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April 2007 Archives

April 1, 2007


More scans from old TV Guides? Why, sure. From December, 1976, believe it or not, in Fargo:

This one looks like it could be from 1956, but the Fargo and Grand Forks markets always lagged, TV-wise. "Dependable Dewey" was Dewey Bergquist, who was on the air there for decades- there's an interview here with him about a long-gone hotel in which he worked while at KVOX. Anyway, he was "sweeping the sky for impending turbulence," which, I suppose, is a good thing. WDAY-WDAZ are now the ABC affiliates for eastern North Dakota, for what it's worth.

From March 1979 in Philadelphia:

Bill Currie was a flamboyant sportscaster with a southern accent, huge glasses and sometimes a bowtie who'd been a hit at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh when Westinghouse imported him to KDKA's sister station in Philadelphia, KYW-TV, in 1978. He was there in '78-'79 before they threw in the towel- he just didn't fit in Philly. I remember watching him and thinking that someone had made a horrible mistake- he didn't know the local teams and personalities, he didn't really seem to know all that much about sports, and his whole schtick seemed to be geared towards making a lot of noise and fake controversy without really saying anything. He'd been a legend in North Carolina as the voice of the Tar Heels, the "Mouth of the South," but you can't walk into Philly with an act like that and succeed.

That was one of the first incidents to teach me a lesson that served me well in radio- heed the local customs. Don't come in and assume you'll show 'em how it's done in the big time. KYW sent Currie packing that year; last I heard, he'd been a lay preacher, then fell into ill health and was in a nursing home in Olympia, Washington. Googling brought up a few folks in Pittsburgh and Carolina with fond memories and curiosity about him; I don't think you'd find that in Philly. Can't please everyone. But if you're gonna do sports in Philadelphia, do your homework.


April 2, 2007


It is a good day, because...

...hope springs eternal. It's warm and sunny everywhere.

('Course, it would have been better had the Phillies won...)


April 3, 2007


Back to September 3, 1968 for this special on NBC:

It was the final episode of a summer talent contest. "American Idol"? Check out who competed in this series: The New Colony Six, the Pozo Seco Singers (including country star Don Williams), the American Breed, Tom Rush, Tammy Wynette, the Craig Hundley Trio (featuring the kid who played Kirk's nephew on "Star Trek"!), Archie Bell and the Drells, the Cryan Shames, Julie Budd (that's her in the picture with host Lloyd Thaxton), Sly and the Family Stone, Andrea Marcovicci, and the 1910 Fruitgum Co., all of whom went on to varying stages of success. Guests included Neil Diamond, Jackie Vernon (!), London Lee (!!), Della Reese, Bobby Vinton, the Box Tops, and Carmen McRae.

The winner? Sly. The prize? $10,000. (He already had a contract and records- a top 10 hit that year with "Dance To the Music")

And Lloyd Thaxton, well, I remember watching his syndicated dance show in the late 60s- he was the west coast equivalent of Clay Cole or Jerry Blavat. The big thing on his show was how he'd lip sync songs- the show was loose and kinda weird, as if "American Bandstand" had been taken over by some guy off the street. After the show disappeared from syndication, I often wondered whatever happened to him. Turns out he never really went away, moving on to produce and write and direct TV shows, and he's blogging, too. In 1968, he was the equivalent of Ryan Seacrest. Let's see what Seacrest's doing in 2047.


April 4, 2007


Busy night tonight- had a lot to do. So content yourself with this from 1976:

Oh, but you want that Fonzie Doll. Who wouldn't? $2.95 plus an end flap from Junior Mints- a bargain. And it was a 16 inch doll, not that eight inch Mego deal with the oddly narrow waist. Throw in a buck and you got a Fonz Fling, too. Here's a Fonz Fling. Hey, for a buck, a cheap plastic Not-Frisbee (R) is a bargain.

But check out the trademark slogan on the coupon. "Ay-Ay!" TM ? He didn't say "Ay-Ay!" He said "Aaaaaaaaaayyyyy!" One syllable, eloquent and simple.

And why is there a picture of a slightly melted Fred Gwynne in the upper right of this ad?

I'd love to know who won the trip to Hollywood and the cameo on "Happy Days." I checked- nothing on the Net. And there are none of these Fonzie Dolls on eBay, either- just the commercially available Mego dolls. You're too late for this promotion, unless you're reading this before May 31, 1977.

They don't make schlocky promotions like this anymore.


April 5, 2007


This week's All Access newsletter was prompted by hearing an infomercial-style radio show hosted by a non-infomercial-style host, and my musing about integrity and what it's worth to sell it:

If there's something that bothers me more than the performance of the Phillies bullpen, it's... well, actually, nothing's bothering me more than the Phillies bullpen right now. If there's anything that bothers me close to how much I'm bothered by the Phillies bullpen, it's... well, it's a lot of other stuff about the Phillies, so let's just skip down the list to the latest thing that's bothering me about radio, which involves, in a way, infomercials and brokered programming. Sure, you know what I'd say about those things- they hurt stations long term and give a bad image to your station and blah blah blah. You could just as easily write that for me. And it's all for naught- if your GM can get $500 or $1,000 or even $1,500 for a half hour that the sales department says it can't sell anyway, your arguments against selling the time will go unheeded. Money is money, especially when it's cash up front. But that's not the topic for this letter.

No, this is for hosts and PDs who might be tempted by some quick, easy money (and who among us isn't?). When I'm driving around on the weekends, I occasionally hear infomercials and brokered shows with familiar voices. They're "co-hosted" by some of the same hosts who do regular, non-brokered, non-infomercial shows on the same stations. You get hours of selling "health products" or financial products or whatever, and the doctor selling the colon cleanser or the guy selling adjustable rate no-money-down mortgages are accompanied by a host who you'll hear during the week talking about, well, other things, but definitely not medicine or loan rates. I don't know how prevalent this is in smaller markets, but I've heard it in a few major and medium markets. And I know it's also been done within regular weekday shows, too- a "guest" is really a client, and the "topic" is really a sales pitch or promotion.

A talk host has to have integrity. Your appeal to listeners includes your believability, no matter what you're talking about, no matter what your act may be. Even if you're a comedian, even if all you do is goof on stuff, your listeners want to believe- NEED to believe- that you're real and you're honest. And then they hear you sell some snake oil, and they discover you're quite willing to do anything for a buck.

Listen, I don't begrudge anyone a living. And I don't think this is the same as doing live reads and endorsements... although radio people ought to be a LOT more careful about that (need I remind you about certain weight loss products heavily advertised on radio shows that took a lot of hosts' reputations down a few notches when the FTC got involved?). People know that a commercial is a commercial, even when read live by a host. But an infomercial is a different animal, and when a familiar host is feigning interest in a miracle cure for joint pain or reverse mortgages and revocable living trusts, you're just not going to hear that host in the same way again.

That's not worth the extra paycheck. It really isn't. If you're a host, think about that before you say yes to one of these things. And if you're a PD, do whatever you can to dissuade your sales department from using your regular talent to co-host with Dr. Bombay on the ColonExplosion (TM) Hour of Health. If you have to run those things, you're best off keeping everything about your station- your talent, your production elements, your call letters, even your phone number- far, far away from them.

And now that I've shamed you into poverty, let's talk about preparing your regular show, and specifically where you can find the kind of material that you can use when you're not talking about intestinal problems or home equity loans, Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports. This week, the topics include whether multiple marriages are more of a stigma for women than men, the Sanjaya crisis dissected and analyzed and fricasseed into submission, why it's always a good time for pancakes, how Craigslist can be used for evil, Miami's unusual solution on where to put sex offenders, why New York City is launching a big promotional campaign for circumcision, the curious case of the cross-dressing fireman, why you might want to run a background check before your next date, another engagement ring dispute, why you don't want to ride a horse while under the influence but it's okay to scrape an ice rink while intoxicated, why the words "unlicensed day-care" are never the sign of anything good in a news story, the heartwarming story of Ynot Bubba, and way more than anyone needed to know about the pet food recall or what Keith Richards may or may not have sent up his nose. After that, check out "10 Questions With..." Jones Radio Networks syndicated morning host Bill Press, the Talent Toolkit with some baseball sites worth bookmarking, and the rest of All Access with Net News (first/fastest/best insudtry coverage), the Industry Directory, ratings, Mediabase charts, columns, message boards, job listings, and much more, all free. All the cool kids do it.

Next week: a special edition of the Letter- find out how you can lower your cholesterol, pay off your debt, and achieve the kind of bedroom performance of which you have always dreamed. Or maybe not.


April 6, 2007


I was in a bad mood all day.

What might snap me out of this?

A Phillies win? Maybe.

Larry Hagman wearing wacky hats? Definitely.

Well, then, from July 1979:

Much better.


April 7, 2007


It was only after I shut the computer off in disgust- Ryan Madson and Clay Condrey, and Ryan Howard continuing his epic slump- that I realized I'd not posted anything here today. It's just as well, considering my lousy mood. And I'm not turning the computer back on, either. Or doing anything other that pecking this out on the cell phone while catching up with the TV we missed this week- "The Shield" is on now, and we're only about eight hours behind on "24" (and not caring much).

Saw a provocative piece on the future of media that echoes some of what I've written, but I'm not going to do it on the cell phone. Maybe tomorrow, maybe this week. Tonight, I'm off... in more ways than one.


April 8, 2007


Well, that was anticlimactic.

"The Sopranos" returned with an episode that didn't really advance the story line much at all. The main elements that should play out over the rest of the episodes include the feds building their RICO case against Tone (he got picked up on a minor weapons charge, it got dropped, then the feds picked it up again, letting Tony know what everyone knew for years, that the feds were closing in) and Bobby's sloppy first hit on some dude in Montreal, his penance for fighting (and beating) Tony in a drunken brawl at Bobby and Janice's Adirondacks place. Lots of family flashback references, Tony ending up lost in a reverie while watching old home movies of his and Janice's childhood.

And that was basically it. The action will have to resume next week- this was more of a re-establishing episode, a reminder of who's who and what's what. No Dr. Melfi, no Silvio, a little Phil Leotardo, a portrait of Johnny Sack, a few seconds with Christopher, a taste of sullen A.J., that's it. Most of the episode was like a New Jersey Italo-American "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in upstate New York. As episodes largely staged outside the usual North Jersey milieu go, this was no "Pine Barrens."

After that, "Entourage" was, you know, typical. Vince has a new agent- Carla Gugino falling out of her dress- and Ari's trying to win him back. That, and Turtle manages to max out E's credit cards before hitting on a cheap way to throw a lavish birthday party for Vince on the Queen Mary- sponsorship. Anyone who's seen one episode of the show could have written this episode off the top of his or her head in minutes. And can anyone explain why Debi Mazar still gets a credit in the opening sequence but isn't actually seen in the episodes? Either she negotiated a great deal or they don't want to spend the money to recut the credits.

Overall HBO evening: eh. Or meh. I expect next week to redeem the entire network.


April 9, 2007


The one thing that's emerging from the Don Imus debacle is that everyone's gone nuts.

Imus is nuts because his apology tour is an embarrassment. He's apologizing to everyone for his sense of humor- it's not like the "hos" comment was an anomaly. His show deals, for better or worse, in the use of that kind of thing for humorous/satiric effect. It's rarely funny- I haven't found him funny since he was prank-calling fast food places in the early 1970s- but it's what he does. A lot of the reaction is from people who aren't familiar with his show and are hearing the comments completely out of context (not that context makes them funny or perceptive, but there WAS context). He should be saying that. Instead, he's practically weeping and begging for forgiveness and telling everyone he's not a bad guy. For a celebrity whose entire career was built on being a comically bad guy, this is the kind of reversal that's worse than just keeping one's mouth shut. Yeah, it was a mistake. Yeah, it wasn't funny. Just say "I'm sorry" and move on- indulge the critics and it will never end, because they smell blood and they'll peck away until there's nothing left. And your credibility as a fearless, speaks-his-mind, out-on-the-edge kind of guy will be gone, too.

The critics are nuts because they seem to think- I just saw Al Sharpton on CNN telling Paula Zahn this- that the federal government has some sort of law against racist comments on the "federally regulated airwaves." Sorry, Al, but that's not true (and Paula Zahn's so dim, she not only didn't have an answer for that but didn't even object when he said that CNN is regulated by the FCC, which it isn't). There's no law against making racist statements on the radio. It's stupid and wrong to make racist comments on the radio (or anywhere else), it's inadvisable, it's hurtful, but it's not illegal. Sharpton (and, shockingly, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), who, as a Congressperson, ought to have perhaps read the Constitution at some point) seems to be unaware of the First Amendment. (Then again, he's the one who falsely accused a cop of raping Tawana Brawley, so there's part of him that obviously thinks you can say anything) They're also nuts because they think that what some radio fossil with a 1 share says has some sort of effect on society. It doesn't. His audience knows how to take what he says- they probably just shook their heads and thought "oh, there he goes again, can't believe he said that." And it doesn't matter what anyone else thought, because they weren't listening.

What Imus said had no effect on anyone except, maybe, if someone on the Rutgers team heard it and was insulted. The punishments, whether CBS and MSNBC's lame, delayed two-week suspension or Sharpton and Jesse Jackson's preferred firing and public beating, will mean nothing. Within a year- within weeks- this will be pushed right out of everyone's consciousness by the next outrage. But in the meantime, a guy who hasn't been all that entertaining since the disco era and his self-appointed critics will get plenty of face time on CNN and MSNBC and Fox and the network news and on the op-ed pages.

Everyone's gone nuts. I'm going to go listen to something else. Oh, right, I wasn't listening to any of them in the first place.


April 10, 2007


Tonight's entry has been pre-empted. Stay tuned for the following special announcement from 1969:

"Why HIPPIES?" indeed. We're still asking that question in 2007, only they're less a new, exotic subculture than a malodorous bunch of throwbacks following certain jam bands around the country. Why HIPPIES? Don't know, don't particularly care.

Ambassador College, of course, was Herbert Armstrong's thing, affiliated with Herbert's (and, for a time, son Garner Ted's) Worldwide Church of God. The school closed in 1997, but the Pasadena campus' quite impressive auditorium is back in operation. And the answer to "why HIPPIES" is lost to history.


April 11, 2007


Corporate rock, June 1968 style:

Yes, you too could have won a trip (with 25 friends!) to anywhere in the U.S., where you'd see a "knock-out performance by The First Edition," all for matching the notes on youe can or cap to the notes in the ad. But you could also have opted for $10,000.

Hmm. A First Edition concert or ten grand. What shall I take?

No way in hell anyone took the concert. No way.

You remember The First Edition, right? Sure you do. But here's a hint:

That's Kenny Rogers just dropping in to see what condition your condition is in. Check out the groovy jacket. Check out the one-knee rockin'-out.

My favorite thing in the ad is the kids on the shore- I guess they're supposed to look like they're partying and dancing and groovin' to the gently-rockin' sounds of Kenny and the band. SOme of them, however, look panicked or confused, and some on the right appear to have chased the band onto that raft and into the water. Good riddance! That'll show those hippies what for! They'll never darken the lawn of OUR frat house again!

Fun fact: the second, third, and fourth prizes all included "Foil dress and vest," because all the cool kids wore aluminum in 1968.



I'll be talking more about this as the event approaches, but Fran and I are going to be walking in the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women on May 12 in Los Angeles. The event raises funds for breast cancer research, and that, as many of you know, is something that is very important to us.

The event has web pages for donations, and mine is pretty much the boiler plate so far, but you CAN make donations now if you're so inclined: click here to do just that. I'll be mentioning this again and again for the next month, so I'll be wearing you down at some point.

And thank you.


April 12, 2007


There IS an edition of "The Letter" today- it's just late. If it goes out before I go to sleep, I'll post it tonight. Otherwise, it'll be here tomorrow. Included: some last rites for Imus, and yet another plug for the Revlon walk.

The what? This thing. Click, give, feel good about life.

"Letter" later. Maybe.


April 13, 2007


This week's self-explanatory All Access newsletter WENT OUT WITH THE WRONG LINK. I sent the RIGHT link, but when they pasted it into the e-mail template they left out part of the link. Yes, I want to scream, why do you ask?

Here's a correct version of the thing. Read it while I go punch a wall:

Well, I guess there's not much going on in talk radio this week, so...

Frankly, I don't want to talk about the Imus thing, precisely because everyone- EVERYONE- else is talking about it. It's amazing how suddenly everyone's an expert on a show relatively few people listened to and a team about whose existence most people didn't care. Overnight, Imus became Public Enemy Number One, the Rutgers team ascended to sainthood, and a stupid, unfunny, off-hand slur became The End Of Civilization As We Know It and an excuse to indict the entire talk radio culture. And the cable talk shows were overrun with "experts" ready to make their pronouncements on guilt, innocence, virtue, free speech, hip-hop culture, charity, and radio.

I did not market myself as an expert on this one, because I really didn't want to be one of those people. I have my opinions, and I know what I would have done had I been in a position to make a Solomonic decision to solve the "crisis." But it would have been pointless, considering that I'm not in charge, nobody in charge was consulting me, and going on some cable show where the only way to get your point across is to out-shout the guy in the other little box on the screen wasn't going to do anybody any good. I watched and listened to a lot of those discussions this week, and I heard almost nothing that approached sanity or a calm, proportional reaction to the situation. But that's how the other media cover radio- they don't, until something minor and stupid happens, at which point they overreact until it's an international incident.

If there's one instructive thing to take out of the Imus situation, it's something I've told you before: you can get away with a lot, but the one thing your bosses will absolutely not tolerate is when they get "those" phone calls, meaning complaints. In this case, the complaints were bigger than just phone calls, and they went way, way up to the top of the company, to folks who just do not want or need to be bothered with trouble from some radio show right now. When it becomes clear that those complaints aren't going away anytime soon, not until "something is done," you're toast. Does that mean we're all doomed to walk on eggshells and stick to inoffensive material that won't rock any boats or generate any kind of reaction that might displease corporate? Man, I hope not.

All right, enough about Imus. Next subject: you know how every year someone at your office puts up a Girl Scout cookie sign-up sheet in the break room, and everyone kinda has to buy some Thin Mints because, well, you gotta represent? You know how annoying that is?

Sorry, but here it comes, with profuse thanks to Joel and Ria Denver for letting me do this:

See, there's this event coming up on May 12 in Los Angeles, the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women. It's to raise funds for cancer research, and as some of you are aware, my wife Fran and I have a particular vested interest in this area, having been visited by the disease last year. We're going to walk in the event this year to celebrate Fran's courage and survival and to raise money for the cause, and that means I've set up the online equivalent of the break room sign-up sheet so that anyone who feels moved to make a donation may do so. No pressure or guilt-tripping here- I'm not going to be checking who's been naughty or nice- but if you can throw a few bucks toward a good cause, here's the link to click:


You'll also find links to the same donation page at Talk Topics and at pmsimon.com. Thanks, and if you're in L.A. on May 12, come on down to the U.S.C./Coliseum area and look for us.

OK, let's quickly run down the stories you'll find at All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics show prep column this week, in case you don't want to keep talking about Imus or Rutgers or Dannielynn's daddy: there's the comeback of your old-school arcade video games, proof that most people ought not to be playing with nail guns, why 911 is a joke in one town, a particularly disturbing improvisational drama class, why diets don't work, how Kirsten Dunst proposes to bring world peace, the strange case of the streaking swimmers, how much one testicle is worth, and the increasing popularity of the wedding iPod, plus "real news" like the extension of troops' tours of duty in Iraq, the health insurance crisis, and much more, "10 Questions With..." USA Radio Network "Daybreak USA" co-host Scott West, the Talent Toolkit with consumer information sites and material, and the rest of All Access with the industry's first/fastest/best breaking news coverage at Net News, the Industry Direct ory with complete listings of everybody in the business, the best job listings in radio, Mediabase charts, and lots more, all free.

Nest week: Vegas, for NAB2007 and RTNDA@NAB. Possibly the least fun than you can possibly have in Vegas short of incidents involving frearms and Pacman Jones. If you love my writing when I'm irritated and tired, you'll love next week.


April 14, 2007


This is traveling weekend, and I have to work double today because tomorrow is the long drive to Vegas. So nothing here today. Sorry.

At least the Phillies won. It's about time. Are they going to admit, though, that Tom Gordon might be at the end of the line as a closer? Granted, they haven't NEEDED a closer much this season, but a guy who gets into trouble even in innings he escapes is not the kind of closer that inspires confidence, and that HAS to weigh heavily on the pitching staff. Too bad there isn't any other option. Sigh.


April 15, 2007


We arrived in Las Vegas this afternoon, in fairly incident-free fashion- no real traffic jams, despite periods of misty, annoying rain and the usual erratic driving up the 15 all the way to Flamingo. We checked in, got the good wing upgrade, unpacked, then did what everyone does in Vegas.

That would be the buffet.

We went to the Mirage's buffet this time, because we'd never tried it and it looked kinda interesting, a modern, trendy-looking room. I'm sitting here right now, typing on my cell phone because I hit the wall hard after sushi, barbecued tri-tip, pizza, gelato, and other items I choose not to remember at the moment. I broke my own rule- you gotta pace yourself. I didn't. Blame the tri-tip.

So far, the place is crawling with engineers. I see them everywhere with their tell-tale wardrobe: polyester gimme shirt, khakis or jeans, convention badge, convention tote bag. The brokers and power elite are over at the Bellagio. My hotel is for the equipment-manufacturer elite. The engineers end up at the Rio or the Aladdin if someone else is paying, or the Sahara or Trop if they're paying for it themselves. Or Circus Circus.

But my NAB2007 experience starts tomorrow. I don't really start feeling uncomfortable and hateful until the show starts in earnest. Tonight is for just feeling happy to get away, happy to be in Vegas and eating unlimited amounts and sitting here at the Mirage buffet next to a newlywed couple still in wedding gown and tux and enjoying the act of digestion.

The "fun" begins tomorrow.


April 16, 2007


Why I don't have time for a full dissection of today's NAB2007 goings-on: the convention's Internet access was down.

Yes, a convention for the communication industry lost its Internet access. I'm not kidding. I spent two hours in the press room with an Ethernet cable in my laptop, forlornly trying time after time to get any kind of connection. No dice. No work, either. So here I am just finishing up work in the late evening. No parties, no fun, just work in a hotel room all evening because I couldn't write my column all day.

Why, yes, I AM annoyed. How could you tell?

I'll tell you more if I can get more Net time tomorrow. Otherwise, it might have to wait until I get back to California. Right now, I'm going to take a shot at a few hours of sleep. That would be a novelty.


April 17, 2007


The theme of the NAB2007 convention this year is different from last year. Two years ago, the theme was "We Don't Know What's About To Hit Us." Last year, the prevailing theme was "We Know What's About To Hit Us, But We Don't Know What To Do About It." This year, it's "Here's What We're Going To Do About It: We're Going To Change The Words We Use To Describe EVerything." No, really, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr proclaimed Monday that the problem, as he sees it, is that the "other side" has painted radio and broadcast TV as old and out of it and itself as hot, hip, and young, so he wants to come up with better marketing. He likes how IBOC digital radio became "HD Radio," because HD Radio's become so popular with all the kids- why, every kid is walking around with an HD Radio, right? (Ask 10 people on the street what HD Radio is and see how close they come)

This year, it feels, is a holding pattern. The TV people seem to be waiting for all hell to break loose when the digital transition hits in 2009. The radio people seem to be waiting for the saellite merger ruling and the ownership rules and who knows what else. The Web and user-generated-content people are waiting for the money to trickle down to them. And everybody's waiting to see if Eric Schmidt can pull off his plan to dominate the world, at least where advertising is concerned.

The NAB (and the companion RTNDA convention) was full of guys telling you how to move your radio or TV station into the new interactive special age. There were entire sections of the convention devoted to podcasts, streaming, and Web sites, which is a good thing, except nobody seemed to have an answer for how to make money with any of it. That isn't the public's problem- they'll enjoy the bounty of more content, even if some of it is just video of guys getting hit in the balls. But as a content provider, I wanted to hear how to get someone to pay me to write, or draw, or shoot video, or do my own stream. The answer: maybe in ten years. Until then, you're on your own.

Seriously, there were good, provocative sessions, like the one moderated by CHRIS MATTHEWS!!!! (actually restraining his shouting for once) with Jeff Jarvis, Joe Trippi, and Hugh Hewitt, among others, discussing how this election season may see more YouTubery and Facebookery and a lot less spending on broadcast media. And I never get tired of the dissection of the Portable People Meter numbers, even though I'd seen Gary Marince's presentation already; this time, he, Holland Cooke, and Steve Butler delved deeper into the Philly tests and came up with some interesting results.

But mostly, it was frustration- frustration that nobody is really coming up with the monetizing solution, frustration that the convention's web access was down for much of Monday, frustration that there were so many besuited, repressed guys- Imus' audience!- wandering around, frustrated that I lost my prescription reading glasses, frustrated that I couldn't cover three events at once. Frazzled, exhausted, upset- I did it all.

And I get to go home tomorrow. There's more, but I need to digest it first. Maybe I'll remember some of it tomorrow.


April 18, 2007


Well, yes, I was in a bad mood all week.

And then CNN's Jerry DeMink mentioned that there was a little gathering going oon at the Hard Rock.

And Lyle Lovett would be playing.

And we went over there, and, indeed, there he was. He did "I've Been To Memphis." He did "That's No Lady, That's My Wife." He did "If I Had a Boat" and "Church" and "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)" and lots more.

And a very good time was had by all, including me. (Thanks, Jerry)

Look- Lyle!:

Nothing much more for tonight- I just got back from Vegas, and, boy, can I not do the "arms tired" joke because we drove (through really high winds and the occasional sand storm). Good to be home.


April 20, 2007


This week's All Access newsletter spans the globe to bring you the constant variety of radio:

This week, I'll answer the ten questions on everybody's mind. Let's begin, shall we?

1. What did you learn from the NAB convention this week?

Learn? Not much. It was mostly an extension of what I already know- the business is changing, you'd better change, too, and since nobody's figured out how to pay your salary while you're on that cutting edge, you need to get a second job in another cutting-edge industry like, say, selling all of your worldly possessions on eBay. Meanwhile, the NAB President/CEO told us that reframing and rebranding, which, if I can decipher my notes correctly, will make broadcasting a "new business for a new age with a great future." Or maybe he was talking about El Pollo Loco franchises. I'm not sure. He said that the last year was about listening and the new year will be about "advocacy," which translates to "we're gonna fight that satellite merger." My notes indicate that for some reason he mentioned Sir Winston Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Ronald Reagan, but that might just be a list of new hosts at Sirius- can't tell from my handwriting. There were some good nuts-and-bolts sessions, especially at the RTNDA show next door, but other than that, the whole thing was a blur. I suppose I could go back and read what I wrote for All Access and on my blog about it, but I'm a very busy and important man and have much critical work to do, such as watching last Sunday's "Entourage" on the DVR.

2. Oh, come on, what else did you learn?

I learned that losing your prescription reading glasses in the middle of a convention is not a good thing. I learned that the security guards trying to charge people to park at my favorite secret parking spot near the Las Vegas Convention center are now getting to work before 7 am, but are easily distracted. I learned that it's not possible to eat too much gelato.

3. No, I mean, what did you learn about radio?

I don't remember.

4. How about that Imus thing, huh?

Last week. We did that last week.

5. How about that Virginia Tech thing, huh?

It demonstrated how some radio stations know what to do in an emergency and others just don't. Any stations carrying tape-delayed talk shows when the story broke needed to go live, whether with a local host talking about the news or to a network for wall-to-wall coverage. As Monday progressed and the news got progressively more horrific, you had to be talking about it, even working with sketchy information- that's what your listeners were coming to you for, and if you were airing something other than the latest Virginia Tech information, they went elsewhere. If you're running a lot of syndication and especially if some of it is tape-delayed, you need to have an emergency plan in place and you need to train whoever is around, especially board ops, on what to do when massive news is breaking- make sure they can call you, make sure they know when and how to go to the network, make sure you know who you want on the air and how they should handle the coverage. Do that now. Be prepared.

6. Should NBC have aired the Virginia Tech shooter's stuff? Should talk radio stations have aired it?

It makes me uncomfortable- yes, it can't be easy for the families and classmates of the victims to see this stuff, and you run a risk in airing someone's crackpot manifesto and possibly encouraging copycats- but can you honestly say that you didn't want to see and hear it? Not the angelic, politically correct part of you that knows there's nothing in there that you NEED to see or hear. I'm talking about the part of you that sneaks a peek at the car wreck even as you curse the rubberneckers slowing down in front of you. That part of you always wins. I'd hate myself the next morning, but I think I'd play it. I think the thing people want to know the most about situations like this is why it happens; listening to the rant at least explains the extent of mental illness involved.

7. Hey, it's great that you're going to walk with your wife Fran in the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women on May 12 in Los Angeles to raise money for women's cancer research and education. How can I join the generous folks who are donating to your walk?

https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=365992 is the link. Or you can e-mail me at psimon@allaccess.com and I can tell you how to do it by check and regular mail. Thanks for donating.

8. Isn't it time to do the stupid plug for All Access News-Talk-Sports and the Talk Topics column? What's in the column this week?

a) Yes. b) Stories about stuff like dog-oriented vending machines, Alec Baldwin's unfortunate phone call, plenty of post-Virginia Tech school threats, the Great BlackBerry Blackout, the growing market for men's novelty underwear, a really, really, really drunk driver, scalp care for bald guys, a reall alligator-in-the-sewer incident, John Edwards' pricey haircuts, a brand new reason to visit Wisconsin, why China is trying to stop its citizens from spitting, a guy whose dedication to awful fast-food burgers is extreme, and the joys of Cheddarvision, as well as "10 Questions With..." ABC News Radio Special Correspondent Gil Gross, plus the rest of All Access with news and message boards and columns and the Industry Directory and stuff. It's free. Enjoy,

9. What's this week's lame closing joke?

Don't have one.

10. who did you say you are again?

Perry Michael Simon
All Access News-Talk-Sports


April 21, 2007


Remember when restaurants could market themselves by trumpeting their appeal to obese celebrities?

In 1968, they could:

Mmmmm. I can feel my arteries clogging already. And two buck steak- you KNOW it's prime.



From 1969:

Aloha, dude.


April 22, 2007


Today's news:

1. Finally got a Wii. I saw that Best Buy and Circuit City would have limited supplies, but on a hunch checked inventory at Target and saw that the one on the 405 by Ikea would have some, and it was unadvertised. I walked in at 8 this morning and saw a line... for some Pokemon game. The Wiis were just sitting there in a case. Five minutes later, I walked out with the Wii. Damn thing's addictive and fun. And I'm glad my plan not to buy one until I could do it without any trouble or queuing up for hours worked.

2. Saw "Hot Fuzz" last night. Highly recommended. Exactly as expected- Pegg/Wright/Frost humor plus Bruckheimer-style action parody set in stereotypical idyllic English village. Funny as hell. Cameos from lots of familiar faces, billed (Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Bill Bailey, Stephen Merchant) and unbilled (Cate Blanchett in a hazmat suit and mask, Steve Coogan). Prominent roles for Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton (as the villain!). Gory, violent, funny. (Favorite little thing: when Pegg pays for his purchase at the highway rest stop, look for the scrap of ice cream cone wrapper that the clerk shoves back to him) I saw some critic complaining that in the wake of Virginia Tech, this movie is hard to watch, but it's cartoon violence and it never occurred to me to connect the two. You won't, either.

3. Two in a row for the Phillies! I trust that nobody will make the mistake of thinking it's the result of the manager's or GM's brilliance.


April 23, 2007


No time this evening- I'd like to spout off about the way the radio industry's so panicked about Imus-style complaints that we're looking at the demise of radio humor except for the totally inoffensive (and unfunny), but no time. So here's a pair of 1970s ads for Philadelphia UHF TV, so we can get the WTAF-TV 3-D 29 logo and one of two second-iteration WPHL-TV 17 "stop sign" logos on the Web for once. Plus, proof that once there existed a basketball team called the Buffalo Braves. I saw several Braves games in person at the Spectrum and Madison Square Garden, but that's just hearsay. This is hard evidence. (They're now the L.A. Clippers, basically, although you could make an argument that they're the Boston Celtics as well. Really. Look it up)

Anyway, here's some Philadelphia TV nostalgia:


April 24, 2007


You know, some of you have quite generously donated to Fran and my walk to raise funds for breast (and other) cancer (the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women on May 12 in Los Angeles). Some of you have not.

If you have not, it's time. Click here to make a credit card donation, or e-mail me by clicking here to get information on how to donate by check. But it's easiest if you just click here and use the credit card. It's tax-deductible and will make you feel proud. So click here already. Help find a cure, and help make breast cancer even more survivable.

And thank you.


April 25, 2007


I was playing Wii tennis yesterday and I thought of my father. My dad played tennis every day for years until he couldn't do it anymore, and I kept thinking how much he'd love to play with the Wii. In fact, I thought, geez, his birthday's here, and... and...

And, of course, he's been gone for almost three years, so I'll never get to show him the game and I won't be talking to him about the Warriors surprising the Mavericks or how the Phillies stumbled again out of the gate. And I won't be buying him a birthday gift anymore, either- the last thing I got him was a Barnes and Noble gift card, and the last thing he was able to do solo outside the house before his final days in the hospice was to go to the store and buy a bunch of books with the card. He loved to read almost as much as he loved to play tennis; he had to give up tennis a few months before he died (he was extremely proud that he won his last set), but he was reading through the pain right up until the last day.

Time heals, it's true- the tears and pain of remembering his passing are lessened three years later, and the warm, happy memories of birthdays past are easier to think about with a smile rather than an overwhelming sense of loss. But the loss never quite completely goes away. And that's why I have both a smile and tears today, as I remember that he would have been 76 today.

Happy birthday, Dad. I'll play some Wii tennis today in your honor. You'd have loved this thing.


Condolences, too, to friend Johnny, who lost his dad this morning. Having been there, I know that there really aren't words that help at a time like this. You have to ride out the stages until you get to the part where life goes on. Somehow, it always does.


And another reminder to donate to my walk to honor Fran and all women who have battled women's cancers: click here to do a good thing. Thank you.


April 26, 2007


This week's All Access newsletter came about after I spoke to some folks who have been affected by the post-Imus jitters:

If I was the King of Radio, this is what I'd say to the FCC and Congress and the complainers:

"It's only radio.

"Turns out that what a radio host or disc jockey says doesn't change the world. Turns out that it's meant to be entertainment. Turns out that sometimes a host, like most people, sometimes reaches for humor and comes up short, and thus says or does something stupid and indefensible.

"It happens. And when it does, there's nothing wrong with someone pointing it out, and if it's sincere, there's no reason not to apologize.

"But it's not an earth-shaking thing. It's just someone saying something stupid on the radio. And when we make that something more- when it becomes an international incident- it makes the people in charge nervous, and that's when the creative people in the business, the people who are trying to do different and creative things and push past the boundaries of the art form (not the guy who said that stupid thing the other week, but others who will pay for his transgression), get told to play it safe and avoid anything that might be considered offensive or controversial or, ultimately, interesting.

"This is not good for the industry. It's not good for talent. It's not good for sales. It's not good for the public. Remove anything edgy or daring and you get dull radio and send listeners off to find something better on the Internet or satellite or their iPods.

"So we're going to let it rip. We're going to try new things, be innovative, take chances. And sometimes we're going to slip and say nasty things, or insult someone, or do something stupid. When we do, we will apologize when necessary and then continue to move forward. If someone wants to make a case out of it, we will fight, in court if necessary, for our right to free speech. And we'll increase the amount of talk programming and local programming so that more people from more diverse backgrounds have a chance to talk and push the limits and be creative in their own way. The answer to offensive speech is more speech, not retreat and surrender.

"Don't forget to tip your waitress. Thank you and good night."

But I'm not the King of Radio. I'm just a guy who thinks that any business that isn't moving forward, that keeps retreating to the past and playing things safe, is a business that isn't going to grow. But what do I know? I'm not the King of Radio.

But I am the King of Shameless Plugs, so here we go again: if you haven't donated to the Revlon Run/Walk to raise funds for research into women's cancers, now is the time. Go to https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=365992 and look for the donation box and button- it's a great cause, and it's a tax deduction. Do it now: https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=365992. Really, there's no excuse not to give: https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=365992. Thank you.

More shameless plugs: Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports is the source for topic starters written by someone who actually knows what radio personalities need- that's me!- updated several times daily and including stuff like, so far this week, the arrival of inhalable Viagra, why that car with only one person in it just sped past you in the car pool lane, why you should have gone to driver's school rather than let your parents teach you to drive, why gentiles are flocking to Jdate, the latest techniques for effective shoplifting, a particularly pathetic trio of teen robbers, how the FCC plans to pummel violent TV into a bloody pulp, how not to go about getting off from jury duty, how being smart won't make you rich, the wonders of Wonder Bread, when angry British romantic comedy stars go bad and start flinging baked beans, much news from the Wide World of Pot, why they might exhume Tom Carvel (and, no, he wasn't frozen), how they may try to slip fake chocolate past you as real, and much more, plus "10 Questions With..." double-duty KTLK and KLAC/Los Angeles host Joe McDonnell and the rest of All Access with the industry's best/fastest/most complete news and message boards and Mediabase charts and the Industry Directory and all that other stuff I tell you about every week, all free.

Next week: I'll probably badger you again with https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=365992. Might as well donate now so you can ignore it later.


April 27, 2007


I can't get motivated to write anything this evening, so I won't.

In the meantime, say hi to Dr. Shock:

I was reminded of the late Dr. Shock, WPHL-TV Philadelphia's old horror host (check out the pictures here), by the death of Detroit's equivalent, Sir Graves Ghastly. I could go into a treatise on the horror host and how the form couldn't survive today and why, but it'll have to wait. Maybe tomorrow.


April 28, 2007


Nothing today, either- way too busy. We'll be down at the Irvine Improv tonight to check out this guy's new material. Talk to you tomorrow.


UPDATE: He was, as always, your best comedy entertainment value- genius, despite an inordinate pride in his pants. And so was this guy, even if he hasn't updated his Web site since 2005, perhaps because he's busy being this guy. It almost made me miss the days when we all shared a practically empty trailer inside a practically empty warehouse in Culver City and tried to commit radio.


April 29, 2007


Why I won't be going to my college reunion, chapter 376:

From an e-mail sent to the alumni mailing list about a previous suggestion that attendees bring chocolates from their particular regions for everyone to enjoy:

Could we think about serving only Slavery-free chocolate and make a statement against child trafficking while we munch? I figure this is a socially and morally conscious group – thought I’d put it out there.....

It's not even about the idea of avoiding chocolate made from cocoa harvested through slave labor- certainly, while it's extremely difficult to get slavery-free chocolate, it's a noble thought. No, it's my desire not to be trapped in a room with people for whom everything is a political issue. Even when they're right, they're insufferable. Hemp-poncho-wearing patchouli-soaked cruelty-free vegans... sorry, but that's not my crowd. My crowd eats cheeseburgers and Goobers and shops at Target and listens to talk radio and watches "SportsCenter" and "South Park." I don't know that my school produced too many of my crowd.

Maybe they'd enjoy this goodie I recently obtained:

Yes, a Dr. Laura chocolate bar! Malted milk chocolate, sweetness spiked with a little tang! "Cruelty-free" may not come to mind with this one. Put it in a room full of my college classmates and watch the fun!

Maybe I SHOULD go.


April 30, 2007


The Chocolate Statement continues among my college classmates preparing for the reunion this year. Today, one wrote this:

Hi All,

I did some quick checking and there's a company called Dagoba that certifies its chocolate is organic and slave-free (and Kosher) and I'm going to track down and bring some of that instead to add to the mix.

It does appear, just from some preliminary research, that at least some of the companies that sell slave-free chocolate avoid doing business in regions of Africa where that's an issue. I wonder about the potential impact of that loss of business on those economies and their people. Perhaps the slave-free movement isn't big enough yet to have a meaningful impact on the global chocolate economy. Is anyone working toward solutions to actually help those who have been/are being/will be exploited? I'd expect it's a complex problem with no easy solutions. (Name redacted), is this an issue that you've researched? Curious about what you've found.

And the response:

I met a couple weeks ago the man who is the international slave hunter who goes into these countries, gets the kids out and sets them up in safe places. He is the one who has written all the legislation that exists currently worldwide on the issue of child trafficking. Great guy.

I think it should be economically untenable for these countries to continue to support child trafficking. Yes, it may affect their economies if the chocolate industry stays away from countries that use child labor -- that is a good thing.

I'm working on the same issue when thinking of providing a chocolate fountain and other desserts at our African fundraising event next month in Hollywood. I can't have us being accused of supporting child labor when trying to raise money for the orphans in Zambia!!



You know what? Forget the chocolate. No chocolate. No food- you never know what's the product of cruelty. No clothes made by sweatshops, either. No clothes. No artificial light- gotta reduce our carbon footprint to zero. Can't take planes or trains or cars to the event, either- start walking. Naked. Everyone, we're just gonna stand in a dark room naked and silent, silent in order not to say anything offensive to anyone. Maybe we can listen to Womyn's Music while contemplating our individual culpability for every bad thing in the world.

I shoulda gone to Miami like Fran. I bet their reunions don't involve earnest discussions of international political issues. I bet all they do is drink until they puke. Now, THAT'S a reunion.


About April 2007

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in April 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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