket airwaves this morning.

Isn't The Ticket selling any real advertising?

Talk about disrespect (as I did at the end of the prior article and a subsequent comment) -- Cumulus knows how much the P1 hates this bilge, and they stuff it through our earholes anyway.

I'd like your ideas on what we can do about this.  Or maybe you don't care, which is OK.

Here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to join SweetJack.  And I'm going to boycott any sponsor who has given Jack some bargains to put in my inbox.  And I am going to send this column to that sponsor.  Your ideas welcome.

Enough of this crap.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This Started Out as a Comment to the Last Article, but It Kinda Grew Into an Unusually STD

(For new readers:  STD = Scorching Ticket Disquisition.) 

A couple of Confessors have chided the hosts for their continued griping about the ongoing technical problems in the move to Victory Park.   I haven't found the griping all that off-putting, but maybe my listening has been a little spotty.  I do find it amazing, and appalling, that Cumulus wasn't prepared for this move. 

Although they portray regular guys on the radio (and mostly are), the hosts and producers and board guys are top professionals.  Extremely talented and skilled.  Their employer has given them faulty tools and is taking a bloody long time to fix them.  Can't blame them for being upset.

I try to put myself in their place, and when I do this is how it dopes out:

The Ticket is a unique institution.  It's "The LITTLE Ticket," as Mike R says,  because of its undesirable dial location and miserable signal and zero promotion to the public beyond people who already listen.  It portrays itself as an underdog but it's a spunky little thing.  It beats the big guys because of of its intelligence and fleet-footedness and style.

But these ongoing (and, it seems, worsening) problems make The Ticket look like something it has never looked like before: 

Dumb.  Foolish and unprepared.  Technically deficient. 

I know this is Corbyesque hyperbole, but:   The incompetence displayed is tarnishing the brand.  The Ticket looks silly, vulnerable.

And the hosts do not want to look like this, especially since they're helpless to do anything about it.  So they're mad and trying to provoke some urgency by embarrassing the responsible persons into getting things fixed.  I'm OK with that.

I know the Victory Park stuff is new.  I know it's complex.  But the magnitude and frequency of the failures this week should be unacceptable to responsible managers.  Did Cumulus not know that it was going to be new and complex well over a year ago when they announced this move?   Some CTO, frankly, has been asleep at the switch.  This is not primarily a cable-hookup-guy problem -- this is a move that has been ill-managed at a higher level probably through failure to devote sufficient resources, or sufficient expertise, in sufficient concentration to the move, or a strategy that neglects to, you know, TEST THE FRACKIN' STUFF OFF-HOURS BEFORE YOU DUMP IT ON THE PUBLIC. 

Maybe they think the rough-and-tumble 25-54 male won't care, long as he gets his bits and drops and Alexis saying "stick it up your tailpipe."

Yeah, it'll get better.  But in the meantime:  Frankly, Confessors, I'm beginning to feel a little bit disrespected.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm a Guy. It Was Night. I Went Out.

Hitched up the team and headed north to far Frisco to visit Guys' Night Out.  A few quick hits:

(1)  Sharp-Dressed Men.  Bob and Donovan in ties, Bob with a suit coat, Donovan in a vest.  At first I thought -- nice show of respect to the P1.  Then I thought -- maybe they lost one of those BaD Radio bets to Dan somewhere along the line.

(2)  Better-Looking in Person.  Bob.

(3)  Largest Concentration of Middle-Aged Guys.  The broadcast area.  There were some younger guys crowded around watching and listening to the presentations, but the more mature demo was disproportionately represented in the gathering around the couches and directors' chairs where the guys were broadcasting.

(4) Auddest Audio Phenomenon.  While Donovan could be heard just fine on the radio, his voice barely dribbled out of the speakers at the bar.  Something about it -- it simply couldn't be heard live on the scene, but listening on the radio -- there he was, as usual.

(5)  Audio Engineering Tip.  Do not cover up the JBL speaker with the life-size cutout of the Cowboy player.

(6)  Worst Look for Cute Chicks.  That black two-piece Tailgaters outfit they make their generally attractive wait staff wear, the super-tight/short black skirt and black sports-bra top thing.  Really cheap-looking and unflattering on most of them.  Very few even hot girls have good tummies.  Even though it was the first night, bar staff seemed on the ball and the place was ready to go.

(7)  Funniest Moment.  The interview of the 38-year-old-woman with the good skin and large natural breasts who claims to have made upper-six-figures in Las Vegas and a four-figure tip from some unidentified celebrity, which explains why she moved to Frisco to work at Tailgaters.

(8)  Most Interesting Broadcast Posture.  Mike likes to stand at these remotes.  I was at one other one awhile back where he stood and swayed and wandered a bit whilst broadcasting.  Wonder if he does that in the studio.

(9)  Comportment.  I didn't see any host big-timing anyone.  But I wasn't paying close attention to where they wandered off to when they weren't broadcasting.  Saw George talking to a group of P1's, and Mike talking to an earnest woman.

(10)  Always Amazed.  These guys can talk sports and other stuff in their usual natural way whilst being watched by large groups of people and lots of noise in the background.

(11)  Best Thing About GNO.  No SweetJack commercials.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inaugural Victory Park Quick Hits

Got to hear some of The Musers and The Hardline.  Check out AP's knowledgeable comments a couple of posts back for some good inside stuff.  I'm pressed for time today, but here goes:

(1)  We've had some fun with real real audio the past couple of days with all the problems, so maybe the abysmal preparation for this move is worth it in a kind of pathetic way.  But this move was announced in November of 2010.  You can build an entire radio station in that interval.  I'm sure broadcasting and all that goes with it (making new machinery work, transferring information from one system to another) is complex and, since the move has to be instantaneous, there are bound to be disconnects.  And they're moving multiple stations into the suite.  But Cumulus is a big bad broadcasting boy with lots of resources and professionals at its beck and call.  It's inexcusable to have a transition that sounds like it was managed by Jerry Jones.

Having said that, the actual sound problems were probably noticeable only if you were really listening for them.  I'm kind of a radio junque, so I was.  I would guess that a lot of listeners, especially on 1310, didn't hear much different about the physical sound of the station.

Damaged in the move
(2)  Speaking of Jerry Jones:  This move could be a bad one for one Mr. Gordon Keith.  Part of what makes his impressions so effective is that they are delivered over a phone line, where some of the Gordon-ness of his voice is masked.  His Fake Jerry of yesterday (repeated at 6:40 this morning) was delivered over a much cleaner line, and it suffered.

(3)  Agree with AP that some of the mics were very hot.  I noticed it especially with Danny, but Corby's was EQ'd pretty hot as well.  Danny's EQ was so different that it almost sounded like he was on a different show.  The sibilants were very hissy; it sounded like the whole Hardline had developed a lisp.  I'm sure this isn't the case, but it sounded like everyone was too close to the mic.

(4)  This might not be audible to a casual listener, but I was in the Conestoga with the Philco on high gain during The Hardline, so I could concentrate pretty well on the sound.  And I thought:  Man, Mike's new high-gain mic is not kind to his voice; for the first time, he really sounded old to me, with that edge of whisperiness to it that more elderly gentlemen tend to get.  And kind of a wateriness to the vowel sounds.

But then I heard Corby, and his voice had that slight water in it as well.  And I realized that what I was hearing is that kind of bad digital translation sound of the kind that you hear in much worse form on TeeBox remotes.  Just the slightest rattle in the voice, as though the system weren't sampling the voice signal cleanly.  (I'm making up these terms -- I'm sure sound engineers can tell me what's actually going on, and I think we have some Confessors with some expertise in this area.)  It isn't obvious and you kind of have to be listening closely, but it was there.  More obvious with Mike, whose voice sounded noticeably different in the new studio.


Anyway, as I say, not a big deal.  There are going to be some problems and our heroes are dealing with them in a mostly-amusing way.  (I did not hear Dan McDowell's performance yesterday, although (the incomparable) AP reports that he was in need of a remedy for cramps and bloating.)   On top of that, Gordon's hiccup extravaganza during Muse this morning was the icing on The Ticket's birthday cake.

See you at Guy's Night Out on Thursday.

Hey Ticket, How's About You and Me Going Out and Grabbing a Beer . . .

.  .  .  now that you're legal?

A happy 18th to The Little One.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Michael Gruber Has Exclusively Advised the Nation to be Tuned in at 11 am Tomorrow

On This, Our 400th Post, We Republish a Possible CTO Encounter

Hard to believe.  I looked up and this is my 400th post.  Thanks to all Confessors and fly-bys for continued growth and ever-improving content -- because the best stuff is usually in the comments these days. 

A couple of Anonymi and I have been kicking around what we view as promotional inattention to The Little One.  This has gotten under someone's skin, and I think I know whose skin it is, and I think that skin is not paired with Ben, but instead resides at The Ticket's plush new digs, but it doesn't matter.  He provides some excellent information in the following somewhat dyspeptic comment to the last post:


The "CTO's" aren't going to spend thousands of dollars advertising as long as the Ticket is still #1 M25-54. and guess what? They're still #1 M25-54, by a long shot. the Fan has hurt KESN's ratings more than they've hurt the Ticket's ratings.

Lack of capital investment? Stop by the 4th floor of 3090 Olive and you'll see capital investment.

And as for the signal, let's remember something. 1310 sold in 1994 from Bonneville to Cardinal Communication for 3 million dollars. Cardinal sold out to SFX a year later for 8 million
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/SFX+BROADCASTING+TO+ACQUIRE+KTCK(AM)+IN+DALLAS.-a016601127)   And then it sold to Susquehanna for about 14mil in May of 1996.
http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/company-structures-ownership/7226952-1.html)    98.3, a crappy FM siganl sold a few years back for 16mil+.

To get a 'good' FM signal, or a significant upgrade to an AM signal would require in the 10's of millions of dollars. Check that broker's site for an understanding of pricing of stations. And realize that any station that has a decent signal will probably have decent billing. And with common BCF multiples of 5-8, the CTO's aren't going to pay 50-80 million let's say, for a better signal when KTCK is billing just fine with the crap signal they've got. Not to mention that to buy a better signal, you've got to have someone willing to sell a signal. Why would Clear channel, CBS or anybody else sell them a better signal? And as for other signals in house, flipping 570 and 1310 would kill 570 and whatever billing it has. And 96.7 is a halfway decent signal north of town, and it sucks south of town. It's 104.1 slightly closer to town.


A few reactions:

(1)  Thanks very much.  Great info, I've always wanted a compact history of The Little One's transactions, and there it is.   And I'm a freak for all that radio inside stuff, too, although not in any media business myself.  I think I mentioned that awhile back I shopped around for a radio station to buy (not in a major metro) and got a little educated on this stuff and found that there was this amazing fanatical radio techno-financial subculture out there.  Very cool and fun.  Our Anonymous benefactor here is, I'm pretty sure, a Ticket guy, as no mere Confessor would have any interest in defending the CTO's lassitude with such conviction.   And, I think, a pretty solid and credible Ticket guy, wouldn't you say so, AP?

(2)  No one -- not me, not any commenter -- has said that the CTO aren't spending money on The Ticket.  We all know about the move announced a year-and-a-half-ago and the shiny new studios.  Although to hear the hosts talk about it, those studios are somewhat less desirable for The Ticket than for other Cumulus properties who will be billeted there.  Yeah, it's a "capital investment," albeit not allocable entirely to The Ticket, but it is 100% irrelevant to the point I and some commenters were making, which related to investment in reaching more ear buds and how people find out about it.   Don't get me wrong, it's great that there's going to be a technical upgrade -- although it sounds like a lot of the old equipment that didn't work so hot on Maple has been hauled over there.  But that equipment could be manufacured by Tag Heuer and it won't bring in one additional listener or retain one straying P1.

(3)  Also 100% irrelevant:  Amounts paid for The Ticket broadcast property.  Our point has to do with a new playing field for sports radio in DFW in the future, a field that is being prepared for planting by The Fan, and not The Ticket.  No one doubts that The Ticket is valuable.  No one doubts that its ratings are presently strong (also 100% irrelevant to our point).  The question is not what was paid for The Ticket in 1995 or 1996 -- over fifteen years ago when The Ticket had no competition. 

And by the way -- it is misleading to suggest that those purchasers were paying solely for the 1310 signal, as though the Ticket talent and format pounded together by Mike Rhyner and other founders  had nothing to do with it.   The Ticket went on the air on January 24, 1994 (an early Happy Birfday to all), and by the time of the SFX transaction in 1995 it was already the number one station among males 25-54.  

And the question is not whether The Ticket's talent overcomes the rotten signals to achieve dominant ratings in the here and now.  The question is what happens five years from now when the present talent has been on the air for (in some cases) over two decades, and some of it may have moved on.  And the listener demo is trending in the other direction.  What then?  Will you have done anything for your brand other than beg long-time talent to stay on?   Will people think to tune you in because you're The Ticket and not because they like Junior, or Mike, or Bob?

(4)  100% irrelevant:  The purchase price of a new FM signal.  No one here has suggested that Cumulus buy a new stick for The Ticket, and this site has never done so.

(5)  Not 100% irrelevant is the information about signal swaps.  But pretty close to 100% unpersuasive.  Either 93.3 or 96.7 would be an immediate material improvement in the Ticket signal.  Stations swap signals with some frequency in metro areas.  The Score in Chicago has done it several times, improving its coverage area and signal strength every time, even taking over the long-time news-talk signal for NBC in that market.  You know what they pay their talent there, talent that doesn't come close to The Ticket's?  Huge.  Mike North (no longer, but in his heyday):  Well over a million dollars a year.  (I sure as hell hope Mike R's deal is somewhere well north of altruism.)  The point:  Swapping signals has been real darned good for The Score and its talent.

But let's look closer to home -- much closer to home.   In March 2010, 96.7 was KPMZ, Ron Chapman's "Platinum" 60's-70's station.  One day, listeners were startled to learn that Citadel Broadcasting began simulcasting WBAP News/Talk 820 on 96.7.      So the first point to make is:  signal swaps are easy.

The second point to make is:  Why is Cumulus committed to continue to simulcast WBAP on 96.7?  820 AM is 50,000 watts and clear-channel omnidirectional at night -- a blowtorch.  And it's talk.  It doesn't need an FM signal.  (Neither does The Ticket -- it just needs a growed-up signal, irrespective of the variety of modulation.)  

As for 96.7's signal coverage, it's plainly better than 104.1 for DFW-area listeners.  Citadel thought highly enough of it to plop WBAP in there.  Don't rely on me or Anonymous -- see for yourself:  Compare 104.1 signal coverage (http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=KTDK&service=FM&status=L&hours=U) with 96.7 signal coverage (http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=WBAP&service=FM&status=L&hours=U)).   Improvement is obvious.  And, let's face it -- where are The Ticket's listeners? 

But if you long-suffering Confessors really want to dream, take a look at 93.3 KLIF-FM "i93":  http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=KLIF&service=FM&status=L&hours=U).  How is i93 doing, by the way?  (I'm serious -- I really don't know if it's a worthwhile format in this market, or just more of the same you can find on a half-dozen other stations.  Someone tell me.)  If i93 is still a ratings-suck, then it's still a strong swap candidate, too.  Replace those billings with excellent and creative programming on 104.1 and/or 1310.

The basic point is as it was the last time I addressed this:  If you had a bucket of broadcast properties that included a monster numero uno Ticket format and talent, and were coming anew to DFW, you would never, ever, stick The Ticket on 104.1 and 1310.  Where would you stick it if you had the Cumulus stable of signal sticks?  Well,  that's where you should stick it now.

(6)  So the CTO isn't going to spend "thousands" (?????) of dollars on advertising while The Ticket is Number 1.  I suppose that's why you see so little advertising for Coke, Microsoft, Apple, Toyota, AT&T, and other market leaders these days.  Good lord, as Danny would say.  I love your station, and I love you, but tell your CTO buddies that brands require a little nourishment, a little love, to flourish and grow.

*     *     *

So:  Great info, and I really do sincerely thank the crypto-CTO for checking in.  I'm serious.  It didn't touch our point but it was great stuff and I cordially invite you to continue to instruct Your Plainsman when I wander into error or plainly have no idea what I'm talking about.  But it seems to me that even with all this tasty info, my and commenters' suggestions that The Fan is doing some things that are elevating its profile in this market, and that its strategies can only assist it in competing with The Ticket in the long run (especially if those strategies are ignored and unmet by Cumulus), are entirely sound.

And finally:  Were you really inviting me to drop by the new studios for a visit? 

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310
Email Your Plainsman:  ThePlainsman1310@gmail.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quick Thought, Maybe Not Worth a Post, But . . .

A commenter to the prior article noted that Greggo was on The Fan teevee show.  I responded that for all its broadcast lameness, The Fan is not giving up and is in there swinging.  (And it's not that lame, even.)  

An anonymous commenter wrote:  "The Fan is definitely not sitting around on their arse. I'm not a Fan fan (as they say), but the station and its, ahem, talent (OK, Elf and Josh are talented) are becoming more and more visible/present in the local sports scene. And doing it on very visible stages."

Yeah, that's right.   Now, it's not like The Ticket does nothing.  It does TicketStock.  It does remotes.  It does Fight Night and charity games.

But those are sporadic one-offs.  And they're directed primarily at people who already listen.   They don't compare with real honest-to-god systematic  advertising and always-visible promotion in the competition for new ears.

Someday, the CTO are going to regret the lack of promotional and capital investment in The Little One. 

Keeping up with The Fan is one thing.  The Fan looks like a well-financed (or at least splashy) local sports station compared to the "little" Ticket -- a locution Mike uses sarcastically, but which is starting to feel more and more accurate.  

The other -- I'm telling you, I know I am getting tiresome on this topic but this is not a small thing and is going to get bigger as time goes by -- is the appalling inattention to The Ticket's signal.  We've been hearing how it's going to get better for a long time.  Based on my systematic observation (i.e., driving around), it hasn't.   I haven't heard a compelling rationale for not giving The Ticket WBAP 96.7 FM.  (See detailed ramblings in this article from last year.

You can say that The Ticket talent kicks Fan arse all the way to ESPN-national-feed and back, and you'd be right.  But relentless promotion that is unanswered by Cumulus can't help but eventually have some effect.  A crack in the windshield, a foot in the door  .  .  .  .   

I'm not saying it's likely to happen soon, but when one competitor is moving and you're standing pat, and your hosts are aging, and your demo is aging, and whether you can even hear the station depends on the dew point in your vicinity on that particular day  .  .  .  .

Next thing you know, Ticket hosts aren't publicizing the latest numbers every quarter anymore. 

Abe's Gettysburg Address was more reliably broadcast than KTCK programming. 
And I think he had a sports bar.
*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310
Email Your Plainsman:  ThePlainsman1310@gmail.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Internets Are a Big Places

In checking my referrals this morning, I saw that I had a couple of people checking into the site coming from www.grubesismyleader.com.  When I followed the link back, I discovered an interesting discussion involving some of our fine regulars here.  I think this link will get you to the general vicinity, although I confess (of course) to some perplexity in navigating that site.  There are some quotes from past comments to these pages remarking on differences between this site and GIML.

Before I started this site I checked out GIML to see if it were a place I might like to park my STD's.  I concluded it wasn't, but not because the site wasn't a good site -- just wasn't my kinda spot, although it obviously was the kinda spot for a very large number of P1's who enjoyed the more rough-and-tumble aspects of Internet debating.  I'm glad GIML is around.  I'm surprised there aren't more Ticket-related sites, including more blogs like MTC.  It's like T4 said -- you go to the different sites for different purposes.  That's the kind of freedom the Internet has given all of us.

So today:  GrubesIsMyLeader, son of Friends of the BaD Radio Experience, I salute you.

Let's keep comments civil, folks.  My thanks.

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:   @Plainsman1310

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Kinda Feel Sorry for That Guy from Structured Foundation Repairs, Inc.

As Confessors know, and as The Ticket's sales department either loves or hates, I listen to the ads.

Lately I've been feeling sorry for the guy who owns, and reads the ads for, Structured Foundation Repairs.  I think his name is Tom Kidd.

He sounds like a really nice guy, sincere.  I'm sure it's a great company with a fine product.  If you go to its website (http://www.structuredfoundationrepairs.com/) you will see all manner of testimonials, 5-star approval rating (although if you click on those five stars, there's no link, so the provenance of that rating is not clear), good works for the community.  (Although they have the same logo, the connection between www.structuredfoundation.com and www.structuredfoundationrepairs.com is unclear.)  And their foundation repair is probably terrific, backed by what sounds like a solid warranty.

But for years The Ticket has been a home-away-from-home for All-Pro Foundation Repair. 
It has a gigantic promotional footprint on The Little One.

Back in October 2010, I wrote this article ("Never Never No Never No No Never -- and I Mean Never -- Buy a House from a Ticket Host") in which I noted that Craig, George, Norm, Bob, Dan, and Mike all stated in an ad then running that they were "customers" of All-Pro, and I suggested that Ticket hosts must be cursed since they all seemed to have foundation problems.  Either that or those gents were victims of an incredibly unfortunate coincidence.   (Corby and Gordon, who did not confess to being All-Pro customers, were having terrible plumbing problems that Baker Brothers tended to -- note Baker Brothers' neat "we get it" comment to that article.)   This was the first time that I thought maybe someone at The Ticket might actually read this site, because not long thereafter the ads changed to remove the suggestion that Ticket hosts had bad foundations, and now they just say that all the hosts "endorse" All-Pro.  And, of course, many of them continue to appear on nearly every All-Pro ad.

And All-Pro has a very tight jingle ("the right solution for your home").

And All-Pro's ad features a professional announcer in addition to the host-endorsers.

And the All-Pro guys are University of North Texas alumni.

And there's a whole batch of them, a couple of whom used to be on the ads, sounding like a couple of frat guys with dirt-support engineering degrees.

And -- and surely this is critical -- All-Pro employs all methods of foundation repair, including some kind of exotic solid core pier, so that no matter how lopsided your crib may be from the subsidence in the earth's crust caused by the fracking operations just over George's fence, they can find some kind of gigantic tool to put it level again. 

What about Structured Foundation Repairs?

No celebrity endorsers.  No host reading copy.  Just Tom.  And, recently, little daughter Kylie, whose fee is probably fairly modest.

Only one guy.

No announcer.

No jingle.

No suggestion that SFR has more than one kind of pier.  (Although Tom offers the same lifetime transferable guarantee as All-Pro.  By the way, what is a lifetime transferable guarantee?  If you sell your home and transfer the guarantee, and then you die, does the warranty expire?  Does your buyer have some stake in keeping your ass alive after you've stuck him with your defective sinking dump?)

And the guy is an Aggie.

So I'm trying to imagine the Ticket account person visiting Tom there at Structured Foundation Repair, trying to sell him some time.  And I'm wondering how it goes.  I mean, Tom has got to know that APFR is spending an  ungodly fortune both for the time and for the goodwill of those enthusiastically endorsing hosts.  Mostly, I'm wondering if The Ticket is such an incredible promotion machine, especially when so many hosts jump on to endorse the sponsor, that Structured Foundations had to do something just to stay in the foundation-repair consciousness of uncounted heads-of-household for whom The Ticket hosts speak gospel.  (I'm one, but don't tell Mrs. Plainsman.) 

So I'm thinking:  Tom probably has a damned fine product and no one with a sweet daughter like Kylie is going to screw me on my foundation repair, should I need one.  And All-Pro is probably already completely swamped with P1's hoping to take advantage of the free engineer's report -- and mind you, it's an independent engineer -- a goddam $500 value! -- if you sign up for the All-Pro deal on that visit, which, correct me if I'm wrong, renders the engineer's report 100% worthless.   

So I'm thinking that Tom and his crew are highly incentivized to come out very promptly and give me a good deal and make me a happy, non-slanting homeowner.

Therefore, I'm proud to announce that effective immediately, My Ticket Confession is endorsing Structured Foundation Repairs, Inc.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Perfect Ending to a Perfect Day

Aren't all Ticket days perfect?

The Hardline had just finished its final segment.  The 6:50 ads were coming on and I reached over to punch over to Underground Garage on Sirius XM until Jake Kemp's 7:00 p.m. Ticket Top Ten comes on around 7:18 or so.    How many times do you need to hear Mike's identical daily farewells to the P1?   The show was over, right?

I pulled up.  Of course not.

What, I wondered, would that Nice Young Michael Gruber have cued up for us after the Hardline Theme today?

And then it struck me -- I've only been listening now for almost eight years, so y'all probably caught on to this a long time ago -- those slices or archival gold that he runs after Mike signs off are not only welcome repeats of good stuff from the past, but it keeps you tuned in through another couple of SweetJack joints and the Ticket All-Pro Foundation Repair Chorus Mass Endorsement Oratorio.   Turns a sponsor wasteland into something you purposely leave turned on.

A spot of genius, that.

Not only are the replayled bits usually fun, but they frequently answer questions listeners have about where certain inside references come from.  I didn't know what "Stand back, Burrito" meant until Grubes played the original bit at 6:59 back a few months ago.

And yesterday there was an extra reward:  A rare mention (although not the original) of one of the most mind-melting concepts ever slung on terrestrial radio, by one Mike Rhyner:  Green Tail Shiner (originally reported here), my obsession with which will doubtless someday destroy me, and this site along with it.

*     *     *

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310
Email Your Plainsman:  ThePlainsman1310@gmail.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

Master Jake

I did something rather enjoyable last Friday evening, sitting around the campfire with Mrs. Plainsman. I read Jake Kemp's Master's thesis: "U.S. Newspapers and the Adoption of Technological Innovations."

I did not hear this, but apparently he appeared on a segment a couple of weeks ago where the topic of his graduation from the Master's program (M.A.) at the University of North Texas came up. And he took a spot of teasing in these pages. Jake has been a friendly presence on this site from time to time and I'm on record as admiring his work on the Ticket Top Ten.

In sending it to me, Jake warned me that it contained a fair amount of acadamese, apparently a requirement in presentations of this type. But I found it extremely interesting and well done. He examined the processes that took place in a number of newspapers throughout the country as they struggled to come to grips with the explosion of the Internet as the public's source of news -- in particular, how to construct, and what resources to devote to, their own web pages. He conducted dozens of interviews which he has digested and synthesized into a thesis. I can't do it justice here, but he uses it as a petri dish to examine how companies deal with "disruptive technologies."

This is not Jake Kemp.
However, he did take the photograph.
I don't know what Jake wants to do with his life, but he's off to an impressive start.   The CTO should keep an eye on that chap.  He's not just banter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Not Too Early to ask Some Hard(line) Questions -- PART 4(b)

January is Rhynerrific!

In my last installment, I opined that if Mike were to depart a month from now, The Hardline and BaD Radio would stay put and they would try to find a replacement for the OGW. You can still argue about that in the comments if you want, but today's topic is: If The Hardline survives, who might replace Mike on The Hardline?

Get your tomatoes, eggs, and brickbats ready. This is going to take awhile; it's actually three articles in one, so grab a bev and settle in.

And please, trolls: I know Mike's exit is unlikely. We've said it now for weeks. This series is based on the assumption that Mike's contract nonrenewal, however remote the possibility, would be an extremely disruptive event that merits the attention of this single-topic site. So I would be most grateful if you would refrain from advising us on how we're wasting our time. And this article is going to be real, real long, with lots of words, so if that shuts you down as well, this would be an excellent time to click on http://www.grubesismyleader.com/. Sorry to be snarky, but really, trolls -- topic-selection and article-length are off the table for the time being. However, it remains entirely proper to opine that my views are unsound.]

As I also wrote, it is not possible to "replace" Mike if you want The Hardline to march onward sounding exactly as it does now. He's one of a kind so let's just admit to ourselves that The Hardline without Mike will be a different showgram. So when you think about your own candidates to fill that slot, think about who might put on a good presentation with Corby/Danny/Grubes/Ty and not about how to salvage The Hardline's current sound.

And I'm trying to be a little realistic, although you may find my choices so unlikely as to be just the opposite. The candidate has to be someone who is available. I don't care if our candidate comes from The Ticket or elsewhere but he must at least be someone who is on site or hirable.
I have two candidates in mind:

Candidate 1:

Although Mike's seat is a huge prize (and an even bigger challenge to the successful candidate), I don't think it's necessary that it be filled by an established radio bigfoot. There will be a built-in audience for the show, and if consistent quality and interest can be established early on, The Hardline should survive relatively undiminished, especially given the weakness of the competition. So:
I like Scot Harrison. Like him a lot. I know that a significant percentage of Confessors are not crazy about The Soul Patch but since its early days with Jean-Jacques Taylor and through a plus one or so before being teamed with Matt McClearin, Harrison has gotten fairly good reviews. No, not everyone likes him, thinks he's got a bag of nothin', just some generic radio pipes, etc. To my ear, there's a real warmth to those pipes. And they seem to be attached to some brains. Knows enough sports, and if he had a full-time gig he'd probably be even better on that score. (His current full-time gig is with American National Bank of Texas, where he's been for approximately 2 years.) If I'm guessing right from his LinkedIn profile, it looks like he's in his mid-to-late forties. (6-7 years from beginning college at A&M to graduation from UT Arlington in 1989, so if he were say, 24 or 25 when he graduated, he'd be 46-47 now.)

Only Scot Harrison image I could find other than the hat picture
He has a mature sound about him, and to that limited extent he would fill that portion of Mike's function as the stable, guiding host. (Although Mike claims he doesn't want to be viewed in that way.) But he also has a sense of humor and could deal with Corby the Snake and Danny the Merchant of Hip as well as making sure The Hardline occasionally makes its way to some sports topic. I think he could roll with the established spirit of The Hardline.

He's got a solid background in local sports media: Again, according to LinkedIn: From 1989 through 2003, he worked in radio and television production: KWCS, Wise County, Texas; KIKT/KGVL, Hunt County, Texas; KRLD, Dallas/Fort Worth; Jeff Watts Productions, Fort Worth, Texas; Metrosports Communications, Arlington, Texas. From 2003 through 2008, he owned and operated Game Winning Productions, a "broadcast production company engaged in sales, marketing, and production of sporting events on radio."

So we're not talking about elevating an amateur here when it comes to moving him into Mike's chair. Wherever he came from, he's a credible, market-knowledgeable guy with an adult presence who seems to have sports/guy/pop-culture chops and could roll with Corby and Danny. Don't hold those golden pipes against him.

And here we have to detour just a bit to make a point that applies to Candidate 2 as well: I have expressed the thought in the past that Corby is more versatile than he is given credit for. He doesn't have to be The Snake at all times; he can sling a much more responsible but still entertaining radio persona. If I'm right that Harrison might take show prep a little more seriously than Mike now does, I think it would do Corby's game a world of good. I wouldn't worry about Corby chafing under a more disciplined regime. I think he might even welcome it and in my view he has the talent to adapt to it. The same analysis applies to Danny, who is also a more responsible broadcaster than he'd like to let on; runs his own show as a host and it's pretty good. The point is that we don't necessarily need to think about a Hardline where Corby and Danny themselves don't change, adapt, work hard to sustain The Hardline's success.

Candidate 2:

OK, get ready.

First, another detour.

For almost a year I've been teasing the Nation that I have been harboring an incendiary STD about BaD Radio. I'm not just trying to be provocative with the following proposal, even though I acknowledge that it is very unlikely of realization. I truly believe it would be a good solution to the problems created by Mike's departure.

Confessors will recall that I did that three-parter on BaD in August 2010. At that time I concluded that it was a good show, I could listen to it, but that I was having some trouble warming up to Dan McDowell. In addition, it seemed to me that Dan and a lot of the rest of The Ticket somehow held one another at arm's length -- that he was "on, but not of," the Little One. I promised the Nation that I would keep listening since I wanted to be fair to Dan and because I heard and continue to hear from so many Confessors who were and are big fans of Dan and BaD.

So I did try to listen more.

Before I began writing this column, I went back to review everything I'd written about BaD and its hosts. Comparing that to my more recent listening experiences, I stand by all of it, with a major exception I'll describe in a moment. I'm sorry, I really am sorry, but Dan McDowell continues to
make BaD Radio an at-best-average listening experience for me. The interrupting, the tendency to name-call-not-in-a-joshing-way, the belittling of staff. They're bits, you say? Maybe. But they're bad bits.

I have notes from a show on February 28 of last year that sums it up: Bob had packaged a LeBron segment. When he got to it, he started to make the point that maybe LeBron is not a go-to guy at the end of big games, or games in general. You would have thought that Bob was arguing that Dan's mom was on food stamps or something, because Dan interrupted almost immediately with a counter-argument that was (i) to my ear, and to Bob's, completely irrelevant to Bob's point, (ii) really loud, and (iii) intemperately expressed. He called Bob an "idiot" twice, I believe. (Might have been more -- I punched out after two.) Awful. Then there was an episode -- damn, where are those notes? my memory may be slightly off here -- where Ralph Strangis was on the show supposedly to tell the story of some of his rockier times. Well, you could forget that; it turned into a What's-on-Dan's-Mind segment. Complete chaos; what got teased never got broadcast. Ralphie was barely allowed to speak. Punch. Out.

And, as Danny B has said: Dan "bogs crap down." I've punched out on more than one occasion when Dan employed his frequent debate tactic of restating someone's point in an absurdly exaggerated fashion, and then attacking that. The old straw-man tactic. Stops the show in its tracks. Dan's Confessor defenders, for whom I have great respect, have argued that Dan must interrupt and be extreme to keep Bob from droning on for hours on end. Ain't buying it. Dan frequently interrupts before a speaker completes a single sentence.

The above notwithstanding, I am not even close to being a Dan-hater. In one respect, I find that I have gradually become a fairly enthusiastic Dan fan: He's really quite a good sports analyst. He's not Mr. Numbers like Bob, but he's an extremely intelligent guy -- one of the smartest at The Ticket -- and isn't afraid to think originally or to go with the evidence of what he sees before him, however unexpected it might be. And I think he does see things clearly, never drinks the Kool-Aid. When he's sports-talking, I find that I like it and like him. I've heard him call in to shows to talk after some sports event, and always found it very worthwhile, interestingly expressed, with a healthy dose of creative thinking. Dan has one quality that alone makes him a worthwhile listen when he's being serious: He's fearless. That's not a small thing and I've come to admire him for it.

Here's where I come out on Dan: Lots of skills for a sports-radio station, the voice you can get used to, and a much-better-than-average sports talker.

But there is one thing he is not: A Sports Humorist.

Yeah, I know, lots of people like the uber-cynical, sarcastic, smug style of commentary, and if you do then you'll like Dan. That's fine, I'm not going to tell anyone they shouldn't like Dan. And humor has got to be one of the most subjective emotions. For me, the guy's patter has never given rise to sensations of amusement. My problem, then, is not so much with Dan as a sports-talk host, where he's actually quite good; it's Dan's competing unfunnily for attention with Bob and the resulting bog. He's a real good broadcaster; he's just not a real good broadcast partner.

Unfortunately, that leaves us (me) with a problem because Dan is supposed to be the Sports Humorist.

But what has all of this to do with Mike's empty chair?

You probably see where this is going.

I warned you this was going to be wild.

If Mike R leaves The Ticket, it will be time to break up BaD Radio.

Send Bob to The Hardline, create a new afternoon show around Dan with Dan as the alpha sports guy on the show. That is, don't replace Bob with a sports-talker bigfoot, just find someone Dan can tolerate. Or don't replace Bob; I'd be OK with DaD Radio (Dan and Donovan). This would allow Dan to develop and exercise his broadcasting strengths as a principal host, actually elevating his stature at The Ticket. (I told you I wasn't a Dan-hater.) In addition, this would be a way of moving a strong performer to The Hardline without entirely uprooting the afternoon show. I understand that reviews of Dan were mixed during Bob's absence with the adoption. While I missed Bob, in some ways I found those shows more enjoyable than BaD, the bickering and snideness no longer a factor. If he knew the show were his, I expect that some of the tentativeness and insecurity we may have heard during Bob's absence would evaporate. In any event, finding Dan a radio pal is not our job today.

So let's think about a Bob/Corby/Danny show. 

Large sports brain at top of image

Bob is pretty straight-laced; The Hardline would take on a considerably different tone with him at the helm. But it seems to me that he tolerates some fairly blue material on BaD without himself participating much in it. I don't think the Snake would have to be permanently caged. With Bob you have (1) a guy who knows Corby and Danny and, to the best of my knowledge, gets along with them, and they respect him; (2) a mature and strong counterpoint to the scamps Corby and Danny who could maintain that balance I'm always harping on; (3) a Ticket stalwart who is well-known to and well-liked by the P1's; (4) a guy who can bring in the listeners who want to hear serious sports talk, filling a notable Hardline weakness; and (5) a guy with a growing national profile. And, as I have said above, I think Corby and Danny are very capable of dialing back some of the snark, devoting some attention to show prep, and following sportsy things a little more closely. While this would put two guys in love with mic on the same show, I think Bob and Corby could work it out. It's a relatively low-risk move for our hypothetical CTO.

There you have it, my two candidates. Both with risks; both promising a very different Hardline and/or BaD.
So -- what would you do with The Hardline if Mike doesn't re-up? ("Stop listening" is an acceptable, but unhelpful, response.)

Danny and Corby respectfully await Mike's decision

Next and finally: Leveraging Mike.