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.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Afghanistan: Who Are We Kidding?

Last night President Barak Obama told us “the tide of war is receding.” I don’t know what shore Mr. Obama is gazing from, but if anything, the tide is coming in, and Mr. Obama is playing in the sand…or has his head stuck in it.

There is no question US involvement in Afghanistan is un-sustainable at its present level. We cannot afford the $2-billion a day price tag this conflict costs you and I.

However, this president, who has no military experience, has chosen to ignore the best advice of his generals in drawing down American troop levels at a rate that should cause the Taliban to dance with glee.

By the way, despite the fact that the instant-information media-industry can tell you when the President sneezes before Mrs. Obama can say, ‘gesundheit,’ is it really a good idea to tell your enemy when you’re going to go away from a field of battle? All the Taliban has to do now is bide its time.

Here’s the reality check for all of us: World War II ended 66-years ago this year. There are still US troops in Japan and Germany, the countries we defeated. Who’s kidding whom in saying all of our troops will be leaving Afghanistan?

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Barack Obama’s paid-lackeys, GE CEO Jeff Imelt (whose corporation payed NO income taxes last year) and American Express CEO Ken Chenault (whose corporation was the recipient of the 9th-largest share of TARP funding) penned a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about their participation with 24-other corporate blue-bloods in the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council

The stated goal of this august group is to come up with ways to accelerate job creation. They’ve been at it for 90-days, and have identified eight areas that need help, with designated teams to address them.
It’s a noble effort. 
After all, who wouldn’t want to find a way to put more people to work, and slim down the lines at the unemployment office?

The Council is looking at sectors like construction, manufacturing, health care and tourism, and they’ve bandied-about the usual buzz-words expected from committees like this: skills and training, regulatory reform, and innovation.

(“Innovate?” We need a committee for this?? How about just someone with a toilet plunger to unclog what’s already in existence so that it works smoothly?!)

Don’t you just feel good already, knowing these captains of commerce are on the job, off the job, on Jobs? The problem is, they might just be working on the wrong problem. 

According to economists at other financial institutions, like Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch, the 7+% unemployment rate currently in vogue may be the new normal for years to come.  It may well be that an Employment Rate of 92% is as good as it gets, given the educational and skill levels of the American workforce.

To be sure, upgrading the abilities of workers to perform jobs needing filled is important; and putting construction workers back on the job would be a boost in every local economy where they’re employed. But there are some more fundamental reasons why our economy—and employment—is ailing: When the Federal Government can coerce Lehman and GM into bankruptcy, and emasculate an entire regional economy by banning offshore drilling operations, who has left the temerity to challenge the powers that be? When businesses are reticent to hire new employees because the future obligation of providing healthcare or else is murky, who wants to risk it?

In addition to Manufacturing, construction and health care, the Blue Bloods are looking for ways to entice more tourists to travel to America. Frankly, it won’t happen so long as the TSA is allowed to commit statutory rape in our airports. 
There’s THAT solution.

We don’t need blue ribbon panels to tell us how to fix things that aren’t organically broken: Manufacturing and construction will pick up when people begin to feel comfortable enough about the future to bank on it. Jobs will materialize when companies feel confident enough in the government to stay out of the way of businesses doing business. 

And the first step the Administration might take would be to come clean with the American people about the economy—and how long it may be that we operate this way—instead of forming a committee made up of the reps of firms who’ve been feeding at the public trough all along.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

All the News that's Fit to Spit...and then some

A word about Newsletters…we publish one here for the Talk650 Morning Show. It goes out each week to close to 10,000 subscribers, best I can tell. That’s pretty impressive when you’re trying to get a message out…it’s a little embarrassing when the message doesn’t go out as intended…or in the case of this week’s newsletter, an un-intended message is sent.

On Wednesday's show we announced CBS Radio’s plans to change the format on this station, and I wrote an editorial which aired at the beginning of the day's episode.

As is the case with many live Radio shows, and in particular with me, I edit on the fly. Something I write the night before may sound/read brilliantly witty and wonderfully urbane under the dim light of my work desk…but upon second reflection, on the morning of the show, I may decide it to be tripe, garbage, and not worthy of my breath, much less your time.

However…Tuesday’s editorial, which was edited extensively by me on the fly, on the air…was grabbed en-total from my show script, and published un-edited in this week’s newsletter, warts and all. Very embarrassing.

So I find myself compelled to devote a few minutes to apologize to CBS Radio for the gaffe, and also to explain in further detail that there is a level of sincere appreciation to CBS Radio for allowing me the luxury of remaining on the air for the rest of the month. They didn’t have to do that.

In fact, as is usually the case in a Radio station format change, once the announcement is made, generally a day or so before execution of the switch, the air staff is summarily dismissed. We’re instead being given the grace period of 30-days to conclude our business with our sponsors and advertisers, and also the opportunity to thank you for your support and say our fare thee well’s.

I appreciate that.
Despite what was published in the newsletter.
In fact, the newsletter piece contains verbiage that I would not have uttered—did not say—upon deeper reflection.

So to my colleagues here at CBS Radio, I first apologize for the gaffe…and second, express my appreciation for the time to make this apology, and hopefully redeem my tarnished reputation between now and the end of the month.