Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Apocalypse Sometime


Confessors, I've got a bad feeling.

In a rare burst of efficiency, I'll get to the point.  

While we may not be seeing the end of The Ticket, or the beginning of the end of The Ticket, we may well be seeing the beginning of the beginning of the end of The Ticket.

By "the end of The Ticket," I mean the end of The Ticket we love and support and defend.

I'm not one of those who predicts the end of The Ticket, or one or show or another, "in the next six months."  And of course, we're still listening and the shows are still great.  Other than the occasional outburst at ongoing technical deficiencies, the hosts are doing their usual very entertaining jobs.

But clearly, something has changed and is continuing to do so.  And I think we can put our Confessing fingers on what that is and why it's damaging The Ticket.

Let's consider what we know:

First, the move to Victory was months behind plan.  It seemed not to have been planned at all, at least not by anyone who knew what he was doing.

Second, it was a botch.  I'm not a radio expert or insider, but I've heard enough by now to convince me that this was not par for the course.  It was a disaster, and a continuing disaster.  The Ticket lost gigabytes of one of the main things that binds the place emotionally to the P1 -- its history.  Stuff still doesn't work.

Third, SweetJack.  I've long felt there was more to that cursed cur than met our ears, and now we know at least part of the story -- his fleabitten services were bartered by Cumulus for reduced and inferior Internet availability for the programming.

Fourth,  Grubes ups and leaves.  I believe him that he's anxious to complete his education and improve his career prospects, but I also believe (and he has hinted as much) that the garbage Cumulus gave him to work with had something to do with it.  In fact, I think it had quite a bit to do with it, the timing at least.  

Fifth, remotes, one of the hallmarks of Ticket programming, and a lot of fun, got worse after the move to Victory and, incredibly, are getting worse as time goes by.  I felt sorry for Rick Arnett and Craig Rosengarden Saturday morning, fighting through that static haze.

Sixth, hosts are dumping on management like never before.  Even called out that Brett Blankenship guy by name awhile back.  They've dialed it back a bit in recent weeks, but it still creeps in.

Seventh, you almost never hear Cat mentioned on the air anymore.  There used to be a teasing kind of mixed affection/resentment thing going on like a lot of us have with our bosses, but you don't hear it much any more.  I'm no Mentalist but I'm sensing a growing divide between talent/operations and management.  

Eighth, as noted, the Internet stream is also getting worse, for the reasons we now know.

Ninth, stalwarts at other Cumulus stations are leaving or being shown the door.  KLIF has terminated guys like Jon-David Wells.  WBAP non-renewed (?) Mark Davis.  Jeff Bolton, also at KLIF.  Non-local programming is creeping in.  Grubes.  I've heard that other off-air staff have been leaving and that an audit of Cumulus employee laptops would find a variety of resume-generating software.

Tenth, Cumulus is introducing more and more syndicated programming.  I was very saddened when Joe Morgan's show started running weekends, reversing the trend of increased local weekend Ticket programming -- fewer opportunities for the up-and-comers.   I have heard that Dr. Sanjay Gupta segments will begin appearing on Cumulus Dallas outlets -- including, possibly, if you can conceivably believe it, The Ticket.  (If it hasn't already -- I haven't heard one, but since no one has commented, I'm thinking it may not have started yet.)

Finally (or at least until I think of another one) .  .  .

Finally, there was that really odd moment on The Hardline a few days ago.  I mentioned it in a comment.  Corby was doing a fairly amusing bit on Mike dating the mom suckling an eleven-year-old son, and Danny broke in.  Now it may have been a time-for-a-break thing, but there was a different quality about it, like Corby was treading into territory he'd been warned away from.  Corby kind of snorted and said something about "executives listening" back at the station.  May be reading too much into that, but it was a very odd little exchange.

And I'm thinking -- this isn't just a flubbed migration to Victory.  Something has changed, is changing.  And that last little goofy fifteen seconds of broadcasting is what got me thinking:

It's not that the move to Victory was incompetent, although it surely was.

It's that they moved to Victory at all.

Because the move to Victory wasn't just a Ticket move -- it was a Cumulus, and then a Cumlus/Citadel move.

They brought all the children together in one place.  WBAP, KSCS, KLIF, KTCK, i93, The Wolf.  Yes, including sometimes naughty children like The Ticket.

So what?

So this:

Stations like The Ticket who operated somewhat on the edge, somewhat independently, somewhat as a separate team, are brought more firmly under the thumb of corporate management.  Think physical location doesn't make a difference in things like this?  You'll have to trust me on this one -- it does.

While it is hard to begrudge a conglomerate the cost savings of consolidation -- that's one of the capitalistic benefits of consolidation, after all -- in this case it is being amateurishly managed to the detriment of the overall product.  What used to be distinctive becomes homogenized.  What used to be improvisational and edgy becomes guarded and vanilla.  What used to be dedicated to a particular function for a station is now required to serve that function for multiple stations -- and the same management may not be appropriate for the different stations.  We've already seen that in Anon's report last time that The Ticket is being required to use equipment/software that may work for the other stations, but not for a station that is, for the most part, extended improv. 

"Executives" formerly remote from a rowdy station's operation now find overall supervision and authority -- and discipline -- much easier to exercise.

Cost-cutting also becomes easier.  The Ticket disappears in the gang of lower-rated stations; not only are its individual requirements lost in the clamor for resources at Victory, so is recognition of its singular greatness.  Instead of being nurtured and promoted and expanded, the station is starved and discouraged.

Morale gutters.

And, inevitably, the greatness starts to leak away.

I know I've gone on too long already, but let me make one more point:

Consider the position of the hosts, and maybe even a guy like Rich, who also seems unhappy with what's going on, even though he is Rich the Suit.

They're placed in a terrible position.  They don't like what's going on.  They would like to advocate for the P1, but what can they do?  If they complain too much, they could get disciplined, or perhaps even squeezed when renewal time comes around -- or nonrenewed.  Some of them may have been made well-off by their years of service, but, like Deion, they can't do without their salaries.  But if they hold their tongues  and broadcast like nothing's happening, the listener begins to think of them as compliant, even complicit with the CTO.  Their bond with the P1 is compromised as the growing crappiness is ever more apparent coming out of the speakers.

As I said -- The Ticket is in no danger of collapsing tomorrow.  I'll be tuning in tomorrow to catch Rich's 5:30 AM Ticker.  But, like the Ghost of Christmas Present says, if these shadows remain unaltered I foresee major changes at The Little-and-Getting-Littler Ticket -- soon, behind the scenes (hell, they've already begun) -- and in the next couple of years, on the air.

And we're not gonna like them.

That's enough for now.  I have a couple of other topics to address on this subject, but I'll save them until after The Nation has its say on this regrettably gloomy STD.


Anonymous said...

Would it be possible with more national programs being played that some of the Ticket shows could go national via Cumulus? Thinking along the lines of the Musers because of their interview/Gordo's interaction with Will Ferrel(?). Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The national programs are a way for them to not have to spend. It's the difference in paying one board op compared to paying hosts and a ticker guy plus the board op.

The Plainsman said...

Anon 1: This site has advocated for taking The Ticket national for a long time. http://myticketconfession.blogspot.com/2010/05/time-has-come-to-speak-of-syndication.html

Anon 2: Well, of COURSE. We know Cumulus wants to save money. And, in the course of doing so, it's making the station worse. That's the point.

Anonymous said...

i can't remember what segment it was in this morning, but the Musers were talking about something and they referenced someone not being there in a years time (either an engineer or board op).....then Junior chimed in and said "he may not be the only one gone within the next year"....that little exchange stood out, but i can't remember exactly in what context they were discussing it.

Anonymous said...

@Last Anon (10:07 AM): If you (or anyone out there) can give a ballpark time stamp on that exchange, I'd be much obliged. And if anyone has said time stamp and cares/is able to post up a link... you'd be appreciated, pal.

Anonymous said...

They also seemed to have taken to playing a siren sound whenever someone starts to say something bad about Cumulus. I can only assume that they received a directive to tone it down.

Anonymous said...

Last Anon (10:07 AM): pretty sure it was during the Johnny Carson segment at 8:15

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Grubes, has he said anything about why he left in April? Seems strange to go back to school in April.

East Texas P1 said...

To last Anon (5:49) - Read the past threads. Shoopy posted extensively about his timing and when the first summer semester started. Basically he took a month off to get ready for the first summer session.

Grubes himself (I am pretty sure) stated that some of the problems at the Mothership accelerated his taking the 1st summer session rather than waiting for the 2nd session or fall.

He also reviewed all of this on-air; minus the tech problems accelerating things.

[Plainsman and others, clarify if there is such a need to make sure I am correct.]

Not to hijack the thread but I made a rare business trip to Houston and could pick up the signal (faint, of course, but with little static) down to Huntsville. This was during the day and my usual drive to East Texas is 6-7 p.m. when the signal tends to fade with lots of static.

I don't understand all (any) of the technical writings about signals, towers, kw but think the signal is more in a north/south direction than east/west.


The Plainsman said...

No problem with hijack, ET P1.

Your Grubes description is pretty on, as I recall.

I heard the end of the Carson segment, did not hear a reference to departures. But fascinating that it came up.

A watershed time for The Little One, that's for certain.

Anonymous said...


Dude, things are not what they used to be at Maple for sure. But your gloomy (IMO knee jerkish) prognostacations about the future are way off base and largely ill-informed. Change happens in radio. It's the nature of the beast under the corporate umbrella. However, our station is an anomaly within the industry and I can assure you this....outside of the technical crap we continue to deal with on a daily basis after the move - we are just as strong as we have ever been. Everyone on every single show comes to work every day and busts their ass to do the best Radio DFW and maybe the country has ever had the joy to experience.

I know it might be fun to try to predict the future and read between the lines from a throw away comment, but to act like the group of talented and driven people we have on and off air will let this thing falter and slowly decline is absolutely ridiculous. We all have way too much pride and respect for the product we have all created over 18 years to do so.

Cumulus is not the ideal parent company by any stretch. Truth be told, no corporation is doing good things for the industry and the vast majority of it's employees anymore. All are just different degrees of screwed up and bottom line driven. Thems the breaks nowadays. Sucks for sure. However it sucks a helluva lot less for those of us at KTCK.

I appreciate your passion for our great station and for whatever reason you decided to blog about it (which is sorta cool). More power to you for that, but know we are not going anywhere....unless the Mayans turn out to be right....and even then we will cover the end of days like only we can.

Stay hard.

Ticket Employee

The Plainsman said...

Ticket Employee, I am delighted that you wrote and even more delighted that my gloomy view is the mid-term future of The Ticket is incorrect. I'm always happy to be corrected by people in the know.

But I am not happy to be "ill-informed," so I am hopeful that you will write back and tell me where I have any facts wrong, or where you feel that I have exaggerated a problem. Some are judgment calls and guesses, like my guess that there's a growing division between on-air operations and management. But seriously, where have I gone wrong on the underlying evidence?

I was at some pains to suggest that we're not talking about an immediate demise for the station, but a more gradual change in the on-air product. We're hearing some of it already. But no, the station isn't going to up and collapse anytime soon.

In any event, I do appreciate the thoughtful response and hope you will continue to check in. Let the guessing begin on who you are. I'm keeping my guess to myself.

By the way, did you hear Rich Phillips this morning during the discussion of the highest-income celebrities? When Glenn Beck was mentioned, Rich said "How's he doin'?" Pretty sure KLIF has dropped him.

KLIF has also dropped Coast-to-Coast, leaving the market wide open for Junior during campouts.

By the way (2): Lots of mic-overdriving since the move.

Shaggy said...

Yeah, I feel like the overmudlated/hot/whatever you call it mics have gotten even worse in the last week or so.

Lots more complaining about the studio/equipment during the Summerbash Promo segment too.

Jeff said...

I think back to the prior campout (Apr-2011?), when tipsy Mike had an honest moment where he said it won't be too long before he retires. It was a serious moment, the other personalities were caught off guard, and seemed concerned.

Since them I've been waiting for the announcement. Would BaD move to afternoons? Corby would probably have to go away.

All speculation, but who knows?

I get the feeling Cumulus doesn't really know, nor care, what makes this thing tick.

Line 4 Guy said...

This is funny. I side with Ticket Employee. You guys sound like the JFK conspiracy theorists that Gordon satirizes. Good luck with your bottom. The Ticket is strong and not going anywhere.

Sweet Clean P1

The Plainsman said...

Hey, Line 4, many welcomes. I fervently hope you are right and I am wrong.

I'm glad you found it amusing.

The most pertinent point that Ticket Employee made was that radio is sick across the board. There is truth in that, as I read the tea leaves.

However, I believe there are (1) radio statio conglomerates, (2) media conglomerates, and (3) people witih dough, who would be better stewards of the jewel that is The Ticket than Cumulus has recently proven to be.

Nsider said...

I'll address stuff in roughly the order that you raised them:
1. The move was months behind schedule because of the Citadel purchase. (You know, the purchase that made Cumulus the 2nd (by # of stations) or 3rd (by revenue) radio company in the country)
The plans were made to occupy 3/4ths of the 4th floor at Victory. The purchase of Citadel caused them to have to lease part of the 5th floor, and to completely redo the floor plans to fit 2 more stations in. Since the deal didn't officially close till September, they were in a bind of not knowing exactly how much room, exactly how many people they would need to make room for, until they took over. THAT is the root cause of the delay. The fact that Brett is widely regarded as an idiot and a bad enginner just complicated the situation. The skydiving cheif might have been able to pull off the move in the compressed time frame, but not this guy.

#2- Sweetjack- His services aren't being bartered for inferior internet availability. The reason they have Sweetjack is because there are dozens of Groupon type offers out there. SJ is Cumulus's entree into that market. And with SJ, advertisers who can't afford radio time (at hundreds of dollars a spot) can afford streaming spots (at much cheaper) or a Sweetjack offer (at even cheaper). It's about having an advertising solution for every budget.

#3- From Pepi Harris and Cactus Pryor (the first board ops) to Dannny Miles, Psycho Dave, Expo, Roger Wicker and Steve Pocari, the Ticket has burnt through plenty of board ops. One more leaving is one more that has left. they're never going to pay that much for that position, Grubes saw what everybody else that has held that position has learned and moved on to better money. Did the move accelerate the departure, sure. But it was going to happen sooner or later, it always does.

#4- Management or engineering? There's a difference.

#5- They burned a segment today on cat's new tattoo. So yeah, you almost never hear him mentioned, except when they're spending 15 minutes talking to him. (insert eye rolling here)

#6- The Internet stream is a corporate decision. They're not doing it to f*ck with the P-1, they're doing it to standardize across the company. Sure some stations are getting the short end of the stick, but this is where I agree with Ticket Employee and L4 guy, this is where you guys sound like conspiracy theorists, like they're really doing it just to screw y'all.

#7- KLIF has a .5 in the ratings. Wells and Bolton should have been fired months, if not years ago. Davis was getting paid absolutely RIDICULOUS money for very average ratings. He used to be top 5 in the demo, but he's dropped considerably. Cumulus will pay if you're getting good ratings, but they're not going to pay top dollar for medicority.

#8- I'm pretty sure Joe Morgan is part of a package deal- just as ESPN has to run Mike and Mike in the mornings, I bet you'll find that Morgan is partial payment for one of the networks they run.

#9- Physical location? The ticket guys are now MORE physically seperated from Dan Bennett than ever before. You'd have a lot more credibility if you had any clue about how things actually operate up there, instead of just random conjecture that has no basis in fact.

Anonymous said...

Nsider, we've read your stuff before, and nearly all of it has been wrong. So sorry if many of this blog's readers don't find you very credible. Neither you nor Line4 seem to actually read what's being said here, because both of you are under the impression that some of us think that The Ticket or Cumulus is purposely trying to screw the listener by jacking with the stream. No one has claimed as such.

Like I said, you have very little credibility. Oh, and it's "chief," not "cheif," smart guy.

From Ticket Employee, to Nsider, to all the others who claim to know the real scoop (and who all, coincidentally-as in all the same person???, denounce this blog)...I'm beginning to think you are all (or is it *you*?) bunk. I say this because actual Ticket employees do stop in from time to time, and they always identify themselves. Moreover they're pretty damn open with their thoughts.

Anonymous said...

We work there. We know what happens inside Victory. Weekday and fulltime. Grab coffee in the Cumulus Cafe(not made up, real logo on the breakroom), etc. Just take our word for it. And yes, many of you sound like conspiracy theorists.

Ticket Employee

Anonymous said...

Also 100% of what Nsider says is correct.

Ticket Employee

The Plainsman said...

I'm out for a couple days, will respond as I'm able. Great stuff, thanks once again to Ticket Insider. Yes, Nsider has not been extremely reliable in the past, but I think Employee has the goods and we should pay respectful attention to what he says. I am quite unpersuaded as to my overall point, but there is some tasty stuff in there.

Overall, no one has touched the fact that the Ticket product has deteriorated. It just has. Everyone knows it because everyone can hear it (or not). I'll remark separately on some of those items if I can get by a machine over the next three days.

On the road. Carry on politely in my absence.

Anonymous said...

My guess for The Ticket Employee is Cat. I also think this blog has a knee jerk reaction mentality as far as the Ticket going away, but it's still fun to read.

I also noticed the morning after this entry was posted that they had Cat on for a segment about his tattoo. Wonder if the Cat portion of the entry had anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

"Also 100% of what Nsider says is correct."

You just bared your ass, Ticket Employee/Nsider. It's pretty obvious, Plainsman, that these two commenters are actually the same person. It wouldn't surprise me if you actually work in the building, but you're neither insider nor employee (OK, maybe an intern of sorts). It also wouldn't surprise me if you've been to the place once or know someone who works there. But there's no reason to take your word...on anything. Again: actual Ticket employees do grace this blog from time to time, and they are always up front with their identity. And the are pretty loose with their thoughts, as well.

The product has deteriorated both technically and program wise. The former, station wide; the latter, specifically The Hardline (which has become The Mail In over the last few years).

By the by, there's no way Cat would stoop to posting up these comments. TE/Nsider is the same person. The same sort of person that comes on here every now and again, spouting off "I know X, you are all fools" tripe with false bravado.

One more thing, TE/Nsider: Do you understand what a conspiracy theory is? Because if you did, you wouldn't keep making that claim against some of the commenters on this site. There is a marked difference between speculating what is going on and the offering up of a conspiracy to achieve some ends. No one here has offered up such a machinated means to an end.

Anonymous said...

Anyone see Grubes with Knoxy at the Ranger game? It's at Unticket. Missing the limelight much, Grubes? It might be a more difficult transition from semi-local celebrity to older college student than he expected. Or not.

sweetjack/realdeal said...

Regarding the Fail.... I found the following on the DFW radio board....

Arnie Spanier leaving the fan?
« on: Today at 05:34:30 AM »

From Facebook
Arnie Spanier

Anonymous said...

Well, no surprise there. I mean who even knew he still worked there? He's like the guy from Office Space who had his desk moved around everywhere and then was taken off the payroll without anyone telling him.

Shaggy said...

Some biting comments from Mike R. last night followed by the dismal FAN ratings talk in the DMN and on The Musers.

Mike said something about Greggo killing The Fan.

Grubes said...

10:28a Anon: I guess it could be construed that way if you want. I wasn't looking to get on TV when I attended the game, but after having a "conversation" with the FSSW girls over Twitter, I met and sat with them in the left field stands for a little bit. The girls and Knoxie asked if I'd like to do the TV bit, so I did. The opportunity presented itself...so why wouldn't I take it?

Overall, I think I've handled the "transition" pretty well. Not really having much contact with any of the guys unless they initiate it, SeaBass notwithstanding since we're still roommates until tomorrow. But if they want to ask me to a "meet the Ticket guys" party like Corby did, or if Dan invites me to an Anthony Jeselnik stand-up show, I'm gonna say yes. I'm still friends with everyone up there, but I also don't want to be the "hey, I remember me??" type either. Then again, responding to your post in the first place probably renders my argument worthless.

So...I dunno. I'm still me. I like to have fun, so I'm gonna keep doing fun things when I get the chance. Suck it.

The Plainsman said...

Yeah, the conspiracy charge is rubbish. Of course Cumulus isn't deliberately TRYING to make the station sound crummy. It's not TRYING to anger the P1. It's exercising, as Danny puts it, "the power of saving cash," and the way its going about it is resulting in a product that is not as good as it was. That's not a conspiracy -- that's incompetence and if it's not incompetence, then it's being a bad capitalist, penny-wise/pound-foolish, saving a nickel but alienating customers that might not return.

And while were on the subject of not knowing what things mean, I'll gladly confess to errors of fact and judgment, but "knee-jerk" I'm not. "Knee-jerk" is when you hear something and make an instant judgment, you know, like a reflex, knee-jerk, you know? I may be wrong about stuff, but it isn't because I pop off. I hope to get back to TickEmp's response to my list, but the point is, there's a list. There's a process by which the conclusion, however wrong, is reached. That ain't knee-jerk.

And, come to think of it, it's not even wrong.

deezy said...

"In a rare burst of efficiency, I'll get to the point."

Nuh-UH! :)

I haven't read any comments before this one, so if I'm redundant I apologize. I saw "28 comments" and figured I'd post before reading today.

My contribution, you ask? This: do you see a paradox in Danny reeling Corby in that day, but the overall feeling being that Corby's working more blue these days overall?

duckandcover said...

Atta boy Grubes, you tell 'em! What, are you not supposed to have fun in public anymore? Bulsh to the max on that! I love this blog, but some of the commenters' amateur psychoanalysis is pretty, well, amateurish. I'm fairly certain they mean no harm, but it's still a bunch of unfounded hooey. Some people just can't take others at their own words. I think you've more than explained your motives for leaving, as well as the consequences that go along with The Decision (can't help but have a dig at Bron Bron and Wade-ing Pool).

Keep on rockin' in the free world, McGruber!

Anonymous said...

deezy my man (or lady), there is no paradox present in what you speak of. If Corby is working more blue then it would make sense for Danny to reel him in -either due to CTO fiat or a personal judgment call.

Anonymous said...

Shaggy...I missed that last night...do tell...

Anonymous said...

As far as The Ticket's (and especially for all you Hardline mailing it in folks) this ought to quell any and all doom and gloom talk. Unless you're referring to The Fail, and especially RaGE. See below from today's DMN:

Home > Sports >
Comments 1 | Recommend 0
Radio shows on The Ticket continue to have men under their control
Barry Horn / Reporter

bhorn@dallasnews.com | Bio

10:04 AM on Fri., May. 18, 2012 | Permalink

Here's a show by show breakdown for local sports talk radio in the month of April.

But first a recap:

Overall, meaning all listeners all the time, it was The Ticket with a 3.0 share, ESPN 103.3 at 2.0 and 105.3 The Fan at 1.2.

In the all-important "men 25-54" target demographic all week long, it was The Ticket (6.2), ESPN (3.5), The Fan (1.8).

Mondays thru Fridays 6 a.m.-7 p.m. in the demo, when the stations' heavy hitters are yakking it up, it's The Ticket (8.3), ESPN (3.5) and The Fan (2.0).

And now:

The Ticket's Hardline scored the most-dominant hour of the week. At 4 p.m. daily, the show averaged a 12.4 share, which means one out of every eight men 25-54 in the market with radios turned on where listening.

Ticket lineup: Dunham & Miller (7.4); Norm Hitzges (6.9); BaD Radio (7.3); Hardline (9.8).

ESPN lineup: Mike & Mike (4.3); Ben & Skin (2.3); The Herd (3.2); Coop & Nate (3.8); Galloway and Company (3.4).

Fan lineup: Shan & R.J. (2.0); Elf (2.2); Richie & Greggo (2.0).

Anonymous said...

And here's more from the same source: (My comments to follow)

Home > Sports >
Comments 17 | Recommend 1
The Ticket tops entire market in key demographic; ESPN No. 9, The Fan No. 26
Barry Horn / Reporter

bhorn@dallasnews.com | Bio

10:58 AM on Thu., May. 17, 2012 | Permalink

Here's a look at local sports-talk ratings for April in the key "men 25-54" demographic. Tomorrow I will break it down show by show.

Monday-Sunday 6 a.m. to midnight
The Ticket -- 6.2 (No. 1 overall in the market)
ESPN -- 3.5 (No. 9)
The Fan -- 1.8 (No. 26)

Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to midnight
The Ticket -- 7.5 (No. 1)
ESPN -- 3.8 (No. 7)
The Fan -- 2.0 (No. 23)

Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Ticket -- 8.3 (No. 1)
ESPN -- 3.5 (No. 9)
The Fan -- 2.0 (No. 22)

***My Comments***
I think the numbers I've posted prove without a shadow of a doubt that The Little One, despite all its recent technical woes, is so bleepin' dominant that it ain't even funny. In fact, from these numbers, Arnie Spanier looks like a frickin' genius for leaving the sinking ship that is The FAIL. There really is no competition at any given time slot. And remember, Ranger baseball is in play here. That used to cause a ratings swell for the flagship station (and said flagship station would in turn play numbers games with said ratings in order to inflate their overall standing). Mighty impressive stuff, America's Favorite Radio Station. Mighty impressive stuff. So say what you will about The Hardline being the Mail In and all the rest. This bad mama jama of a juggernaut seems to have only become stronger. I hope you all understand just how unbelievably great the chasm is between The Ticket and its competitors. Especially against competitors with bottomless pockets. It's just incredible.

Shaggy said...

I have a strong feeling that the previous 3 anons are somebody who is intimately involved on/with the Hardline.

The Plainsman said...

But Anon does make a point that I think is important: The weakness of the competition. I have a hard time disagreeing with anything he wrote. The question is, why is the competition so weak? Well, one reason is the excellence of The Ticket talent. Another is the failure of competitors to understand the kind of personality required to compete with the Ticket personalities. Another is the difficulty of finding those kind of talents.

This site's Official Position on The Hardline Mailing It In is as follows: The Hardline used to mail it in a lot more than it does now. One reason I started the site was because of the decline in The Hardline, but it picked up its game about 18 months ago and I think it's still pretty strong. I don't think show prep is everything it could be (compared with the other shows, it's, uh, below the median (or should I say, below the Norm)), but it's not a mail-in at all. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I'm good with The Hardline the way it is now.

But high ratings now doesn't mask the deterioration we've all noticed. It does mean that it's better than its competitors, as Anon correctly emphasizes. But you put a strong, smart, funny show on ESPN or Fan with their superior signals and tech against any of the shows with the possible exception of The Musers (yes, I know The Hardline is the strongest rated, but it also has very weak competition), and things could change pretty quickly.

Look, the ratings have nothing, zero, to do with my post. They disprove nothing, and to claim that they do is a species of the fallacy known as retrospective determinism -- because something has happened, it must have been inevitable. In this case, the thought seems to be because the ratings book is strong, The Ticket doesn't have the problems I have ascribed to it.

But many, perhaps not all, of the readers of this site know that is not the case. The Ticket's product is worse than it was six months ago. It's not terrible, it's better than its competitors, but it's weaker in several areas. That it's not weaker in the composition of its programs is a good thing, we're all pleased that all the guys are still around, but there's something shaking under that foundation. The point of my post is not that The Ticket Sux -- I don't believe that and I doubt anyone who is generally supportive of my article does, either -- but that it's being subjected to new and more powerful corporate forces that, SOONER OR LATER, are going to have an adverse effect on our listening experience.

So criticize away, but at least engage on its own terms the position that The Ticket's never-robust tech has gotten audibly worse and conditions for ops guys below the hosts has also deteriorated.

And Grubes: I found your Knoxie exhortations positively charming. We're all jealous of your Twitter hookups.

oscar said...

I think the last anon with the ratings and comments does engage your argument on its own terms. If I read correctly, anon says despite the tech foul ups that the Ticket is still doing amazingly well. I don't see that as saying the tech side of things isn't deteriorating. I see it as saying that the deterioration seems not to matter, and in a big way. So I don't think uyour fallacy really applies. At least the way I'm reading things it doesn't. My gut feeling is that these tech problems will be sorted out soon enough. Maybe they haven't been fixed as quickly as they should've been, but I'll bet you that once everything is the way it should be we'll soon forget about it and it'll be as if it never happened. That's kind of the way things roll. Also, as dumb as corporate big wigs can be, they're not so dumb as to screw up something as successful as the Ticket is. Specially in this economy. I think they're making some changes that IMHO will eventually be worked out and will work out for the best. I'm no mole or insider and I don't work at the station, just to let you know.

Anonymous said...

That's a genetic fallacy, Plainsman.

Shaggy said...

Finally getting to listen to IJB episode 132 tonight (sorry for the delay, TC & Jake). Lots more talk about this blog.

ausgang said...

I wonder why they talk about this blog? From the snippets I've heard, it's mostly TC complaining and Jake playing off TC's complaints. Are there times when both have bemoaned? Are there times when both or one has given the site props? Whatever the case, I think it's a bit small. While I could sort of understand if maybe once either one or both of them would give a shout out or a 'what a bunch of trolls' acknowledgement, I don't get spending the amount of time talking/referring/passive-aggressively referring, no matter how little in comparison to their overall body of work, on a wee little blog that they do. It's been said before, but I guess it bears repeating, as far as blogs and comments go, this site is on the whole extremely fair, civil, and thoughtful. Those boys, or at least one of them, need to grow thicker skin if they're going to make a career out of this business. Because quite frankly, with extremely rare exception (and even then usually the host or a commenter will jump on the person) nothing that is proffered on this blog is cruel. Again, on the rare, and I mean rare, occasion that a cruel comment is posted up, either the host or another commenter(s) will jump all over that comment, lambasting it for the unnecessary cruelty that it is. This, to my mind (as Jerry Jones would say), only points toward two things: Either the things that are said on this blog (i) sometimes hit far too close to home for one or both of IJB's hosts, or (ii) one or both of the hosts either need to grow thicker skin, maybe be more honest with themselves where self-critique is concerned, and in conjunction with self-assessment perhaps they need to ask themselves if this is the sort of career that they are psychologically equipped to handle (I know I couldn't do it). Okay, there is a third possibility: a combination of both.

Anonymous said...

Put me down as agreeing with Oscar. And here's why, you're arguing from the basis of opinion. And you're entitled to your opinion. But your opinion may nit be shared with orher listeners. You may think the station is declining, but do you have any hard facts to back that up? Or us it possible that much like falling in love,things you overlook early in the relationship start to annoy you a few years in. You maybe right, but for those of us that have been around for a few years have heard this multiple times. And it's All opinion. At least with the ratings we can look at it and have some impartial, outside source that tells us if the majority of listeners really think we're going downhill. Msybe we are, but I key someone the other day who just discovered and loves the station. Might they get over the puppy love and find out we totally suck? Sure, but then again, maybe not. All we can really di is look at the ratings, and hope they stay steady...

Shaggy said...

Ausgang, did you listen to the IJB I referred to? Because if you did, your comments make no sense.

ausgang said...

"Shaggy said...

Finally getting to listen to IJB episode 132 tonight (sorry for the delay, TC & Jake). Lots more talk about this blog.

May 20, 2012 12:03 AM"

"ausgang said...

I wonder why they talk about this blog? From the snippets I've heard, it's mostly TC complaining and Jake playing off TC's complaints. Are there times when both have bemoaned? Are there times when both or one has given the site props?"

I'm not sure as to why my questions and related opinions make no sense in light of your posted comment, Shaggy. Please explain, if you don't mind. "Lots more talk about this blog" seems to say that IJB were discussing this blog, again. They've done it before, yes? Yes. I think my initial questions are open questions for anyone to answer (which obviously means that they're aimed at you, too). These questions also make it evident that I don't know what all has been said on IJB regarding this blog. Moreover I don't keep track of episode numbers. So it's a bit tough for me to know what episode you're talking about. Sure these things can be looked up, and listened or even re-listened to, but to be honest, I just don't have the time. I'm not trying to be confrontational, just trying to give and hopefully get some context.

The Plainsman said...

First let me say I expected this column to be controversial, and so it has proven to be.

Second, let me say that I am very pleased at the civilized tone of the discussion. Dissent is always welcome here if expressed respectfully, and it's an even bigger bargain if it's well-written and well-informed. Mostly, that's what we're getting.

I will, however, insist that the current strong ratings don't touch my point. The problems that I and others are hearing aren't going to destroy the station immediately, and may never bring it completely to its knees. I did not claim this. But the growing neglect (NOTE: not TOTAL neglect) and incompetence for which I believe the evidence is fairly strong is, in my opinion, going to matter in the long run. What is that long run? Dunno. But no business asset that is not supported is going to be as productive as it can for as long as it can. My only point was that increased interference, poor studio and remote hardware and software choices, and promiscuous corporate cost-cutting are eventually going to have an adverse effect on the product. We're already starting to hear it. And that isn't going to be good for listeners, and that isn't going to be good for the people who put the product out every day -- hosts, producers, board operators, engineers.

(PS: I was south of the city this afternoon and 1310 was doing something really weird -- the signal was otherwise clear but these blasts of static would interrupt programming from time to time, starting faint, then developing to a roar, and suddenly stopping. all of this over the course of two or three seconds, and they'd come in bunches. This was near the end of Ty's and Sean's broadcast and the beginning of the special TeeBox edition. Could have been my distance from town [I thought Corsicana was in the signal's wheelhouse, but maybe not]. Anyone else hear this in the city?)

As for T.C. and Jake: I have not listened to any other podcasts. I regret it when any person, especially Ticket people, don't like the site. Neither I nor, I would say, 90+% of the folks who comment here have an ax to grind and we try to call them as we see them. We try to be balanced; since we all like the station, I began the site with the specific intention of keeping it positive and at the barest minimum, fair. In T.C.'s case, my initial reactions to his on-air ventures were negative, and, apparently shared by a number of readers. (You'll recall I kept them to myself for quite a long time.) But lately, I have been impressed with his stewardship of the Top Ten and have said so on several occasions. I'm somewhat surprised that the site gets any notice on IJB at all, it's still just a blip on the Internet radar. As I say, I have not listened to any podcasts lately and I do hope the lad was not too beastly towards us.

Another PS: Blogger keeps threatening to change its viewer interface, and I fear that day is coming. Please excuse delays and screwups over the next few weeks.

The Plainsman said...

Actually, it's not the genetic fallacy, pretty sure.

Here's an analogy as to why the ratings argument isn't persuasive against what I wrote: To argue that the current strong ratings prove that I'm wrong that the the current questionable management may well have long-term adverse effects is like arguing ON ELECTION NIGHT 2008 that because Obama won a big victory that he will be a good president AND WIN AGAIN FOUR YEARS LATER. His strong 2008 ratings say nothing IN 2008 about whether a possible poor performance in office will cost him the 2012 election.

Anonymous said...

Plainsman: Retrospective Determinism and Genetic Fallacy are the same thing. The former was a term coined by Henri Bergson (Frenchy philosopher, seminal work "Creative Evolution"), while the latter is pretty standard fare. Like many things, Bergson ever thought he had discovered (he'd probably put it as "uncovered") new ideas, ways of looking at things, etc., in nearly everything he encountered. This instance is no different. Once his new "uncovered" fallacy was shown (in quick fashion, by Gilbert Ryle) to be old and well used hat, Bergson, as he was wont to do, re-fashioned and re-purposed the meaning of the "new" fallacy. I know this is boring the s out of everyone so I'll end it here by saying that he wove it into his philosophy of creativity and change. And that's our history of philosophy lesson for today, kids!

The Plainsman said...

I bow to your superior historical knowledge. Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where the contestants compete for "a blow on the head." (And M. Bergson plalys a role.)

Folks, if you want to read about The Ticket through the lens of early 20th century French durationism, you have absolutely got to come to My Ticket Confession.

OUTsider said...

I don't know. To say sometime -possibly, maybe, could be- in the future if THIS keeps happening THAT might, possibly, could happen is pretty weak. I think Oscar is more on target. The issues will be solved and all the noise from listeners will be forgotten. I don't know how long you or some of your visitors have been listening, but this has happened in the past. I mean, come on, nothing was bigger than losing Greggo. Remember how many were screaming I'M OUT OF HERE, GREGGO OR DIE!!!? I do. The ratings since his departure for The Hardline have done nothing but gone up. Do you honestly think (I guess you do think it's a possibility) that Cumulus is just going to put their hands on their hips and say 'screw it, we don't care'? You keep talking as if you intimately know big business and even the radio game. Well, if you do, then you know that while corporations are capable of screwing things up, they aren't in the business of being THAT stupid or neglectful. Especially when within the group of station that they now own and that are in the same building there is one that is singular in its specific market.

The ratings thing doesn't touch your argument because nothing can. It's set in the undefined future and based on an issue that has taken place in very small amount of time/sample size in the overall history of the station. It's also based on a problem that has happened before (1997-ish). Also it's qualified with 'maybes' perhaps' 'I'm not saying it wills' and on and on. Me, I'll stick with the empirical data given. Ratings. Killer ratings. Ratings that were earned from the time when not only the issues were at their worst, but also when the hosts were openly bitching about them the most. I think we all understand your point. I think we all understood your (erroneously claimed, but that's another issue) fallacy prior to the 'let me explain this like I'm explaining what a surplus means to Michael Scott' Obama presidency spiel. Your argument implicitly claims that these issues will continue on for some time. So much so that it might, maybe, could, I'm not saying it will for sure, drive listeners away. You seem to be a smart guy. Can't you see how your fallacy can be inverted against your own argument? Surely you do. Necessity and possibility are tricky things. It's best not to play around with them.

Tired Head said...

But hey man its the it might, maybe, could, I'm not saying it will for sure but RAHHHHH that makes it so fun! And hey if they don't agree with us lets just claim they are all the same person! Hah!

Sucks to your assmar Piggy.

The Plainsman said...

OUTsider: (1) Welcome, and (2) thanks for getting it. The point you've identified is the point I'm trying to make. Of course it's opinion and speculation and could be wrong and is, as Karl Popper might say, unfalsifiable (at this point). That point is: The move to Victory signals -- and has resulted in -- increased Cumulus interference and decreased output quality. If that doesn't change (which I also said), bad things are likely to happen. Can things change? Sure. But the trend is doleful.

OUTsider said...

I don't know why you think Cumulus is more or less involved (in your opinion, more) than it always has been. The Ticket has moved several times over the years; it's had several different parent companies. Nothing here is new. It's not as if the station had existed per se and now exists per aliud. Excepting the first year or so, the station has always had a parent company that had ideas about how to run it. Sometimes these ideas were implemented, most times, not. Attempting to put an entire group of stations under the same technological umbrella, while obviously not a smooth process, makes sense. Once it's sorted out, I have a feeling all parties will be satisfied. That's my hunch. Or my speculation. (I'll get to that issue, "speculation," momentarily.) As I previously said, technical difficulties are not new to The Ticket; and if you listen to KLIF or any other of the Cumulus/Victory Park stations, you'll hear the same glitches and foul ups occurring. You'll also hear certain hosts, e.g., Ed Wallace on KLIF, bitch every bit as much as Rhyner or Dan or Danny. You guys act as if this is only going on at The Ticket, and that the evil, idiotic Cumulus Overlords are fiddling away while Rome cum Cash Cow Ticket is aflame.

Onto "speculation": Look, I'm into speculation as much as the next guy. When Rhyner made his drunken camp out proclamation, my mind churned with what-ifs and is this for real?. That's the sort of thing that calls for speculation. It's also fun to speculate who will be the first of the original hosts to leave and why. Topics such as those, at least to me, make sense to speculate on. Even doom and gloom, end of The Hardline, end of The Musers/Gordo will move on, and Bob is going to the Stars stuff makes sense and is interesting. But when you start grounding your speculation for the possible, maybe, might be, could be, I'm not saying that it is but is it? beginning of the beginning of the end as we know it on a few months worth of technical difficulties, you're reaching, big time. At least the other possibilities I mentioned are based upon the words and actions of others (e.g., Bob doing a lot of Stars color). We actually CAN analyze that; just like we can analyze and parse Rhyer's drunken gibberish. And please, don't give me the 'this played a part in hastening Grubes's departure' line. He's been on this site numerous times saying that while the tech issues made the last few months more difficult, he'd already decided on leaving when he did. I'll take him at his word.

The Plainsman said...

Thanks for the new thoughtful comment, OUTs. We'll have to leave it at a respectful disagreement.

It is true that The Ticket has weathered management changes in the past. I just get a different feeling about recent events, and yeah, some of it is just my gut. I'm "hearing between the lines" that the relationship between management and operations has changed fundamentally with the Victory move. Where most employees would be happy to move into a shiny new facility with new-car-smell equipment, the Ticket employees are universally unhappy with the impact it has had on their ability to do their jobs in and out of the studio. I suppose this can be chalked up to the usual background static of employee bellyaching, but again -- this has a different flavor, and coming up on five or so months after the move it's not getting better. (I think they like the physical plant and location just fine.) In fact, the actual overall aural experience is somewhat worse (increasingly overdriven mics that Shaggy and I were whinging about). You're right about KLIF, but that KLIF sucks too doesn't exactly bolster a view that this is all business as usual.

Reaching? Oh, yeah. Part of what's fun about doing the site.

Thanks again, OUTs, let us hear from you often.

Grubes said...

For what it's worth OUTsider, I did admit that the move hastened my departure, but not by a lot. It just meant I left in time to start school in the summer rather than the fall.

OUTsider said...

Plainsman: Agreed to disagree.

Grubes: Thanks for the clarification.

P2 in MI said...

Has anyone noticed all the "no merchandise" talk and the "emptying out the old closet" talk as far as giveaway are concerned? Mike commented on how they don't have any new stuff. Wonder if it is because there might be some big change coming soon?

Anonymous said...

I believe that they stopped making and selling Ticket merchandise many years ago. Could be wrong, though.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere the other day that Cumulus wants to compete with Jack FM in the DFW market and could flip one of its current stations to a top 40 format or something close to it. The story also said the most likely station to get the AX would be the Fail. Just curious if anyone else has heard something like that or close to. I personally am rubbing my P1 hands together at the notion because I cannot stand that little bitch Richie Whitt.

DRW1961 said...


Cumulus doesn't own the FAN, CBS does. How could Cumulus flip it to a different format?

They would have to flip I93 or The Wolf.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, DRW is correct. Though I have heard rumblings that the Eagle might be flipped as early as this weekend. But that would be a bit puzzling since they just, what, a week ago made a big stink about putting Nikki Sixx's show into the a.m. drive slot. There are pretty persistent rumors floating around that CBS is running out of patience with the Fan, and the thought of either a format change or a major host turnover could be in the works. But these are all just rumors.

T4 In Rockwall said...

A rumor I read on the board.radio-info.com said the Fan was flipping formats on June the 4th, Arnie Spanier's (spelling?) last day is June 1 and that possibly I93.3 was moving to 96.3. The last seems extremely unlikely because KSCS has been here for years and successful. Taking the place of the Fan is supposedly Amp radio, which is a syndication.

Granted this is all speculation, wouldn't that be great if the Ticket could take over at 93.3? That signal is not the best, but it's much better than any they have now.

Anonymous said...

From what I've been hearing, the only "last supper" about to happen is the one CBS is springing on The FAN. I feel for Elf and a few others. The rest, not at all. The way Whitt has conducted his business over the last three years has been unprofessional to say the very least. From his use of the Observer as his personal bully pulpit to Twitter to creepy co-worker relationships, he's been a disaster. Greggo. I don't know whether to pity him or think him to be a sociopath. At this point who knows, and quite frankly, who cares. I'm no Greggo hater, but he's a bizarre guy. Keep thinking he'll figure it out, but he never seems able to do it. Maybe it's the company and coworkers he keeps? Dunno. I think it would be great if Elf and even Bacsik could find there way back to The Ticket.

T4 In Rockwall said...

Personally, I like Gavin Dawson, but there's no room for him at the Ticket. In my perfect scenario, he comes in for Corby.

Anonymous said...

Gavin Dawson is awful.