April 29, 1999
Ya gotta admit, Howard is a phenomenon. What other subject could possibly generate so much response.
Response was very evenly divided … about half pro, half con. Some examples:
From Leslie Brand, “Howard, please don’t go here. There is no humor in this. None whatsoever. Please advise your audience to see this for what it is. One of the greatest tragedies of history. Be part of the solution.”
Tim Nichols writes that Howard is no more to blame than a bartender who serves someone who then drives drunk. “Stern is funny and dark.. He brings out a kind of truth too real for us to believe. Don’t kill the messenger.” Fair enough Tim, but pick another comparison. Bartenders ARE liable when they serve someone who is obviously already intoxicated, as Howard is … with himself.
One e-mail called Howard “ethically bankrupt,” another said I should “live quietly with (my) embarrassment and guilt” since I am a part of da big baaad media who create the feeding frenzy around events like Columbine. In fact, the one thing both pro and con seemed to agree on was that it was the television station’s fault for not “checking its sources…” which misses the point entirely. There is a difference between not getting your facts right and being deliberately misled.
While it is admirable and preferable to err on the safe side, why should the media … or anyone have to constantly be on the defensive for those who wish to trick and deceive? First Amendment rights only extend to the point where someone gets hurt by “protected speech.” You know … fun stuff like slander and fraud. Maybe I’m being a little too “George Bush” with ideals of a kinder, gentler society, but I stand by everything I said in ”Note to Howard: It’s not funny.” I appreciate that the morning after I wrote it, Howard chastised Captain Janks, telling him his phone call to the Denver TV station was over the line. However, by continuing to acknowledge Janks, Howard gives him exactly what he wants and thus, perpetuates the problem … which is why I say Howard bears some responsibility. Howard IS the bartender continuing to serve drunks.
A lot of the negative e-mails mentioned the old standby, “If you don’t like it, turn it off.” That applies very nicely to the subsequent “sexy teen age girls” comments that are creatin’ a whole ‘nother stir, because that was also on Howard’s show … a show which will continue as long as there are listeners and advertisers. The Janks call was an ambush. If you want to spend the rest of your life perpetually on guard, unable to even make eye contact with anyone for fear of an “honest, real, rude, hurtful” response … fine. I prefer decent, ethical, forthright and trustworthy.
Enough said. Thank you all, pro and con, for your responses. In Howard’s world, any publicity is good publicity and I’ve given him enough for now. I’ll bill him accordingly.
Meanwhile, back in the lower left corner…
760 KFMB’s Jack and Joe in the morning are doing a new staggered shift. Joe Bauer continues to work 5:30 to 10am as he has for 25 years … most of that with the late Mac Hudson. Jack Woods … Charlie, from Charlie and Harrigan … now arrives at 7:30 and continues until noon each weekday. The 11 to noon portion of the show pairs Jack with money man Bill Holland. The Dr. Laura-wanna-be syndicated Dr. Joy Brown show is out.
Speaking of Bill Ballance’s favorite dalliance … what’s with Dr. Laura saying the Trench Coat Mafia kids at Columbine deserve to get picked on?
The Mix (95.7 KMSX) broadened their already ultra wide, if not deep, playlist by offering a true request pay-for-play weekend. They raised $17,000 for Kosovo refugee relief at $50 per song. The last time I heard Dolly Parton back to back with Led Zeppelin was the morning before our music consultant was fired.
Why one station would want to draw attention to another station’s promotion, I don’t know, but 91X has been after Star 100.7’s Star Wars campout like a little rat dog worrying a ham bone. “Jedi Josh” has been camped out at a Mission Valley theater waiting for Star Wars tickets. Star 100.7 has sponsored the campout because they have the local premiere. 91X has been taking pokes at the situation on their morning show, pointing out how Josh flunked Star’s Star Wars aptitude test and sending a commando to bomb Josh’s tent with water balloons.
The latest full list of 12+ Mon-Sun San Diego Winter ’99 Arbitron ratings are available elsewhere on this page. Here are some highlights:
KYXY stays flat but becomes #1 as country KSON drops .7. News/talk KOGO gained almost a point to become #3 … their strongest performance since they had the Padres. (DING DING DING. That’s right! The answer to last week’s question, “Who had the Padres 23 years ago?” is KOGO, am600. You win an order of Nachos left over from the World Series.) And what of the Padres current station, KFMB? I’d have to see the monthlies to know for sure, but it looks like they’re hurting without baseball … down almost 2 points to 2.5. The big winner was Magic 92.5 … up 1.6 for an 8th place finish. The Mix did well, gaining 1.1 … still not in the top 10. Significant is 106.5 KLNV, up 1.2 and finishing in 11th place. Their strong trend portends the first ever top 10 finish for a Spanish language station in San Diego come the spring book. Interesting that it’s taken this long since the number 1 and 2 stations overall in Los Angeles are Spanish, and have been for several books. Heftel is the dominant force in Spanish radio.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has a series of where are they now articles leading up to the millennium. A couple of recent ones were about Bill Ballance and Harry “Happy Hare” Martin. Happy Hare was the first person to put me on the radio. When I was in 5th grade, I called him at KCBQ with a weather report when, for the first time in memory, it snowed and they closed the schools in Fallbrook. Check out the archives of the paper’s website, www.uniontrib.com.
E-mails, other than those pertaining to Howard and what a douche bag I am for getting on his case:
Joe Tedd is looking for Bobby Messina, who he heard was working in San Diego, possibly under a different name. Joe remembers him from WXLO, New York back around 1980. Joe can be reached at Radioboys@FCC.net. Yeesh! I wonder what Bobby did to get noticed by the FCC?
Bobbi Marks checks in from WSB-FM, Atlanta. Bobbi did overnights at KCBQ in ’93. She says she misses the beach (not the one formerly at 102.9), wants to come back (take a number girlfriend) and sends a shout out to KGB’s John Leslie, “the walking encyclopedia of rock.”
Bryan Dean e-mailed the only response so far to my request for your thoughts on the future of this wacky business that pays us all so handsomely. Bryan says to expect a melding of current broadcast with internet, satellite and telephone technologies. Yeah, but Bryan, who’s going to own it all? Clear Channel, Disney, or Bill Gates?
C’mon kids. Step into the wayback machine with Mr. Peabody. Where’s the world of radio headed? Where will you be in 5 years? Will Howard be working at a thousand-watter in Fresno? Will there be any more nude photos of Dr. Laura? Will Rush and Calista Flockhart be wearing the same size jeans? What wild weird stuff is gonna happen?