Saturday, December 26, 2009

The worst case of short-sightedness by anyone in 2009

Category: Technology Author : Steven Hodson Posted: December 26, 2009
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The worst case of short-sightedness by anyone in 2009

There have been a number of reactions by media and entertainment industries right across the board that showed how short-sighted they can be when it comes to the changes that new technology brings to the table. In my opinion though we can go right back to February of 2009 for what has to be the worst case.

Back then I wrote here about how the Authors Guild was getting all up in arms about how Amazon’s Kindle was going to have text-to-speech enabled by default. As I wrote then

What it boils down to is that this Guild; which is suppose to be acting on behalf of it’s member authors, says that by creating an audio version of a book you are in fact creating a whole new product that is totally based on a copyrighted book. In other reports on this the Guild has even gone to the point of suggesting that any verbal or audio reproduction of a book is and infringement on a copyright and there for illegal.

In the end Amazon capitulated and shipped the Kindle with text-to-speech disabled as well as providing publishers with the option to totally disable the feature. Of course this was a great feature that would have been a boon to visually impaired people and maybe even have encouraged more sales of the e-reader.

However the Guild had its way and Amazon scampered back to its corner licking its balls wounds. Instead of seeing this as a way to encourage additional sales, and not just to  the visually impaired the Guild decided that being able to double dip on sales was more preferable to providing added value that would benefit everyone.

Short-sighted and dumb.

Amazon and the Authors Guild did a major disservice to the visually impaired community, many of who would have bought the Kindle and he books that fwent on it. Shame on Amazon and the Guild for denying those who can't read normal books the ability to enjoy and learn from Authors Guild members.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Has the recession gone too far? (pic) --The Live Feed | THR

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Christmas Song Of The Year

Merry Swiftmas (Even Though I Celebrate Chanukah) by Evan Taubenfeld  
Download now or listen on posterous
01 Merry Swiftmas (Even Though I Cel.mp3 (4092 KB)

I love Christmas music.  I love the standards, the songs I grew up on, the original tunes from my favorite artists, and a good novelty Christmas song too.  Its only December 12th, and I'm declaring the winner in the Christmas Song Of The Year race.  AndImagine that, its kind of a novelty song. 
For your listening pleasure (just listen, if you like it BUY it for goshsakes) Mr. Evan Taubenfeld and Merry Swiftmas (Even Though I Celebrate Chanukkah).  Not bad for the son of the owners of a Kosher catering company.
No matter what you celebrate, enjoy!

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Arbitron’s ‘little gadget’ causes major static |Robert Feder

Luis Gutierrez, the Chicago Democrat, surprised fellow members of Congress earlier this year with the revelation that he and his wife were participants in an Arbitron ratings survey. They’d been chosen to carry Portable People Meters, which are compact devices that monitor radio listening electronically.

What Inside Radio called Gutierrez’s “shocking announcement” not only ignored Arbitron strictures against survey panelists disclosing their participation, it also underscored why the PPM system — which replaced the old paper-and-pencil diary method — has not yet gained full acceptance by the industry or federal regulators.

“It really is very burdensome technology,” Gutierrez said of his experience during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on minority broadcast ownership. “My wife’s dresses sometimes did not accommodate the little gadget.” While joking about the five-dollar fee he received as a Hispanic participant, he said it was a struggle to remember to carry the pager-like device each day: “I barely take my medicine when I’m supposed to, and I forget about my glasses. . . . I can’t see an auto mechanic using this. If you’re a nurse or a doctor, are you really going to walk around with this pager all day long?”

Even more controversial than the technology is the sampling Arbitron has been using to gather its data. As stations aimed at minorities have seen their ratings decline (by one estimate they’ve dropped between 40 and 60 percent nationwide since PPM kicked in), Congress has been holding Arbitron’s feet to the fire. As recently as last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski, who declared: “We share the concern regarding the health of minority broadcasting, and are certain that PPM is not the cause of its problems.” According to a summary by Radio Business Report, Skarzynski said his company had spent more than $100 million to develop technology that produces valid and reliable audience estimates.

So what happens when a minority-targeted station does well in the ratings? Consider Clear Channel Radio’s urban adult-contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7), which finished first among all listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 (the “money demo” coveted by advertisers) in the PPM survey for November. That achievement prompted the Sun-Times to ask in a headline: “Is Arbitron cooking ratings numbers?” Citing unnamed radio execs, columnist Lewis Lazare had them “wondering whether Arbitron, to avert any unwanted action by Congress, might in recent months have been reallocating its  [PPMs] — and/or weighting the data from those meters — in a way that skews the results more heavily in favor of minority-oriented formats.”

The allegation drew a strong denial from Arbitron — and a sharp rebuke this week from Sean Ross, the highly respected executive editor of music and programming for and vice president of music and programming for Edison Research, who wrote:

“Even if Arbitron were showing greater diligence at hitting its ethnic targets in Chicago or any other market, well, that’s what a ratings provider is supposed to be doing, particularly now. Describing that as ‘cooking ratings numbers’ in a major daily suggests naiveté about the vicissitudes of the sampling process and broadcasters’ rhetoric on the topic — every month, the station that goes back up in the ratings thinks it’s because they raised hell with Arbitron about the sample the month before.”

In this market, the effect of the new ratings system is most evident in sweeping talent changes over the past year or two. Everyone from Steve Dahl, Melissa Forman, Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon to Jonathon Brandmeier, Ramsey Lewis, Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey can blame their predicaments on PPM numbers that were lower than the ratings they delivered under Arbitron’s old method.

Even so, to make Arbitron a scapegoat for all of radio’s ills is more than naïve or simplistic.  It overlooks the double-digit declines in advertising revenue brought about by the economic downturn and competing media — especially the Internet. It disregards the impact of iPods, online streaming and satellite radio. And it ignores the crushing debt loads that threaten the very survival of many radio companies.

But then again, in troubled times, it’s always been easiest to blame the messenger.

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About The Author

Robert Feder

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Great story and analysis from the Dean of media writers, Robert Feder. I'll save my own comments and present this "as is" for your reading pleasure.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Glimmer Of Hope For St. Louis Public Transit

For the next few months, you'll be seeing me write about the public transit situation in St. Louis and the need to pass a modest tax increase in order to continue to provide even bare bones service to the area. This is a topic that's critically important to me as I rely on mass transit to get around (due to a visual handicap) but its also one of the key things that will determine how the St. Louis area develops. Without an effective public transit system, the region will atrophy and ultimately lose even more jobs and residents.

I found a piece of what could be great news today in regards to the upcoming ballot issue, thanks to my co-workers at KMOX Radio.

Posted: Wednesday, 02 December 2009 4:25AM

Metro sales tax officially resurrected; message in focus
Michael Calhoun Reporting
CLAYTON (KMOX) -- Last spring, Chesterfield opened its wallet to prevent transit cuts in west county. Now, the
town's mayor is heading up efforts to find permanent funding for Metro.

"After what happened this year, people are now very aware public transportation and the cuts and what it meant to the region," John Nations says.

St. Louis County Councilmembers Tuesday officially resurrected that half-cent sales tax to fund Metro and introduced it for consideration. A tentative vote will happen next week.

Nations says there's little federal help and no state funding, so it's all on Saint Louisans.

"A lot of people rely on businesses which rely on public transpiration even though they themselves don't ride it," he says of the message to come ahead of April's election.

The half-cent sales tax would generate about $80-million each

Look at the campaign finance reports, he says, and you'll find
both Republicans and Democrats agreeing on that.

In the face of $45-million deficit, Metro earlier this year slashed service to parts of the region. A state bail-out helped restore some of those routes.
Copyright KMOX Radio

Why is this good news? Four words. JOHN NATIONS GETS IT. In a region where so few politicians and their stooges have no appreciation for mass transit, Mayor Nations has distinguished himself as someone who understands why transit in St. Louis is important, not only to people like me who use it, but to everyone in the region.

After the disastrous campaign to get more money for Metro, the St. Louis transit agency, in November of 2008, a monkey could run a better effort for the upcoming ballot question. The people behind the measure went a quantum leap over that and got one of the region's most visionary leaders to lead the charge and hopefully convince enough people to spring for the half cent tax to fund mass transit in St. Louis.

This isn't a partisan thing, its about what's right for the region as a whole and the patrons of mass transit as well. I hope to share objective information about how the campaign is run, the chances of passing the ballot measure, and call out the creeps should they rear their ugly heads. If you're not from St. Louis, please bear with me as this is an important issue. If you are from St. Louis, watch this space for updates.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Associated Press: Signal fading on radio traffic reports

Signal fading on radio traffic reports

By DAISY NGUYEN (AP) – 1 day ago

CORONA, Calif. — For more than 20 years, Mike Nolan was known to radio listeners as the "eye in the sky." He flew over Southern California freeways in his single-engine plane, reporting on the nation's worst traffic.

These days, he broadcasts about traffic snarls and lurking gridlock without leaving the ground — without even leaving his home in this Los Angeles suburb. Sitting in a chair behind computer monitors and a television, Nolan gathers traffic data and broadcasts live on two radio stations a day.

"What I'm best suited to do is look out the airplane window and tell people what I see," Nolan, 60, said. "When I was grounded, that world changed considerably so I had to reinvent myself."

His return to earth reflects the evolution of the traffic reporting business as a faltering economy forces news operation cutbacks, technology displaces traditional reporters and motorists increasingly rely on cell phones and GPS to monitor live traffic.

Most traffic news is now generated by reporters on the ground monitoring police reports, live highway cameras, data from ground sensors that can detect traffic speed and tips from drivers.

Reporters can be hundreds of miles away away from the scene and detail the latest traffic jams to three or four radio stations in the same hour, sometimes using aliases. Rebecca Campbell might report at the top of the hour for the Fox sports station using her own name, then 20 minutes later appear as Toni Jordan on an alternative rock station. For a station popular with Latino listeners, she goes by the name Lena Macias.

Even as traffic reporters have had their wings clipped in recent years, the airwaves ahead appear even more bumpy.

Music stations competing for listeners have been cutting back on disc jockey banter, and some industry veterans believe traffic reports could fade altogether.

"A number of years ago it'd be unheard of to have an FM station in L.A. without traffic reports," said Don Bastida, vice president of operations for Airwatch, one of the nation's largest traffic-reporting services. "Now traffic reports on the music stations become just an interruption that gives the listener an opportunity to hit the button and move on to the next station."

He said traffic reports will remain on the AM dial, but they'll decline to the point that they'll only be offered as part of a news story when a major incident happens.

The region's top-rated pop station, KISS-FM, recently dropped afternoon traffic reports after AMP-FM, a new Top 40 station received higher ratings without traffic updates.

Metro Traffic, a division of Westwood One Inc., began consolidating its 60 traffic reporting operations around the nation last year to just 13. As a result, reporters in the Washington D.C. hub also cover traffic news for Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Some plane and helicopter reporting flights were cut as part of cost reductions that will amount to $55 million to $63 million annually.

Airwatch, a subsidiary of radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc., has 60 reporters and producers working around the clock to provide traffic updates to more than 40 Southern California stations. They sit side by side in a small studio overlooking an Orange County freeway, staring at computer monitors and TV screens as they speak into the microphones, sometimes talking over each other as they file live reports.

Airwatch's revenue grew each year for nearly 10 years. But in late 2007, seven reporters lost their jobs when Clear Channel downsized the operation.

Nolan was one of them. He took a substantial pay cut to work from the ground. He chose to work from home rather than commute 40 miles roundtrip to the Airwatch studio in Santa Ana.

He now takes a few steps from his bedroom to his study to start his split shifts, from 5 to 9 a.m. then 3 to 7 p.m. He puts on a headset, turns on the stopwatch application on his iPhone, and pulls up a half-dozen Web pages to gather traffic information.

When it's his turn to come on at the top of the hour, 20 minutes past and bottom of the hour on KFI-AM and twice per hour on KOST-FM, Nolan rattles off a list of congested freeways in 40 second to one minute bursts.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1960s, Nolan saw freeways expand deeper into suburbs. Flying over Southern California day in and day out gave him an understanding of traffic patterns that enhance his reports from the ground.

When he reads traffic maps on the computer, he can picture every tunnel, hill and curve and knows when drivers should be slowing down. He can suggest alternate routes and knows what type of incident is likely to cause more misery.

He said that kind of knowledge can't be replaced by GPS-equipped gadgets.

"The radio reporter is going to tell you what's going on where you're going to be in addition to where you are," Nolan said.

Bastida at Airwatch predicts that in a few years, motorists will steer further away from the radio as carmakers add even more navigation systems and Internet-access equipment to vehicles. Airwatch has a growing service providing traffic updates directly to navigational units in vehicles.

"There will be jobs for people gathering and inputting the traffic data, but jobs for broadcasters will be going away," Bastida said.

Not everyone has a bleak outlook.

John Frawley, executive vice president of broadcast operations for Metro Traffic, said traffic news remains a big draw on news and talk stations. He says a device may tell drivers where the traffic jams are and how far the backup is, but it doesn't explain the cause.

"When our people come on, people pay attention," Frawley said. "They're interested that somebody else is suffering in traffic, too."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

While I program two radio stations with traffic reports, its kind of hard to argue with the facts in the story. If you haven't seen the live traffic on Google Maps, especially on a mobile device, you'll see why traffic reporting is about to become a personal choice as opposed to something that's pushed via radio or TV.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly

I miss WKRP in Cincinnati.

I miss radio the way it used to be.  I miss Jennifer Marlowe. 

But every Thanksgiving, I'm reminded of the great show Hugh Wilson and Bill Dial wrote about an old school radio stunt gone bad.  If you haven't seen it, take the 21 minutes and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Glenn Beck-Political Organizer. Wait, Didn't That Obama Guy Do Something Like That?

Glenn Beck is coming to your neighborhood to teach you how to be a "political force". Here's his theme song!

Details are in the New York Times

November 22, 2009

Glenn Beck Stakes Out a More Activist Role in Politics



Glenn Beck, the popular and outspoken Fox News host, says he wants to go beyond broadcasting his opinions and start rallying his political base — formerly known as his audience — to take action.

To do so, Mr. Beck is styling himself as a political organizer. In an interview, he said he would promote voter registration drives and sponsor a series of seven conventions across the country featuring what he described as libertarian speakers.

On Saturday he held a festive campaign-style rally in The Villages in Florida, north of Orlando, in which he promoted his recently released book, “Arguing With Idiots,” and announced another book to come next August filled with right-leaning policy proposals gathered from the conventions.

Mr. Beck provided few details about his plans for the tour, making it unclear if he truly intends to prod his audience of millions into political action or merely burnish his media brand ahead of a book release.

Mr. Beck did say the conventions would resemble educational seminars, and he emphasized that while candidates may align themselves with the values and principles that he espouses, he would not take the next step to endorse them.

In describing the conventions, he told the crowd on Saturday: “You’re going to learn about finance. You’re going to learn about community organizing. You’re going to learn everything we need to know if you want to be a politician.”

His staff would not say whether particular candidates for office in the 2010 midterm elections would be invited to speak at the conventions or the August rally.

As for the question of Mr. Beck’s intentions, “He might just be trying to sell books, but there are much simpler ways to sell books,” said Ari Rabin-Havt, a vice president at Media Matters, the liberal media monitoring group. He said Mr. Beck sounded more like a presidential candidate than a pundit.

Mr. Beck, having used his television and radio pulpit to lay out his list of the country’s impending problems — deficit spending, health care legislation that will “destroy” the economy, a dearth of “personal responsibility” — says he now wants to also provide solutions.

In the interview, Mr. Beck, a frequent critic of President Obama, chose his words carefully but made clear that he intended to help elect politicians aligned with his limited-government world view. “We’ll be looking for ways to get people involved in politics,” he said.

Mr. Beck is not the only media firebrand trying to mobilize Americans disaffected with a Democratic-controlled government. The radio host Laura Ingraham is inviting candidates to sign a 10-point pledge on her Web site. Sean Hannity, on his afternoon radio show and prime-time Fox News program, is promoting “Conservative Victory 2010,” his name for the map on his site that will spell out questions for candidates.

And the former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has a show on Fox News, has steered viewers to his Web site, where they can contribute money to his political action committee in support of conservative candidates.

Pundits have used their media stages to encourage political action before, but people like Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity are taking on outsize roles now, political experts and conservative commentators say. One reason, they say, is the weakened state of the Republican Party.

The media figures’ roles may exacerbate the ideological feuds that are already roiling the party. For the diffuse tea party movement that taps into anti-government sentiments, “the media guys are the closest things we even have to a leader,” said Adam Brandon, the vice president for communications at FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group.

These efforts are reminiscent of the Contract With America pledge made by conservatives during the 1994 elections, though some Republicans who are uncomfortable with media personalities taking on new political roles note that that effort originated with lawmakers.

When asked about Mr. Beck at a conference last month, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said: “Here’s what I worry about. How many people in my business are going to be controlled by what’s said on the radio or in a TV commercial?”

It was not lost on Mr. Beck’s fans that the Saturday rally and book signing were held in Florida, where the Republican governor, Charlie Crist, has been sharply criticized by conservatives as he runs for an open seat in the United States Senate. Mr. Crist’s challenger, Marco Rubio, has already signed the pledge on Ms. Ingraham’s Web site, as have a smattering of other conservative candidates.

Already, Mr. Beck’s page on features what it calls “In or Out 2010,” a “simple challenge” for lawmakers. It includes a pledge to back a freeze in government spending; oppose all tax increases “until our economy has rebounded”; and support stricter immigration enforcement.

Amy Green contributed reporting.


My favorite quote is on I have begun meeting with some of the best minds in the country that believe in limited government, maximum freedom and the values of our Founders. I am developing a 100-year plan.- Glenn Beck

I have to go read the First Amendment now to remind myself that the whole free speech thing is actually good, and not evil.  And I have to go watch the epic film "Network".  I do believe Howard Beale is coming to life and he wants to be President. 

And should you not know the work of Mr. Beck, please enjoy this snippet from his Fox News show, wontcha...

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Email Signature Etiquette | MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer

This week on Digital Life I did a segment about Email Signature Etiquette. It generated a bit of buzz, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Almost every email program lets you automatically add a signature to the emails you send. I’m sure you seen all kinds of interesting ones: flowery ones, very dense ones, and the horrifying and aesthetically offensive ones. What should yours look like? Here are a few simple guidelines:

First, every single email you send should have a signature. It should be plain text, so that it will look the same no matter what device or software is used to read it. When I say plain text, I mean just type (for geeks, ASCII text), no pictures, no logos, no html code, nothing but text.

Why? More than half the corporate world uses BlackBerrys to communicate. Depending on the vintage, they handle HTML over a wide range from, very poorly to marginally poorly. The operating word here is “poorly,” so why set up a signature that’s guaranteed to torture a large number of corporate users. Overly ornate signatures will produce highly unexpected, and possibly unreadable, results on a BlackBerry. This is also true for the body copy of the email. Tabs, bullets, any kind of alignment is all thrown out the window and HTML looks like jumbled computer code when it is displayed as text.

Another, and possibly more important, reason to use plain text is the wide range of spam filters that are currently deployed. Many of these filters look at the ratio of text to graphics as a test. If you’re email is already in HTML format, a logo or a combination of logo and your picture may kick your email into the corporate trash.

Like I said, signatures should be simple, complete and in plain text.

What should you include in your email signature? If it’s your personal signature: your name, email and the phone number(s) that are most relevant to your average recipients. Yes, your email address is in the “from” field at the top of the email. And, yes, they can reply to you by simply clicking “reply.” But what if they want to copy your information into a document or the notes field of a database or an address book program? The goal is to make contacting you and storing your information convenient.

If you have a business account, your signature should include all of your contact data. Name, title, company, office address, your email, your phone numbers and the company website. All text and all neatly stacked flush left.

Why include everything? How many times have you wanted to call someone about an email they sent and, because their phone number wasn’t in the email, you had to stop what you were doing to go look it up. Putting all your contact info into your email communication shows a world of respect for the one thing that everyone needs and has way too little of, their time.

One last thing, it is completely OK to leave the line, “Sent from my blackberry” or “Sent from my iPhone” at the bottom of a mobile email. It lets the recipient know that you are answering their email from your mobile device and that may get you a pass on some small typos and spelling errors. However, do everyone a favor and lose the, “Typing with my thumbs” line. It’s the 21st century; everyone types with their thumbs.

Set up some plain text email signatures and use them. It’s the right thing to do. For more help with your digital life, come visit me at

Shelly Palmer is the host of "Digital Life with Shelly Palmer," a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world which can be seen on WNBC-TV’s NY Nonstop Tuesdays at 10p Eastern and online, and the host of "MediaBytes," a daily news show that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). Mr. Palmer is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press) and the upcoming, Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy (2009, Lake House Press). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at For information visit


A tip o' the hat to the great Shelly Palmer for some common sense advice on e mail signatures. I'm cleaning mine up now, say goodbye to the cute little pictures that look like typos on a Blackberry.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Helping my kids pass out bags for Scouting For Food food drive. Please help Scouts collect food for the needy-save bag and put out nxt Sat.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lego Cheeseburger Combo via A Hamburger Today

Photograph: Let's LEGO]

This cheeseburger combo made out of Lego bricks is one of many unique creations from Japanese website Let's LEGO. There's also a Lego hamburger train. [via Walyou]

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Friday, November 06, 2009

Airplane Antics

Just got to Napa, CA from St. Louis. American Airlines pilot had to abort landing at SFO. Seems plane was taking off on runway we were supposed to land on. Dude pushed the 757 engines to the limit when he pulled up. Scary moment. Near FATAL FAIL. No comment after landing from any airline people. Typical American avoidance of something unpleasant. I love flying American.

Mark Edwards
Worldwide Headquarters-St. Louis, MO
Twitter: MarkEdwards
AIM MarkHeyNow

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A rude ‘Pig Virus’ infects WGN Radio | Robert Feder reports

A rude ‘Pig Virus’ infects WGN Radio

Everything that’s gone wrong at WGN-AM (720) in the past year can be summed up in two words: “Pig Virus.”


Kevin Metheny

No, we’re not talking H1N1 here. “Pig Virus” is the nickname Howard Stern gave long ago to Kevin Metheny, the man in charge of programming at the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station since January.

Under Metheny, an acolyte of Tribune Co. operating boss Randy Michaels (and one of nearly two dozen Clear Channel alumni Michaels brought in with him), WGN has shown disdain or disregard for listeners who felt a unique bond with the station and its personalities.

There was the needlessly ham-fisted way Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey were run off the air after a phenomenal 20 years as midday duo. (Since they’re still being paid every penny of their contracts, what was so urgent that WGN couldn’t let them finish out as they’d planned and retire this spring?) There was the hiring of morning host Greg Jarrett, a capable broadcaster but one who’d never worked a day in his life in Chicago, to step right into the No. 1 job in local radio. (Jarrett almost lost me for good his first day on the air when he mispronounced “Devon Avenue.”) And there have been numerous other personnel and programming moves — in afternoons and on weekends, especially — that simply boggle the mind.

As Metheny continues to overhaul WGN’s programming with a bag of tricks he acquired working in some 16 markets over his career, the station’s hallmarks of honesty and truthfulness slowly are being replaced by posturing and attitude. If you listen carefully, you can hear it in the way some hosts stake out ludicrous positions or go off on phony tirades to provoke callers. (Metheny calls it “reality through a fun house mirror.”)

Unhappy staffers describe his management style as bipolar. “He has these bizarre mood swings where he’ll be incredibly vicious and mean one minute and then shut down and not talk to anyone,” said one insider. What some resent most is Metheny’s micromanaging, second-guessing and hectoring — precisely the type of behavior that earned him that unfortunate nickname when he butted heads with Howard Stern as program director of New York’s WNBC-AM in the early 1980s.

“He would memo me all these idiotic rules and ideas he had,” Stern recalled in his 1993 best-selling memoir Private Parts. “He came up with this complicated terminology to make it sound as if he knew something, but it was all mystification. Any idiot could go into radio. But he knew the vocabulary.”

Stern’s words are still true today. Here are some highlights from Metheny’s barrage of directives to WGN personalities:

  • A memo banning the use of two words: ” ‘Coming Up.’ Can you possibly do without these two words? Can you possibly find a less hackneyed, transformed-by-20th-Century-Media-to-wallpaper vocabulary with which to tantalize your listener into sharing some 21st Century time with you?”
  • A memo banning the use of one word: “Please dispense with the word ‘degrees’ when delivering forecasts and currents. I’m pretty sure we can be comfortable the temperature measurement increment is almost always degrees. Seldom is the temperature measured in Aardvarks, Ford Mustangs or Belly Button Lint.”
  • A memo about giving away tickets: “Don’t do it. As discussed, tickets are accounting devices. The thing of emotional value is the EXPERIENCE. . . . I will cancel winning events in programs I hear referring to them in an inside out, hackneyed, old school lexicon. STOP selling the little pieces of paper. Sell the SWEAT!”
  • A memo on the exact words to use when introducing news, weather and traffic reports: “No ‘creeping and beeping,’ no ‘how are the cars,’ no ‘thunder boomer report,’ no ‘let’s check the roads,’ no need to improvise, expand, amend, extend, truncate, evolve, devolve or otherwise improve. Perhaps we will get to that later. For now, do it this way. Do it only this way. Don’t do it any other way. No need to personalize, customize or otherwise revise. Regardless of time of day or day of week. Regardless of the magnitude of the digits on your W-2. Do it this way. When it’s time to do it another way, someone will let you know.”
  • A memo setting forth Metheny’s philosophy on “takes” (or points of view hosts should adopt in order to provoke listeners): “Truthfulness is only an added benefit when it happens to drop into your lap,” Metheny wrote. “Truthfulness in takes optional. This is SHOW BIZ, not a court of a law.”
  • The same memo, threatening dire consequences for disobedience: “I am sorry that is necessary to be unpleasant about this. If you’re struggling because you don’t understand, then please ask for help or we’ll presume you’re just unwilling to comply with the coaching. If you understand the concept and you’re noncompliant, there can only be two reasons: you’re unwilling or you’re unable. The reason doesn’t matter. The end result will be the same.”
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About The Author

Robert Feder

Other posts byRobert Feder


11 2009

by Robert Feder
posted in



The legendary Chicago journalism titan Robert Feder is back. Oh yeah, he's BACK! He's on the new Chicago Public Radio site Here's Feder at his finest, telling it like it is about what was once one of the great radio stations on the planet.

Feder is not only a brilliant observer of the media landscape, he's a mensch of the highest degree. Its rare to see real media journalism, and Feder is one of a handful of the true practitioners of that art.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Little Known Baseball Fact

The first testicular guard (Cup) was used in baseball in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1934.
It took 60 years for men to realize that the brain is also important.



Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Talking Performance Royalties on KMOX

In case you missed it, a discussion of the recording industry's efforts to get a performance tax imposed on radio stations.  Why, yes, that is me as the second guest.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Monday, October 26, 2009

Documenting the accelerating decline of mainstream media « Crisisblogger

Any longtime crisisblogger reader, and certainly any reader of my book Now Is Too Late, will note that I have referred to the post media world many times. In fact, it was the working title for Now Is Too Late until my publisher suggested a title change. Today two news stories came to my attention that seems to make it more and more clear that we are getting closer to a post media world if we can’t say we are in one already.

First, the LA Times documents the continuing and dramatic slide in newspaper circulation. A 10.6% decline in 6 months compared to same period the year before. That’s pretty amazing.

But this next story, about how marketers are forgoing advertising with traditional media in order to reach mass audiences with brand building is even more telling. You would think advertisers would be flocking to the media–certainly there have to be some awesome deals in buying advertising and advertising is typically bought in a pretty straightforward way with a cost per thousand calculation. Match up the right demographics and buy by the numbers at the best price. Those numbers have to be pretty attractive right now, some smoking deals I would think. But advertisers are finding they can create their own channels–on YouTube. (There is a chapter in Now Is Too Late, written in 2001 that is titled: You Are the Broadcaster). Here’s what Mark Haas from one marketing firm had to say:

“You build a channel on YouTube and you get millions of views,” Mr. Hass said. “And these people are coming from all over, and it’s more about their interest in your product, as opposed to the readership and viewership of a particular medium. It’s horizontal. If you wanted to reach that many people using traditional media, you would have to pitch and place in dozens of outlets.”

For crisis communicators, the lesson should be clear. Stop thinking media first. Stop thinking your job is to put out a press release about what is going on. Stop thinking the most important thing you will do in a crisis is set up and run a good press conference. Stop thinking the only questions you have time to answer are from reporters. Stop being so media-centric.

Start thinking direct. Start thinking about the people who matter most to your future–the people who if they thought bad of you would cause your organization some nightmares. Start thinking about engaging rather than distributing. Start thinking about participating instead of controlling. Start thinking about how you are going to interact with hundreds or thousands–personally–when you really need to. Start realizing that You are the Broadcaster.


This entry was posted on October 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm and is filed under Crisis Advice, Crisis Case Studies, Crisis Communications, Crisis Communicator, crisis management.

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As usual, Crisisblogger is looking ahead, and for some the view isn't pretty.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hey Cardinals Fans, Welcome Your New Hitting Coach!

Mark McGwire will be announced as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Monday, no doubt a move by his close personal friend Tony LaRussa to help get Big Mac into the Hall Of Fame and try to overlook all those nasty rumors of violating Baseball's substance abuse policy.

The video above may be McGwire's best performance ever. THAT'S the kind of leader I want kids to look up to and team members to learn from.

Now you Cards fans have NOTHING on the Cubs. If only you could get Barry Bonds for Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Justice in St. Louis « Bits & Pieces Satire

A seven-year old boy was at the center of a Jefferson County courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulation requiring that family unity be maintained to the highest degree possible..

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried and said that they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with the child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the St. Louis Rams Football Team, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Thanks Carter

Thanks to Bits & Pieces for a fine Sunday morning Rams pre-game laugh.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My House Is A Sick Bay and Walgreen's SUCKS

So I've had this cold for the last couple of days. I went to Walgreen's to get real Sudafed today and waited 15 minutes in a line at the pharmacy that NEVER moved. So I left empty handed. Walgreen's is a sad sad excuse for a retailer, and I've had horrendous problems both in the pharmacies and the "front of the store". The stores are a shambles, and I can't believe the company lets itself do business in this way.

Enough about me. We found out today that two of my three kids has SWINE FLU. Its early, so they should be OK thanks to a great doctor and Tamaflu. Sadly, the only place we cold find Tamaflu was, that's right, WALGREEN'S. Long lines, surly staff, but the kids got the medication they really need. And in the end, Walgreen's got what THEY needed, the ability to put a stranglehold on the market for badly needed medicines, with no regard to service or the importance of repeat customers.

In the end, the important thing got done today. My kids got the prescription they need. I'm miserable, but they are on the road to recovery. And as far as Walgreen's goes, they've lost me as a customer once and for all. Unless their massive buying power gives them the corner on the market for a prescription.

CVS is coming to St. Louis very soon. I can't wait. In this world, you can only piss off a customer so many times before you lose them to another vendor, and today Walgreen's crossed the line. See ya, Charlie.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Quick Listen-The Dawn Of American Radio

Thanks to Mark Ramsey for sharing this gem, a podcast about the early days of American Radio and a fascinating book on the subject.

I guess I'm feeling nostalgic as I rapidly slip out of the 18-49 demographic.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Friday, October 16, 2009

The day that radio was killed

Category: Media Industry Author : Steven Hodson Posted: October 16, 2009
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The day that radio was killed


Technology didn’t kill radio.

Satellite radio didn’t kill terrestrial radio.

But as of today radio stands a very good chance of becoming an ever increasing wasteland to the point that we will see a massive shift away from radio stations playing music. If you think that talk radio is big now you ain’t seen nothing yet.

This is going to happen all because the very basis of how music radio works has shifted. Instead of record companies using radio stations as a way to promote new artists and new releases from established musicians the passing (with a heap of lobbying entertainment backed groups like the RIAA and musicFirst Coalition) of the Performance Rights Act radio stations will now have to pay to play that same music.

The argument put forth by the lobbyists is that this is a revenue stream that the artists are not seeing and therefor not getting paid for their work. Radio has been getting a free ride forever – getting rich off of the backs of musicians by not having to pay royalties for the music they play.

It’s a nice argument and would make sense if the musicians were actually going to see any of that royalty money. As it is they already don’t see a large chunk of what is suppose to be their money that is collected supposedly on their behalf by SoundExchange. The excuse used of course by the organization is that they can’t find the artists in order to give them the money.

So what happens with all that money?

Well the SoundEchange gets to keep it which ends up making this suppose to be non-profit very wealthy - to the tune of over $100 million as of 2007.

Now this is the group that is going to be able to collect some pretty hefty royalty money from radio stations all on the basis that it is for the musicians. The problem is that by changing the economic landscape by which radio works they are removing the incentive for any stations, other than the big conglomerates, to play new music from anyone other than the really big established musicians or bands.

Radio play has always been considered to be the biggest promotional play a musician could hope for. Even though the power of the hit lists may have lessened in our Internet world they still hold considerable power. It was advertising at it best (or worst during the payola years). That power is now gone.

As Michael Masnick at Techdirt notes

Besides, all this will do is harm up-and-coming musicians. Because radio stations will now need to pay more for playing music, they’ll play less music, and if they’re playing less music, they’ll focus just on the big name acts. Smaller up-and-coming artists should be furious with the RIAA for giving radio stations less incentive to play their works. Remember, this is the opposite of payola. While payola got new records on the air, this will make sure fewer get on the air. But it will sure put a bunch more money in the pockets of the major record labels.

This new tax revenue stream for the entertainment industry through its watchdog groups might not truly kill off radio but is sure is going to lengthen its time on life-support.

Related posts:

  1. Splendid: Record Industry Goes After Radio Stations For “Piracy”
  2. New Internet Radio fees will kill innovation
  3. Turn off that radio before entering the garage – or we get fined
  4. Radio to go subscription – sort of
  5. Payola making a comeback

Kudos to The Inquisitr and author Steven Hudson for exposing the possible danger to radio and its listeners if hte Performance Royalty is passed. If you want to keep hearing music on the radio, the time to write your Congressperson and Senator is NOW. Better yet, e mail them or call. Make no mistake about it, music radio is in danger of going away in many places.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In memory of the late Captain Lou Albano, his greatest non-wrasslin' performance, as Cyndi Lauper's dad.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Death Of Focus Groups? from Tom Webster

Today I watched a little of the coverage for The BIG Conference, a social media event held in my home state of Maine, by eavesdropping on all the folks posting highlights to Twitter. One of the things I caught was a speaker proclaiming that the “Focus Group was dead.” Since I didn’t actually attend the conference, I won’t quote someone I didn’t even hear. But it’s a sentiment I have heard before from other speakers and writers, so it’s the argument and not the arguer I’ll touch on here.

The argument against the Focus Group essentially states that better information–more observational, in situ data–is available by mining through the wealth of unstructured data now available in the data streams of various social networks.

There are compelling aspects to this argument–in particular, the belief that “tweeted” comments about brands are somehow more authentic (and certainly less artificial) than similar comments derived from qualitative research constructs. There is an undeniable truth to this–though I would argue that the very act of “Tweeting” to followers carries with it an implied and palpable Heisenberg effect for all who tweet–The Twitterer knows someone is listening, so the Tweet is subtly changed; unconsciously adapted for an audience the author may never know, but wants to please nonetheless.

Consider this, however. As seductive as all that unstructured data is, where do you think it came from?

The 11% of Americans who post status updates?

The 8% of Americans who contribute to blogs?

The 5-8% of Americans who post to Twitter (your guess is as good as mine here, given the number of duplicate/SPAM accounts)?

The 1 in 5 Tweets that are about brands?

The 1 in 5 Tweets about brands that actually express an opinion about those brands (i.e., really 1 in 25 tweets)?

When you consider that there is nearly 100% overlap between all of these groups, you are left with the inescapable conclusion that fewer than 10% of Americans are contributing unstructured data about brands, which leaves the other 90% essentially voiceless in this particular model. My neighbor, for instance, doesn’t post to Twitter, only uses Facebook to share family photos and eavesdrop on her kids, and certainly doesn’t blog. She is, however, a professor at Duke and drives a nicer car than me. Don’t you want to sell her some stuff too? The fact is the vast majority of Americans are online, but don’t post about brand experiences online, and going exclusively by the percentage that does share brand opinions might be useful in some ways, but might be horribly misleading for a company seeking to skate where the puck is going. For every PayPal there are 10 Flooz/Beenz-alikes, and calibrating the opinions we can aggregate online still benefits from an offline reality check.

I think the smartest thing one could possibly say about this is that in every focus group I’ve ever moderated, there are 2-3 vocal, opinionated peer leaders, 5-7 that will go along with the crowd in public, and 3-5 that won’t go along but won’t challenge the room. As a moderator, I can see and feel this palpably, and get to the heart of the true opinions in the room regardless of the articulation gap that may exist between respondents. If I mine unstructured data, I would only get the former–and worse, I wouldn’t really know how many of the latter groups existed. Sample is everything.

So, the non-response bias for “killing” the focus group and other research projects is enormous, and incalculable. Yet, the unstructured data that we can glean from social networks is potentially very valuable, and absolutely supplements and in some cases supplants observations from other forms of market research. Let’s not lose sight of that–I’m not–but let’s see it as adding incremental insight, and not as the sole source of consumer insight.

I think a better way to think through this is not to use zero-sum thinking. Social networking has enriched my life, and given this quirky introvert a whole new way to express himself before his friends, peers and even potential clients. But it didn’t replace the relationships I had before, or how I built and nurtured those relationships. It just made them richer.

Unstructured data makes consumer insight richer–appreciably so–and any market researcher worth their salt will use it. But let’s use it to make our focus groups richer, and our surveys more informed–not to exclude the reluctant majority who don’t contribute brand opinions online and may not have shared experiences with those who do. Let’s use them both, smartly, to create a substrate of data that can provide more actionable and useful market research than ever before. That’s what gets my juices flowing.

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Thanks to the brilliant Tom Webster for sharing!

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sell The Vatican, Feed The World (HD, Official)

No offense to anybody, but I have to say this is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


After a summer of pain and frustration, I'm finally going back to work. I've had a lot of people ask what happened to me, so (since I tend to believe in lots of transparency) here's the very truncated story of what took me down and how I got back up. Sorry if this is too much information or too medical in nature.

It all started on June 13th on the morning before the start of
The Komen Race For The Cure. The race route goes right in front of the radio stations I program, so we turn out in a big way every year to support the racers.

View Larger Map
I was out early that morning and was walking on Market Street towards one of the station's tents. I tripped on a lump of asphalt or whatever they pave streets with and fell forward with my hands getting pretty deep lacerations and bleeding a LOT. Of course, all the streets were closed as the race was about to start, so the very kind people who work with me emptied all the First Aid kits at work and helped hold back the bleeding until someone could drive me to the E.R. Its a long story, but if I break my skin in a significant way, I have to go to the E.R. for examination and antibiotics.

After dealing with the deep abrasions on the hands and one on a knee, there was also lots of pain, especially in the left hand, to deal with. It took ten weeks of doctor visits, physical therapy, testing, dealing with my very generous employer and their insurance company along with the not so generous Missouri "no rights for employees" Workers' Compensation rules and lots of discomfort to come to the conclusion that my Ulnar Nerve in my left arm was damaged and it would need to be repaired with surgery. Click the link above to learn more than you'd ever want to know about the problem and the solution.

After a really bad experience with a hand specialist, I was sent to Dr. David German, a very gifted surgeon. I only mention him because he did a fantastic job. No consideration was offered or taken for the mention. The surgery was done on September 16th, and it was a bigger deal than I thought. You can read about the surgical procedure here or check out this short description and illustration:

One method is called ulnar nerve transposition. In this procedure, the surgeon forms a completely new tunnel from the flexor muscles of the forearm. The ulnar nerve is then moved (transposed) out of the cubital tunnel and placed in the new tunnel.

The following images show each step

Even I say "ewwwwwwwww". My muscles were cut, the nerve was moved from one side of my elbow to the other, and the muscles were reconnected. Amazingly, I had begun to get feeling back in my previously numb fingers in the recovery room, and the feeling continues to return, but not without pain. I got to wear this lovely 20 pound apparatus on my arm for about a week too.When the casts (there were multiple casts including a softball sized plaster mold protecting my elbow) came off, I had more feeling and movement in my fingers, but my elbow hurts more than watching Tom DeLay dance. So its Physical Therapy time. I'm going three days a week for about 90 minutes per session. I have a feeling I'll be doing that until the end of October, maybe longer. The elbow needs a lot of work, the fingers still aren't perfect, and I'll do whatever it takes to get back to as normal as my icky bad body can be.

That's the deal. Its been a very difficult Summer, there is still rehab ahead, but I've been blessed with a very passionate and generous employer, an insurance case manager who really knows her stuff and cares, and a gifted team of medical professionals. I've also gotten tremendous support from a long list of people at work who have done everything I'd usually do while I've been recuperating and will still be doing some of my duties going forward.

I don't need to sit home and watch Judge shows and The Weather Channel all day, so I'm returning to work, or to whatever work I can get done. I'll be in the office as much as I can, but will be going to PT (that's what us in the Physical Therapy Club call it) and doctor appointments, combined with the extra effort everything seems to take these days, will limit the amount of time I'll be able to work. Typing, lifting, and lots of everyday duties are either forbidden or a huge challenge, and it will just take time to get back up to full speed.

I hope this helps explain what life has been like since June 13th and what to expect, especially if you're trying to reach me by phone, in the next few weeks. I'll try to take as many calls as I can at work, but I'll need extra time to do everything else, so you will most likely get voice mail if you call. E mail is the best way to find me, and I can respond without typing by using very cool voice recognition software on both my computer and BlackBerry.

Here's to healthier, happier, and more enjoyable times ahead for all of us!

P.S. Click on the post title for a special musical treat!