Monday, June 30, 2008

An Admission of Submission

It's important to realize as you go through life when you're no longer able to do certain things. Realizing your limitations at the correct time can prevent embarrassment and frustration later on. I'm no longer a "night guy". If something starts after 7pm, even if it's a Friday or a Saturday, I'm out. Won't do it. All I'll be thinking about is when I'm going to be in bed watching a ballgame. I can no longer go "clubbing". Not that I ever did that much in the first place, but the thought of being in a loud, sweaty club sipping overpriced drinks while my eardrums prepare to pop has to be in the Top 3 for "Mitch in Hell" scenarios.

Now joining things I think I'm done with: Concerts. Specifically, big arena concerts. Let me explain.

Last weekend, I went with Pumpkin, a friend of hers from her work, and that gal's husband, to the Boston/Styx show at the Thomas and Mack Center. Tickets were cheap ($25) and it was a chance to see a couple of bands I enjoyed growing up. Mind you, the total number of original band members for both bands combined is 3 (out of ten), so it's not 1978 all over again. Still, we went. Pumpkin's a big Boston fan and it was one of those things where you don't know if they're going to come back again or not.

My problem wasn't with the music (Styx was much better) or the noise (it's a concert. It's loud. No big deal). It was with the crowd. Two in the crowd. In what seems like insurmountable odds, I sat behind the two most obnoxious people in an estimated crowd of 9,000. They were a couple of the younger folks in the crowd that numbered parents, granparents, kid, grandkids. I got a kick out of watching folks come and rock out for the first time in who knows when to bands they grooved to 30 years ago. Still, it was the two directly in front of my that set my blood temperature to "boil".

We were in the very last row, way in the back. With the way the stadium seating is at the T&M, there's no need to stand if you're in the back...unless someone is standing directly in front of you. For no reason. And dancing.....like gypsies casting a spell......for three hours. It got to the point where I was thisclose to pulling the guy (it was a guy and a gal) around and knocking his teeth out. I can't remember the last time I came so close to wanting to bash someone's face in. I'm a pretty mellow dude. It got to where I had to excuse myself and go into the concourse to cool off. Otherwise bad things were going to happen. I was going to get my money's worth.

Here's the problem: I don't want to be the guy at the concert yelling "sit down". The two in front of me were having a blast at their seats, and I was the only one they were blocking. They weren't blocking anyone to their sides or in front. Just me. So why was I getting so upset? I don't know. I'm sure through 30 years of going to concerts that I've ruined somebody's good time through my loud and/or drunken behavior. Pumpkin found me on the concourse and we wandered around for a little bit before going back to the seats, allowing me enough time to cool off. I just don't think big concerts are for me anymore. I've seen every band that I like, some multiple times. I've emceed hundreds of country concerts for KWNR. Maybe I'm just to the point now where I don't like large gatherings. I'd much rather have a quiet evening at home, or go out to dinner with a couple of friends than do anything that I know will attract big crowds.

See a big budget blockbuster on Opening Weekend? Oh, hell no. Go to a 51s game on a big giveaway night? Not on your life. As I sit typing this, the TV is off, Maverick is dozing, and it's blissfully quiet. My kinda day.

Are there online concerts? You know, I can buy a ticket and watch it online instead of having to leave the house. I'm sure someone's come up with that idea. Anyway, "concerts" have just been added to the list of things I'm done with, one show too late.

Friday, June 27, 2008

50

This marks the 50th post since I began this blog back on January 9th. If you're a late-comer to the party, thanks for checking it out. I created this blog as an outlet for my fears and frustrations in the wake of being fired from KWNR. Much of the six months in which I had to sit out my non-compete were pretty solitary during the day. My dog was my constant companion, and we got into a rhythm of going for morning walks, checking out the dog park, doing chores. I would've gone nuts without him, and probably would've consumed a lot more alcohol. Ok, definitely consumed a lot more. Still, a dog isn't someone you can really talk to, not when your feelings and emotions are all scrambled. can you believe that I actually considered retaining the services of a psychiatrist? I was just really messed up. My moods would swing by the hour. Thing would pick up when the wife got home because I could actually have an adult conversation. It also helped that she would oftentimes complain about work, so I remembered what I was missing.

I sure don't miss much about KWNR, save for the people I worked with. I seriously doubt that I'll work with a better bunch. The money I'm making at the new job isn't nearly what I made at KWNR, and that's something that's a growing fear. I will not miss constantly proving myself and getting no appreciation for it. That's about as plain and simple as I can put it. I wasn't asking for a Gatorade shower every day, just the occasional nod that I was appreciated and was an asset to the station. But, with KWNR and Clear Channel now run by salespeople, that would never come. Not a thanks for all the worthless interviews pushed on us, the concert openings that made you drive clear across town to do. I know I've heard it before that sales pays our salaries, but I'd stake my life on the fact that the radio station made more off of me than I made off them.

So the new job is underway, and though it doesn't have the high profile that comes with a morning show hosting gig, I think I'm, adjusting well. The staff at KDWN has been tremendously supportive and professional, right up to the top of the upper crust. I know I can do more to help them, but I'm not going to push it right now. I don't want to be that guy on the bench who whines to the media about how he wants more playing time. Don't we all think that the guy should just shut up and consider himself lucky to be on the team? That's where I'm at right now.

So there ya go. 50 posts. Though them all, you'll read how I fought the unemployment blues and won...and lost. You'll read the discovery of my mom's (treatable) cancer. You'll read thoughts that are much easier to type than they are to say. Now it's onto the next stage. Who's with me??

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back and Blue

Back from four days in Wisconsin, celebrating my parents' 50th anniversary. The actual date is August 30th, but because the grandkids would've been in school then, they moved it up to June. Overall, it was an informal affair, held at a hotel just west of Milwaukee that had a nice big water park. If you've been following the news, much of the southern part of the state is a water park, like it or not. Anyway, it was nice. Dinner wasn't too formal, everyone had a beverage or two, and then we winged it back to Vegas.

I think it would be a safe bet to say we were the only ones on the plane that weren't flying out for vacation. Most of the passengers were in wonderful, playful moods: decidedly different from when we take the flight from Las Vegas to Milwaukee. Those are the flights where you know there are more than a few couples that are going to have to explain to their children why they don't have any money saved up for their education anymore. You can also tell a Wisconsin flight by 1) the heavy size of the average passenger, 2) half are wearing items identified with Wisconsin, such as Packers t-shirts or caps, and 3) most are wearing glasses. I'm guessing a high-fat diet leads to diminishing vision. If not for the fact that I've had laser surgery, I would've been sporting specs, myself.

My appreciation for what Wisconsin offers grows with each visit, even when that visit comes in winter. If Las Vegas is an oasis in the desert, Wisconsin is an isle of calm in a sea of madness. I find myself going back there twice a year now, and we're always doing something new. Growing up there, I really didn't do very much of what was available to me, like go to the museums, beach, fairs, and parks that dominate the area. My mind was more on getting out of there and getting to someplace warm. In finding someplace warm, I'm discovering I need to shuffle up my priorities, because being warm all the time isn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I've been too hot and I've been too cold. It's a wash.

I'm struck when I go back as to the number of people that have called Wisconsin home for their entire lives, and take great pride in that fact. My parents are two of them. My mom says she could never imagine leaving. I think it's true that we're never where we truly want to be, but Wisconsin seems to be the exception to that rule. The girl who checked us in at the airport was surprised to hear that we wished we were staying in Milwaukee instead of going to Las Vegas. Reminded me of how I used to be. Poor, sweet thing.

On the down side, if I lived in Wisconsin, I'm sure I'd eat my way to an angioplasty within five years, but I'd accomplish that doing something I love.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Week Under the Belt(way)

The first week of the new job is in the books and, as it always seems to be when you get that week under your belt, I'm settling in to a comfort zone. No more self doubts or nervous trips to the bathroom. My job involves driving the freeways of Las Vegas, reporting back on the flow of traffic. If I'm lucky, I can report on an accident and give the fellas back at traffic central the specifics needed for a spectacular report. The job is really a no-brainer, yet the more I think about it, I believe I may have one of the more stressful jobs in town.

See, Las Vegas drivers are insane. While this fact isn't clinically documented, I can say from 13 years of driving this town that when people get behind the wheel here, something in the inner workings of cerebrum and cerebellum just don't fire. Back in the days of going to KWNR for work, the most hazardous parts of the day were the drives to and from the station. Now, it's all that I do! I'm constantly stuck in the insanity. My respect for cab, bus, limo and shuttle drivers has never been higher.

Still, (paraphrasing Carrie Bradshaw), I can't help but wonder: why aren't the powers that be at Beasley Broadcasting understanding that I can be so much more of a help to them doing an airshift than I can reporting on traffic flows for :10-:15 seconds at a time? There has to be a better use for me than this. Or, am I just overrating my abilities and my accomplishments? That's another problem with just driving around: Lots and lots of time to just think.

In approximately four hours, I'll be in the air, heading to Milwaukee to help my parents celebrate their 50th anniversary. It's been a union strengthened by martinis (mom) and Miller High Life (dad) and if that's what it takes for a marriage to work, then I'm all in.

And yes, someone else is driving us to the airport, thank God.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Double Trouble?

I suppose that the part I'm most concerned with with the new gig is the fact that it's a double shift. Three hours in the morning, going home, then returning for another three hours in the afternoon. I'm trying to think of it like this: most people work double shifts...their paying jobs during the day, and their family responsibilities at night. My "family" responsibility is making sure I feed the dog. I guess I can live with that. I'll probably even get back to one of favorite parts of living: The Nap. Naps have been tough to come by over the last six months. Uncertainty will do that.

Evacuating your flooded house? That's a real problem. Driving around for three hours in the afternoon isn't.

Now if I could just get my dog to eat...

Bits of Wit.

Heading out shortly to take care of a few things at work. I'll be doing some reporting from 4-6 this afternoon, then tomorrow I'll be reporting in the mornings between 6-8 and again from 4-6 in the afternoon. Thus, this is my last morning to just hang out at home, and I'll miss a few things. I'll list those in a little bit. I find myself a little less nervous as I get closer to punching the clock. That's backwards, isn't it? Shouldn't the anticipation and indigestion compound as I get closer to "go time"? Maybe it's the pot of coffee I've ingested. Not the actual pot, which would be silly. You know what I'm saying.

If I can offer anything of note on this entry, it's this: Don't go see "The Happening". Don't. Please. I'm begging you. Pumpkin and I went on Saturday and it's 91 minutes of our lives we won't get back. I wanted to be creeped out by it, but the only thing scary was how easily I was fooled into thinking that I would enjoy it. In summary, it's about some unseen threat that makes people kill themselves. . I doubt that the filmmaker intended his audience to feel that way as well, but this was one ticket holder that was glad he didn't find some broken glass to use afterward.

Ok, then...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Off The Heap

It looks like I might have to change the name of this blog. As of today, I'm no longer languishing on the scrapheap of the unemployed. Quite a mouthful. For the first time in six months, I spent part of the morning broadcasting traffic reports over three stations in the Beasley Broadcasting chain (for the record, KDWN, FRESH 102.7, AND 96.3 KKLZ). I think that it went alright, but I still felt like a newbie amongst the vets, the runt of the litter. If memory serves (and as I get older, that's not a sure thing), I've hated every job that I've had after the first day. The only thing that was worse than the first day of work was the anticipation of Day Two. But then Day Two would always go better than Day One and things would generally take care of themselves from there.

I'm glad that my first re-broadcast day was a Friday. This way, I can relax over the weekend and truly appreciate not just the days off (which when you're not working take on a whole different meaning), but be thankful that there are still people willing to take a chance on me. Even if you feel you didn't deserve to be fired, when it happens, your confidence takes a direct hit. It doesn't matter how many people say they can't believe you lost your job. That's nice to hear, but in the back of your mind- ok, front of mind, always- you're left wondering if you could ever get back what you lost.

My first few breaks were ok, just delivering the facts, and trying not to stumble through them. I kicked dirt on a few of the sponsor tags, but overall, I was happy to get in, get on and get out without sputtering like a '76 Pacer (GMC, not Indiana). I'd say the major difference thus far between Beasley and Clear Channel is that Beasley makes you feel like part of the team while Clear Channel makes you feel empty, like you're truly in a pointless endeavor, no matter how much you succeed. Everybody who has said "welcome" to me over the past week has made me feel truly that.

It was also nice to hear from several of my former colleagues, who were quite gracious in letting me know how happy they were that I was back. Those in radio not blinded by the corporate fog truly become like family, and even after a family member leaves you want them to succeed- even if they're working for the competition. I've seen a lot of people come and go and I always get a kick out of hearing where they are and what they're doing. There's never jealousy involved, only sincere admiration. It's a ridiculously tough business to do well in, and those that do are truly a rare breed.

I guess when I think of what I would've been doing had I not worked today (go to the gym, go grab a bite to eat, maybe play some nickels, maybe rent a movie)....I'd much rather have been working. I'm learning that the stress of working is nothing compared to the stress of life on the scrapheap.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back to Work?

Worst workplace freakout EVER! Do I really want to go back to this??

Focus on the guy in the center.....

video

Racist or Not?

I know I should avoid newspaper column that tout the Barack Obama campaign as "historic", but like a moth to a flame, I can't resist. It's remarkable to me that very few seem to understand the point that we may want to vote for someone other than Obama. They surmise that if you don't back Barack, you must be doing it because he's (part) black. There's no other reason why.

Here's what's funny....I keep reading that "it's time" to elect someone like Obama. This, to me, can only mean we should vote for him BECAUSE he's black. Just like we should've voted for Hilary because she's a woman. It's simply time. What's funny is that those who are urging this change because "it's time" will be the same ones crying racism if McCain wins in November. Thus, the columnists say you should be voting for Obama because of the color of his skin, not the content of his character. Those that trump Obama are coming off as the racists they rightly decry. Fascinating stuff. Head spinning.

By the way, why is Obama continually referred to as African American? His mom was white. Doesn't this make him mulatto? How about "Half-rican American"? No?

Looks like I'm workin' tomorrow. 9am sharp.

Numbers Crunching

Radio stations get four official ratings books a year, one for each season. Those are the major ratings, commonly referred to as "the book". Stations use these books to set their advertising rates. Like television, which uses their ratings from the months of February and May (commonly referred to as "sweeps months") to set their rates, the spring and fall books are seen as the more important books in the radio game.

Monthly, though, radio stations get where are referred to as Trends. As the name suggests, the trends are used to predict what the main rating "book" will show when it comes out. While not taken as seriously as a book, a trend can be a useful bellweather as to whether a station is going to be popping champagne corks or not come ratings book time. Back when I first started at KWNR, I really wasn't too involved when the ratings came out. I did more stuff behind the scenes than I did on-air and figured the regular air-staff would be more concerned with numbers than I should be. Still, I realized that they always popped champagne when the numbers came out. It didn't matter whether the ratings were good or bad. If numbers were good, it was reason to celebrate. If numbers were bad, it was reason to drink the pain away, knowing that the next time it would be better.

Funny, but now that I think about it, I remember everyone that I worked with back at KWNR in 1995. I remember sales people, even though I didn't work in sales. I remember promotions people, I remember front-desk people, I remember my fellow weekend air staffers. I remember working with Stunt Runt for an hour (1am-2am) on September 1st, 1995. My first shift, scared to death .Why are my memories of that time so much stronger than memories of a more recent vintage? Maybe it's because you remember more things that you've done with your family, and the staff (and management back then, too) of KWNR back then was truly like a family. Most of my latter day memories of KWNR were of firings and corporate mismanagement.

The title of this piece is "Numbers Crunching", so here's a quick look at the latest morning ratings;

KWNR went from a 3.7 to a 3.9

Coyote Country went from a 3.3 to a 3.0

Both numbers are hardly anything to have a Gatorade shower over. I'm not sure how to receive them. I hate the fact that KWNR went up at all, even two-tenths of a point. I like seeing Coyote down a bit, since that will hopefully give the movers and shakers over there the good sense to bring in someone with proven success in the market and the format. I may be tipping my hand a little here, but the job I'm close to getting has precious little to do with accomplishing my goal over getting revenge on the upper management of Clear Channel, the company that owns KWNR. It may get me there eventually, but it would be the employment equivalent of driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Reno. You have to go out of the way, but you eventually get there.

8:30am, and I'm sweating behind my knees. Ugh.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stress Mess

Looks like I'm going to be going back to work. It could happen as early as tomorrow. This could be my last day living the life of the unemployed. The six months have flown by. I find myself excited at a new opportunity, but terrified by it as well. Still, I realize that I need to get back into the game. I've got a score to settle.

I've gotten advice from guys and gals who have been fired before and most of it the same- "clear your head and enjoy the freedom". It's advice that I found impossible to take. I could never clear my head when there was so much uncertainty floating about. I was confident that I would land another job here, but until last week, nothing was certain. Even as I write this, I'm not 100 percent certain that I have this new job. I won't go into details about it yet. I spent six months trying to convince myself that I would land somewhere as soon as the non-compete was up. Some days I was good at it, and others I was swallowed up in a panic that no one could see. The stress of convincing others around you that you'll be fine while failing to convince yourself is the ultimate high-wire act. Now it's on to the stress of having a job, and the responsibilities attached with it. When it comes to stressing out, I am truly my mother's son.

I see that some ad links are posted in the right-hand column of this blog. Google tries to tailor they're ads to the content of the site, so I'm seeing a lot of stuff popping up on radio non-competes and anti-Obama links. Maybe I should shake things up with a sports column or a piece on my dog, Maverick. Maybe I should write movie reviews and see what ads pop up.

Ratings come out today for KWNR. They come out every month. I can't wait to see them. All signs point to the ratings dropping hard. If that happens, I'll have mixed emotions because it will be my friends there that will suffer, not the idiots in charge. I'll be sure and clue you in.

That's all I've got.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Odds and Sods

Gonna be hot today. I used to like the heat. I'd find a 100-degree day exciting. Now that it's routine (or at least will be soon enough), I've grown to dislike them. Still, something about a piping hot cup of coffee which really boosts my mood. I find myself in good spirits today.

Not going to get all heavy into philosophizing today. It's Friday, after all. Then again, when you're unemployed, every day could be a Friday- or a Monday. I guess it's all how you approach it. Damn. I guess I had to get a little deep there. Sorry.

While I'm waiting for my clothes to get done in the dryer I made the mistake of picking up the paper and reading about our two nominees for president, Obama and McCain. I can't wait for November. Not that I want Bush out of office: I just want the election and all the rhetoric all over with. Believe me, this election will only be historic for how much b.s. is thrown our way.

"Change" seems to be the buzzword for Obama campaign, which puzzles me in a couple of ways. First of all, people hate change. Secondly, the words I'm hearing Obama say sound nothing like change to me. "We're going to change the way we do things in Washington". Oh. That's a new one. Plus, can you really claim change when one of the people you appoint to be in charge of the vice presidential search is a Kennedy? What, no Roosevelt's available? You can ask five people what they'd like to change and get five different answers. It stands to reason then (Philosophizing!) that whatever is changed is going to anger more people than it pleases. I will give credit to Obama as having a wonderful way with words, so much so that he can whip a crowd into a frenzy without really saying anything. That's quite a gift.

The most important issue this year has to be national security and who can best protect the country. We have a geographic advantage in that if most of the world goes to hell in a hand basket, two oceans protect us. We have a geographic disadvantage because of our sheer size. Every inch of the border, every mile of coastline...it's impossible to protect it all. Bad guys will fall through the cracks. Who will keep more bad guys out? I'm not quite convinced it's the junior senator from Illinois. The only time I hear Islamic fascists talk about "unity" is when they determine how many suicide bombs they'd like to detonate simultaneously.

Not that McCain is making me quiver (yeah, quiver) like a belly full of jelly. He's been down this road before, and voters have passed. That fact that he's come this far only showcases how weak the field has become (NOTE: I've said before that I thought Guiliani was the best candidate, but he didn't seem to have his heart in the race). McCain certainly hasn't been a friend to Nevada, as he has been outspoken in wanting to take the right to bet on college sports away from us. He's been weak on illegal immigration, but since he was representing Arizona all these years, this was undoubtedly pandering to the electorate. It'll be interesting to see what happens with his policy should he get elected.

I believe it will be Obama who will win the election. I just see him gathering too much over the summer. What would help Obama as well is the improving situation in Iraq. Ironic, isn't it, that the continued improving situation overseas could lead to the election of someone fervently against the war in the first place? Wild, wild stuff.

And seriously....what kind of odds do you think you would've gotten that the new president of the United States in November of 2008 would have the middle name of....

Hussein?

More importantly, would President McCain have let us wager on it?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Six Months Later....

It was six months ago today that KWNR dismissed me from the morning show. The terms of my contract stated that upon termination, I must sit out from any form of broadcasting in Las Vegas for a period of six months. Today, I'm a free man.

I don't want to sit here and write about any revelations or epiphanies that I've learned over my time on the bench. I'll always believe that KWNR made a bad, bad decision, indefensible in every way. My theory is only backed up by Arbitron ratings, scores of listener e-mails, and reaction from inside of Clear Channel (The company that owns KWNR). I keep in touch with several people there, still, and their reaction hasn't changed; it's not the same.

I look at emerging from six months of a non-compete as akin to emerging from a period of solitary confinement. I've emerged unscathed, perhaps even better for the experience. Only the passing of time will tell. The only other time I was fired from a job when when I was fired from a Ponderosa Steakhouse back in 1982. I didn't agree with that either, but that's not the point. When you are fired from a job, it can really mess with your psyche, with your ego. You were let go because those in charge think that the place can do better without you. It's odd that Clear Channel stuck to the non-compete, as they were the ones to let me go. I didn't walk. On the one hand, I was fired because they didn't want me around. Yet, holding me to a non-compete implies that they felt I would be a threat to them. This was the managerial/corporate structure that we had to deal with.

Today, I am sitting down with some folks who want to bring me into their fold. It's exciting, and it's terrifying. I'm scared to death to accept the responsibility. For the last six months, my only responsibility has been to continue to provide for my family, and assure them that I was fine, and we'd be fine. No mortgage payments were missed, no bills were paid late. I was able to uphold my end of the bargain. Am I ready to accept responsibility again in the workplace? They really want me, but after six months on the shelf, I have a small crisis of confidence whether I can hop back on the bike. I've done a lot of things in radio, but not the job I've been interviewing for. I guess I'd be apprehensive no matter what I would be doing. New jobs always suck when you first start.

Today, I'm a free man. I may be kept by the end of the day.