Archive for October, 2010

“It’s The Kids!

October 20, 2010

“It’s The Kids!”

From Shakespeare’s Henry IV (1597) —

Constable: “I will cap that proverb with — “There is flattery in friendship.”
Orleans: And I will take up that with — “Give the devil his due.”

Giving the devil his due, Rush Limbaugh is the finest broadcast performer of his generation. Beyond question, Rush is one of the most powerful radio voices in the history of the medium and, as with Shakespeare, reflects with stunning accuracy the quintessential essence of 16th Century thought.

Given his awesome ratings generation on hundreds of stations across the country following a national syndication debut in 1987 on the imaginary “Excellence In Broadcasting” Network, I was delighted to feature Rush when I managed WSPD, “The KMJ of Toledo”, in the mid-’90’s. Obviously, we never used “The KMJ of Toledo” in our Ohio advertising, since no one there would have known what on earth we were talking about, but you get the idea. I even ran Rush twice each weekday from Noon till 3 PM, then repeated the whole show again from 3 until 6. We were a solid #1 for six straight hours. But there was an issue concerning fair content balance. I needed a listener generating counterweight.

And so it was that when WIMA-AM, “the KMJ of Lima”, a hundred miles to the south, starting regularly beating Rush Limbaugh rather handily in local Arbitrons with some guy named “Dennis Shreefer”, it seemed wise to check things out.

Dennis turned out to be a crusty old progressive codger several years my senior– a former major market TV anchor — who deserted fame and fortune to freely unleash his mind in Talk Radio, even though this meant starting a brand new career in a teeny-tiny town. He’d sent out tons of tapes and only Lima, Ohio called — where he was hired and proceeded to kick Rush’s royal rear. The radio trades went wild. WHP-AM, “The KMJ of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania”, got to Dennis first, luring him away with big, big bucks and a promise of autonomy — i.e., allowing him to say what he wanted on the air. So he did.

Six months passed and, following a major skirmish with General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison Company, Dennis was unceremoniously fired without recourse. The corporation, operators of a nuclear power plant known as ”Three Mile Island”, scene of a partial core meltdown in 1979, had canceled all of its advertising on the station over Shreffer comments relating to community safety and security such as, “We’re sleeping with a potential killer!” and “Your teeth fall out first!” Snappy stuff.

So I snapped Dennis up in a heartbeat and brought him to Toledo. At our first face-to-face meeting, he announced: ”You’re looking at a proud parent. My oldest son has just been voted “Resident of the Month” at the Omaha Rescue Mission.” That was true. And that was the essence of Dennis’s “act.” He simply told the truth as he saw it — damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead. Rock ‘n Roll is an ageless attitude and not restricted to music. In six months, WSPD’s (6 to 10 AM) ratings soared from an 8.1% to a 12.5% Total Audience Share, the largest morning show increase in Toledo radio history, unmatched to this day.

It was Dennis Shreefer who said it all in three little words.

One morning, as he was rolling through a typically convoluted, stream-of-consciousness, politically charged narrative on life as he found it, he suddenly stopped–paused–then softly uttered–”You know what? It’s the kids. Damn it. It’s the kids!”

A major Conservative talking point (let’s see if you’ve heard this one before) is: “American Guarantees Equal Opportunity–Not Equal Results.”

I am persuaded this new America of ours guarantees neither.

One out of every seven of our children now goes to bed really hungry every single night.

For the majority of our teenagers, higher education has become an impossible dream.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) measures student literacy in science, math, and reading among 15-year-olds, and is an often-cited reference for policy makers sounding alarm bells about the state of education in the United States and its implications for the ability of Americans to secure jobs in a global economy. The US is now ranked 29th, behind countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein.

America has cut billions and billions of dollars in Educational funding over the past ten years at every level of government — Local, State and Federal, failing miserably in what should be our most important investment as a people.

There is a critical need for massive revision of national priorities, including immediate restoration of tax structures witnessed during the Republican Administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Class Envy?” “Redistribution of Wealth?” “Handouts to Have-Nots?”

No, man!

It’s the kids, damn it. It’s the kids!

Remember in November? You Betcha!

October 5, 2010

The Youngest -- Soon To Be Oldest -- Governor in California State History.

Having spent my first twenty years in radio as a Rock ‘n Roll DJ, commencing a relentless musical assault on older ears in 1957 at the innocent (not really) age of 16 on my hometown station, WNDR in Syracuse, I finally got a real job in 1977. That’s when I left the air to enter sales and management at WTAC in Flint. Eventually I moved to Toledo as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of a seven station broadcast group, where I remained for a dozen more years. This was followed by 1998 in Youngstown, where I ran another five radio stations.

It was in Youngstown that I became a Chief Execution Officer, firing dozens of loyal employees “for the bank”, many with decades of devoted service. Killers make great money. I know I did. That’s why the average Chief Executive Officer in America now earns 263 times the pay of an ordinary American worker. At eBay, Meg Whitman left them in the dust.

Conservatively estimating the salary, bonuses and stellar stock options exercised by Ms. Whitman during her ten year tenure at eBay, her billion dollar haul, if broken down at $100,000,000 annually divided by 52 weeks, comes out to a cool rate of $48,076 an hour. “Nicky” Diaz Santillan, working for Ms. Whitman as maid and housekeeper almost the entire period Queen Meg was at eBay, earned $23 an hour at the time of her dismissal when Whitman decided to enter politics — a poor little rich girl determined to add a whole state to her collection of dollies and ponies.

48,000 to 23? That’s a ratio of 2,086 to 1.

Sacrificed on the altar of convenient political expediency, Ms. Santillan testifies that Whitman’s final words of thanks were — “from now on, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. You never have seen me, and I have never seen you.” After 9 years as a virtual family member, Ms. Santillan thus found herself instantly abandoned and left adrift, disposed and dispossessed — human flotsam.

But it’s still high tide for beneficiaries of other Billionaires bent on keeping us in our places with smiling surrogate faces — funded in no small measure by Charles and David Koch of New York. The Koch brother’s father, Fred ”There Goes a Red!” Koch, was an arch-conservative prime mover in the John Birch Society back in the ‘50’s, an organization chiefly remembered for calling Dwight David Eisenhower, victorious Supreme Allied Commander in World War Two and 34th President of the United States, a “conscious agent of the International Communist Conspiracy.” Fred’s boys are making sure the lunacy continues.

In the last few weeks, Christine “Don’t Even Keep Your Hands to Yourself” O’ Donnell became the official Republican Senatorial candidate in Delaware for the forthcoming November elections, joining Tea Partiers Rand Paul (Kentucky), Joe Miller (Alaska), Sharron Angle (Nevada) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) at the front line of an ominously threatening 2010 ultraconservative offensive, even as tea must be tasting like hemlock to traditional members of the Grand Old Party.

Karl Rove, coming to West Hills College in Coalinga on October 10 for a brief visit (instead of a more extensive and well-earned Pleasant Valley Prison stay), was forced by party pressures to endorse Ms. O’Donnell less than 24 hours after publicly lamenting her win on fascist friendly FOX. Mr. Rove thus retains a profitable profile in powerful circles with an amazingly obeisant display of groveling, dog-like loyalty, but even he has to admit it IS getting pretty “nutty” all over, and not just with witchcraft-dabbling Christine.

According to brand new Census figures, the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount in history as young adults and children — in particular — struggled to stay afloat in a recession which is far from over. What we see every day here in the Central Valley still stretches coast to coast.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

Then there’s that 2,086 to 1.

Remember in November.