Friday, August 09, 2019

Mr. Personality

I needed to get some duplicate keys made because my stepson is down to one remaining key for his Pontiac Vibe. So, while he’s away in Canada, I thought I’d get at least three copies made. One to take with him as a spare and a couple for backups because losing keys seems to be in his genetic makeup. We still haven’t found any keys for the ’96 Mustang that we have in a garage in King, NC.

I thought I’d get a handle on this situation before it gets away from us all.

Since I had to pick up various things at the local Walmart, I’d get those dupes made while I’m shopping. At least, that was my plan.

I arrived at the automotive counter and no one was there. There was a custodian nearby that told me that someone would be with me shortly. No worries. “I’m (Keith Carradine)Easy”. Then this dude stepped inside the store from the automotive bay and shouted at the custodian “Hey man! Does anybody MF’ing work in this GD place?!” Before the custodian guy could answer he followed up with, “This is some GD BS! I needs me a MF’ing oil change. I ain’t got time for this MF’ing BS! You need to get me a Walmart MF’er here NOW to change my MF’ing oil!” Then he went back into the automotive bay.

The automotive attendant came back to the counter and Mr. Personality was hot on his heels, “I needs my MF’ing oil changed. I ain’t got all day for you people to be wasting my GD time!”

Sure, he jumped right ahead of me. But that was okay with me. His winning personality won me over. The attendant took Mr. Personality’s keys and handed them off to another automotive employee. And Mr. Personality said, “Don’t be dripping no GD oil on my engine. I don’t wanna smell no F’ing S burning. You got it?”

Mr. Personality followed the worker out and that was the last that I saw of him. I asked the guy at the counter if that’s the way they’re treated by customers and he said that it’s rare, but it happens.

Now why would it make good sense to act that way? Is it some kind of power trip?

I wouldn’t be surprised if some Great Value sugar found its way into Mr. Personality’s fuel system. And there has to be other ways for someone with mechanical knowledge to really F his car up without being traced back to them.

I mean, if you treat people like scum wouldn’t you be afraid that the someone you yelled at would find a way to retaliate?

Mr. Personality wouldn’t even be aware of it.

The key duplication machine was out of service. I still haven’t gotten the copies made. And there’s the matter of having the vehicle inspected and tags renewed while my stepson traipses through Canada with only a 5-gallon bucket to carry his supplies.

Why he thinks that’s fun is beyond me.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Radio Side Eye

I have worked in, out, and around radio for most of my adult life. But did you realize that I really don’t listen to the radio?

As a child in single digits, I started with a small transistor radio that I kept with me constantly. I listened to the top 40 AM stations. Then I listened to the AOR format back in the 70s and early 80s. And when that format went away, I lost just about all interest in radio. But a high school buddy got me hooked on listening to some morning guys on WKEW when he drove us to school in the mornings. The only thing we had on the Greensboro dial in the way of funny morning shows was on the country station. And most of the music they played drove me up the wall. Back then, Alabama would have me shooting the radio like Elvis shot TVs, but now I’m rather accepting of them. Who knew that would eventually change for me?

Anyways, I still listen to a local morning show. And I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with them as a producer. I started listening to them on “Day One” as most of their listeners say on the air. These days I only listen when I’m on the way to pick up a truck for a transfer to Wake Forest. After that or during a “best of”, I’m listening to one of my carefully cultivated playlists on Spotify. That is, if I have an auxiliary input available in the truck or van. If I don’t, I’m tuning in That Station 95.7 out of Raleigh as soon as I get to the 40/85 split in Hillsborough.

That Station is something I could actually find myself listening to. Give it a shot by listening online to see what I’m talking about.

One of the biggest reasons that I can’t stand listening to the radio is the lack of creativity. No one seems to put any work into it anymore. The jocks just tell us for the 5,316th time that we’re about to hear or have heard Aerosmith as if we have never heard the song for the same amount of times in our lives. For sake of all that’s holy about Gibson guitars, give us a nugget of information about the band or the song that we may not know. Just don’t go “Here’s Aerosmith on Tired Radio” or “Tired Radio with Aerosmith”. Jeez!

“That was the Supremes…” no effin’ kidding? I’ve only known that for my whole life since the song is as old as I am. Give me something like when it reached number one or when it first entered the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ya know, that information can be found with a quick little search on something most of us are familiar with. It’s called the Internet, gramps.

Another thing that bugs me is the tidbits of pop culture information that has nothing to do with the song that played or is about to play. I don’t mind information that could be useful, but I don’t care about what some reality buffoon or athlete has done UNLESS they’re making a joke. Groan or guffaw, just go for it!

Radio is boring and predictable and downright annoying. I honestly don’t understand how people can listen to the same old stuff over and over.

I worked for a guy that liked to say things like “When I turn the faucet, I expect water. When I turn on classic rock, I expect classic rock.” I suppose that I can see that with a certain demographic out there, possibly the brain dead that enjoys hearing the same 400 songs over and over and over again. But toss in some unexpected tunes from time to time. I just can’t get excited about hearing “Black Water”, “Communication Breakdown”, or “Freebird” ever again. Drop in Saga’s “On The Loose” and boom! You’ve got my attention and it makes me want to listen for other forgotten ditties you might bounce off my eardrums.

I’ve embraced streaming. I’m sticking with it. And if radio, as a whole, doesn’t start swimming in the sea of creativity, it will perish. Advertising revenue sure isn’t what it used to be. Of course, that’s just my opinion. If you disagree, leave a comment. I’m open to differing opinions when it comes to just about anything.

I’ll leave you with the highest praise that I’ve ever gotten in the radio business…

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Why God? Why?

I’ve been noticing this for a long time now… a couple of years. Maybe. But what’s the deal with contemporary Christian music?

You may hear it and not even notice what you’re listening to. I hear it in certain fast food joints. I hear it in family restaurants. Just last week I heard that stuff in the dentist’s office.

I have an ear for music and radio in general. I have for as long as I can remember. I tend to notice things immediately. While working at Peaches Music & Video back in the late 80s and early 90s, I learned how to ignore music that I don’t care for. But slowly over the years, that ability has slipped away like my 34 waist. I can’t help but notice the music that I don’t like and “today’s hot” country ranks right at the top.

But contemporary Christian has crept into the second spot.

I find it depressing, lifeless, derivative, and utterly boring. And the biggest offender on the radio dial is K-Love. Good grief, silence is more exciting listening.

True story… I worked at a station in Lexington, NC for almost 2 years. They fired the PD and morning team to let some salesman in a suit run it. It was not a good move. The guy has antiquated ideas like putting reverb on the voices of the jocks during breaks which confused the hell out of me during my first break. I had no warning. I’m hearing myself in the headphones and it caused me to be sluggish. I was trying to figure out what button had been pushed to cause such a horrid thing.

This guy was interesting to say the least… He also liked to micromanage. I would do a break and he would come into the studio saying, “Just turn down the (music) bed a skosh. It’s a little too hot.”

Next break I didn’t change a thing. For one, I’m wasn’t in my seventies and two my hearing was in excellent shape. I had the headphones on and I knew what I was doing. He came back into the studio and said, “That’s more like it. Sounded great. And remember… Light, tight, and bright.”

To give you a mental picture of the dude… Imagine a sleazy used car salesman with an assortment of colognes arranged on a bureau behind his desk … slick-backed hair dyed a darker color than natural gray… gold jewelry complete with a pinky ring. He looked like an elderly Eddie Munster in a suit wearing glasses and all the jewelry.

He ran the station into the ground. And sadly, it could have been more if only the owner had sense enough to hire someone competent.

One day, me and a coworker noticed something going on… A man was putting up a satellite dish. We were told that is had something to do with the Carolina Panther broadcasts or something sports related… The exact explanation escapes me now. But as soon as the ACC Basketball tournament wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, my phone was lighting up with text messages.

You guessed it, as did we before the switch was going to happen, the station flipped format. They went with K-Love. I can’t say that I blame the ownership since Jesus has deep pockets. It was a lot more profitable than being a commercial station after 2008 (radio hasn’t really rebounded since) and you can eliminate staff. Yay! Even more savings!

I got the call on Monday not to bother driving in from King, NC because I no longer had a job. It was expected and greatly appreciated. I was hoping they’d call to keep me from a 45 minute drive in and back home. I still like the people involved, but I’m still scratching my head over the idea of letting “Eddie Munster” run things.

But I digress…

I find contemporary Christian music very bland and boring. A lot of it sounds like praise, but it sounds like praise on Quaaludes. It’s all too white and boring. It definitely isn’t like black gospel music. There’s life, spirit, and FIRE in that genre.

For once I’d like the songs lyrics to match the mood and actually speak the truth…

“Jesus gave granny cancer because it was God’s will… We don’t have the answers or a cure in a pill… We must take comfort in knowing that God is in control… We’ll see her again on Heaven’s golden shores…”

“Lisa had an accident when Jesus took the wheel… he sent a drunk driver over the line and into her lane… Now she’s gone and it’s hard to comprehend… God’s will just can’t be explained…”

THAT’S how depressing contemporary Christian music sounds to me.

Now every week, I like to add albums into my Random Play Exploration Spotify playlist that make the top ten on the Top 200 Billboard Albums Chart. It keeps me current and gives me an idea what’s going on. But two recent chartings had me deleting songs within 30 seconds of a listen. The two artists were King and Country (just awful) and Lauren Daigle (which was even WORSE). I had no idea what genre they were. I was just giving them a chance. But damn! That was some depressing crap! I never even realized what genre they were because the songs were so bad that I had to purge them IMMEDIATELY.

Didn’t Stryper teach these people anything?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Get Lost Robert Stack - We Solved This One, Buddy

We finally solved a raging mystery around here?

If you’re a Snapchat buddy of mine, then you’ve probably already seen the pics of water drops and pools of water on and around sinks in our home. I have questioned the why and hows. Sam and Matthew have had the same questions since we share a bathroom with the MIL.

Sam theorized that his grandmother was somehow washing her feet in the sinks. Matthew believed that his grandmother was either conducting an orchestra or clapping while her hands were under the running water. I went with a leprechaun taking a shower in the sink as my theory.

While preparing to leave for our college graduation trip to Wilmington, NC last week, Jamie witnessed how the water gets all around the sink and counters. The MIL washed her hands and while the water was still running, she waved her hands back and forth to shake off the excess water while slinging the running water onto the backsplash behind the sink. Jamie was excited to say the least. She shouted, “So THAT’S where it’s coming from!”

Of course, the MIL took wide-eyed offense of our discovery. She took it as a criticism and told us that she’d be happy to tell us a few things about ourselves that irritates her. Even though I explained the mystery, she still took it as a criticism. We pressed her about our idiosyncrasies, but that never came to fruition no matter how many times we reminded her. I guess it’s no fun telling smiling folks eager to know what they do to irritate or confuse you. I don’t know.

She proceeded to explain how she shakes off the excess water with a side-to-side method and asked me with her high-pitched shrill excited voice, “Well, how do you do it?!”

I said, “Like most folk…” and washed my hands. I turned off the water and then flicked my hands and fingers towards the drain instead of waving my hands around like I just don’t care and slinging water all over the sink area.

Jamie and I tried to explain that we weren’t being critical or wanted her to change her ways, but she was hearing nothing of it. We just solved the mystery. That was all.

But there’s still another MIL water mystery when it comes to her being in the bathroom… “Psssssssssh!” the water runs and stops. A few seconds later, “Psssssssssssssssh!” the water runs and stops again. A minute or two will pass by and “Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssh!” the water runs and stops again. And if we’re lucky, we’ll hear a “Pssh!” for good measure. We all find it rather bizarre and we have no clue as to why she does it since it all happens behind closed doors. But one thing is for sure… There’s going to be splashes of water all over the sink area.

While we were at the Air BnB that we rented over the weekend, the MIL washed her hands at the kitchen sink. She turned the water off and shook her hands side to side. She noticed that I was watching and grabbed a paper towel to dry up all the water drops that she slung around the counter.

I haven’t the faintest clue as to why she acted that way.

Friday, April 12, 2019

New Job

Not so big news, but after almost 19 months I finally got a job offer outside of radio. I must admit, I didn’t think I’d EVER get another job offer. I got nothing but rejection or there were no calls or emails whatsoever. I was prepared to work in fast food because I’m not too proud. I realize that my rock radio days are pretty much over in this market, but my life is happy right here in Clemmons NC. Some guys don’t get it, but I understand. There’s a time that you’re not relevant on the air anymore or you just can’t hang with the wearing of many job hats at a big cluster. I’m not 30 anymore. And plus, no one has ever had faith in my abilities to carry anything. I usually got stuck as a call screener/producer or a fill-in until they got someone else to take the role permanently.

And I’ve even been a producer for someone that wanted to be a big sports broadcaster and yet had no desire to learn the craft from the bottom rung. Oh no, he wouldn’t dare do his own calling of the guests. He couldn’t be bothered to edit down his broadcasts for podcasting or replays. He wanted to have a staff with a station budget that wouldn’t feed an ant farm for a month. And fits! The man could throw a fit over the slightest thing. Once when some clients needed the main studio to record their show that ACTUALLY brought the station money, he yelled expletives and threw stuff around like an angry 6-foot toddler when the clients were just outside the studio door. Yeah, I had to deal with a real prima donna who had more practice at being a jerk than actual radio experience. But hey, those days are over.

Yep. I got a job where I’m only concerned about what I do. I have no one to deal with except for my bosses. I don’t have to worry about working with someone that thinks they’re God’s gift to radio. I don’t have to worry about someone being able to do their job without it coming back on me. It’s wonderful!

So, what am I doing?

I’m transferring vehicles for a national company. I get a call to transport a vehicle in the morning, drive to that location, leave Roxy (my pick-up truck) there, drive the vehicle to Raleigh, drop it off, and drive another vehicle back to the original location. It’s awesome!

And most of the vehicles have AUX inputs so it’s Spotify on the ride back from Raleigh where I get to spend some quality time with my sweet and finely constructed playlists like “Big House Mix”, “Yes, Virginia… It Was A Top 40 Hit”, “Run For Covers”, “No Lyrics Necessary”, “The LIVE Jukebox”, “Chicks, Man, Chicks”, “Grind Your Axe”, “Earbuds Mandatory”, “Real Comfortable Country”, “Homegrown NC Goodness”, “Oak Tree You’re In My Way”, and “Chasing Down The Blues”. It’s great because I don’t have to listen to the radio!

I know, I still work very part-time in radio, but I still find the majority of it stale. It’s all bland, repetitive, and fairly unimaginative. I listen to a former workplace’s morning show driving to the initial pick-up location and then to Raleigh. But I’d rather ride in silence on the way back or have my eardrums pierced by knitting needles than hear “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” followed by “Money For Nothing” followed by another song that we have ALL heard thousands of times. I wouldn’t even inflict that kind of thing on prison inmates. I honestly don’t know how people can do it every day and keep getting excited as if they are most jamming songs in the word.

“Stop, ladies and gentlemen! Just stop! We have all the perfect rock songs that we will ever need for the next foreseeable eternity. There’s no reason to keep writing more songs. We’re good. And here on this classic rock station, you’ll be able to hear all 400 of them over and over and over again. You’re welcome!”

So thanks to all the deities for smartphones, Spotify, and AUX inputs! And I’m very thankful to our friend and neighbor that suggested the job to me. He put in a good word for me and I got the job. Sadly, I didn’t get to give him my fullest, heartfelt thanks because he died a few days after telling me to get in touch with his supervisor. Thank you, Fred Barton, thank you. I sincerely appreciate your help.