I spent a good part of my life in Denver and I often told friends it was probably one of the best news towns in the country. Lots of important stuff happened there. Rocky Flats, the crash of Continental flight 1713, the emergence of gang violence, corruption, killer storms. It was like New York without the parking hassles. Denver bustled with 43 radio stations and two vibrant daily newspapers, all nestled in the shadow of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and glistening downtown skyscrapers.
Those newspapers have been the life blood of Denver and much of Colorado for over a century. Unfortunately, the Grand Daddy, the Rocky Mountain News never got to see it's 150th birthday. The economy has killed another big city newspaper. With the advent of the Internet , newspapers are going the way of the Model-T Ford. More and more places are becoming one newspaper towns.
"The Rocky" as we used to call it published its final edition on Friday. 25 or so years ago, I remember as a young journalist covering another newspaper funeral, the death of the Philadelphia Bulletin, the city's afternoon newspaper. Most towns don't have those P.M papers anymore. I remember standing in the printing room as the final edition rolled off the presses. I snatched three of them. One of them is still displayed in my apartment. Like the Bulletin, yet separated by hundreds of miles, I'll miss my Rocky.
I'll miss it because of it's impact on the community. I'll miss it because the old guard of journalism is a dying breed....and I'll miss it because my colleagues, often nameless faces, have lost jobs in a profession they love. This weekend, I surfed over to "The Rocky's" website to see what they had to say about themselves and stumbled across a front page video documentary on their own demise. Not only did they have to write about their own death, they put it on video. See it for yourself.
Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I know many of you are going to say I'm a male chauvinist pig, but hey, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, men are better drivers then women. Having said that, teenagers (male and female) are statistically involved in more accidents than anyone. They're followed by senior citizens, but overall, based on observations, women are just terrible on the road. I now present you with video proof. Enjoy.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Two friends of mine have made what they describe as the most difficult decisions of their lives. They're leaving Brooklyn to pursue their hopes, dreams and affordable housing elsewhere. One of my buds, Phil, left about a year ago to hang his hat in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. He's married with a kid and a talented construction worker. Phil works, but he also left without having a job lined up in his new city.
Same for my friend Tom. He's packing up his bags and leaving Brooklyn in July for a new life in Hollywood, Florida. He says you can get a nice house down there for under $100,000. For that price, you can get a nice parking space in New York City. He's in the air conditioning business and he's a stand-up comic, so I suppose it makes sense he picked a hot place. Hell, he could have joined Phil in Phoenix with that type of profession.
Tom has told me several times, he could never see himself leaving Brooklyn. Like many others, he's discovered Brooklyn has a pulse and a vibe like no other. When people in New York talk about their neighborhoods, you never hear them exude pride like they do in Brooklyn. People aren't feeling the love in Queens or Staten Island, although some offer that sort of emotion for the Bronx.
Moving is a life changing decision. You know, I have a lot of shit. Furniture, knick knacks, the kind of stuff you accumulate over years. The thought of packing that all up and moving to a foreign land is daunting. New friends, new hang outs, new schools for the kids, a new life. But, we are in remarkable times. Not since the Great Depression have we felt this way. There's not a single person on this planet who now doesn't know someone who was laid off because of the economy.
Barack Obama's economic stimulus package probably won't do much for me. I can't collect unemployment because I'm making more than the 400 some dollars the government gives you for being out of work. I can get a tax break if I buy a home, but at the prices in New York, I can't afford a new house. Like my two friends, I struggle. But, I also wonder. Should I pack up my bags and move to a place like Arizona or Florida where the cost of living is cheaper and the opportunities, perhaps, greater. I haven't come to that decision yet. I hope I never do.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Ever wonder what $16,212 buys you? In Brooklyn, that's how much education dollars are spent on each student at the very elite I.S. 187, as well as the not-so-elite M.S. 313, The Satellite West Middle School. But, I was curious if money can really buy success and by the looks of the numbers, the short answer is NO!
Despite a student/teacher ratio of 13-1 (pretty good for New York standards), M.S. 313, according to School Digger, ranks 622nd of the 810 middle schools in the state of New York. Just five miles away, I.S. 187, ranks number 2. There, the student/teacher ratio is 18-1.
Total students: 285
Eligible for free lunch: 75%
Black/Latino students: 99%
Attendance rate: 87%
fewer than 3-years
Teachers with Masters
Grade 6 English
or NOT meeting learning
Grade 6 Math
or NOT meeting learning
Teacher turnover rate: 30%
Total students: 1000
Eligible for free lunch: 52%
Black/Latino students: 9%
Attendance rate: 97%
fewer than 3-years
Teachers with Masters
Grade 6 English
or NOT meeting learning
Grade 6 Math
or NOT meeting learning
Teacher turnover rate: 6%
Now, some observations:
* Teachers are far less qualified at M.S. 313.
* It's obvious, the most educated are employed at I.S. 187
* M.S. 313 is a truly urban district, with an urban make up. A majority of students are black and Hispanic. While the majority of students at I.S. 187 are Asian and White. Parents of those students are generally wealthier.
* Despite a smaller class size, fewer students and equal financing, M.S. 313 greatly under performs.
* Teachers don't stay at M.S. 313 very long. The turnover rate is one of the highest in the state of New York, by teacher choice but more often because, as we've learned, of the schizophrenic nature of Principal Suzane Joseph.
Having said all that, let's be fair. Comparing M.S. 313 to one of New York's most elite schools isn't necessarily fair. Still, the numbers are telling. It says a few things. For one, Why should students in the elite schools always deserve the best teachers? Those who volunteer to teach at schools like M.S. 313 deserve bonuses for taking on a such a challenge. A principal needs to be installed that has the education and training needed to attract smart, dedicated and innovative teachers.
There are many already at M.S. 313, but often when they challenge teaching styles or attempt creativity and innovation, they are quickly removed, rather than rewarded.
This needs to change and it needs to start at the top. A principal, as well as the teachers, need to inspire the students to learn and excel. Elite or not, the fact of the matter is students are equally funded by the government at M.S. 313 and at I.S. 187. Yet, Satellite West Middle school gets the short end of the stick and so do the students.
Eddie was always a slacker. But, like his friend Darren, he picked up bar tending jobs here and there. As he got older, Eddie discovered musical theater and put together a plan of action. He'd head South, stay at his parents house, pick up some work and move to Texas where he'd open up a community theater. Not a bad plan for a guy who didn't hold on to jobs very well in the past.
In New York, they say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I'm not so sure of that, considering I'm under-employed myself, but Eddie seemed to think that since he didn't make in the Big Apple, he could make in Pensacola, Florida. He stuffed his bags with his few possession and at the age of 44 moved in with Mom and Dad. This is the sort of thing you hear about here in Brooklyn, where grown Italian men move in with their parents and suck them dry.
Listen, I don't knock anyone these days for moving in with their folks, considering the current recession. Not only that, for the first time in a long while, his friend Darren said Eddie was motivated to give his life a jump start. But it didn't quite work out the way Eddie wanted down there in the hot and humid Florida panhandle.
Darren says Eddie was banging on doors trying to find work, but like New York it wasn't so easy, even in the depressed Gulf coast town of Pensacola. While sitting on a folding lounge chair and a bottle of beer in hand, Eddie realized he had unearthed what he thought was a gold mine in his Mom's backyard. Worms!
Furiously, he'd dig holes all over the yard, putting the slimey creatures in jars and cans. You see, the Pensacola Bay and Gulf of Mexico aren't far away. So he figured, he'd collect the worms and set up a little roadside stand. Now, several weeks after his arrival in Pensacola, Eddie is selling worms.
I'm not sure how Eddie's doing with his new business, but by all accounts, buying worms aren't cheap. They sell for between $15.00 and $35.00 a pound. Most people who buy them in bulk are using them for composting purposes, so I'm not sure if fishermen use a different or even cheaper sort of worm. I always thought a worm was a worm. But, who knows, maybe some day he'll collect enough worms to open up his own bait and tackle shop.
This story is both funny and sad. We know the funny part, but the sad part is that in backyards all across the country, the unemployed are literally digging for work, some of them, like Eddie, happen to be digging for worms.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The latest song stuck in my head got there thanks to the people at Time-Warner Cable. Half asleep, I perk up when I hear Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods on the 70's channel. When I was younger, I never really knew who sung "Who Do You Think You Are?" Now I do and I can't get it out of my head. All this time, I was convinced the Heywoods were a one-hit-wonder, but alas, they had several Top 40 hits, their most famous, "Billy Don't Be A Hero." That song sold three-million copies.
For some reason, "Who Do You Think You Are," never resonated with radio stations or record promoters, but it's one catchy little ditty. But, like it was yesterday I can remember the song coming out of the car radio in my Dad's car driving down to the Jersey shore in 1974. I was 13-years-old then, which I think is the age that songs are emblazoned in our minds. That's also about the time when we start singing along with the songs, like the dorks with earbuds do today listening to their hip-hop music. Unfortunately, music videos didn't really exist in 1974, so the best I could do was snatch this video tribute to the band from YouTube. So, now Bo Donaldson can be in your head, too.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It wasn't Barack Obama, yet Al Sharpton and his racist loyalists are saying that's what the New York Post meant when it published this cartoon a few days ago.
Hundreds of them showed up in front of the Post's Manhattan building, with signs in their hands and chants in their voices. They called for the firing of owner Rupert Murdoch and the shutdown of the newspaper, because they alledge, the cartoon is racist.
The protesters were incensed. How dare they compare our black President to a monkey, they wondered. The cartoon plays up on the shooting in Connecticut of a chimpanzee that viciously attacked its owners best friend. But, read the words. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus package." Obama didn't write the stimulus package. Congress did. It's that simple. Period.
Actor Heath Ledger used to stroll the streets of South Brooklyn like he lived here his whole life. But, he didn't. The 28-year old Australian lived in Boerum Hill for just a few years with his wife, Michele and daughter Matilda. They bought a Brownstone right next door to my ex-girlfriend on Hoyt Street, a stones throw away from the historic Brooklyn Inn.
Ledger is up for an Oscar at Sunday night's Academy Awards for his role as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Critics say he has a good chance of winning the award posthumously, which is an Oscar rarity. Under Academy rules, his young daughter Matilda, would take possession of the award when she turns 18. That seems right, considering how much Ledger loved his daughter.
Listen, I wasn't Ledgers friend, nor did I really know the guy, but his actions speak louder than words. I'd often watch the actor strolling down Smith street in Brooklyn and never without daughter Matilda and often with his wife. When he stopped into Angry Wades, one Sunday afternoon to watch soccer, his wife and daughter were with him. I was sitting at a bar stool directly in front of his table. I had no intention of getting in the guys face, like so many photographers had done when he moved to the borough.
But, I felt bad for how he was treated when he moved here, looking to get away from the glitter of Manhattan or Hollywood. Like so many of us, he wanted to be close to all of the action, without being part of it. Boerum Hill and his Brownstone on Hoyt Street fulfilled that need. I decided to engage him in a short conversation. All I could think of was his daily ritual of walking through a gauntlet of paparazzi with his family as he left his Hoyt Street home. Ledger often apologized to his neighbors for bringing all of this attention to their quiet tree-lined block. I simply turned around and said, "Heath, I'm sorry these reporters won't leave you alone." I never told him, I was a reporter, nor did I brag that I was on the radio, which at first I wanted to do. He smiled, hoisted his beer and said, "Thanks, mate." I turned around and continued drinking my suds.
That was it. One chance encounter and so few words. But, he got it. I would watch the way he looked at Michelle, the way he would hold his daughter. I could tell he loved them dearly, especially Matilda. You know, first impressions are everything. I suppose he had that affect when he auditioned for a movie role. Ledger appeared to be the perfect family man. Despite an accidental overdose of prescription drugs that took his young life, it seemed like he had a zeal for life. This was no suicide, best anyone could tell. Like so many good family men, maybe he should get an award. "Father Of The Year," perhaps. But, when he's up for an Oscar on Sunday for his Joker role, the Academy should not judge him for how he performed in life, but how he acted on screen. He was good at that, too.
Boy, things have really gotten bad for New York City employers. Not only are they cutting jobs and hours of their employees, they're "hiring" people for no pay!
Several of my friends noticed this trend, while searching for jobs on "Craigslist" and in the "Village Voice." I've noticed it as well in broadcasting trade publications.
Interns have existed for years. At ABC NEWS Radio, our interns are actually paid, a rarity in this economic climate. At WABC Radio, where I worked for ten years, they too, have a few programs that allow for paid interns. But, these are indeed the brightest and most talented of the intern pool.
Unfortunately, many companies are now taking advantage of interns, essentially having them do what a paid staffer would do. Recently, I spotted an ad for an internship at a radio station.
Job responsibilities include general office duties, gathering and editing audio tape, covering news conferences and breaking news on occasion and the ability to perform on the air in a new reporting role.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like MY job. Now, they're having interns to edit tape, gather news and actually go on the air and report it. In other words, they're "hiring" a reporter, but paying them nothing!
I found a few more:
RocknRollYellowPages.com is looking for beautiful females models between the ages of 21 to 32 to put on our web site - www.RocknRollYellowPages.com - there is no pay involved - we would like to post photos of selected female models in either a bikini or lingerie - if you are interested and you are female and beautiful and between the ages of 21 and 32, send an e-mail with a good quality photo of yourself wearing either a bikini or lingerie.
So, they're "hiring" models, but not paying them. Sounds a little sketchy to me. Sounds like some sick prick who's looking to get semi-nude photos of young women.
Next is a job that often requires much training and expertise, but no matter to this company, which is looking for a non-paid make up artist.
MAKE UP ARTIST
Our team is looking for makeup artists who want to build their individual service awareness through a mutually beneficial relationship with Thevi Cosmetics (www.thevicosmetics.com) . We are looking for individuals with experience working with ethnic skin tones to support Thevi Cosmetics while increasing their own online presence and gaining referrals from the web and through our company.
Compensation: No Pay - referrals and online media exposure
Did they say "a mutually beneficial relationship?" That means you get experience and some limited exposure and they get a free make up artist. Nice! It seems like the film, broadcasting and print industries are the biggest abusers of "hiring" experienced people for no pay. This next one is a classic.
Production Designer looking for an Art Director to start immediately on an independent feature film. It is a vampire/ art film that has a great crew and cast. Unfortunately, the previous Art Director was let go and has to be replaced asap. So, PLEASE only respond if you are serious, aware of the commitment and have more than 1 year of experience. This is a low budget film, so there is no pay.
"The previous Art Director was let go." What? So, now they're "firing" people who aren't employed? But, don't worry, they're "hiring" people and not paying them either. Great work, if you can get it. NOT!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
While strolling through Carroll Gardens, I stumbled across this gem. A resident got clever with the ever growing problem of teaching folks they can't park in front of active driveways. It should be one of New York City's ten commandments!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
WABC'S Curtis Sliwa use to refer to them as "degenerate smokers." Fine, I'm one of them, despite kicking the habit for nine months. Yet, I was still blown away by the price they charged at a little grocery store at 65th and West End Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The price leaped from $10 to $11.25, when most stores are charging in the 8-9 dollar range.
But, in the coming months, that price will skyrocket. Both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson have proposed increases in the tobacco tax, so smokers will be hit with a double whammy at both the state and local level. Earlier, it was estimated the tax hikes would increase the price for a pack to over $10, but if some stores are already charging $11.25, then $15 is not out of the question.
But, these rip-off retailers know full well that smokers are addicted. That's right, if the clerk charged $20 for a pack, smokers would still buy the cancer sticks. At that rate, smokers may shop around, but when they need their fix, they'll drop two ten spots to get their nicotine. The people who run that deli at 65th street jack up the prices on everything from milk to cookies, so it's no surprise that the price of cigarettes just went up.
Still, price is no matter for us "degenerate smokers." If we can't afford them and honestly most of us can't, then we shop around. In desperation, we go on line and buy from Indian reservations and overseas dealers. We head into the "hood" and look for some sketchy character peddling smokes. Tax us all you want, you mean, bad government, but in the end, us smokers will show you, we'll continue to plop down the cash to continue our nasty habit. Go ahead, try raising the price to $50.00 a pack, we're determined folks. So what, if I can take a family of five to a movie for that price, we love our cigarettes, don't we.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Once again, I will be hosting a talk show on Denver's KOA Radio this coming Sunday, February 22nd. You can hear the show live in Denver from 2-5pm, on the East coast from 4-7pm or online at 850KOA.COM.
We'll be talking about the economic stimulus package with some big name guests (hopefully). Also, I'll be taking calls on the possible return of the fairness doctrine, the lady who had octuplets and whether cell phones can cause plane crashes, to name a few of the topics we'll get into on Sunday.
My bartender friend, Chris Johnson, is running this little Mardi Gras shindig in Brooklyn in a few weeks. It's a five hour bash, complete with great Cajun food, live music and drinks. I know the economy is tough, but at $35.00 it's a great deal and a great way to give back to some great New York City youth groups. You can check out the flier for more information.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Michael's 46 years old, Italian and born and raised in Brooklyn. When was 15, he was chased down and nearly killed by "The Crazy Homicides", a Coney Island and Park Slope based street gang of the 60's and 70's. They cornered him in a dark alley not far from his high school. Some of the toughs were armed with knives and chains. For years he had a beef with one of the teenagers in the gang. It went back to the second grade. Now, it was about to catch up with Michael on that fateful summer night in 1979 Brooklyn. This time the punk claims Michael had stolen his girl, Lydia,(who's Puerto Rican) and in order to get her back, they'd have to fight. Not a very fair fight, mind you. He was surrounded by his gang mates.
Well, instead of the "Warriors" rumbling with the "Gramercy Riffs", a Guardian Angel arrives, several of them, clad in white t-shirts and red berets. Michael knew the kids, most of them Puerto Rican, from the high school play. Young Michael played the lead. The Guardian Angels, a somewhat rag-tag group of nomads at the time, didn't just stop the fight, they started it. Or, so Michael says. But, this was good, because the Angels jumped "The Crazy Homicides," (The inspiration for the 1979 film, The Warriors" )from behind and the hoodlums ran off into the darkness of the night.
I'm listening intently as Michael tells his tale. He begins to recite the names of other big gangs at the time, "The Majestics," "The Ambassadors," "The Dirty Ones," "The Tomahawks," etc. I'm fascinated by this bit of nostalgia, not only because I've lived in Brooklyn for over a decade, but because many of the people he describes now have respectable lives and are my neighbors in Carroll Gardens. Not only that, the scene is unfolding the same year that Curtis Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels and "The Warriors" arrived in theaters.
Michael, now a yuppie looking fella with a full head of hair and button down shirt, laughs at the strange coincidence of his near death experience. When he began his story over at Angry Wade's, a local bar, he started with one fact, that I left out until now. Michael played Tony in his high school production of "West Side Story."
Friday, February 13, 2009
You still can't use a cell phone on board a plane, but why? There is not a shred of scientific evidence to suggest, as the F.C.C worries, that cell phones interfere with a plane's avionics. But, since 1991, the government has banned the use of cell phones in planes, because of fears, not evidence that the phones could knock an airplane out of the sky.
About four years ago, the industry asked passengers whether they'd like to see the ban lifted. An overwhelming number of fliers said, "no." But, the airlines don't like explaining why so many people balked at the privilege. It, in fact, had nothing to do with fears that the plane would crash, but because passengers simply wanted peace and quiet on board.
Most experts agree that the F.C.C ban stems more from "what could happen," verses what "would happen." Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com and ABCNews.com airline industry columnist, agreed that hard evidence backing up the ban is scarce.
"It's a myth," Seaney said. "It's a suggestion more than an edict. ... I think it's a fear of the unknown."
The airlines don't want to take any chances either. Why would they, in this litigious society. As soon as the ban is lifted and a plane crashes for no reason whatsoever, you can bet passengers will be lining up to sue not only the airlines, but the cell phone manufacturers.
Here's what the F.A.A, the F.C.C and the airline industry should do: Send up a pilotless 747 with 250 cell phones on board, activated from the ground by remote control and have them make and accept phone calls. Certainly, 250 cell phones going off all at once would be the ultimate test of whether on-board electronics are compromised or worst yet, whether any interruption would actually down a plane.
But, Alas, several European and Asian air carriers have contracted the services of OnAir, a company that outfits jetliners with its own mini-cell. The device essentially links the personal cell phones of passengers with an on board cell tower that diverts the signal directly to ground towers. This steers away the errant signal from crucial on board avionics. In April 2008, Air France became the first airline to use the technology. Several Middle Eastern and Asian airlines have followed suit. Knock on wood, not a single one of their planes has crashed.
Seems to me this would be the technology American airlines should deploy, if they want to be on the safe side, but guess what, it doesn't matter. Remember that survey the airlines did? Most passengers wanted no part of cell phones on board planes, not because they're scaredy cats, but because they don't want 250 Chatty Patty's on board disturbing the peace. Isn't it funny, though, when passengers learn that their plane might be about to crash, like the folks on board doomed Flight 93 or more recently on the U.S. Airways jet that belly-flopped in the Hudson River, that's the first thing passengers did. They made phone calls. So, even when many of the 155 people on board the U.S. Airways plane made calls, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger was able to land his plane with perfection. Can't blame the phones on that crash.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Eyewitnesses are reporting to The Gowanus Lounge blog that some cops in the 76th precinct have rammed into several parked cars not far from their police station in Carroll Gardens.
You can read the whole story from the Gowanus Lounge here:
At some point today, we can picture some commanding officers at the 76th Precinct in Carroll Gardens turning red and cursing. Very red and a lot. This is because a GL tipster sent us some very interesting information that does not bode well for community-police relations. How to put this? Officers from the 76th have hit a few parked cars in the neighborhood, and for some very interesting reasons. We’ll let our tipster explain:
It seems that the 76th pct has a problem with their officers and their driving skills or lack of. Three residents of Sackett Street between Hicks & Henry have had their cars damaged by patrol cars driving down the block in the early morning hours. Could it be that the officers are falling asleep behind the wheel. In the first accident which happened in Dec, two of the officers in a patrol car fell asleep behind the wheel causing the accident. Three parked cars were damage at that time. The second accident happened on Monday night when yet another patrol car smashed right into a parked car. According to sources, the 76th reported that the officer was looking for a flash light he dropped on the floor. What was he doing looking for a flashlight when his eyes should of been on the road. There seem to be a problem here and we need to address it. Bring it to the public’s attention is the first step>
Well, the first step has now been taken. God, we’ll bet the F Bomb is going to be dropped at a lot at the 76th in coming days. Accidents happen, no?
Snubbed again! For the 133rd year, a Dachshund has failed to win best of show at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York. I bring this up only because I'm a Dachshund lover, having had two of them in my life. Even though, both Noodles and Romer are no longer with us, I continue to be proud cheerleader for the breed.
Unfortunately, an aging Sussex Spaniel took the best of show award. At 10, Stump became the oldest best in show winner ever at the show at Madison Square Garden. That's quite the accomplishment indeed, but the judges couldn't even muster a top award for a Dachshund in "Best in Group." Instead, something called a Scottish Deerhound won the top group honor. In fact, a wired hair Dachshund managed to score just 4th place.
Despite the Sussex Spaniel's win, this might be a good thing for all of us Dachshund lovers. Like the Dachshund, up until now, a Sussex Spaniel has never won the top award at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Oh well, there's always next year.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Should radio hosts be fair? Liberals are pushing for this, but they're not, really. All they want is THEIR agenda on the airwaves. They're convinced that conservative voices drown out the liberal ones and they want YOUR government to do something. In fact, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is leading the effort. Stabenow says there is a "structural imbalance" on political talk radio. She wonders why so many radio stations, like New York's WABC have nothing but conservative shows on the air. She wants balance. The senator is even prepared to hold hearings (and waste your money) in Washington to get to the bottom of this conundrum. Stabenow believes radio station owners need to be held accountable. What, send them to Guantanamo Bay?
Ms. Stabenow is somehow convinced that conservative radio brainwashes naive Americans into doing anti-liberal things. Wow, that really worked during the November elections, didn't it. All that power, all that influence. The conservative talkers couldn't even get a good conservative to run against Barack Obama. All of this hearkens back to the "Fairness Doctrine," conceived in 1949 and rarely enforced. It, however, DID NOT require radio and t.v. stations to balance their programming. For instance, there was no need to have Rush Limbaugh, followed by Abbie Hoffman, followed by Sean Hannity, followed by Al Franken. It simply demanded that broadcasters set aside an unspecified amount of time to present a forum for balanced, public service programming. This is why so many radio stations had Sunday talk shows and religious programming.
The "Fairness Doctrine" should not be confused with the F.C.C's equal time rule, which required broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints of political candidates when another is presented. This applied mainly to commercials. Owners couldn't prohibit an opponent from airing a commercial, as long as both opponents paid the same rate as their "most favored advertiser." Talk shows, on-air interviews, breaking news and newscasts in general were exempt from these rules. Also, keep in mind, this only applied to election time and balance was not required of seated public officials.
Now, here's the rub. What the fine Senator from Michigan is proposing would go well beyond both the "Fairness Doctrine" and the "Equal-time rule." She's looking for balance on day-to-day programming. She's suggesting that even if Rush Limbaugh has no guests, any opinions espoused by the conservative talker should be balanced by a guest or host with another viewpoint. I'm a big proponent of free speech and that's why any attempt to stifle public opinion should be vigorously opposed. Should anti-abortion protesters have to wait outside an abortion clinic until a suitable pro-choice group is found to stand next to them. Should the government go into public libraries and remove books that outnumber those with some sort of opposing viewpoint.
Listen, radio and t.v. stations put hosts on the air that are entertaining and more importantly, who can generate ratings and thus revenue. The fact of the matter is, there are more entertaining conservatives on the air and those that tend to listen to political talk radio lean toward the right. I'm not quite sure where liberals get most of their news, perhaps newspapers and the Internet.
Now, back to Senator Stabenow. Why has she emerged as the ringmaster for this anti-free speech circus? Stabenow is married to Tom Athans, co-founder and former CEO of the far-left leaning Democracy Radio. Three years after founding the network and putting the liberal voices of Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller on the air, Athans shuttered Democracy Radio and joined Air America and it's fledgling operation. Athans started Democracy Radio in hopes to lobbying radio stations to air more liberal voices, but obviously when that didn't take off, he turned to his Senator-wife. He's probably thinking, if radio stations won't take my liberal shows, then I'll get my wife to draft new legislation forcing them to air the programs. Scary, huh?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Two little boys appear to be trying to figure out what those two grown men are doing on that bus stop advertisement. Not sure where this was taken or who took it, but I found it on the net and thought it was hilarious. The mom appears to be oblivious to her children's interest in the touchy, feely men above.
Friday, February 6, 2009
One of the things I love most about reading the local Brooklyn newspapers is the police blog. I'm always curious about who's been burglarized, mugged or killed in my neighborhood. But, it gets a little eerie when the crime is happening within a few blocks of your home, or worst yet, right on it. Luckily, no bodies have shown up on my doorstep recently. But, take a look at the rash of burglaries reported in this week's Brooklyn Paper.
* Burglars raided a President Street apartment on Jan. 26 and stole a bevy of electronics.The 34-year-old resident told police that she was not at the home, which is between Smith and Hoyt streets, from 1 am to 10:40 pm. When she returned, she discovered that her front door was unlocked, and two laptops, a radio, a camera and computer accessories were gone.
* A burglar broke into a Union Street apartment and stole $7,700 from a poorly working safe.The 31-year-old resident of the building between Henry and Clinton streets said he left his abode at 3 pm on Jan. 29 and came home 3:50 pm on Feb. 2. He detected no forced entry into the apartment, but the vault-buster had cracked open the hiding place of all that cold hard cash.
* A thief jimmied open an apartment window on the fire escape of a Smith Street dwelling and stole some swell gadgets. The victim, 24, told police she was not home from 8 pm to 3 am the next day. To her horror, she found that the window pane had been knocked onto the floor and that her entire living quarters had been ransacked. She told police the villain took her Mac laptop and iPod from the building between Huntington and West Ninth streets.
* A remarkably similar incident occurred with an intruder climbing through a fire escape window into an apartment on Huntington Street that same night. A woman had left at 6 pm and returned at midnight to a comparable scene of disorder and an open window by the emergency exit. A 14-karat necklace and gold-link bracelet were taken.
That's four incidents in just a week within blocks of where I live. Despite the disturbing frequency, I'm comforted in knowing, these burglars probably won't hit my place. Here's why. They all have a common thread. That's right, in each case, the victims were away from their homes for long periods of time, sometimes, days. Playing junior detective, I would surmise that these thieves have been watching area homes, picking homes where it appears the homeowner has no intention of returning anytime soon. In all cases, the intruders never marched through the front doors and it appears as if they didn't enter apartments through publicly exposed entries.
For those of you living in the neighborhood, this is a reminder to be vigilant of the strangers lurking on our streets. It's also a wake up call to always keep your doors and windows locked and closed at all times. I'd also suggest installing motion detectors that automatically trip bright lights at entry points to your home and make sure you have a deadbolt. If nothing else, you'll get a break on homeowners or renters insurance.