February 2008 Archives

THE BASEBALL CARD PROJECT: ODDS AND ENDS

Here are a few more cards yanked at random from the Big Shoebox O' Memories:

Forgot this one from the Lesser Brothers post a few days ago:

Jim wasn't Graig. He bounced up and down from the minors to the majors and back over the course of a decade. In the season he played the most in the majors -- '72, with the Twins -- he hit a resounding .204. He and Graig homered in the same game, the fourth set of brothers to do it (9/14/74). Jim became a minor league manager and coach; his son-in-law is Mike Sweeney. Okay, he ain't Graig, but he did okay.

I didn't remember that this guy wore sunglasses on the mound:

He'd fit in the Lowell Palmer Shades-On-The-Mound Hall of Fame and on the Guys With The Same Name Squad. It's hard to tell whether the shades were the progressive kind that got darker in the sunlight. That would be SO 70's. He had a few okay seasons- two with ERAs under 3 -- but was done by age 28. Bradley went on to coach the University of Maryland team and is a minor league coach now.

Check out the composition on this card:

Nice halo. Maybe they knew his career would be over after three games in '72.

Cowan had promise but struck out a lot -- in his first full season, with the Cubs in '64, he hit .241 with 19 homers but 128 strikeouts, a bad combination. After that, it was an odyssey that took him to the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Yankees, and, finally, the Angels, where he had a couple of decent seasons as a part-timer (hit .276 in '70 and '71) before wrapping it up.

As for the halo above him, the Big A had already been moved to the parking lot by the time I showed up in Anaheim for my first game there. The football stands were already up and the place lost its character. I still liked it, though, especially because tickets were easy to come by and sightlines were good. The perfect baseball evening: a lazy summer evening, a baked potato (!) from the stand behind home plate, a seat in the boxes, a mostly empty ballpark, stretching out and watching the game. Now, the ballpark's been redone, it's much nicer, but you can't get good tickets without paying a fortune. And the Big A is still in the parking lot.

This week's All Access newsletter is about... well, I'm not sure. All I know is that it took forever to write and I'm just glad it's done so I can go to sleep:

I'm often asked about how I come up with the ideas for this column, considering I have to do one every week and all. Here's a peek at my creative process:

1. Wait until Thursday.
2. At lunchtime, remember that the column's due.
3. Periodically repeat the phrase "I got nuthin'" while finishing other work.
4. Ask my wife if she has any ideas. Ask friends if they have any ideas. Ask cat if she has any ideas.
5. Eat dinner. Read Lean Cuisine box for possible topic ideas.
6. Return to computer. Check All Access, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, Deadspin, Engadget, comics.
7. It's just amazing what you can find on YouTube. No topics, though.
8. Suddenly remember something someone did wrong on a talk show earlier in the week. Topic!
9. Write half of column. Read it back. Recoil in horror. Delete whole thing and start again.
10. Repeat step 9.
11. Repeat step 9, but this time decide to salvage part of it. Cut, paste, rearrange, rewrite intro.
12. Read column out loud to wife. Wife says it's okay. Ask if she means okay as in "good" or okay as in "leave me alone."
13. Finish column.
14. Recoil in horror again. Rewrite intro. Delete defamatory comments.
15. Check clock. Realize it's very late. Send column off to be e-mailed with self-deprecatory comment attached.
16. Sleep.
17. Wake up in middle of night and realize that column repeats point made a few weeks ago.

I'm sensitive about repeating myself. I want to come up with a totally original topic every week. I want to be one of those guys who cranks out something unique and brand-new every time. But those people don't really exist. Everyone repeats himself or herself. There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes!) If you're in the business of coming up with any kind of creative material on a regular basis, you're going to keep returning to certain themes and that's okay, actually, because they're your hits. It's radio, so you play the hits, whether it's an Alicia Keys record or talking about illegal immigration.

But you get bored when you repeat yourself, and there are times you're sitting at the computer doing your show prep and you think, geez, one more show where it's an hour on immigration, an hour about the election, and an hour about the election's effect on immigrants or immigrants voting in the election or I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE. Here's where the conflict arises: you know you have to talk about the hits, but you're just not that into it today. What do you do?

Some programmers feel that you have to give the people what they want, and that means sticking to the hits; if the election is the hot issue, you gotta talk about the election. And that's true, except for the simple fact that if you don't care at the moment, you aren't going to have the kind of passion that makes good talk radio. You'll be mailing it in, and listeners can sense that. That's when it becomes a matter of choice: do you do a lousy job with the topic you think listeners want to hear, or do you do a good job with a topic in which YOU'RE interested? Do you give the people what (you think) they want, or do you do it for yourself?

I'd tell you to do it for yourself. Here's why: people are tuning in to hear you. You're the star. If you're for some reason not really feeling a particular topic, doing it anyway will make bad radio. On the other hand, if you really care about a topic, and you're a good entertainer, you can make that topic interesting enough to make those listeners stick around. Passion always trumps disinterest. I'd rather hear someone make something they care about entertaining than to hear the same host do a "big" topic as a throwaway.

That's not to say that you shouldn't talk about the hits. You should, and you ought to be looking for any possible way to do that. If you're doing political, topical talk radio and you're not able to find anything in the election that interests you at all, you're not paying attention. But when there's a lull in the action and the big headlines aren't doing it for you, do a show you'd listen to if you were punching around the dial yourself, looking for something entertaining.

And, of course, when all else fails, you can always turn to Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports for a pile o' possible topics of all kinds, from politics to sports to kickers to whatever, all hand-picked and complete with stupid jokes and comments intended to give you an idea about how to approach the item. What? Don't worry, just check it out for items like unfortunate menu items, severed fingers, satire trouble, train toilets, That '70s Joke, texting while driving, disconnected land lines, colonoscopy anesthesia, mailbox vandals, Diablo Cody, stolen school lunches, Robert Rauschenberg's trash, getting fired, the Beer Can House, Mr. Lardas and his flaming ponytail, flu shots, dog-eating pythons, starving a cold, 6 year olds with Mohawks, the Three Stooges museum, disarmed toll takers, selling Wrigley Field's name, and the end of the world, plus plenty of election items and other "real news." This week's "10 Questions With..." features WCNN (680 The Fan)/Atlanta's Christopher Rude, and the rest of All Access will give you the very latest radio and music industry news along with columns, charts, ratings, and all that stuff, all free, which is always a good thing.

I may or may not be doing one of these things next week due to an irregular work schedule -- we'll see on Thursday. If not, just re-read this one and save me the re-writing.

Comics fans, you ain't seen nothin' yet -- here, from the 1970 Topps baseball set, a bonus comic, the Deron Johnson Story!:

Now, that's an expression. He looks unhappy to have had to pose for the picture. Maybe he'd seen the comic already.

As our story begins, you'll notice that "Deron" a) doesn't look remotely like the real guy, and b) has a "Rain Man" penchant for saying what would seem to anyone in his presence to be non-sequiturs. A fully uniformed, helmeted (sans face mask, accurately for the 1950s) Deron blurts "I made all-America" while caressing a trophy; after making contact with a pitch, Deron recalls, "I also led with 15 total bases." It appears that the "narration" might be a voice in Cartoon Deron's head. He also finds heartbreak when he is forced to walk across the country in full uniform, carrying his own suitcase:

Next, it appears that Cartoon Deron is battign against his OWN TEAM -- same uniforms -- and the battery is conspiring to try to stop him. This tragedy is followed by his triumphant arrival in New York, his boyhood dream, only to have that dream smashed to bits within a year by a trade to Kansas City, to which he must hitchhike, followed by being drafted:

Back in the minors, he shows a marked ability to think extremely banal thoughts while playing in clownish uniforms, then takes a common baseball term far too literally, much to the annoyance of a traffic cop. After that, he appears to be able to communicate only by exclaiming the names of familiar faces. (In addition, the Cartoon Hank Aaron is apparently playing for the A's, based on the uniform, while the hand gesture Cartoon Deron is giving Bob Skinner doesn't appear to be all that friendly:

The real Deron Johnson was a journeyman who had a couple of big seasons with over 30 homers (back when that meant something) for the Reds and Phillies. He later became a coach for the Mets, Phillies, Mariners, White Sox, and Angels and died of lung cancer at 53. Sad end, but it doesn't make for a good comic.

There was apparently a pecking order for these things -- Topps produced 24 of them in 1970, and some show the player in a more graphically accurate depiction than others. I guess Deron didn't rate. Too bad.

THE BASEBALL CARD PROJECT: TEMPE, 1970

These cards are interesting to me for a weird reason (as if that's any different from any other of these columns):

The cards are from the 1970 Topps set, and baseball fans know that the Pilots didn't play the 1970 season as the Pilots; they were the Milwaukee Brewers by then, right?

Not exactly. For the regular season, they were the Milwaukee Brewers. For Spring Training, they were still the Seattle Pilots. The pictures for these cards were taken in Spring 1970, at Pilots Field in Tempe, Arizona. The players were still under the impression that they were heading to Seattle for opening day, but they also knew that the team was in trouble and that a group from Milwaukee was involved (that would be some guy named Bud Selig, who'd quietly worked out a deal to buy and move the team during the World Series). A vote on the Milwaukee move by the American League was set for March 17, then the state of Washington got an injunction and the Pilots filed for bankruptcy. On April 1, the team's equipment had been trucked from Tempe to Las Vegas when the court granted the bankruptcy and sale and the trucks were sent to Milwaukee. Those uniforms had the Seattle logos removed and Brewers lettering sewn on. And the scrambled eggs caps went away for good.

I don't think any other major league team started Spring Training under one city's banner and then headed to play the regular season in another. Imagine trying to concentrate on training and playing while not knowing where you'd be living and working in a matter of weeks or days. And those guys were playing in the era when most ballplayers' salaries were still nothing all that great.

There's a great site with the whole story, including card images and even radio play-by-play clips, right here. And, of course, the definitive account of (most of) the Pilots' only season in the American League is still "Ball Four," a book I read over and over as a kid and which had an influence on me that I can't even begin to quantify.

(These cards' pictures were, I believe, taken in Spring Training 1969, hence the temporary caps and uniforms without the scrambled eggs and gold braid:)

THE BASEBALL CARD PROJECT: SIBLING RIVALRY

Raul Castro?

Joe Niekro.

Hank Allen.

Billy Conigliaro.

Ken Brett.

That's unfair, of course. These guys were good enough on their own to make it all the way to the majors. Joe Niekro had two 20 win seasons, pitched from 1967 to 1988, won 221 games, and was on the '79 All Stars, while Ken Brett was a solid pitcher for several seasons and also made an all-star team. Hank Allen had one decent season with the Senators in '69 (hit .277), and wasn't even the worst major leaguer in his family (that would be Ron Allen, who had a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in '72). Billy Conigliaro came up the year of Tony's comeback and hung around for three seasons before two partial seasons with Milwaukee and Oakland.

But they weren't their brothers. Joe Niekro was a very good pitcher, but Phil Niekro was Hall of Fame material. Ken Brett wasn't a legend like George. Billy Conigliaro wasn't the hitter Tony was, nor did he have the tragic story that made Tony a household name beyond his career. Hank Allen was neither the hitter or the controversy magnet his brother Dick was.

It can't be easy to live a life in your brother's shadow. Cooper Manning understands.

THE ACADEMY IN PERIL

I'm watching the Oscars and I'm totally bored.

It's not that the movies this year weren't good, or that the acting was subpar. It's just that there's nothing happening. Not even the main upset so far, Marion Cotillard beating Julie Christie and following it up with the kind of speech you give when you really, deeply didn't expect it, was all that outrageous. A few amusing moments -- Wii tennis, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill being goofy -- haven't made up for the kind of malaise hanging over this thing. Is it because they couldn't get it together after the strike? I don't think writing would help this. It's more like this is a year when good movies were made by polite people and it's all very proper. I never thought I'd say this, but this show needs someone blurting out something inappropriate, whether political or sexual. It needs a streaker and a David Niven. It needs something more than amusing.

That could describe most of what's in the theaters right now. But in a year that produced a slew of very, very good movies, we're getting a deadly dull show. They've micromanaged the life out of it. I miss the Golden Globes.

CONVENTION!: THE POST-GAME SHOW

"So, " Kristen and Susan from WestStar TalkRadio Network called out to me as I walked past at the convention hotel, "are you gonna write about us in your blog?"

No.

Actually, I should (WestStar was the gracious host of the Thursday luncheon featuring Kim Komando and a door prize drawing in which the tickets numbered one higher than mine and one lower than mine both won prizes and me... nothin'), because not much else of excitement happened. It was the usual: saw a lot of friends that I tend to see only at conventions, a couple of good presentations, but not much different from last year's conventions or the year before or the year before that. It's Groundhog Day all over again.

But at least it was in Phoenix (more precisely, Scottsdale), which Fran and I like a lot. Several great meals, great scenery... what's not to like (besides the bad Internet access, that is)? We even got to go here:

Cerreta's candy shop in Glendale. Great candy made right there. Diet buster.

This was left over from the 14th. I should have asked for a discount:

Santa. February. THAT should be one hell of a discount:

Here's where the magic is made:

And we ended with a lovely Friday afternoon up in Fountain Hills at the Great Fair, a massive crafts and art show in the hills east of Scottsdale. I guess this is why they call it Fountain Hills:

Historic, if anything built in 1971 can be historic yet. The whole town is relatively new and ridiculously fast-growing, but despite the new-construction feel, I liked it out there. The mountains are gorgeous, and we like the desert. It was raining hard while we walked up and down the fair streets:

But we enjoyed it anyway -- we even bought a piece, of which I did not have the presence of mind to take a photograph before carting it off to the UPS Store to have it shipped to California. But I did take a shot of this interesting installation:

Yes, good times.

This week's All Access newsletter is live from the talk radio convention, where... not much is happening...:

You wanna know something positive about radio? You turn it on and it works. I say that because at the moment I can't get the Internet access in my hotel to work properly. It starts to load a page, and five minutes later it's still trying to load parts of that page. I'm trying to listen to a radio station through its online stream and I get about five seconds of sound followed by two or three minutes of "buffering." And it was worse over at the convention hotel, where I could only get enough signal to work in one particular corner of the lobby bar, and not in the meeting room itself. I tried using my cell phone's EVDO, and that kept cutting out, too -- not enough signal. Streaming is wonderful and it may someday become ubiquitous as your audio entertainment and news source in cars, but if you can't even hold a signal when you're sitting still, it's going to take a while to make it as easy and useable as your garden variety radio.

But the fact that there's a radio in every car and several in most homes and they all just work (okay, not always, if you count the HD radio in my office) isn't necessarily resonating with the public or media buyers or even a lot of people in the radio industry these days, and everyone wants to find a solution to the industry's woes, so there was a lot of talk at this week's talk radio convention about branding. The word of this convention was "branding." Branding came up in every panel. It was practically every other word. Branding is, apparently, the most important thing you can do right now to do... something or other. I don't remember, to tell the truth. After a while, it all kinda merges together. I guess they talked about branding for talent (making a name for yourself so you can transcend radio and be a star in other categories like TV, the net, the stage, theme parks, fine dining, fragrances, and time-share sales in Vegas); using new terminology to change perceptions of the industry; making your station's name synonymous with, say, news, so that you market news reports with your station's branding on other stations or on TV or in print; and taking a hot iron and searing your call letters into a cow's butt. Okay, the last one might not have been proposed. Branding isn't a new concept; it's pretty much the foundation of marketing, but for some reason it kept coming up all day. So if your managers start to drop the word "branding" into conversation ("say, did you catch that branding on TV the other night? That was some branding going on there. I've never seen such branding. Branding, branding, branding"), you won't be surprised. Maybe they were here.

The topics at conferences like this tend to look at the big picture of the future of the industry. What gets lost is that, well, we're still alive and the Internet and iPods haven't quite destroyed radio yet and there's still a show to put on and maybe there should be some more practical advice about that. The actual content seems to be overlooked. I'd like to see some focus on what we're putting on the air, because that, after all, is the most important thing -- as long as the show is good, it'll survive whatever changes happen to the business. And if you're properly "branded," you can do that high-quality show for whatever medium is around. I hear the commissions on time-share sales are pretty good.

(Speaking of practical advice, here's something. I heard one local morning show (on a music station) do a tease that sounded like this: "Coming up, the sheriff's solving crimes. We have an interesting story about the sheriff, next." An "interesting story"? I'm supposed to stay tuned for that? If someone sidlesup to you at a party and tells you he has an "interesting story," you'll be looking for the first excuse to head for the exit. It's show business. You gotta make it a show. What's coming up? Make it sound funny, amazing, unmissable. Put a little work into it.)

All right, I'm going to cut this one short because I can't seem to hold an Internet connection for more than a couple of minutes at a time around here and I want to get this one out before I lose access again. Despite all that, I HAVE been updating Talk Topics all week at All Access News-Talk-Sports, so you can go there for all the usual show prep goodies, with more to come today if the Net access comes back up long enough to allow it. There's also "10 Questions With..." ESPN Radio VP/GM Mo Davenport, plus the rest of All Access which continues to cover all the radio industry news you need while I'm here cursed by bad Wi-Fi. Back to normal next week.

CONVENTION!: A BREAK TO CELEBRATE

There was convention stuff today, and I'll have some more in "The Letter," which will go out tomorrow. In the meantime, after a long day, I had more important things to do.

Today was Fran's birthday. After our scare a few years ago, every single birthday is more precious. Every DAY is more precious, and it makes you appreciate the special ones even more. This evening was special -- nothing more than a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant in Scottsdale, followed by a stroll arond the galleries in Old Town, some ice cream at the Sugar Bowl, and that's it. But I got to gaze into Fran's eyes and tell her I love her and feel grateful for every moment we get to share.

It was her birthday, but I'd say I had a happy birthday today, too. And when we were sharing chicken satay and just sitting there talking, the radio convention felt like it was a million miles away. That's a good day in my book.

CONVENTION!: MOO

I walked into the convention hotel today -- I'm not staying there -- and I saw a lot of people milling about with excitement, ready for a busy afternoon at a show serving a burgeoning, growing field. And then I noticed that the signs were all about dairy products, and the people were wearing polo shirts with "Got Milk?" logos and other dairy-related stuff. The radio convention was in an adjacent room.

My disappointment was substantial.

Not much happened today. There was only one session, a speech by Paul Harvey Jr. telling us that radio is too coarse and NPR is better and, I think, there should be variety shows and game shows and drama on commercial radio again, just like in the good ol' days. Um, right, sure. I counted the people in attendance and it wasn't great, but it was the first session in the first year of this particular show, so the benefit of the doubt shall be duly bestowed. I saw some friends, talked to some people, and that was that. Highlight: the gentleman who walked up to me, bent over to read my name badge -- at least, I HOPE that was what he was looking at -- and silently walked away without any other acknowledgement. Hey, dude, I'm up here.

Tomorrow's a full day, plus Fran's birthday, so we'll see if I can squeeze in some writing. At least, there should be more actual content about which to complain.

CONVENTION!: FOOD!

Okay, so I ate a little too much today.

I've been good for a long time, losing weight and keeping it off. Today, I was fine until we got to lunch at Chompie's deli in Scottsdale, where I restrained myself by having just the half sandwich (brisket, not a diet food) and fries, but also kishka. And a bite of knish. And a Chinese cookie. And a pretzel. And then I had dinner - stuffed chicken and salad. And now I feel so bloated I can't move.

Tomorrow, I eat wood shavings and drink water. Although the convention starts tomorrow, and that's punishment enough.

CONVENTION!: WAITING FOR THE PLANE

I'm sitting at the gate at Long Beach and the woman sitting behind me is on the cell phone and she's loud. Very loud. And has an indeterminate regional accent that sounds like a melange of the worst of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and a foghorn. She was on a long, chatty business call and announced, "Oh, well, we'll crash and burn."

Great timing, loudmouth jackass.

CONVENTION!: THE PRE-PRE-GAME SHOW

Here we go. It's convention season.

This year's schedule is going to be bigger than ever -- Phoenix, then D.C., Vegas, New York, Minneapolis, Austin, and some other possibilities. The drill is the same each time: I dread it, I go, I get through it, I get back, I vow not to do that again, lather, rinse, repeat.

First comes Phoenix, or, more precisely, Scottsdale. I have no idea who's going to be there. The agenda seems a little thin. But go I must. And pack I must, so if you'll excuse me...

(Yes, I'll be posting stuff about the convention here. Shorter pleas for help will pop up on Twitter. Check back early and often.)

RECOMMENDATION: GREAT OLD BALLPARK PHOTOS

I'd have something to post today if I hadn't just wasted a lot of time looking at pictures on this site. Amazing photos I've never before seen of places like Parc Jarry and the Forum in Montreal, the old Boston Garden, the Vet, even Silver Stadium in Rochester. It's not just the usual shots; you get pre-demolition interior shots of clubhouses, like pictures of the ruins of places like Chicago's old International Ampitheatre and Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.

Really, if you're like me and have an interest in old ballpark photos, just go.

NEW AND IMPROVED (A LITTLE)

Welcome to the redesigned pmsimon.com, the result of a lot of angst and tearing out of hair and gnashing of teeth. I finally -- FINALLY -- resorted to a total roll of the dice and refreshed all the templates, did a little CSS adjustment, and... it worked. The styles from Movable Type's Stylecatcher finally displayed without problem. Some transplanting of code from the old index and here it is. (The archive pages still look like crap, but unlike the old design that for some reason insisted on displaying black text on gray for archive pages, you can at least read them now). The archive indexes are the next project. For now, I'm just pleased that there aren't weird display problems and quirks as there were since I upgraded to MT4.

Feel good for me. This is the biggest accomplishment I've had in ages.

Another week winds down into a Friday of brain melt. Yesterday's "The Letter" drained my brain again; there HAS to be a better way of making a living. But I have no mind left today, so it's appropriate to feature some cards of players whose names amused me when I was a mere immature lad, like...

Joe Grzenda was a typographical error. His name also reminded me of "Your Auntie Grizelda," an obscure Monkees song.

But Joe Grzenda has one lasting claim to fame: he threw the last pitch in Washington Senators history, the one before the rampaging fans caused the final game to be a forfeit. There's an interesting article about Grzenda, who could have been a great pitching coach if he could have afforded to live on the money they offered him but instead ended up making batteries for 25 years, here.

Scipio Spinks! Wild righthander, flash in the pan for the Astros and Cubs. But the one thing that sets him apart is his name. Do you know any other Scipios? It's an ancient Roman name, in case you were wondering.

Billy McCool, mostly a reliever for the Reds, Padres, and Cardinals. Forget that -- I just always connected him with this guy:

Cool McCool, 007 surrogate in a horrible mid-60's cartoon. If he was so cool, what was with that mustache?

Vicente Romo was a pretty good pitcher, and his name wasn't all that unusual. But his nickname was "Huevo." That amused me. And what could he possibly be reaching for? This begs for a caption.

Sparma. Huh huh. Hey, Beavis, it's like "sperm."

This week's All Access newsletter (to be delivered by Friday morning) is a veritable lovefest. And before we begin, Happy Valentine's Day, Fran!:

For this week of Valentine's Day, it's all about Love, Radio Style. And to start, here's a little something from your employer:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
First quarter pacing is down and, as a result, we are reallocating assets to better position the company for future growth. A letter outlining your severance compensation and insurance options under COBRA will be mailed to you in the coming weeks,
And we love you.

"Love" is a registered trademark of Large Radio Broadcaster Partnership, LLC. All rights reserved.

Speaking of which, you love radio, don't you? That's why you got into the business, I'll bet. You'd go into fast food management because you don't have any other options (or you like to walk around smelling like french fry oil). You go into investment banking for the money. You go into medicine to help people and for the money. You go into law to make people rue the day they were born and for the money. But you go into radio because you love it. You grew up listening and dreaming that you'd someday be on the air, or you wandered into a mysterious room in the college student center and happened upon the radio station and got hooked. It isn't for the money and it's not for the glamour, unless dusty rooms crowded with electronic equipment and foam on the walls is glamorous to you. It might be for the fame, although it's the kind of fame where family members admit that they really don't listen to you and most of the perks are traded out (all the Ed's Pest Control trucker's caps you can wear!). Even the few whose radio careers take them to fame and fortune started out in humble radio surroundings because they loved the medium.

This week, when Jim Cramer pronounced radio dead, I heard from a lot of people who wanted to know what it was all about. Look, he's talking to investors, and on that level, sure, radio's not exactly growing. Radio's not exactly dead yet, either, for reasons we've beaten into the ground here before. But what the industry needs is leadership that comes from the same place you do: they need to love radio, to understand the medium and what makes it special and what it has to offer that gives it a competitive advantage over other media. Do you get the sense that the Guys in Suits who are in charge really love radio, or are they sales guys who just happened to sell radio instead of cars or insurance or widgets? The passion up top for the last several years has been for making investors happy, keeping the stock price up, promising huge growth rates every quarter.

Don't get me wrong: that's important. Every industry needs people who can run the business, who can grow the business and sell the product. But it also needs the same people to truly get what makes their product special. They gotta love it. I'd like to see the passion for radio in their eyes as well as their words. Forget the industry's big, expensive public relations campaigns; I want the Guys in Suits to remember what makes radio different from an iPod. (Hint: It involves people and personality) When they sit on those panels and talk about being content providers for the new age of entertainment, I'd like them to remember who makes that content and what makes it more valuable than a playlist generated by a computer. Maybe they do, but it hasn't been showing much lately. And if they want to get the business growing again, no matter what analysts and investors and guys yelling on TV say, they have to invest in content, not cut back.

All right, enough love for this week. Time for the general snark-fest and show prep bonanza that is Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports, where you'll instantly find more than enough material to get your show going, including, this week, a very small horse, O.J.'s denial, how a handshake saved a life, the waning popularity of perfume, JFK's love child, the perils of using slang, Hollywood accounting, naked sushi, prison worker softball orgies, illiterate teachers, and plenty on the election and the Roger Clemens circus and much more. You'll also find "10 Questions With..." innovative KIRO-KTTH/Seattle PD Rod Arquette and the rest of All Access with everything radio people need, like news, message boards, columns, music charts, ratings, jobs, and the Industry Directory, all free.

Next week, I think I'm supposed to be at a convention. I'm feeling the love already. Look for the usual observations and general grumbling in next week's edition of "The Letter."

THE BASEBALL CARD PROJECT: FLOYDMANIA!

Another day, another five hundred bucks to fix a car. Seriously, two days in a row -- today, Fran's Mustang needed a window motor replaced and other minor stuff. Again, it beats having to buy a new car, but I'm really getting sick of paying through the nose for repairs. Taking the bus is looking more and more attractive by the minute. Too bad the local buses don't go where I need to go. Maybe I'll buy a bicycle. Or a Segway.

Back to baseball. One grab of a bunch of cards from the box by my desk revealed that my memories of baseball card collecting were absolutely accurate:

Five Floyd Wicker cards. I never got five Hank Aarons or Willie Mayses or Tom Seavers. Floyd Wicker was more my speed. He got 8 at-bats for the Brewers, got traded to the Giants on June 1, got 21 ABs for San Francisco, and... that was it. Dunno whatever happened to him. But what's interesting is that I wasn't the only one who got a zillion Floyd Wicker cards in 1971 -- here's another person who noted the prevalence of The Wicker Man in the 1971 packs.

For the sake of being complete, here's the back of Wicker's card:

Two notes: one, how about that airbrushing job putting an "M" on his cap? (How about airbrushing the entire cap on him? It's the same picture as on the front!) And two, how unfair was it to put a picture on there with his mouth hanging open?

1971 cards sucked. The stats were truncated to just career numbers, the cartoons gave way to blurry black-and-white head shots... just bad design. They brought the full stats and cartoons back in '72, so someone was listening.

While we're on the Floyd tip:

It's 1967. The Reds got rid of an outfielder named Robinson the year before and it didn't work out the way they'd hoped. So they went out and got another Robinson. But while Frank was in Baltimore having some of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career, Floyd came in, hit .238, and got shipped to Oakland as a player-to-be-named-later for the immortal Ron Tompkins. He finished '68 with the Red Sox and... that was it. We have a theme going here.

It's a Floyd Festival!:

Here's what I love about driving an old, boxy Volvo: It's safe. It's solid. It's roomy and comfortable. It's generally reliable.

Here's what I hate about driving an old, boxy Volvo: When stuff goes wrong, they back up the Brinks truck and cart away a lot of your cash. And things go wrong about once or twice a year. This round: That rumbling I experienced yesterday was the sound of the engine mounts being worn down. Cost, including a needed oil change: another five hundred bucks. Beats having to buy a new car, and there's something strangely satisfying about driving a car with over 100,000 miles on it that's not in need of retirement, but, still, five hundred bucks is five hundred bucks.

That didn't help my mood when I reached into a pile of baseball cards and pulled out this one:

Joe Verbanic... All I remember about Joe Verbanic was a) he was a sore-armed pitcher who didn't last much past this 1969 card (turns out he missed the '69 season, and was done after '70), b) he was the kind of no-name player I always got in my packs of cards, and c) his name was close to Joe Shlabotnik, Charlie Brown's favorite player. Have I mentioned how much I identified with Charlie Brown as a kid? I still do. All I need is a zig-zag sweater.

What happened to Verbanic? Managed in Eugene, then retired to be with his family and start a fire sprinkler business. Perfect, actually. I imagine that's how most of the guys in my card collection ended up. There are worse ways to go.

THE BASEBALL CARD PROJECT: THE NAME GAME

As we resume browsing through my unparalleled collection of baseball card mediocrity, a random pull of a handful of cards from the pile illustrates something that marked my childhood baseball interests, specifically players with unusual names. Here's one 1969 example:

Cisco Carlos was notable to me in 1969 primarily because the mere mention of his name raised the image of "The Flying Nun." What, you don't remember Casino Carlos? Cisco Carlos and the casino near the Convent San Tanco were inextricably merged in my mind. When you're nine, Sally Field and baseball are all part of the same genetic pool.

The real Cisco Carlos was 4-14 in 1968, the year pitching dominated the sport so thoroughly that they lowered the mound the next season to help hitters even up the score. His ERA was under 4, though. By August of '69, he was traded to Washington; by the end of the 1970 season, his major league career was done, ten days after his 30th birthday. But perhaps he saw it coming from the statistic Topps chose to highlight on the back of his card:

"Cisco hit 12 batters in the Southern League in 1966." Yeah, see, that's not something you'd brag about. It didn't stop him -- he made it to Triple A the next season, got a call-up to Chicago, and, the card says, "was nothing short of sensational. In his first 2 appearances, he faced the champion Red Sox and pitched great!" And it was all downhill from there, and now, almost 40 years later, he's remembered by some moron in California because his name was like a casino in a very bad sitcom of the era. Sorry, Cisco. But it's good to see that Cisco ended up doing very well indeed in another business.

I do remember seeing this guy play:

Phil Roof rusted! How many people do you encounter named "Roof"? And he LOOKED like someone who would be named "Roof," or "Brick," or something brief and hard.

Roof kicked around for 15 seasons, never hitting much, played for the Blue Jays in their inaugural season, then became a minor league manager for a long time, retiring only after a tragic 2005 season in which his wife fell ill to cancer and passed away. He retired after that, dealing with his wife's death and her adult brother with Down's Syndrome. You look around for information on him and all you see is praise. You can't ask for much more than that.

I didn't know too many guys in 1969 named "Carroll":

Carroll Sembera from Shiner, Texas -- Shiner Bock! -- pitched only until 1970. He then went on to be a respected longtime scout. He passed away only a couple of years ago. Here's the back side of the card:

"Carroll is nicknamed 'The Pencil' because of his slight build." Let's hope that it wasn't because of... anything else. Just sayin'.

The warm weather in Southern California this weekend has intensified the good feeling that inevitably comes with the thought of a single phrase:

"Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training this week."

The coverage of that immutable fact was heightened in the L.A. papers by the arrival of the last Dodger spring training in Vero Beach, which is unavoidable but sad. Dodgertown was pretty cool in a retro way, at least if you were just visiting: an old military base converted into a baseball camp, with 70's-era motel-like accomodations surrounded by baseball, baseball, baseball. The stadium itself, Holman Stadium, could hardly be called a stadium at all -- it's a plain-and-simple field surrounded by bleachers on a berm, with no dugouts -- even my Little League teams had dugouts! -- and a rickety press box behind the plate. But I cherish the day I drove my father, not long before his passing, up from Boca to Vero and we had lunch in the Dodger dining room, front row seats for the game, and sat in the press box chatting with Jaime Jarrin. (Thanks, Tom Boman -- never forgotten)

If I was a player, I'd hate it there -- there's nothing within a long, long drive. It's boring. And, for a team from L.A., it's totally unwieldy -- a long way from home, long "road trips" to play everyone but the Mets and Nationals, and games start at 10 am Pacific, not the best timing for broadcast back to California. Sad to say, but the Dodgers will be way, way better off in Arizona, where they're a short plane ride or a long but doable drive from home, and most of the other training camps are a short freeway drive away. The move makes sense on pretty much every level. I'll miss Dodgertown for the memories with my dad, but otherwise, if I were the Dodgers, I'd go west, too.

With the start of baseball this week comes the return, naturally, of the Baseball Card Project. Consider that a warning. To get it started, here's Clyde Wright:

We saw Clyde Wright last Sunday at the Super Bowl party, looking, well, 35 years older than this. (He'll be 65 on February 20 according to the back of the card, 67 according to other sources) He was wearing an Angels jacket, in case we couldn't place him. Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, his son, journeyman pitcher Jaret Wright, uses the pseudonym "Turd Ferguson" for privacy when checking into hotels. I didn't know Jaret Wright was a Norm McDonald fan. I didn't know Jaret Wright was a big enough celebrity to need privacy.

SLOUCHING ON SUNSHINE

I did nothing of note today.

Here's why:

78 degrees and sunny,

Spec. Tacular.

We've been experiencing typically blah, cool, hazy weather for weeks, but today was truly spring-like. Maybe even summery. Warm and sunny and exactly what people who live elsewhere think Southern California is like all the time. It isn't, but, today, it was.

So my brain disengaged early. Even now, well after sunset, it's as warm as a summer evening. Sucks all the creativity and desire to write out of a guy, I tells ya.

ACTUAL HUMAN INTERACTION TAKES A HOLIDAY

Okay, so I'm on Facebook. I'm on LinkedIn. I have a Twitter account but I haven't used it yet. Now I'm on something called The Biz that Variety's started. I got social networking coming out of my pores. I'm not sure why. You can tell that a trend is waning when everybody's joined up (the Yogi Berra "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" thing) but activity seems to be trailing off. That's especially true of Twitter, but I think maybe people are asking themselves whether there's a point to any of this. Maybe there is -- Dane Cook would say yes -- and maybe not -- we're not all Dane Cook, something for which we can be eternally grateful. But my experience with these things has been variable:

Facebook: It's interesting, I guess. I tried it when all of the new media gurus proclaimed it the greatest thing to hit the Net since the last greatest thing to hit the Net, which I think was MySpace. I had a MySpace page for a month or so but it seemed both cheesy and creepy. Facebook's marginally less creepy -- at least there's no Tom at the top of your friends list -- and I have actual friends on my friends list. But I can't get into the action -- I don't want to exchangs "gifts" or buy or receive a virtual beer (I got plenty of Newcastle Brown and Pyramid Hefe Weizen in the fridge, thank you) or poke or tag or do anything else with anyone. The gurus said that the wild card was how the thing is open to third party applications, but I don't need a widget to send me news feeds and I really haven't found any truly useful or revolutionary apps. I suppose it's interesting to see what your friends and acquaintances are up to, but it's not something with which I want to spend all day.

LinkedIn: I can see the value in this -- at least, they're trying. You build a network of connections and you can do things like search jobs that someone in your extended network may have posted. And it's a good way to remain top-of-mind with your business associates, because it can't hurt to have your name in front of them when they check their connection pages. It's not exactly critical, but I can see how it could work as a business networking tool. But, again, I can't really see myself spending all day there.

Twitter: Okay, so I'm supposed to just post... what? What I'm doing at the moment? Why? It's instant messaging and chat. But I haven't really explored it -- I know, I'm late to the game -- and maybe I'll find the value. Just not yet. And it seems like a lot of people try the thing for a short time and abandon it. The novelty wears off fast.

The Biz: Now that social networking is already becoming passe, big companies are trying to cash in. If I'm late to the game, these guys are REALLY late. I'll reserve judgement, but I'm skeptical. It has the Variety connection, for what that's worth nowadays, and seems to be more career-oriented. Let's see who joins up and what, if anything, happens next.

And then there's this site. Do I even have time to, um, Twitter or Pownce or Facebook and do this and write for my "day job" and do freelance work and have enough time left over for a life? How DO people do all of that? Maybe there's a social networking group dedicated to time management. I'll look for one, as soon as I get a minute.

This week's All Access newsletter refers to the layoffs at three major radio groups. It's not a shining moment in radio history, but some of the statements from the companies involved just got me aggravated, as did the way they let news leak out without confirmation. After that, it's time for more from Captain Obvious:

Let's start this week's Letter with a plea to the spokespeople for the companies involved in the industry's wave of layoffs: can we just lose the corporate-speak now? Every company seems to explain the layoffs as "positioning" the company or "building on our strategy" or something else out of the Corporate Manager's Big Book Of Obfuscation. This latest round was called "deploying our assets to best grow our ratings and monetize the results." And all this time I thought that it was just a matter of cutting salary because revenues are down, goals are being missed, and the investors are restless. Silly me. Turns out that it's a positive! Really! We're destroying the village in order to save it!

I'm sure that the folks who are now unemployed will be happy to hear that this is all for the industry's own good.

Look, we know things are rough in the business, and we know that the pressure from investors is enormous. And having dealt with crisis management types in the past, I know they counsel to try to spin layoffs as ultimately for the company's benefit and to say that there aren't any more firings contemplated, whether that's true or not, because they don't want to send staff morale into a tailspin. (As if seeing several co-workers being escorted out of the building with their belongings in a cardboard box isn't going to have an effect on morale) It would be better to be honest -- "revenues are down, we gotta cut back, we can't guarantee anything, let's hope for better times soon." Oh, yeah, I'd like to see companies give the trade press lists of the departed and provide a simple way for those staffers to be contacted by interested parties, rather than leave the newly released to fend for themselves and the press to spend days tracking them down one by one while rumors spread. Just sayin'.

As for the rest of us, there's not much to say. We don't know if this is the bottom or not, or how this is all going to play out. The layoffs have everyone nervous, and I'm getting a lot of calls from people wanting to know what to do while all of this is going on. My response to them goes back to some familiar themes:

1. Network. You know this. It's obvious. You're doing that, right? You're reaching out to people and making calls and e-mailing and using LinkedIn and Facebook and not waiting until you're out of work to connect to people that might help you in the future, correct? Yes?

2. Website. You know this. It's obvious. You have yours all set up, right? When fans and prospective employers Google your name -- and they will -- a site that's under your sole control pops up, right? You update it daily so listeners have a reason to visit, right? It's part of the larger issue of....

3. Marketing Yourself. Don't wait for your station to do it. You have your website, of course, and add Facebook and Twitter and e-mail lists and whatever else you can do to reach your audience. Be where they are. Build that community of core listeners, make them feel connected as if they know you. There are ancillary benefits to it, too: it's never a bad idea to have enough of an army of listeners that a prospective employer will feel like you're a solid bet to draw ratings and make money as quickly as possible. It also helps get the word out if you're fired or hired, and keeps the core audience with you while you're off the air. And the larger you build your network of online "friends," the better. Hey, it worked for Dane Cook, and you're funnier than he is.

4. Plan B. Make sure that radio's not the only way you have to earn a living. You may never need to do anything else, but now's the time to assess your abilities and know what you'd do if you hit an extended period of underemployment.

5. Top Ramen.

So that's "Practical Advice That You Already Know But Bears Reinforcement And, Besides, It Beats Thinking About All Those Layoffs" for this week. Now, it's time for our usual foray into the great big swamp o' show prep at All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics column, where so far this week you'll find well-endowed barnacles, bicycles vs. cars, high school girls gone wilder than their parents would probably like, celebrities in rehab, tattoo prejudice, massive traffic jams, fad diets, Amy Winehouse's visa troubles, bug-eatin' principals, steak sauce-covered crime scenes, the dangers of pre-chewed food, political robocalls, why renters should be concerned with the mortgage crisis, the grocery bagging championships, smelly foods on airplanes, the rich rewarding flavor of rat, urinal etiquette, hotel glasses, shrinking hearts, bank robber dress codes, dirty ATMs, man makeup, stolen Elvis paintings, and plenty of election-related garbage, all pre-digested for your convenience. There's also "10 Questions With..." the first doctor/lawyer/bioethicist/talk show host I've ever interviewed, WPHT/Philadelphia's "Dr. Mazz," Anthony Mazzarelli, and the rest of All Access with the industry's fastest and most complete news coverage, message boards, ratings, columns, charts, and, apropos to the theme of the week, job listings and the Industry Directory so you can find names and complete contact information for pretty much everyone. Why, yes, it's still free.

Next week: I don't know, but I'm hoping that it won't involve more layoffs. Especially my own.

NO WIRES. NO CONNECTION. NO GOOD.

The laptop saga continues with random dropouts, the dreaded "unable to obtain certificate" message when trying to connect to the wireless router, and general slowness. I do not want to have to buy a new laptop, especially considering a) I don't want to drop a bundle on another computer right now and b) as I've said here, I haven't found any that do everything I want them to do, But I have several trips coming up, and I can't take a chance that I'll be off line, can I?

On the other hand, there are benefits to keeping this one going. Can I help it if the wireless adapter isn't working and I just happen to be in Vegas at the time and, well, there's no use in sitting at a non-functional computer when I could just take a stroll to the casino or the spa, right? Or I'm in D.C. and it's a cholce between the dead Wi-Fi or hopping the Metro to Virginia to visit friends? Totally out of my control.

At the moment, I got the thing to recognize the Belkin USB adapter, so it's working. In fact, I'm on it right now. I really want this thing to keep working, actually, not to have an excuse to goof off when it flops but because it's good enough for what I need and I'd rather wait for a better, more affordable ultraportable than what's out there. I'm going to go look for the prayer for laptops. Maybe I'll get lucky,

We did our part and voted today, with just the small problem that they had both of us listed under the wrong party, then someone remembered to check some supplemental pages, and there we were under the correct party. It's a good thing they remembered the "blue pages" in the back of the big book. But other than that, voting was incident-free, and we left feeling all civic-minded and proud to be Americans and Californians and Los Angeles Countians.

After we voted and had dinner, I went to look at computers. The old notebook -- "old" being a relative term, it being, I think, three or four years old -- is acting flaky, with the internal wireless (802.11b; it's old, all right) cutting in and out, and Windows XP steadfastly refusing to allow me to install the Belkin wireless G USB adapter that previously worked with it. I would like a notebook that's light and powerful. Light is key, since most notebooks are too damn heavy to tote around at all, much less back and forth in the Las Vegas Convention Center for the NAB Show, where even 5 pounds seems like a massive boulder when you have to walk a mile or two between panels and the building's swelteringly hot. Powerful is good, too -- I want something that boots fast and won't buck and hesitate when I try to open a program. Give me plenty of USB ports, a Firewire port, wireless N and a DVD burner, too. And make it reasonable -- preferably well under two grand.

Apparently, this is impossible, considering that I saw nothing in that category this evening. The closest is, of course, the MacBook, which is a little heavier than I'd like -- 5.5 pounds -- but, tricked out with extra memory and the larger hard drive, does do everything I want it to do (including run Windows, if need be). But I'd have to join the Mac cult, which is scary. (I'm already on board, though, with the iPod Touch, which is, so far, the most satisfying gadget I've owned, and which, with the right upcoming third party apps, could serve as a mini-notebook computer, as long as someone adds a cut-and-paste option) And the MacBook feels heavier than I'd like. The Air is not an option -- no optical drive, one USB port, no Firewire, and, when I tried it out, it was slow, noticeably slower than the MacBook and MacBook Pro.

I know there are some Fujitsu and Toshiba models I should check out, and Sony, but I have to go to a specialty retailer to play with them. And then there's the matter of PAYING for one, but I'll cross that bridge when I, um, have to. In the meantime, I'm still searching for the perfect laptop, and, so far, I'm discouraged. I want perfection and I want it now.

And this desktop is slowing down, too. That 24 inch iMac is looking mighty attractive right about now, too. It's nice and warm here in Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field.

THE TRUTH

Writing a blog entry with a powerful sinus headache is not wise.

JARED LORENZEN GETS A RING

Eli F'ing Manning.

Not only did the Giants win the Super Bowl, not only did they pull off one of the most spectacular upsets in NFL history, not only did the Giants defense make Tom Brady and his Many Receivers look confused and ineffective, but Eli F'ing Manning won the game with The Escape. Eli. No matter how short of perfection, or even very good, fans think Eli falls, he got himself a Super Bowl win, which is more than all but a handful of active quarterbacks can say. It's been a good decade for the Manning family.

As much as I hate the Giants, and as much as I hate the '72 Dolphins doing their champagne schtick every time a previously undefeated team falters, Belichick's flop sweat was strangely satisfying. You gotta take your schadenfreude wherever you can get it.

And now, we have a couple of months to build up that hatred for the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets. A long couple of months. That's a lot of hate to accumulate.

THERE WILL BE CRUD

We caught "There Will Be Blood" tonight. I was expecting a transcendent experience, but I'd forgotten that it's a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, meaning it's long. Very long. Very, very long. Good, not great, and long.

Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as advertised, if a touch cartoony. Paul Dano seems a little young to be his adversary, and there's fairly heavy-handed exposition and imagery (a sweaty, greasy Lewis in the dark with a red glow -- see, he's the devil!). It's entertaining to a point, but it goes on and on and on until the final scene, the one with "I drink your milkshake," turns into a Three Stooges scene with an ending that never happened to the Stooges. It's a weird ending to a long movie, and while it has essentially the same message as "No Country For Old Men," the latter is more profound and, even with all the complaints, has a better ending. (Yes, I know, I may be one of the few who feels that way)

And there's a tracking shot, too, since all Oscar contenders need one, but unlike "Atonement" and its tracking shot that effectively conveyed the chaos of Dunkirk during the evacuation, the one in "Blood" isn't necessary -- it's a much shorter scene that could have been done without following Lewis across a field, then taking him and his son for a walk. Anderson just likes wasting time. The movie could have been 45 minutes shorter, but there was a lot of that kind of unnecessary artifice.

My personal Oscar ranking still puts "No Country" first, with "Atonement," "Juno," and "TWB Blood" in that order. We haven't seen "Michael Clayton" yet. And I don't think "The Hottie And The Nottie" is eligible.

Finally, I finished the All Access newsletter, after rewriting the entire thing twice. I think it came out, um, adequate:

Some of the big name radio bosses did a panel the other day about the business, and it went pretty much as you'd expect. They all burst out into tears and asked for forgiveness, and the whole thing ended with a group hug.

No, actually, they all basically said that there's nothing wrong with radio, really, nothing, trust us, and it's all a matter of perception and stuff. Sure, they said, there's technological competition, but radio can compete with that because of all the reasons you've heard before. And while they were talking about that, the eerie spectre of That Memo hung over all of them.

You've heard about That Memo already, the Great Hiring Freeze Of 2008 Memo, in which one company's new Private Equity Overlords issued a do-not-spend-a-dime edict (indirectly, of course, since, technically, they don't own the company yet). Remember when people were saying how great it was that media companies were getting taken private, because that meant less pressure from Wall Street and no more panic to make the quarterly budget? The private equity firms will look for the long term, they said. Happy days are here again. How's THAT workin' out for you?

You would be forgiven for being confused when the heads of the big radio companies touted a bright future for the industry while, outside the panel, there are hiring freezes and end-of-quarter firings and morning shows voicetracking afternoon shows for no additional salary. It's as if there were two different radio industries, the one we live in and the Bizarro World version where the future's all bright and shiny and filled with cars that fly and robots who cook your dinner, wash your dishes and pick up the dry cleaning.

Yet they're both real.

Radio HAS lost listeners... but, statistically, not that many, not nearly the number you'd assume from the dire news reports. Radio DOES suffer from the perception that it's old, uncool, bland, predictable... but some of that is deserved. Radio revenues ARE down... but it's still making money. People DO still use radio in large numbers... but you can't guarantee that will be the case as other technologies become more prevalent, especially in cars. Everything cuts both ways.

But the reality right now for you, the rank and file of the business, is that as long as the big bosses' bosses -- the investors, who I picture as portly older gentlemen in top hats and monocles and handlebar mustaches fiendishly cackling as they polish their pocket watches and think up ways to squeeze every penny out of you -- are of the mindset that a) the company has to hit its numbers, however unrealistic they were, and b) if revenues aren't where they want them, then cut, cut, cut, things aren't going to get better. Cutting into the talent and research budgets affects the product. Cutting into the marketing budget affects audience size. Those are not good things if you're trying to increase revenue. And you can't cut everyone.

Maybe, however, there's a silver lining here. If one company is freezing and cutting and trying to make its new investors happy, the competition has a huge opportunity. This is a great chance for other companies to take advantage when their biggest competitor -- the one everyone complains owns too many stations and wields too much market power -- has a hand tied behind its back. They can't spend? That's when YOU spend -- hit them with marketing when they can't effectively respond, hire the talent that they can't, get your websites and streaming and podcasts up to 2008 standards and ramp that side of the business up. This could be a real turning point. It could. Really.

Or the investors in those other companies might see all that cutting and freezing and think, hey, why don't WE do that, too? And if they do... that wouldn't be good. But I understand there are a lot of openings in the exciting and glamorous world of long-haul trucking.

But before you call the number for the trucking school you saw advertised during "Maury," you may have a show to do. And in that case, you'll surely want to stop by All Access News-Talk-Sports and the Talk Topics show prep column, where so far this week we have items on a guy whose truck's about to pass the million mile mark, the Worst Building in the History of Mankind (which, despite what you think, is not your studio building or even the transmitter shack), a debate on whether thin is in or fat is where it's at, another reason to hate the cable company, why not to stop when you see a disabled car at the roadside, the NFL versus churches, the unexpected cost of selling on eBay, why some people think that guy who lost billions for that French bank is a hero, Ralph Nader's restlessness, why blue-eyed people are mutants, ads on school buses, a chicken who lays green eggs (really!), how the Super Bowl can kill you, the health dangers of "double dipping," and much, much more, including election stuff, football stuff, Britney stuff, all kindsa stuff. You should also check out "10 Questions With..." the very funny 710 ESPN/L.A. afternoon guy Dave Dameshek and the rest of All Access with Net News, Net Talk, Net Columns, Net Arbitron ratings, Net job listings, the Net Industry Directory, and other Net goodies. It's Netlicious. And free. Net.

My Super Bowl pick? The team that wears red, white, and blue. Plus, the words "an all-new 'House'" will be uttered 5,732 times during the Fox telecast. It's a lock.

March 2012

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Who?

    Perry Michael Simon. Talk radio guy. Editor of the News-Talk-Sports section at AllAccess.com. Editor and writer at Chris Hardwick's Nerdist.com. Former Program Director, Operations Manager, host, and general nuisance at KLSX/Los Angeles, Y-107/Los Angeles, New Jersey 101.5. Freelance writer on media, sports, pop culture, based somewhere in the Los Angeles area. Contact him here. Copyright 2003-2012 Perry Michael Simon. Yeah.

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