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.


ap said...

Whatever is going on here, my gut feeling is that it is above the head of Jeff Catlin, and possibly above the head of Dan Bennett too. I don't think that the "engineers" managing the transition (yeah, that was a shot) are the usual ticket staffers that normally twist and tweak; they seem like they've been brought in from outside. I'd guess that they're responsible for all of the stations in the recent cumulo-citadel merger, but I don't have the inside scoop. Killer and a sidekick (Tony or Eric, hopefully) left for the SuperBowl earlier this week and I wish them all the best in advance given how some of the recent remotes have gone (Starpower, Guys Night Out and Modia, anyone?)

We P1's aren't the ones who should feel disrespected. It's the Ticket itself that should feel disrespected. The audio quality has been getting substantially worse as the week goes on, and as one on-air host put it, the only response they've been getting has been palms upturned and a shrug. So many pieces of crucial equipment were overlooked (the logger, the streaming hardware, the playback equipment, the Enco, and the mic's), yet that damned SweetJack spot plays at perfect levels throughout the day, and at times cutting off hosts in mid-sentence. Cumulus made sure that they didn't harm that particular cash cow (or cash-dog, I suppose).

Despite all of this, I want to repeat something I wrote a few posts back: the Ticket staff that has to work with this stuff (producers and board ops, especially) have done an admirable job in trying to pull together their regular showgrams despite the apparent ineptitude that surrounds their bunker.

The UnTicket has tried to pitch in wherever we can, for instance, with E-brakes and trying to repost audio that wasn't streamed properly. I wanted to put together an fail-montage of this past week, but I worry that instead of being funny, it would be perceived as pouring salt onto a still-open wound. Let me know what you think.

Rant over. Sorry if I offended anyone.

The Plainsman said...

I also think this goes beyond Jeff C. And it was also my intention to exclude The Ticket's everyday boots-on-the-ground techs from liability here, as you suggest. I don't know exactly what Vice President/Market Manager Dan Bennett's role is, he may be a great guy, may be a big Ticket champion, but he's a Cumulus guy, not a Ticket guy. He's not a twister/tweaker/cable-puller, but if his job description doesn't include either (1) ensuring that a professional-sounding product gets on the air, or (2) raising bloody hell with whatever Cumulus higher-up has that assignment, then one wonders why Cumulus needs a VP in DFW at all.

I was also surprised that things did not improve, and in some respects deteriorated, over the course of the week. I thought maybe Richie Whitt showed up disguised as a Cumulus engineer and shot wet boogers into the USB ports or carnally assaulted the mixing board.

I still feel personally disrespected, AP. Just like listeners feel slighted when a host shows obvious lack of preparation or engagement, throwing the switch when it should have been apparent to all concerned that the product would be noticeably faulty evidences a low opinion of P1's' listening standards.

Look, it's not like the station is unlistenable, so I understand when commenters suggest that one shouldn't be so agitated about this. But dammit, this is The Ticket, one of the very best things about living in DFW, and it torques me off that the CTO treats the jewel in the Cumulus crown like a 1973 Vega.

Well, AP, we've both had our rant. I guess I've had two of them.

My protest: Each time there's another audible FUBAR, I'm punching in The Fan.

But just for a minute or two. Because, sure 'nuff, before too long, I'm gonna need my SweetJack fix.

Anonymous said...

Two words. Bret Blankenship.

tired head ted said...

All will be remedied soon enough and this will all be forgotten. The Ticket boys like to bitch and moan. They do it about damn near everything. From not staying in the accommodations of their choice which they don't pay for while being paid to go to the Super Bowl, World Series, Ranger Training camp, you name it, to the Christmas parties, to like I said, about damn near everything, they bitch and moan. So I agree with others who've bitched and moaned about the hosts bitching and moaning. I mean, keep your dirty laundry in house. Isn't that what a team does? Isn't that the code of the locker room--yes I'm talking to you, SPORTS station people. Instead of going out of your way to throw others under the bus, to let everyone know "it ain't me?," why not just apologize and briefly explain what's going on if necessary? I guess I just don't get it. I guess I'm not an apologist for immaturity on the professional level. Because the arrested developmental kind immaturity that makes the Ticket great is not the same as bitching and moaning and crapping on others because things are going wrong and you don't want to look bad. It doesn't matter if Cumulus or whoever screwed the pooch. Even if they've been in the process of moving for the last year. It doesn't matter if it's not your fault. Stop bitching and moaning. It's poor form. Besides, more than 85% of the crap they stop down the show for is inaudible to the listener. Perhaps they ought to have someone listening live to see just what's going out on air instead of putting on a circus act for all to hear.

The Plainsman said...

Brett Blankenship = Market Engineering Manager, Cumulus

Anonymous said...

Tell us how you really feel, tired head ted! Actually you make some good points. But I do think that after so many ridiculous snafus, anyone would become frustrated to the point of snapping on-air. I see your side of it, but I also see where those like ap are coming from, as well.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm coming around on Scott Harrison. Perhaps Plainsman was onto something, after all. He's really beginning to find his groove. Now only if he will change the name of his show, he might really take off. Okay, that's probably not true, but a listener can hope. I wonder if the CTOs are thinking along the same lines? Perhaps a grooming to replace __ in case __ takes off for greener pastures is in the makings?

The Plainsman said...

First, a big MTC welcome to Tired Head Ted.

Second, I think THT is a Ticket insider.

This episode with the numerous broadcast fails last week is the first time I can remember that any Confessor criticized hosts for B&M (Bitching and Moaning). I've always found the B&M about Cumulus kind of refreshing -- we'd all like to kick the boss in the goodies from time to time, and these guys are secure enough with their ratings that they figure they won't suffer too much for it. And B&M is also a bit.

But despite the manifest justification for B&M last week, our guys are getting criticized. Fair enough, if you're tired of it, it's fair game. But Tired Head -- that sounds like someone who's maybe taking some heat at Cumulus for this shaky handoff.

tired head ted said...

I noticed this morning that both the Musers and Norm ( fought through technical difficulties without whining. I wish the same could be said for Big Strong. I guess he wanted to let everyone know that he, the board-op, was in no way to blame for the foul ups. Yeah, we get it, Jer. No, I'm not an insider. Just a P1 who has become fed up with listening to guys who have a job and a lifestyle I can only dream about piss and bitch and moan about damn near everything. This move and the subsequent, constant, whining has irritated me to the point that I felt I needed to vent to hopefully somewhat sympathetic ears. Or at least kindred Ticket loving souls. But I do appreciate the welcoming committee. Love the blog and (most) of its patrons.

T4 In Rockwall said...

I think the bitching and moaning is first nature (inmature) with the majority of hosts and board ops we have. That's what makes them #1 in our eyes, but on the other hand, can't they see how they look on air when they verbally cry? It's something I seen in Danny and Corby for years and that's the nature of their attitudes. One can only hope that somehow The Ticket grows up and takes responsibility for how they're perceived.