Friday, May 30, 2008

Seeing Red over Going Green

Why do people seem so fascinated with changing the world? You can't watch a TV program, sit though movie previews, or leaf through a magazine with coming upon someone or something urging us to change the world. I try to live a decent life. Heck, I'm 42 and I've never gone to jail once. It's been easy. Never been arrested. FULL DISCLOSURE: I was kicked out a of a dorm on the University of Wisconsin campus but all (ok, most) of those charges were trumped up.

It's no secret that the world has plenty of problems, but show me a time that the world didn't have plenty of trouble and that would be a first. It's always been a snakepit and always will be a snakepit. All of us "pitching in" won't do a damn thing for the big picture. Me, I recycle every other week. All my newspapers, glass, and plastic bottles go into their pretty bins and every other Friday I take them to the curb. I don't feel special about it, but I think it's an easy way to at least do something nice.

How do I try and change the world? Obviously, I don't, but I try to make my little corner of it a nicer place to be. I'm very nice to my always understanding wife. I walk my dog every day. I call my parents once a week, sometimes twice. I try to take care of myself so I'm not a burden on the already over-burdened health care system. I keep the noise down at night. I buy things that I can afford. I make my mortgage payment every month. I keep the house clean. I wash my car after it rains. I visit the casinos to contribute to the local economy. I don't use profanity in public (exception: Packers games). And when the day is done, I try and do it all again tomorrow.

Ok, so that wasn't exactly the Crash Davis "What do you believe in?" speech from Bull Durham, but I'm guessing the first draft of that wasn't as smooth as the end product either. Making the world a better place is bloodsport. We make it better by killing those who want to kill us, not by using a supposedly more energy efficient light bulb.

Anyway, I'm trying to spiff up the website a little bit, adding some color and some tasty bits about yours truly. I'm also trying to put some ads on it, so if you see some stuff along the side, don't be afraid. I'm not going to put a porn worm in your hard drive (frisky!), but if I can make cents for sense, that would be a beautiful thing.

I'm going to see "Sex and The City" with my wife this weekend, so more on that to come. I may even type it in pink.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunny Skies

Please forgive the "post-less" days. I was signing in with the wrong User Name. Ever since 12/3/07, I've had to make many changes to things (e.g. monetary accounts), so I've got a lot of different User Names and passwords floating out there. I guess I'm so good at creating them that I can't keep them all straight. Then again, I was able to check the number of times the blog has been accessed (38) and realize that if I miss a day it's not going to make my huge readership collapse in grief.

Five days left until my non-compete expires and my mood is up. Not necessarily because I have a big money gig waiting for me, but that I survived it. The norm is that someone with a non-compete clause must completely change their life, pack their things, and go to their next destination. The company that holds the non-compete over them essentially controls their life, even after they stop working. This hasn't happened to me. I've come through the six months unscathed and that's done wonders for morale. Step One (survive the non-com) is complete. Step two is Revenge. The saying is that revenge is a dish best served cold, and while I have no idea what that means, I hope that my re-appearance in the market causes chills of fear for those that decided to send me packing. Nothing would make me happier.

I don't expect to accomplish Step Two immediately. Sometimes the things you wish for the most take the longest to arrive. I can wait it out. Six months was nothing. I'll do whatever it takes to accomplish Step Two. Should be fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Riddle Me This

What is more work, or NOT to work? I've been out of a job now for close to six months. Wise investing and an almost psychotic penchant to save have kept my wife and I afloat. I'm able to work again in the broadcast community on June 3rd. Today, I'm stressed out on two ends:

1) What if I don't find what I'm looking for here in Las Vegas? Do we move? Do I settle for something not in my field and stay here, just so we have some stability (not to mention a second income) on the home front? That's Stress Factor #1

2) What if I do get something and I'm back in broadcast business? Last week's Academy of Country Music Awards show in Las Vegas brought back some not so pleasant memories of all the b.s. we would go through in the weeks leading up to the show. I really didn't mind being on the sidelines this time around. You wouldn't believe how much bull goes on behind the scenes of a radio station. Stunning.

Hence, the conundrum. I feel increasingly useless sitting on the sidelines, which increases my stress level. Still, it's automatic that wherever I return to work, there will be new pressures and stresses all their own. Which is the lesser of two evils? My incredibly understanding wife has told me (half-jokingly, I think) that she's not looking forward to me going back to work because I'm handling all the house cleaning now. Vacuuming and dusting await today. Still, I'm not sure how to take her. She says she's not panicked about the situation, and that whatever happens happens. I don't know if she really wants to let on how she's feeling because she knows that will already heighten what existing stress level I have.

I think those that slave away on a daily basis are envious on my current situation as dog walker, dishwasher, cook, and general all -around handyman. After all, we work so we can earn enough money so that we don't have to work. Funny how for most of us, getting away from work life is the actual goal of the job itself. I'm just really confused today. I'm trying to be happy and optimistic, but the stress won't let me.

Back to work. Dust never sleeps.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Go Time

It's now less than two weeks until I am free from restrictions allowing me to broadcast in southern Nevada. I have at my disposal many files from my time on the KWNR morning show. Most of the files are from my most recent pairing with Mark Stevens. I've had a hard time convincing myself to listen to these files, fearing that instead of cheering me up, they would make me sad. I'd be sad because I would hear how good the show was, how much fun I had doing it, and feel angerknowing that I was a victim of crushing managerial incompetence.

Correct on all counts.

When I was let go, I had second thoughts about continuing to stay in broadcasting. Six months on the sidelines has told me that broadcasting is where I belong. It's what I do best, and I shouldn't believe that because I was fired that I should find something else to do. To me, that would justify the move that management made in firing me. I don't know if my next broadcast gig will be in Las Vegas. I hope that it is. It's where I'm best known. If I were to go somewhere else, it would truly be like starting over, and that's hard to do.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be mixing in listening to plenty of aircheck files along with vacuuming, dusting, and dog walks. I'll be picking files that best showcase my abilities and putting these files onto discs, ready for shipping to whomever wants to listen. It's a time consuming endeavor, as there are files upon files upon files. The only thing they have on them is the date and the time, so I'll have to listen to them all the way through to see what the subject matter is. I might listen to :30 of a file and think that it's not usable, only to jolted by an audio gem that needs to be saved.

All this doesn't need to be done in the next two weeks. I'd like to think that those people in Vegas that would be interested in me would've heard my work. Nevertheless, if they ask for samples, I'll need to be ready. I can't believe almost six months has passed. Considering all that I've heard about the old station from the day of my firing until now, maybe this has been the better spot to be. An ice cold soda, a game on the tube, loyal dog at my feet, an incredibly understanding wife, and hundreds of files which prove to me that when it comes to broadcasting I knew what I was doing. I know I'll be on the winning end. Sometimes it takes a long, long time to break the tape. I should know in two weeks if I'm close to the finish line or not.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My brother is the smartest guy I know. He'll be 48 on June 9th. God, I'm gonna have a 50 year old brother in two years!! Feeling older all of a sudden. Anyway, like I was saying, he's the smartest guy I know. He also lives like it's 1982.

No cell phone, no Internet. Doesn't care to get it, either. Ok, he has cable tv, but that's his lone concession to modernism. He reads the paper, front to back, every day. He drives a Jeep. Big 'ol Jeep. Living in Northern Wisconsin, that's the sensible choice. He's not interested in "going green", yet he's very meticulous and orderly.

Dave can talk about all sorts of things. He tends bar up in the Wisconsin Northwoods, so he feels it's best to be well rounded in knowledge so can can have intelligent conversations with his customers, whatever they may have interests in. He's perfectly happy tending bar. He's perfectly happy not having things that most of us would now be lost without.

Here's the thing: We have as many roads to information and knowledge as we ever have, yet as a nation we getting more and more stupid every year. Is there an inverse relationship between the amount of knowledge at your disposal and your ability to use it wisely? Is the old way still the best way? I guess it all depends how you use something at the end of the day. I get the Review Journal daily, but I may decide to watch "Transformers" instead. Honestly, I don't know if Dave has gone out to the movies in years. I could go to the Wall Street Journal website, but I may just visit TMZ and find out where Britney is today.

Through it all, I honestly think that Dave is as happy and satisfied as anyone I know. He doesn't need "more". He's lived in the same apartment for years. He has a nice little boat to go fishing. He's not making a ton of dough, but he's happy doing what he does, and my parents respect him for that. In learning lessons from our "it's never enough" society, Dave should be Exhibit A for the argument that the simple life is simply....better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Moving Proposition

I don't mind a weather forecast that calls for record warmth in December. In May, it's a whole different story. Record heat is in the forecast for the next couple of days, and as I've written previously, I'm way over the heat. I spent the better part of the weekend checking out homes in Wisconsin. Towns like Green Bay, Madison, Wausau, Stevens Point. Homes there cost the equivalent of a decent down payment on a home here. Added bonuses?

Yards! Not walled off compounds!

Nice Neighbors!

Relaxed lifestyle!

Ever since Pumpkin and I have been together, we've taken a trip back to Wisconsin each year. With each passing trip, she finds herself loving it more and I find myself missing it more. Sometimes you have to be away for awhile to realize what you've given up. It happens with relationships and happens with geography. Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. As of tomorrow, I have two weeks left in my non-compete. If things don't go my way, work-wise, I've come to terms with the very real possibility that we may be moving on. Las Vegas has been very good to us, but maybe our relationship with the city is stretched beyond the point of repair. We've sent out for as many Wisconsin travel guides as we could get from the state's website. We're studying a move like a college senior would cram for a final.

Maybe it's just the heat talking. I'm inside the house, the a.c. is set to 79, and I'm still sweating. The forecast for later in the week calls for temps to fall to the 80s, perhaps even with some rain. We'll see what that does to our mood.

"You Can't Go Home Again"- Thomas Wolfe.

I don't think he was a Wisconsin-ite.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Not much happening today. As I mentioned on the last posting, I went out to a sports bar to watch Dodgers/Brewers with a pal. Dodgers 6, Brewers 2. I had feared that like so many other establishments in town that tout their plasma screens and sports acumen, this place would fail me. Wrong I was. My buddy Mark and I went to the Home Plate Bar and Grill on Blue Diamond and Decatur, now one of the fastest developing areas in town. Friendly bartender, flat screens with The Game on just about every screen (Note to bartenders/restaurant owners: ESPN does not have a monopoly on televised sports. Please check your local listings each day and note which channel is televising which game. You paid big money for flat screens. Give people a reason to look at them). Good food. And, unfortunately, dangerously cold beer.

I like to drink. I usually save my drinking time for the occasional outings with the fellas. I almost never drink at home, nor do I sit and sip when Pumpkin and I go out for dinner. Working the 4a-12p shift for the last 11 years has meant that I've been able to step out for a martini matinee every so often. Mark, my usual partner in the drinking endeavor, has similar hours. We also have a similar problem: We don't know when to stop. I know what the punishment is for d.u.i., both monetarily and the effect it can have on my future employment and my home life. Far too often in the last 24 years (drinking age in Wisconsin when I was growing up was 18) I've been "over served" and have gotten behind the wheel. My argument is that I bear down and concentrate more, knowing that if I get pulled over for speeding the jig is up. That's weak, I know.

Today, I just feel stupid. I took my first sip of beer at 10:15am and got home just before 4pm. The game ended just after 1pm, for cryin' out loud! What the hell are we doing staying there for an extra three hours??? I think I looked at yesterday as possibly the last time that I'd be able to knock a few back during the weekday. In three weeks, I will be able to return to the broadcast industry without fear of reprisal from my old company. Maybe I looked at yesterday as a last hurrah, the end of an era. Whatever the reason, I'm disappointed in myself. I know better. And one of these days, I'm going to pay for it. Not with just a hangover either.

I've read that if you drink and drink and don't get hung over, that means you're an alcoholic. I'm hurting today. Badly. I guess that means I'm not. Still, I wonder.....

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Gonna go out and watch the Dodgers/Brewers game at 10, so just some quick thoughts this morning....

If radio wants to set itself apart from competing media, emphasize the personality and localness it can offer. Satellite can't do that. iPods certainly can't either. Bring back the personality and you bring back the listener. My sister says she doesn't want to listen to someone she can identify with, she wants to listen to someone who can entertain her. By cannibalizing personality, while emphasizing "commercial free music sweeps" and voice tracked shifts from afar (KWNR's night gal is in Phoenix and tapes her show in the morning down there), the industry is killing off the very thing it needs to survive.

Why is it big news that John Edwards is endorsing Barack Obama? Like the good lawyer he is, Edwards is simply cutting a deal. He knows Obama will likely be the nominee and the way to get in good with the nominee is to join their camp. Believe me, he see a vice presidential nomination in his future. Endorse Hilary, and Edwards fades from memory. If Edwards mattered anyway, people would've voted for him. I'd love John Edwards to be my attorney if I'm trying to win a case. I don't want him a bullet away from the presidency.

With so many calling this the worst economy since the Depression (stunningly wrong), I've thought of something that we have in abundance that we really need to pare down. We have way, WAY too many.....pundits. "Experts". Talking heads. Whether it deals with politics, relationships, or world affairs there never seems to be a shortage of well dressed experts waiting to tell me what's going to happen and why. Watching Fox yesterday, I saw a panel of SEVEN talking politics. Not surprising, more time was spent hearing people talk over each other than getting anything I could use.

Speaking of pundits, I always get depressed when I see someone who's labeled as a "senior analyst", and they're younger than me.

If you're going to drive like an idiot, why would you have personalized license plates? Believe me, if you drive me into a ditch, I'm going to remember a plate that says "RUFFBOY" better than I will a random series of numbers and letters.

Off to a local sports bar soon. It'll be my first time at this particular place. Too often in Las Vegas when I've gone to a "sports bar" to watch a game during the day, the tvs have shown things like Fox, CNBC, Nickelodeon (at a bar!), even Animal Planet. Their credibility is instantly ruined, especially when the bartender has no idea there's a game on that day. I went to watch a Cubs game a month or so ago and went to four places before I found one showing the game. Here's to better luck today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Comedy Meets Tragedy

The saying goes, if it wasn't so sad, it would be funny. I can apply that phrase to my old radio station, KWNR. The ratings are out, and KWNR is as low as they've ever been.

I was with the morning show for close to 11 years, and the morning show never finished as low as it did in the last ratings period. 10th. 10th!! A 10th place finish was unthinkable even as little as, well, five months ago. It's a classic case of monumental mismanagement on both the local and corporate level, yet the only ones who'll pay the price are the ones on the front lines- the jocks.

Just about every move that KWNR has made over the past 3 years has backfired on them. I think it all began when Coyote Country signed on, giving KWNR its first country competitor in several years. Now, I always believed that Coyote should've been treated as a legitimate competitor, to be respected. They were going directly after our listeners and we had to be ready. Nevertheless, the reaction on the management side was more of a full scale panic. KWNR had been such a powerhouse that it had caused two previous country competitors to change their formats, yet here we were all tied up in knots because a new baby was born.

To me, the reaction was a full scale criticism of the KWNR staff's ability to perform. We were all vets and had been through (and won) all the wars. Corporate had to stick their heads in, though, and instead of letting us do what we did best, the meddling began.

Maybe it's because I've never held a management position, but I just don't think it's that hard to put a good radio station together. I look at it from a listener's perspective. Play the best music (but not to death), have compelling contests (but don't make me jump through hoops), and most of all, have good jocks. The success of radio has always been personality driven, not music driven. When you think back to when you listened as a kid, you don't remember listening to Starland Vocal Band, you remember listening to Larry the Legend, Bob Reitman, or Tim The Rock and Roll least if you were in Milwaukee. You could get music anywhere, but it was the people behind the mics that made radio come alive. I believe the lack of true personalities is killing today's radio.

KWNR had a great long run with consistent personalities that people liked and identified with: Brooks and Mitch in the Morning, Jeff Jay and Sammy Cruise at Lunch. Bob Bishop in the afternoon, and Stunt Runt at night (and Friday mornings!). Such consistency is all too rare in today's radio and sadly for us, it was too good to last. Management wants listener loyalty, but if management dumps on those people the listeners give their loyalty to, they'll bolt in droves. We're seeing that now.

I'd love it if I weren't so sad to see the crumbling of a great station. In Bob, Stunt Runt, Glennboy, Sammy, Brooks, and Mark Stevens, I've made lifelong friendships. I met my future wife at a station event. I was able to buy a house and put a little money aside for a rainy day. I owe a lot to the station for getting me where I am today, and I won't forget that. Still, the current decline of KWNR would've been so easy to prevent and at the end of the day there's sadness. When comedy and tragedy collide, only tragedy can win.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

California Dreamin'

Just back from a week down in San Diego. San Diego gets sunshine 300+ days a year, yet Pumpkin and I managed to get five days without it. Truth be told, we didn't mind a bit. If any place sees more sun than SD, it's Vegas, so we enjoyed the cloud cover and the cool 60s.

There's something about California that I just love. I've been to San Diego dozens of times, Los Angeles 10 or so times, even Bakersfield once. I've loved it every time. I've driven through all different types of neighborhoods, too. I don't know what makes me like it so much. It even smells different. I know that usually when we go down to San Diego, we stay close to the coast, and it's tough not to enjoy that. I'm sure folks go on vacation in Hawaii and dream of living a life there. My image of Hawaii is more "Dog The Bounty Hunter" than "Forgetting Sarah Marshall".

Still, coming back to Las Vegas gets harder and harder each time. I was in a rotten mood yesterday, simply because I came back from my morning walk with Maverick and I was sweating- at 8am. Summer's coming and there's nothing we can do to stop it. This will be my 16th "desert southwest" summer, and I'm over it. Today, it's crisp and cool (San Diego-like!) and my mood is 100 percent better. Maybe that's what sets California apart for me. Can you really be upset when it's 74 degrees all the time? As I hit mid-life straight on, I'm realizing that more and more, my mood is affected by what the weather is, even if I spend the day inside watching a movie. Coffee seems to put me in a good mood and if it's hot, I don't tend to brew any, which leads to grumpiness. Goodness knows, I can't be easy to live with. I yelled at my computer yesterday because I was having trouble ordering a pizza online. That's not the sign of a well adjusted mental state.

Today, though, the mood is good. The weather makes me think that I could be living in San Diego this morning. The extended forecast shows mid- 90s for the weekend. Expect increasingly cranky posts.

Coming up next- Arbitron ratings, the decline and fall (?) of KWNR, and why I love it and hate it all the same.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Never Enough

Here's a quick word on prices:

They go up.

It doesn't matter if it's gas, food, or lodging: prices rise. This is the market we're in and, for better and for worse, the one we'll always be in. Over the next couple of months, taxpayers will start receiving their tax rebate checks, also called "economic stimulus" checks. $600 for most singles, $1,200 for married couples. Instead of being grateful over a stimulus that didn't need to be done, all I hear and read is stuff like "too little, too late", or, "that'll get me a couple of tanks of gas". Again, none of these checks needed to be distributed. I'm grateful to get my $1,200, and will put it to good use. And I don't mean blowing it on a really cool gas grill, or a wall-mounted plasma tv.

We're constantly bombarded with how bad the economy is. Put my vote down for that theory as "bunk". Never have so many owned homes. I see more new vehicles patrolling the road. Nice ones, too: King cabs, s.u.v.s with dvd players installed. People will always buy things they want instead of things they need, then look for someone to point the finger at when they've maxed out their five credit cards. And you know what? Help is right around the corner. Yet it never seems to be enough. Live in a hurricane or earthquake zone and lose your house because of it? No problem. Here's your check. Lost your house a second time because you chose to rebuild in the same area? Here's your check. Try again.

What do we hear? That the help never comes "fast enough". It's never enough. There's a reason hurricanes and earthquakes are called disasters, simply because of the widespread damage and destruction that they do. Quick fixes aren't going to happen. We can't air drop a Four Seasons into a disaster zone, complete with monogrammed towels and deep tissue massages. Even if we could, something would eventually go wrong and we'd read how the government reacted "too quickly" and didn't think the recovery completely through.

I've gone a bit sideways on this, and I apologize. Back to the rebate checks. They're correctly identified as "economic stimulus" checks because the government knows that we'll spend it on mostly frivolous stuff, not on investment opportunities. Call that a pretty safe assumption, as our average savings rate is less than one percent. I'm guessing the number of thank you cards addressed to "G. W. Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C." will total exactly zero.

Spend wisely (HA! Funny, I am) and have a wonderful weekend.