Aircheck: Clearwater Mall, 1/23/1993

Thanks to Rich Marino for putting this up. Good work, sir!

I don’t think this aired on the radio, so you had to be at the Clearwater Mall (which has since been remodeled, it’s just a bunch of stores now with no air-conditioned gathering central area) to attend this event.

The big story was Bob Lassiter’s (formerly of WFLA) return to the Tampa Bay market after a three and a half year or so absence. Neil Rogers and Randi Rhodes, two talk hosts heard on WSUN and WIOD in Miami, make the pilgrimage up to Clearwater to bolster 620’s “entertaining talk radio” lineup. Bob made his debut a few days later on February 1, 1993, lasting at WSUN a little over two and a half years before heading back to WFLA from 1996 to 1999.

I Gots To Know

It is said that it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than to ask for permission. 

See, I don’t know about that. My life experiences have suggested to me that you could get screwed either way. You ask for permission, it might not work out. Ditto with the forgiveness part. It’s what the Trekkies call a Kobayashi Maru, a no win scenario. 

If you really want to frustrate me, put me in a no win scenario. 

When I’ve been met with such decisions in my life, it has more or less paralyzed my thought process as to what to do. It also occasionally triggers me into a panic attack kind of condition where there’s this wave of doing the less rational thing that hits me. 

Sometimes I can resist that urge. Most times I can’t. Like the criminal in one of those Dirty Harry movies said, “I gots to know.”

For example, when I worked at Sun Radio in early 1991, the Persian Gulf War was going on. My shift ended at 6pm one day, but I had very little to do than to wait for my shift relief to arrive. 

We had an AP and a UPI wire service, and I was hearing the AP wires bleep out alarms at about 5:45. If I remember right, there had been a scud attack on Israel.

I was told beforehand that I wasn’t allowed to handle the AP machine, but seeing none of my co-workers around, I took charge. My co-workers reprimanded me when I admitted my guilt, but my supervisors who could have fired me did nothing. 

After that, no such restrictions were in place on me. I guess they saw I was trying to make the best decision I could given the situation, and I eventually earned the respect of the co-workers as well. 

But I could have done nothing, and avoided everything, conceivably. I chose to act, even though by doing so I’d take heat for it. 

One day I’ll learn to control these urges of mine. But at what price?

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.

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?