Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alright, I'll post something

Just so there's something new at the top of the page - I don't promise any deep intellectual exercises this weekend.

This comes by way of Tiff:

You Are 5: The Investigator

You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.

You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.

You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

At Your Best: You are sharp, inventive, and creative. You have the skills to lead the world.

At Your Worst: You are reclusive, weird, and a bit paranoid.

Your Fixation: Greed

Your Primary Fear: Being useless or incompetent

Your Primary Desire: Being competent and needed

Other Number 5's: Bill Gates, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bjork, and Stephen Hawking.

I've never considered myself a greedy person, so I'm not sure where the fixation on greed comes in. (Maybe I'm fixated on ridding the world of it.) And Bjork? To be honest, I haven't listened to much of her stuff; she's a little too abstract for my tastes. Otherwise, that's some pretty good company there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A great week

Jenn returned home Saturday morning, and I've been missing her ever since. We had a great time while she was here. Mostly, it was pretty laid-back, though I did take her around town a couple of days, showing her the sights of Nashville (though I saved a few for her next visit). I think she plans to put some pictures up at her place. Other than that, we hung around the house, sat on the porch, grilled steaks, talked a lot, and spent a lot of time in... getting to know each other better. Jenn also taught Thalia how to dance, and discovered the pleasures of Moosehead beer.

Next week is the trip to the Smokies, where I will meet Jenn's children and her aunt Sue for the first time. I never believed I would feel like this again, especially given the way last year went. We both know now that we want to be together, and feel that the best is yet to come.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thalia is jealous

She did think she was the only woman in my life, after all...

Jenn took this with her cellphone camera yesterday. Thalia wasn't too interested in having her picture taken at first. She kept turning her back to the camera, but Jenn eventually lured her into this pose.

Jenn really likes Thalia a lot, but Thalia isn't so sure about Jenn yet. Thalia is just going to have to make some adjustments.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Programming note

A special visitor has arrived at Pole Hill from the south and will be spending the next few days here. Since my visitor really seems to like this blog, I'll try not to neglect you guys too much. On the other hand...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mark Klose

Like just about every other facet of the economy, the broadcasting business has been hit hard by the recent downturn. While looking for information on the Maryville church shooting, I came across a sad news item. Longtime St. Louis disc jockey Mark Klose was among several employees laid off last week by Emmis Broadcasting, a media conglomerate that owns four radio stations in the St. Louis market. (Fellow St. Louis radio veteran Randy Raley noted the layoffs earlier this week.)

The article reported that Klose had been on the air in St. Louis for 29 years, but I could swear he'd been around longer than that. Also, in a small way, Mark Klose is responsible for me being where I am today, instead of perhaps being on the radio somewhere or other.

After graduating from college with my degree in Radio-TV-Film, I went about the ritual of sending out tapes to a number of rock stations scattered through the Midwest, as well as checking on a few of the local stations. I had learned two things rather quickly: if I intended to have a radio career, I had just wasted five years of my life in college, and that whatever attributes there are that set a successful radio beginner apart from the crowd, I didn't have them.

I had pretty much given up on radio and was working for $3.75 an hour in a Seven-Eleven when my brother and I met Klose making a promo appearance at an audio/electronics show at the old St. Louis Arena (or maybe they were calling it the Checkerdome then - at any rate, it's long gone.) No one was around Klose's booth, so we decided to go over there for a few minutes for the heck of it, mostly to see what he was giving away. Mark introduced himself, and found out I had a broadcasting degree and was looking for a job in radio - actually, I'm pretty sure my little brother told him, since I had quit bringing it up at that point. He asked where I had gone to school, then he talked to me for a good half-hour on why I should look for something else to do for a living.

When Klose started out at KSHE, that station had retained enough of its old progressive rock tradition that the DJ's still had some say in what they played on their shifts. Klose's autonomy eroded little by little as the years passed, and disappeared altogether once Emmis bought the station, about a year before we met at the audio show. Mark told us how much fun he had in the early days, but that the corporate bosses were destroying any opportunity that a DJ might have to be creative. "Now they just want me to spin records and read off the cards", he lamented. "If I was starting out today, I wouldn't go into radio. I'd sell insurance or something." The whole time, Klose seemed to be depressed about the career he had chosen. As my brother and I got ready to leave, Mark started looking through the promo discs - "I can't believe the crap they send me out here with anymore". He eventually found Motley Crue's "Too Young To Fall In Love" and a cover of "Whiter Shade Of Pale" by HSAS, a band featuring Sammy Hagar and Journey's Neal Schon that was together maybe five minutes. "I'm sorry, guys", Klose said, shaking his head, "but that's the best I can do."

Perhaps Mark was having a bad day, or maybe he found a way to make peace with the corporate demons, for he would go on to work another 25 years in radio after that. A couple of years after that day at the audio show, he was working at WMRY, a small station owned by the Catholic Church. The Catholics had no idea what to do with WMRY, so somehow Klose made connections there and for about three years had a morning show where he got to play anything he wanted. He took no salary from the station, and supported himself and the show with advertising he sold himself. (There's even an old article on the web from those days with several quotes from Klose.) He was successful enough that WMRY went to a free-form rock format for a couple of years, perhaps one of the last of its kind in the country. The experience seemed to rejuvenate Klose, for after the Catholics sold WMRY, he went on to work a number of years at KSD, in an environment about as corporate as they come.

Mark Klose could probably retire now if he wanted to, and I'm sure he'd find his services in demand if he chose to continue working. He's a rarity in that not many radio professionals who stay around as long as he has spend their entire careers in their hometown. I wish Mark Klose the best in whatever he does from this point.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of blogs, bloggers, blogrolls, and blogging

Last week I received an invitation from SteveAudio to join his fine team of bloggers. I accepted his invitation, although not without a bit of thought, because I rarely make full use of the connections I already have. (Jenn sez I hardly even post to my own blog.) I decided to accept, finally, because Steve, The Sailor, and the rest of the good people over there do much of the same thing that I do - liberal politics, knowledgeable music writing, a bit of humor. I see Steve's blog as a place to put my good stuff where a few more people might read it. Steve's blog is worth the trip - if you like what I do here, you'll love SteveAudio.

I also still have my diary at They Gave Us A Republic, which I haven't posted to in ages; that's something I feel a bit guilty about. Blue Girl is one of the first people I met in the blogosphere, and I am pleased to have watched as she grew from her humble beginnings at Blue Girl, Red State to the well-read and respected blogger she is today. I think the main reason she puts up with me is that we're both Wichita State alums (she was going in the door as I was going out), and there aren't many of us out there blogging. There's also my connection to Correntewire, my first real home in blogland, but things have changed so much there that I rarely post or even comment any more. A lot of my old friends there have gone (some to the Stayedbehinder Lounge), and I haven't connected to most of the people who took their place. There's bound to always be a certain amount of change going on at a high-profile blog like that, and I don't blame Lambert and the crew for the direction they've decided to take, but I wish they'd spend less time writing about what needs to be done, and more time writing about how to do it. (Though this has been a general complaint of mine about liberal writers for more than 25 years. We have enough position papers to stretch from here to the Moon, but haven't figured out a way to turn those papers into a strategy that wins elections.)


I finally have my blogroll back. Somebody hacked BlogRolling back in November, and the folks over there have spent the last few months rebuilding their code from scratch. The blogroll is long overdue for some maintenance - I've been frustrated at not being able to add some of the bloggers I've found recently that interest me, and need to weed out some of the folks who have disappeared. (Strannix?) One drawback at this time is that when you click a link on my blogroll, you'll now see pop-up ads at the top of the page when you reach your destination. That will stop if I pay them $20 a year for their services, which seems reasonable. The ongoing problem in the nets is generating revenues sufficient to keep services going - I would have liked to have seen the internets developed as a sort of public utility, but our country chose a market approach instead, and now we have services and content providers constantly at the brink of viability because of the need to turn a profit, and people's resistance at having to pay for something they've been used to getting for free. I don't know how the problem will be resolved in the long term; one possibility may be to have ISP's subsidize content in much the same way cable companies help pay for programming, in which case your ISP bill will be going way up.


Further proof that I am not prolific: in two and one-half years of blogging, this is post #301.


Finally, a shoutout to Jenn's friend Philly, who has just started her own blog, Blue Eyed Views. Go over and say hi to Philly, check out her stuff; you may not believe that she has never had an argument with her husband in over five years either, but then she'll just threaten to sic him on you.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Church shooting

MARYVILLE -- Police say they do not know why a man walked into a service at the First Baptist Church in Maryville this morning and fatally shot the pastor.

The Rev. Fred Winters, said to be in his 40s, died at nearby Anderson Hospital of a gunshot wound to the chest, officials said.

The attacker, whose identity has not been released, was in serious condition at St. Louis University Hospital, where he was being taken into surgery for treatment of self-inflicted stab wounds.

(Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

Maryville is part of my old stomping grounds. I lived a couple of miles down the road in neighboring Glen Carbon for a time, and drove past this church often.

I wish I had an eloquent post on the need for better gun control handy, but all I feel right now is sorrow for the minister's family, friends, and congregation, puzzlement at what would drive somebody to commit such an act, and outrage that we allow so many idiots with guns to run around in this country.

UPDATE: Is lyme disease a sufficient alibi for murder?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Paul Harvey

Veteran radio commentator Paul Harvey passed away Saturday at age 90. In the course of his 75-year career, Harvey's catchphrases, homespun conservatism, and human-interest vignettes endeared him to millions of listeners.

He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt on September 4, 1918 in Tulsa, and lost his father at age three when he was murdered by robbers. A high school teacher was impressed by young Paul's voice and suggested that he might have a career in radio. At age 15, Harvey got his first job at KVOO in Tulsa, at first sweeping up, but eventually working as a fill-in for the regular announcers. Moving on to KXOK in St. Louis, he met Lynne Cooper, daughter of a prominent local family. Harvey proposed to Lynne on their first date. She turned him down, but they continued dating, and would end up marrying in 1940. Known to his listners as "Angel", Lynne also served as Harvey's producer and business partner, and was one of the first important women in the radio business.

Following a stint in the Navy in World War II, the Harveys settled in Chicago, where Paul landed a job at WENR and quickly became one of the city's most popular broadcasters. In 1946, he would also start giving his listeners in-depth features, ending them with the line, "And that's the rest of the story". In 1951, "Paul Harvey News And Comment" debuted nationally on ABC Radio, and would continue until his death.

Harvey modeled his idiosyncratic delivery, with its long pauses and odd inflections, after that of popular sportscaster Bill Stern. He worked plugs for just about everything into his newscasts, claiming he only advertised for products whose integrity he would vouch for personally. He introduced words like "guesstimate" and "snoopervision" into the American lexicon, and closed his broadcasts with a hearty "Good-Day!" Harvey became one of America's most popular radio broadcasters, heard on over 1200 stations nationally. During the 60's and 70's he also packaged TV editorials for national syndication.

Harvey was also the voice of rock-ribbed Midwestern conservatism. He was a supporter of Joe McCarthy, and through the years would use his influence in supporting a variety of conservative causes, and in decrying the cultural changes of the 60's. His editorials gave reassurance to many in the so-called "silent majority" lamenting the loss of the old America. Harvey shocked his listeners, though, in 1970 with his criticism of President Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia. With Paul Harvey, the voice of the conservative middle class, turning against the Vietnam War, Nixon knew that it was time to change course.

Despite growing health problems, Harvey signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to continue his program in 2000. He suffered a major blow when his wife and producer Lynne passed away in May 2008. In recent months, his son, Paul Jr., was handling most of the commentary.

Paul Harvey was not one of my favorites. His main appeal was that his show was the last vestige of old-time radio remaining on the dial. He was not especially talented (compare him to Rush Limbaugh, for example); his mannerisms seemed contrived, and his conservatism was often blockheaded and annoying. Still, he was listened to religiously by millions for over 50 years, and on longivity alone, I guess he rates. Good-day.