Archive for June, 2016

“Independence Day”

June 26, 2016


It struck in a flash.

Only hours after polls closed in the United Kingdom, a Prime Minister resigned, the British Pound dropped to its lowest level in 31 years and two trillion dollars in value instantly vaporized as financial markets around the world perilously plummeted with no easy end in sight.

By the relatively thin margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, U.K. voters determined it was time to leave The European Union – a politico-economic grouping of 28 member states with a total population exceeding 500 million. The EU was formed in the aftermath of World War Two in an effort to create, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “a United States of Europe.” The U.K. has been a member for more than four decades.

Moments after final results were tallied, right-wing leader Nigel Farage joyously proclaimed. “June 23rd will go down in history as our Independence Day!” This was before the bottom dropped out.

Farage had to admit only hours later that a key claim insisting that “Leaving” would mean that “350 million pounds a week ($500 million US dollars) currently going to the European Union would go to National Health Service” was an outright lie.

When ITV’s Susanna Reid pressed him on this issue before an incredulous national TV audience, Farage admitted that allegation was “a mistake.” Reid hammered on, “You’re saying that 17 million people have voted to leave on the basis of that? That was a huge part of the propaganda – you’re now saying that was a mistake?” Deafening silence followed.

Then Google reported experiencing a major surge in U.K. searches not only relating to the ballot measure, but also with basic questions concerning implications of the vote, especially “what happens if we leave the U.K.?”

It now seems that many of those voting really had no idea what they were supporting other than displaying xenophobic concern over immigration, signaling deep personal discontent over economics and expressing general disappointment with the immediate status quo. They answered the siren call of a simple solution like petulant children – blindly striking out against perceived injury and neglect without a hint of proper understanding or meaningful reflection.

Donald Trump praised the outcome from his golf course in Scotland, boastfully stating that the same forces causing the U.K. to leave the European Union will elect him President in the fall. Trump bellowed, “I think I see a big parallel…people here want to take their country back!” This ignored the fact that Scotland, itself, along with Northern Ireland, dramatically voted to remain in the EU. The outcome has also renewed cries in Scotland to again vote on independence from England, yet one more thread among thousands threatening to unravel in the wake of Thursday’s alarming — and until recently unexpected vote.

More than three million people have now signed a petition calling for a second referendum on the issue, already gaining far more than the 100,000 required to be considered by Parliament for debate, its website crashing several times due to high demand.

It seems entirely plausible that a more enlightened U.K. electorate may soon find an opportunity to overturn what might ultimately be regarded as an unfortunate, yet only temporarily inconvenient misunderstanding driven by nativist naïveté– speedily resolved by concerned common consensus.

Our Constitutional Republic does not allow for quick second chances.

Barring impeachment and consequential removal from office, an event that has never transpired in our history, November 8th will lock in a new American President for four years.

As valid analysis continues on the threat of uninformed populism around the globe, there is no assurance that tragic collective misjudgment, however inadvertent, can’t happen here.

Pray for clueless friends.

As we honor this nation’s history and celebrate our own Independence Day next Monday on the 4th of July, there is much remaining unsettled.

Hounds of misfortune howl in the night.

Danger is at our door.

Donald Trump menaces us all.

“Wild Wednesday 2016”

June 21, 2016


June 21, 2016

FCC Complaint


It’s simply a matter of accountability to our community.

In certain specific situations, the Federal Communication Commission licenses “Low Power FM” stations to provide geographically limited populations such as Oakhurst with local radio programming otherwise unavailable.

Such service is designed to offer area clubs, churches, schools, educational forums and other non-profit organizations an opportunity to discuss issues, promote events, and otherwise exchange thoughts and ideas on an interactive, participatory basis.

When the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Low Power FM stations are small, but they make a giant contribution to local community programming.”

 In comparative hearings for “Low Power FM” facilities, applicants are graded on such items as a commitment to “originate locally at least eight hours of programming a day” and “maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability, is reachable by telephone, and is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”

There are numerous other mandatory technical and regulatory responsibilities — particularly rigid requirements to maintain a public inspection file, make available for inspection a political file tracking requests for candidate and/or issue discussion, and to regularly file ownership reports in a timely manner.

The sudden, mysterious appearance of KOLS-LP (98.5 FM) last summer on our Oakhurst radio dials generated extended inquiry that had now culminated in the filing of a formal complaint with the Federal Communication Commission calling for a full investigation into the construction and operation of this illegal station.

I have signed and submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a sworn affidavit stating the following:

“Peter Cavanaugh, a resident of Oakhurst, California, hereby states the following under penalty of perjury:

 I am an occasional listener of radio station KOLS-LP. I have noticed:

 KOLS-LP does not broadcast any local programming;

  1. It does not have a main studio;
  2. It does not have a political file;
  3. It does not have a public inspection file and
  4. It has not filed ownership reports.

 I am disappointed that KOLS-LP is in flagrant violation of the Commission’s rules and urge that the Commission initiate an investigation.”

 After considerable evaluation and review by Washington attorneys and several informal discussions with regulators, it was determined best to file an initial narrative limited to certain easily verifiable technical violations, leaving many other pertinent issues subject to eventual investigative inclusion. Even so, the complaint is 65 pages long.

KOLS-LP broadcasts from the roof of a vacation home in Cedar Valley, a full 7.5 miles from our Oakhurst town center at the junction of California Highways 41 and 49. Father Daniel White of Winnetka, California – a Los Angeles suburb – is said to own the home. White is listed as President of “Radio Catholic” – a self-created, nonprofit religious corporation. Although the KOLS-LP call letters are alleged to represent “Our Lady of the Sierra,” Pastor Joel Davadilla did not authorize the project and has stated he knows little about it. Nor does the Diocese of Fresno.

100% of current KOLS-LP airtime exclusively consists of national EWTN programming originating in Birmingham, Alabama — this fare already easily accessible in Oakhurst on Sirius/XM Radio, both Dish and Direct Satellite TV, and via the Internet.

Founded by 92 year-old Franciscan nun Mother Mary Angelica, EWTN – ‘Eternal Word Television” is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. EWTN does not permit inclusion of non-Catholic religious programming in its broadcast day.

Repeating my closing words from a November column, we need “Community Radio” in Oakhurst to be truly “catholic” in nature, a word defined in Webster’s as being “of general scope or value; all-inclusive; broad in sympathy, tastes and understanding.”

That means for all people, parties, pursuits and persuasions.

Including input from the 20+ local churches of different denominations highlighted on page 6A of last week’s Easter issue of The Sierra Star.

And the 75+ area groups and organizations listed on page 7A’s “Community Calendar.”

As intended.







“Hail, Incitatus!”

June 20, 2016


It ‘s drawing depressingly near – the most bizarre political elevation in human history since Caligula appointed Incitatus to the Roman Senate in 40 A.D. – Incitatus being the Emperor’s favorite horse.

Barring unexpected oppositional developments, Donald J. Trump will formally accept nomination as the GOP’s 2016 Presidential candidate just four weeks from today on July 21st in Cleveland, thereafter becoming the ugly face and grunting voice of the Republican Party for a frightening foreseeable future.

Hillary Clinton is now trouncing Trump in recent national polling by ever increasing margins. Knowledgeable Washington pundits have started openly discussing the House of Representatives returning to Democratic control in November. Many are now forecasting a distinct possibility of the Senate doing likewise – all of this because 16 other Republican hopefuls couldn’t get out of each other’s way — allowing a clamoring clown to emerge triumphant as their party now dances at the very edge of dissolute disintegration.

If Trump continues spirally downward in voter sentiment over these next few weeks with verifiable velocity, watch for new signals of desperation.

Serious discussion is already underway at the highest levels to avoid bringing Trump into play for “down ticket” reelection bids by substituting George W. Bush in his place as a more palatable surrogate to draw crowds and engender support. What?

“George the Conqueror” hasn’t been seriously included on any significant invitation list these last seven and a half years. It has become generally accepted in all but the most recalcitrant circles that 2003’s Bush – initiated invasion of Iraq was a debacle on almost every level, costing us thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars in treasure trashed. “Dub-Ya” ultimately ended up replacing yesterday’s Saddam Hussein and his Ba’ath Party with today’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and ISIS.

What a tag team. “Tonight — filling in for Grumpy — here’s Goofy!”

There’s also sudden collusion among a handful of pledged Trump delegates to consider the potential value of effectively becoming conscientious objectors at the convention, declaring that the candidate’s conduct since becoming presumptive nominee has become embarrassingly intolerable.

An amendment has been prepared by members of the Republican Rules Committee to provide a way out of requiring a vote for Trump on the first ballot. The exact wording states that delegates would be permitted a “vote of conscience” for “allowable personal reasons” which would include “notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform.”

 Don’t hold your breath. Since Trump has already rooted out 1,542 committed convention supporters with only 1,237 needed for his official selection, this means more than 300 of these would need to become functionally “conscientious” – highly unlikely, but not impossible in the face of what might be shaping up as virtually certain annihilation in November by a month from now.

 Meanwhile, it seems fair to observe the Democratic Party is realizing its own share of internal challenges.

I’m baffled why Attorney General Loretta Lynch, appointed to office by Barrack Obama in April 0f 2015, is allowing Hillary Clinton to metaphorically twist slowly in the wind to such an agonizing extent over Secretary Clinton’s “private server” issue – an aging topic now having been laboriously investigated by Lynch’s FBI for almost a full year.

While exercising an abundance of caution in such matters is surely advisable, I suggest such extended reticence on the part of Lynch to reach definitive judgment is functionally raising serious questions about her prioritization of responsibilities. Be it good or bad for Hillary, let’s go!

And what’s this shallow talk about Hillary needing to “move toward the center” now that she has clinched the Democratic nomination?

Anyone suggesting such clichéd claptrap had best reflect upon the last twelve months of progressive evolution in America’s electorate, particularly among younger members of our society who will define direction and determine our future.

Bernie Sanders didn’t win millions of votes and carry 22 states in Democratic primaries and caucuses due to his youthful vigor, fashionable dress and trend setting hairstyle. Senator Sanders was singularly successful in authentically articulating a critical need for meaningful change on an immediately accelerated basis. This commitment is not going away. Nor is Senator Sanders.

And probably not that horse of a different color – the unctuously orange — Donald Trump.




WTAC 1978

June 17, 2016

WTAC Plate

In early 1978, an eleven minute audio presentation was produced for use by McGavren-Guild Radio, then the industry’s top representative firm.

McGavren-Guild sold WTAC advertising for major national clients.  “Big 600” was then the most dominant radio voice in Flint and the Tri-Cities with a weekly cumulative audience of over 100,000 listeners and a broadcast signal carrying as far north up I-75 as the Mackinac Bridge.

Echoing words from WTAC’s formative times — “Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear” —-

“Welcome, Mr. President”

June 12, 2016


For the fifteenth time since taking office, he spoke to a nation again shaken to its core by yet another act of senseless hate and terror – this one with a single individual killing 50 and injuring 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando – becoming the largest mass shooting in American history.

Even as President Obama spoke early Sunday afternoon from the Oval Office, authorities were taking a suspect into custody in West Hollywood after discovering an arsenal in his car that included tannerite powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit. The suspect told authorities that he was there for the Los Angeles Pride festival.

I was struck by the restraint exhibited by our President in those Sunday remarks, particularly because of his former passionate commentary on the insanity of allowing high capacity military grade assault weapons and group killing ammunition to remain nationally available with minimal federal controls. These words have continually fallen on deaf elected ears. This pronounced intransigence has come despite widespread popular sentiment to the contrary and is due to collective congressional cowering in the face of powerful lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne “Dead Kids Don’t Vote” LaPierre.

The right for private individuals to bear arms as defined by the Second Amendment of our Constitution is hardly deemed “sacred” by anyone who can read beyond first grade level.

The exact wording says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Get that? “Well regulated?” “Militia?” “Bear arms?” This is where Homer Simpson goes, “D’oh!”

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and served for 35 years before retiring in 2010. Stevens contends that Federal judges understood for more than two centuries that the Second Amendment is limited and applies only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, nor does the amendment limit the power of state or local governments to regulate firearms.

Warren Burger, appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican Richard Nixon in 1969, served for 17 years as Chief Justice. Hardly a lily-livered liberal, Justice Burger categorically stated on the MacNeil/Leher News Hour following his retirement that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word “fraud” on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

 The subsequent 2008 landmark decision by a conservative Court in “District of Columbia v. Heller” establishing precedent for an individual to bear arms was determined by a single vote (5 to 4) and even this ruling was restricted to such matters as self defense within the home.

Now comes the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a decision only last Thursday upholding a California law that requires gun owners to show valid reason before being licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Tracing the rights of gun owners from medieval England to the founding of the United States and through the Civil War, the Court ruled 7 to 4 that local laws have traditionally and almost universally prohibited such without requiring sufficient cause.

Conservative Breitbart News immediately leapt into action with screaming headlines declaring, “Only Donald Trump Can Save Our Gun Rights” and “Hillary Clinton Will Abolish The Second Amendment.” Both of these observations are tragically misinformed and insipidly stupid. So is the constant drone of ignorant allegations ever since he took office in 2009 that “Obama will take away our guns.” He hasn’t, he wouldn’t and he won’t. Barack Obama just wants common sense restored to an enormously critical dialogue.

Welcome to Yosemite, Mr. President. Here’s hoping a well-earned visit to our beautiful region will prove both restful and restorative as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary.

And thank you for your service to this country as our Commander-in-Chief. You’ve worked for peace, brought troops home and done much in restoring our national honor following tragic misadventures in the Middle East initiated by your predecessor and his administration, however unwittingly.

May you and your family travel safely and securely on your journey through God’s country — and all travels ahead.

You have led us well.



June 9, 2016


Charlie Speights

November 11, 1927 – June 7, 2016

In November of 2006, Eileen and I drove across the country from Michigan to California in a twenty-two foot Penske Rental Truck containing all of our earthly belongings, including two cats and a cockatiel named Clancy. Every few hours Charlie would call as he tracked our journey West from his condo in Palm Desert with pins in a map. He was glad we were finally moving closer. We visited Charlie and his wonderful wife, Toby Meyers Speights, a number of times in subsequent years, including an extended stay with them at Incline Village on Lake Tahoe, where Charlie and Toby had rented a place over the 4th of July Weekend in 2008. Charlie was in his 80th year, but was still running all over the place. I could barely keep up. We bought this cool German Shepherd several beers at a cowboy bar in Truckee.

I reference Charlie a number of times in “Local DJ” and thought I’d share a few sections here to hopefully provide — in some small way — a slight sense of my oldest and dearest friend, seemingly gone now like — snow on the water.


Gene Milner’s Vice-President and General Manager at WTAC, appointed in 1964 just before my departure for Des Moines, was Charles Speights.

Charlie had originally grown up in Cleveland, Ohio; the single child of a prosperous shipping executive and his elegant wife.

Understandably, the prominent couple had nothing in mind but the finest of educations and most fabulous business opportunities for their one and only son. Naturally, Charlie wanted to be a trumpet player. Completing college primarily to maintain parental subsidization of musical interests, Charlie was a “Young Man With a Horn”, somewhat like Kirk Douglas in that movie of the same name.

By twenty-one, handsome, blue-eyed, Aryan-child Charlie was hangin’ out with the “heavies”. He was wailin’ “blues”, smokin’ “reefer”, “chasin’ gigs”, blowin’ “chops” and generally enjoying a wonderful life.

He came along in time enough to catch the end of the “Big Band” years and joined several multi-piece orchestras, traveling along from town to town with wandering gypsy heart and carefree vagabond soul. He spent time with Ray Anthony, Jimmy Dorsey and Claude Thornhill.

It was on such tours he met his Doris Day.

Her name was Nancy Clayton, a wondrous woman. Her striking physical beauty was only exceeded by her keen intelligence and talented voice. She was, as in the movies, a “singer with the band”.

It was a wedding band of gold, not brass or music, that Charlie placed upon her hand.  They were both deeply in love, but it was not on the road that two could settle down with roots established and a family raised. Nancy’s hometown was Lapeer, Michigan; a small community on M-24 twenty miles east of Flint. It was to Flint the newlyweds moved.

Charlie would have made an ideal candidate for executive grooming within the massive corporate confines of General Motors, which then employed more than two-thirds of those living in the town and was exploding with unimaginable profits and unbelievable opportunities for all. After contemplating what sort of “day-job” would bring maximum financial return and minimal personal pain, Charlie answered an ad in the Flint Journal soliciting “radio sales people”. Naturally gifted in the art of conversation and persuasion, Charlie delightfully discovered that radio possessed a “show-biz” quality unique to itself and was, in his own words, “the next best thing to not having a real job!”

Charlie sold well at WAMM and at WBBC and at some precise point of predestined planetary alignment met Gene Milner late one night in some dark Flint bar. More perfect a match cannot be conceived. Gene instantly hired Charlie for WTAC Sales. Charlie quickly earned rapid advancement and promotion.

They became almost inseparable personal and professional friends. That Charlie went on to happily survive such distinction offers no better testimony to his adroit skills and abilities, especially in the art of “Gene-handling”. Charlie instinctively knew most of Milner’s buttons with keen intuition and could effortlessly play them to perfection.

They served as each other’s alter egos.

Leader/Follower; Bully/Buddy; Orator/Audience; Fan/Musician; Starter/Finisher; Corpulent/Athletic; Aging Wisdom/Youthful Energy; Reigning King/Successor Prince. Really, quite a pair!


 “Hey, Charlie, congratulations!”

“For what, Peter C.?”

“Gene’s memo says you’re the new General Manager!”

“It does?”

“Should I ask you questions instead of Gene from now on or what?”

“How should I know? I’m only the General Manager. I guess. Wait ’til Gene gets in. Where’s the memo?”

Charlie was constantly called upon to navigate troubled waters churned to maelstrom magnificence by Milner’s fondness for things craved and captured.


After my first P.D. gig at Milner’s KSO in Des Moines and returning to Central New York and WTLB as Morning DJ, I was lying in bed at four-thirty in the afternoon listening to Dusty Rhodes, an old Syracuse friend, on CKLW in Detroit. I was remembering how much fun I’d had in Flint and how Des Moines hadn’t really been a mistake since I’d really had no choice in the matter anyway. Flint never sucked. The phone rang. Eileen wasn’t home. I answered it.

“Hey, Peter! It’s Charlie!”

Charlie said that he and Bob Dell wanted to know if I’d be interested in returning to my old time slot on WTAC. The Communications Division of Fuqua Industries intended to be supportive of them in every way. As Gene Milner had headed to sunny Fort Lauderdale with pocketed profits and was now completely out of the picture, Charlie was really Vice President and General Manager and Bob was really Program Director. Great times were ahead in Flint. And in Florida.

Gene would purchase a little AM Day-Timer, which he dubbed “The Surf”, WSRF. There was this stupid little FM license that went along with it. He used this to build a station for his wife Jackie to “have fun with”. She chose call letters in honor of her gender.

WSHE-FM, under Milner ownership, would eventually become the number one Rock & Roll station in Miami and one of the most influential facilities in the entire country.

Charlie offered a very attractive financial package and Bob, who was on the air, jumped in on the conversation between records to offer his own encouragement. I told them I would call them back.

When Eileen arrived home with Laurie and Colleen, we discussed Charlie’s call. Eileen had never been particularly partial to Flint and, also a Syracuse native, had been glad when we returned to Central New York, with its rolling hills and sweeping scenery. By admitted comparison, Flint was flat and the epitome of a factory town, although the richest on the planet — home to the highest paid industrial workers in the history of the world.

Charlie Speights — Wild Wednesday 1970


In early July, I was at home randomly scanning the dial on a new multi-band Panasonic radio I had recently acquired when, roaming through telephone frequencies and hoping to hear wild sexual exchanges, I happened to accidentally come across even more interesting communications. Instinctively and illegally, I recorded around thirty minutes worth. There were actually several different conversations involving the highest echelons of General Motors.

The President of Buick Motor Division was speaking on his car phone with superiors in New York and Detroit. Many serious things were under discussion. The executives were obviously privy to governmental information that had not yet been made available to the general public. There was talk of strained relationships with Opel in Germany, pending safety standard guidelines and price control data. There was also an abundance of corporate intrigue evident in factual variations presented in the accounting of specifics to different individuals and assessments volunteered on the efforts of others. I was most intrigued by the fact that they didn’t sound like typical milquetoast General Motors types at all. How refreshing. At the top of the pyramid, they talked like Rock & Roll promoters!

“Those fuckin’ Germans are a complete pain in the ass!”

“We’re sayin’ we’ll put the goddamn things in for cost, but there’s twenty-five points in every one of those cocksuckers!”

“Sure Ed’s secretary’s got big tits! She’s top-pick for the top-prick.  Ha-ha-ha-ha!”

What wonderful men. Actually, they seemed quite likeable. Did they know they were “on the radio?” I thought not.

I should just call up the President of Buick Motor Division and slip him the word. Why not? What goes around — comes around.

As partially expected, I was stopped at the lowest rung of the Buick internal communications ladder by some junior executive who needed to know specific information before I could possibly be referred upward. He was a snotty little jerk. To tell him anything seemed ill advised and indiscreet. An indirect method offered solution.

Dan and Dave West’s dad was an artist at Buick. Dave made “West Amplifiers” for all the cool Michigan rock groups. Dave’s dad had been at Buick for thirty-some years and was looking forward to retirement. I called Dave and asked him to stop over. Dan would have wanted to make two thousand copies of the tape and throw them off Flint bridges at every Buick passing underneath. Dave was considerably steadier and infinitely more responsible. I played several minutes of the tape. Dave couldn’t believe his ears.

I told Dave I had tried to reach the primary conversationalist, but wasn’t allowed through. He did believe that. I suggested that Dave simply tell his Dad that telephone car communications could be a sensitive thing and why. No specifics regarding content were to be shared. I would be glad to confirm interception only with those involved.

Holy Motors!!

Dave called his Dad early the next morning and within a very short time Buick Motor Division’s Director of Public Relations was on the phone to our WTAC Vice-President and General Manager, Charlie Speights. I was still on the air, but had briefed Charlie earlier about the curious affair. He was utterly fascinated.

As the story had rapidly raced up through the Buick high command, it had become radically enhanced. Charlie was told that a WTAC employee named “Peter Cavanaugh” had recorded hours of secret corporate conversations and was “playing them at cocktail parties all over town”. What’s more, these tapes were going to be “broadcast on the radio” and “offered for sale”. No threats were made, but it was quite clear to Charlie that any assistance he could offer in limiting damages would be greatly rewarded by the corporation.

Oddly enough, Charlie said, the main thing the Buick boys wanted to do was listen to the tapes. You bet.

Although I had no intention of taking the matter of the tapes any further that I had, adventure is where you find it. Charlie and I discussed an approach. We called the Director of Public Relations on Charlie’s speaker phone.

 “Hi, Jerry Rideout!”

“Jerry? This is Peter Cavanaugh!”

“Peter—ahhh—-Peter Cavanaugh?

“That’s goddamn right! Did you just call my fucking boss?

“Ahhh. Ummm. Errrr. See. I’ve known–known Charlie for years and he’s an old–an old friend–and–”

“You called my fucking BOSS??????”

 “Now. Well. You see–”

“You get your ass out here!


Within seconds, Charlie’s private line rang.

Charlie told Jerry that I had gone completely berserk when informed of his call. Charlie said that, while I was normally “a fairly nice kind of a cat”, I had a vicious Irish temper and was given to bursts of uncontrollable rage — “as is true of many performers”, Charlie observed. He reported that I was running around the building screaming about having my job threatened. Charlie said I had so far shared the entire tape with no one, not even him. Now I had a call in to Ralph Nader and was talking about making copies for all the networks here and overseas, especially in Germany. “Whatever that means”, added Charlie.

All because the Buick Motors Division Director of Public Relations had FUCKED UP!! Mr. Rideout was looking at a one-way ticket to No Snatch, Saskatchewan.

The Director arrived at WTAC within minutes, perspiring heavily and minus his coat jacket that, for a General Motors executive, was like not wearing pants. Or shorts underneath. He had literally run to his car and headed south on Center Road.

At the time, I looked quite anarchistic. My moustache was Fu Manchu and my hair was shoulder length. I was wearing sneakers, torn jeans and a T-Shirt that read — “So What?”

In spite of every effort to maintain practiced composure, Mr. Rideout couldn’t help but radiate the feeling he was in the presence of a genuine bomb-thrower. An honest-to-God terrorist was holding the keys to his career in one hand and preparing to crush his balls with the other. This hadn’t been addressed at General Motors Institute.

“Jerry, I’d like to cover a few things quickly and cleanly.”

“Absolutely, Mr. Cavanaugh. Absolutely!”

 “Jerry, I’m of Irish descent and like to handle things in Irish ways.”

“My wife is part-Irish. She’s a wonderful woman!”

I couldn’t resist.

“Well, that’s good, Jerry. That’s very good. And you screw Irish gentlemen too?”

 “Oh no. No. No-no-no-no-no! That’s not what I meant at all.”

“Jerry, when you called Charlie Speights, you were trying to screw me. Charlie happens to be just about my very best friend in the world, but you didn’t know that. You thought you would call my boss and tell on me. Do you know what that’s called in Ireland, Jerry?”

“In Ireland?”

“In Ireland, Jerry, that’s called informing! Do you know what happens to informers in Ireland?”

“In Ireland?”

“In Ireland, Jerry,  INFORMERS STOP INFORMING!  At WTAC, you’re in Ireland.”

“In Ireland?”

“And here’s the Irish deal:

 “First, the next time you have a question for a common Irish worker, you will ask him directly and to his face. You will not contact his “better,” for there’s no such thing! Is that understood?”


“Secondly, there is absolutely no way you or anyone else connected with Buick is going to listen to any recordings which may be in my possession, except the President of the Division if he should so choose and only then to verify the extent of his vulnerability. He should watch it on his goddamn car phone. That’s my only message here.”

“I see.”

And lastly, Jerry. You seem like a decent guy. Tell your people I’m erasing the tape and that you talked me into it. You came right out here and behaved respectfully. You may come back to Ireland any time you wish.”

To Ireland. Yes. Yes. Then, we don’t have to worry about—

“All you need worry about, Jerry, is keeping your wife happy. Irish women are creatures of deep passion. The tape will be erased.”

 The Director of Buick Public Relations left WTAC in a state of joyous relief.

Charlie and I fell on the floor in hysterical laughter.

By the close of the day, all car phones were removed from every executive vehicle in the entire Buick fleet.

I played the tape for no one else.

It was not erased.


On our WTAC Client Trip to Las Vegas, Charlie Speights, again a single man, seemed to be changing female partners every twenty minutes. Everyone stopped keeping track. John Smith lost his toupee on the giant bumper cars at Circus Circus and made them stop the action so a thorough search could be conducted. It took five minutes. A crowd of spectators grew to several hundred.

Word filtered though that there had been a fatality on the ride. A crowd of over a hundred gathered watching Smith look for his wig. Some little kid found the hairpiece tightly wedged under a tire. It looked like a small, dead animal. John put it in his pocket and abandoned pretense of disguise for the rest of our stay.

We all went up to Mt. Charleston, just north of town, and rode horses.

We all rented dirt bikes and took them out into the desert.

My wife Eileen spent four consecutive hours at the nickel slots.

John Smith spent ten hours at the dime slots.

Billy Coleman spent no time at the slots, but ten minutes at Blackjack netted him seven hundred dollars. He retired from further gambling for the duration.

We partied. We drank. We smoked. We laughed. No one slept.

On the last night, Charlie was missing.

We split up into “teams” and combed the casino area.  No Charlie.

We checked in his room. Billy popped the lock in less time than to read that he did. No Charlie. We looked in several other rooms where it was suspected he might be. Three were empty. A fourth revealed a naked couple enjoying oral sex. Billy produced his fake FBI badge and apologized for our presence. No Charlie!

Around four-thirty in the morning we abandoned our search and decided to have last call at the top of the Landmark. As we exited the elevator and approached the lounge, a wailing trumpet could be heard high above the din. It rose and fell in ecstatic release.


He had brought his horn along to Vegas just in case. He had talked his way onto the bandstand and had been playing there for hours. He told us all later that he was sick of radio and had always wanted to play horn in Vegas. He said that he was going to move there, and pretty damn soon. He wasn’t kidding.

Charlie thought he probably wouldn’t miss radio at all. He felt the whole business and, in fact, much of which seems important in life at any given point in time was only “snow on the water”.

The phrase is from an Incredible String Band song called “Big Ted”.

 “Big Ted’s dead and gone.

  Gone like snow on the water.




June 6, 2016


It was another full house at Denny’s last Saturday morning for the June monthly meeting of our Oakhurst Democratic Club and an exceptional presentation by Troy Pope, Editor-in-Chief of the Fresno State Collegian – a student run publication.

It was Troy who gained significant national attention back in February when he ran a front page editorial in the Collegian comparing Donald Trump’s unanticipated ascension in American politics to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. This brought forth from readers an impressive volley of cheers and a passionate cascade of jeers. A special extra edition of The Collegian quickly followed containing commentary from both sides. There wasn’t much in between.

In discussing “A Millennial’s Perspective on Election 2016” Pope suggested it was the continuous attention provided Trump by American media across the board that is largely accountable for Trump’s primary victories and his current status. I couldn’t agree more. It’s cuckoo crazy, but completely comprehendible.

When I started my radio career in the late Fifties, broadcast news was sacrosanct. In return for being federally licensed to offer programming to a certain geographic area from a limited number of available public frequencies, owners were required to submit detailed specifics on how the general public would be served by their stewardship. These included binding pledges to dedicate a certain percentage of each broadcast day to public service, public affairs, educational announcements and, most importantly, local, regional and national news.

The FCC would review such commitments at license renewal time by examining station logs that were rigidly maintained at each facility listing all such programming deemed in the public interest and sworn to under penalty of law. Failure to deliver on promises made could result in heavy fines and other d the “general welfare” clauseisciplinary measures up to and including license forfeiture or even jail time.

All of this is now ancient history, dismissed, dismantled and discarded by free market forces treasuring profits above all else; an era that many believe began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. “Government” went from collaborator to culprit in a single generation as growing deregulation was embraced and greed deterrence erased.

This is when “we” turned into “me!” “General welfare” as constitutionally defined by our founding fathers gave way to unlimited, often ungovernable self-interest. My Tea Party friends would point out that is mentioned twice in the U.S. Constitution: first, in the preamble and second, in Article 1, Section 8.

With accountants in charge, “News” ceased to be justified by concerned consensus as above the common fray and became simply another profit center. This meant that enhanced listenership or viewership created by increased audience ratings — instantly convertible into automatic revenue — became the only goal. All else became meaningless and replaceable.

Traditional “News” morphed into attractive “Entertainment” and is often now a distinction without true difference. ABC/NBC/CBS are competing to fulfill Paddy Chayefsky’s dystopian vision of the future forecast in “Network.” Walter Cronkite has become FOX NEWS.

Through the years in less culturally sensitive times, carnivals and circuses across the land energetically tempted otherwise proper patrons with titillating “Freak Shows” and not without cause. For a few pennies more, one might see peculiar manifestations of — who knew what? Often displaying gross human deformities as items of heightened interest and elevated entertainment, “Freak Shows” packed in the crowds. Such primal attraction in modern times would guarantee outrageous ratings and constant, continuous exposure to mass audience. We’re seeing that now.

Donald J. Trump is the ultimate Freak Show. Trump is the Bearded Lady, the Alligator Man, the Half-Ape/Cross-Dressing Jungle Boy – and the Quadruple-Eyed Alien Baby in a Jelly Jar — all rolled into one. There’s never been anyone like him. Thus depicted, Donald Trump is also the ultimate hoax.

In the finest tradition of P.T. Barnum’s “Fiji Mermaid” with the head of a monkey and tail of a fish, Trump is nothing more than an outlandish joke running askew.

Accepting Donald Trump as a serious candidate for President is disingenuously dangerous, and except for those unbalanced or uneducated, surely must be self-deceptive.

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows this Emperor has no clothes.

He’s just a rude, crude dude in the nude — a pile of piggy pink.