February 2010 Archives

PLUNDERING THE PAPERS: LONGHAIR MUSIC

This is one of the best ads I've encountered while skimming through the old papers:

This was from 1957, when FM was still a novelty in very few homes, like HD Radio is now except that FM worked. I love the capitalization and underlining of "Fine Music" -- it's FM, see? -- and the utilitarian 50's design. But that cartoon logo is spectacular, an insanely grinning microphone in a tux with a baton and a mullet. Classical music... "longhair" music... geddit? Very nice. Every station should have an insanely grinning microphone as a mascot.

Adam Lynch, by the way, ended up with a long career in Pittsburgh, but was better known as a TV news anchor at NBC affiliate WIIC-TV (now WPXI-TV) and ABC affiliate WTAE-TV than for his work announcing classical music. He was an area native, and the FM job got him back into town and he parlayed that into weekend weathercasting on the sister TV station; when KDKA-FM dropped the classical format, he moved on to Providence as a TV newsman, then returned to anchor on TV for decades. His whole story's here.

Here's one from December 18, 1969:

This was in the days when people were transitioning to calling him Muhammad Ali and speculating that he'd at some point make a comeback and possibly fight Joe Frazier in a "Fight of the Century." We know how that turned out.

But that phone... in 1969, there was no iPhone, no StarTAC, not even a bag phone. If you wanted a portable, mobile phone, you carried a heavy briefcase around with you. If you were Muhammad Ali, you carried that phone. No question.

Detail from the "Jeff Cobb" comic strip, July 22, 1969:

That might be the best catchphrase ever. "Nuts to You, Fuzz!" It's got that special ring to it, like "You're With Me, Leather." Quintessentially 1969.

THIS WEEK'S "THE LETTER": SCREEN GEMS

This week's All Access newsletter is a reaction to yet another organized campaign to try and tilt talk radio discussions in a particular political direction. Naturally, I use that to make another point:

Remember when talk radio shows talked about stuff like abortion and gun control, and how it was always a spirited but informative debate between reasonable minds on either side of the....

Okay, it was NEVER like that. One of the first things Baby Talk Show Hosts are taught before cracking the mic open for the first time is that some topics are off limits, not because they're not worth discussing but because you can't. And you can't because organized callers on either side of the issues are ready to fill up your lines and flood your show with an endless, and pointless, parade of talking points. Some would actually read off the stuff they were fed. And, at the end, not a single mind would be changed, nobody would budge, nothing got solved, and the entertainment value of the hour would be even lower than the information value.

Sadly, you're starting to see that with other topics, too, the latest example being the news that the Democratic National Committee has launched a website that instructs supporters of the president's health care plan how to call in to conservative talk shows, and provides, yes, talking points and "tips" on how to get past the screeners. Health care, whether you're for or against the current proposal, is one of the most important topics facing your listeners, and while the problem is pretty obvious to everyone, the solutions are divergent and contentious. But the topic deserves more than sloganeering and talking points, yet that's what both sides are serving up, now in handy organized-caller form.

What do you do with this? How do you do an entertaining and informative show about this topic if you have people queuing up to spout the party line, just like for those other Topics Which Shall Never Be Discussed? That's where your screener is a critical player in the success of your show. A radio show that takes calls needs a gatekeeper who can recognize the robo-callers, who can quickly get a caller to distill what he or she wants to say into a quick, effective comment, who can weed out the phonies and the talking points readers on either side. A caller-driven show is only as good as the calls that get on the air, so the screener may be the most important person in the building.

That's why most stations just stick some intern or newbie in there and treat him or her like a peon.

Oh, wait, that doesn't make sense, does it? Yet, that's how radio treats producers and screeners. There are notable exceptions, especially on the biggest syndicated and local shows, but too many stations economize in the support staff department. It's been like this for years; in my programming days, there just wasn't a budget for it. I ended up with some excellent screeners and producers, but I got lucky. And when you don't get lucky, the result is obvious, right there on the air.

It's not just management's fault. How many shows assign an allegedly "wacky" name to the screener and the producer and use them as punch lines? Morning shows have done it forever, and, of course, once there was "Baba Booey," every "edgy" show had to have their own. How many really sharp, smart, capable people who could have done those jobs very well never even applied for the positions because they just didn't want to be a joke? It doesn't matter how well you treat that screener off the air. Nobody with any ambition or, for that matter, self esteem aspires to be someone's punching bag, not even for comedy's sake. (Most shows shouldn't be talking to, or about, the screener anyway. It's a crutch. Leave some things behind the scenes)

And a producer shouldn't be there to get you coffee. Get your own coffee and let the producer develop material, book guests, and plan your show. In other media, "producer" is the top of the heap. A movie or TV producer is royalty. In radio, we don't offer that kind of respect to the position. We should.

I know that radio stations are strapped for cash like everyone else, but if they want to do talk radio, they need to start treating the screener and producer positions seriously, and the people doing those jobs as professionals. A good screener keeps those organized callers off the air and makes the callers that DO get through sound better (and keeps the prank calls from sneaking through, too). A good producer is invaluable to creating great radio, something you really learn when you don't have a great producer, or, in too many cases, any producer at all. Great shows have great staffs. It's not that hard to grasp.

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Even with a great producer, though, you often need help coming up with material to talk about, don't you? Of course you do. And that's why there's Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports. Visit anytime for hundreds of topic ideas with moronic jokey commentary and links to the full stories; so far this week, for example, you'll find items like a discussion of "toys you used to love that look totally boring now," the lap dancing teachers, Susan Boyle's angst, California's anti-cussing bill, "settling" for a spouse, Octomom on "The View" (shudder), women's-only toilets on airplanes, the unnecessary nature of most emergency room visits, curling clubs, personal jet packs, the continuing demise of the video store, a radio that eliminates, well, YOU, how a curvy body is like a drug, how losing a job can lead to a heart attack, the all-new time limit on the Miranda warning, why some jobs cost more to "create" than others, how Wall Street bet on both sides in Greece's economic troubles, the growth of "work-share" programs, an 80 year old burglar, and why rich parents are hiring occupational therapists for their kids, plus much more, including the "real news" like, yes, the health care debate, the economy, the Olympics, and the continuing saga of Toyota's troubles. In addition, you should read "10 Questions With..." WGAU/Athens, GA and WXKT/Gainesville, GA PD Matt Caesar, who's in charge of both a heritage AM talker in a college town and a new FM talker covering a growing area of North Georgia, and then take a look at the rest of All Access with the industry's leading news coverage, ratings, job listings, forums, and all the resources you need to succeed in the radio business. It's all free. Get the free iPhone and iPod Touch app, too.

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Oh, right, one more thing. It's that time of year again, by which I don't mean the start of Spring Training (although that's important, too) or the countdown to the elimination of the Sixers from playoff contention (although that's well underway). No, we're talking about the Revlon Run/Walk for Women 2010, which is set for May 8th in Los Angeles. As you may recall, my wife Fran and I do the walk every year to raise money to fight cancer, a cause that means a lot to us. And as I mentioned last year, I am fully aware that the economy is an issue and that many people are strapped, and that's perfectly okay. Like it was in 2009, this is going to be a low-key, unpressured pitch that will just appear here at the bottom of the column every week until you're willing to send money just to make it go away. But it won't go away, so let's look at it this way: If you can give, great, it'll be appreciated and it's going to a great cause. If you can't, no problem, either. But please give if you can. The link is right here: https://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/secure/MyWebPage.cfm?pID=533458.

And thank you!

GIVE GIVE GIVE

We're walking again in the Revlon Run/Walk to raise money for the fight against women's cancers, which, as you know, hits close to home.

Here's the link:

Please donate. And thank you.

SNOW WAY

With east coasters getting slammed by another snowstorm, or, in some cases, feeling relief that the storm missed them, here's a clip of KYW Philadelphia covering the Blizzard of '83:

February 12, 1983. I was there. In fact, I ended up pretty much confined to my apartment on the Main Line after making my way back that day on the Paoli Local. When the snow stopped and a couple of feet of snow blanked everything in sight, I walked to the Wawa in Ardmore, slogging down the middle of Lancaster Avenue, a major thoroughfare; there were no cars, no buses, no nothing. It was eerie. And it was then that I vowed someday to find someplace warm to live, where there's no snow.

Found it.

One of the joys of looking through old newspapers is seeing movie ads, whether for movies we all know or movies we don't remember at all. Everyone remembers this one, even if they didn't see it, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," the "lost" James Bond flick:

Far out! George Lazenby was the guy picked to replace Sean Connery. It... didn't go all that well. Roger Moore did better, but this was Lazenby's one shot at it. Note that it was rated M. M existed from 1968 to 1970; it's what became GP in 1970 and PG in 1972, then split into PG and PG-13. I didn't know PG still existed. All I ever see are PG-13 and R.

You'll also remember this one, or at least the remake:

$100 if you can prove a negative! What a deal! "The Fly!" In Cinemascope AND "Terror-Color," no less, with a Tweetie cartoon AND a short subject. Throw in "comfortably air condistioned" and 25 cents for kids, and you have a deal.

Al Hedison, the star, became David Hedison a year later, using his middle name, at the behest of NBC, which probably assumed that nobody named "Al" could become a leading man. He's 82 now and still acting, and has been in a lot of stuff. Oh, and to tie him to James Bond, he played Felix Leiter in both "Live and Let Die" and "Licence to Kill."

Also in "The Fly" were Vincent Price (naturally), of whom volumes have been written, plus Kathleen Freeman, who had a long career playing loud battle-axe women in movies and sitcoms (Frau Linkmeyer on "Hogan's Heroes"!). She was in the Broadway version of "The Full Monty" right up until five days before she died of lung cancer at 82. Not a bad way for an actor to go. Plus Betty Lou Gerson, who rarely appeared on screen but whose voice you'd know: She was Cruella DeVil in the animated "101 Dalmatians."

This one, you may not know:

"The Revenge of Frankenstein?" "World's Greatest Horrorama?" "In SUPERNATURAL TECHNICOLOR!"? 55 cents for the matinee? I'm there! Well, since it was 1958 and I was yet to be born, I wouldn't have seen it. But it turns out that this was one of the legendary Hammer horror films from England, starring Peter Cushing, and that means it was full of bright red blood and was far better than its low budget (they used the same sets to shoot a Dracula flick back-to-back with it, just as Roger Corman did in the same era) would suggest. Lionel Jeffries, who died last week, was also in it.

The double feature also included "Curse of the Demon," an American re-edit of "Night of the Demon," another British (non-Hammer) horror flick starring American Dana Andrews. Martin Scorsese picked it 9th on his list of 11 scariest horror movies of all time. I'll defer to him.

Going back to Miami television, way back, way, way, way back, I was aware that WTVJ, then on channel 4, now on channel 6, was the first TV station in South Florida, and that Ralph Renick was the lead anchor there for decades. And I was aware that there were early UHFs in the 50's. I even knew that one was WFTL-TV on channel 23. But there was another, WITV, and here are all three stations on the air in 1953, in the Miami News TV listings:

Network affiliations were fluid in the early 1950's. On this day, WTVJ carried CBS for some shows -- Gleason, "Two For The Money," "The Original Amateur Hour" -- plus NBC for "Your Show of Shows," "Foreign Intrigue," "Who Said That?," and "Your Hit Parade," and ABC for "The Stu Erwin Show" and "The Lone Ranger." WFTL cleared "Ethel and Albert" from NBC and was also a DuMont affiliate. WITV was, an ABC affiliate, although in those days being an ABC affiliate was like, well, being a DuMont affiliate. And both channel 4 and channel 23 carried the Notre Dame-SMU football game. I'd love to know what "Cactus Jim" was -- I assume it was a kiddie show, but the only "Cactus Jim" kiddie show I've found was in Iowa. There's no reference to the show for WTVJ anywhere but these listings.

WFTL-TV lasted until 1957, after moving to Miami and becoming WGBS-TV under Storer ownership. WITV also gave up in 1957, after these guys went on the air:

WPST signed on late in 1957 and grabbed the ABC affiliation from WITV, which sued to try to stop it from going on the air and killing off channel 17. That didn't work. Meanwhile, WPST turned out to have gotten its license through less than legitimate means, and the resulting bribery scandal stripped the station of its license. A new station, WLBW-TV, took over channel 10 and the ABC affiliation in November 1961 under a new license, and that's the station presently called WPLG.

WPST's calls eventually ended up in Trenton, New Jersey, on a radio station where my wife once worked. It's still there.

Also a latecomer, relatively, to Miami TV was WCKT-TV:

I love that headline. "Balmy Buck"? Really?

WCKT was put on the air as a partnership between the owners of the Miami News, Cox, and the Miami Herald, Knight. Remember what happened to channel 10? Same here: The license was determined to have been obtained under questionable pretenses through the same corrupt FCC commissioner, and the license was going to be revoked. Sunbeam Television -- the Ansin family -- bought it and continued operation, and they own it today. It's WSVN now, the Fox affiliate, famous for its tabloid-style news.

Oh, yeah, channel 23. Well, it came back in 1967.

This ad ran as a teaser a week before the station signed on as WAJA-TV. It started out as an independent English-language station, a month after another station went on the air. WAJA had stuff like "My Favorite Martian" and "The Flintstones," and it tried...

...but in a short time it went Spanish-language after 6 pm. Eventually, it went all-Spanish and became hugely successful as WLTV, the Univision flagship.

That other new independent was channel 6:

Channel 6 was originally supposed to be licensed to Islamorada down in the Keys, but the licensee convinced the FCC to let it move to Miami where there were more people. The problem was that because of interference rules, the closest they could come to Miami was Homestead, and despite a massive tower, the thing couldn't put a reliable signal into the northern half of the market, and never could, For years, they used UHF translators to get into Broward County; with digital, on different channels, the facility, long ago swapped to NBC as WTVJ, now has parity, after it doesn't matter anymore. Oh, well.

Look at that lineup: Lucy! "Truth or Consequences!" Local kiddie show "White Baron" (with "Alvin Chipmunk" cartoons -- really, did they not know it's "Alvin AND THE Chipmunks?")! And the piece de resistance, "The Woody Woodbury Show!" Woodbury was a risque standup miscast as a Carson wanna-be. His stage act involved drinking jokes -- he built a whole "movement" called BITOA ("Booze Is The Only Answer"). He'd previously replaced Carson as host of "Who Do You Trust," but the syndicated late night show didn't happen for him. But he continued doing standup, and, whaddya know, he's still around.

There's more, but not from Miami. We'll go to some colder cities next....

Amazing what you can find when you randomly look through old newspapers. Naturally, I gravitate to the disposable cultural detritus that languished in the back pages, like TV listings and comics and ads nobody else in their right mind would bother noticing. It's what I do.

So, let's take a little trip down Nobody's Memory Lane and travel back to the Eden Roc in Miami Beach, Cafe Pompeii, 1972:

In 1972, there's no way I would have been caught dead at this show. My 2010 self thinks, wow, I wish I'd been there. Myron Cohen, king of the heavily accented monotone parade of hoary gags, teller of some of my favorite bad jokes (like the one with "Hello Dolly" and the other with the punchline "Everybody gotta be someplace"). Plus, the Golddiggers! Come on, you know you'd want to witness this.

The big question, from 1970: Who was Luther Evans?

Why, he was a disembodied head with a telephone held by a disembodied hand, of course. Also, he was the horse racing writer for the Miami Herald. And he did radio shows, like this one on the old WGBS. He was at the Herald for 45 years, and died in 1987 at 67.

In 1967, radio stations were aimed at "the Majority", like WIOD Miami:

WIOD, the Wonderful Isle of Dreams. I almost worked there, long ago. Back in the 60's, Larry King was a fixture on the station, and Duke Zimmerman was... um... a sales guy. Really. He was a long-time sales executive at the station, 29 years there and at WQAM. He was also a big deal in local advertising circles, so I guess that's why they featured him in a newspaper ad. He passed away in 1983 at 72. And how 1967 is "We're Against Air Pollution"?

More tomorrow.

YOU SAY IT'S HER BIRTHDAY

Today is Fran's birthday, and we spent the day together eating fish tacos, strolling along the Hermosa Strand, eating a red velvet cupcake. Fran says she loved the day, and I sure hope so. She deserves for every day to be a good one, and every celebratory day is special.

That's a hint -- it's that season again, and we WILL be walking in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women's Cancer this year. Details forthcoming.

Meanwhile, each milestone means more and more. And every year, day, moment with her is worth a celebration. May there be many more fish tacos, red velvet cupcakes, and sunny days along the beach to come.

VIDEO TOUR: LIFE'S TOO SHORT

We spent the evening at a memorial service for the husband of a friend of Fran's. I didn't know the man, but by the end of the service, I wished I had. The place was packed, which says a lot about him. Laughs, tears, everything. Can't really ask for a better sendoff, I guess, unless you're able to be there in person to enjoy it.

Maybe he was. You never know.

Anyway, we returned, I got back on the computer, and, hey, look, another video:

That's a bunch of promos for ABC's 1961 lineup. The westerns aren't interesting to me -- "Maverick" was a good show, shown here introducing Roger Moore as Beau Maverick, joining Bret and Bart in the rotation. You don't see too many shows with different lead actors every week anymore. But "SurfSide 6" -- detectives on a houseboat! Troy Donahue! The Green Hornet! Margarita Sierra? Yes, her, too, and a sad story she was, too: from Madrid, she was a hit in New York nightclubs and when she appeared on Jack Paar's show, then got the job on "SurfSide 6" playing Cha Cha O'Brien, a stereotypical English-language-mangling comic-relief Spanish nightclub singer. The show, basically "77 Sunset Strip" Miami-style, ended in 1962. In 1963, she had heart problems, had surgery, and didn't make it -- dead at 27. She's largely forgotten now, as is the show, but for a few moments, she made it big.

I'm not sure what we can take from that. Actually, I'm kinda bummed right now. Sorry about that.

VIDEO TOUR: GAME THEORY

I don't really know what possessed me to start looking at this, but I watched this show, but not this episode, which preceded my entrance by a few years:

I remember it more like this, from Christmas 1968 (the opening theme and animation are engraved on my brain):

"Concentration," hosted by Hugh Downs, was basically a rebus puzzle revealed two mtching squares at a time. Simple and addictive. Naturally, it could never be successful in 2010. Not enough action, not fast enough. Maybe if they added explosions an' stuff.

By the way, check out the portable 8-track tape player in part 2 of the 1968 version. You'll want one now. Clunky, ridiculous, but you'll want one.

I also watched another NBC game show of the era:

The premise of "You Don't Say!" was that you tried to get your partner to come up with a celebrity name by prompting them to say words that sounded like, but weren't, part of the name. Yes, it's a little confusing until you see it in action. It wasn't as good as "Concentration" -- in fact, it was fairly lame. But it was what was on. We didn't have 300 channels at the time.

I was never sure what Pat Carroll did for a living, by the way. I'm still not sure.

This week's All Access newsletter acknowledges that there are more ways to argue about the news than to do it on the radio:

I've been listening to some great talk radio lately. The hosts give their opinion in a concise and entertaining manner, and they get lots of callers who not only respond to the hosts but end up interacting amongst themselves as well.

But it's not talk radio. It's not radio at all.

I thought about this when I saw yet another observer write about the threat new media poses to music radio. It's surely true, as we've discussed here before, that music stations have to contend with alternatives that offer customization, narrowcasting, and music on demand. But we've always treated talk radio as different; the alternatives might involve different delivery systems like, say, podcasts or streaming, but they wouldn't necessarily be BETTER than talk radio, just time-shifted or more numerous.

Yet I find my attention to talk radio being divided, and it's not just by more stations and shows and podcasts. Some of the more spirited talk radio-style conversations seem to be happening online in Facebook, or Twitter, or Google Buzz. You know that, because, I assume, you use at least one of those; There can't be too many holdouts left. It was in looking at some of my Facebook friends posting topics and then getting 20, 30, even 40 or more responses, or watching the early adopters of Google Buzz pile on in conversations that got hundreds of users engaged in debate, that I got to thinking about what this means for talk radio's future.

See, when I was a kid, I would listen to talk radio and think, someday, I want to do THAT. I wanted to get on the air and tell everyone what I thought and argue with callers just like Bob Grant. But if I was a kid today, I wouldn't need talk radio to do that. I wouldn't even need to podcast. I'd just go on Facebook or Twitter or Buzz, say what I want to say, and let the "listeners" chime in. You can't make money that way, but that's one of the places where the conversation's going.

But I don't think those new media things will entirely replace talk radio anytime soon. For one thing, they're wildly impractical when you're behind the wheel (for now; voice recognition and transcription might change that sooner than you think). For another, there IS a difference between voice and text, especially in conveying subtext and emotion (read a transcription of, say, Rush or Beck and see whether the words alone truly convey the full impact of their shows). And nothing beats a good entertainer using sound as well as language.

On the other hand, there are things talk show hosts can learn from the new media, too. For example:

1. If people can get their points across in 140 characters or less on Twitter, you, too, can set up your topic that concisely. And you should, because on radio, you don't have a lot of time to sell a listener on your topic. The shorter you make that setup (yes, I'm now channeling Walter Sabo), the easier it is for listeners to respond. If confining it to a Twitter post helps you refine that topic, that's a good thing.

2. If something is a hot topic on social media right now, it's probably something you should be talking about on the air. It's never been easier to gauge what's top-of-mind for your listeners; just see what has them posting stuff on Twitter and Facebook and Buzz and use it. (Beware, though, of things like Twitter's trending list. If I used it right now to come up with topics, I'd be talking about #imfromsanbernardino, #honorsocietytour, #imfromlongbeach, and Eric Gagne.

3. Social media is a great way to build a loyal audience. I've told you this before, but it bears repeating: Those Facebook friends and Twitter followers are people who are motivated to listen to your show because they "know" you, if you let them. Use the social sites as an extension of your show; keep the conversation going after your show's done for the day. It's great marketing in an era when your station isn't going to spend anything to promote you.

4. Just being a standard-issue Angry Guy With A Tie doing standard-issue Angry Guy topics isn't enough when people have other places to go. It never was enough, but it's REALLY not enough now. You have to be different, you have to be unique, you have to be entertaining. It's harder to stand out when there's a lot more from which you have to stand out. It's even more imperative that you be able to answer the question, "What makes you worth a listener's time and attention?"

So, what have we learned today? Nothing you didn't already know, but it's important to understand that, much as music radio must contend with Pandora and Last.fm and iPods, talk radio is not the only place people will be kicking around the issues of the day. Your goal is to drive the conversation your way, and lead that conversation whether it's on the radio or on Facebook.

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Now, if you not only want to find out what people are talking about but want to find compelling and call-provoking stories they don't even know about yet, the place to go is All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics column. It's like having an extra producer pitching hundreds of topic ideas and kicker stories at you, like what Wal-Mart's sales drop means for the economy, several news items involving people who will undoubtedly end up on the Jerry Springer show, the disappearing cheese on Burger King's double cheeseburger, the overabundance of "green" conventions, how several states' underfunding of pension plans will become YOUR problem soon, the who-knew-and-when-did-they-know-it of the Toyota meltdown, an igloo mancave, the problem with a top diabetes medication (it stinks), a city beset by marauding teenage flash mobs, what the "Jersey Shore" cast members are doing to cash in on their fifteen minutes, and much more, including "real news" items about the economy, the Olympics, and whatever else is in the news. Also in the News-Talk-Sports section, you'll find "10 Questions With..." McVay Media news/talk consultant Holland Cooke, and on the rest of the site, you'll get the radio industry's most complete news coverage, including a lot of stories you won't find anywhere else, plus ratings, job listings, forums, and all the resources you need. It's all free. Oh, and we're on Facebook and Twitter, too, and don't forget to download the All Access iPhone and iPod Touch app.

And that's it for this week, so... oh, wait, one more thing. My wife's birthday is Sunday. Happy Birthday, Fran!

No, this isn't her present.

RECOMMENDED FOR WHO?

First, it was Amazon, suggesting things based on what you'd bought, or looked at. Then it was Google serving up ads that way. Google Buzz got in trouble assuming that you'd have no problem following, and being followed by, the people you e-mail the most (and making all of that public). There is, however, a limit to my tolerance of these suggestion things.

For example, let's take YouTube's "Recommended For You" selections. As I've discussed many times, I like to just wander amongst the retro TV clips, clicking on random links to see where it takes me. I pay for that. Example: At some point, I clicked on an infamously cheesy Mattress King commercial from Denver starring basketball's very own Chris "Birdman" Andersen. That one indiscretion filled my "Recommended For You" page with clips of the Denver Nuggets. I am not a fan of the Denver Nuggets. I do not want to see "Denver Nuggets: OUR YEAR." I do not want to see Chris "Birdman" Andersen highlights. I do not want to see "Denver Nuggets Christmas Bloopers." No matter; they're all populating my "recommended" list. I am a Philadelphia 76ers fan, so this is not acceptable. Neither would Sixers highlights, for that matter; I may be a fan, but I'm not into self-abuse.

The same happens with Amazon. Fran asked me to check something, and the result was that I have Spiral Starecase albums on my front page. I also have a Michael Moore DVD and a Thomas Sowell book on there, which might be the only time that combination has ever been recommended to the same person. At least Amazon lets you edit or turn off those recommendations, but, man, they don't know me.

I'm not a Luddite. I tend to embrace new technology at the earliest possible opportunity, sometimes (coughGoogleBuzzcough) to my detriment. But there's something to be said for the joys of just happening upon something, unprompted, un-"recommended." Like, say, what I found by just randomly searching, a commercial for the 1963 Studebaker Lark:

No recommendation engine was gonna put THAT in front of me. But now, I expect my "Recommended for You" list to be filled with ads for Studebakers and DeSotos and Nash Ramblers. There are worse ways to waste time.

This is pretty amazing: Someone pointed a film camera at a black and white TV and recorded a commercial break on Rediffusion television in London in 1967. A tire commercial, Special K, the Polaroid Land Camera, Killaspray, Smarties, Doncella cigars... all separated by the Rediffusion star animation. This is what British commercial television really looked like to a viewer in 1967, and I wish there was more of this kind of thing out there:

What happened to all that video from the 1960's? Why isn't there more? This video explains it:

Bulk erased. Wiped. They just didn't think there'd be a market for it, and that 2 inch tape was expensive, so much of television history was thrown out. It happened here, too. That's why there's practically nothing left of local television programming before the 80's. It's like it never happened.

This came a little later, and it's a curiosity: Someone taped the February 10, 1974 "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" off the dying 405-line black-and-white ITV network using a Sony VTR, and you get Jim Dale, who went on to be the audiobook voice of the Harry Potter series:

A few clicks, and it's Crunchie:

Crunchie bars still exist, of course, in the U.K., and you can get them here in places that carry British candy bars. It's interesting that they were able to license "Good Vibrations" that early on. Perhaps Murry Wilson saw a buck in it.

Murry Wilson, you say?

A flash animation from ace cartoonist Peter Bagge, and it helps if you know the Beach Boys story and the Wilson boys' father's role. (The cartoon is fictional, but Murry really did record an album, "The Many Moods Of Murry Wilson," for Capitol in 1967)

But finally, let's go back to the British commercials, and pay special attention to the second spot on this reel, for Cadbury's Flake:

Suggestive doesn't begin to describe that. The fiction here isn't that she'd find the phallic candy bar lickably irresistable; it's that the bar doesn't collapse in a heap of tiny pieces of chocolate like every Flake bar I've ever eaten.

The fourth spot has Warren Mitchell and Una Stubbs as Alf Garnett and daughter Rita from "'Till Death Us Do Part," the seminal sitcom that served as the basis for "All in the Family." In-character commercials aren't all that common anymore, and using an infamous racist/bigot/anti-Semitic character to sell fish fingers is pretty odd, but, well, there it is. Maybe John Mayer has a future selling Lean Cuisine.

FUTURE HITS

I will exercise my prerogative as proprietor of this destination and take the rest of the evening off. I worked a lot today, and I think I deserve it.

Hey, I work for this guy!:

Everybody lands on YouTube at one time or another.

VALENTINES AND VIDEOS

Valentines Day? Yep, nice one. Ate well, took a walk along the cliffs at the resort nearby, exchanged cards and chocolate, and listened to music. Good day all around; spending extra time with Fran is always special.

But that means I want to get back to her. So, here's -- I know how you love this -- more meandering on YouTube, starting with the very first national Pizza Hut commercial from 1965, featuring a comical Mustang Jr.:

Linked from there, let's look at Tang, in 1967:

I never liked Tang, not even as a kid. It tasted like ground-up children's aspirin. I liked the aspirin better.

From there, it's Woolworth's Stereo Spectacular '71!:

Herb Alpert! Petula Clark! The Association! Canned Heat! Just off the charts! All for $1.57! And Jack Jones, the Beach Boys, the Guess Who, "and more," all for 87 cents! 8 tracks, too!

Moving on, it's a 1967 spot for Pop Tarts:

I loved the chocolate ones as a kid, and liked the Strawberry (unfrosted). I think that if I had one now, I'd vomit. They're really nasty.

That one linked to this one, which is a bunch of commercials that aired on CBS in 1968:

Hai Karate! Plus Visine, a low-key Marlboro spot, Personna blades ("electro-coated"), and then... JACKPOT!!! A spot my sister and I used to joke about for decades, the one where the fruit vendow calls out "Strawberries! Blueberries! CHE-eh-eh-ries!" And it's for Pop Tarts, which I couldn't remember. Joan's version had her imitating the guy calling out the fruit, then adding, in a flat voice, "eggs!" I'll bet she denies she said it, but there it is, on the Internet for posterity. Also Special K, Bold (with JoAnne Worley!), Eveready, and the Man From Glad (featuring Bob Hastings as the angry husband!)... if you were alive and older than, maybe, six in 1967, you'll remember these.

And, finally, here's a three-part one, all about ABC News Radio in 1969, because, um, you know, I work in radio. It has behind-the-scene shots, the memorable ABC news tones, and explanations of the then-new four-network setup, plus Paul Harvey:

Funny hair, thick-framed glasses, and even a pipe! Things have changed.

STOP SET

No time tonight.

Here's a commercial break:

Valentine's Day tomorrow. Eat chocolate.

VIDEO TOUR OF THE DARNED

Most people use YouTube to watch guys getting hit in the nuts with a line drive, or teenagers lipsyncing to dance music, but, as I've made abundantly clear here over the years, I look for the old TV clips of stuff nobody else cares about. And one of the great joys of that is to look at the "Related Videos" in the sidebar and wander from clip to clip, finding more bizarre gems. Here's an example of how that works, a short sojourn through pop culture deritus that fascinates me and only me.

It started with an end-of-show montage from NBC, December 6, 1964, at the end of the very first airing of "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer":

That led to a link to Greg Gross and Tim McCarver stiffly reading show promos for WPHL-TV Philadelphia in the championship season of 1980:

Back in the day, Phillies were all over UHF. Channel 17 used the players to do promos, and they did commercials, too. One I will never forget is the Triple Cola ad when Dave Cash slid into third and Richie Ashburn... well, forget it, because that spot isn't anywhere to be found and the only mention of it on the Internet happens to be mine, from 2004. There's not much about Triple Cola on the Net, period, which surprises me, because if you walked into an Acme back then, that was the main cheap cola you could buy. But even as an impoverished student, Triple Cola was not an option. Nasty.

But the McCarver clip led to a memorably annoying commercial that used to plague UHF stations in Philadelphia for years:

Betson's -- "Hey! Where did everybody go?" -- had a sister location in Neptune, NJ, Jason's Furniture. That place played a part in a particularly distasteful incident while I was at WJLK in Asbury Park, but let's leave it at that for now.

That led to Benny Krass, who I've featured here before:

Ask anyone who lived in Philadelphia in that era about Benny Krass. None will ever say that they shopped there -- I sure didn't -- but everyone, and I mean everyone, knew the commercials. How could you not?

Linked from Betson's, it's Brigantine Castle:

It closed in 1984 after storm damage in 1982, and burnt down in 1987. It was huge with your basic stoner Philly teens. I never went there, but I was never big on haunted house attractions. I've been to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland -- meh -- and I laughed through the haunted walk at Universal Studios (joking with the hired ghouls, who laughed back -- you can't be scared when the skeleton jumping out of the wall is grinning and bantering with you). Every city had at least one of these places.

For some reason, this was linked to that:

A Yugo commercial? Yep. And this one was for a dealer from which my family bought a car (a '68 VW Super Beetle, not a Yugo, thank you very much). The dealer's still there, Gensinger Motors, right in the same location off Route 46 at Valley Road.

And that seems as good a place as any to step off the ride for a while. Be warned, I'll do it again....

THIS WEEK'S "THE LETTER": SPIT 'N' ARGUE

This week's All Access newsletter looks to the past for ideas about the future. Plus spittin' and whittlin'!:

What did people do to kick around the issues of the day before talk radio existed? Mostly, they sat around and argued amongst themselves. As a kid, I thought that was how it would always be: You got older and argued about politics with your friends at the diner, then you got REALLY older and moved to Boca, where you'd wear your pants with the waistline practically at your armpits and complain about the government, the weather, and the early bird special ("Terrible food!" "And such small portions!").

But it goes further back than that, of course. The Los Angeles Times ran an article the other day about the talk radio equivalent of the late 19th and early 20th century, namely clubs of guys who would gather to complain, whittle, debate, and spit. Really. There was a club over in Long Beach called the "Spit 'n' Argue Club." They were a bunch of old guys who would meet and whittle and, yes, spit and argue, and they became a tourist attraction, drawing about 1,500 fans per day. The club, and others like it, lasted until the 1960's and 1970's, but by then they'd dissolved into partisan bickering and the audience drifted to the New Media of 1970, talk radio.

Today, of course, the spitting and arguing continues on talk radio, and cable TV news channels as well. But there are a lot of futurists who say that talk radio's days are numbered, because newer outlets are capturing the younger generations. Indeed, Facebook and Twitter and Google Buzz work pretty well for political debate; Post a controversial comment and the replies come fast and furious. You can get dozens of comments on any topic, and it reads a lot like talk radio sounds. Those new media outlets can only multiply as the years pass, and, unlike talk radio, they're not necessarily linear. Talk radio has a host proposing a topic and controlling the calls. Facebook lets the users go wherever they want to go, no screener, no time constraints, no interruptions, and if someone wants to hijack the thread and change the topic, there's no producer to rein it all in. And people who would never in a million years call in to a radio show feel a lot more comfortable making comments in a Facebook thread or via Twitter, even at the risk of getting flamed for it.

So, that means talk radio's dead, right? And talk radio's whittlin' and spittin' in Long Beach, while status updates and tweets and buzzes are the future? Could be, but I'm not so sure that the new media will necessarily obliterate the old. It will, however, take strong personalities -- stars -- to keep people coming back to radio when they can easily participate in political or social debate online. As in everything else we talk about here, if you give people a compelling reason to listen, you can survive. If you're not just "some guy talking," if you're funny, smart, entertaining, you'll be fine. But you'll also have to go where the audience is. That means you need to be connecting with your audience everywhere, not just on the air but through social media, too. Those old guys in Long Beach, and their descendants, would still have a following today if they'd transitioned to the new-fangled electronic talking box instead of sticking to meeting someplace and hoping people would continue to show up.

No, you're not going to have a following online nearly as large as your typical cume for a radio show, but you're building a core and you're building loyalty. As we've discussed here before, having that loyal audience that will follow you anywhere (and patronize your advertisers, and pay you for premium content) is a key to success in the next media age. That's not to suggest that you abandon radio, or that radio (or streaming, or podcasts) won't remain the primary delivery system for what you do. It just means that you should be doing your spitting and arguing everywhere you can.

(If you want to read more about the "Spit 'n' Argue Club," the article's here. There's a passage in there about an attempt to shut down the club, which was described by opponents as "four psychopaths, two religious fanatics and a crackpot." Sounds like the lineup at a pretty entertaining talk station)

===============================

What do you do if it's coming up on showtime and you're fresh out of spit... er, you don't have enough material? Here's what you do: You go to AllAccess.com, you click on "Formats," then "News-Talk-Sports," then "Talk Topics," and there, you'll find everything you need. Just about. Almost. Think of it as having an extra producer throwing hundreds of topic ideas and kicker stories at you, with stupid jokes and commentary to get your creative flow started. This week's pile of stuff includes items about the passing of the inventor of the Frisbee and the architect who designed the Waffle House buildings, an unfortunate utilization of "Super Fart Spray," a stiletto in the eye, how one health insurer is taking on the government and its own customers, the continuing lack of jobs, why Al Gore has become a big fan of chicken poop, more airline fees, how boredom can kill you, a guy with cheese down his pants, a $177 bagel, the continuing saga of Toyota's troubles (now including extra lawyers!), the "trend" (not that there's any proof of it) of people bailing from Facebook and Twitter, where the stimulus money to build wind farms actually went (hint: not to American workers), the Blizzard of '10 (and why telecommuters got shafted in the process), and why beer may be good for you, plus much more about the top stories and "real news" of the week. "10 Questions With..." KMED/Medford, OR PD and host Bill Meyer is definitely worth a read, and you'll find all the industry news coverage and resources you need throughout the site, all free.

Oh, yeah, it's Valentine's Day on Sunday, so have a great time with the one you love. And remember, on Monday, all that candy's going to be half price. Love's great, but so is cheap chocolate.

ANOTHER FAIL NIGHT

I had every intention of getting work done tonight, and writing some good stuff, too.

But... I'm out of sorts. Work took too long. The other writing didn't happen. Neither did some recording I wanted to do.

Pathetic.

Today's Big Tech Thing You Gotta Have Right Now was Google Buzz. They unveiled it with great fanfare, and I have it on my iPod Touch and via Gmail.

My first impression is that it's Facebook and Twitter plus location awareness minus the critical mass of users that Facebook and Twitter have. The web version, within Gmail, is clunky; I'm not going to want to keep it open all day for updates. The mobile version, a web app for the iPhone and iPod Touch and a regular app for Android, makes more sense, and implements the location sensing well -- you can easily see what other people in your area are "buzzing."

But do you want that? I don't know the people who are using this thing in my area, and they're saying nothing but inanities, a lot of "Buzz?" and "I'm just figuring this thing out" and some sub-Twitter things like "Bowling." Yeah, I need to know that. I imagine it'll be great if all of your friends are using it, like Foursquare crossed with Twitter plus easy access to Google search information, but most of the people I know aren't using Gmail and have no real need to go with it. I'm not one of those people who don't "get it"; I DO get it, and I can see what Google's going for here. But I don't see a value proposition that would make it obvious why someone would switch to it over Facebook, or Twitter, or even AIM. Other than the Foursquare-like capabilities, and the ability to see what people in your area -- none of whom you know -- are saying, it doesn't do anything all that much better than what you already have. If you're not a Google fanboy, it's nothing to rush to get... or did you already learn that with Google Wave?

But I could change my mind, and Google could change Buzz, too. Opening it up to non-Gmail users would help. It's worth a look if you have Gmail now.

JUST ANOTHER DEPRESSIVE MONDAY

I keep reading that blogs are dead, Twitter's for old people, Facebook's for random personal stuff, and the future is low-cost amateur writing in short pieces tailored to popular search terms. Giving the people what they want, it seems. Since nobody seems to actively search for "random pop culture musings" or "weird old TV and sports trivia and detritus," maybe this site's days are numbered. Maybe the only outlets left when the dust settles will be the Huffington Post (you work free for "the exposure") or one of those content mills (you get paid practically nothing for cranking out a zillion "how to" pieces).

Yeah, it's Monday, it's been a long day (including a trip onto our roof -- don't ask), and I'm cranky. Sorry. This is all you get today. No wonder blogs are dead.

In tribute to the recently departed former Philly news anchor Ken Matz, here he is in 1977, gamely playing along with a lame promo for his then-new destination, WITI-TV Milwaukee:

SUPER, THANKS FOR ASKING

It's not really true anymore that people watch the Super Bowl primarily for the commercials. The ads, of course, ain't what they used to be; they've moved from the unusual and shocking to a series of low-blow jokes. The game itself was highly entertaining, from the Colts stopping the Saints on fourth and goal to the on-side kick (Hank Baskett, Goat #1) to the interception (Peyton Manning, Goat #2?!?) to the joy that erupted when Manning's last drive ended and the Saints wrapped it up. The commercials, meh. Other than the surprise Dave-Oprah-Jay promo, the rest were unremarkable.

And they reminded me of how odd the whole Super Bowl ad thing is, and what it says for the old model of advertising. Pepsi skipped the game this year, putting the money into social media. Coke bought one with the Simpsons, but it was instantly forgettable. There were plenty of misogynistic ads, a couple with pantsless guys (back to back), and a whole lot of not-funny would-be gags. And with all of it, I wondered what the point was. See, if you have an unfamiliar brand, a quick hit with a memorable spot will have some impact. But if you're Budweiser or Coke or Dodge, what are you gaining? You don't need brand recognition. You don't add sales with a spot. There are cheaper, better ways to remind people you exist. Why blow millions on a spot?

And why are entities which have benefited from public money -- Dodge and the Census Bureau -- spending on spots on the Super Bowl? The Dodge spot was pretty awful, a desperate attempt to get men to crave a Dodge Charger (Mustang for people who can't find the Ford dealership) as the last vestige of their manhood; the Census spot, one of a series created by Christopher Guest with his regulars like Ed Begley Jr. and Don Lake, just sucked, trying way too hard to be offbeat and funny, appealing only to people who like Hollywood-insider humor. Will Dodge sell more cars from that spot? Do those census spots make anyone more aware of the census? WHY ARE THEY SPENDING OUR MONEY ON THIS?

I think there IS one effect these spots can have: the Doritos spots throughout the game made me really, really not want to eat Doritos. Unfunny, unappealing. The Go Daddy ads continue to appeal to the 16 year old horny dudes in the audience; if the ads really do sell domain names, well, more power to 'em, but the TV versions are so unsexy that they don't make me want to go online to see the "uncut" spots.

On a wider level, though, it seems to me that in a world that's moved online, there are smarter ways to spend your marketing budget than a Super Bowl ad. And, in some ways, that goes for any mass-audience TV ads. If you have a message that makes sense in that context -- getting the word out about a sale, for example -- go ahead, buy a spot. Buy a schedule. If you have a new brand, yeah, it can help. If you're established, and you want to maintain the brand in people's minds, you have other options.

Oh, yeah, the Who sucked. I'd rather they bring back Up With People at this point.

CURIOSITIES FROM CHILDHOOD: PSSSSSST!

You could always remember exactly how many S'es were in the name of the dry shampoo called Psssssst, because the jingle was maddeningly catchy. "Clairol freshens your hair instantly/with P-s-s-s-s-s-s-t!" Sure, it was talc in a can, but you never forgot that name.

I was in CVS at the top of the hill today, and, lo and behold:

They still make it! Not Clairol, but someone still makes Psssssst! I almost bought it just to prove that it existed. (Use it? You gotta be kidding)

There's a commercial for this stuff from 1972 in this block of ads, but without a jingle. I can't believe I can't find that jingle anywhere. This'll have to do (and includes "Ring Around the Collar" and "Manly, Yes, But I Like It, Too"):

WAIT! Did I say the jingle isn't on the Internet? Go to the WPGC tribute site and look for 1972. You will end up clicking on every single spot.

What did I do next? I looked for Dippity Do, of course. They did not have it.

But it still exists, too. At least it does in Canada.

AND THEY DIDN'T WALK REALLY FAST, EITHER

You don't think of 1927 as being in color.

But it was. This is amazing footage of London in color from a series of travelogues shown in movie theaters:

Thanks to UniWatch for the link.

More from the same Claude Friese Greene series, Blackpool in 1924 (or, the BFI says, 1925/26):

And Torquay:

There are tons more of this stuff out there. I was talking the other day about how the pop culture detritus of the early 60's reminds me that my early childhood was, indeed, in color rather than the drab black and white of old movies and snapshots that mark, well, everything before my birth. These clips show what living back in the 20's was like, and while things looked older and people dressed differently, the sky was still blue, the grass and trees green. It's rare to find proof of that, but here it is.

This week's All Access newsletter really was a salvage job from an inadvertent revisiting of a recent topic. Maybe it makes sense anyway:

When you do something long enough, you can't help but repeat yourself. In the case of talk radio, that means you resort to your "greatest hits" topics. I do that, too, because a) there are some things that bear repeating, and b) there's just so much you can write about radio. Seriously, you try it sometime.

So, I wrote a column this week and realized only after writing quite a lot of material that I'd really covered the topic a couple of months ago. You'll recall the last column of 2009, in which I offered sage advice on interviews, and, well, I said almost everything I needed to say on the subject. And then I sat down this week and wrote much of it again before that sickening deja vu washed over me.

But there's a reason I went back to interviews, besides a lack of imagination. This is Super Bowl Week, and, naturally, the sports radio stations and networks are all down in Miami at Radio Row doing the musical chairs thing with a parade of guests. I imagine that being on Radio Row ranges from exciting (a Hall of Famer or cool celebrity drops by) to excruciating (no guests in sight, or you're stuck with some guy you don't want).

And then there's what it's like to be a listener. Sometimes, a guest is interesting, has something to say, is engaging and compelling. Too often, though, you get tedium. It seems self-indulgent, and if I'm sitting in traffic and hearing a guest plugging some hair product he was paid to endorse for five interminable minutes, I'm not having a good time.

I wrote in December about the value of NOT being deferential to your guests, the value of positioning yourself as your listener's surrogate to ask the tough questions. That was in the context of political guests, but it applies, in a way, even to sports and celebrity guests. You have to remember that it's YOUR show, not the guest's. YOU control the interview. If there are ANY off-limits areas where you're either afraid to tread or have been told not to go, don't do the interview. You don't have to play that game. You owe it to the listeners to ask what they want asked. If the guest pulls a Mel Gibson and curses you out, well, you're just doing your job.

And, please, if you're going to interview someone, tell your listeners who it is several times DURING the interview, not just at the beginning and end, okay? This is not a Specially Designed For The Personal Portable Purple People Meter suggestion, it's common sense. If I tune in and can't tell to whom you're talking within a minute -- seconds, really -- I'm not going to stick around to find out. All this week, I've heard long conversations where I had no idea who the guest was. I still don't know. And I changed the station.

All right, then. I'd like to think that I didn't repeat myself so much as elaborate on the theme. I'm deluding myself, of course.

==============================

One place there's always fresh material is Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports, and this week is no exception. Really. You'll find topic starters and fresh ideas and kicker stories galore: for example, how about the amazing advance in ketchup packet technology, or the new "Richter scale" for shark attacks, or another girl auctioning off her virginity? And why some folks think Facebook is bad for your relationship, how a Lego gun got a kid in trouble, what happens when cops decide to enforce a cell phone ban, why gravel roads are making a comeback, why wind power wasn't such a good idea in Minnesota, why Men at Work are suddenly in the news again, another kid kept from school because of his hairdo, the glory that is Super Bowl chili, how drinkers are coping with the economy, a truly freakish pregnancy, the continuing consternation over Wall Street bonuses, how investors are finally demanding actual growth instead of cost-cutting, Toyota's troubles, and a reality show judge whose comments about a contestant managed to top anything Simon Cowell could ever say? Plus plenty on the economy, politics, sports, Haiti, and, you know, other important stuff? Yeah, you can use that. Plus "10 Questions With..." a guy who's done about everything in the News and Talk formats, KNX and KFWB/Los Angeles Director of News Programming Andy Ludlum, and the rest of All Access with the usual complete news coverage, columns, resources, and, like, yeah.

Don't forget, too, that if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can now download the All Access app to keep up on industry news and even submit tips; click here to download it, or search for "All Access Music Group" in the iTunes Store. Did I mention it's free? Because it is.

Enjoy the weekend and the Super Bowl. Who am I rooting for? Don't care. I'm an Eagles fan, which means I'm just waiting for baseball season now.

A FACEBOOK MANIFESTO

I do not have a doppelganger. If I did, his picture would not be adorning my page.

I do not want a Smiley Pet, or any other fake gift. I do not want a hug, or poke, for that matter.

I do not want to know of your participation nor progress in Mafia Wars, Farmville, or any other game. I am certainly not going to provide you with anything needed for your success in that endeavor.

I will not change my status to any meme-delivered prewritten message, even if it claims to be for breast cancer awareness or to demonstrate my love for my spouse. I need no help from memes in either regard.

I will not take any quizzes, not to prove my knowledge of trivia, not to pick my "favorite friend," not for anything.

I like Facebook. I like my friends. I just like it without the applications and memes. Is that wrong?

FALSE START

I'm always astonished at what you can find on the Net. Take this:

Someone posted the highlight film from the 1969 Seattle Pilots. There's a lot of dull stuff about the political push for a bond issue to build a dome, but there's also some amazing footage of Sicks Stadium (even the hurried renovation),and 1969 spring training in temporary uniforms (to the tune of a "Classical Gas" cover). There's a ridiculous amount of shots of older guys in suits, and an interminable shot of a fat old lady trying to get to her seat. There's so little about the Pilots left available, though, other than "Ball Four," that it's a shock to see actual footage of actual games, as blurry and brief as it is. (The narrator says that there were a lot of highlights to the season, "too many" to chronicle in the film, because, you know, it's a highlight film and there's no room for highlights. You can tell how bad things were when there are more shots of the general manager than any players) The film ends with Dave Bristol getting hired as the 1970 manager with high hopes for the future; of course, they never made it, moving to Milwaukee at the end of spring training 1970.

But you gotta love those hideous caps with the scrambled eggs on the brim. None of the knockoffs you can get today quite get it right.

600 THANK YOUS

I have hit the 600 friends mark on Facebook. Three are deceased. A few are duplicates. I guess I'd have to have about 605, give or take, to really be at 600.

But then there are the people I don't really know. And the e-mail acquaintances, and old schoolmates I haven't seen in over 30 years. So...

So "friends" means something different in this context. And that's fine. I'm glad every one of the 600 or so are my "friends," just like the select group that follows me on Twitter is appreciated. Sure, the numbers pale next to some others -- my friend Chris has 1,337,899 followers, but he's on TV -- but I'm grateful that a few hundred people actually know who I am. Before social media, I wouldn't have known that.

And that's the value of the "friends." Sure, several people on the list wouldn't recognize me in person, nor me them, but we're in touch, and we probably know more about each other than we ever would have otherwise known. My schoolmates know whatever became of me, and I've learned about the valuable and impressive things they've done since school (they: charity work, civic engagement; me: writing useless snark, doing radio). I'm glad I know them all, even if I don't know them in the non-Facebook sense of the term.

Nice to make your acquaintance. And you. And you. And you and you and you and you and....

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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