Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Skunk Works of News92fm

“The Skunk Works” is an alias for the top-secret research and development headquarters of Lockheed Martin Aircraft. These are the guys who’ve come up with fabulous innovations like the U-2 Spy Plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-22 Raptor. I could tell you where the Skunk Works is…but then I’d have to shoot you.

The genesis of this highly-classified R&D division grew out of a request by the military in 1938 to develop what would become the amazing, twin-boomed P-38 Lightning. Much of the research that resulted in this 400-mph+ aircraft was done in secret, without a contract, because the engineers working on the fighter knew there was a better way to build an aircraft.

Official Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works logo
In the ‘40’s, Al Capp’s comic strip, “Lil’ Abner,” described the “Skonk Works” as a rundown factory on the out-skirts of Dogpatch that emitted the foulest of odors from the rendering of skunk carcasses and shoe soles into some unknown concoction, the fumes of which were toxic.
According to the entry in Wikipedia, “The original Lockheed facility…was located adjacent to a malodorous plastics factory. According to Ben Rich’s memoir, an engineer showed up to work one day wearing a Civil Defense gas mask as a gag. To comment on the smell and the secrecy the project entailed, another engineer, Irving Culver, referred to the facility as "Skonk Works".

“As the development was very secret, the employees were told to be careful even with how they answered phone calls. One day, when the Department of the Navy was trying to reach the Lockheed management for the P-80 project, the call was accidentally transferred to Culver’s desk. Culver answered the phone in his trademark fashion of the time, by picking up the phone and stating "Skonk Works, inside man Culver".
"What?" replied the voice at the other end.
"Skonk Works", Culver repeated. The name stuck.”

(I actually did this a few days ago. There's only one phone operating in our loan-out space, and it rang during a meeting. I picked up the phone and answered, "Skunk Works." The caller was pretty surprised...and a little disappointed that the person she was seeking was no longer employed or at that number.)

For the past few weeks, I have been working at an undisclosed location on a very exciting Radio project, which you now know will be Houston’s newest 24-hour all-news station, News92fm

My colleagues and I have been bound by a legal, non-disclosure agreement to disavow any knowledge of this, if asked, and it’s been quite fun to dodge questions by answering, in a stern-faced manner, “I am under a legal NDA, and I cannot comment.”

The News92fm "Skunk Works"
We’ve called our little hideaway, The Skunk Works.
It has been neither foul nor dilapidated, and in fact the folks who work there for another, well-respected company have treated us quite well.

As we begin to emerge from our fox holes and bunkers and share our work with the rest of the world, we’ll also share some of the inside scenes as we’ve brought together some amazingly-talented and dedicated Journalists to create News92fm. And, as I am fond of saying, "we'll see you on the Radio!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Sleeping-In

There are few things in life more delicious than waking in the morning without the aid of an electronic or mechanical device. You alarm clock.

Since my "sabbatical" from a regular Radio show began in July, I've been wrestling to find just the right start- and end-point of restful sleep my body needs. At first I rebelled from the regimen of bedding down early so that I could greet the dawn before most people are even conscious. I stayed up late and caught episodes of "CSI" and "The Mentalist" on TV. A few times I became so adventurous as to watch the late news...and even dared to catch episodes of Letterman or Leno. Outrageous, me.

I found, however, that no matter how late I dared to stay up, my internal body clock would rouse me before the sun...or at least in time to hear the "hissing of summer lawns," as Joni Mitchell once elegantly described.

The myth that the older you get, the less sleep you need is exactly that: A myth. I still require fewer hours than my Bride, but can tell when the formula's off by an hour or two.

Given the day of the week, I am now being greeted by lights and sounds I haven't seen or heard since we moved into this house: Ducks scrounging for grubs by the pond, the neighbor's yappy dog complaining about the cold grass at their back door (that's the same idiot dog I sometimes fall asleep to, or am awakened by in the middle of the night, too!) and the aforementioned lawn maintenance events.

Just to watch the light stream through the eastward windows of the house is a treat.

I am relishing these simple pleasures of nestling deeper under the covers, my wife's leg slung over mine, and the soft whisper of our little dog's breathing pulsing near my ribs...because I know they're fleeting. The rhythm and regularity of a Radio schedule is in the not too distant future, and I'll be sharing more about that with you soon.

For now...time to hit the biological snooze button, because I couldn't reach the alarm clock if I wanted to.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Andy Rooney, Roseanne Barr, and Me

Andy Rooney has been the reigning curmudgeon at CBS for the last 30-years. Tonight (10/2) he signed-off the show by having the last word. Guess that means CBS is in the market for a new curmudgeon. 

I think I’d like that job. 
I’m getting long enough in the tooth now that I find myself more and more irritated by the most minor examples of public stupidity.

Take Roseanne Barr, for example. 
Take Roseanne Barr, please.
I never liked Roseanne’s stupid sitcom. 
I thought it crudely-focused, poorly written, and always went for the cheap laughs. 

I never liked Roseanne’s voice; it grated on my ears. 
She proved beyond a shadow of a doubt she can’t sing a few years ago when she attempted to perform The National Anthem. Not only could she not carry the tune, she also had the additional poor taste to spit and grab her crotch after the “performance.” 
It was just gross.

That pretty much did it for me for Roseanne Barr. 
Now when her TV shows come on, I change the channel, and the quickest way to keep me from buying a product would be to have Roseanne Barr be the pitch man (she’s no lady.)

Now Roseanne has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt she’s a brainless buffoon by proposing “the guilty bankers” be allowed to pay back some of their largesse…or face beheading. She sets the threshold at $100-million, which is pretty convenient since Barr’s net worth this year is calculated at only $80-million
I don’t know how she survives.

Here’s the thing about all these nattering-naybobs of public stupidity: 
People like Roseanne don’t know the first thing about running the country, a business, or our lives.  Roseanne has won plenty of awards for her acting…but remember, she’s playing a role, and those awards were bestowed for her prowess at being an imaginary person
I live in the real world.

It’s funny, don’t you think, all these celebrities and politicians talking about sacrifice and all of the rest of us having to dig deeper and pay more and do our part…like pay higher taxes. 

Warren Buffet’s real big on that, these days. 
He thinks rich people should have to pay more because they make more. That doesn’t sound like too much of an incentive for anyone else to aspire to make a lot of money, if they’re just going to have to give more of it back to the IRS.

Hey, Warren: There’s no law against voluntarily writing a personal check to help out in covering the mountain of debt Congress has amassed in our names. But have you seen any of these blabber-mouths sit down and write the first check towards paying that balance down? 

Warren Buffett hasn’t; Barak Hussein Obama hasn't; Roseanne Barr probably won’t either. 
After all, she’s only worth $80-mil.
(Don't look at me: I don't have the dough.)
If that makes me a curmudgeon, so be it. 
That’s the way I see it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

How We Do it in Texas

Now that the smoke has cleared, and we have our wits about us, it is interesting to share stories of courage, perseverance, and accomplishment that are emerging from the Tri-county Wildfire in Montgomery, Grimes, and Waller Counties of Texas during Memorial week, 2011. 

The following stories were sent to me through two trusted sources; one of those sources has a neighbor with an amazing sister named Kenna.  

On Memorial Day, when Kenna saw the huge column of smoke over [their] homes, she left a birthday party at [a] neighbor’s house to meet with her friend Tara at the Baseball complex in Magnolia, Texas.  Kenna called the owner of the complex and got permission to use the warehouse there as a staging area for donations for the fire fighting effort.

Kenna and Tara put a notice out on Facebook that they were going to be taking donations on their Facebook pages.  That night, as they were setting up tables and organizing, KPRC-TV/News 2 Houston came by and saw the activity, investigated, and left with their phone numbers and a list of suggested donations.

The Facebook notice propagated faster than the fire.  
By dawn they had 20 volunteers, bins, forklifts, and donations were pouring in.  My source stopped by with [her] pitiful little bags of nasal wash and eye wash, and was amazed.  There must have been 20 trucks in the lot, off-loading cases of water, pallets of Gatorade, and people [were] lined up out the door with sacks of beef jerky, baby wipes, underwear, socks,... you name it.  

School buses and trailers from many counties around were there off-loading supplies, with students forming living chains to pass stuff into the bins for transport to the command center and staging areas.  If the firefighters had requested it, it was there.  

What do you give the guy out there fighting the fire that might engulf your home?  
Anything he or she wants.  
Including chewing tobacco and cigarettes.

Kenna moved on to the Unified Command Post at Magnolia West High school.  
She looked at what the fire fighters needed, and she made calls and set it up.

Mattress Mac (from Houston’s Gallery Furniture) donated 150 beds.  
Two class rooms [at the high school were] turned into barracks, kept quiet and dark for rest.  

The CEO of HEB Grocery donated 2 semi-trailers full of supplies, and sent a mobile commercial kitchen at no charge to feed all the workers, but especially our firefighters, 3 hot meals a day. 
(I personally happened to be driving along the Sam Houston Tollway, and noticed the semi-trucks and mobile kitchen enroute to the scene.) An impromptu commissary was set up, with anything the firefighters had requested available at no charge.

As exhausted firefighters (most of them from local VFDs with no training or experience battling wildfires) and workers came into the school after long hours of hard labor, dehydrated, hungry, covered with soot and ash, they got what they needed.  They were directed through the commissary, where they [received] soap, eye wash and nasal spray, candy, clean socks and underwear, and then were sent off to the school locker rooms for a shower.   

HEB then fed them a hot meal, and they got eight hours' sleep in a barracks, [followed by] another hot meal, another pass through the commissary for supplies to carry with them out to the lines--including gloves, safety glasses, dust masks and snacks...and back they went.

One of the imported crew from California came into Unified Command and asked where the FEMA Powerbars and water were.  He was escorted to the commissary and started through the system.  
He was flabbergasted.  
He said FEMA never did it like this.  
Kenna replied, "Well, this is the way we do it in Texas.”

Fire fighting equipment needed repair?  
The auto shop at the High School ran 24/7 with local mechanics volunteering alongside the shop students and the firefighters, fixing the equipment.   

Down one side of the school, the water tankers lined up at the fire hydrants and filled with water.  Down the other side there was a steady parade of gasoline tankers filling trucks, dozers, cans, chain saws, and vehicles.  

Mind you, all of this was set up by two Moms, Kenna and Tara, with a staff of 20 simple volunteers, most of them women who had sons, daughters, husbands, and friends on the fire lines

Someone always knew someone who could get what they needed--beds, mechanics, food, space. Local people using local connections to mobilize local resources made this happen.  
No government aid. 
No Trained Expert.  

At one point the fire was less than a mile from the school, and everyone but [the] hose volunteers were evacuated.   
The fire was turned. 

The Red Cross came in, looked at what they were doing, and quietly went away to set up a fire victim relief center elsewhere.  
They said they couldn’t do it any better.

FEMA came in and told those volunteers and Kenna that they had to leave, “FEMA is here now.” Kenna told them she worked for the firefighters, not FEMA.  
They were obnoxious, bossy, got in the way, and criticized everything. 
The volunteers refused to back down and kept doing their job, and doing it well. 

Next FEMA said the HEB supplies and kitchen had to go, that [it] was blatant commercialism.  
Kenna said they stayed... and  they stayed. 

FEMA threw a wall-eyed fit about chewing tobacco and cigarettes being available in the commissary area.  Kenna told them the firefighters had requested it, and it was staying.  
It stayed. 

FEMA got very nasty, and kept asking what organization these volunteers belonged to; all the volunteers told them, “Our community.” FEMA didn’t like that and demanded they make up a name for themselves. One Mom remarked, “They got me to my boiling point!” ...and suddenly the group was christened, “212 Degrees” 

FEMA’s contribution? 
They came in the next day with red shirts embroidered with “212  Degrees,”   insisting the volunteers had to be identified--never realizing it was a slap in their face:  
Your tax dollars at work--labeling volunteers with useless shirts, and getting in the way.

The upshot?  
A fire that the experts from California (for whom we are so grateful there are no words) said would take two to three weeks to get under control was 100% contained in eight days.  

There were so much equipment and supplies donated, three container trucks were loaded with the excess to [provide enough to] set up a similar relief center for the fire fighters in Bastrop, Texas. 

The local relief agencies have asked people to stop bringing in donations of clothing, food, household items, and pretty much everything else, because they only had sixty displaced households to care for, and there was enough to supply hundreds.  Again, excess [was] to be shipped to Bastrop, where there were 1,500 displaced households. [Some] wished [they] could send Kenna, too, but she had to go back to her regular job.

Two things to keep in mind from this amazing saga: FEMA stands for “Federal Emergency MANAGEMENT Agency,” and the verb in that acronym is key: management. 
FEMA answers to Congress, and so it can be inferred that FEMA’s real purpose is to manage public opinion of Congress’ response to disasters. 

This is better grasped when you remember FEMA’s performance following Hurricanes Katrina and Ike (and recall how Houstonian’s responded to the need of displaced New Orleans storm refugees by opening up the Astrodome.) There are people still waiting for FEMA “relief” in our area from Hurricane Ike. Obviously, FEMA’s management of public perception of Congress is about as effective as their “management” of the aforementioned natural disasters.

The second thing to remember is to never underestimate the grit and determination of Texas’ Moms, and their friends and neighbors.That's how we do it in Texas!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Profiles in Success: Knapp Chevrolet

How might your business survive if the Government were to dictate the terms? Some would argue we’re already at that point…but not long ago, a Houston-based auto dealer was facing the prospect of laying off workers and closing its doors because of government intervention in its industry.

Knapp Chevrolet is a family-owned and operated business that has operated at the corner of Houston and Washington Avenues since December, 1940. December 6th, to be exact. Third-generation owner Bobby Knapp recalls how the euphoria of their new showroom opening literally evaporated overnight when America was pulled into WW-2 by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the next day. Not good for sales?

Knapp Chevrolet's first customer
The Knapp’s hunkered down, and worked even more diligently to provide service to Houston Chevrolet owners thru the war years. The Dealership blossomed.

Integrity and honesty were the keystones of the Knapp family’s business plan, underpinned by a strong work ethic and an unwavering faith. Houstonian's flocked to the dealership.

In 2009, General Motors filed for bankruptcy, and in the reorganization process, identified dealerships across the country that would be dropped from the GM franchise. Knapp Chevrolet  was on the list for de-listing. 

At stake was not just the livelihood of the Knapp family of over 80 mechanics, sales, and clerical staff in Houston, but other smaller dealerships across the country that were being similarly dropped by GM’s “rationalization” plan. The sad irony was GM’s decision to drop the Knapp dealership came after the closure of two Chevrolet “super-store” dealerships in the area, and would further diminish GM’s market share in the Houston area.
Mr. Knapp went to Washington to address Congress. 

The combination of Bobby Knapp’s powerful, reasoned testimony, and an outpouring of grass-roots support swayed GM’s decision makers, and Knapp Chevrolet was “re-rewarded” its franchise.

Integrity and honesty have been the keystones of Knapp’s  business philosophy. 
Persistence pays, as well, as it turns out. And with a fourth-generation Knapp now working his way up through the business, future generations of Chevrolet owners will also be able to rely on the Knapp brand.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Is "Terrorist" the new "N-word?"

Vice President Joe Biden is alleged to have dropped the “T-word” in describing American citizens aligned with Tea Party philosophies that are counter to the prevailing winds on Capitol Hill in the wake of the latest round of maneuvering in the debt-ceiling fracas. 

Like many other things the Vice President says, this thought was not original--actually being uttered by Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Mike Doyle in a closed-door caucus session, according to Later, on the CBS Evening News, Mr. Biden denied having used the "t-word." (Of course--what else would he say when confronted on national TV?)

Flight-93 crash site, Shanksville, PA.
No, Congressman Doyle, and Mr. Vice President, terrorists are the ones that kill people for disagreeing with them—you know, like the ones that crashed that jet liner into a cornfield in your state ten years ago, next month.

Terrorists are the ones that shoot up US Army bases, like Ft. Hood, where the soldiers aren’t looking for an enemy to strike. Terrorists are the ones within our own population who, for religious reasons, are conscientious objectors to fighting and shooting Muslims in foreign lands, but have no such qualms about killing US troops on our home soil. Terrorists hang their victims from commercial cranes; terrorists hang women; terrorists hang 7-year old children.

A few years back it was really fashionable to drop the N-word if you were of the dark-skinned persuasion, but woe be unto the member of any other ethnicity to use the same slang term in a sentence. It was okay for rappers to include the N-word in the lyrics of their “music” as a badge of honor, but there was a double-standard for use of the pronoun by anyone else. 
It was verboten. 
It was ridiculous.

I think we’re seeing that double standard in play with the Vice President and his crony, Mike Doyle, who have painted patriots with the bloody brush of terrorism in describing their tenacious stand for traditional American principles of self-reliance, fair compensation for work well done, and abhorrence of taxation without representation. 

They’ve also painted themselves into an uncomfortable corner, because at the end of the day, regardless of political persuasion, the American people are sick and tired of Republicans, Democrats, and the POTUS and VPOTUS behaving like little terrors in the school yard: There’s very little content to their commentary, and when thwarted the best response they can muster is name calling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boogity Boogity Culture

One of the hottest viral videos making the rounds is a clip of the invocation offered prior to the NASCAR’s Nationwide Federated Auto Parts 300 by Pastor Joe Nelms of the Family Baptist Church, who channeled Ricky Bobby’s “boogity boogity boogity” between The Lords’ name and “amen.”

The “prayer,” if you want to call it that, is out there. I predict that you will soon find Nelm’s face pasted adjacent to dictionary definitions for “blasphemy” for daring to include everything from autoparts to racing fuel to his “smokin’ hot wife” in the alleged invocation. About all the delivery has invoked is a few nervous chuckles by some, and outrage by those who still take prayer seriously.

I’m mulling this over this morning as I sit down the hall from one of the most-public champions of culture retention in America today, Laura Ingraham, who’s been bold enough to stand up and say, no, it’s not cool to send texted photos of private parts as a new dating ritual; no, it’s not cool to demean women in song lyrics, even though the reigning awards-givers of the day have lauded Cee-Lo’s antics as “genius.” (How much genius does it take to inject an “f-bomb” into every other line of a song?)

Recently it was announced Charlie Sheen was being “rewarded” with another television show.
Here’s a guy that cannot string two thoughts together, walked out on his former employer in a totally-classless way, and who’s claim to fame is drug and alcohol fueled sex binges. His character on Two and a Half Men was not too far removed from reality, apparently, with each episode depicting a romp (or two) with a new woman each week. With that kind of trash being awarded for exellence, is it any wonder kids today are resorting to “sexting” as courting tactics?

There is a deeper problem in America than how we’re going to fund our debt, whether we’re gaining or losing jobs, and how the environment may or may not survive without carbon credits. It is a problem that more serious than who the next President may be. The country is in a battle for its collective soul, and the crumbling of our culture is a clue that the war is far from over.

If you thought the Baptist Preacher was entertaining with his “boogity boogity boogity” bump, you’re wrong. Frankly, were I a NASCAR driver, I’d have been a little leery of stepping onto the track for fear of being struck by lightning after that kind of a “prayer.” Fortunately, it probably never went higher than the top of the grandstand.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dancing on the (Debt) Ceiling

As of the end of June, the United States’ Public Debt was a whopping $14.46-trillion, representing about 98.6% of our total Gross Domestic Product last year. In other words, in 2010, every man, woman, child and corporate entity that produced and contributed to the output of American business generated about 1% more than what we owed to everyone else in the world. 
A sobering statistic.

Today, the eggheads at Moody’s, which rates the US’ credit worthiness, made the stunning pronouncement that the best way to counter all the angst over holding firm or raising the federal debt ceiling would simply be to do away with the notion all together. Forget changing the rules and regs—just eliminate the rulebook altogether. 
Yeah, that’s healthy.

Does eliminating the debt ceiling make it easier or more difficult to rate America’s credit worthiness? If we were to eliminate such constraints tomorrow, thus removing the Congressionally-arbitrary line in the economic sand, would the US government continue to spend like drunken sailors--or start spending like mindless zombies? 
How could we tell the difference?
Did I just offend zombies?

Would Moody’s have an easier time rating our creditworthiness thus? Would it still not be apparent that we were indebted to a level near 100% of our ability to produce? A debt ratio is a debt ratio; every credit manager knows this—although there were many recently who chose to ignore this fundamental fact of fiscal life.

I’m wondering what Wall Street’s game really is, at this point. The ratings agencies are weary of the anxiety when the debt ceiling is reached, and government demand dictates more borrowing is needed. (There's a clue hidden in that pile.)  

Of course, these are the same math mental giants that brought you the credit default swap debacle and the resulting credit implosion and economic malaise. Some of these Mensa’s are now running the US Treasury. 
No wonder we’re in trouble.

There is one condition under which I would advocate for abolishing the debt ceiling—which really is an arbitrary, meaningless number—and that would be replacing it with a mandatory debt ratio. In essence, the Federal Government would be constrained from borrowing by the same tangible boundaries of which you and I are subject.

Want to borrow some money?
What’s your ability to pay it back? 
Income to debt ratio is a good indicator of this for we private sector geese, and should be good for the government gander, too.

What’s that? 
The government can print its own money? 
Don’t confuse the issue with esoteric economic facts—that’s why we’re in this mess to begin with. Too much economic theory, not enough fiscal pragmatism.

Regardless of the metric we use to measure America’s credit worthiness, we’re nowhere near Gold-plated, Platinum-dipped, Triple-A status when we’ve borrowed 98.6% of what we made last year. Mull that, Moody’s.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Remember to Persevere for Dr. Craig Clanton (1958-2011)

Dr. Craig Clanton (1958-2011)
After a courageous, three-year battle, my brother, Dr. Craig Clanton, succumbed to complications from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in May of this year. He was 53. 

2010 Light the Night Walk Team
Last year, many of our friends and extended-family rallied in support of Craig and Carol and their family as he endeavored to persevere towards a cure. His example inspired 85 participants in the 2010 Light the Night Walk, raising over $10,000 for the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society.

This year Craig will not physically be with us, but he will be with us in spirit, walking in his honor as we Remember to Persevere towards a cure for blood cancers. The 2011 Light The Night Walk in Houston will be Saturday, October 1, at Discovery Green. 

Won’t you please make plans to join us as we celebrate Craig’s life, remember his battle, and encourage others to persevere in the fight against cancer. 
Please click on the link now to register! 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

iHate Apple

I just spent the better part of my morning fighting with the iTunes store to get a simple gift card credit applied so my Bride could download some music. 

Lest you think I am an old fart who knows nothing of the ways of digital music downloading, I’ve been doing it for years. Apple, however, has managed to make doing business with them more difficult than necessary, and I general eschew any dealings with them if possible.

First there’s the issue of all the interruptions while getting to the iTunes store. Do I have the most up-to-date version of iTunes? (yes) Is iTunes my default music media player? (no—and never will be) Is my password up-to-date? (yes) 
Just get me to the freaking place I want to go on your site, iMorons!

Finding the iTunes Gift Card Redemption site is not as easy as apple pie. 
It’s not “intuitive,” as a broadcast engineer with whom I once worked was fond of saying. 
No, you have to hunt, search, click, re-search, hunt some more. 
Ah—there it is...”below the fold” on my browser. 
Hey, Apple, why don’t you apply some of that vast brain power at your disposal and SIMPLIFY your website? Put that stuff at the top of the page…

Then there’s the issue of which string of numbers to enter into the iTunes store to redeem the card. There are four on the back of the card. Which to use? Lucky for me, the instructions are printed right there on the back of the card for all to see. With an electron microscope.

During this colossal waste of my time, a friend called and asked what I was doing. We commiserated about the digital music landscape, and I shared my own simple, elegant solution that I’ve used for years.

You put one in the car player, and it instantly plays. 
No time wasted downloading something that will eat up more of your day in the process than in the actual entertainment value received.

They might catch on, again. 
In the mean time, iHate Apple.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

50-kilocycles to the Right

There will be a new voice on “The Voice of Texas,” AM700/KSEV beginning next week (July 11, 2011.)      I will be the newest member of the team, with responsibilities including on-air hosting as well as providing Radio marketing solutions for sponsors of the myriad shows on the station. 

In some ways, it’s a big step—back into the realm of the employed after being self-employed for over three years. In other ways, it’s business-as-usual, still providing a voice to befriend and inform Houston Radio listeners, while offering quality service for businesses seeking a voice on the Radio.

I promised you I’d keep you posted. 
Now, let’s go have some fun together on the Radio!

Clemens vs Congress

I am bemused to hear Roger Clemens will be going on trial for lying to Congress over controlled substances, when they've been lying to the American public for years over the substance of legislation they control. 
Or just lying outright.

The most-obvious recent example of this is the embarrassing saga of NY Rep. Anthony Weiner—a ten day media romp in which he repeatedly prevaricated as to his prowess as a sexting lothario. And wasn’t it an American politician who made “hiking the Appalachian Trail” the newest euphemism for cheating on a spouse?

Never mind the fact that our Congressmen and women haven’t been able to get their collective acts together long enough to pass legislation on fiscal-stimulus. So how is it they can find time to rake Roger over the coals for physical-enhancement stimulus?

Maybe if Clemens’ trainer, Brian McNamee had injected the House members with a little extra octane, we wouldn’t be facing a Government shut-down in August. Perhaps, had  the Senate been dosed with some exotic B-12 to goose their brain-function, we’d be closer to closing the gap between spending and revenues.

I wonder if the Congressional Inquisition will pay as close attention to Clemens’ testimony as they do to the nuances and details they present to We the People on a regular basis. Recently Sen. Dick Durban opined that the United States borrows from China most of the money it spends—to the rate of 40-cents on the dollar. 

According to, China only holds 8% of the total US debt ticket—a mere $1.15 Trillion of the $14+ Trillion in outstanding obligations. 
And the ratio is only 38-cents on the dollar.
Don’t you feel better now? 
Here, take this pill…

Utah Gov. John Huntsman claimed this Spring that Social Security, Medicare, and interest payments on our collective debt would “consume every dollar of Federal revenue” within a decade. According to the Government Accounting Office, assuming all the current tax provisions are left in place, only 92-cents of each revenue dollar would be spent on interest and social entitlement expenses. Don’t spend the remaining 8-cents all in one place.

Lies or mis-statements? 
Only your Congressional speechwriter knows for sure—or should. It’s just galling that instead of allowing the MLB to handle this tempest on the pitching mound, Congressional brain power, time and tax dollars are being squandered over the word of a sleazy athletic trainer vs a potential Baseball Hall of Famer at a time when the very people doing the questioning have bigger fish to fry. 
Or should.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Summer Saturdays (some 'er not...)

Houston is suffering through one of the worst heat-spells in recorded history; Texas is roasting through the Summer of 2011. I cannot believe I drove around in a Miata with no a/c for so many years (arguably, driving in at dark-thirty in the morning was not a challenge; being able to drive straight home in the heat for a cool shower and a change was the only way it was possible!)

A few years ago I began a routine of going to the gym regularly, and I've found that increasing my aerobic capacity has also enabled my body's natural evaporative cooling to work more efficiently. However, I still need something cool to chill down my engine--and replenish my energy--after a workout, and have discovered this simple concoction works best for me.

Note: If you are offended by the Reese's peanutbutter cup commercial (" got your chocolate on my peanutbutter..." etc.), stop here.
1. There are no such ingredients in this, if that's what you're looking for.
2. I think there is no finer combination of flavors for the palate on the planet.

I'm a big fan of the Magic Bullet personal blender.
I'm on my second one.
All of my smoothie and shakes are assembled in a Magic Bullet cup, so there's your reference space.
And now...the ingredients and their order of appearance and usage, for Brent's Famous Chocolate-Peanutbutter Blast:

Ingredients for Brent's Famous
Chocolate-Peanutbutter Blast
Start with a base of 3/4-cup of crushed ice.
1-scoop (36g) of protein powder--I prefer Gaspari Nutrition's Myfusion Protein Powder, conveniently flavored with peanutbutter and chocolate.

1-teaspoon of ground cinnamon powder

1-capfull (21g) of bee pollen--my preference is Walker's Bee Pollen pellets

Gently shake this mixture from side to side to settle the powders into the crushed ice. Add cold water until it just reaches the top of this mix.

Add 1-teaspoon of fat-free crunchy peanutbutter--I prefer Jif.
My mom was choosy.

Add crushed ice to just below the threads at the top of the Magic Bullet cup (who needs measuring cups, when you've got a standard of volume already here??) and add cold water to the top of the mix.

Finally, add 5 dark-chocolate covered Espresso beans (I get mine at World Market), and securely tighten the lid on the cup of the Magic Bullet cup. Invert, gently shake to even the mixture, and begin to blend for two to three minutes, or until the chunks stop meeting the blender blades with that crunchy thump. Allow the blender to run until the mixture is smoothly circulating in the cup; should be the consistency of a good, thick milkshake.

Special note: I call this my Chocolate-Peanutbutter Blast, but it should not be confused with the Blasts, Blizzards, and other sugar-and-fat-laced concoctions you can get at the local Dairy Queen: If you invert this with the lid off, have a mop close by!

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Last Telegraphers

I have sometimes wondered what, should this day ever come, it would feel like to walk out of this studio for the last time. It feels like it did the last time—only it wasn’t this studio, precisely. People leave jobs every day; people move on all the time. The circle of life…

And to me it’s indescribable: In no other job that I know of can you sit in a tiny room, surrounded by glass and padding and talk out loud for hours. (Well, there is one other place like that…) 

In no other occupation do you have the opportunity to touch so many lives at once on a regular basis. There are very few gigs that combine such exciting possibilities with such overwhelmingly profound responsibilities to those you touch on a daily, hourly basis.

I have tasted from this cup often; it is intoxicating nectar, this stuff called Radio. And the nectar is changing flavors, the liquid is growing murky, and in some places, it’s evaporating all together.

To you who have supported us over the past 37-months of this show’s evolution, I must give a heartfelt thank you. To the advertisers and sponsors who have literally put your money where our mouths are, words just are not enough. Your support has enabled us to greet the world each morning, examine the business of our lives in detail, and provide answers and solutions to life’s big and no-so-big challenges.

This business is changing. 

And while we’re not completely done yet, there is handwriting on the wall: Station groups continue to morph and evolve as audience tastes shift and become more refined—more discerning. How you listen to what I do in this little room is the fundamental change that is reshaping this industry. Today we’re beamed on the AM band, we’re streamed on the internet, tagged, posted, tweeted and linked by strings of ones and zeros that boggle the brain.

Ten years from now, how will we come to you? Ten years from now, how will you find us—morning show hosts, liner-card reading DJ’s, and electronic newsmen and women? Ten years isn’t long…but it may be all it takes.

Radio is changing…and we must change with it to survive. 
We are the last telegraphers.

You can catch me this weekend on The Automotive Reporter Radio Show with Harold Gunn, Sunday morning at 8am on AM 1560 The Game.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The End of Days (on CBS Radio)

So this is the final week of The Talk650 Morning Show on CBS Radio’s KIKK-AM. This should not come as a surprise to you who have been listening to the show for a while…but if you did miss the announcement—here’s the deal:

CBS notified us at the beginning of the month the format on this station would be changing at the end of June. CBS did not tell us what that new format would be, however, and as we now enter the final, five days of our existence here, we still don’t have anything substantive to tell you about what you may or may not hear on this dial position next Monday, July 4. 
It won’t be me.

For the past three weeks, we’ve received many messages of support and expressions of sadness that this show is leaving the station…and for that we are appreciative.

Out of fairness I should point out that CBS could have handled this much differently—they could have not said anything until this Friday. It could have been a total surprise. Instead, Brian Purdy, the General Manager here, allowed us the courtesy of a full month’s notice in order to prepare for the transition—to move the show elsewhere, to ease the change for our sponsors.

I have been at stations in which the management has come in after the show and simply said, “that was your last show.” In fact, the last place I worked, that was the case. The Radio business is not a kind business, and there are people who do not always have your best interests at heart. (I take some satisfaction in knowing that the previous outlet is no longer in business; love the karma.) So I appreciate Brian’s willingness to give us a gentleman’s heads-up about the change, prepare our advertisers, and allow time to wind things down.

As of this morning, there are still a couple of options in play and under negotiation for our change of address. I had hoped we could tell you sooner where we’re going, but sometimes things don’t work out like you’d prefer.

Sunrise from the 19th Floor,
CBS Radio/Houston
I may take some time off; it was somewhat comforting to think that next Monday, the alarm clock will not rouse me at a quarter to four for the first time in about 12-years. (I imagine that feeling will last for about a week, for I will be restless to get back behind a microphone on a station near you.) 

I will miss the spectacular sunrises from the 19th floor of the CBS Radio Broadcasting Complex & Deli; there is a long list of things I will not miss.

Special thanks to Tim Nesmith, our long-suffering Producer, who has stood by us through thick and thin, made sure no one put anything in our water, and kept varmints out of the studio. He’s been a good sport and a real trouper. An honorable mention goes out to Ross Peters, our Account Executive here at CBS, who always believed in this project, always believed in the format on the station when no one else at CBS did…and apparently, they still do not.

Radio stations change, people move on, and life goes on. 
I am sure our paths will cross again; for a big city, Houston is a small town. My thanks to you for your support and your patronage of our advertisers. 
I hope to see you again, soon, on the Radio.