Friday, March 31, 2006

Radio Fools....

I've had the opportunity to work with some fools or at least at some times foolish people in the radio biz. So with April Fool's Day I thought I'd pass along some examples of how foolish we all can be sometimes.

In Michigan's Upper Peninsula I once worked with a guy we called "The Captain." He always seemed to have trouble with his car. One day a friend asked him how many miles he had put on the old clunker since he had bought it. "50,000 miles." "Ever change the oil?" "Well how often do you have to do that?"

In Minocqua I worked with a fishing guide who came in and recorded a fishing program for us every summer. He'd pretty much record the programs and leave and we never really knew what we we're going to hear. One day the feature was playing and he talked about some experts in Walleye baiting. He used a different term for expert and skipped the word Walleye when he referred to those pros in his feature.

Along those same lines an announcer I worked with in Beaver Dam once did a sports cast talking about a local high school football team that had made it to sectionals. They were playing that day in a Division Four game. He went through the sportscast not realizing listeners probably got a laugh when he referred to the team that was competing in Division Four play.

Sometimes you get a few jokers at work and in Beaver Dam we had a guy who sometimes would slip in a few fake birthdays like Harry Monke (monkey) from DeForest. He wasn't the one who read them and other announcers sometimes would end up reading the zingers. To this day I'm still wondering if one of our morning announcers ever got the joke when he read the birthday for Mayville music teacher Carrie Okie (karaoke) ?

Anyway if you'd like to enjoy a few laughs and benefit a good cause "The Second City Touring Company" will be performing Saturday, April 1st at the Fond du Lac High School Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. It's good clean humor and will benefit ASTOP.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Covering both sides of the fence....

During a recent edition of KFIZ's "The Focus" I was accused of not covering both sides of the Fond du Lac School District's $8.7 million referendum. On the surface it may have seemed that way. Now the real story.

Whenever there's a divisive issue I try to cover both sides of it. Sometimes there's no organized opposition, note the term "organized." Then again it may be an effort that pops up late in the game.

When I became aware of organized opposition to referendum I called the person I was told was leading that effort. I got his voice mail and left a message inviting him or some representative of the group to come on "The Focus." A week later someone representing the group did get back to me. Thank you Mike Fredrich. He agreed to do a taped interview because he was in Washington, D.C. at the time on company business. In the meantime we did a show on the referendum with school district officials. Mike's interview airs on "The Focus" Friday (3/31/06) morning at 11:30 a.m. unedited.

Anyone who is a regular listener of "The Focus" probably knows that every couple of weeks we have the Superintendent of the District (Greg Maass) on the morning of a school board meeting. This was arranged to give listeners a chance to hear what's going on in the district and perhaps incentive for attending the meeting themselves or watching it on cable television. The last couple shows with him did revolve around the referendum and the school board meetings those evenings also had question and answer sessions about the referendum. The last Monday morning of a school board meeting the majority of the show was spent talking about other things going on in the district.

I've covered a number of referendums over the years and have tried to give both sides. However more than anything else I've found that it's better to give as Jack Webb was fond of saying in "Dragnet," just the facts. The interviews we did with the district were designed to get out the facts. It's up to a voter to decide who or what they believe. I try to play devil's advocate when there is no one to give an opposing point of view. It's not always a successful ploy because you can't always ask the question that someone else wants to ask, but won't step forward to pose.

The best job I ever did covering a referendum happened while I was working in Beaver Dam as the Dodgeland School District was trying to push through a referendum. After 30 years of being rejected by voters the district was able to pass a comprehensive school building referendum. Half of the people I talked to though I was leaning in favor of the school district and the other half accused me of supporting the opposition.

Don't sit on a fence, get out and vote on Tuesday, April 4th.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Choosing to serve...

Those who run for public office should be commended. Other than serving their local community they usually don't have higher political ambitions.

That being said the incumbents usually have an advantage. Unless they've done something that really disappoints the people that elected them. That does happen. I worked in one community where a popular senior center director was fired. During the next election the Mayor and half of the city council members up for reelection lost their seats.

Getting back on point, I recently spoke with an elected official who observed that incumbents do have an advantage when it comes to knowing the issues. He also pointed out that if people don't take the time to learn more about the candidates, they will usually vote for someone whose name is familar to them.

Not everyone is suited for office, but they choose to run. If voters are supposed to know more about those who represent them, then candidates should take the time to familarize themselves with the office they are running for. Those who run in earnest should sit in on some of the meetings they will be expected to attend. Get a feel for the issues and what is on peoples' minds.

I recently was on a panel for a League of Women Voters' forum and most of the candidates had good answers for the questions that were posed of them. One candidate was consistent in his answers saying he'd have to study the issue more or there should be a study done on the issue. To that candidate I would recommend study the issues yourself, ask the right people for the information and I'm sure you'd get the answers to your questions. Studies can be expensive and I'd rather see fewer studies when the alternative may be cutting services to afford a study.

As for whether being in office can change a person, it sure will. For some it will be a rewarding experience. For others they'll find out it can sometimes also be a thankless task. I sometimes tell this story. I was working at a radio station in Park Falls in 1992 when Russ Feingold came in and introduced himself. He talked about running against U.S. Senator Bob Kasten and the things he'd like to accomplish. He'd driven himself to the station. Flash forward to 2004 and now U.S. Senator Russ Feingold visits KFIZ on a Saturday to talk about his reelection campaign. Before he left I asked him if being a U.S. Senator had changed him over the last dozen years and I reminded him of our visit in Park Falls. He said he didn't think so...and left with his entourage of three or four.

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday, April 4th.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rally around the Humane Society...
The Fond du Lac Humane Society deals with about 2,000 abandoned or unwanted pets a year. They basically provide a rescue operation. Now it's time for someone to rescue the Humane Society.
They won't be going into a building in the city's southwest industrial park. That doesn't change the fact that their 35-year-old facility is no longer adequate for their needs.
Put away any bitter feelings that may have cropped up over a special use permit request and cash in on the help that has been offered as a result of publicity surrounding the issue. They won't be there forever. Take a page from our Wisconsin Governors and form a task force. Man it with people from the Humane Society, City and Business leaders. Good minds can solve any problems and lots of minds seem to speed up the process. For a dog the hardest thing to determine is whether the hand that's being extended is one of kindness. Trust that the offers of help are sincere and hope for a rewarding experience.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Never see it coming...

A friend of mine lost her job the other day. She found out after she had completed her work for the day. She'd only been working for the company for a few months. I wasn't privy to the reasons she was let go, but she was a little insecure about her job security to begin with.

I feel sorry for her, but am sure that the nearly 700 workers at the two Fox Valley Kimberly Clark Mills who recently learned about their futures were just as surprised. Fact is you never see it coming and no matter what you're told about your job performance you can't seem to shake the feeling that it may have had something to do with the way you did your job.

Twice I've been fired in the radio biz. The first time I was working in Minocqua and eight of our full-time staff of twelve learned just before Christmas that the stations we worked for were being sold and would be going to a satellite music format. Our services were no longer required. The other time it had to do with the company "going in a different direction." That can mean just about anything, but is still a terrible way to say "you're fired."

If you're one of those that believes that "When God closes a door, he opens a window," then there is a silver lining. The last time I was let go, "different direction," I ended up coming to work in southern Wisconsin. It's a place I'm happy to call home. For my friend and the workers at Kimberly Clark, I hope God opens that window soon.