Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two Cheers for Hardline Music Talk

Whenever I do an article on Hardline music talk, I get a lot of comments highly critical of The Hard Ones, especially noting (1) music snobbishness, usually by Danny but sometimes by Corby, and (2) the frequency that a small number of artists are featured:   Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, a handful of others.
I'll declare my bias.  Long before I was aware of The Hardline, if you had asked me to name my three favorite modern acts, they would have been Steely Dan,  Jeff  Beck, and Neil Young -- three of Mike R's favorites as well, plus Petty.  So off the bat, I don't mind most of the music talk at all.  Other than Danny's (fairly rare) mentions of newer local and obscure national acts, the guys' fave raves coincide with those I got a taste for from my years of primo music appreciation.
But I'm not defending their taste in music.  I want to make a larger point about The Hardline, and probably The whole Ticket.  I'll concede the Confessors' point, that there is a fairish degree of repetition in a lot of it.  Even Nude Music Tuesday, on whatever weekeday it happens to fall, tends to feature new releases by old acts.  (So that's where the one cheer gets subtracted.)
The thought I want to share is this:  Isn't one of the things that makes The Hardline and all of the showgrams great that they don't pander to the P1?  That these shows are almost more overheard than  heard?  A bunch of white guys + Donovan sitting around talking?  Sure enough, repetition can be boring.  But I'd much rather that Mike, Corby, and Danny were unselfconscious in their music talk rather than trying to gin up chatter for stuff they don't care much about.  I've never heard a single Widespread Panic song, but Corby's enthusiasm for the band has attained the status of a bit, and it's OK.   Mike defends his attraction to certain older, sometimes schmaltzy, pop hits that earn Corby's and Danny's scorn, and it's always a refreshing interude.
So I'm good with the quantity and quality of music talk on The 'Line.  Sure, I disagree with it sometimes, as I did with Andy Williams.  And I've defended The Beach Boys in these pages against Danny's and Corby's sneering.  (Oh Danny, Danny, Danny -- or, Little Douche Coupe)
And, to get you all good and lathered up, let me say that Neil Young has made some of the most beautiful music, and written some of the most striking songs, of the past fifty years. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Considering Andy Williams

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The Hardline noted Andy Williams' passing yesterday.  I won't go so far as to say they were in favor of it, but I was mildly -- only mildly -- startled by the utter contempt that they showed for the man. 
I can't deny that Andy's repertoire sounds pretty bland to a generation who experienced almost nothing but rock-and-roll from the beginning of their musical awareness.  The arrangements were blah.  He pretty much stuck to the melody and the beat.  Maybe that takes Andy out of the realm of "artist" and leaves him stuck in the "entertainer" realm.  Okay.

I'll just offer another perspective.

First, the man had amazing pipes and kept them in shape for years.  As opposed to a tremendous amount of today's pop music -- which, by the way, modern science has definitively established as more boring and tedious than in the past  -- the Great American Songbook (that's Sinatra territory, for those unfamiliar with the phrase) is musically sophisticated, and, quite simply, incomparable popular music.  "Moon River" is a difficult song to sing, which I know because I have done it, and thank Jah it was a noisy saloon, a boomy mic, and a tolerant accompanist.  Andy sang that and many more songs with a deceptive and flawless ease, if not trailblazing originality.  He quite simply had a beautiful voice with great range, perfect intonation, and an incomparable warmth and clarity. 

Here are some things you may not know about Andy Williams, and while they aren't going to convince any scoffers that he wasn't a bland warbler, they may elevate your respect for the man just a bit.

--  In the early 1970's Williams was an early and vocal opponent of the Nixon Administration's efforts to deport John Lennon.

--  Williams was the first television host of the Emmys, a chore he performed from 1971 to 1977. 

--  He campaigned for Robert Kennedy and was with the campaign at the hotel the night Bobby was murdered.  He sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the funeral, at Ethyl's request.

--  He was the first non-country artist to open a theater in Branson.

-- "Moon River" has been covered by R.E.M., the Killers, and Dr. John, among many others.

--  The range of talents on his show went well beyond The Osmonds:  Williams's show showcased black talent on the teevee, featuring the Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the Supremes.  In 1970, Michael Jackson was a sensation at age 12 on his show doing "I Want You Back" with the Jackson 5.  (Some of the YouTube versions of this say that it's "live," but it looks synced to me.  Still.)  

Michael on Andy
The Mamas and the Papas and Elton John also appeared on the show, as did:

Remember, this was the late Sixties and early Seventies -- today's punch lines were yesterday's groundbreaking performers.

--  When Williams signed his new recording contract in the 1960's, it was the richest in history. 

--  When his ex-wife Claudine Longet, mother of his three children, was on trial for the murder of skier Spider Sabich, Williams stood by her side and escorted her to and from court every day.

--  He had 18 gold and three platinum albums.

--  He was a noted collector of modern art.

All right, all right, this won't make you like the man's music if you didn't like it before.  But he was an astonishing presence on the musical scene for decades, and a good guy.  You can think he stands for everything mayonnaise in American culture, and you won't get a big argument from me, but a huge talent and fine life like that deserves our respect.  A moment, if you please

And make ready that third bedroom, okay?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Unconfirmed on This Site: Sean Bass

A late comment to the last string reports that Sean Bass was involved in a serious automobile accident.  I have been able to get no additional information on this and have no desire to spread erroneous or alarmist information.  I post this merely because in the past people have come to this site for information.

Google Blogger is having a serious meltdown and it is almost impossible for me to operate with any convenience.  Apologies all around.  I would ask that comments be kept respectful and that new information either be reliably sourced or with a link.

Whatever the situation, MTC wishes Sean Bass the very best, and our thoughts are with him and his loved ones.

[CORRECTION:  Since this was posted, I received informal but reliable confirmation that this story is generally accurate, although I have no additional details as of 8:30 AM Monday.]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

OPEN THREAD -- Intentional Grounding

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Missed the first show but caught the second.  First impression is that CTO programming has delivered another off-hours winner.

Two guys sitting around talking, both likable through the ear buds.  Some interviews.  Nobody gives speeches.  Nobody "announcing" to the listeners.  Solid content.

Just a couple of preliminary thoughts:

(1)  More David.  Got no problem at all with Robert, but it seems like he authored the distinct preponderance of syllables.  Wait -- I had to leave for a segment; that may have been Felix Jones talk that David might have helmed, so my count may be skewed.

(2)  Too short.  Needs a second hour.  They spent a long time on the Cowboys, also the subject of the two interviews, which was perfectly OK sports talk, but by Wednesday those topics had more or less been talked out.  Longed for Rangers talk.

(3)  Robert is much different on IG than on The Hardline.  He's shuffled off the hipster-local-sophisticate persona that he has when he's talking to Danny, Mike, and Corby.  (Actually -- I like that presentation; just saying it's different.)  He's much more reg'lar-guy on IG, which is also very appealing.

Anyway.  Small sample size, but it sounds good to me.  You?

Monday, September 17, 2012

That Tony Call-In -- How Did They Know?

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Pretty cool of Tony Romo to spontaneously pick up the phone and dial The Hardline.  And The Line did a nice job with the on-the-fly interview.

Danny described the call-in on The Orphanage this morning.  I was wondering how, when they get an unsolicited celebrity call, they ensure that it's the real guy.  I guess it doesn't happen too often, but I do believe I heard Danny say that that is a concern when this they get an unexpected call from somebody claiming to be  .  .  .  somebody.

Tony Romo hoping to delay diaper-changing duties during a glittery
DFW function by dialing up his pals at The Hardline
I wonder how they handle it?  You don't want to offend a major catch for the showgram by showing too much skepticism, but neither do you want to be scammed.  So do you just chat for awhile and hope you can convince yourself that the voice is right?  (Actually -- I thought the voice did not sound a whole lot like the Tony we hear interviewed on the teevee -- although not doubt it was him.  Just saying the producer faces a difficult task.)  Do you ask some identifying question, and if so, how would you ask a question that any follower of the news wouldn't know the answer to?  Do these stations have secret lists of phone numbers of the Local Famous they can check against the incoming call?

Anyway, if any insiders can give us some anecdotes on schmoes trying to call in as notables, please let us hear from you.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


When I started this blog, my first, I figgered I'd need to develop a thick skin to shrug off some of the passionate negative comments I'd get from fans of a station about which people are passionate.  I didn't anticipate passionate loathing from readers when I didn't post.  But that's life online, I guess.  Well, my hungry Confessors, here you go, some red meat for you:  My very occasional report on the state of BaD, to my ears.  

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This piece was started quite some time ago, and was put aside during the upheaval caused by the move to Victory.  So it mentions some things that were fresh at the time, but no longer.  I stand by the stale stuff.

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I feel bad that this site somewhat neglects Norm and BaD, mainly because I don't get to hear them as much. I'm quite certain those hosts intensely regret their relative lack of coverage here as well.

However, I've been making a real effort to listen to BaD more often.  In the past year I've spent more time in my car middays, so got myself a good dose.    Way back when. this started out as a Dan article, but think I should get all my BaD thoughts out of the way.  Yes, I know it's too long.

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Dan McDowell is one of the more polarizing figures at The Ticket, in my case more south-polarizing, but every few months I kinda come around on him a little more, and there are times when I think -- hey, Dan's OK.  I'm still not all the way there after 8 years, but I'm trying. 

First, let's be positive.  Awhile back we heard from a couple of anonymous big fans of BaD and especially of Dan.  Here they are:

Anonymous said...
I have an STD. Well, and STD from me to myself: I have come to the conclusion that BaD has become the best show on The Ticket. I know there aren't a lot of Stars fans on this blog, but their interview with Trevor Daly today was very interesting. I also love the give and take between the analytical Bob and the gut-feeling Dan. And the thing is, Bob can get gutty on you, while Dan will all of the sudden go statsy. I think it's a great mix and a great show. I used to not think as such. The Hardline is either all gut-feeling Mike R organic I just thinks or Corby I just know because it sounds right to my mind. The Musers have that analytical/gut-feeling mix, but they seem to never really get to the heart of a sports issue. And Norm oscillates between analytical thought to sheer lunacy, all within the same segment and about the same topic.

Anonymous said...
Completely agree and I was thinking the EXACT thing during the Trevor interview today. I got in the car for lunch, heard them talking to Ralph and was thinking "shit all I'm going to get to hear is Stars talk during lunch today". Then Trevor came on and it couldn't have been more interesting. Bob and Dan are both so great, I can't really decide which one I like more (although I lean towards Dan since he thinks like I do); they just fit together really well.

So:  Any commentary on BaD needs to acknowledge the obvious:  It's not only a ratings hit, it has a number of fans who know exactly why they like the show -- not just because it's on The Ticket, but because they like Dan and Bob, and Dan qualifies as the station favorite among a significant segment of listeners.  Got no argument with those folks.

And I can agree that BaD is good and renders its competition superfluous.

However, for me the show is still a very mixed bag.

(1)  Good:  I remain convinced, as I wrote awhile back, that Dan is much better solo.   Not only better, but good-in-fact.   I listened to the show a fair amount during Bob's absence way back when, and found it pretty easy to take with him and Donovan.  I know not all Confessors share this view and could not wait for Bob's return.  Me, I thought the discipline of carrying the show really sharpened Dan's approach.   I'll repeat what I've said in the past:  Dan is a better sports host than he is a Sports Humorist.   While he can get off a good line once in awhile, "Dan" and "humorist" don't coexist comfortably in my psyche.

(2)  Good:  I was getting a lot of hits from an Aggie fan site where someone had linked to MTC.  When I looked at the site I found a string where several P1's were giving Dan big props for being very friendly when approached by fans during remotes.  This is not a small thing; any hosts that show consideration for the listeners in this way should be commended.

From D Magazine 2010
Words with Friends Competition
(3) Bad:  I don't punch out very often when listening to The Ticket, but if I had to sum up my punch-outs over the past several years, I'm guessing that I punch out on BaD three-or-four-to-one over the rest of the station combined, even as comparatively little as I hear it.  It's not just Dan misbehavior or Bob interviewing -- it's that BaD seems to stop down for nothing more often than any other show.  I'm not talking about e-brakes; I'm talking about the interruption of ordinary broadcast content for no discernible reason, usually (but not always -- see below) resulting from vocal interruptions.  The "Come on!" drop needs a heartier workout on BaD (me shouting at the Philco works not at all), although Jake The BO probably shouldn't press his luck on that, since Dan's already on his case for -- well, for no discernible reason.  [That last sentence is one of the stale ones, composed in the early days of Jake the BO.]  Yes, The Hardline stops down a lot, too, but its stop-downs usually have some independent entertainment value.  But I also punch out on BaD for other reasons, like scoreboarding the staff and gratuitously rude treatment of guests.  One in particular I recall:  Lanny Wadkins interview.

(4)  Good:  Bits.  Homer Call.  Some of the Donovan black stuff is unique and entertaining.   Guest Booking League.

Although the GBL is a better bit than some of the resulting interviews.  I was amused the last week or so when BaD was teasing The Musers for being the show that interviews the relatives of the famous, whereas BaD gets the stars themselves.  Maybe -- but at least The Musers have taken some care to hone their interviewing skills.

(5) Good:  Handling of racial issues.

(6) Good-But-So-Strange:  Recall that Dan sat in for Corby on The Hardline awhile back, as did a couple of other Ticket notables.  I heard about George's and Gordon's plus-ones, but got zero response when I asked Confessors to let me know how Dan's stint went.  When Corby returned, Mike took a segment to thank each of the guys who sat in.  I found his very friendly remarks on Dan extraordinary, and strongly supportive of my suspicion that Dan is something of an outlier at The Ticket.  

What was extraordinary was not Danny's statement that Dan was "the worst host, and my favorite," although that was a pretty interesting locution (I may not have it quite right).  What struck me was the extent to which Mike went out of his way to report on how Dan gladly accepted the invitation to sit in and on Mike's apparently growing personal appreciation of Dan, things they have in common (baseball love), and the like.  Although Mike was uncharacteristically effusive, almost gushing, I found his Dan-praise entirely sincere.

I also found it entirely weird that Mike was heaping all this very personal praise on Dan, which would hardly be called for if Dan were already regarded as a one-of-the-guys Ticketarian and friend to all.   Not so weird if Mike felt there were some need to describe Dan in a way that sorta suggests that hey, people, Dan's really, really a good guy No, really.  

Wild guess:  The Ticket gets lots of email about Dan.

(7)  Latest Dan Theory:  OK, I'm listening to BaD.  And Dan has been featured on a couple of segments.  And he's fine.  Smart, as he usually is.  Occasionally funny.   Nothing wrong with the overall content.  But for some reason, I'm finding it a really hard listen.  Why is this?  It's not the pipes, I'm way past that.  Pipes are fine, although since the move the poor engineers have not been able to solve the problem of Dan frequently, and seriously, overdriving the mics.  (No criticism intended here -- this is not a Dan issue, I think it's a Victory issue, as Dan is not the only one with this problem.  Don't the CTO actually listen to the station?)  It's something else.  Driving me nuts.  I'm going hey, I make a big show out of trying to be fair even when there's something I'm not crazy about.  So why do I have vast reserves of tolerance for Gordon's and Corby's occasional jerkitude and very little for Dan's mannerisms, even when (as was the case at the time) he's not actually being a big jerk?   Why is my mind wandering to speculation on what Elf might have going today?

And then, it hit me. 

It was just a phrase or two, but I went aha, and the more I listened, the more I realized my problem (maybe it's only my problem) was this: Bob and Dan, but mostly Dan, spend an enormous amount of time commenting on their own commentary in the course of giving that commentary.  Endless loops of monologue, ironic observations on their own observations.  It takes Dan (and again, Bob to a slightly lesser extent) forever to get something said.  That's what Danny must have meant lo those many months ago when he said that Dan "bogs crap down."  That is exactly what he does.  Doesn't make him a bad guy, but it's exasperating for the listener -- this listener, anyway.  Bob may have the reputation of a ceaseless talker (and much of that ceaseless talking does indeed consist of subordinate clauses apparently intended to qualify his opinions into innocuousness -- I've got this on my list as a separate topic), but there's usually a point somewhere at the end of the spiral of verbiage.  Dan seems to feel the need to embellish his phrases with self-observation that, I guess, is what he believes a sports humorist should be doing.   Yes, yes, I know, I'm a fine one to be skeptical of subordinate clauses.

The August 3 E-Brake was an example.  (Sometimes, I write stuff down.)  That was the one where Dan asked Tom Grieve a question that rambled on self-referentially for over minute, during which Tom passed away on the other end of the line. Not that unusual for either of the boys, but for me, too often large chunks of the show sound like that. Christ, get on with it.

The heck of it is, Dan is plenty interesting and knowledgeable and smart and listenable without all of the self-interruption.  (Not to mention the interruption of others, another topic entirely.)  Just talk, dammit; say what you're going to say.  Listen to tapes of Junior Miller, that most elegant of Ticketarians, the Fred Astaire of weekday hosts, who gets to the point faster and more effectively than any of the rest of them and is entertaining in the bargain.   Dan isn't going to turn into Junior Miller and no one would want him to, but I can't help but feel that with his brains and his quickness Dan could be a first rate host if he'd just lose the false (?) modesty or insecurity or whatever it is and say what he has to say with about 75% fewer commas.

(8) Good:  Donovan:  Donovan takes his lumps on this site from time to time, but I must say I don't get it.  I find him a bright spot on BaD.   Some here have accused him of air hoggery, but I find this baffling.  His contributions seem to me to be appropriate and no more prominent than other sub-hosts.  And I find that I like what he has to say and, as I've noted above and elsewhere, BaD overall pitches the race thing about right.  I enjoy Donovan's segments where he brings the community to us pasties.  So I'm pretty OK with Mr. Doo.  His Magic Johnson theory aside, which I wrote about here..

(9)  Bad:  The usual Bob issues:  While I am a Sturm admirer and don't want to hear anyone else do Cowboy pre-game (other than his broadcast partner at the time, Rich or whoever), and while I listen in slack-jawed amazement at his hard-sports analysis when he offers it on BaD, it must be said that Dan is not the only one who brings that show to a screeching halt.  I was on the verge of scrapping this essay -- whatever you may think, I really don't like going negative -- until I was listening a couple of weeks ago to a BaD segment featuring Cash Sirois and a promotional thing he had concocted for the Mavericks.  Bob was introducing it.   Some marvelous thing Cash was going to tell us about.  Coming right up.  It's really amazing.  Here it comes.  And we'll be hearing about it  .  .  .  when?  Good lord, as Danny might say, the preamble, or pre-ramble, just went on forever with no sign of actually getting to the story.  I was seconds away from punching out when they finally got to it.  Good story, as it turned out (sending a Dirk bobblehead into near-space via balloon), but needlessly truncated by Bob's prefatory ambulations.

So I decided to go ahead and post.

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That's enough BaD, and way more than enough me.  I feel terrible about my BaD misgivings, I really do.  I want to be an old-fashioned fan of everyone on The Ticket, and truth to tell my opinion of Dan, in particular, has brightened a lot since I started listening to The Ticket.   But BaD Radio is just not one of those seamless listens for me, like The Musers and The Hardline and even Norm. 

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WAIT, I was ready to wrap this up, but I thought of a way to encapsulate my view of BaD.

Sometimes, I get the feeling that BaD struggles to broadcast.

It's hard for them.  It's work.

Whatever you might think of The Musers or The Hardline, or even Norm, with those shows (well, maybe not Norm quite so much) you get the feeling that you're overhearing some friends talking about sports and guy stuff.  Now this is work for the hosts on those shows as well, but their labor doesn't come through the ear buds.  That's their gift.

Bob and Dan, for all their skills and brains, have a difficult time conversing naturally, at least with one another.   Those skills and brains are considerable and it's still a much better listen than what the competition is slinging.  But too often it's forced and audience-aware and cautious and slow and -- for me -- the show simply can't get out of its own way.  It stumbles, it labors to rise and move on.  By then, I may have done so myself.

Sorry, BaD fans.  I really do listen, my reactions ranging from pleasure, to shaking my head, to yelling at the Crosley, to XM 21.  As you can see, I find a lot to like about BaD.  But this is The Ticket, the greatest radio station in the world; the standards are high.  I've listened with care and I just have to conclude that with the truly superior talent in those chairs, BaD could be better.

Set me straight, BaD fans.  Or, heaven forfend, agree with me.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Question for Our Radio Guys

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No, this is not the STD.

We're all aware that the CTO have issued one of their periodic, and ultimately ignored, edicts about getting to scheduled breaks on time.  I've always been mildly puzzled as to why this is such a gigantic deal, although I guess if a sponsor has paid to have its ad played at a certain time in a certain hour, some effort should be made to do that.

The other day, something occurred to me.

During a Hardline ad break, I switched to RaGE.  Ads.

Flipped on down to Galloway and Co.  Ads.

Your Plainsman Searching for Sportsy-Talk Goodness at the Sod House
Which made me wonder whether The Ticket wants their ads on time so that people who are inclined to wander the dial aren't going to find anything because the competition also schedules their ads for this time.

There's a big flaw in this reasoning, in that The Fan and ESPN would not have a strong incentive to keep themselves on time, because it is in their interest to have broadcast content going on while the P1 is channel-hopping.  Maybe it's just that those stations are better at keeping to their ad schedule, and The Ticket is aping what they know the competition's schedule to be.

I suppose another possibility is that The Hardline (in particular -- it seems to be the worst offender, if offense it be) is so casual that if some discipline were not imposed, they'd end up having to scrunch segments into itty bitty intervals at the end of the hour to get all those hour's ads in.

In any event, maybe someone out there can tell us why it is so critical to "be on time" with breaks.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hey, Junior, I Liked Your "Profar, So Good" Pun

Heck, I even liked your Mitzi Gaynor pun.  ("Did she invent the half, or the full?")

Mitzi Gaynor, back in the day

Your Profar pun reminds me of one of my favorites.  Noel Coward had appeared with Keir Dullea in a 1965 Otto Preminger film, "Bunny Lake Is Missing."  When asked for his opinion about the up-and-comer, who would go on to star in "2001:  A Space Odyssey" three years later, he remarked: 

"Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow."

No, this is not the sizzling STD I mentioned in the last comment.