Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Job Lost in Time

Cliff Note: I'm taking a break from my usual Facebook activities this week. I'm not expecting a heck of a whole lot of traffic to this post since I won't be posting this link anywhere. So while I deal with FB withdrawal, I may be concentrating on my blogging this week. But I do feel my blogging audience are a real good bunch of people.

Anyway, I was driving through my small town this morning. A sight I saw, and this wasn't the first time it caught my eye, got me to thinking. My thought was what jobs have gone through a natural attrition? The sight that made me think that was the empty store front where the TV repair shop used to be. Yes, hoe many remember not being able to watch TV because their sets were in the shop? How many remember before the TV brecame solid state, and a repair would just involve changing a tube?

The independent TV repairman has, for a while, been a dying breed. Towards the end of the analog era, TV's had gotten cheap. And TV's also became disposable. And now with the new digital and HD televisions, there are no serviceable parts on the inside.

I noticed this after I filled up at a full service gas station. And I only filled up there because the self serve pumps across the street were 10 cents a gallon more.

I'd go bowling, but I can't find a bowling alley that employs pin boys...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WIXYpedia

I started working on this post over a week ago, then got into a reading frenzy, where I read two books from cover to cover in three days, and posted reviews for both.

Anyway, over a week ago, I was checking my site meter. Sometimes I am curious about where the hits here are coming from. I saw that a particular hit came from Wikipedia, that very accurate source of information on the web. I know that, in the past, there have been things taken from this blog and used on Wikipedia, and I wanted to see the reason for the link.

The link was an article about Jay Lawrence, brother of comedian Larry Storch. In the article, it had mentioned that Jay Lawrence had died in 1987, and was a disc jockey during the 60's at KYW/WKYC-1100 in Cleveland, Ohio. The link here was this review of a book by "Big Chuck" Schodowski, long time late night television host, here in northeast Ohio. I had mentioned in the book that the famous recorded laugh used for many years in the skits was provided by Jay Lawrence.

Problem was, this was the wrong Jay Lawrence. The Jay Lawrence who was a Cleveland disc jockey is currently a talk show host at KTAR in Phoenix AZ. I had seen comments by Jay on Radio-Info.com as late as 2007. You know, about 20 years after he allegedly passed on the the great control room in the sky.

Anyway, I sent the living Jay Lawrence an email, telling him about the rumor of his death which, in the words of Mark Twain "were greatly exaggerated." Here's how he responded-"Larry Storch was a comedian who passed away, his brother Jay Lawrence also passed away. I assure you, this Jay Lawrence is alive and well. I am in a bad mood this morning but I'll make it through the day. I have a talk show on KTAR in Phoenix and look ,pretty good for a dead person. I was on the radio in Cleveland some years ago. KYW and WKYC

 Jay"

As one who likes to keep facts straight, I post this as a public service. Well, maybe for a couple of chuckles too.

Click here to hear the laugh at the end of this skit.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Been A Real Ball- A book review

Click here for a review of the same book, written by blogging friend and fellow media geek, Tim Lones.

The past week has been great for a radio geek, such as myself. On Friday, I received in the mail, It's Been A Real Ball, a book written by Joe Tait and Terry Pluto. Like the other book I read this week, I consumed this within 24 hours. But then Terry Pluto is a great writer as well as an all around good guy.

Cliff Note: As I write this review, I will interject some of my thoughts as well. 

Joe Tait is one of the best sportscasters to hone his craft in a market that knew a lot alot of defeat and disappointment His voice was one of the last, some of us who were sports fans in the 1970's, would hear before retiring at night. And for the most of 39 seasons, he was the voice of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball. Joe is a transplant to northeast Ohio who firmly took root.

Growing up, Joe had two areas of interest, sports and the railroad. Like so many of us, Joe Tait was an avid sports fan who had very little athletic ability. But he knew very well how to describe a game.  Starting with college, he gave some excitement to many woebegone teams. Bill Fitch, then a college basketball coach, took note of this when he was scouting for his college football team. This paid off for Joe Tait when Fitch was named first head coach for the expansion Cleveland Cavaliers. Fitch recommended Joe for the job of play by play announcer, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I can remember listening to WERE the first time the Cavs beat the New York Knicks. I recall Joe saying things like, "the crowd is going bananas" and "the only way these refs were going to call a foul on New York is  if  they pulled out a gun." this remains one of my favorite Joe Tait memories. 

And for all of you who think a job in radio is all glamour, this book is an eye opener. Joe describes the jobs he took with little or no pay, the times he got fired from small town stations, and having to take on many other jobs at WERE to supplement the $7200 salary he received from the Cavaliers for the first season. The extra jobs also lead to his becoming Herb Score's partner on Cleveland Indians broadcasts for seven seasons.

Cliff Note: One evening in 1975, I found myself at the Richfield Coliseum after being stood up for a date. The Cavs won that night and since I was by myself, I made my down to the broadcast table after the game was over. Being one who wanted to get into radio at the time, I approached Joe Tait and asked him for some pointers for getting into the industry. In the next couple of minutes, he told me about small towns, long hours, and little pay. Pretty much like everyone else connected to radio has told me over the years. 

Much of the book is dedicated to an era in sports when the main attraction to going to a game was the game itself. Joe was a blue collar announcer in a blue collar market. He was there, describing to us the Miracle in Richfield, Ten Cent Beer Night, and Len Barker's perfect game, among others.

Cliff Note: One of my instructors at the WIXY School of Broadcast Technique in 1974, was a young sportscaster named Les Levine. He had criticism for Joe Tait, pretty much along the lines of most sportswriters in town at that time. Les did admit that he was jealous since Joe announced the Indians and Cavaliers, and all he (Les Levine) had was the Cleveland State Vikings basketball games to announce. Les has done well for himself over the years, being a sports talk show host. 

A year ago I wrote a post about about Len Barker's perfect game. Announcing that evening was Joe Tait and Bruce Drennan. The broadcast is another of my favorite Joe Tait memories. I was watching the game that evening with my brother, Ricky. Those who are long time readers of this blog know that Ricky had neurofibromatosis, and was developmentally disabled. Ricky, who passed away in 2008, had a great love for sports. Voices of people like Joe Tait, Pete Franklin, Herb Score, and Nev Chandler comprised a large part of the soundtrack of his life. Gordon Gund hired Joe back as the voice of the Cavs after Tait was away for two seasons. Gund was blind and appreciated the picture Joe painted during his telecasts. Joe brought the game alive for many that could not be there. I couldn't help but wish Ricky was still around to pass the book onto after I was done reading it. He would have loved it.

It's Been a Real Ball does touch on the Gund ownership, as well as the Dan Gilbert years of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. Joe does touch upon players such as Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo, Shawn Kemp, and World B. Free. In Tait's opinion the acquisition of Free saved the franchise and that his number, 21, should be retired by the Cavs. The book also devotes a chapter to Lebron James.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I was able to read the whole book in a 24 hour period. I don't do this with many books. The book is an easy read and I felt I was living many of my sports memories all over through the eyes of one of the greatest sportscasters of my lifetime. And I'm going to finish this post with a limerick.

Listening at night to Joe Tait
I think his announcing was great
Pluto there at his side
To share this great ride
A great read again I must state

So...What are you waiting for??? Get the book! Click here to order it from Amazon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

They Call Me Baba Booey-A Book Review

This past Wednesday, Kathy and I were in the local Goodwill store looking for books for Kathy to read. She found about 3 books. Me I just was looking more or less out of curiosity when I come across a book called They Call Me Baba Booey, by Gary Dell'Abate. The inner radio geek in me then kicked in. Mind you, I have plenty of books to read that I haven't even touched, and I'm also waiting on another book to arrive at my house that I've promised to review for this blog. But my love of radio is a reason I bought the book. And I read it in less than 24 hours.

Gary Dell'Abate is probably the best known radio show producer in the world, as he is the producer for the Howard Stern Show. Now I'm not a big fan of Howard Stern, but I did read his book, Private Parts. And if Howard was in town and offered to autograph my copy of the book, I would let him. As I have said, I'm not a fan, but I am a radio geek.

I picked up They Call Me Baba Booey and could not put it back down. It is very rare for me nowadays to be able to finish a book in a reasonable amount of time, but this one kept my attention. Gary tells quite a bit of his home life, especially dealing with his mother. The way he describes his mother's behavior, I would say she was suffering from bipolar disorder. Having a difficult home life, Gary turns to music and his beloved New York Mets to help him cope. His interests lead him into a career in radio and eventually producing one of the most popular radio shows in the history of the medium, The Howard Stern Show.

Unlike Private Parts, where Stern goes into minute detail about all his guests, Gary gives us an insight about his adventures in life and shares many embarrassing moments with the reader. Lets everybody know that getting into radio wasn't a cakewalk back in the 1980's. Gary also accepted the fact that sometimes his life would be center stage on the Howard Stern Show because there was comedic value in doing that.

We also learn how a brain cramp became a nickname and rallying cry everywhere when a Howard Stern fan would pull a fast one on a radio television host. Read the book and see how Gary Dell'Abate became part of one of the biggest news stories of the 1990's.

As I have stated earlier, even if you are not a Howard Stern fan, but you are a radio fan, give They Call Me Baba Booey a read.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Love of Money

Is the root of all evil. This is more than evident when it comes to legalized gambling.

The Horseshoe casino will be soon opening in Cleveland. One thing this will mean is the rate of bankruptcies in northeast Ohio will be on the increase. Also means the pawn shops will see increased business.

But people see legalized gambling as the road to easy street and look for any vehicle to get them there. In some cases, this includes fraud.

Several years ago, Ohio got their first Mega Millions winner. The jackpot was 165 million. The winning ticket was sold at a convenience store in an eastern suburb of Cleveland. The holder of the winning ticket had not come forward when someone else said they had bought the winning ticket, but dropped it in the parking lot of the convenience store. This caused a crowd of people to converge on the store to search the parking lot, trash receptacles, and dumpster, for the elusive ticket. The holder finally come forward with an unsoiled ticket which showed no evidence of being dropped in a parking lot on a winter day.

The person who claimed to purchase the ticket confessed to trying to defraud the lottery commission, saying she wanted the money to help others, including the police. WTAM talk show host, Mike Trivisonno, said he admired this lady for what she had done and that if he had a million dollars, he would get naked and roll around in it.

This memory was sparked by the recent story about the million dollar winning ticket which was recovered from the trash in a convenience store in Arkansas. The alleged buyer of the ticket claimed that she checked the ticket against the scanner, which said it wasn't a winner. The ticket was then disposed of. The redeemer of the ticket recovered it from the trash. The person who claimed they bought the ticket and the convenience store went to court over this. The judge ordered the holder of the winning ticket to surrender the winnings. I'm sure the story will be continued.

Biggest winners will be the attorneys.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

What a difference time makes....

Two years ago, in May, 2010, I was unemployed. I didn't know if I would ever find employment. I was told by someone as I was going around with my resume that "the white stuff on top of my head" would prevent me from getting a job.

To keep my spirits up, I started posting a daily video on Facebook, calling it "The Morning Show." That became a hit with my family and friends. also encouraged a friend to post a daily video, calling it "Second Edition." A month later, I started posting my "Question of the Day." Became popular in time, but also became polarizing to some. Also proved I would stink as a talk show host. Though friends and family told me that my talents could translate in a radio job, I knew better. I have had those in broadcasting tell me that it makes a great hobby and a lousy career. I decided that this would remain a great hobby. I remained unemployed.

During this time, I also helped plan a class reunion. One of my classmates from out of town, pulled me aside and gave me a card with a very generous amount of money inside. though we have had some differences since then, I still am grateful for that.

Early in the fall of 2010, I finally found a job. Not what I had been doing, but utilizes my talents. Some decent benefits as well.

After 18 months on the job, I was honored, and humbled, this week by being awarded employee of the month. My feelings about this are that I got this as a result of being part of the best program at my place of employment, and having some of the best coworkers around. Also the result of a few supervisors working hard to help develop my skills. I realize that can be harder when you are working with someone who is over 50 years old. I also realize that many newer employees will be looking up to me and that as a result, I will have to step up my job performance. I also had realized that when I was told that my calls were among those being played for training purposes.

Yes, in these days, big brother is watching...Also little brother. Big and little sister as well. But it's all good.