Aircheck: NBC, 12/19/1968

Don’t tell anyone, but a DVD of this is one of the Christmas gifts I’m giving out this year. It’s a Christmas edition of The Dean Martin show from 50 years ago.

A very merry Christmas to you all. I’ll be back on Wednesday.


Aircheck: ABC Radio, 11/22/1963

Tomorrow will mark the 55th anniversary of an event that changed the nation forever – the JFK assassination. Five years ago, I had the “as it happened” coverage of Dallas radio station KLIF – this time, we look at ABC Radio’s coverage.

ABC wasn’t much of a television operation back then – but their radio coverage of the bulletins and events as they began to circulate was top notch. They had the bulletin before anyone else did at 1:36:50pm ET and then had the first report admitting that Secret Service agent Clint Hill had been quoted to say JFK was dead. That occurs at the 8:39 mark in the clip – at about 1:43pm ET that afternoon. Other news outlets were a bit more cautious, holding off on such a declaration until between 2:20 to 2:40 that afternoon.

Don Gardiner (the first voice overheard with the initial bulletin that interrupts Doris Day’s “Hooray For Hollywood”) and Nick George anchor the initial coverage.

The Podcast Rules, Late 2018 Version

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I haven’t talked about the podcasts I’ve been listening to for a while – so time to revisit that category.

The rules that I use as to who I subscribe to change fluently. In more recent days, I prefer listening to podcasts that aren’t time-sensitive. If I can listen to a podcast episode from February here in mid-October, that’s a good thing. Political and most sports-related podcasts would, therefore, be a no-go for me right now.

I like podcasts that have an episode length of 60-90 minutes. Anything beyond that is a bit too long for me, currently. For example, Joe Rogan is an outstanding podcaster, but most times I don’t have time in my life for his marathon conversations with some outstanding guests every day. I do have exceptions to that rule – but if I do, it’s with a podcast that provides episodes less than once a week. For those longer episodes, I usually listen to half or more one day, and the remainder on a second day.

Lastly, my goal is to listen to one podcast a day – so I have a rotation of seven podcasts I subscribe to. Should I run out of new material and need more, I subscribe to more. Some podcasts have fresh episodes weekly, some provide maybe one or two episodes a month, and some “go dark” for several months at a time. Plus, some have a good “library” of episodes worth revisiting or visiting for the first time.

Here’s my current rotation:

  • Dope Stories (I’m a big fan of Pauly McGuire’s blog and book works.)
  • Big Brother Gossip
  • The 6:05 Superpodcast (The mothership!)
  • The Voice Behind The Voice (Sportscasting)
  • The Bettor Life (Gambling News)
  • The Gabcast (UFO’s and the late Art Bell type of stuff)
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

If your rules are like mine, these are good starting points.

Aircheck: ABC-TV, 1/26/1974

I haven’t done one of these “airchecks” in a while. But when I find something that I think is worth sharing – I figure, why not share it with you all?

It should be noted that most of this episode of Wide World Of Sports (a sports anthology ABC used to have in the days before the proliferation of cable TV) was taped on January 23, 1974, for air three days later. (I saw promos on this footage for shows that aired on Sunday – so I’m assuming this aired on Saturday, 1/26/1974.)

This was also back in an era where professional boxing commanded attention. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were a few days away from their second fight on January 28th – but neither man was the reigning champion, fighting for a lesser title instead. George Foreman was the reigning World champ, so this upcoming fight would basically decide who would fight him. Ali lost to Frazier the first time they met in 1971, and Howard Cosell and ABC had arranged for both men to view film footage of that initial bout a few days before their second bout.

Frazier was then the recognized champ, but Ali also had the distinction of never losing his title in the ring – being stripped of the crown for refusing to join the military in 1967, thus the first fight would produce a truly undisputed champion if a winner were found. Both men also went into the ring for that first fight undefeated, but that night produced a Frazier decision victory, benefiting from a 15th round knockdown of Muhammad.

In what always struck me as an odd decision – Ali and Frazier sat by side-by-side. Why not have Howard in between them? I guess it’s easy to say in retrospect, considering what happened as the trio viewed the tenth round of the first fight. The verbal sparring between the two men deteriorated into an actual fight – while they were watching the original fight! Cosell sat there, not moving a muscle, telling the audience, “Well, we’re having a scene, as you can see…”

Ali was probably not as serious, knowing that such an altercation would probably increase interest in the fight to come – a page taken from the stagecraft of professional wrestling, maybe. Frazier seemed decidedly annoyed as the men wrestled to the floor. As Cosell notes in the opening of the footage, the New York State Athletic Commission fined each of the fighters $5,000 – with the prominent broadcaster pointing out that the commission failed to view any of the tapes, which ABC would have allowed them to view. Thus, they made their ruling on hearsay evidence, with Cosell, the former lawyer – pointing that out in spades.

The studio scuffle wound up being more interesting than the fight was a few days later – Ali won a 12-round decision. They’d met again in Manilla, with Ali winning the title away from Foreman later in 1974 – and this time, Ali won by knockout after the 14th round when Frazier’s corner stopped the fight due to fears Joe couldn’t see out of at least one of his eyes. Ali also wanted to quit after that 14th round. Had the referee, Carlos Padilla had the wherewithal to check Ali’s corner – the fight could have wound up a draw, or a rarely seen double TKO, in which case Ali would have retained his championship.

With boxing out of the sporting limelight and television broke down into hundreds of pieces with the proliferation of cable TV – I doubt if the sport ever returns to such prominence. There was a welterweight title fight on ESPN this past weekend between two fighters I’d never heard of. At the weigh-in before the fight, one fighter had the audacity to take a swing at the other fighter, a punch the targeted fighter easily evaded. The incident barely got any media attention outside of ESPN.

Yep, we’re a long way away from 1974.


The Radio Garden

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I’ve been a follower of a website for over a year called Radio Garden. In times of emergencies such as this with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Michael, it comes in quite handy.

Radio Garden is this map of radio stations spanning the world. It will NOT have every station known to exist like Tunein and IHeart Radio seem to collectively have, but there are enough stations out there to get the flavor of what’s going on in a given area. I first used it last year (the fall of 2017) when Ophelia hit Ireland – and the stations there went on high alert.

Right now, I have WFSW on out of Panama City (which repeats WFSU programming out of Tallahassee), currently the only station in the “Garden” on the air from there. As Michael ravaged through Florida, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia last night, you could click your mouse to points on the map in that region and see that a lot of the radio outlets went off the air. Naturally, the stations would lose power or their antennas as the fast-moving storm moved inland.

Worth a look if you’re a radio geek as I am.

First, They Came For Alex…

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I think it’s perfectly normal that when the big events of our time and in our lives happen. that it’s fair to seek out answers – even from outlets and people you wouldn’t ordinarily think of.

The first time I ever heard of conspiracy entertainer/talk show host Alex Jones was back in 2004, maybe 2005. I had gotten a DVD through the grapevine of a symposium hosted by actor Ed Begley, Jr. and introduced by Jimmy Walter which had suggested that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. The theories of the different presenters varied a bit – some were more liberal, some were staunchly conservative, but the purpose was to get your interested in the idea that 9/11 wasn’t what the media represented it being. One of the snippets presented on the DVD was a much younger and less raspy Alex Jones and his “Road To Tyranny” documentary.

I certainly don’t agree with everything Jones has said – for instance, there was a time when he called Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, “Mr. Maddow” on his shows. I thought that was grossly homophobic. I also don’t deny that he’s probably 100% accurate when he said he was an “entertainer” in a recent court appearance. Talk show hosts are entertainers by definition – they present premises in a manner that tries to get more viewers than a given host’s competition.

Where I draw the line is what the social media outlets did on Monday – censoring Alex Jones solely from Apple, Facebook, and YouTube among other social platforms. Why just him when there are dozens of other lesser-known hosts on radio stations and the Internet that do exactly what he does all over the world? Making one person a scapegoat when others do likewise – that’s always a slippery slope. Makes you wonder why it happens now, three months before the mid-term elections, and why it didn’t happen two years, five years ago, whatever.

I don’t like playing social justice warrior – but I took my little itty bitty shot at Apple in response. I took their podcast app off of my phone, and don’t intend to listen to any podcast anytime soon. A small gesture, but if they are going to tell me not to listen to such-and-such a show, why listen to any show Apple offers? They should allow me, their consumer, to make such choices.

Aircheck: ABC, 6/5/1968

I’ve always felt that the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles may have been a more sadistic blow to our country than the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, roughly four and a half years earlier.

ABC was the only network that stayed on the air continuously as events transitioned from election results to a breaking news event. Shortly after 3:15am Eastern time on June 5, 1968, the network was just returning from a B.F. Goodrich commercial and was about to sign off for the evening at approximately 19 minutes into the clip – the very moment RFK had been gunned down. For several moments, the John Phillip Souza march “The Thunderer” is heard.

Howard K. Smith is seen taking phone calls at his desk on the left, and a crowd forms in the upper right part of the screen by the wire machines above the “Race to the White House: California Primary” graphics. (Bill Lawrence is on the right side of the screen, whom ABC used as a political analyst.)

As the music re-cues a minute later, an announcer informs the audience to “Please stand by.” A minute later, the music stops and starts again, this time the announcer hints something serious is afoot by saying, “Please stand by for a special report.” Smith is seen furiously writing down notes and fielding a few more calls. About four and a half minutes into a static shot of the studio and the nearly continuous music, Smith returns to break the news at about 3:20am:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve kept the air on because we’ve heard an alarming report that Robert Kennedy was shot in that ballroom in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. A very loud noise like a clap of thunder was heard, a small explosion. We waited to see what it was, and then came a report that Senator Robert Kennedy was shot. We will bring you more news as we learn it.”

The details came forth in the following minutes and hours. RFK would cling to life for a little over a day before dying in the wee hours of June 6, 1968. I wasn’t alive when it happened (I came into the world three years and three months later), but it had to have been a cruel blow to the country – and I’m sure many wondered in the 50 years that have now proceeded the event what would have happened had RFK not been fired upon.