Aircheck: Sun Radio Network, 5/17/1991

I had mentioned back on Wednesday that when I worked for Sun Radio back in 1991, we once had Ric Flair on.

It was one of the few artifacts I had saved from my SRN days, for one reason on another. I didn’t think, even back then, that any of my radio work was going to be memorable other than to myself. But an interview with Flair, that, I thought on this May Friday in 1991, might be a keepsake.

So, I saved the cassette of the tape all these years, and when the YouTube era came, I still had an old karaoke machine, and dubbed it off to digital form back in 2013.

Anyway, it was an interesting day. I think for the most part I’ve left the commercials and news headlines in, plus a “closed circuit” two minute series of announcements that stations were more or less required to cover up with commercials.

Flashback: “Squeeze Box” by The Who

Imagine being a young child and hearing this late 1975 song by The Who as I was. I can still see the rainbowed MCA record label spinning around in my head.

“Mommy, what’s a squeeze box?”

“Ummmm…go talk to your daddy about this.”

“Daddy, who sings this song?”

“The Who.”

“Yes, daddy.  Who sings the song?”

“No no no, son. It is a rock band called The Who.”

“Daddy, what’s a rock band?”

Yep, it was one of those pop songs that needs a lot of explaining.

Buyers Market In Radio, And A Bloodletting In Bristol

I mentioned a few weeks back in my hypothetical three wishes that one such wish was to own a radio station.

Then I read this week that there is speculation that the IHeart Radio ownership group may not be able to survive another year financially.

In my area, the Tampa Bay market, IHeart owns somewhere around eight AM and FM stations. When you add Beasley, Cox, and what CBS owns, it’s about 80-90 percent of the market wrapped up in four media conglomerates.

I don’t care if it’s radio stations or any other business.  When so few own so many, something has to give sooner or later. But in the business I used to be in, it only means a new wave of owners will find new ways to lose listeners, as was what happened in my era.

Speaking of eras, it was an ending of several eras in Bristol, Connecticut yesterday, home to sports cable TV giant ESPN.  Some big names at the “worldwide leader” got their walking papers in a wave of layoffs said to have been around 100 employees.

It was another sad example of what happens in the media industry in general. ESPN, owned by Disney, was just another company who thought they were too big to fail, and some very able employees, not the execs, paid the price with their services no longer being needed. Some will find work at other places or on outlets locally or nationally, but I suspect many others won’t.

For the time being, their lives change dramatically. Something I can relate to.

Drinks With The Nature Boy

I was working at the Sun Radio Network in 1991 when talk show host Tom Donahue told me one day in May that wrestling champ Ric Flair would be a guest on the show by phone. This is back when SRN and local affiliate WEND were operated out of the same facility in Feather Sound off of Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. In fact, the boards themselves were in the same room, right next to each other.

That day, I was running the WEND board, unfortunately. The SRN board op was from the northeast, and didn’t know anything about wrestling, and is asking me who Ric was. I looked at him like he had worms coming out of his ears. He couldn’t imagine why someone would invest so much time into something watching so choreographed, I suppose.

I responded that yes, there’s a stagecraft involved in all of this, and that you really couldn’t not notice it. But I also pointed out that these guys do this on the road night in and night out, and they do get hurt and injured doing so, just like any other sport. Thus, I’ve always considered wrestling a sport, or better put, a hybrid of sports and entertainment.

Ric’s been in the news lately, getting out of a bar in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Last year on Brian Last’s 6:05 Superpodcast, frequent contributor Tom “TRShock” Robinson had an experience similar to the one that led to Flair’s ouster from one of Fort Wayne’s watering holes.

It’d be easy to say that Flair needs some sort of sobriety help. But, between the recent loss of one his sons, and the plane crash he endured in 1975, he’s been through a lot, too.

No Longer A Factor At Fox News

Imagine being a shareholder of Fox News corporation stock, and reading in the past month or so that FNC has spent $80,000,000 in legal fees, hush money, and settlements. That money mostly going to defend someone who used his power to harass his female colleagues, trading sexual harassment, if not worse, for a place higher in the chain of command.

Many thought that man, one Bill O’Reilly, was untouchable. Last week, the so called untouchable one was given the axe.

I have no respect for any man who uses sex as a weapon (to borrow the old Pat Benatar song title) to find who climbs up the ladder. I’ve always been a believer that people should advance on their merits, not because of who they latch on to.

As for the Republicans, they no doubt know that having all the political power is kind of like owning a car. The minute you own it is the moment it has maximum value. With time, what you own is worth less and less.

FNC finally did the right thing. The big question is, what took them so long?  Are the Feds interested in investigating this, with similar complaints now surfacing about Sean Hannity? We’ll see.

Mr. O’Reilly is not retiring from the scene, far from it. Announcements were made over the weekend for the launch of a podcast that premiered last night, April 24th. It’ll be a good way to introduce older generations to the on-demand audio world, and advertisers who still want to do business with Bill can do so.

Meanwhile, could it be that Fox News actually hurts the conservative cause more than it helps it?

Another Computer Kerfuffle Or Ten

I was alerted on my Windows 10 computer (now with the Creators update) that it wanted to update a driver or two, and it needed to reboot.

So it did. My machine, which usually boots very quickly, sat there for a good 20 minutes not moving from its starting screen. Luckily, I’d been down this road before a couple of years ago.

My solution was to reinstall Windows, even though I had an ISO file on my hard drive ready to go. In the “fog of war” I had forgotten it was there, and I’ve since moved it over to a thumb drive in case of a further emergency.

The bad news with the reinstall is that all the programs that didn’t come with Windows were wiped, and most had to be installed again. I cleared some time to reinstall the printer, which I thought would be a real bitch.

Five hours later, and trying to figure out why the drivers in the installation disc wouldn’t install, I discovered why the printer and computer weren’t talking to each other. The drivers weren’t wiped with the reinstall. All I had to do is tell the computer where the printer was.

The machine again works well, although it’s now an “old fart” in computer years. Most hard drives die in two years. I’ve had this machine almost four and a half. It’s now survived two scares, and it still goes.

Flashback: “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles

April of 2017 marks 50 years to the month that the Beatles famous album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”  was released. Here’s one of the more interesting tracks from that piece, as those four Britishers demonstrate how ahead of the times they were.

Just Another Major Malfunction

When I woke up yesterday morning and heard that disgraced former football player Aaron Hernandez had killed himself in prison, I have to admit that I was surprised.

Not totally shocked, mind you. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten used to football players doing crazy things in their lives.

Does it add to the idea that these guys take too many shots to the head in their careers? Probably. But that, as they say in the Godfather movies, is the business they chose.

Researchers have made great strides in the past few years on the whole CTE/brain damage playing football issue. But I imagine this is something that’s going to take years to fully figure out. Until then, I see a few more “major malfunctions” as was the case with Mr. Hernandez. His suicide was a senseless waste of human life already wasted by committing murder, but at least the taxpayers won’t be further burdened paying for his room and board.

His life has come to a close.

The So-Called Friendly Skies

I can’t say I was shocked to recently hear about the doctor who was dragged off of a United flight due to overbooking. I’ve only flown 11 times in my life, the last time was in 1999, more than two years before 9/11 changed everything. 

It’s not that I don’t like flying. One of my cousins is a very successful airline pilot for one of the major North American companies. I just always thought the companies in general tend to think their poop doesn’t stink, and this thinking began a few decades ago. 

In 1996, I flew from Las Vegas to Atlanta via Delta. I enjoyed my brief stay at McCarran airport, complete at the time with a Taco Bell open for breakfast, long before that became a normal thing. 

The Delta desk had something I’d never before seen to that point: a line monitor, actively inquiring as to what flight they were on, what time it was leaving, and the like. On the surface, it seemed superfluous, as I’d be giving this info when I reached the counter. 

But she had this look about her which I read as if she was saying, “Don’t mess with me, young man.” Probably a nun in another life, I guessed to myself. Considering I wanted to get to Atlanta that particular Friday in June, I did what I was asked and told.

I can only imagine what things are like now in the post 9/11 world, where all travelers seem guilty until proven innocent. 

When It Hit The Fan

Yesterday, I was talking about how I would deliberately miss school in the first semester of the 1988-89 school year, when I was a senior at Largo High School. I can’t mention how lucky I was to have skipped school and NOT mention what happened when my luck ran out. And take it for me, when you think you’re getting away with something, don’t push your luck, as the universe always seems to find ways to balance things out beyond what you think you can fathom.

My parents weren’t really all too concerned about my school progress. They briefly separated when I was in middle school, then did so again for a few months in 1987 before coming back together. My mother left and got an apartment in nearby Indian Rocks Beach, living with her brother (and my uncle) at the time. In the spring of 1989, my Dad had a heart attack, forcing him into retirement from working as a butcher at a small store in Redington Beach, another nearby town. I’d work with him in the summer part-time.

They really didn’t pay attention to when report cards got released, and several days would go by from the time I’d get them to the time I’d ask for them, and I’d only give it to them when they requested. I somehow learned that bad news traveled fast, so you keep it to yourself until it’s asked for.

When the second semester began in early 1989, I was doing just well enough to pass classes. When my parents asked me for my latest report card and probably saw the eight absences I had without their knowledge, I could see what was coming, and it was trouble in River City. After the ensuing lecture, I was told that from now on, when I did homework or had to study, I had to do it in public view and not in my bedroom as I had been doing.

Whatever they said worked. I made the honor roll (making all A’s and B’s, with the allowance of making a C in one class) all three grading periods in that semester. If I missed a class that half of the year, it was for something that really happened, but it happened rarely if at all. I don’t think I did as well on the end of semester exams, but by that point, I had done so well that it didn’t mathematically matter. I was going to graduate.

The lecture gave me the “shot of adrenaline” I needed to finish my scholastic career strong. It would have been a total embarrassment had I failed enough classes in my final semester not to have graduated, but I always did just well enough to squeak by up to then.

Again, I was lucky when luck was all I had. If there’s a moral of the story, it’s not to depend on luck all of the time, because if that’s all you have, it can run out on you.

What Is The Reason For Your Truancy?

Over the weekend, Facebook reminded me of a scan I posted on there back in 2009 of my senior class, gathered in a patio outside of the school gym in the fall of 1988.

I’m not in the pic, because that was one of eight school days I chose to miss in the first half of the school year. That year, they had changed the rules over absences. In prior years, even if you took a single day away from school, you had to have a note from a parent explaining why you weren’t at school. In the 1988-89 school year, you just came back without explanations being necessary. You could elect to take 9 days off without penalty. The 10th such day off meant you failed all you classes for that semester.

And so, I wound up playing a lot of hooky that fall. I didn’t have any sisters or brothers, and my mother and father each went to work before I had to leave for school, and I always got back home when I went to school before they did. I wouldn’t make a lot of noise in the house, finding ways to entertain myself watching TV or listening to the radio quietly. I didn’t dare go out those days, lest anyone else catch me playing hooky and reporting that around, leading to a chain reaction of events where this gets back to my parents.

There was one Friday that I played hooky in the late fall, and then went to school to watch some sporting events at night. I may have had some PA announcing duties that day (back then, I did the PA for JV football, boys basketball, and girls soccer), but I don’t remember. I just got curious (and a little stir crazy, probably) to see if anyone would catch on. A few of my classmates knew I wasn’t at school that day, but no one in authority seemed to notice or care.

I was lucky. I should have gotten busted somewhere along the way, but it never happened. It seems I’ve always been smart enough to con people, but never smart enough not to.