20. April 2016 · Comments Off on NAB Show, Day Five: That’s All He Wrote · Categories: Convention

The end came, as it always does, early. I was in the back of the room during Wednesday’s NAB Show Digital Strategies for Radio session — a grueling five-and-a-half hour parade of stultification in a single room with no breaks — when the urge to leave became overwhelming. So I did,

The theme of the convention for radio this year was, if there was any theme at all, “The Best Defense Is To Get Really, Really Defensive.” AM/FM radio, I was told, is indispensable to all. The 93% reach number was trotted out several times. Podcasting was featured, but in an anthropological way, a curiosity approached more in terms of whether anyone’s making any money on it and a place radio can put radio-style programming rather than a separate art form and medium. Certainly, there were no podcasting stars on display.

Yeah, but it’s not a podcasting conference, you might say. But, as the NAB is fond of saying, the Spring show is a content show. “Content is King,” the slogan read this year, only about a decade or so after that phrase was a thing. And, certainly, the show has forsaken the “B” in NAB — broadcasters are segregated into small areas of the massive exhibit halls and into narrow management and engineering conference tracks, while the majority of the show involves video production, with an emphasis on online and SVOD content. So, yeah, why not podcasting? But unlike our own Worldwide Radio Summit, there were no speakers you’d identify primarily as a podcast star. (Scratch that — Graham Elwood was there, but I didn’t run into him. He would count, but he was decidedly not being treated as a major attraction, relegated to a panel right on the exhibit floor, maximum capacity a few dozen.) You’d think they’d take a run at a Maron, a Carolla, a Hardwick or Koenig or Alex Blumberg or Dan Carlin.

But they didn’t. Status quo was celebrated. (Not Status Quo the band, either.) And at about 1 pm Pacific time today, I was done with that. I got up, walked out, headed for the monorail, got my rental car, and drove off onto the horizon… okay, to Henderson to kill time at a Barnes and Noble for the Wi-Fi before heading to my flight. But you get the idea.

19. April 2016 · Comments Off on NAB Show, Day Four: The Sweet Smell Of Success · Categories: Convention

The less said about today, the better. Nothing particularly bad happened; it was just boring. After a nice meeting with a couple of industry colleagues back at the hotel and a lovely gathering of radio folks at the Palm last night, today was… meh. Dull panel in the morning, interminable Radio Luncheon, general fog.

And the Perfume Cloud. This morning, after a panel at the Encore that was less than illuminating, I caught the last shuttle to the Convention Center, the next to last party to board. The last party to board was a couple without badges, clad in black, brushing past me and sitting a few rows behind.

The scent hit a few seconds later. Imagine every bottle of perfume and cologne and body wash and deodorant in a department store cosmetics department, emptied in the bus aisle and intensified. It was practically mustard-gas intense, so intense you could taste it. There was no escape. The windows were sealed. The traffic was slow.

There have been several moments that summed up the convention experience for me. That was one of them. The other today came in the long, winding hallway that leads from the upper level of the Convention Center to the Westgate ballroom area, when a conventioneer, a small, bald man in a suit, walking ahead of me, calmly, without any outward emotion and without breaking stride, unleashed an enormous, earthquake-like, wall-rattling fart. He gave no acknowledgement of his accomplishment. He just kept walking as if nobody else was there.

I was there. OF COURSE I WAS. And that’s NAB Show 2016: I’m told there are some interesting things going on in the video part of this thing, but I wouldn’t know. For me, it’s all perfume and farts.

18. April 2016 · Comments Off on NAB Show, Day Three: Perchance To Dream · Categories: Convention

I was unprepared for the entire convention panel experience to be summed up in one incident, but there it was, this afternoon, in a hotel ballroom, the ultimate commentary on what I do for a living. While three Congressional aides droned on about legislative activity regarding communications issues, being careful not to say much about anything, the gentleman sitting next to me was snoring.

Loudly.

Snoring and snorting and drooling, he was. He tipped forward, then jolted awake; he closed his eyes again, instantly fell asleep, snored, and tipped to his right, directly at me, before jolting awake once more. And then he leaned back and fell asleep again.

That was my cue to get out of there. As I slipped out of my seat and up the aisle towards the exit, I could hear him snoring again.

Maybe he was tired; Lord knows, I sometimes drift off momentarily at these things. But snoring, waking, and snoring again is pretty extreme. And understandable. Most panels at these conferences mystify me, because I work in industries nominally part of “show business,” yet the panels have no show business about them. The most we get is PowerPoint, but even that’s rare. More likely, it’s three or four or five or, at some, six or eight panelists, usually white middle aged males, monotoning their way through whatever topic is at hand, making everything a chore. Last week, when I hosted a panel on podcasting in Hollywood, I took care to bring guests who know how to be entertaining, and entertaining they were – I would ask a question, and they’d run with it, giving great answers with humor and energy. I love them all. (Chris Hardwick, Jackie Kashian, Dave Anthony, Alison Rosen, and Katie Levine, by name. They were terrific. I was… adequate.) But the panels I’ve been sitting through in Las Vegas this week have been lacking in humor, lacking in animation, lacking in memorable moments.

It shouldn’t be that way. There’s no reason any talk needs to be dull. You’d think entertainment industry people would understand that. Deep down, I’m snoring like that guy who nearly fell asleep on me, and no amount of caffeine is going to prevent that.

18. April 2016 · Comments Off on NAB Show, Day Two: Back In The Back Of The Room · Categories: Convention

Conferences that last all day in one room are the worst experiences of my job. I recognize that my work does not entail a lot of physical exertion — physicians define “sedentary” by citing the kind of labor I perform, basically sitting in front of a computer writing nonsense all day — but the psychic toll can be pretty heavy. Being confined to some hotel ballroom all day while mind-numbingly boring panel discussions are conducted in your presence is a challenge I invite you to try one of these days. Take away Wi-Fi and power outlets so you have limited access to the outside world and see how you do.

I didn’t get through Sunday without a splitting headache. This was the RAIN Summit, a day-long conference on digital audio that precedes the NAB conventions and is alternately good, infuriating, and boring. This time, the boring overtook good and infuriating. I will spare you the details, which I wrote about at All Access; let it suffice to say that the day was long, uncomfortable, and sapped my spirit to an alarming extent.

I can’t allow too much spirit to be sapped when I’m in Las Vegas. A few days in Vegas are fun when I get to be here without work and with Fran. This trip, like most of my Vegas jaunts, is with work and without Fran, meaning it’s wall-to-wall work, punctuated by exhausting dashes from venue to venue and across the vast Las Vegas Convention Center, a circle of Hell unmentioned with the others. I’ve been here for one full day and I’ve had enough.

But maybe this time will be better. The schedule for the NAB Show is especially light on radio topics; I’ll have more time to check out the exhibits, at least, which isn’t really what I want to do — this is not CES — but beats the meeting rooms, of which there will be plenty enough.

You’ll read all about that at All Access. The stuff I can’t put there, I’ll put here. We’ll see how that goes soon enough.

16. April 2016 · Comments Off on NAB Show, Day One: Gonna Set My Soul On Fire · Categories: Convention, Radio

The flight from LAX was uneventful, being only about 45 minutes, give or take. I was, as I always seem to be, on my way to yet another convention, prepared to sit in the back of the room through endless panels, writing dry descriptions and verbatim quotes for the web and complaints and jokes for the social media audience. It is, as much as I don’t want to think about it, what I do for a living. There are worse fates.

But the flight was filled with people heading to Las Vegas for purposes other than business. There were bros wearing sunglasses on the dimly-lit aircraft (it was a Virgin America flight, which by definition means dim lighting and ambient chill music and various shades of pink and red and purple. I will miss that when Alaska Airlines takes over and bleaches it all out), families with screaming children, tourists speaking several different languages, and a couple eating foul-smelling sandwiches across the aisle from me. It was more bus than aircraft. But it was a short bus ride.

On the shuttle to the rental car center, a family from Illinois near St. Louis but originally from Chicago was clustered by the driver. I knew where they were from because a) the father, propping their baby up on his shoulder, proclaimed as such, loudly, to the driver, and b) dad was wearing a Jimmy Butler jersey, unfortunate since dad also sported a beer belly and the jersey, worn sans undershirt, didn’t stand a chance. Butler’s 21 looked more like 2 1, with a pasty expanse of skin peeking out from the bottom. The driver and dad were discussing football, and by that I mean that football teams and terms came up, but this was not by any means an informed discussion. Someone said that Brock Osweiler had signed with Tennessee, and that Tennessee was going to be tough with him and that guy from Philly, by which I assume they meant DeMarco Murray, and by which I also assume that they didn’t see Murray play last season. Osweiler, having been misplaced, also somehow became misidentified, compared to Wes Welker, which in retrospect wasn’t totally off since both are white and played for Denver. It was like bizarro world sports radio. I’ve heard worse.

For a Saturday night, Vegas seems fairly empty. McCarran was quiet, the car rental was quick, traffic from there to the Venetian was practically nonexistent, and the casino buzz was mostly from pockets of revelers here for bachelor and bachelorette parties, young people in modified formal wear and brightly colored hair — pink and purple were popular — while the guests of honor all seemed to be wearing “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” sashes. That’s a thing now, I guess. Maximum embarrassment is the goal, and sashes are step one. But there were fewer people than I’m used to seeing here in front of whom to be embarrassed — walking around in wacky attire and a sash is less mortifying if there’s no audience, and there weren’t that many people hovering, though when I checked in (practically no line — the clerk apologized for making me wait, and I informed her that I was waiting for all of perhaps two minutes), I was told that two of the hotel’s tall towers were sold out and only the wing I was in had any vacancies. Someone’s here, I just didn’t see them.

But I imagine that by the time the NAB Show, the convention for which I’m here, gets underway in full on Monday, there’ll be the usual convention mobs. The NAB Show isn’t on the level of CES, but it’s big, and it’s survived by pivoting from being primarily a broadcast TV convention with some radio involved to going all-in on online video, movie making, and other new media things that aren’t necessarily about broadcasting, which is relegated to management and engineering tracks and a couple of luncheons. And it’s worked; the new media stuff has created buzz where there’d been none just a few years ago.

Needless to say, I won’t get to be where the buzz is. I’ll be covering the radio-related stuff. And radio-related stuff tends to involve the desperate quest to get FM chips and the NextRadio app onto every cell phone, plus the obligatory and desolate HD Radio booth and a series of panels of increasing mind-numbing boredom. But there’s also the RAIN Summit, which takes place on Sunday and is all about digital audio like podcasting and streaming, although it’s also a day for me to sit in the back and think, hey, I’m more of an expert on this stuff than these guys are. But I always think that. And there ARE conventions where I get to prove that, like at the panel the other day at the Worldwide Radio Summit and one at the upcoming Conclave. This isn’t those, unfortunately.

So, I’m here. On a Saturday night. Alone. In my hotel room. No time for fun; I have to be up early tomorrow. I have conventioneering to do….

16. February 2016 · Comments Off on RENEWED (AND SOME THAT WEREN’T) · Categories: Television

Renewed the domain. What the hell, might as well.

Blogs aren’t a thing these days, not the way they used to be, but I still like having this one around. It sort of nags me to do things, a reminder that there are things I want to write that don’t fit in my work writing, don’t fit in 140 characters, don’t work as Facebook posts or comments under Instagram photos.

Seriously, there ARE things I want to write. Just have to get the time.

I also have things to say, but that’s another story. And that’ll be here, too. Patience.

Meanwhile, this (thanks to RwDt09 at YouTube):

Intros to obscure sitcoms only I remember, like “From A Bird’s Eye View,” which I remember watching when it was current. I did not remember that “From A Bird’s Eye View” was a Sheldon Leonard production, though. Filmed in 1969, burned off by NBC in 1970. It was about what were then called “stewardesses,” with Millicent Martin and Pat Finley and no laugh track.

Oh, you HAVE to be kidding. They have several episodes on YouTube. Like this one:

I haven’t seen this since it first aired. Not that I was looking for it, but still.

“Nancy,” I had to look up – that one doesn’t ring a bell at all. Nope, not on YouTube. Apparently, it’s another show from NBC in 1970, about the daughter of the President falling in love with a small-town Iowa veterinarian. They aired it between “Ironside” and “The Dean Martin Show,” and against “The Odd Couple,” which explains why I didn’t see it.

“Needles and Pins,” I do remember- Norman Fell, Bernie Kopell, and Louis Nye, set at a clothing company, and, somehow, it didn’t work. Dierdre Lenihan eventually married James Sloyan, one of the all-time great “That Guy” character actors; you’d know him if you saw him. No video, so here’s the great Jackie DeShannon singing the song of the same name on “Where the Action Is” with Dick Clark in 1966:

“The Ted Knight Show” was interesting – he was the head of an “escort company,” so how could we NOT assume it was Ted Baxter, pimp? Apparently, everyone did. Six episodes and out.

“Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers” was, if I’m remembering it well, not bad at all, from the MTM stable, but people were expecting more from MTM and it flopped after 13 episodes, replaced by… “The Jeffersons,” which did not flop. Paul Sand — born Pablo Sanchez, in case you’re ever asked — is 80 now.

The sitcom version of “The Bad News Bears” had Corey Feldman, of all people. The whole series seems to be on YouTube:

All I remember about “Getting Together” was that my sister’s 16 and Tiger Beat magazines not only pushed Bobby Sherman but Wes Stern, who was not really the teen idol ideal. No video of this series online, but there’s this curiosity, a very young, pre-“Here Come the Brides” Bobby Sherman singing “I’m Into Something Good” on “Shindig” in 1964:

And as for Wes Stern, he was in this rarity, a movie a) written and directed by ’60s comedy guru Theodore J. Flicker, b) made by schlock cinema studio American International Pictures, c) starring Joan Collins and Larry Hagman, and d) vasiously called “Up in the Cellar” and “3 in the Cellar.” Check out two very differently-toned trailers:

And “Barefoot in the Park” had Scoey Mitchlll AND Nipsey Russell. BOTH.

Why, yes, I’m back.

31. December 2015 · Comments Off on RESOLVED · Categories: Uncategorized

There’s going to be more stuff here soon. If all goes as planned, much more. As I write this, it’s 2016 already in most of the world, just not yet here, and I’m looking at a very busy year coming up, starting in a couple of days with International CES or whatever they want us to call it these days. Some of that business will slop over to here, so there’s that to which we can look forward. (Or not. It’s all the same to me.)

In any event, Happy New Year. Should be interesting.

84

25. April 2015 · Comments Off on 84 · Categories: Uncategorized

Thought about Dad today. Think about him a lot, but it’s his birthday, and you know that I come out of blog hibernation every time there’s a milestone day about Dad — birth, death, Father’s Day.

This year, at dinner, out of the blue, I thought about what gift I’d have gotten him if he was still around to get it today, what would have been his 84th birthday. I’m pretty sure I’d have ordered him an Apple Watch, just as I’m sure I’d have gotten him an iPhone 6 Plus when it came out, and I’d have justified it all by leaning on the health tracking aspects. If not for mesothelioma, he’d surely have made it to 84, and he’d have been playing tennis every day all the way through. That was his goal- playing tennis into his 80s, against younger opponents, driving them crazy by returning every shot, just like he used to see an old tennis hacker named Hank Beck do at the Y in Jersey years ago. Hank Beck was his role model, and if not for asbestos exposure, he’d have been the next Hank Beck, and that was all he wanted.

Okay, maybe I’d have bought him a new racket, too, to go with the watch and the phone. He’d have told me no, I shouldn’t have, but he’d have loved it all. And that was always MY goal. Hope I achieved it before it was too late. Happy birthday, Dad.

02. April 2015 · Comments Off on THE OLD REDHEAD AND SCOOTER · Categories: Baseball, Television · Tags: , , ,

Huh. Was looking through archives of a long defunct weekly magazine from Paterson and found these in a 1960 issue:

barber60 rizzuto60

Yeah.

And yes, I’m back.

29. July 2014 · Comments Off on FOLLOW THE BOUNCING PUCK · Categories: Uncategorized

This is one of the best things I’ve seen in a while – the history of the National Hockey League in logos changing and moving on a map of North America as the years go by. And it’s set to the tune of “Brass Bonanza”!:

(HT: Rogers Sportsnet)