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June 11, 2006 - June 17, 2006 Archives

June 12, 2006


This year's Talkers convention turned out to be a lot less painful than past conventions, because I didn't pay a lot of attention to the panels. The panels were mostly the usual overcrowded discussions with the usual aimless arguments and stuff we can hear from the same people on their shows. The trick to these things, I discovered, is to not take what they say on the panels very seriously (well, except for one aspect, but I'm saving that for "The Letter"). You have to think of it as a talk radio social gathering. It didn't hurt that because of the rapid growth of "The Letter" and this blog plus the picture at All Access, a lot more people know who I am and recognized me. I can't hide anymore.

Not that I want to hide much; you get more beer if you actually show up for the parties. There was plenty of beer. Lots of good conversation, too, and it's nice to have the opportunity to meet in person people with whom you only have an e-mail relationship. I missed several people because there wasn't time to get to everything, and I had to turn down an awesome dinner invitation because I'd already arranged another awesome dinner engagement. And I even got a spectacular endorsement from ace talk radio consultant Holland Cooke in his speech. I could get a big head from... okay, a BIGGER head from all this attention.

The actual topics were the usual: general confusion over "FM Talk," debating over "women's talk" (including some great sniping between Daria Dolan and Grace Blazer, plus the added bonus of snarky heckling by Sally Jessy Raphael, who's shopping a show; if she does on the show what she did on the panel, I'd listen), typical headscratching over podcasting and satellite and "the future." There was the requisite panel of a bunch of hosts talking mostly abouyt stuff you can hear them say on their shows every day, a chill-inducing "God Bless America" from Ronan Tynan (everyone in this country should experience hearing him sing that close up and in person at least once), a rather odd and emotional speech by George Takei accepting the "Freedom of Speech Award" for Howard Stern, and cameo appearances by Jerry Springer AND Al Sharpton. And there was popcorn, since the lion's share of the festivities took place in a movie theater. I thought for a fleeting moment about drifting into "The Omen" or "The Da Vinci Code" in the adjacent theaters, just to say I did, but I refrained.

So, what did I learn? Not much. Just that it's best to treat the conventions as a party and a way to get reacquainted with folks you don't see more than once or twice a year. And it's best to try and ignore the content of the panels, lest your blood pressure rise even more than it does from the popcorn. But I'll make one exception, which I'll get to in "The Letter." Look for it in an e-mail inbox near you later this week. (And, yes, right here, too)


June 13, 2006


This week's All Access "The Letter" newsletter is about one thing that struck me at the Talkers convention:

This weekend in New York, I had one of the great experiences of my life, one of those moments that puts your whole career and life in perspective. At that moment, I gained the kind of enlightenment about the industry and about life that is all too rare these days.

That was one really great corner slice of New York Sicilian pizza.

Talk radio convention? Yeah, I went to one. What about it?

I've noted in the past that I'm lousy at these conventions because, well, I don't get out much anymore, and conventions are nothing if not social gatherings and a free beer supply under the guise of a fully tax-deductible business meeting. Things are changing for me, however, with the success of this weekly newsletter and Joel's insistence that my picture has to appear in the News-Talk-Sports section of All Access, meaning that people recognized me. "Hey," they thought, "there's a guy who looks like a somewhat bulkier version of that guy who writes that thing." That's me in a nutshell, so I got to talk to many fine talk radio industry professionals, some of whom did not immediately try to escape. It was good to see all of you.

The panels? For the most part, I could just dig up last year's convention report and cut-and-paste. There was the inevitable FM Talk panel ("Is FM Talk Coming?" It's been here for decades. "Will FM Talk Succeed?" It's succeeded for decades), the inevitable women's talk panel, the inevitable technology warnings ("Podcasting is coming! We don't know how to make money on it!"), the inevitable panel of hosts doing the same schtick they do on the radio. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention Holland Cooke's excellent presentation on the importance of making an immediate impression, especially since he illustrated his point with some very kind words about last week's edition of this very "Letter." (And because he was nice enough to give me that plug, here's one right back: http://www.hollandcooke.com/) Also, we got to hear Ronan Tynan sing "God Bless America," and we didn't even have to take the subway up to Yankee Stadium to hear it; hearing him sing that song in person at least once should be mandatory for all Americans.

But one thing struck me while I sat there in the back of the theater munching popcorn and debating whether to sneak into the theater next door for the next showing of "The Omen." Several panelists and speakers stressed how there's so much opportunity for talk radio people these days. This is your time, they said; stations are going to be hiring, going to be looking for new ideas. There's opportunity! And I thought about the folks I know who are unemployed or underemployed and it occurred to me that the people offering hope aren't offering actual jobs. If you're going to tell me how much opportunity there is, show me the paycheck. Right now, there's opportunity if your name is Whoopi or Penn or Springer. There's opportunity if you just completed a Hall of Fame football career. And between syndication and simulcasting (and weekend brokering), the number of local openings is still very small. I'd like to think there's opportunity for the rest of us, but I'll believe it when I see it on a wide scale. Tell me about it when you're ready to make it happen for real.

Until then, those of you looking for a new job will just have to keep an eye on the job listings at All Access, where, if there IS opportunity, it'll show up first. And those of you who are making the most of your current opportunity can come to All Access News-Talk-Sports for the Talk Topics column, where diligent show preppers prep their shows with stories and links and stupid commentary and stupider jokes. This week so far, you'll find out what happens when you drop Mentos in Coke (answer: Pure Entertainment of the Highest Order), you'll thrill to a legal battle over a baby's Little Elvis, you'll learn how to profit from natural disaster, you'll discover that the hazards of sunbathing aren't limited to skin damage, you'll hear what the next Food That's Bad For You will be, you'll mourn the passing of Flippo, the King of Clowns and Moe Drabowsky, King of Pranksters, you'll get evidence that beer is good for you (in non-moderation), you'll get queasy from reading about the world grilled-cheese-sandwich-eating record, you'll read about the tone teens can hear that adults can't (although for some reason I can hear it and I am far from a teenager), and you'll find several consecutive stories involving public nudity. You get all of that, you get the "real news" about Iraq and Zarqawi and Ben Roethlisberger and Paris Hilton, you get, later today, "10 Questions With..." "The Wall Street Journal This Morning" host (and Knicks PA announcer) Gordon Deal and the Talent Toolkit with sites to tell you more than you need to know about the world of reality shows, and you get the rest of All Access with first/fastest/best industry news, message boards, music, columns, a fully searchable Industry Directory, radio stock information, and an ad for a record "Produced By Scott Storch," which would be more impressive to me if it said "Produced By Larry Storch." (Although I'm aware of who Scott Storch is. But Larry Storch is in a class by himself. Corporal Randolph Agarn of Passaic, NJ!) Did I mention it's all free? Free it is.

Next week: How New York pizza rules the Earth. Or New York bagels. Or those New York "Chinese cookies" with the dollop of chocolate in the middle. Or something else.


June 14, 2006


We finally got around to buying a VHS-DVD recorder to get some of the zillions of videocassettes we've accumulated over the decades onto disc, so I've been going through the unlabeled VHS tapes to see what's on them. Most of it has been old "X Files" or "CSI" or "South Park" episodes we'd time-shifted, nothing to put on DVD.

And then I found Mom and Dad.

I knew we had our wedding tape- a grainy tape one of the attendees had made with a VHS camcorder 16 years ago. And that's the only video of my Mom. She passed away four years later, but on the tape she's smiling and youthful and damn, I miss her. I put it on disc for us, made one for my sister, made a couple just in case. Gotta preserve that.

But I didn't know we had another tape. This one was from a few years ago, made with a shaky hand and a lack of mastery of the zoom function, but it shows a quartet of Boca seniors playing doubles tennis. And one of the four looks familiar- the cap perched oddly atop his head, the gait starting slow and then picking up in a fist-pumping hustle, the little wave on the way to getting a ball that went long.

I last saw Dad play tennis about three years ago, in that interim period after the diagnosis but before the mesothelioma seized control and took his tennis away, took what he most loved to do away. But on the video, there he is, happy doing his favorite activity. I've been saddened since his death that I didn't get more of him on tape- we always assumed there'd be time, but the illness accelerated to a condition in which we wouldn't want to remember him. Playing tennis? Yeah, I prefer that. And now we have it, and we can put it on DVD and make lots of copies so we and my sister can keep his memory- the good memory, the memory nearly obliterated by his late pain and the legal wrangling after his passing- alive. Nobody could take the good memories away, and now they're just a little more vivid.


June 15, 2006


Here's some unsolicited advice for satellite radio, in this case XM: if you're going to have local traffic reports, will you PLEASE hire traffic reporters who can correctly pronounce local roads the way locals pronounce them?

I had to drive up to Fairfax this evening and dutifully turned on XM's Los Angeles traffic channel. And both on the way there and on the way back, I heard traffic reporters butcher some road names: guys, "Las Virgenes" is pronounced "Lahs VERGE-uh-niss." not "lohs ver-HAY-niss" or "lohs verge-EE-niss." And, yes, we say "the" before freeway numbers, but a) we don't emphasize it, as in "THE... 405," and b) there is no such road as "THE... 1." Route 1 is called PCH. Or Sepulveda or Lincoln, depending on where you are. But it's not a freeway, so it's not "The 1."

Back in my day, when we had to crank the transmitter by hand and we used tin cans and string- none of that pussy microphone crap for us- traffic services made sure their staff knew all the local quirky pronunciations and customs. It was just smart business as well as courtesy- you wanted traffic to sound like it was being reported by people who knew the roads. Nowadays, who the hell knows where these reporters are? And it does matter- I found myself distracted, and it took a little time to figure out what they meant when they mispronounced a name or mislabeled a road. (And those taped, repeated reports are also an insult- while XM was telling me that the 110 was slowed down to 35 mph between the 405 and "the 1," I found it relatively empty and going at full speed. The report was very dated. Considering the road has speed sensors and you can get up-to-the-minute numbers on several web sites, the taped reports in the 7 pm hour- if they were taped, which is the only excuse I can think of for the inaccuracy- were useless)

You offer local traffic? Great. Now, make it accurate and make it coherent and understandable or I'll go back to waiting for KFWB "traffic on the ones." Thank you.


June 16, 2006


As the weekend looms and the weather remains hot in that drains-all-energy-out-of-you way, I kinda feel I left it all on the field this week. I'm tired as hell. But I will mention one thing that I heard on the radio that annoyed me. It's this: if you're going to talk about a topic that's a few days old and that every other show's already beaten into the ground, willya just TRY to have something unique and fresh and different to say about it? I heard one show this afternoon bring up yesterday's Bush-makes-fun-of-a-blind-guy story, and all they did was to say "hey, didja hear that...", then they played the clip, then they chortled and kinda did the ha-ha-what-an-idiot thing, and then, er, that was it.

It is not too much to ask that you at least put in a little effort to find stuff that's current and about which you HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. If a host is too damn lazy to come up with something different, and his producer doesn't care, and the PD doesn't care, that's just a waste. And if the listeners don't care, they'll get what they deserve. But I think that listeners DO care, and they'll bail on a show that doesn't bother to work for their loyalty.

Imagine if you're a diligent, talented, hard-working, unemployed host, or toiling away in a small market looking for a break, and you hear some national satellite show just mindlessly blowing through topics with absolutely nothing to say. That's gotta hurt.


June 17, 2006


This week's movie review: "The Da Vinci Code."

I absolutely LOVED the air conditioning at the Regal Avenue 13. The temperature was just right for a hot June day in Southern California. The seating was, in a word, superb- comfortable, plenty of leg room, and many empty seats between us and other patrons, leading to a quiet, irritation-free experience (except for the occasional feedback from one gentleman's hearing aid).

A comic highlight of the afternoon was when the theater played a promotional announcement for a theatrical showing of a Korn concert film, seeing as how the only people in the auditorium under the age of 60 were Fran and myself, and we appeared to be the only two people there who know who Korn is. Another interesting development was the playing of a trailer for "The Omen," despite the film having been in theaters since, yes, 6-6-06- 11 days late, several dollars short. We did not sample the popcorn or other treats offered by Regal Cinemas (at great expense, of course), but the overall moviegoing experience was remarkably incident-free.

The movie? Eh.


About June 2006

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in June 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 4, 2006 - June 10, 2006 is the previous archive.

June 18, 2006 - June 24, 2006 is the next archive.

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