Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another View

I promise I won't turn this into a political blog. Lord knows we have more than enough of those. On the heels of yesterdays rantings, I came across a column by the great Thomas Sowell, currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Sowell is best known for his books on economics, but has a keen political eye as well. The following link from him explains Decision '08 better than I or anyone else can hope. Enjoy.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Off The Board

I originally started this blog with the idea of telling the story behind my firing from KWNR, and commenting on the state of radio in general. However, if everyone is as bored with radio as I am (and judging from overall listenership, that's a good bet), then it would reach the point of diminishing returns for everyone involved. I hope you don't mind if I occasionally stray from assessing the airwaves. Like today, for example.

Six months away from the presidential election. Let that sink in for a moment. Actually, it's been one of the more interesting election campaigns in my memory. Let me state that I consider myself a Republican, as I ascribe to more of their views than the dems. Looks like McCain gets my vote.

It's unfortunate that we never seem to get the best candidates running for the biggest office. Then again, the best candidates are usually smart enough to avoid the rigors of the campaign trail. It's always easier to advise the Prez than to sit in the big chair. I thought Rudy Guiliani was the best candidate this election season, but his campaign was half-hearted at best. It's likely he'll get a nice position in the Cabinet if McCain wins office, and holding the clipboard on the sidelines is always easier than being the starting quarterback. Oh, the metaphors I can spin.

Speaking of spin, I get tired of hearing why I won't vote for someone. Look, I think very little of the average Amercian's knowledge when it comes to things like the economy, national security, and international relations. Maybe the overly simplistic reasons given for not choosing a candidate apply in some ways. I'd like to think we make our decisions based on the candidates opinions on the issues, but then I remember that we live in a country where it wouldn't surprise me if four years from now we have a political reality show where the winner just may win office. Maybe not four years from now, but definitely by 2020.

Barack Obama. We're told that if we don't choose Obama, it's because he's black. Never mind the inexperience, lack of foreign policy acumen and questionable relationships. It's all about skin color. What's ignored when race is brought up is that if retired General Colin Powell decided that he's been on the sidelines long enough and wanted the Oval Office, he'd win in a landslide. Of this, I have little doubt.

I want my country's leader to be strong. I don't want someone who pledges unity, change, conciliation. Just ask Europe what the policy of appeasement got them in the 1930's....and those were the days before Islamic fascism and nuclear proliferation. When you're nice to everyone, you will eventually get taken advantage of. When you're a kid, you'll get pummeled for your lunch money. When you're an adult, you'll miss out on a promotion. When you're a country....let's hope there's not an answer to that any time soon.

Hilary? We don't vote for her because she's a woman, right? It's that simple. McCain? He's old! Simple. At least that's what we're led to believe.

I don't need someone to take care of me and my family, but I do need an administration that will keep this country safe. I think it's remarkable that the country hasn't been attacked in some way since 9/11/01. Threats enter the country daily. I worry when I see polls that show that the number one concern of voters is high gas prices. Four or five briefcases is all that's needed to change that, I'm guessing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Swing and a Miss

Some leftover thoughts from Tuesday's Las Vegas 51s experience...

It was Cox Kids' Day at the park, and instead of just letting the kids enjoy the game and getting impossible to clean mustard stains on their shirts, the club decided it was going to use the experience to......anyone.......Preach! Yep, get out the verbal trowel and let's dump some life lessons on the impressionable tykes. Never mind that nobody listened

I arrived about 20 minutes before the first pitch to see the 51s' public address announcer (and the only p.a guy I know with a lisp) on the field, lecturing the kids on the evils of smoking. To further get the point across, they incorporated baseball parlance into the lecture. The phrase that was hammered into their heads:

"Smokers strike out"

Now if the kids are impressionable in any sense, the worst case scenario they're going to take home is that if their mom or dad smokes, they don't love them, they don't care about them, and they're going to die a brutally ugly death. The p.a. guy ("Lispy") even went on to tell an incredibly tacky story of a friend of a friend's mom who smoked "her whole life" ("that's not the umbilical cord- that's a Camel!") and died of emphysema. I don't shock easily, but the forum and occasion called for happy times, not life lessons. The kids at the game had earned the right to go, and deserved better. So did the adults (like me) who paid for tickets to the game, some of whom (unlike me) smoke. Oh, the horror.

Not to be lost in all this is the hypocrisy of telling us about the evils of smoking while we're all stuffing hot dogs and nachos down our gullet. Try and find a concession stand selling wheat grass juice shots, and it will truly be an attempt in futility. Alright, maybe they have it in San Diego, but that's it.

The ballpark should be an escape from your worries, not a constant reminder of things that can kill you. I doubt that one of those kids discussed anything smoking-related with their parents, but I'm willing to bet there are a handful who certainly became more curious about lighting up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Day Ball!

There are benefits to being jobless. You're boss to no one but you (ok, I'm answerable to Pumpkin, but not an insufferable blowhard behind some fake oak desk), and you can pretty much do what you choose. The easiest thing for me to do during this four and a half months of "freedom" would be to drink, gamble, and sleep. I'll go out and sample a beer or six every so often. That's usually the time I'll gamble, as well. As far as sleep, instead of waking up at 3am, I usually awaken by 4:30. Maybe I should've taken on a paper route during my downtime.

I went to the 51s game yesterday. The 51s are the Triple A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they rarely play day games during the week. It was an odd start, 10:30am, but that was only because it was "Cox Kids' Day" at the ol' ballpark. Kids from about 20 local elementary school packed the general admission section to......I'm not sure. Watch a ballgame? No, not many seemed to do that. Get a hot dog? Nachos? Snow cone? Yeah, that's more like it. Can't say that I blame them. When you get right down to it, baseball is by far the dullest thing to watch. Very very little action happens, certainly not enough to hold the attention of a ten year old for more than a few pitches. For me, it was about the ability simply to be able to go, to thumb my nose at those stuffed in a cubicle until 5pm. I'm not going to wax poetic on the "beauty" of the game, the smell of the freshly cut grass, the aroma of (half price!) hot dogs, the taste of lukewarm beer. That all seems well and good in the bottom of the first, but by the end of the 4th, my butt's ready to be taken out of the game. Thankfully, yesterday's game was played in a brisk 2:29, and it took precious little time to get out of the parking lot. I was home in 20 minutes.

I asked mark Stevens to join me. He and I went to a "Cox Kids' Day" game last year. He had too much to do and had to regretfully pass. I felt sorry for him and, briefly, sorry for myself. Thankfully, that feeling of self pity is less and less each day. Maybe it's the caffeine shot I get from my coffee, but I really feel good lately. The weather's been beautiful, I treasure the time I spend with Pumpkin, the dog is feeling fine, my friends are dependable, and the Brewers have a winning record. That's five for five. That'll get you back to the bigs in no time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cloudy and Cool

I've meant to post the last couple of days, but it's tough to do when you can't remember your User Name. I know I should keep a list of all of them, considering how much business I do online these days. I continue to cling to the notion that my mind is just as sharp at 42 as it was at 22. It just takes slightly longer to focus. In the end, I eventually re-discovered my User Name, so here I am....

If only I could remember what I was going to write about.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Darkness and Light

On the edge of sleep
I was drifting for half the night
Anxious and restless
Pressed down by the darkness
Bound up and wound up so tight
So many decisions, a million revisions
Caught between darkness and light.*

Fancy way for saying I had a tough time sleeping last night. Maverick got me up by making some sounds which told me he was about to be sick, and he needed to go outside. He's a smart dog. Upon returning to bed, everything in the blender that is my brain was working at high speed. And it wasn't good.

At least during the daytime, there are enough distractions that whatever is going on inside my head can be pushed down until later, hopefully much later. The wee hours of the night affords no such luxury.

My parents are in town this week. They visit frequently, 3-4 times a year. We often say that I probably see them more living out here than I would if I lived back in Wisconsin. Their visit is a constant reminder to me about how upset my dismissal made those closest to me, and it makes me angry. It's anger that can't be acted upon. Anger that can only be dismissed when the next stage of my job life begins.

Still, my anger inevitably turned to self pity. I got up from bed to lay down on the couch in the living room to just think about things. The dominating feeling emerged that I was a failure. The light of day negated the feeling, but there's something about the loneliness of 2:30am- even lying next to the person you love- that brings fear, pity, and panic.

On the edge of sleep
I heard voices behind the door
The known and the nameless
Familiar and faceless
My angels and my demons at war
Which one will lose- depends on what I choose
Or maybe which voice I ignore....*

Excedrin PM is playing a vital role in my life these days. I didn't take it last night. I won't make that mistake again.

*- N. Peart, 1991

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Deal

Perhaps you've heard that the company that I used to work for, Clear Channel, is attempting to go private. If you haven't heard, just go ahead and click here for the latest details.

If you don't want to read it, I'll just tell you that the deal, which was supposed to go through last month, now might not happen at all. Seems the amount per share of Clear Channel stock that the buyers had agreed to pay is now being seen as too high. CC stock used to trade at close to $100 per share. It's now down in the range of $30. Because of this, the apparent buyout is on the rocks. Now I don't hold a degree in business but it's easy to see why the stock has dropped and the deal seems doomed. Step by step:

1) CC is more concerned with the bottom line than anything else. Understandable. They're a business and businesses are supposed to make money. But...

2) This concern for the bottom line means letting go of talented people. Lots of talented people. Me, for example. All in the name of "budget cuts"

3) When you let good people go, the end product suffers. Plus, good people won't want to come and work for CC, knowing their reputation for cost cutting. Big salaries always come with a bullseye on their back.

4) When the end product suffers, the ratings suffer. People tune out. We're seeing this with the ratings of KWNR, especially in morning drive. The morning ratings are reaching historic lows since my removal.

5) When the ratings suffer, the sales department has more trouble selling commercials. Advertisers don't want to buy time on a station that no one listens to. They may be obnoxious, but they're not stupid. Fewer ads sold means less money made.

6) Less money made means the bottom line suffers, which means the stock price goes down, which means the buyout deal probably won't be happening.

In essence, CC has reaped what they've sewn. You'd think this would bring me joy, but as a CC stockholder, I'm now getting screwed in a different way.

Again, I consider myself of average intelligence, so if I can figure this whole thing out, why couldn't the leaders of these giant corporations? Aren't they supposed to be smarter than us?

On the bright side, it's another beautiful day, my dog is laying at my feet, and the Brewers are 2-0. Life's not all bad.