Monday, June 15, 2015

A Few Observations on Jeff Catlin's AMA, If You Can Remember Back That Far

Sorry I've been away, men and women.  Couldn't be hep'd.  Next little while I might be scarce again but will try to stay quick on reviewing comments.  Really appreciate your patience.  If, that is, you can even remember what it is I'm supposed to be writing about in the first place.

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The one thing I keep coming back to is:  Jeff Catlin is a very smart man.  Yeah, I owe him one for the day he took out of his job to answer our questions, so you are forgiven for thinking I'm kissing his ass.  But I really feel that way, and I feel that it was revealed in his answers.

Various Confessors and other observers have remarked that Cat could hardly expect to agree with all the criticism that The Hardline, T.C. Fleming, Jake, Norm, BaD receive on this site and elsewhere.  Part of what makes any manager effective is the perception by his employees that he can be counted on to be loyal to them beyond the four walls of the workplace, and probably sometimes within.  So I don't begrudge him that, even though we suspect -- I do, anyway -- that he understands why some listeners feel the way they do.  That doesn't make him a hack, cowed by the high-priced talent he's expected to supervise and direct, long-time friends he's fearful of offending.  He spent a couple years down at KCMO (Kansas City, WBAP-type format) as PD, and got the PD job at Cumulus in Dallas after an interview process.   His duties have since expanded in a very competitive market.  This isn't the story of a corporate lackey, whatever we may think of his judgment in particular cases.

So when I mull over the difference between what most (not all) of us are hearing in those particular cases, and what he answered, I keep in mind that this is a knowledgeable media professional whose judgment is respected by the CTO and in the industry.  (See Catlin a Top 20 PD a Top 10 Market, Sez Radio Ink.)

(1) Ratings.

This is the key to all the rest.

Cat could not have been more clear:  It's all about ratings, and it's not about anything else.

The least important upshot of this is that nothing, absolutely nothing, on this site or the comments, or Reddit, or other Tickety boards, or emails to Cumulus, has the slightest influence on what happens at The Ticket as far as CTO decisionmaking is concerned.  So  no point in getting uppity about Cat paying not much attention to third-party criticism of program content.  He doesn't care.  He's not paid to create radio art.  He's paid to deliver ears.

The last half-year or so have seen a change in the relative ratings of the three DFW sports-radio stations, and sometimes even in their order.  While these changes do not portray the utter defeat of the Ticket, and they vary from book to book, it is pretty undeniable that as far as the ratings are concerned, there has been a certain leveling in the positions of The Ticket The Fan, and ESPN.

What follows from this?  And from the fact that Cat is not dumb (see above)?

We'll take a look at a couple of the individual cases below, but I think there are a few things that emerged from the AMA -- and I confess (of course) that I am somewhat reading between the lines here.  (N.B.:  I do not have any secret information from anyone at The Ticket; this is my own -- yes, the old speculation.)

First:  Cat isn't quite sure what's going on.  We can see from the successive books that the ratings are very changeable; other than the leveling trend, the ratings can vary considerably from book to book. 

Second, and related:  He doesn't actually believe the recent ratings dip is real.  That is, he doesn't believe that all of a sudden, the listening habits of Cool Metro have changed to the extent supposedly reflected in the ratings, or vary in the way the dancing ratings seem to suggest from book to book.  So The Hardline sucks one quarter and sucks less to a measurable degree in the next?  Doesn't make sense to him.  Should it?

[NOTE:  While this was in draft, DP and 444 Anonymous picked upon exactly the same things that I was thinking, with some interesting information to boot.  You may want to click back and check out their comments in the last string.]

Is there any factual basis for questioning the Nielsen/Arbitron books (Nielsen bought Arbitron in 2013)?   Maybe.  They're certainly having some problems in Los Angeles, where Nielsen withdrew one of the radio books in 2013.  (Nielsen Problems with Los Angeles Radio Ratings Panel.)  The "panel" is the group of citizens selected by the ratings service to be hooked up to PPMs -- personal people meters.  In June 2014, Radio + Television Business Report suggested that Nielsen's PPM problems were potentially nationwide, having to do with how PPMs were delivered to panel members.  (How to Fix Nielsen's PLM Problems Nationwide.)

Anything up in Dallas?  Haven't been able to find anything.  In 2008-09, Arbitron switched to all-PPM from the old hard-copy "diaries," which was a pretty large change in the way ratings were collected and which I believe did result in something of a dip for The Ticket, although nothing like the 2014 decline.  I do recall something -- was it a Confessor? -- about Nielsen representatives having been seen in the Dallas Cumulus Victory offices. [NOTE:  Anonymous mentions this in a comment to the last thread, so I guess I'm not making this up.]

But man, take a look at this, published just within the past couple of weeks on the Radio InSights website in an article titled "Radio Is to Blame for PPM Failures":

"Yes, Steve Morris, Pierre Bouvard, and others at Arbitron did a good job selling PPM insisting that it was more accurate, more precise, and radio’s perfect 21st century ratings solution.  But let’s face it. Radio really really wanted PPM.  Radio wanted to believe it was more accurate. Radio wanted to believe it was more precise. Anyone who expressed doubt was dismissed as a luddite, someone opposed to progress.  Now we know that PPM is far less accurate and far less precise than Arbitron claimed. PPM’s fails to accurately capture radio listening, and quite possibly has done more damage than good to the medium."

So it is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that radio insiders are skeptical that ratings are accurately reflecting listening trends.  This accounts for Cat disbelieving that, for example, Mike's disengagement has materially damaged Hardline listenership.  If ratings are suspect, that causes guys like Cat and the Cumulus sales organization huge problems, because advertisers are still relying on ratings in making their buys. 

Third, I think there is something to what some Confessors have mentioned about changes in the competition and even the local sports scene.  Sure, the Cowboys have been around this whole time, but they had a shocking, newsmaking season last year.  In November of last year, two "classic" hip-hop stations entered the market (Boom 94.5 and Hot 93.3).   The Fan has been building its brand far more assiduously than The Ticket over the past few years, and maybe that is paying off.   This latter is a Cumulus corporate deficiency -- other than remotes, almost no Ticket promotion to the public -- not a Ticket programming problem.

I think some combination of things like this suggests to Cat that this just isn't a problem of program content, even though, as DP pointed out on the last thread, Cat does acknowledge that program content affects ratings.  Can it possibly affect it to account for the swings we're seeing over the last year?  It's hard to blame Cat for being skeptical.    

So no matter what Cat might really think about the shows, to tinker with what has been successful when the ratings were generally regarded as more accurate could be catastrophicAnd if the ratings are unreliable to begin with, how would he know if what he was doing was "working," was accounting for the better (or worse) ratings? 

I offer this as an explanation to Cat's "everything's fine with the shows."   The ratings give him no reason to think otherwise, and no guidance as to what changes are needed to make them better.

Now, let's ask ourselves:  Are the Musers a counterexample to this "the ratings are broken" theory?  They're still pulling strong, but I don't think this is necessarily evidence that declines in the appeal of other programs are real.  The Musers have a broader appeal generally.  Shifts in who's holding those PPMs are less likely to affect them.  For example, Mrs. Plainsman (who does not, to my knowledge, have a PPM) will gladly listen to the Musers with me every morning but will not listen to The Hardline ever.

Conclusion:  Cat must of necessity be guided by ratings, but there is some evidence that they're unreliable, and that this unreliability has either increased recently, or has reached some kind of breaking point since PPMs have taken over.  And he's not going to panic about program content under those circumstances.  The flip side of this is -- he doesn't know exactly what to do, since the sales department, and The Ticket's meal tickets, need to see ratings.

(2) The Hardline.

Cat views The Hardline as a stool perched on three legs of equal length.  Whatever he's hearing, he doesn't view it as associated with the ratings flipflops, as evidence of problems with the show.

Let's grant the latter point for now.

Many readers and Your Plainsman believe that in recent months, perhaps going back more than a year, The Hardline has declined in quality owing to (in order of cause-effect) Mike's too-frequent checking out and Corby's monopolization of the segments.  With the latter being unsatisfying owing to lack of preparation, discovering content on the fly, frequent repetition of a small number of pop-culture themes, low-info commentary on current events, browbeating of Mike, Mike not bothering to defend himself, and middle-school-level hyperbole.

I mean, it's right there.  You can hear it. 

Cat hears it too.  When he listed the items affecting ratings, program content was first on his list.  He doesn't care a lot about it, he doesn't view it as decisive when it comes to the ratings, but he knows the critics have a point, and so do Mike and Danny.   In recent months the show has been tightened up with segments ending when they're supposed to end (I know, it's for the whole station, but The Hardline was by galaxies the prime offender here).  Lately, also, Mike has come noticeably to life -- he's still the short leg on the stool, but the thing is wobbling less than it has been. And even Danny and Mike have been heard putting the kibosh on some of Corby's mic-hogging.

But there's more at work here in Cat's apparent unconcern over the quality of The Hardline.

To some extent, he approves of Corby's role.   The guy's a lightning rod; lightning rods attract lightning, and while no one wants to be struck by lightning, everyone wants to watch it.  In the past, I have likened Corby to Howard Cosell as an -- yes, an abrasive -- personality with an annoying voice people could not stand but whom they also could not stop watching. 

And here's a flash for all of us on MTC:  A lot of people like Corby, and Cat knows it. I am pleased that we've heard from several Confessors lately who are perfectly happy with The Hardline just the way it is. Despite the changes in the shape of the DFW market, The Hardline is still in first place in its market segment or within sniffing distance of it.

Who are these Corby likers?  (Well, I'm one, but we're talking about The OverCorby here.)  I don't have any numbers to back this up, but I'm thinking it's likely listeners who are  .  .  .  younger  .  .  . than the MTC demo.   Corby's not young, but he's younger than Mike, he sounds a lot younger than Mike (who is not that old, but looks and sounds older than he is).  And he's living the affluent kickass life that a lot of younger listeners probably find attractive.  And those young ears are the ones Cat covets for now and for the future.

(That paragraph could just as easily have been written about Jake.)

Cat's commentary has me thinking about the way I listen to The Hardline.  If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that while there is more Checkout Mike and OverCorby than I would like,  the show is not that much worse than it used to be and I don't enjoy it that much less.  I think I probably am guilty of some good-old-days syndrome.  And I don't mean Hammer time, I mean the years after his departure when Mike and Corby, aided tastefully by Danny, were really working it.  When it wasn't at all clear that the Gregless Hardline was going to work.  While The Musers remain at the top of my list, I laugh out loud more at The Hardline.  I switch over to ESPN's Afternoon Show when I've had enough of what The Hardline's throwing out in a segment (Ben & Skin -- almost never; seems like every time I punch over they're playing one of their awful games, or about to), but The Hardline is still my default drive tunein, and after a little of Tim and MattI usually switch back.  And, as noted, there are listeners out there who find The Hardline's balance entirely acceptable.

So what I'm saying here is that there is a pretty fair chance that Cat does not view MTC, and in particular the commentariat, as representative of the views of the majority of Hardline listeners.  Or, more likely, he views the criticism one sees on this site is overstated.  And he may be right about that, although wrong to dismiss it entirely.

There's something else.

Everyone who might know a little about what's going on behind the scenes at The Ticket will swear that Mike will be Hard until they pry his cold, dead claws from his iPad, but he's not going to be broadcasting forever.   It is at least possible that the gradual takeover of the show by Corby and, to a lesser extent, Danny, is deemed preferable to a more abrupt changing of the guard.

And finally:

Mike loves The Snake.

So where does this leave us with Cat's attitude about the show?   He's going to defend his guys, and he did so in these pages.  But he knows; he knows.   To my ears, the show is inching back to some semblance of balance -- not there yet -- and I'm guessing this has more to do with Cat's professional suasion than it does with Mike's pride.

3) T.C. Fleming

There was a lot less T.C. questioning than I expected from Confessors, so Cat didn't have much to say about him.  That suited me.  So this segment won't have a whole lot to do with Cat's view on the lad, other than my guesses.

I don't believe that T.C. has much of anything, and quite possibly has nothing, to do with BaD's ratings.  Yes, Cat acknowledged that he needs some coaching up.  I don't think he's under any illusions about T.C.'s performance.

I personally don't find that performance terrible, but I don't listen to BaD as much as some of y'all.  He's not horrible on the weekend shows he sometimes anchors.  It's not a voice I like a lot, but that's cosmetics.  He's prepared, he doesn't browbeat his co-hosts, he's OK.  Maybe a little talky, a little balky.  But eh, it's the weekend.  He's kind of a guy.

I am very reluctant to doubt the sincerity of Confessors who criticize his performance, but I continue to think that a lot of listeners have simply never forgiven him the manner of his departure from Cool Metro when he decamped to Pensacola.   Which was undeniably graceless, stupefyingly tone-deaf for a guy whose walls display no skins.  That leave-taking makes us think we know what kind of guy he is, and he'll never broadcast himself out of that impression.

Here's T.C.'s problem:  I'll bet almost every Ticket JV has some T.C. in him:   burning to get more air time, resenting adverse listener and colleague criticism, thinking he's better than the other guys, and ambitious.  They all want to get ahead.  T.C.'s problem is that he's terrible at disguising it.   It's obvious to the listener.  It was apparent in the podcasts from Pensacola.   The guy says he has problems with authority, and his self-regard drips from the earbuds.  It's just a quality of his broadcast style, and he can't suppress it.   There are broadcasters who have made successful careers out of public attitudes not that different from T.C.'s.  It's just not what you want to hear from a tyro.

But it is legitimate to ask why he is favored over some of the other JV who don't cough into the mic and stumble memorably over copy.

If we're not prepared to take Cat at his word that of all his choices, T.C. was the most experienced, the logical choice, then I don't know the reason.  My guess is that it has something to do with the fact that hosts get a lot of authority over how their shows are run and probably have a great deal of influence over decisions Cat makes about program staff.  Of all the shows, Bob and Dan seem to require more care and feeding than any of the others, including Norm.  One seldom hears anything about anyone else's interns, but BaD's are the subject of frequent grumbling by other shows.  T.C. wended himself into their affections with his helpfulness long before he was a presence on the air.  Hey -- smart career move, no? Bob and Dan like and support him in the face of listener and colleague disdain.  And let's not forget the intimations that T.C. has some special skills, seeming to relate mostly to the his expertise in operating of electric computers, not a small thing. 

(Speaking of T.C.'s colleagues:  I'd love to know what goes on behind the scenes at The Little One.  I think T.C. may be as divisive there as he is to the P1.   Take Mike S's on-air scolding of T.C. for coughing into the mic:  Mike obviously feared no reprisals for smacking T.C. around pretty severely within the hearing of Cool Metro.  And I get a flavor that he is not a favorite of some of the other hosts.  What impression do you get when George says, attempting to deflect some T.C.-critical vote for the E-Brake:  "Hey, we love T.C."?)

Sometimes I wonder whether Bob and Dan get some, shall we say, special consideration.  They turned down bigger dollars at The Fan to stay with The Ticket.  They did Cumulus and the P1 a true solid by re-upping when they did.  It wouldn't shock me if Cat is sensibly showing some corporate gratitude by supporting their wishes to favor T.C. in Ticker and popping-on and other assignments.  I have no support for this.

And, as I've suggested above with the Corby/Cosell comparison, Cat may well view T.C. as the JV the listeners love to hate.  Cat doesn't care if listeners dislike him -- as long as they keep tuning in to hear his next drop.  Again, not to impugn the sincerity of my precious readers, is it imaginable that all the Confessors who claim they're being driven from BaD by T.C.'s presence aren't still tuning in?

That is not to say that BaD doesn't have its problems, just like we're proceeding from the assumption that The Old Grey Hardline ain't what she used to be.  And even Cat acknowledges that program content affects ratings.  But like Corby's creeping influence hasn't destroyed The Hardline or sent it to the depths of the Nielsen book, T.C.'s and Jake's participation in the middle of the day is, if a factor at all in what's going on with the ratings, a pretty tiny one.

And Cat gives every indication of having the same impression.

*     *     *

(4)  Summing Up.

We were appreciative of Cat taking time out to respond to questions.  His vigorous defense of The Ticket was expected.  A lot of us probably find ourselves either not believing him that he's not hearing any on-air problems that might affect ratings, or just disagreeing with him.

But I have to say that the entire flavor of his responses got me asking myself whether he's right and I'm wrong; whether it's The Ticket that's declined, or instead that after more than ten years of listening to programs that are pretty much unchanged in talent, tone, and content (Greg Williams's absence being an exception, although, after all was said and done, not as big an exception as we might have thought), I've just flat grown bored with it, and I'm nitpicking at the fringes -- and unfairly at that.

The AMA forced me at least to consider that what's grown stale to me may be sounding fresh and appealing to new listeners and younger listeners -- the Ticket's audience for the future and Cat's prey.

CORRECTION, probably the first of many:  Anon 316 notes that in the first edition of this post I misidentified T.C.'s Florida destination as Tallahassee.  I regret the error and thank Anon 316 for the correction.

AS PREDICTED, ANOTHER CORRECTION:  Anon 734 notes that  in the first edition of this post I misidentified Matt Mosley as "Mike."  I regret the error and thank Anon 734 for the correction. 

[Comments to this site are moderated. 

Before posting, please read Rules of the Confessional.  Thank you.] 


Anonymous said...

Your summary was perfect. I think it has a lot of validity to it, for many of us. However, I must point out, and it pains me to say that, at least part of your response feeds fuel to your critics--i.e., how can you host a blog about a station which you listen very little to, have no deep sense of history of, and, due to the previously mentioned things, have little idea about what actually transpires on the airwaves on a regular basis. . . . T.C. went to Pensacola, not Tallahassee. You made that mistake not once, but consistently. When you run a blog that based around something specific and get important info about a subject you are specifically writing upon wrong...excuse me if I point this rather glaring faux pax out.

Having said that:

I think your final point was spot-on, dead-on. I think, perhaps, for you (though for me, it's not "perhaps" but "I know") and others who are more critical than not, it's merely a case that you've/they've moved on. You love the memory of what it once brought to you. You still do it out of habit and the subconscious hope that it'll all somehow get back to what it once was, but you know it never will. Therefore what it's become aggravates you. THL embodies this phenomenon. The thing is, you've moved on. You don't want to admit it. You don't want it to be so. But it is. And now it's time to cut bait. Rip the bandage off.

Seems to me that's what you're, at heart, saying. Frankly, if that's the case (or not), I'm right there with you, Pman.

Seems like this might be your initial "I'm so glad we had this time together....just to have a laugh and sing a song...." Carol Burnett closing theme that The Musers used to play vis-a-vis MTC.

If it is, I understand. Totally. I understand because I'm about to sing that very same song to MTC, the reddit page, and, yes, after 21 years as a loop listening, Skip signing on, listening, f'n genuine my beloved Ticket. As the Laddy would say, "it's time, buddy, it's time." It is time. I don't like where it's gone and where it's going. And yes I've moved on from it in many aspects, too.

Anonymous said...

It's Tim and Matt on ESPN, not Tim and Mike. That said, one can see why it took some time to publish this piece. It's a careful and well thought out post. Thanks for taking the time Pman.

Celery said...

Even if everything you are saying is true, Plainsman, a great manager stays ahead of the curve. I would suggest he has not. For example, the mess caused by Greggo's departure years ago caused a vacuum in which one personality, Corby, was eventually allowed to fill-poorly. His rise into the role of co-host castrated Mike who seems concerned only about play lists and his Grandpa-like existence among two hipsters. While I never cared for Greggo, the interplay between he and Mike was what made the show worth a listen. There is no interplay among Mike, Corby, and Danny. Just nut kicking. Cat's inability to manage this group captures everything that is wrong with his leadership in terms of the talent. Yes-he should fool the talent into believing that he is on their side. That means Corby should have been lead to believe that his role was SUPPORT...not the main voice. My second piece of evidence that Cat is floundering is the stream issues. Is this even his problem? I don't know, but there are a lot of listeners out of market. My listening habits have changed considerably in the last three months. I decided to stop change stations as soon as the stream is dropped twice within an hour. I usually change after 30 minutes. It has gotten worse.

While the other shows have aged, they are pretty much the same as they have always been. I guess Cat could pull a Sports Brother move ala 570 KLIF. For those of you who thought that was awful (I did), it did bring in a different caller to Norm's show long after Leon was gone. I hope that doesn't happen. The Musers, Norm, and BaDD are predictable shows. Their familiarity may be what brings so many people back day after day, so they won't be changed.

Perhaps the addition of a later show would help the station. Cat seems to ignore that opportunity. The Stars on the Ticket? No!

If it all comes down to ratings, as Jeff C said, then none of it really matters. But if we consider how much better things could be, then he looks like a lazy PD. It's easy to be an armchair PD.

Anonymous said...

I know the hosts can't/don't want to listen to the station all the time, but if Corby had listened to his own station's hockey show he would have had all of his questions about the new Stars coach answered.

Now that it is all over, I am of the opinion that the top 5 concert list was just a self-indulgent exercise is revisiting all of the cool concerts they have been to.

Anonymous said...

A post kissing Cat's ass. What a shock.

Anonymous said...

The decline of my enjoyment of the Hardline started not with the Greggo stuff, but when Grubes left. Man, that guy gave me a lot of laughs.

birq said...

I strongly agree with Anon 12:59. Grubes supplied lots of comedy - intentional and otherwise - that isn't there anymore. Yeah, there are still drops, but Shoopy had timing and talent that nobody else has come close to matching, and his distinctive laugh in the background was a character of its own. Rest in peace, sweet Gruber.

Anonymous said...

This prank on Jake, while totally mean, is hilarious and I would LOVE to hear how TC wpuld react to the same situation.

Anonymous said...

Mike will be awake today - Brian Wilson at 4:00. Can they lock Corby out of the studio?

Boo! said...

Great Stuff, Pman.

I can honestly say that I don't disagree with any of it. The ratings seem iffy at best, with weird stations popping out of nowhere with significant ratings boosts and drops. Corby is a lightning rod and says outlandish things which is partially what entertainment is about. TC is in much the same boat, and the Catman had to be corporate political Catman. I mean, Catman wasn't going to come on MTC and say "Yea, you know what? Mike has been disinterested for a few years now, I should fix that."

I think part of the problem is that we remember The little Ticket as the station that used to air The Rant, and talk about blood cannons at Corby's Wedding and baby-arms. Its not that station anymore.

But I think most of us can agree that the Thursday night specials they've been throwing out lately proves why The Ticket is special. I honestly do not think The Fan, ESPN, or any other station in DFW (Maybe the country), could do that. Try to explain Junes Coast to Coast to someone or Danny's Souls Bastard special, you can't, that's what makes The Ticket special.

Doc Logic said...

Good stuff on your part PMan.....

The ratings are such interesting chemistry of numbers that there is always variance to true fact. And while they paint a picture, they can't be necessarily seen as hard fact.... thought they are our only hard "facts".

Hardline / Corby..... it is true, there are many who like Corby contrary to many opinions here. He is a lightening rod at times..... but he's a character and has his own persona that has his own audience. And... HSO....there are many "music" guys on the ticket but I would suggest that the new Sunday night Dallas music show would not have happened if not in part for Corby's inspiration.

TC.... great point about Bob and Dan and Cat / Cumulous allowing them some deference / control over their show post re-upping. TC is weird dude.... but he's Bob and Dan's weird dude and they like him. TC's got some good insight.... he's up on sports... he's not the best with his presentation and he's even mellowed in his short time, but there is ZERO significant drop of listeners to BAD radio because of his presence. Sure a couple have said that on here ... but the number is meaningless to the BAD radio big picture. A couple of fish in the big ocean. People listen to BAD for BAD.... not the ticker comic strip character that he is.

All in all, good big picture thought process on the CAT AMA... preciate it.

Anonymous said...

Mosquito Steve sounds like a comedy act....he might have a good product, but any dude who let's hundreds of mosquito's bite him for "science" and bragging about it on a radio commercial is half ass crazy.

Secondly.... business name branding HSO: naming your business by your first name... when no one knows your first name before your business was created, has an air of self absorbed ego and miniscule understanding of brand name expansion.

Maybe we can get him a JV show on the weekend and pair him with TC.

Anonymous said...


"I think part of the problem is that we remember The little Ticket as the station that used to air The Rant, and talk about blood cannons at Corby's Wedding and baby-arms. Its not that station anymore."

That's a part of the picture. But only a small part. The whole of it was that the hosts were like us. They had the same day to day problems, etc., that we did. They talked about them on-air. And did so in a way that made the listener feel like they were his/her buddy. Host and listener belonged to the same clubhouse. There weren't extended, daily, weekly, yearly "my kick ass life" segments. There was no "me and Tones stroking the back nine" talk. There were no 5x per year "let me tell you about my vacay that cost more than you make in 6 months" talk. And on and on and on. The stuff you refer to held meaning for only a small segment of the listening audience. It's the GIML (and now, to some some extent, reddit) crowd that The Rant and Rant-esque talk meant so much to. But that wasn't what made The Ticket what it is. And it surely isn't what inspired such a fierce loyalty that sites like MTC were created and are sustained. Not by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

OK, Corby's a "music" guy. But if he starts whipping Brian Wilson's ass about music and calls him "Buddy" I will have some other names for him.

The Tricky Kid said...

The Ticket on-air hosts are getting older and have changed..just like the P1 fans who grew up with them in the 90's. When I started listening them, I was in college driving to UT-Dallas and listened to them religiously on my commutes. Now, I am 20 years older with a wife and a kid on the way. They have changed. I have changed. But the core part of why I love the hosts has not. These guys are making 6 figures and have great lives now. Good for them. They have earned it. I would love to be able to afford Stones tickets but hey, I can enjoy living vicariously through them without hating on them. I think an underlying problem that some P1s have with the hosts is just outright jealously which is the P1s problem, not the hosts or the station. Just enjoy it, this station is still light years better than the competition.

Anonymous said...

It's all in the presentation. George, Craig, and Gordon all have their music stories to tell but nobody seems to have a problem with those.

Sure Corby has seen a lot of live concerts and in his capacity as a talk show host has had brief encounters with some pretty big names in the business. Where I think he goes wrong is that he applies a douche-factor to it that the other hosts do not. For example, now that he has seen Love and Mercy he thinks he is an expert on Brian Wilson - stuff I have known about him for years.

And no, I am not jealous of Corby or any other Ticket host.

The Plainsman said...

After an initial lengthy question by Corby, I thought the Brian Wilson interview went quite well, with Mike a pretty vigorous participant. Mike was clearly thrilled to have spoken to Wilson.

The Plainsman said...

Jeez, I didn't realize that my MTC article on The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson was four-and-a-half years ago.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Tricky Kid, jealousy isn't the issue. I agree with you that both the longtime listeners and the hosts have changed. I also agree with you that there's nothing wrong with them moving up in the world, going to expensive Stones shows (that they don't pay for, BTW), telling us about it, and all the rest. It's the matter of fact-ness about it. The "isn't this how everyone lives" attitude. That is what turns many off. It's the "there's a new clubhouse, we'd like you to be a part of it via paying your fees, but as far as being invited to the banquet, not so much" aspect of where things have gone that is at issue. There is a way to balance it. Bob, Dan, Donnie, George, Craig, and to some extent Mike are able to do it. Corby cannot. Because Corby is the loudest, most prominent voice on the flagship show of The Ticket, he is the loudest voice on The Ticket. He, not Mike, sets the tone for the station. The tone is deaf.

Anonymous said...

Let the record show that at 5:38 today, Corby Davidson, host of a highly rated afternoon drive sports talk show, learned that Prince Fielder fell down rounding third in Tuesday night's game. The #2 highlight of the game.

East Texas P1 said...

Corby must have forgotten to take his Adderall today. He teased Community Quick Hits with the line something to the effect of "We will see how a Plano kid who killed his parents shows remorse".

They go to break and on the return his first topic is about Darrell Royal Stadium serving beer and wine. The rest of the segment was about drinking policies and entrance / exit policies at different venues. Never did mention the Plano kid.

I think this is illustrative on how THL is not doing any show prep and the presentation suffers.

slinky said...

LOL! East, I noticed that too. Ok, I've never been a fan of the snake, but gotta give credit where due. I was very impressed with the Brian Wilson segment. They did a pretty good job dealing with potentially volatile personality. Man, did Brian shut down the Mike Love chat or what?!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was surprised by the Mike Love comment. I thought Brian and Mike had patched up their differences. Guess not.

Corby did OK with the interview, but then there was the post-interview chat with Mike (semi-accurate recall follows) -

Mike: Poor Carl, always got the short end of the stick.
Corby: Carl is doing just fine.
Mike: Uh . . . Carl is no longer with us.

cactusflinthead said...

y'all remember how F. Rick Arnett used to be somebody that could get the interview? called him the horse whisperer.
There is a reason Corbles and Gordo are the go to guys with the wireless. Both of them have a gift for getting people to talk. So does Norm. The old man might rip one right in the middle of the interview, but he can get some stuff out of folks. Norm does not lob up a lot of softballs.
Corby gets girls talking. We don't get a lot of estrogen around the MTC, I know they are around, but the mostly stay lurking in the shadows. The wimmenz like Corby. Even when he asks them outrageous questions.

Then there is Gordo. What the hell am I to say about him? He has the gift of prying out a few syllables too. He might break out a character. He might ask entirely too personal a question, but no matter what he finds a way to jab them with a stick and poke a few words out of them. Even the enemy. Who else in this market has been arrested while doing their job? Shouting heresy on the gridiron.

Mike was pumped to have Brian Wilson on. They turned right around and compared him to...Questionable characters.
How much LSD did he take that first time? There is some fried circuitry up there.
It is an epic get. No doubt about it. It was sad and pathetic and it made me pull over to listen closely.

After all the AMA my best take away is that if they aren't counting TSL on the intertubz and the phone in my pocket they are way way way behind the curve. Somebody better than whoever is measuring it needs to take over. prime territory for a propeller head. Convincing somebody your data is good is 95% of the battle and I ain't convinced with this set works well.

oh you think Corby might read some during breaks and then totally dump the tease he had last round? welcome to the party.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't think anyone at MTC has ever questioned Corby's value as a yuk monkey. His interview skills on the wireless are, well, other-worldly. Perhaps even massive. But as a host who takes over a segment and issues final authority hyperbolic edicts, he is tiresome. The opposite of iconic.

Next of all, I was shocked at the discussion over whether Donald Trump has permission to use Neil Young's "Rockin in the Free World." I agree on one point. Trump says he has an ASCAP license. OK, let's see it. If he does, then depending on what the license specifies he does not need Neil Young's permission to use any of his music. Neil Young can request that Trump not use his music, but Trump does not have to honor that request. I am surprised that people who are actually in the radio and music performance businesses don't know that. Am I wrong? Can somebody with ASCAP and BMI knowledge set me straight?

Nonononever said...

I doubt Corby knew how influential Carl was to the BB after Brian lost it. Of course.
Question: I've listened to THL forever, but still have never figured out what Mike means when he refers to "his dark period". A little help, confessors.

Celery said...

Corby asked yes or no questions of Brian Wilson. Good thing Wilson was a good interview! Corby is a great wireless yuk monkey and nothing more. Hardly an equal of the likes of Ryhnes.

Anonymous said...

Dark Period = Period of time during the mid 80s to mid 90s when Mike stopped listening to new music. The primary cause was when KZEW began to play more metal--e.g., Ozzy, Ratt, and Quiet name a few.

Anonymous said...


Mike has never come out and said this, and he wouldn't, but I think his oft-referred-to "dark period" was a time during his marriage and kid-raising that he didn't have his ear to the ground on all any new music. Sounds like it was ~10 years since he evidently had never heard of certain groups which had their run during that time, whereas before and after the dark period he had listened to deep tracks of almost all artists of any influence in his genres.

Anonymous said...

Nope. Dark Period began before he married Renee. He's discussed the Dark Period in the past.

East Texas P1 said...

Anon 5:26

I agree. Mike's daughter is about, or at, my daughters age, ne ~1987. Probably getting married a few years before. And then, in the early 90's trying to kick off a new type of radio that had never been done before in Dallas.

Between family stuff and new business stuff, let alone trying to make a living day-to-day, a man has only so much time. I can understand as, right now, at 11:30 p.m. is the first "me" time I have had today.

That said, and although I agree and have thought the same myself, there seems to be a vaguely veiled inside reference to the "dark period" that may signify something different.

Finally, I did not get to listen much to the "cop talk" today due to business commitments. Will wait and try to circle around to the unticket at some point in the future. From what little I heard it was a good solid for all involved. I tuned back in at the end of the segment when one cop said the only violent thing he ever saw a stoner due was attack a bag of Cheeto's. Made me laugh out loud (LOL for those who don't read English.).

East Texas P1

Celery said...

I guess I should only feel half shame for being a Southerner. I mean, the Musers led by Psychologist Gordon indicated that "we" should feel shame because of the Civil War. But my dad is from Illinois. Thus, half shame. This is the kind of crap-fake social justice that makes no sense. By their logic, all Muslims should feel shame because of 9/11, Blacks because of criminal activity, Protestants because of Westboro Baptist, and a whole host of others. This is the kind of thinking that accepts constructs like white privilege as an absolute truth. Where does this fake emotion come from? Join me fellow confessors in rejecting this trash Gordo spews when making social commentaries! But now I am off to get a new tattoo across my back whereby an eagle is shedding a tear as it observes a power to the people fist smashing a Confederate Flag while a Don't Tread One Me Snakes eat the whole scene.

Anonymous said...

Boy howdy, as an early adopter of MTC, even I am starting to wonder about some of the comments. Mike's Dark Period, as stated on several occasions by Mike in the past, pertains to the change in the rock music scene that occurred in the mid-80s--specifically as it pertained to KZEW. Mike disliked the direction of rock so much that, he stopped seeking out new music to listen to. Until the founding of The Ticket (and a few stints doing HSE and sundry part-timer sportsy gigs) music was Mike's job. It wasn't an indulgence, a hobby, a keen interest, like it might be for you or you or I. This narrative being bandied about which has married/new papa Mike not having time for new music just flat out isn't true. Unless you want to disregard what the man himself said about it. In that case, fine, nothing less than the false narrative will suffice.

Tin foil, braces, and phasers. I like them too. But sometimes you leave them at home.

Anonymous said...

I really like the way Norm is bringing the younger talent/JV onto his show in order to let them showcase their burgeoning areas of expertise. Even if in part it helps him kill a segment, who cares. It's cool to see some public mentoring going on. Very cool, indeed. Good on you, Norm.

Anonymous said...

Celery, amen. Amen. I've been confessing here for years now that Gordon is a very funny mimic, is quick witted, smart, and thinks/is curious about important subjects. But he is not a scholar, expert, authority--nor even highly educated amateur-- when it comes to these socio-economic-physchological-philosophical issues. He reads popular (fill in the subject) books/articles that are designed either to give a superficial/overview l understanding of X -or- put forth a controversial and superficial interpretation of X as if it's not, then applies it hamhandedly by way of regurgitation. I know this impresses his coworkers and those who don't have a deeper (or any) understanding of such fields/theories, but it's not. He's more often than not woefully off the mark. I wish he'd refrain from such crap, but it's got him this far, so what's the point.

Again, nice work there, Celery.

Anonymous said...

Wanna know what the halcyon days of The Ticket were like...before we can do what you can't do and we'll rub it in your face???

Jaws talk. Period. Ticket perfection, Ticket why it's superior, why we can do what they can do but they can't do what we can do, to a fn t.

Take that segment, and make it nearly every segment, every day for six years straight. And that's how The Ticket got its loyal fan base that to this day plays itself out.

The Plainsman said...

I know we've got a lot of great Confessing fathers out there, so to each of you, a very Happy Father's Day.

Anonymous said...

flipping the dial today and lo and behold, Bruce Levine was cohosting with Friedo on ESPN. I wonder if this is permanent? Wonder, too, if this means he will no longer be doing the Sunday Stars program and/or Ticket fill in duties? Ditto Stars pre-post-between period shows? Good to hear him being utilized, though. IMHO he's a great voice with lots of HSOs.

Anonymous said...

@3:25 PM

Bruce works for the Stars as it relates to Stars broadcast coverage. The Ticket is the flagship station.

Cat programs both the little one and 103.3.

Bruce himself has said in the past that Cat will call him to fill in when he cannot find anyone else. Perhaps Steve Dennis or Coop was not available.

I can't imagine this would be permanent in that Bruce would rather be covering the Stars and all that implies as opposed to doing 4 hours a day and missing press briefings, practice, etc. related to the Stars.

Bruce is a pro and does a fine job when he fills in-no matter where he fills in.

Anonymous said...

Got to hear the 2 1/2 minute dance mix "Puff Daddy" for the first time in a long time today. What a genius bit.

Anonymous said...

"If it had been a black guy"

Holy cow, Danny, did you never watch Cops?

Jeff said...

I swear, if I have to hear Norm's bathroom stall Sante Center ad one more time when I hit play, I'm gonna get addicted to cocaine just so I can not give them my business. I understand these ads make it free, but can't we at least get a rotation going?

Anonymous said...

@Jeff, I am with you. Let me know your dealer.

Shaggy said...

rest assured, your addiction WILL BE treatable

Anonymous said...

The Hardline sure does wobble when they're doing a live spot.

And, having the BAD Radio producer pop on during The Hardline doesn't help the show. It's an immediate punch out.

The Emmett Smith Hedaduda Tequila spots make me tense.

Anonymous said...

Major giggle @ shaggy. Nicely done.

And I completely agree. The norm ads every time I hit play are driving me absolutely mad.

The Plainsman said...

I know he is the source of some amazing drops, but is Steve Busby really a bad PBP guy? Cliches? Yes. But I dunno, I kind like the way he calls the game.

Anonymous said...

Busby is good. It's Grieve who is GRIEVOUS. Rock me.

Seriously, Grieve used to be very good; but, due to his extreme homerism, he no longer is. He's quite awful, in fact. Plus, he was instrumental in getting rid of Josh Lewin. So that alone is enough to not like his work.

Nonononever said...

Junior's vakay sounds like it's going to be awesome. That's the kind of vakay I like to hear about versus "I went to the Deez Nutz outdoor festival or somesuch".

Anonymous said...

I think I hate the tolltag commercials the most nowadays where the lady is telling us all the benefits and fun it is to drive on congested roadways with a never ending rate increase. F you NTTA.I'd rather hear the Sante center 5 times in a row than that garbage.

Anonymous said...

Finally got to see a picture of temp traffic chick Kristina Rey....she is smoking hot. Wow.

Arky P1 said...

Somebody needs to let Totally Chuck know that Father's Day was last weekend. Sucks for the Junes that his bike didn't make it to France.

Anonymous said...

Junior got to France, but apparently his bike did not. I guess all he can do now is watch TV on a sweater.

Anonymous said...

The prank on Corby worked because we are no longer surprised by how little it takes to offend someone, or by how much the offended party overreacts.

The Plainsman said...

Didn't this happen to Junior the last time he went to France? And didn't some airline-connected P1s bail him out? Find his bike, something like that?


Scruffy said...

I've come to my personal conclusion the whole Rangers TV presentation is terrible. Like Blue Star, thinly-veiled team-approved propaganda terrible.

Busby is passable at best, but not the least bit interesting. Grieve is awful. Way too much rationalizing, rambling, and homerific perspective. And am I really the only one who finds Emily Jones pieces to be a little forced or amateurish, and find Knox to be intolerable?

Does every MLB team broadcast seem so local news and I'm just jaded? When you compare TV to Rwdio though, it really gets on my nerves how good Nadel is versus how bad TV is.

Anonymous said...

So both Sturm and Sirois pop in, during their shifts, today on the reddit site to make a comment/clarification. Wondering if MTC has lost whatever cache it appeared to have once had? Also wondering if that's so, is it a bad thing? Also noticed how the atmosphere on the reddit site has gotten much more civil, way less GIML.

blergoyen said...

One more 1800ContactLenses commercial and I'll have to check in to the Sante Center for healing.

Can't wait for September 3rd, because this daily Rangers talk is making me look forward to Wimbledon.

That prank on corky wasn't mean-spirited enough. Can't they pay a P1 quack to tell corky he needs to have a foot removed???

the streak said...

Wake me up when a varsity host and-or show goes the way of the DoDo. Until then......The Musers are great, Norm is an old school relic to be treasured but it doesn't mean he's any good any longer, BaD is OK unless it's Cowboy talk, and THL is unlistenable.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but it annoys me a little that Corby addresses the owner of the Mavericks as "Dude."

Anonymous said...

Norm and Followill need to get on Twitter, because their pick announcements are about 3-5 minutes behind both ESPN tv and 103.3 ESPN. It's a bit embarrassing.

Boo! said...

The Shake Joint featuring The Dooce was pretty good today.

After the recent features with M.Sirios and Jake, I think I'd love to hear a show with those two.

Also, The prank yesterday was fantastic

Anonymous said...

This just in - Junior has his bike and says he is on schedule.

Cristobal said...

Boo: Jake and Sirois are two of my favorite Ticket humans (and BY FAR the two coolest to shoot the breeze with). I'd love to hear a show with the two of them together, but it'd probably have to be a weekend show. Jake has filled in on Cirque before, but that was a while ago. The Mike Sirois episode of IJB is one of my all time favorites.

The Almost Day-1 P1 said...

New Confessor (love that! I miss R. O.) here.

Regarding the Hardline, if memory serves, Corby's increased presence began in the declining days of Sweet Homeseller Greggo. I thought at the time that Snake was being groomed as the heir apparent for what will become Hardline 2.0, probably with Corby and ... Danny? I would say Corby's monopolization of the show is nothing more than what was going on over a decade ago.