Archive for the ‘radio’ Category

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I hope this isn’t one of those “things happen in threes”

January 14, 2013

Yeah, I’m a middle-aged white guy. That used to mean, in the Chicago area, at least, that I would automatically have to listen to WGN radio. I never did, though. I work in a music field, at least part of the time. So if I have a radio station on it will be a talk station, not a music station.

In the 1980s and early 90s I listened to WLUP-AM when it was in its heyday – Jon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, and especially Kevin Matthews. (I’m sure some are spelled incorrectly. Not looking them up right now, sorry.)

Anyway, WLUP turned into ESPN Radio suddenly one day, and I moved to WLS-AM because that was the station where Rush Limbaugh was broadcast. I’ve pretty much stuck with them. They have a conservative slant, and I appreciate it. I don’t listen to Roe and Roeper much in the afternoons, but I used to listen to Don Wade and Roma a lot in the morning, and the the sort of rotating local hosts that inhabited the 9-11 AM slot. Nobody stayed on there more than two or three years, I think.

Anyway, last fall Don Wade had a stroke and he and wife Roma were off the air while he started his recovery. They decided not to return to the air a few weeks ago. Don is improving but the early morning hours had to be tough, and they did it for decades. Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft moved from the 9-11 slot to the early morning drive, and seem to have been working out pretty well. That time slot was then filled by Jake Hartford, who had done weekend  fill-in for some time for WLS, with John Kass, a well-known Chicago Tribune columnist.

Jake Hartford (real name Jim Edwards) passed away yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 63. He had a long and varied – and very successful – career in radio and TV, much of which I never knew because he was a behind-the-scenes guy much of the time. I am saddened by his passing and I really hope this is not one of those “things happen in threes” situations. Neither Don Wade nor Jake Hartford were in poor health prior to their medical incidents, and for me, in my late 50s, it’s another warning of my own mortality.

Anyway, my condolences to Jake’s family. I’ve listened to these folks for years and years and while they didn’t know me, after listening almost every day I feel like I know them a little. It’s kind of unnerving.

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Where’s my flyin’ car, again?

April 3, 2012

What we should be flyin’ in now, circa 1955.

The Apple iPhone 5, circa 1920.

The flying car of 2012, from a century ago. I like the driver. And the hats!

Check out Paleofuture for more cool stuff!

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Bits of stuff…

March 21, 2012

Okay, I’m not a very football-oriented guy…what’s the deal with Peyton Manning being hired by the Denver Broncos? Wasn’t there some kid named Tebow playing there?

This morning (Tuesday) the weather guy from “Good Morning America” was on WLS radio. He said that meteorologists don’t know what’s going on with the unusually warm weather and can’t predict what’s going to happen next. How is this different from their usual long-range predictions? He said they are very confident about short-term – 3 or 4 days out – but farther than that? I never really thought they could do very well with long-term anyway. Too chaotic a system. About the only things I can think of that might be predictors are solar output and cosmic rays. But that’s really long-term, like years, not six months.

Looks like Mitt Romney has won the Illinois primary. That’s the last time Illinois will have any effect on Republicans at the national level for years and years, I’m afraid. I expect the state to go to Obama in the general no matter what we do here. It was only important this time because neither Gingrich nor Santorum would drop out. I went to vote and couldn’t find “none of the above.” Too bad. I had to choose another one.

Still convinced the recent flap about Rush Limbaugh was just regular folks who had had enough? This local advertiser in New York went on Fox Business to tell the truth. Yes, it just fuels the conspiracy-theory fires. But sometimes it’s not paranoia, it’s somebody really out to get you. (Careful! The link takes you to – ooooh noooo!!! – a page on the Rush Limbaugh site.)

I haven’t seen Episode 7 of “Smash” yet, so I’ll have to post on that another day.

I didn’t watch it, but apparently Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Bankroller of SpaceX, was interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last Sunday and took exception to statements previously made by Apollo Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. They seem to believe that commercial space is not the direction to go; and Musk presented himself as not only an entrepreneur but also as a full-bore space exploration enthusiast who believes we need to explore space and is willing to put his considerable fortune where his mouth is.

(Let it be known that Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon – but he’s a bit touchy about that – is very pro-commercial space, and has been promoting it for decades.)

Now, I’m going to make a distinction here: remember, the Federal Government doesn’t create anything but red tape. When they need something, from bombers to buckets, they have to buy them from a regular commercial company. So, we can say that NASA built the moon rockets in the Apollo program, but while they did have designers and researchers, the hardware was designed and built by good old USA corporations. Some of you may remember my rant about how the Saturn V was built by Chrysler.)

SpaceX has a significant number of satellite customers already lined up for Falcon 9 launches once testing is complete. These are not generally government entities. They also have a development contract with NASA called COTS in which they receive some funding to help spur development of the Dragon capsule that will supply the ISS, and the manned version that will ultimately take crew there and eliminate our need for buying seats on Russian 1960s-technology hardware. Several companies are participating in COTS and are competing for the ISS and other manned space work.

If Armstrong and Cernan want to, they could promote Boeing’s manned space capsule, which seems to have an inside track with NASA because of the previous association the company has had with the agency, or NASA’s own Orion project, being built by Lockheed Martin. These companies are still corporations, not arms of the government, even though their connections with the government – defense, especially – are very strong.

SpaceX is a little upstart company that is basically funded by Musk’s own personal fortune, much as Virgin Galactic is being funded by Richard Branson. While they are receiving government funds, they primarily are going to live or die on building a successful booster and getting satellites into orbit for clients. How is this a bad thing? Let’s say they can’t get a manned vehicle to fly successfully by, say 2020. They will most likely go out of business or just drop back into the satellite-only market, which, frankly, is a bit saturated at the moment globally. No harm, no foul, and not nearly as many taxpayer dollars are wasted as would be if the development of the vehicle was completely funded by NASA.

So I don’t understand the reluctance of Armstrong and Cernan to embrace such endeavors. It seems like a win-win for America’s space exploration efforts, and minimal expense by the taxpayer for maximum reward. I’m much more concerned about the relationship between NASA and LockMart and Boeing, to be honest. I really get the feeling that “the fix is in” for those companies to be successful in getting more of NASA’s business not because they have superior hardware, but because of their track record with the Federal Government.

We’ll see. I read Musk’s remarks and I tend to agree with him.

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“Progressive” radio talk show host mocks tornado victims

March 9, 2012

So there is a “progressive” talk show host named Mike Malloy who has a long history of saying incredibly insensitive things. On March 2 he went on a rant about the people who were victims of the recent rash of tornadoes. Among his comments:

“Their God … keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement in  Alabama, and Mississippi, and Arkansas, and Georgia, and Oklahoma. You know, the Bible belt, where they ain’t gonna let no goddamned science get in the way, it says in the Bible, blah blah blah blah blah. So, according to their way of thinking, God with his omnipotent thumb reaches down here and so far tonight has smashed about 20 people into a grease spot on highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.”

He has since apologized on his web site. Okay, so he apologized. He has a history of bizarre and hateful on-air statements.

Should we all send letters to his sponsors telling them to drop him because of his speech? That’s what’s been going on with Rush Limbaugh.

I’ve already said I believe Rush got carried away and went too far. He was trying to make a point but it got out of hand. Of course the “mainstream” media has gleefully reported that many sponsors have dropped his show. According to Rush, some have, but in most cases they were local sponsors buying time on the commercial segments reserved for local advertising during his show – not the national sponsors.

Rush can be over the top. He also can be insightful. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes not – but he has always made me think. The stuff this Malloy guy said would just make me very angry. Apparently he used to be on WLS-AM, which is, ironically, where Rush is broadcast in the Chicago market. I dimly recall the name but I don’t recall hearing him.

Rush was trying to make a point about how the Administration is usurping our freedoms in yet another way. He didn’t succeed because of the direction he took the discussion and the resulting focus on the wrong things. What Malloy said can’t be justified in any way I can see.

But he’s OK, of course. I haven’t heard that the President called the tornado victims to make sure they didn’t feel bad because of Malloy’s comments. But he was very concerned about Ms. Fluke.

As is often the case, Jerry Pournelle presents a logical discussion about the issues of contraception, the Catholic Church, and freedom.

Heinlein was right, but the “Crazy Years” have been going on too long…

 

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About the current Rush Limbaugh flap…

March 5, 2012

He’s an easy target. He makes a living “illustrating the absurd with absurdity.” He is often emotional, and does not suffer fools gladly. He also has the largest audience in talk radio…in fact, one of the largest audiences anywhere in any media. He has coined many phrases used by not only by conservatives, but by people of all political persuasions. (For example, he created “operation chaos” to keep the race between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama going through more primaries…and I’ve heard it used often by others over the last few weeks in referring to the Republican primaries.)

Now, I’m sure I’ve said some things without doing proper research from time to time. I expect all of us have. I have to say, though, that the statements I’ve read and heard from a variety of sources today seem to have been made without having ever heard the argument Rush Limbaugh made the other day.

I’ve been a Rush 24/7 member for years. I suppose that disqualifies me for this discussion. I have heard the whole argument, because I have listened to the audio files from earlier in the week.

As I understood it, Rush was making a couple of points. First, the entire “committee hearing” was a sham. The House Republicans wouldn’t allow “testimony” on the contraceptives/religious freedom issue the Current Occupant of the White House started. That decision was made by Rep. Darrell Issa, who has been critical of the whole issue in the past.

Therefore, Democrats decided to create a sort of a fake hearing to get their points out to the press. I’ve seen it referred to as a “Congressional Panel.” I guess that’s a true statement. There were Congressmen – but only Democrats. They listened to “testimony” from a “Georgetown University law school coed,” whose age was given as 23.

Except…Sandra Fluke is actually 30 and has a long history of promoting feminist causes. In fact, there is some evidence she decided to attend Georgetown specifically because she wanted to make the University’s health care policies an issue. She certainly was not a random female law school student, testifying as to the beliefs and concerns of all her fellow students. She is a woman with a very specific agenda.

So Limbaugh’s first point was that the entire “panel” was set up just to bring this issue to light in the way the Democrats wanted to present it, and the media lapped it up.

His second point was that, assuming Fluke’s testimony could be applied to all female students at the University, two things seemed absurd: if all female students were so concerned about contraception, they must all be having sex or contemplating same; and that they all believed it was the job of the Government to force health care plans to provide means of contraception free of charge. Georgetown, a Catholic Jesuit university, was a perfect target for Obama’s argument that all heath care plans should include contraception, even if they are provided by religious institutions that specifically discourage the use of contraception.

In his “illustration” of the absurdity of these issues – a sham “hearing” and a blatant infringement of religious freedom, not to mention the issue (still to be decided) of the constitutionality of Obamacare – Limbaugh used the absurd. If Ms. Fluke was sexually active – and she must be, or why should she be concerned about contraception? – why should her health care provider be forced to provide it? Granted, Limbaugh did have one break in his logic chain: the price of birth control pills does not increase based on the frequency of sexual activity – although condoms do, of course.

So, if Obamacare distributes the costs for health care across the largest possible group of people, then by extension, we, as contributors to Obamacare, are being forced to pay for her contraception. “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” Robert Heinlein tried to make that into a pronounceable acronym in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, but TANSTAAFL doesn’t fall right off the tongue. It still is true, though. The bigger issue here is that we are being forced, through taxation, to pay for many, many things that should not be the responsibility of government. Doing so creates more opportunities for control, both in taxation and in rules and regulations.

Limbaugh attempted to show that if the government provides (or forces other agencies to provide) contraceptives for sexually active, unmarried young women, then we – as the providers of the funds used to provide said contraceptives – are, in essence, “paying these young women for having sex.”

Put aside for the moment the fact that a thirty-year-old unmarried law student publicly admitted that she is sexually active. (Even though she did nothing to lead us to believe she is in a committed relationship, even.) You may also put aside the fact that she tried to project her situation to other female students. We may instead stay focused on the issue of the government promoting contraception to the extent of requiring even religious institutions to provide it.

This was the core issue – an issue of religious freedom and public policy. It was not an issue of one law student being sexually promiscuous. Instead, that issue was overpowered by a personal attack.

Limbaugh pushed his logic too far by trying to personalize it and focus it on one person. I’ll agree with that. His apology to Sandra Fluke demonstrated that he realized it as well. You may say that the only reason he apologized was because his advertisers were beginning to bolt, but I don’t think that’s true. I’m sure he got some heat from Premiere Radio Networks, which distributes his show, even though they were quick to support him publicly. Should he have called this woman a slut…no. I don’t think so. But should the President of the United States call this same woman to express his support? No. By giving this incident the focus that can only come from the use of the “bully pulpit” of the Presidency.

The discussion we should be having is why the President is willing to trivialize a constitutional issue. It’s not the first time, of course, and it won’t be the last. Why does he do it? Because it’s his deception tactic – “pay attention to this little thing over here, and you won’t see the great big thing going on over there.”

Okay, Rush Limbaugh said a stupid thing, or at least said a thing stupidly. Is that worse that any one of a number of things Bill Maher has said about other women? Of course not. It was said by Rush Limbaugh, though, which means it’s automatically the most horrible thing ever said by one human being about another.

Let’s get back to the big issues. Rush probably learned a lesson, and maybe we all can, too. Let’s be concerned about how more and more of our freedoms are being taken away, instead.

 

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This may help other Rush Limbaugh iTunes podcast subscribers

January 2, 2012

Thomas Sowell, one of the leading economists of our generation. http://www.tsowell.com

I’m one of those folks who finds listening to radio programs on the radio tedious. When there is less than 35 minutes of programming per hour, the rest commercials, traffic updates, PSAs, news at the top and bottom of the hour, etc., unless I’m actually engaged in something else and have it in the background it annoys me. I know that without the advertising we’d all be stuck with Sirius or something like it – I get it – but the same commercial six times in a hour? Really? And I generally like WLS, the AM station in Chicago that leans right.

So anyway, I listen to Rush on the podcasts through iTunes. (Of course I’m a Rush 24/7 subscriber. Aren’t you?) I listen to Mark Levin that way, too. That way, if either of them gets stuck on a rant and I’m not prepared for a rant that day (especially Levin),or they are on the same topic for the tenth day in a row, I can choose to skip them.Or if they are away on vacation and I’m not particularly excited about hearing the guest hosts. (I like what Mark Steyn says, but he always sounds nervous on the radio, and it makes me nervous to hear him!)

Because of this, sometimes I don’t listen or download podcasts for a week or more. Then iTunes gives me the gray exclamation point to the left of the podcast name and stops updating the podcasts. Clicking on it and choosing “Yes” should allow the updating to begin again. It used to. Now, it doesn’t.

It turns out that you have to click the Refresh button on the bottom of the iTunes window afterwards. Then it begins to update. I know it didn’t used to be this way. It’s apparently a feature, not a bug. You can find that in the Premiere Networks facs if you are a subscriber.

Anyway, just a note if you, too, want to hear Walter E. Williams interview Thomas Sowell about his new book, “The Thomas Sowell Reader.” Two brilliant economists conversing! I heard some of it on the radio that day (Friday, December 30) and they were fun and enlightening!

Thomas Sowell’s website
Walter E. Williams’ website

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2011

I’m a little late because I was at our daughter’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, prepared with skill and artistry by my daughter and son-in-law. They are truly getting to be outstanding cooks!

Anyway, I tend to like to leave this link to Rush Limbaugh’s Real Story of the First Thanksgiving. It may open your eyes a bit.

I hope you had a great day! I am thankful for so much I couldn’t list it all here! The Lord knows, and I thank Him for all of his gifts!

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Complaining about TV and radio commercials

October 27, 2011

If you hate rants, you probably will want to skip this one. This is definitely one of those where I just need to get something off of my chest. It has to do with things that irritate me about about TV and radio commercials.

First, in case you haven’t noticed, TV commercials usually are broadcast at a higher relative volume than the program in which they are located. You’re not imagining that. In fact, President Obama just signed the CALM Act into law that is supposed to help reduce the volume of commercials. Did we need a Federal law for this? Recently it seems that whenever Obama can’t get something passed he tries to use a Federal agency to get the same result using a rules change. Those don’t require Congressional approval. The EPA is particularly good at this kind of end run. I figure the CALM Act was important because Congresscritters  want to go back home and tell their constituents they were looking out for them and got those annoying commercials turned down.

The broadcasters have a point, though: today, depending on what kind of show, the dynamic range used in a soundtrack could be quite wide, especially on the hi-def side.  Our local Fox HD channel tends to broadcast at a lower overall volume level than the other local channels. We tend to turn the volume up on shows like “Fringe.” Then when the commercials come on we’re blown out the windows behind the couch. It would be nice if the broadcasters, or at least the local stations, could actually monitor this and limit the volume on the commercials.

Now that we have that one solved, on to the fun:

First, I’ve heard this several times lately, both on radio and TV, in commercials for several different sponsors: confusing of the usage of the worlds less and fewer. I don’t recall hearing that in years past. Do we really have that much trouble with grammar today. Is it another problem like possessives and plural possessives? This is high school English. Didn’t anyone catch these things and fix them? For example, I just saw a Mercedes-Benz TV commercial referring to a new two-door version of a four-door sedan model as having “less doors.” Huh? Who is the ad agency for Mercedes and why are they hiring middle school students who get Cs in English as copywriters? (Even WordPress flags less doors.)

I always thought it was funny that certain topics and language on TV was supposed to be kept to the 10 o’clock hour – except that only applied to the Eastern time zone. Since the same national broadcast schedule is used for the Central time zone, our kids had to be ushered away from the TV at 9 to be kept from the mature stuff. Does that mean the kids in the Central time zone (and others) don’t matter as much as the kids on the East Coast?

That wasn’t my point, though. It’s that this rule apparently doesn’t apply to commercials. Cialis and Viagra commercials are on pretty much at any time of the evening, from what I can see. And since the distribution of commercials throughout the evening is apparently done by cretins, it seems to be  almost a given that the same commercial will appear during a program three or four times. (Cable channels like USA are even worse; sometimes they have only a couple of commercials to run for a whole hour plus the promos for their own shows.) I really don’t want to have to explain what erectile dysfunction is to my granddaughters!

Radio has the same issue. I listen to talk radio a lot, and they run commercials for men’s medical clinics and men’s natural testosterone supplements at any time of day. Then there’s the “1-800=KARS-FOR-KIDS” jingle, which has to be one of the worst on the planet. I don’t expect WLS-AM to be a classical music or public radio station, but dang, again, how do I explain this stuff to my grandkids in the car? (OK, I’m not far enough gone to have them listen to Rush Limbaugh quite yet. i think a child should be at least eight years old before he or she is exposed to the EIB network.)

And there was a radio commercial playing over the last couple of weeks having to do with upgrading the electrical grid in Illinois. The beginning of the 60-second spot talked about how Thomas Edison wouldn’t recognize much of today’s technology, but he would recognize our outdated, century-old electrical grid.

Well, he probably wouldn’t. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that there have been substantial changes to the grid since then, which should be obvious to anyone. Besides, our electrical grid in the United States uses three-phase 60 cycle alternating current, and the technology used to build that grid originally was invented by three Hungarian engineers and then refined and simplified by Nikola Tesla and Charles Steinmetz, among others. Edison was adamant about using direct current for power transmission and stubbornly pushed it even when it was clear that it was an inferior system and that practically all towns and cities were adopting alternating current.

I recently finished reading a biography of Edison. The Wizard of Menlo Park, by Charles E. Stross. The most recent biography of Tesla I’ve read is Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla, by John J. O’Neill. One thing that is clear in the Edison bio is that Edison was his own worst enemy far too often, usually as a result of his own stubbornness. The persona of the wizard inventor went to his head and he made so many ridiculous claims about his next great invention that his credibility gradually was eroded by his own behavior.

Not Tesla, but David Bowie playing Tesla in the film "The Prestige"

I know that wasn’t what the commercial was driving for. As Walter Peck says in Ghostbusters, “I’m not grotesquely stupid.” (Even though I do hate that man…) I just think it’s sad that we have to perpetuate the really inaccurate meme that Edison was the genius of the age. (My own tendency to promote Tesla notwithstanding.) Couldn’t they have found another way to write the dang commercial? But of course, advertising is essentially the manipulation of memes to promote certain attitudes and behaviors.

A comment not related to my rant on commercials: Purely by accident I saw about 5 minutes of a new sitcom, “Whitney,” last night. It wasn’t just that it was poorly acted and almost completely unfunny; although that was true. The really annoying thing was that it was “filmed before a live audience” but the laughter sounded exactly like 1950s and 60s canned laughter. It felt really strange and kind of creepy. I don’t watch sitcoms much and I wasn’t prepared for that. (On the other hand, “Psych,” which is on USA Network,  is a lot funnier but the producers know better than to put a laugh track on it. Of course, it has just enough seriousness to keep it from being a straight comedy.)

Sorry for venting. I’m sure there will be a part two to this.