Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Gigs

My best ideas seem to come to me either on my walks with Mav, or in the shower (alone). Considering how out of control and unpredictable radio has become lately, it got me to think (in the shower) of which of my gigs was the best. All gigs aren't created equal, and I realize that some of those times might be tainted by nostalgia. My list of gigs is as such, with the most recent first

1) Full Time Traffic Reporter, KDWN (1/09- present)
2) Part-Time News Reporter/Anchor, KDWN (6/08-1/09)
3) KWNR mornings with Mark and natalie (9/07-12/07)
4) KWNR mornings with Brooks and Mark (dates fuzzy)
5) KWNR mornings with Brooks (10/00-late '06)
6) KWNR mornings with Glennboy (6/97-10/00)
7) KWNR mornings with Roy West (2/97-6/97)
8) KWNR part-time DJ/production (9/95-2/97)
9) KGMN morning DJ (8/94-8/95)
10) KAAA/KZZZ jock/board op/production/engineer (2/93-8/94)

Ten gigs over four different stations. Gotta think about this one. Rankings to come. Isn't this exciting????????

Note: I forgot about the time that I spent working with only Mark Stevens on KWNR mornings, so that'll be included as well. Ok, that's 11 gigs on four stations over 16 years. Got it

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Riddle Me This

I'm trying to wrap my head around something. A story came out this week that noted the unemployment rates of blacks and hispanics is much higher than whites since the beginning of the economic downturn, thus implying that there's racism involved. So...stay with me here;

Those that are getting let go at a faster rate are minorities...by companies that have had to downsize or close...because the economy is down... which was started by the mortgage meltdown...which was caused by banks and lending institutions being forced to give home loans to those who didn't qualify, namely....minorities. 

I love a good vicious circle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bonus Babies

The Bonus. It's something we all want at the end of the year, and most of us have the attitude that we deserve one. In radio, the Christmas (sorry, "Holiday") Bonus has been a hit or miss proposition, and more often than not the bonus has equaled $0. This was always met with disappointment at how a big money company couldn't even slide a few bucks down to the hard working employees working down in the company hull. Damn it, we deserved it, even if the company had a lousy year. The bottom line didn't matter. You're supposed to get a bonus, right?

The big flap this week are the bonuses given to AIG, the company at the epicenter of the bailout bonanza. Employees got bonuses? Why did they get bailout money, then? Look, I don't know if those who got bonuses were responsible for the ruin that AIG became, but that's really not the central issue. What's seemingly being glossed over is that these same bonuses were okayed by the same administration that is now trying to tax them. The so-called "stimulus" package contained language that said it was fine for bonuses to be paid to companies who received bailout money. This was the same bill that the Obama administration said was vital to prevent the American economy from completely collapsing (talk about fear-mongering).  Do we really need anymore proof that our lawmakers didn't read the biggest spending package in the country's history before voting to approve it?

I'm not against the bonuses. Those that are screaming bloody murder are just masking their jealousy that those bonuses won't be directly deposited into their Wells Fargo accounts. We always want what we can't have, and are always jealous of those who succeed and (gasp!) profit. I just find it one part funny and three parts sad that those screaming loudest from the highest mountaintop about how wrong it is are the ones the actually created the "problem". Our elected leaders, ladies and gents. 

Me? I'd be happy to get some food trade this year. Can't tax that........yet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rescue Me

Post 155. I had no idea I had so much to write about. I know that a lot of the posts are similar in nature, but that can be said of anything that goes such a distance. My favorite columnists repeat themselves. My favorite shows have similar plot lines the longer they go. Same with this little detour from my everyday duties. It's almost impossible to write coherent, thoughtful expression on 155 different subjects. I'm fairly confident in my ability to discuss maybe three things. Sports, radio, and Wisconsin. This stuff, I know. Most of my thoughts are gathered on my morning walk with Maverick. It's always around 7:45, and it's the time of day when my mind is the clearest. By the time I get back to the house, I have things I need to do before going to work. Then I go to work. Then I work. So, breaking it down, I devote a mere 15 minutes a day to clearheaded thoughts outside of my comfort zone.

Anyway, I was going to write today about

1) How I'm less important to the world because I haven't had children


2) How it's funny how there's a push for increased government regulation of financial institutions while at the same time, the people we always say we trust the least are politicians. That makes me smile

Then I realized that this is about the only time of day where I can choose to avoid a seemingly endless rush of bad news, pomposity, posing, absurdity, arrogance, incompetence, and all around misery. 

Time to go play with the dog 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Cool At School

In August, my 25 year high school reunion will be held. I'm actually considering attending, even though I lost touch with most of my high school buddies one day after graduation. I'd go because 1) I always take a summer trip home to Wisconsin, 2) The Wisconsin State Fair is going on during that time and 3) the Brewers are playing at home. I realize that with all those other things going on, that I may not actually have time to attend said reunion, but who knows?

Anyway, my class has a website, not only to detail the plans for the the re-union party, but to check out a "then and now" section, updating fellow classmates' status. I've checked out some girls that I fancied (Sue Kreckler really turned out well), and some guys that I hung with (Scott Jensen grew, like, 6 inches). I don't really have any high school memories good or bad. I just attended, went to class, got decent grades, graduated, and went to college. There's a section on the reunion page where alums can write about their favorite high school memories. I'm hard pressed to remember anything at all. 

Fear ruled me then, just as it seems to now. I didn't join any clubs. I played JV baseball but rode the bench. I never went to any dances. I never asked any girl out on a date. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. It's said that fear is a driving motivator, but in my case, fear drove me to do nothing, to take absolutely no chances. 25 years later, I regret that I approached high school this way, but it's also the way that I seemed to have embraced life in general. Every job or challenge I've been given, I've approached it with an "I don't think I can do this" attitude. More often than not I've been wrong, but that hasn't stopped me from continuing to think that way. I've been both a success professionally, as well as in my married life, yet fear remains my dominant emotion.

If I go to my reunion, I'm sure I'll hear the requisite, "you haven't changed a bit". They'll have no idea how right they are



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Round, Please

A rare evening post finds my in a decent mood. There's baseball on TV, the temperatures outside are pleasant, I just got back from a walk. Somehow a fly got in. I can hear it, but I'm having a tough time locating it to go in for the kill. Enjoy taunting me, fly, for it will be your last event.

It's amazing how, in two weeks time, America went from going to hell in a handbasket to on the turnaround. The Fed Chairman this week said he expected the "recession" to be over by the end of the year. He said things would start to get better. I have no idea what that means. You could ask ten people how things could get better, and probably get seven different answers (at least two would complain about their wife's constant nagging). I don't know what "better" would mean to me. I'm in a job (radio) that's never been known for job security, not even in the best of times. My favorite thing to do- twice each month- is turning my time sheet over. I'll be getting paid again.

The stock market has been up five out of six days, the longest such run in months. With it comes renewed optimism. This just goes to show how, if Americans lack anything, it's the ability to see beyond the past 30 days. We have a collected nearsightedness. The stock market is down in total points by 50 percent in the last year, but it's up this week. Whee! So what if most folks don't actually invest outside of the ever- rarer employer 401k? If the market is up, things must be getting better, right? Eh. Since 9/11/01, we've suffered exactly zero attacks on American soil, so I guess it's time to leave the doors unlocked, right? Certainly the Obama regime so far has given every indication that national security is a secondary (or less) concern when compared to, you know, building trenches or creating solar powered baby strollers.

The Salvation Army saw a ten percent increase in donations is spite of a "recession ravaged" economy. I wonder how that's going to be spun. Maybe it will be reported simply as the good news that it is. That would be a nice change. Change I can believe in.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Starting To Sweat

I hate it when I'm in a bad mood on a Sunday. A beautiful Sunday, no less. I've been in this mood all day. I have a couple of reasons to be a little bit sideways, but none so big as to stick a cumulo-nimbus cloud over my head. Pumpkin is over in Boulder City, celebrating her mom's 60th birthday. She most graciously told me to stay home, as the time spent in B.C. would consist of, 1) Church, and 2) knitting. So, it's just me and the dog, a quiet neighborhood, the heat off, and the windows open. Things should be good but they're not.

Maybe it stems from a letter I got last night from my homeowners' association. We had received a note a month or so ago that our outdoor drip system was leaking through our backyard wall, and an unsightly stain about the size of a football can be seen on the outer half. We shut off the water supply, but never cleaned the stain. The letter last night informed me that I now have to attend a meeting before the board to address the situation. The stain itself will be easy to clean, but I guess I mistakenly thought my $132 in monthly dues might go toward, you know, actual cleanup of my neighborhood. How foolish of me. I'll just get a wire brush and some CLR and get to scrubbing. It's good exercise, actually, and it's something I can use as an excuse not to go the gym.

My problem is that I just don't understand the hassle. Why do I have to attend a meeting? I've owned this home for six years now, and I'd like to think I'm a prime example of an exemplary homeowner. Yet, I'll be the one in the klieg lights. Why not just a phone call from them? I realize that the board of my HOA is probably made up of retirees or people who either get ignored in their home or in their workplace. This is where they take out their frustration. I'm just pissed about it.

Pissed because I see and read everyday stories of people who plea and people who skate- people who've done much more serious things than leave a limestone stain. Lives are ruined and the the person responsible gets house arrest. Bribes are accepted, and the person receiving the money gets sentenced to a facility where they (if they wish) can get a free trade school education (paid for by me). Ironic that on the day you're supposed to show your faith, mine is nowhere to be found.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You

Not a good time to be in the broadcast business. Like waves that erode coastline, people keep being swept away. More this week. On-air, sales, promotions. No departments are immune. Yet, I'm still standing. In fact, as more people are cut loose, my opportunities are expanding. And it's not like I'm taking someone's job. I'm merely filling an already existing vacancy. People haven't lost their jobs based on any decisions that I have made.

If I'm still in the broadcasting business two years from now, it will be interesting to see its reaction when the economy turns around. What exactly will they be selling? Personalities sell radio, not music, and now that's true more than ever. Lots of talent has been let go. More people are doing different jobs and that's hurting the overall quality and the ability to service the listeners. This has been going on for awhile, and I don't think it's just a coincidence that radio revenues have fallen with the advent of voice-tracking and rent-a-jock services. It's like going to any other place with customer service. When the quality of the service starts to drop, you'll go elsewhere. We're seeing that in radio.

What do you sell when you have nothing left to sell? That'll be interesting to see, if I'm still around to see it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fan-Tastic (or Love Story, One Period At A Time)

Recently, Pumpkin became a rabid fan of the Boston Bruins of the NHL. She's always been interested in hockey, but in more of a casual sense. Then we watched the events of NHL All-Star weekend and she was taken by the personalities of a couple of the Bruins' guys, and she decided she would be a fan of the Bruins, then and there. She had no idea at the time that they had the best record in the league. This wasn't the case of a newcomer becoming a front-runner. Just like that-BOOM!- she was a big time fan.

She has the schedule up on the refrigerator. She listens to the games online when she gets home from work. She goes to the Bruins' website for the latest news and notes and- showing that at heart she's still a gal-  she ordered a shirt with her favorite player's name on the back. Yep. She's all in.

Why is this innocent new fascination so important to our relationship? If there's one thing that very few women understand about men, it's their passion for sports, and an undying loyalty to their favorite teams. Women just don't get why we're so happy when our teams win, and so crushed when they don't. "It's only a game". How many fights have started because some poor, uninformed woman who simply can't identify with what a sports fan goes through throws out that question? Pumpkin now knows what I go through, and I couldn't be happier. Baseball season is a couple of weeks away. Every night from April through September my guts will be tied up in knots. Pumpkin said something yesterday after watching the Bruins lose to the Rangers- "I don't know how you do it". It sounds to me like she's starting to understand the madness, instead of simply tolerating it.

Buy another shirt. Send away for a commemorative mug. Listen online instead of joining me at the dinner table. Pumpkin finally understanding what it means to be a sports fan (both good and bad) brings us more closely together than any flowers, chocolate, or trip to Hawaii could ever hope to achieve

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Greatful vs. Grateful

I'll leave for work in an hour. I never dread going. I like the gig, and I think the gig like me. There is one thing that's starting to wear on me, though. It's the programming. It's no fun.

I'm not saying that balloon animals have to come out of the speakers, but my station just isn't very much fun to listen to. There aren't very many lighthearted moments between 10a-6. First, Dr. Laura gets listeners who she's known all of the length of a phone call to change their lives. Then Jerry Doyle complains about Obama for three hours. Then Michael Savage complains about Obama (and pretty much everything else) for three more hours. At least Savage can talk topics other than politics. By the time I'm walking out at 6, I'm convinced there are going to be riots in the streets. I'm thinking the next logical move is to drive down Tropicana to the Gun Store and load up. I consider switching all my assets to gold, and turning my house into a bunker to protect me and Pumpkin from the inevitable war to come.

What's funny is that even though I agree with these guys ideologically (and with Dr. Laura's caustic approach), listening to this 8 hours a day can easily break one down. It hasn't done so with me, yet. Then again , I've only been in the traffic chair for two months. I'm grateful for what I have, but if all the predictions and postulates of the hosts come true, I (we) won't have anything much longer.