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March 25, 2007 - March 31, 2007 Archives

March 25, 2007

THE OLD COLLEGE WHY

I didn't watch any of the NCAA games this weekend. I know I'm probably missing great basketball, but I haven't made time to watch. I think I know why:

1. I had other things to do.
2. No real underdogs left.
3. Don't care.

I do care, though. I just don't care enough. I think reason number 2 is the killer- they're all good teams and I have no rooting interest. I also have no rooting interest AGAINST anyone, either. I can't work up a good hatred for anyone. Duke's out, I don't hate Georgetown like back in the Thompson era, I don't even care to dislike Yannick's kid. It doesn't matter WHO wins. So, why watch?

Because I appreciate well-played, close, exciting games?

I do, but I need more than that right now. I need a better reason. Otherwise, I have better things to do.

And I wonder if I'm starting to feel that way about sports in general. I still watch, I still enjoy it, but I find myself just having less and less time to devote to it. I have less and less time to devote to everything. I have less and less time.

So I took a pass this weekend. The Florida game was on the TV screens at the Lazy Dog Café and I only glanced at it. I just plain forgot to watch Georgetown-North Carolina. Maybe I missed something... maybe I missed a memory that would have lasted a lifetime.

If so, I'll catch it on YouTube sometime.


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March 26, 2007

FOUR MORE YEARS!

I got a congratulatory e-mail from Jennifer today, and for a moment I had no idea what she was talking about. A LONG moment. And then it dawned on me- Saturday was the fourth anniversary of the launch of this Web site.

Four years? I thought I'd been doing it for a dozen. Sometimes it FEELS that way.

I started this thing on March 24, 2003 as sort of a writing exercise- I wanted to see if I could just write about whatever happened to be on my mind every day, a column no newspaper would run, a place to write about what I can't write about at AllAccess.com. And it's evolved into... well, kind of the same thing, only more and more concerned with pop culture ephemera and less with the news and politics. That reflects where my mind's gone- the political battles are turning me off, especially in light of what's happened in my life since 2003.

Since I started writing at pmsimon.com, my dad passed away (which precipitated a legal battle of sorts that consumed more time and energy than I can ever forgive), we endured some major health challenges, and, um, I got four years older. It's been a strange period of my life, but there have been rewards, one of which is the gratitude I feel for having gotten here. There's also the gratitude I feel that people are actually taking this ride along with me- I never really expected an audience, but an audience is what I've found, even folks who aren't acquainted with me through the radio. That's a healthy ego boost, and I can always use that.

The last week or so has been spotty- I've been distracted, as you can tell. But I'll get back on track soon enough. The plumbing's working, for one thing. That has to count for something. Thank you for stopping by for the last four years. I'll try to reward your patronage with more and better content this year. It's about time I started to do that, isn't it?


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March 27, 2007

TURNS OUT THEY CAN HEAR YOU EVEN IF YOU DON'T SHOUT AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS. ISN'T TECHNOLOGY WONDERFUL?

See this guy?

We were in a bookstore around lunchtime when this guy started talking on his cell phone in the store. That's no crime- everyone does it- but he was loud. Very loud. Rafter-shaking loud. He was discussing some business procedure, and every word was loud and clear to everyone in the store. Distracting isn't a strong enough word for it. People were trying to ignore him, but he wouldn't shut up.

I couldn't resist. I walked over to the shelves where he was shouting away.

"We have to go to City National Bank," he yelled. "The manager there is Shonda, but she's the only one there who can do it."

"So go to City National and ask Shonda to help you!", I helpfully yelled.

The guy looked at me, in shock. I told him he was an inconsiderate asshole. He turned around... and kept yelling, but slightly softer. And I walked away laughing.

Oh, I know I shouldn't do that. I should just walk away, or if I really can't, I should ask a store employee to do something. But they won't do anything, and I figure I was performing a public service. Someone needed to break it to this guy that he's a jackoff who needs to learn to take loud conversations outside or keep the conversations lower. Really. Dude was asking for it.

Okay, so it's not exactly Charles Bronson. But it needed to be done.


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March 28, 2007

FILLER THEATER

No time to do actual writing tonight. So watch this:

I used to see that every day, WABC-TV at 4:30.

Or watch this:

An ABC promo for the season when "The Flintstones" jumped le sharque. Ann Margrock?

Then watch this:

Remember when "stronger than dirt" was a household phrase? Damn, we're old.

They still make at least one of these:

I was too young to realize that Quisp tasted a hell of a lot like Cap'n Crunch. Kinda like how Iams and Eukanuba taste strangely like the store brand.

Enough.


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March 29, 2007

DRIVE, HE READ

Sorry, got back late. But one observation: driving down Robertson from Beverly Hills to Culver City this evening, a guy in a blue car was driving alongside us while reading a book.

No, really, he held a paperback in front of the steering wheel. Yes, he was moving. About 35 mph. Reading. I'm serious.

Forget banning cell phones. Now we have to ban books, too.


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March 30, 2007

THIS WEEK'S "THE LETTER": POT. KETTLE. BLACK.

This week's All Access newsletter utilizes a bit of hyperbole to make a point about the kind of folks who pine for days gone by to the detriment of new ideas. My classmates at Haverford and Villanova Law should be aware that I'm having some good-natured fun with them for entertainment purposes. Sort of:

I'm on some sort of e-mail list for my college reunion. The next reunion is this year, and my old classmates are all excited about getting back together and revisiting the good old days. They're ticking off names of people who'll be attending, and professors they'd like to invite, and memories of momentous occasions and old habits. It's been interesting to read all of this stuff, except for a few things:

1. I have no intention of going to any reunion.
2. I have no recollection of any professors.
3. I have no recollection of my classmates.
4. I have almost no recollection of ANYONE from those days. Or anything.

Well, that's not quite true, and people who know me or read my blog know that I do wallow in nostalgia for certain things, like old TV shows and sports and stuff like that. (And radio, too.) But college, and high school, and most of childhood... nope, can't recall much.

I think that's because we best remember the good parts. College was uneventful for me, so I don't remember much of it or the people involved. But obscure old TV shows and cartoons? The 1980 Phillies? The sound of the ice cream truck that used to troll my neighborhood when I was a kid? I remember those like they were yesterday.

But they're gone, and they're not coming back, which brings me to how this all relates to radio. If there's one thing in which radio geeks like myself, and you, like to indulge, it's nostalgia for the "good old days" of radio. We love old airchecks, we love to remember the days of Musicradio 77 WABC and "Boss Radio" and Super CFL, and with good reason- we grew up with them, we loved them, and they're still a blast to hear to this day. We remember the good parts (and forget how some of us eagerly defected to FM progressive stations because those beloved top 40 stations weren't cool enough for us). And any time the consensus of the "experts" who complain on Internet message boards or in the newspaper deems a present-day station a failure, you get people demanding a return to the old days.

I can't blame them. If you're of a certain age, something like your typical FM Talker geared towards young guys sounds alien, with talk about sex and wrestling and sex and video games and sex and sports. And you hear people say things like "they SHOULD be doing Adult Standards" or "they SHOULD go Oldies to replace that other Oldies station that went all Jack on us" or "they SHOULD hire (insert name of retired elderly political talk host who wouldn't fit the rest of the schedule here)."

They may be right. But even if they ARE right, some people in the industry have a tendency to trash anybody trying anything new and different even before it's on the air, all for the satisfaction of jumping on the corpse if it DOES fail and saying "I told you so." Radio SHOULD encourage innovation, even if it leads at times to failure. It's good- even instructive- to remember the industry's past but not necessarily to live there.

I've been present at the creation of some risky projects, and I have the arrow scars to prove it. In each case, we were asked "what are you doing?!?" ("FM isn't for talk!" or "Talk is for politics!") We were told "it'll never work." We were told "you should bring in (insert name of retired elderly political talk host who wouldn't fit the rest of the schedule here)." We plowed ahead anyway. Some of the projects were successful. Some weren't. But if we'd have taken the safe route, the same people who complained about what we were doing would be complaining about how boring and samey radio's become.

It's not dissimilar to what I wrote about last week, but I'll sort of reiterate it on a more, er, macro level: as an industry, we ought to give new ideas more of a chance, both on a business level and as radio listeners and fans. That doesn't mean looking at one book (coming soon: one PPM month) and pulling the plug if it's not top three 12+, but letting hosts and formats and concepts find their audience, even if it takes a while. I know, publicly-traded broadcasting companies don't HAVE "a while" for things to develop- even this week, one company's travails with one station drew a napalm-like reaction from Wall Street. But if radio- any radio, terrestrial or otherwise- is going to continue to grow and prosper, it has to find what appeals to new generations of listeners accustomed to a different culture and different competing media. You can't always do that by taking the "safe" route and sticking to what worked 20 years ago. The old days? Great, memorable, legendary, s pecial, worthy of honor and never to be forgotten. But it's time to make new memories.

I have no slick segue to the weekly pitch for Talk Topics at All Access News-Talk-Sports, so I won't even pretend- just go there for show prep items galore like Rudy Giuliani's two-fer deal, a dine-and-dash-and-dine-and-dash-and-dine-and-dash-and-dine-and-dash-and-dine-and-dash incident, the nude chocolate Jesus controversy, why someone needs to have a little chat with Johnny Depp, the pros and cons of cooking for your pet, how your apartment could kill your social life, why you might think twice before helping that guy with the disabled truck, what prostitution and soccer have in common, why smokers make lousy workers, a spectacular case of speeding, and the answer to the eternal question: is pot kosher? And don't miss "10 Questions With..." Fox Sports Radio evening host and Knicks and Raiders fan J.T. The Brick and the Talent Toolkit with sites for material about a truly universal thing, especially in radio: getting fired. You'll also enjoy the rest of All Access with Net News- first and best with breaking industry news, and often the ONLY place you'll read about many things happening in the industry- and the Industry Directory and radio's most extensive job listings and much, much more, all free.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: don't forget, April Fool's Day is Sunday, so if you hear something really stupid, outlandish, and unfunny that day, it's probably intended as a joke. Or it might be the new Will Ferrell movie. Hard to tell.


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TO A BETTER YEAR

It's been one year since a really difficult day. We're out celebrating a year of life and good times right now.

Have I ever told you Fran's my hero?

'Cause she is.


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March 31, 2007

WEIRDOS AND YOKELS

What was I saying yesterday about nostalgia? (The difference being that I'm not looking to bring anything back for more than a quick trip down memory lane; I don't think airing old TV shows from the early 1960s in prime time would be preferable to more current programming. But you knew that)

Here we go, more old TV Guides, more scans to preserve pop culture ephemera for the Internet age.

From October, 1965, Cleveland edition:

How about that graphic? Okay, they probably got it from someplace else, but it's cool, even if they cut-and-pasted the call letters and information around it. I'd have watched.

And then there's an ad for a chain long gone:

There was a Burger Chef on Route 23 in Wayne, New Jersey, where I was raised, and we never went there. We preferred a couple of local chains, Goody's and Wetson's, and, of course, Gino's for both burgers and KFC, and later Hardee's and Burger King. We didn't get McDonald's until I was in high school- the nearest one was in Fair Lawn. Burger Chef seemed a little Brand X to us. I know it was huge in the Midwest; I don't remember it closing as much as fading away.

And it looks like someone vomited on that burger. M-m-m-m-m-m-m.

Now, to December 1966, Southwest Texas edition:

This station, KHTV Houston, signed on the air on January 6, 1967. It was Houston's first independent of note (there was a Dumont affiliate on channel 39, KNUZ-TV, in the 50's, but it died), and it did well- it's now KHCW, a Tribune-owned CW affiliate.

(UPDATE: Here's a YouTube clip with the history of KHTV/KHCW:)

And up the road in Lake Charles, LA:

A local show, and a fairly big one. Lee Janot (Lenore Janot Rew) died just this past January 21 in Florida- here's the story from her old station and here's the obit from the Orlando Sentinel. There used to be local shows like hers all over the country- easygoing local variety shows featuring whoever happened to be passing through town. Then everything got slicker and talk shows moved towards either big names (and, hence, Hollywood origination) or Donahue-Oprah-style topics or Springer-Maury exploitation, and there wasn't room for the local-yokel show anymore. I guess that was inevitable. Truth be told, the local shows weren't very exciting, and the few present-day stabs at the form (like WCAU-TV Philadelphia's "10!") are pretty painful. But I'd love to see tapes of old local shows like that. I wonder how much of it exists today- probably not much. The stuff just aired and the tapes got erased. I wish they'd have taken better care of TV history, but tapes cost money, so we're left with a picture of an ad from a TV Guide, and that's all. Oh, and some fading memories, of course.


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About March 2007

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

March 18, 2007 - March 24, 2007 is the previous archive.

April 1, 2007 - April 7, 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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