Friday, April 27, 2007

Barefoot Boy with microphone...continued

Faces made for radio

If you have been following this nonsense...

KVRA hired Frank as general manager and he, in turn, hired a program director named Jim Metcalf. Metcalf was a law school student who had been working as a disc jockey at KYNT in the neighboring berg of Yankton, South Dakota. Lucky for me, Metcalf also hailed from Spencer, Iowa and he hired me, after a brief audition, for the afternoon show on the station. Jim was smart, funny, and very talented. He could have worked in almost any major media market he aspired to, but he was determined to make it big as a lawyer. (Did mention that he was smart?)
Radio to him was merely a paycheck that required no heavy lifting while he pursued his law degree.

Metcalf had a pal named Dick Francis who was a recent advertising graduate of USD and Jim got him hired as Frank's sales manager. Francis was from New York and had big plans for a career in advertising, marketing or anything that paid well and required him to do little more than look good and talk pretty. His wife, as I recall, was already back in New York and had no plans to join him on the frozen and dusty plain of South Dakota. Francis was "camped out" on the couch in Metcalf's apartment and it was there that the two conspired to drive the "big guy", Frank, crazy. They would have him paged for fake phone calls in the radio station; contradict him in front of clients and employees, and in general make him appear even more clueless than he was. It wasn't long before lack of control of the operation and the absence of of any appreciable revenues on KVRA made Frank the logical fall guy for an impatient couple of owners like Ted and Macy. He was dispatched to a richly deserved obscurity selling cheap suits at Duke's men's store and eventually wound up back at WNAX selling hog reports.

With Frank deposed, Francis lost interest in the radio station and sleeping on Metcalf's couch. I'm not sure when the exact departure took place, but it was definitely time for "this bird to fly" as the future advertising tycoon would put it. Richard "Dick" Francis took a marketing job with General Foods for the fantastic annual remuneration of $16,000, (good dough in those days) and was off for points East...never to be heard from again.

As Frank's replacement, an old buddy of Ted's was brought in as general manager. Monroe Alvin "Monk" Johnson had been a very successful sales manager at KORN in Mitchell, South Dakota the home of the world famous Corn Palace. Monk looked like a cross between Artie Johnson and Don Knotts. He came complete with a bow tie and out sized tortoise shell glasses.
"Sports is my meat", Monk declared as he introduced himself to the staff. "I'll be emphasising local high school and college sports." This promise came complete with daily morning sports round-ups featuring the Monkster in his high pitched dufus delivery that we all became quite deft at aping. He often bragged to us that he had once fired Gary Owens when he was at KORN. I often wondered why anybody would take pride in having fired one of the icons of radio, but there was a lot about Monk that made no sense.

I really didn't care who was managing the station. I was going to college and paying for it with the money I was making doing what I was born to do. I was being a wise ass and honking the hits in the afternoon and I wasn't yet twenty. Life was good!

Almost immediately, Metcalf began trying the same old "gotcha" type tricks that had worked so well to undermine Frank on the new and improved general manager, Monk. In spite of appearing to be another rollover victim for "The Met", Monk was on to him from the start. I remember a confrontation one day in the control room while I was on the air...Metcalf questioned Monk's authority on some aspect of station operation and Monk invited him to continue the conversation in his office. Metcalf never revealed how that exchange went, but almost immediately the baiting and mocking stopped. In addition, Metcalf seemed to lose interest in the station and his position as program director. He had a new "high maintenance" girlfriend anyway and was looking for bigger paychecks than he was ever going to see in broadcasting. He was now determined to get his law degree...and GET RICH.

to be continued...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"LIVE..From 3 Million Acres of Cow Toilet!"

(made for each other!)

The summer theater experience in 1967 convinced me that I had little talent for the theater and that the best thing for me to do would be to set my sights on a lower rung of the showbiz ladder. Since I had no circus connections, radio would be my destiny.

My fellow thespian/garbage man pal, Steckler, stayed active in the theater for a couple of reasons. First, he loved women and found an abundance of them fighting over any straight guy in the dramatic arts department, and second...he had an immense gift for comedy which made him very successful in his university career. I managed to get a job at the university radio station, KUSD, and handled everything from newscasts to hosting the afternoon opera shows. I also swept floors. I was a broadcast mogul and I was LOVING IT.

I remember once skipping an entire act of an opera which was being featured that particular afternoon. You see, I hated opera and couldn't wait to get the damn thing over so that I could move on to the next scheduled program which happened to feature a promising young disc jockey...ME. The station got many calls and letters, (in those days people actually knew how to write), from all the uptight opera buffs; management damn near fired me. I threw myself on the mercy of the program director and managed to hang on after receiving a major ass chewing. A couple of weeks later I was sorry that I had groveled and begged at all because I got word that a new AM/FM station had been licensed to Vermillion, South Dakota (where the university is located) and that the station would be on the air in late 1967. A by God COMMERCIAL radio station with hit records, jingles, commercials and DISC JOCKEYS! I knew that this would be my ticket to, well...everything I ever dreamed of.
I applied immediately!

KVRA was to be managed by a guy named Frank. Frank was a nice guy who had been in sales at WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota. WNAX was a regional powerhouse manure spreader that blasted farm reports and polka music that seemed to keep all the rural knuckleheads in the barn happy. Frank was a natural fit for the place and should have stayed there until all the cow flop on his shoes had fossilized. But NO, Frank wanted to be the general manager of a radio station and KVRA's owners, attorney Ted Dolney and railroad executive Ralph Macy hired him to be the "Big Guy"...

to be continued...(probably a mistake)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So Long to one of "The Best and the Brightest"

David Halberstam

I love books. My wife does too.
One of the paramount reasons for our last move was the need for more shelf space for our books. Some people take advantage of their local library, but I would rather own a book that I can refer to when needed or bore my friends with quotes I think they should hear. (We professional gasbags cherish this right.)

Books are a comfort. I'm taking some right now from the David Halberstam tomes I have in my library. I will miss looking forward to his latest effort. He was one of our best in a business where the bench is growing mighty thin. His prose was natural. It had that "cotton candy" quality that makes reading just kind of dissolve into your consciousness and end all too soon.

If you have never read Halberstam, here is a sample of his work from the terrific "Summer of 49", a wonderful tale of that year's pennant race between the Yankees and the Red Sox:

"That summer, I had just turned fifteen years old. Fifteen is a difficult age for a boy anyway, and I was, I think, a less successful fifteen-year-old than most. I was small for my age, thin, and bespectacled. I was not particularly good at things boys are supposed to be good at; instead I was good at things (schoolwork) grown-ups want them to be good at but which, of course, win them no approval from their peers. Naturally enough, I soon solved that dilemma by becoming less skillful at my schoolwork. In 1948, my father suffered the first of two heart attacks, and he recovered only partially. There was a sense of foreboding in our home. There was good reason for it--a year later he died."

As my friends in the newspaper business would say, "he could type some".

Great writers are a gift we can all enjoy. They live on through their work and we can take them down from the shelf whenever we miss them. I'm already missing David of our very best.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's what "YA KNOW" at this skool...

The first thing every morning I need to hear a network radio newscast. I don't want to hear some local newsie reading national news and making monkey bucks. (see peanuts)

I usually catch the CBS radio news on KNX out of Los Angeles. For some stupid reason, it seems that my local San Diego stations don't carry network feeds at the top of the hour; so I don't listen.

This morning I was taking a little longer to pull myself together and listened a few minutes beyond KNX's CBS news. The local anchor began talking about the tragedy at Virginia Tech and welcomed Dr. Paul Levinson, the chair of the communications department at Fordham University in New York, to the show. Dr. Levinson brought some, I thought, worthwhile insight to NBC's airing of the killer's insane narcissistic rant and rightly criticised the brass at the network for airing it. His take on the video was essentially that it did nothing more than fulfill this nutjob's most fervent wish for fame. I think that he is correct and would also add that no matter what the "suits" at NBC say, the network was only looking to score blockbuster ratings with their exclusive scoop. (It worked.)

What detracted from Dr. Levinson's comments was his nearly constant use of "ya know" to punctuate his remarks. Is it too much to expect the head of the communications department at a major university to be articulate enough to NEVER fall back on that verbal tic? It really detracted from what he had to say. THEN...just as I was about to turn off the radio and try to just relax and chalk this gaff up to modern lazy speech, he said: "Our son just graduated college..."

Am I wrong here? Isn't this inexcusable for a person with a doctorate in communications??!! Maybe, just maybe, you would cut some slack for the head of the math department. But, the head of the communications department says, "graduated college" instead of "graduated FROM college"?! Isn't that a lot like the math chair getting his long division wrong or forgetting to carry the six when he's adding some figures?

Ya know!

Friday, April 20, 2007

BOFFO the garbage dump

(l-r: Copper & Steckler)

Two radio reprobates reunited in Hollywood circa 2005
Both newly fired and anticipating spending more "time with the family".

The saga continues...

Steckler and I auditioned for any and every part in each play produced that year for the University theater department. We were so completely full of ourselves that we had no idea we were bringing little more than an inflated sense of our talent to each tryout, but by God we were having a wonderful time. By this time I had quit the fraternity. Who knew they had rules??! I was fine with being on the drinking team and attending the parties, but rules or meetings! The summer after my freshman year Steck and I were accepted as actors at the Black Hills Playhouse, a summer theater that employed both student and professional actors in a beautiful little compound located in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Playhouse was the creation of a marvelous old character named Warren M. "Doc" Lee. Doc had started the Playhouse in the 1940s utilizing an old WPA camp as the initial facility. It was a labor of love that continues to this day, though Doc has long since moved on to that big stage in the sky. Through the work of many others who came to love the place, the Playhouse is still regarded as one of the finest summer theaters in the country.

Instead of starring in shows at the playhouse, Steckler and I spent the summer primarily parking cars for the evening performances and as garbage men during the morning hours. The "Chanel Boys" Doc dubbed us after the famous fragrance. We would rise at 5 in the morning and make the rounds of dumpsters collecting everything from tampons to lots of empties of Doc's beloved Pinch scotch. The hard part was dragging our sorry asses out of bed at that hour, but after we were up it was a pure joy to tool around in the playhouse dump truck grabbing rubber and doing doughnuts to our heart's content. The highlight of our morning garbage run came as we made our way through an honest to God herd of buffalo at the dump and deposited our smelling cargo amongst the other Black Hills effluvia. The dump was sort of a science project gone terribly wrong. One of the many interesting items deposited there that summer was an ENTIRE HORSE...hooves and all. We observed the decomposition with amazement and were actually so enthralled with the wonders of all that decay that we were often late for our traditional breakfast of strawberry shortcake and Carling Black Label beer which we enjoyed at nearby Legion Lake. The waitresses at the Legion Lake lodge marveled at our ability to eat this daring repast while still decked out in our crap covered putrefied coveralls. We also smoked enough Luckies and English Ovals to have done a passable impression of New Jersey. (Where were the talent scouts when you needed them??) As I think back on that summer, it amazes me that both of us are still on the right side of the sod at age 59.

to be continued...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where are the parents?

Maybe I've missed it.
There is only so much of the coverage that you can watch.
But, where were the parents of this loon at Virginia Tech? It seems beyond the realm of possibility that they could have missed the fact that their kid was completely "off the rails". Even if he was only home for a brief vacation, how can you hide that kind of crazy?
Just wondering...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ESCAPE from high school!

My final year of high school was spent marking the days until I could spring free from the confines of my parent's home. I had been accepted at the University of South Dakota for the Fall term of 1966 and could hardly wait to let the debauch begin. USD had the well deserved reputation of being a party school of major proportions. South Dakota was a "19" state. The "19" being the age when anyone could legally buy BEER...Reason enough to inspire my "thirst" for knowledge.

My student deferment secured, I enrolled in the University as a broadcasting major. This was meant to be as it was a well known fact that I was destined for radio greatness and just coincidentally that curriculum required not a single course in math OR a foreign language. It was as if Homer Simpson had designed the program just for guys like me. DOH! My freshman year was spinning in greased grooves. I pledged a fraternity and immediately proved to be a phenomenal addition to the TKE drinking team. We took many beer drinking trophies that year with me being one of the stalwarts of the "starting five". Our team anchor, a Minneapolis guy named Tom Pokala, was my hero. I will never forget watching him get up off the puke covered basement floor of the Varsity Tap after we had won yet another chug-a-lug contest against all the other fraternities. He hauled his flabby ass up the stairs to the main bar and ordered himself a celebratory martini before he reeled out the door. He was the Leonardo DaVinci of booze. A man who had mastered his medium. I worshiped the ground he crawled home on.

About this same time I was getting involved in theater at USD. It appealed to the egotist in me and since there was nothing going on in local radio it was...something to do. In the theater department I met one of the craziest, funniest, and most remarkable bastards I have ever known: Douglas Marsden Steckler. "Dougie" or "Steck", depending on whether or not you lifted the lid before "taking a drain", was and is one of the true wild unfettered minds of entertainment. After a long and successful run with Second City, SCTV, and Emmy winning writing credits for some of the biggest comedies on television, Steck wound up in radio teamed with Tim Conway Jr. on KLSX in Los Angeles. After years of giving me grief about radio, he snuggled up to the teat that nourished me for almost forty years. But, that came later; in 1966 we were just a couple of kids with more nerve than brains...And we were going to be STARS.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a RADIO TYCOON is born...

"The music goes 'round and 'round and it comes out here!"

Let's see...Where was I?

It took me about a year to convince the powers at KICD that I was ready to take whatever broadcast challenge they were willing to hand me. The challenge turned out to be KICD-FM.
"Eff Emm?? What the hell was that? At this juncture, FM was strictly something that was experimental and unprofitable. (The latter being a cardinal sin in radio.) In any case, KICD had been granted a license for an FM station by the FCC and they, by God, were going to put it on the air. I was hired to make tapes for the automation system that was being installed to play the music to be broadcast on KICD-FM. What a thrill to spend hours on end in a studio recording Lawrence Welk's band doing their version of "Wooly Bully".And who could forget "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" by 101 Strings? All of this musical hell was going to be heard by NOBODY but the general manager's wife's bridge club, but they were paying me $1.75 an hour to get these heavy hits on tape. So, who's complaining?

Life was good. In my mind I was a big deal in radio. I was 17, having fun, getting paid AND there was no heavy lifting like there had been at my old job as a carry out boy for Oscar Swanson, "The Watermelon King", at Swanson' Super Store on Spencer's Miricle Mile. (More like a "Miracle Two Blocks", but I think that comes under consideration as legitimate puffery.) I know that the girls in my class seemed impressed. At least I convinced myself that they were. This was, after all, the mid sixties when disc jockeys probably had the market in teen-age girls cornered. Well, maybe OLDER disc jockeys did. Little did I know that radio...and teenage girls were both WAY over rated.

I had been toiling at KICD for about six months when I discovered the bar in the basement. It was actually a party room used for client functions and as a place for on-air personnel to crash when the roads became impassable because of snow. Or, maybe it was a place for on-air types to sleep one off when they were ploughed. This station was seriously equipped! KICD was the second most profitable station in Iowa largely due to the rich agribusiness in the area. Thus, it had radar weather gear, automatic transmitter logging, several thousand square feet of studio and office space and...this FULLY STOCKED BAR.

It was a Friday night in the fall of 1965. I was getting paid extra for working that evening helping whoever was on the air by manning the phone and gathering high school football scores. High school ball scores were, and probably still are, a very big deal in that corner of the prairie. As the night wound down and the calls had dwindled, my pal David Erickson came by the station. I showed him around and he too was greatly impressed by the full bar in the basement.
"Look at all that booze," I said. "They'll never miss it if we help ourselves to a blast or two."

I do remember throwing empty bottles into the air in the parking lot and laughing like a moron as they crashed to the pavement, but the rest is lost in the ether.

The next day I was asked to turn in my keys and pick up my final check. A radio has-been at 17. I was never able to tell my parents what happened, though they continued to ask. I was back at Swanson's within the week; bagging groceries instead of chicks.

to be continued...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A$ I WA$ $AYING...

I recently learned that Google constantly crawls blogs looking for mentions of various products that they might tie into sales of display advertising on individual blogs.


Of course it would be wrong to drop in product "mentions" just to enhance the sale of advertising aimed at readers of this "King of Beers" very fine "Spic N' Span" blog where I modestly contend the "rubber meets the road". No, this blog always "thinks outside the bun"! It will always be "finger lickin' good" and "committed to excellence".

Rest assured that you will always get "40% of your daily value of fiber AND 100% great taste" every day; not to mention a major helping of "zoom zoom zoom".

So, check right here again tomorrow for another blog installment that not only "tastes great" but will also be "less filling".

And now, a word from our sponsor...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm Pretty Sure It was bad companions.....

It was the guys I hung out with that led me down the road to radio and ruin.
Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

When my family moved to Iowa I began the eighth grade at Spencer High School. Why they made eighth graders part of the high school experience eludes me, but it did give all of us 13 year-olds exposure to the more mature kids who already were shaving, smoking and sporting very believable fake IDs. In other words, we had role models. You know, thugs you could look up to.

My first day at Spencer High I took my usual spot in the back row of every class I attended. The back row is always fleshed out with trouble makers: guys getting ready to run off to sea kids...all the know-it-alls who just wanted to get the usual school bullshit out of the way so that they could get on with their lives. The back row was where I met two guys who would become my best friends and life long pals: David Erickson, ("The Skipper") and John Hall. Erickson I have written of before in this blog. He DID run off to sea where he had a long career as a merchant marine ship captain. He skippered big oil tankers and other large ships for over thirty years and for the last couple of years has been running his own company, New England Harbor Services, out of Boston. Hall ran his own advertising agency, owned a newspaper and these days is the marketing director for a major manufacturing firm. We all had big plans and places we wanted to go. Mostly, we did it all. I know I have no regrets and I'm fairly certain they don't either.

Erickson, like me, was a radio nut and a big fan of the Storz stations. Todd Storz was one of the pioneers of Top Forty radio and owned stations in Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. Louis, New Orleans and Miami. We were both enamoured of WHB, ("World's Happiest Broadcasters), out of Kansas City. It came into Spencer like a local signal and Erickson and I would spend hours listening. Several times we sent telegrams urging Bob Elliott, the afternoon drive guy, to play or break certain records. He was amused at first, but later told us to save our money and stop bothering him. Jerk! Didn't he know we were up and coming radio talent??? Well, maybe not. Maybe it was time to do something about that.

By the summer I was 15 I had begun hanging out at KICD. I was willing to fake liking the station in order to ingratiate myself to anyone who could possibly hasten my journey to be on the air. I knew if the bozos would just give me a chance to crack a mic I would be on my way to the pinnacle of the radio biz. Perhaps, if I was lucky, a gig in Des Moines! I busied myself ripping wire copy for the news department, running errands for the always lazy disc jockeys and ripping off trade magazines that were in abundance around the "old radio ranch". In those days, if you ever wanted to be on the air, you had to have a third class radio/telephone permit with a broadcast endorsement. This required passing a test administered by the FCC, (those were the days when they gave a rat's ass about radio stuff), that consisted of stupid questions that had nothing to do with modern radio. "If a Japanese Zero is approaching at 10 O' it proper to radio your position to the radio room on the aircraft carrier?" Unbelievably stupid questions that were left over from World War II made up the bulk of the test, but YOU HAD TO PASS IT to be on the air.

I took the test in St. Paul, Minnesota that summer and only missed one question. Anything you need to know about wartime aviation radio procedure,...I'm still your man.

to be continued....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seemed Like an IDIOTIC idea!

Garfield flambe' (now that's a good idea!)

Just when you think people can't get any dumber...
You open up the paper and see a story like the one I saw in today's North County edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Lack of sponsorships delays display of 40 Garfield statues

The story, by Lola Sherman contained some of the following:
"Five-foot-tall statues of Garfield, the sassy comic-strip cat, will not be drawing tourists along old Highway 101 this summer after all.
"A plan to install 40 individually decorated Garfields between La Jolla and Oceanside is on hold because not enough people were willing to spend $4500 to sponsor a replica of the lasagna-loving feline."

Where do I begin to express the magnitude of how stupid I think this "idea" is??? Good God, there isn't enough space in infinity times ten to express how crack-brained it is. Please, oh please, make it NEVER happen! Garfield is the single most un-funny comic in the history of newspapers! I long ago concluded that the only reason the strip continues to run in most major dalies is because of the slavish devotion of humorless cat lovers who find this useless hairball..cute. Not funny...CUTE! Yeah, about as cute as a bad case of athlete's foot.

I'll continue to monitor this disaster in the making and do everything in my power to snuff it out. There is a woman associated with an animal center located in Rancho Santa Fe who is still attempting to make this cultural equivalent of Armageddon happen by securing a "title sponsor".

Any thoughts on how a five-foot-tall talking pile of pig flop might go over?

You're right. That's probably one we save for Iowa.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

EIGHT Transistors...This could be the start of something BIG!

This is how people listen to the radio...Isn't it?

It began as all radio careers pretty much begin. Dumb kid saves money; buys EIGHT transistor radio instead of the measly six transistor job like every other kid; spends endless hours listening to guys his Dad's age, (only COOL), play Hound Dog and Wake Up Little Susie on the radio. In southern Michigan I could listen to WILS in Lansing, WKHM in Jackson, and Radio 80 CKLW out of Windsor, Ontario (Detroit) during the day. night...whole new vistas opened up to this Midwest knucklehead. When the sun went down, it was MAGIC time. Radio's sky wave brought in 50kw blowtorches like: WLS, WBZ, WABC, KDKA and others into my world from exotic locales like Chicago, Boston, New York and Pittsburgh. My small town yokel imagination was in overdrive! While listening I was no longer some dork living in a town of 1800 "right smack dab in the middle of the mitten" of Michigan. No, I was a sophisticated urbanite who was headed for big things via my soon to be launched career in broadcasting. In fact, by the time I turned 13 I was already subscribing to Broadcasting Magazine and telling anyone who asked that I was going to be on the radio one day. Me and Marconi!

I turned 13 in March of 1961. It would be an interesting year for my family as Dad had been transferred by his company and in August Mom, Dad, my brother Steve and I moved to Spencer, Iowa. This was a big step as far as I was concerned. Spencer, after all, had a population of 10,000 and...a RADIO station. I was convinced that I had made the Bigtime. A census in five figures and a full blown radio station!

It wasn't until we actually arrived in Spencer that I realized that my characterization of the station, KICD, being "full blown" was more apt than I could have possibly imagined. The station BLEW monkey chunks!! It was the typical small town rural American poorly produced no talent horrible waste of kilowatts that most of them still are today. Not only didn't they have decent announcers, they had no jingles; no national or regional spots; no network ANYTHING I wanted to hear. What they did have plenty of were reject jocks from other podunks, a bunch of horribly written live commercials, crappy music that only a parent could handle, and a major doofus farm director who called himself, "The Farmer's Friend". Geezus, he was awful!! Every morning he could be heard droning interminably about how many happy heifers and slap happy hogs had marched off to Omaha or Sioux City to become steaks and sausage. God, I hated that station! Later, when I was in high school, I worked at KICD. (Hey, it was my first real RADIO job.)

Sometime during my brief employment at "The Mighty 1240", ( I begged them to call themselves that.), the ever faithful "Farmer's Friend" got himself caught in "the tractor's nuts" as we like to say in the Midwest. He was fired for puttin' his "prize hog" to a hooker in the general manager's office. This is what apparently had been "getting him up" every morning at 5 for the past several years and went a long way toward explaining those long interludes of Hawaiian music during the farm market reports. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

to be continued....

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Warming Up to Global Warming

"Hey, where's the beer?"

So what's the big deal?
Global warming this; global warming that...WHO CARES?!

Frankly, I'm always just a little chilly anyway. It seems like I have a sweatshirt or sweater on most everyday. Kicking up the temperature is just fine by me. Think of the savings on your heating bill!

Just to put it in the proper perspective for you, I have compiled a list of just a few of the positive outcomes of BIG BAD Global Warming.


Melted butter pretty much at the ready for all occasions.

More topless business ventures launched. (car washes, bars, barber shops, etc.)

Fishing becomes easier as fish come to surface to find out what the hell is going on.

Free government ice cream! (I can't be sure of this one, but the DEMOCRATS are in charge.)

No more yellow snow.

No more car problems. You will be able to ride much larger insects to work.

Banana farmers in Minnesota no longer receiving government subsidies for crop failures.

More kids able to take early retirement thanks to increased lemonade stand sales.

Able to cook an entire roast in your pants.

Al Gore MELTS!

Global warming...embrace it!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Breaking I ran away to join the RADIO

Nipper...considering a radio career

"How does that work?" It was my guttersnipe pal, Bob Chamberlain. "I mean...the guy just sits on his ass and plays records and they pay him and everything." Bob had a way of cutting through all the crap and getting to the meat of the matter even though he was only eleven years old. I looked up to him. I was nine and was looking to move into the media business just like Bob. He already had a paper route which took him to the far reaches of the hamlet of Leslie, Michigan delivering truth in the guise of the Detroit Free Press. Bob was making his pithy observation as we listened to the radio and shot pool in the basement of the home of Van and Scottie Aldrich. We were at the Aldrich manse because our parents, Bud and Cece Chamberlain and Cop and Eleanor Copper had dragged themselves and a combined seven kids to the Aldrich's for what was called in those days, a...vacation. It made all the sense in the world to families like ours in 1957 to wend our way from southern Michigan to beautiful Findley, Ohio to really live large. After all, for our parents it was a free place to hang out and, at least for me, it was the chance to live the Ohio dream of legal fireworks and the possibility of illegal firewater at an early age. But I digress...

RADIO. Yep, Bob was right. He was always right! I knew it for a fact when he very painstakingly and graphically explained to me what our parents were actually up to just a few months before another obnoxious brother or sister showed up. I know for a fact that I never looked at mom with quite the same respect as I once had. "You let Dad DO THAT??!!" Oh well, at least Santa was still "the goods", even if mom had fallen from her pedestal.

Radio, in those days, was reinventing itself after having its ass handed to it by television. Gone were the big band remotes, the soap operas, and the likes of Jack Benny, George and Gracie, Fibber McGee and the Shadow. They weren't idiots. They were on TV! The real money was all going to TV. See ya later radio.

After a few years of radio sliding into entertainment oblivion, innovators like Todd Storz and Gordon McClendon concluded that people would actually listen to the radio if you played the same moronic tunes over and over again. Storz was the first to discover this as he and his program director, Bill Stewart, observed customers and waitresses at an Omaha watering hole pumping nickels into a jukebox to hear the same few songs nonstop. They may have been drinking while engaged in this important research; so perhaps their conclusion is suspect. But, damn... it worked! And the whiskey was good.

Well, it was on the aforementioned sojourn to Ohio that started me thinking about this radio scam that Bob had so succinctly summed up as "getting paid to sit on your ass and play records". I pretty much concluded right then and there I would set my sights on the lofty career goal of...disc jockey! A career path that would lead me to fame, good times, major babes, and I was sure...FORTUNE!
Did I mention that I was nine...and an idiot?

to be continued...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tough Times

Kick ass; take names

Kiss ass...kiss ass

Am I the only one who misses leaders who actually stood for something?
Have we, as a nation, forgotten the lessons of two world wars?

When did it ever make any sense to mollify people who wish to harm us? I'm grateful that my father isn't here to see how a country once united against evil and almost always willing to forget partisan politics in favor of doing what was right for our nation has become a country consumed with only the desire for political power purchased with transparent demagoguery.

Where is our next Winston Churchill, FDR, Ike or others like them? We need to come to our senses as a nation and toughen-up or surely we will not survive.

Stop coddling terrorists, stand up for our rights, come together in sacrifice for our own common good...or we will certainly have our future professed through the insane blur of the global terrorists' vision.

This is a test. Right now...We are failing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

WHY is this guy SMILING??

"Honey...I'm home!"

Is there a list somewhere?
You know, a list of all the guys who some clown in Spamland thinks need to get one or all of the wiener enlargement e-mails. (Oh, excuse me..."Male Enhancement" e-mails...)
I'm fairly certain that I have never cried myself to sleep worrying about this, nor have I exercised my inalienable right to order Viagra and hard core pornography in large quantities over the Internet. So, why do I and everybody I know, including women, get tons of these damn e-mails every day? And...where is our government in all of this? Shouldn't they be worried that the whole country will be consumed in lust and debauchery and therefore not able to do our taxes. What about all the property destruction resulting from all that enhancement?! Think of the all of the homes knocked down by unwieldy enhanced appendages! Perhaps this is all a scam cooked up by big financial institutions designed to rescue them from their sub-prime home loan debacle. I smell conspiracy!

Oh, by the way, since we are speaking of homes...I just today received another batch of those "free" address labels that charities and some businesses send out attempting to guilt trip you into donating money to various causes. Today's labels were unique. They say: Ken Copper/ Or current resident, followed by my address. I can't wait to start using them.

I'm afraid I'll have to cut this short. I just got an interesting e-mail from a fellow in Nigeria who's having some trouble with a banking transaction. I sense economic opportunity!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

It's Painful...But I Have Insentive!

They made us exercise every morning in the Army.
By "they" I am referring to the sadists of various rank who delighted in making guys run and do things like Jumping Jacks until you wanted to lose all of your breakfast and maybe even some of the whiskey from the night before.

When I got out of the Army I promised myself never to break a sweat again and was good to my word for over twenty years. Then about thirteen years ago one of the lowest forms of life on the planet, a radio time sales representative, approached me about doing a series of commercials for a local gym in San Diego. Now, you must know that since very early in my radio career I had learned to either hide or run away at top speed whenever a "Time Slime" approached. They invariably want something from you and it usually involves the commercial prostitution of your very soul.
"Look...I promised the client that you'd do it." Always meant an on air personality had been sacrificed by the sales rep for the "greater good" of the station's bottom line. I figured this was no exception.

"The client is willing to sign on for a 52 week schedule and you'll get cash plus a free membership and...they'll throw in a trainer for you." He had me at CASH. I thought I would be able to show up for a few sessions at the gym; quietly quit going and...continue to cash their checks. It was a deal.

The surprising thing was that after a few sessions with the trainer, Jeff, (a genuinely nice hillbilly from one of the Carolina's), I actually began to feel better and had lost a few pounds. I now had INCENTIVE. Not only that, during my next physical my doctor noted that my blood pressure and cholesterol were in a much friendlier neighborhood and that I could stop taking medication for the former. Amazing!

In the months that followed I found that I was in constant need of new incentives to continue my flirtation with good health and exercise. A compliment about how much better I was looking would be good enough to keep me going for at least a week. I learned to read magazines and trade publications as I slaved away on the treadmill or bike, which was further incentive as I now felt like I was accomplishing something as I sweated my way to good health. It has been like that for all of the thirteen years. Boredom sets in and some new prod is needed to get me to the gym. I'm involved in a constant search for a reason to do it.

My wife, Linda, joined me in this "get in shape" insanity after I had been at it for about a year. She initially joined a gym near her work, but since she retired and I "got quit" from the station that had the deal with the gym, we have both been torturing ourselves at a new health club near our home. It ain't easy...but we do it.

Just last week I was wondering why I still bothered with all of the exercise. The usual "gym ennui" was settling upon me once again. On our ride home the other day, both of us were commenting on how OLD we were feeling as compared to the others at the gym. We don't have tattoos; I have no hair to spike with styling gel; we seem to be the only members who know who Soupy Sales is. You know...the typical complaints. And then Linda said, "I can't believe the number of women in the locker room who don't put on any underwear when they get dressed."

I'll be back at the gym first thing tomorrow morning! I'm newly inspired!
This will keep me going for at least another SIX MONTHS!
The good cholesterol and better blood pressure won't work anymore. THIS WILL!

Is she one of them???? How about her? Maybe I should just ask Linda. No, no it's better this way.
Maybe her????
No VPL there!
Lechery and me...working hand in hand for better health.