Thursday, December 23, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
[and while we're stuck on number 5, here's an oldie-but-goodie from last Christmas...]
1. “White Christmas” – While there are more than five Christmas carols written by Jewish songwriters, I thought I’d just cover my favorites, starting with not only the most famous Christmas song written in modern times, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the best-selling single of all-time.
Written by: Irving Berlin in 1940
Actually written by: Israel Isidore Baline (Irving’s real name)
Written while: seated poolside at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona (talk about your White Christmas)
Made famous by: Bing Crosby in the movie Holiday Inn
Cool Irving Berlin fact: Refusing to make money off his deep-seated patriotism, Berlin donated all the royalties from “God Bless America” (just another little ditty he penned) to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls
2. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
Written by: Johnny Marks in 1949
Based on: a poem/story penned by Marks’ brother-in-law, who invented Rudolph
Made famous by: Gene Autry, whose recording sold over 2 million copies in the first year alone
Famous Rudolph mondegreen: “Olive, the other reindeer” (see our post on mondegreens if you don’t know what they are)
Cool Johnny Marks fact: He is the great-uncle of economist Steven Levitt, co-author of one of my favorite books of all time, Freakonomics
3. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
Written by: composer Jule Styne in 1945 with lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Actually written by: Julius Kerwin Stein and Samuel Cohen (real names)
Made Famous by: Vaughn Monroe, hitting #1 on Billboard in ’46
Curious “Let it Snow” fact: the lyric never once mentions Christmas
Cool Jule Styne fact: he also wrote the music for the musicals Gypsy and Funny Girl
4. “Silver Bells”
Written by: Jay Livingston and Ray Evans in 1951
Actually written by: Jacob Harold Levison and Raymond Bernard Evans (real names)
Introduced by: Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the movie The Lemon Drop Kid
Made Famous by: Bing Crosby and Carol Richards
Cool “Silver Bells” fact: the song was inspired by the silver bells of the Salvation Army bell ringers, thus making it one of the few Christmas carols about the city, as opposed to the usual rural countryside setting
5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
Written by: Albert Hague in 1966 (with words/lyrics by Dr. Seuss, of course)
Actually written by: Albert Marcuse, who was born in Berlin, but his family raised him Lutheran with the last name Hague in order to avoid the raging anti-Semitism in the 1920/30s (He got out of Europe just in time, landing in America in 1939)
Made Famous by: Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, who made a name for himself singing and doing voice-overs for Disney
Curious Albert Hague fact: He was also an actor! You can see him in both the movie and TV series, Fame, playing the role of Shorofsky
* * * * *
[Pssst...Have you been thinking about subscribing to mental_floss magazine, for yourself or as a gift? This week you'll save big with our subscription t-shirt for $25.97 deal. That's like buying a subscription and getting a t-shirt for only $4! Offer ends December 6th. U.S. subscriptions only.]
Proof again that without us Jews there would be no Christmas. Happy Hanukkah to all! And thanks to the Mental Floss blog for the assist!
Monday, November 29, 2010
The good news is that the website TV.com has preserved the six episodes of the show for your viewing pleasure. So while everyone around you is looking for deals on the Internet on Cyber Monday, I suggest you check out some true comedy gold right here. Thank me later.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
No matter where you may be or who you're with, I hope you have a happy, peaceful, Thanksgiving.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Mark Edwards To Program KUDL & KGEX
October 28, 2010 at 6:24 AM (PT)
Former CBS AC KEZK & Hot AC KYKY (KY 98)/ST. LOUIS PD MARK EDWARDS bounces back fast (NET NEWS 10/1) landing the PD post at ENTERCOM AC KUDL & Adult Hits KGEX/KANSAS CITY. He's replacing MARK HAMLIN who left the post recently (NET NEWS 10/28).
EDWARDS, who worked had previously worked for ENTERCOM as PD of AC KOSI/DENVER, and also as served as PD of AC WLIT/CHICAGO, told ALL ACCESS, "I couldn't be more excited to be rejoining ENTERCOM as PD of KUDL and GenX in KANSAS CITY.
"I want to thank (VP/Market Mgr.) DAVE ALPERT, (SVPP) PAT PAXTON, (Regional President) WEEZIE KRAMER, and the entire ENTERCOM team for giving me the opportunity to revitalize another heritage AC with KUDL and develop GenX into a huge player in the KANSAS CITY market. The team in KC is tremendous, and I'm looking forward to working with everyone there to make truly great radio. And the CUBS are playing THE ROYAL in KC this SUMMER! Yeahhhhhhh!"
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
(ROUND ROCK, TX) – Officials from LIVE IN THE BALLPARK have announced a contest that will allow any local or regional artist the opportunity to open for this Saturday’s music festival. Saturday’s day-two line-up currently includes three back-to-back multi-platinum artists and two solid gold hit-makers including Collective Soul, Tonic, Five For Fighting, Gin Blossoms and Green River Ordinance.
In addition to the winner getting to open the show, each participating band will also share in revenue from their ticket sales. The contest starts at 10am today (Wednesday) and ends at 2pm on Friday, with the winner will be notified at 3pm. The winning band will open the show with an approximate 1/2 hour set at 3:30pm on Saturday.
After bands go thru a short, initial approval process, they will be given a special offer code that they can then send to their friends and followers. The band will receive credit for every ticket sold to the event using that special offer code. The band that sells the most tickets will get to open the show, and also keep 75% of sales from their special offer code ($30 from each $40 ticket). The bands that don’t win won’t get left out, as they will receive 50% of sales from their offer code ($20 from each $40 ticket).
"Austin is the live music capital of the world, so we don't think we'll have any shortage of bands that want to participate." said one of the event's directors. "With their ability to reach their fans and followers quickly via all the social networking platforms, we're excited to see how quick they can react."
Approved formats would include Modern Rock, Alternative Rock, Adult Alternative, Rock AC, Hot AC, CHR, Classic Rock, AC, AOR, Country, Texas Country, Red Dirt Country or any other family friendly music.
To participate, bands should send two songs (MP3 format) to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with contact information.
For more information on LIVE IN THE BALLPARK go to www.liveintheballpark.com.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a compensated consultant to this event.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Tower of Doom is a monstrous burger from the St. Louis Brewhouse. It’s stacked high with 3 pounds of meat, 1/2 pound of bacon, 1/2 pound of cheese, BBQ sauce, jalapeño, and a 1-lb. side of fries. People who dare eat this in under 30 minutes will get their meal free, plus a t-shirt.Apparently, about 36 have tried, and the only one to complete the taks was a man by the name of Randy Santel. Of course, he did it in 11 minutes. Game on!
Friday, October 08, 2010
First, I have to thank all the friends and people I don't even know for the very kind words of support and encouragement. A very smart man I once worked for used to say that "all you have is your reputation", and I can see again how that makes complete sense. I guess that other than a few cases, I've managed to keep my reputation intact and not honk off too many people along the way.
I've had a lot of time to think about what's next for me and my family, and have been contacted about a couple of very interesting opportunities. I'm a "radio animal" at heart, and will always have the media in my blood. But after a quarter century of programming radio stations, perhaps its time to do something else. I'm a firm believer in the fact that things happen for a reason, and I am convinced that while a door has closed, a new and exciting one is about to open.
All my profiles on the Interwebz are updated, like LinkedIn, my Google Profile, and even my website, Mark Edwards Online, where I've taken the liberty of posting my resume for your viewing pleasure. That's the resume as of this minute. I've gotten very valuable advice from a couple of career consultants on how to "punch it up" to show that I've had actual real world job experience while working in radio. The updated resumes are to come.
email looking for the right opportunity. Most of the time, I've gotten calls returned and e mails answered, and I'm grateful for hiring managers (and a few auto-responding bots) for at least acknowledging that I've inquired about a job.
Make no mistake about it, I'm treating looking for a job AS my job, getting up early in the morning, getting out of my jammies, and going to work at the computer and on the phone. Its not easy, and I still have to deal with the boxes of stuff I brought home from my office of the last 6 1/2 years, but getting the word out and finding the next big thing are the top priorities now.
Thanks to those who have stood by me and shared my shock and disbelief over this situation. Thanks to those who have already spoken with me about opportunities and to those that might reach out after reading this. Let me be brutally honest. I need a job and can bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the right company, whether it be in broadcasting or other media platforms.
Please look over all my information by following the links in this post or on the blog. Let's make next week "Find Mark A Job" week in this great land of ours. My whole family thanks you.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
So I finally took a vacation last week. Even got the chance to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, pretty much a dream come true. I came back yesterday rested and feeling great. Then today my employer of the last 6 1/2 years decided they were no longer in need of my services.Soooooooooooooooooooooo....here I am looking for "the next opportunity". I could tell you how during my time with CBS in St. Louis KYKY turned in its best ratings ever or how KEZK reached number 1 6+ with a cume of over a million people on my watch. Or I could go into gory details about all the Web 2.0, Social Media, and Interactive Marketing things I've learned over the last few years. I could even opine on all the different kinds of platforms that could benefit from my skills, experience, and leadership. But you're probably looking at this on a handheld device and its hard to read long e mails on those itsy bitsy screens. Bottom line is I'm not a big fan of sitting around and I'm ready to climb on a new horse. Maybe you know of a job that is just screaming for a guy like me. Perhaps you are acquainted with someone who should get to know me. Please feel free to share my contact information, which is below, with every person you have ever met. The quicker I get back to work, the less chance there will be of you getting another e mail like this. The info below will shows the many ways in which you can get in touch with me. It also links to some of my droppings on the Interwebz so you and your contacts can learn a bit more about me. Its time to move on, and I'd love to both share my thoughts on how I can help the right organization and hear what you and your friends might have up your sleeves. I look forward to what's ahead and to connecting with you soon!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
For a good part of the ’90s, a crown jewel of Chicago radio was WLIT-FM (93.9). The adult-contemporary station known as Lite FM not only dominated the ratings among adult listeners, but did so with quality, consistency and class.
It took a savvy program director named Mark Edwards seven years to turn the soft and sleepy station he inherited from a 14th place also-ran in its target 25-to-54 demographic into the No. 1 music powerhouse in the market. Everything about the joint — from its personalities to its playlist to its promotions — sounded just right. And it didn’t hurt that Edwards’ bosses spent a ton on advertising and marketing the station throughout that time. (Remember those incessant “Turn on the Lite” television commercials?) It was the station on in every office.
But then came the sale of Lite FM in 1997 by Viacom Inc. to Evergreen Media Corp., which begat Chancellor Media Corp., which begat AMFM Inc., which begat Clear Channel Communications. A series of horrendous management decisions followed (including the incomprehensible ouster of Edwards), resulting in the decline of what long had been a ratings and advertising juggernaut.
Today, under Clear Channel ownership — and in the new world of consolidation and Portable People Meter ratings — Lite FM is far from the blue chip brand it used to be. Barely hitting the Top 10 in the 25-to-54 demo, it’s known more now for its annual Christmas music stunting (which seems to run practically from Halloween to Groundhog Day) than for anything else.
What brings this to mind is the latest talent change at the station. After almost two years as afternoon personality, Kevin Gossett signed off from Lite FM Tuesday to devote full-time to his job in Phoenix as digital program director for the eight Clear Channel stations there while continuing to host afternoons at KESZ-FM. Chicago, you see, was nothing more than a spot on the map where Gossett sent his recorded voice tracks each day.
That’s also the case in mornings, when Lite FM imports the voice of some guy named Sean Valentine from Los Angeles. And at night, too, when that strange Delilah woman comes to us from who knows where.
At least Gossett used to work in Chicago when he hosted mornings for five years on the former WNND. So whenever he’d mention something about the Water Tower or Walter Jacobson, he wasn’t just reading off a liner card. But starting today, his replacement is expected to be Chris Davis, who’ll phone it in from WNCI-FM in Columbus, Ohio. According to his station’s website, Davis also voice-tracks for Clear Channel stations in Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Anchorage.
I’m not saying you have to be born and raised in Chicago in order to talk on the radio here. It’s true that many of our greatest broadcast legends came from somewhere else. But unlike the current crop of carpetbaggers at a certain news/talk station in town, they all paid their dues, learned about the market, and got to know the audience before stepping into the most lofty positions.
It’s no accident that the top-rated adult stations here these days are all owned by Bonneville International and all have live local personalities from morning to night.
In the case of Lite FM, Clear Channel doesn’t even require most of its hosts to set foot in Chicago — ever. The company pats itself on the back for its “local spirit” with a self-serving “Clear Choice” public service campaign, but can’t see fit to staff all of its stations in the third largest market in America with real live human beings.
What’s good for Anchorage, you might say, is good for Chicago.
About The Author
Robert Federhas been keeping tabs on the media in Chicago for 30 years. A lifelong Chicagoan and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, he was television and radio columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. At age 14, he founded the first and only Walter Cronkite Fan Club.
Other posts byRobert Feder
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Memo to WGN: I'll be at the Cubs games Friday and Saturday. This is your last chance to have me in the broadcast boof during the Cubs Season Of Shame. For once, do the right thing.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
For the first time since 1988, the Cubs have swept the hapless Cardinals in a three game series in St. Louis. The 2010 season record in the Cubs/Cards series is now 8-4 in favor of the Cubs. I know it means absolutely nothing as the Cubs have been eliminated from the playoffs and the Cardinals are hanging on by a thread and sure to be playing golf instead of baseball in October. But nothing makes a Cubs fan happier than a sweep of ANY team, and brooming the hapless Cardinals is a bonus.The Cubs and Cards have three more games to play this year, starting September 24 at the Friendly Confines Of Wrigley Field. I'm planning on attending those games as I bid a fond adieu to the Cubs Season Of Shame and hope for more Cardinals losses at the hands of the Cubs.Speaking of hope, I still have high hopes for the 2011 season, even though the 2010 campaign still isn't over. That's the joy of being a Cubs fan. You always look forward to next year.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Robert Schimmel's comedy was not for the easily offended or the faint of heart, as he proves in this clip from a 1994 cable special.
Schimmel was diagnosed with cancer, took a couple years off of the standup circuit, and returned to the road with a different act, talking about his cancer, his treatment, and what it meant to be a survivor. I had the chance to see him a couple times after the cancer, and his comedy was somewhat less edgy, but still brilliant.
About a year ago, he sat down with the editor of Punchline magazine
Here's the story of Robert Schimmel's death, and life, courtesy of E! Online
Standup comic Robert Schimmel passed away Friday after a week-long battle with injuries sustained in an Aug. 26 car accident, his rep confirms to E! News. He was 60.
Known for is his raunchy HBO specials, as well as countless, equally explicit appearances on Howard Stern's radio show (as was his style), Schimmel was well loved by his peers in the comedy realm.
While traveling in Arizona last Thursday, Schimmel's 19-year-old daughter Aliyah swerved to avoid an oncoming car, causing the vehicle containing herself and her father to flip multiple times. Aliyah survived the accident and is currently in stable condition.
No stranger to health woes (or tragedy), Schimmel lost his son Derek to cancer at age 11, then won his own a battle with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma back in in 2000. The comic was currently awaiting a liver transplant, after learning in January that he'd contracted cirrhosis from a Hepatitis C-infected blood transfusion. No word on whether the diseased liver played into his untimely death.
The comedy community was rocked by Schimmel's sudden passing Friday, and took to various social media outlets to say a sad so long to their friend.
"Robert Schimmel was one of the funniest and nicest guys in comedy," Jimmy Kimmel tweeted Friday night, noting that he hoped he'd be given "bad information" regarding the loss. Added his friend Dane Cook: "Robert Schimmel was one the first people in comedy to call when my folks were fighting cancer. No ego no bs no small talk just inspiration."
Schimmel's brother Jeff Schimmel also took to his Facebook page, confirming the death with an emotional tribute to his sibling:
"ROBERT SCHIMMEL. Son, Brother, Father, Grandfather, Comedian, Generous Man. I have always loved you, admired you, and was proud to be your biggest fan. I will never forget a single moment. R.I.P."
Schimmel is survived by his six children.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Study: St. Louis lags in transit spending
Nobody had to tell St. Louis-area transit riders how bad things got for public transportation in recent years.
But dead last?
A new study released today by the Transportation Equity Network showed St. Louis ranked 20th out of 20 metro areas for the percentage of transportation spending dedicated to transit.
The St. Louis region spent 15 percent of its transportation improvement program funding on transit. By comparison, New York spent 75 percent while Honolulu spent 66 percent.
"The average across all of these metropolitan areas is about 37 percent," said Will Winter, a co-author of the "More Transit = More Jobs" study and a research analyst at the Public Policy Research Center at University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Winter and others who spoke at today's news conference, outside a state unemployment office on Delmar Boulevard, equated transit spending with job creation and economic development.
Similar news conferences were held in other U.S. cities.
"These jobs will create monies that will stimulate the economy," said Darrell Pulliam, a veteran Metro bus operator. "They will bring people up from the dredges and despair of poverty."
It is unclear whether the snapshot of St. Louis transportation spending lines up with other metropolitan areas. For instance, Metro's operating budget is not reflected in the multiyear spending blueprint, according to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. The TIP does reflect capital spending, which has taken a hit in recent years while Metro grapped with its financial woes.
Of course, the overall spending picture has brightened somewhat. In April, St. Louis County voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase for transit. The successful tax vote triggered collections of a similar sales tax hike in the city of St. Louis.
The additional tax proceeds aren't expected to reach the Metro transit agency's coffers until this fall.
- Services set for soldier from Jefferson County killed in Afghanistan
- Juvenile charged for East St. Louis murder
- One killed, three injured when car trying to elude Hazelwood police crashes
- Motorcyclist killed in Jersey County crash
- Westbound Boone Bridge to close - again
- Arson suspected in East Carondelet fire that killed 13 dogs
- Track work will disrupt St. Louis-Chicago Amtrak service
This is where I'm supposed to make a commend, but I have nothing to say. Dead last out of 20 metropolitan areas for transit spending. Its no wonder we're in the shape we're in when it comes to transit in St. Louis. Oh, and don't overshoot that bus stop "its only my second day driving alone" bus operator.
Monday, August 30, 2010
St. Louis' Metro mass transit agency will roll out the final phase of bus service restoration since the passage of Proposition A, a sales tax increase to fund the agency, today. The service restoration will bring bus service to thousands who lost it after the disastrous mishandled campaign and defeat of a much needed tax increase in 2008. It will also make getting around on the bus more difficult for some, as Metro had to make some hard decisions as to what changes would serve the most people the best.
I'll spare you the details, as you can find them elsewhere on my main blog, Mark Edwards Uncensored. But as Metro has been ramping up for the restoration of service today, I've personally experienced reckless driving, new operators getting lost while transporting passengers, and drivers speeding 10 to 15 miles above the speed limit on a winding St. Louis County road on numerous occasions. None of that bodes well for an efficient or pleasurable customer experience.
Metro has spent considerable time and effort educating its current users to the changes, but has done only a marginal (and I think that's generous) job of informing people who DON'T use their system that there will be all this new service. They've put up a few billboards that simply say GET ON BOARD, but doesn't even say something like "New Service Starts August 30". They could have taken the billboard money and put a Mylar balloon on EVERY bus stop sign that is on a new or changed route and gotten the attention of riders AND non-riders that a bus would be available for them to ride. The agency's outreach to those who are not their customers already or who have a negative feeling about Metro was simply dismal.
Metro COO Ray Friem said in a recent STLToday.com chat that the agency was some fifty buses short of what they need to operate and that they are aware of the problems with all the new operators they have hired.
Regarding the safety of our bus operators... we are very selective in those we accept into training. Then we put the potential operators through a rigorous training period. Included are defensive driving and customers service. All operators must obtain a commercial drivers license issued by the State and must pass written and on-the-road tests. We continue to monitor and supervise all operators. The new drivers may not be able to give you all the Metro system information immediately. That will take some days/weeks/months of on the job training.NextStopSTL wisely acknowledges that there might be problems as the transit restoration kicks in today.
What to do if you get lost or miss a connection?
Please don't get me wrong. I'm happy that the new schedule is now in effect. I personally will benefit from the schedule, with the bus I take to work coming almost a mile closer to my home than it did before. I'll have a bus that actually passes my office for the first time in two years, and that's a good thing as well. But again Metro has failed to adequately prepare for the service changes and has done their usual amateurish half-baked effort to let the masses know what is going to be happening starting today.
Even with careful planning, there is always a chance you could get lost or miss a connection and need to figure out what to do next. Here are some options to help you find your way.1. Customer service. The Metro Customer Service line will be open as usual from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
2. Email transit information questions to email@example.com.
3. Via Twitter use “@STLMetro” with your question. We will be available with a Google Maps app and transit information to help Twitter users.
4. Locate a Transit Service Manager throughout the system. TSMs and other available personnel will be out Monday to help customers. TSMs wear yellow Metro polo shirts, and Metro ambassadors have white Metro polo shirts.
Also, please help one another. If you find someone on your bus who is confused or needs some help, please consider reaching out and lending a hand. You may just make someone’s day.
I hope the buses are full, drivers don't get lost, nobody gets hurt, and the system, partially changed to make transfers easier as long as the buses are running on schedule, runs somewhere close to the schedules Metro's very devoted Planning Department has issued.
But I'm a realist, and this is Metro we're talking about. Be ready for anything today.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Oh man, its a good thing there are no In-N-Out's in St. Louis. But I will be out West soon to find you, you fast food fantasy. Oh yes...
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In an earlier blog post and stltoday.com chat from last week, the CEO of Metro mentioned he would remove the unsafe and embarrassing computer kiosk at the Ballas Transfer Center. Look what I found at 7:15PM on Tuesday, August 24. The SAME decrepit terminal. Right where it was when Ray Friem said it would be removed. Nice to know Metro keeps its promises.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Well Well Well
This just in from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and www.stltoday.com
Metro taps Chesterfield Mayor John Nations as new chief
BY DAVID HUNN > firstname.lastname@example.org > 314-436-2239 | Posted: Monday, August 23, 2010 6:59 pm
Chesterfield Mayor John Nations has been tapped to head Metro, the taxpayer-funded regional bus and light rail agency, according to several close to the decision.
He will be announced at a press conference tomorrow morning.
Nations is a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale, with an expertise in city planning and land use regulations. But he also just finished leading the successful campaign to pass the half-cent transit sales tax in St. Louis County, which is expected to generate $75 million a year and restore services cut more than a year ago. Without the funding, the region may well have faced a transit meltdown.
Nations did not return a phone call seeking comment. It is not clear who else was a finalist.
This is not the first time Metro leaders have reached outside of the agency, or even outside of the field, to choose their chief.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Metro picked Robert Baer, a retired United Van Lines chairman, to turn the agency around.
I still have my issues with Metro, and the agency needs a lot of work. But I've worked with John Nations and respect his understanding of the importance of mass transit to our region and its residents, his strong will to keep the St. Louis region vibrant and attractive to employers and workers alike, and his willingness to fight for what he believes in.
I said in my previous post that the new person in charge of Metro is in for a bumpy ride, and I stand by that comment. Mayor Nations is a good man, and I wish him well in what will be a very challenging new job.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
My impressions of Metro's management and staff have gone up and down in the years I've used their system. I do think there are some very committed and well meaning people in the plush offices Metro occupies on Laclede's Landing in St. Louis, but I think they're too concerned with getting the service we so desperately need restored as quickly as possible and have less regard for the level of training of new employees and the conduct of existing operators than they should have.
Metro wants to get their new routes implemented, but that's meant that they have had to hire a small army of operators, mechanics, and other personnel. It also means that they're restoring the service with some FIFTY less buses than they'd like to have in order to provide service with the right sized, properly maintained buses they'd like to have.
Maybe its just my bad luck, but in the last couple of weeks, I've experienced these disturbing incidents on Metro Buses:
- I was thrown from my seat as a careless operator turned his bus at a high rate of speed, injuring my knee and having some of my belongings damaged. After well over a dozen calls with various Metro people, this case remains unresolved. In the interest of getting this situation behind me, I think I should not go into details of the accident or the calls with Metro employees.
- A new driver had no idea where he was supposed to go, and despite the fact he was holding turning directions in his hand, had to ask passengers where and when to turn.
- Buses have been clocked going ten to fifteen miles over the speed limit on a busy winding road in St. Louis County on multiple occasions.
- An operator completely missed going into a Park and Ride lot, part of the route he had driven for months.
Here's a conversation I had with Metro's COO Ray Friem during an STL Today Web chat last week.
Do we have "days/weeks/months" to train people driving 40 foot buses? How many other people get injured on Metro buses due to (what I contend is) operator error? Would the same thing that happened to me be a bigger problem for an elderly person?MarkE: I saw the same thing at the Ballas Center last night. That computer is an embarrassment, has been vandalized, and should be removed. On another note, are you comfortable with the level of safety your riders are experiencing based on the large number of new bus operators?
Ray Friem: We are committed to taking care of the kiosk you mention. Regarding the safety of our bus operators... we are very selective in those we accept into training. Then we put the potential operators through a rigorous training period. Included are defensive driving and customers service. All operators must obtain a commercial drivers license issued by the State and must pass written and on-the-road tests. We continue to monitor and supervise all operators. The new drivers may not be able to give you all the Metro system information immediately. That will take some days/weeks/months of on the job training.
Over the next week, Metro management and other employees will be taking time away from their jobs to promote the service changes. Here's how their news release describes the campaign:
Metro will help customers prepare for changes to more than 50 bus routes starting on August 30 by delivering literally busloads of information to many of the Transit Centers across the region starting Monday, August 23, through Friday, August 27.I agree that it's important to let riders know what is about to happen to their bus routes and what kind of new service options are available to them. But at a time when the COO of the organization admits that his employees are enduring "on the job training", couldn't these "Metro transit experts" be using their time to show employees how to drive safely and provide customers with decent service?
“Information Buses” – buses loaded with Metro transit experts, new route schedules and other information about the service changes that start August 30 – will be at many of the Transit Centers. Information tables staffed by transit experts with schedules and information to distribute to customers will be located at other centers.
I want to ride Metro. The new service on August 30 is a tremendous leap forward and will bring a bus much closer to my house and to thousands of other potential riders. But I want to feel safe and confident that the operator knows what he or she is doing when I get on the bus. Right now, I don't feel that way, and I find it hard to champion the work Metro is doing when I look behind the curtain and see what is really going on.
Metro is about to hire a new $200,000 a year CEO, perhaps before the restoration of service takes effect. I hope this person has actually ridden a Metro bus as part of their research, because it looks like they're in for a very bumpy ride if the agency doesn't improve its safety and customer service.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I have to say that I am completely blown away by the response from Roblox to this unfortunate situation. I had a very frank and meaningful chat with David Baszucki, the Founder and CEO or Roblox, and he was every bit as bothered by this situation as I was, perhaps even more. Roblox is a site that takes its commitment to child safety and obeying the myriad of laws that govern web activities by children, and Mr. Baszucki's response to me, and his action of taking all display ads served by outside networks off of his website was incredibly impressive.
I also got a reply from Roxanne Kinkade from Ameristar Casinos, and they quickly took steps to make sure the ads were no longer appearing on this kid-targeted site.
Its somewhat long and boring to explain how some ads get on websites, but it involves third party providers of advertising, and it seems that some third party ad network was responsible for the casino ads appearing on Roblox. I know that Roblox has gone far beyond the call of duty to make sure something like this doesn't happen again, and I commend them for their actions.
Let's face it, there are a lot of scumbags doing business on the Interwebz. However, I stand corrected and can now say with complete certainty that Roblox is not one of them. Kudos to them for doing the right thing and doing it quickly. My youngest son, who was playing on Roblox when this incident happened, is back on the site, and with my blessing.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I know things are tough at this particular casino in St. Louis, but is it really necessary to go after 10 year olds as you try to build your customer base?
I sent a complaint to roblox.com through a link under every ad that lets you report ads. Gave them my e mail address. We'll see if I ever hear back from them.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Monday, August 02, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Fat Burger is holding true to their name! This is their XXXL Triple King, 24 oz’s of pure 100% lean beef grilled to perfection, topped with cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes all in between two toasted buns! You trying to be the XXXL Triple King? Check out one Fat Burgers hot spots and take it down! (Thx Anita Scocs)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Celebrate National Cheesecake Day at Eli’s Cheesecake World on Thurday, July 29th « Eli's Cheesecake
I'd give anything to be there. Hopefully I can find a little Eli's cheesecake here in St. Louis. My late grandfather and Eli were friends, and I spent many a day in the old Eli's restaurant in downtown Chicago both with my Grandfather and later in life with the legendary Howard Bedno.
But back to the cheesecake. Eli's is perhaps the best on the planet, followed only by Junior's in Brooklyn. If you can find a grocery store or restaurant that carries Eli's cheesecake, you owe it to yourself to try it. And if you're anywhere near Eli's Cheesecake World, make plans to visit the epicenter of all things cheesecake.