Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Media Heroes

I suppose there are little girls and young women who will grow up hoping to be the next Katie Couric. Her switch to anchor CBS Evening News from NBC's Today Show got me to thinking about who I aspired to be when I was growing up.

There were a couple of names I took note of while growing up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. J.P. McCarthy was the "Morning Man" at WJR Radio in Detroit. I never really got to hear his show, but for a time in the 70s, 80s and early 90s you probably heard his voice. He was used for national Chrysler television and radio ads. J.P. had a smooth style.

One of my favorite things to do was to pick up the Detroit Free Press and read Bob Talbert's column. It captured the who's who of Detroit and told it like it is. I particularly liked his take on the musical acts that were part of or visited the city. In a way I can sympathize with Talbert. He was from South Carolina, but made his mark in Motown. I moved to Wisconsin in 1987 and am still living the dream.

As for the guy probably most responsible for getting me interested in radio, that would be John "Records" Landecker. I never really gave radio a thought until I received one as a Christmas present. Imagine my incredible luck to be growing up in the U.P. and being able to tune in WLS from Chicago at night. I really enjoyed the music and comments Landecker and other WLS disc jockeys treated their audiences to. It was a turning point in my life. Of course I never really wanted to be John "Records" Landecker, but the thought of being able to entertain or inform others definitely came from listening to him.

Landecker is a legend. J.P. McCarthy and Bob Talbert are both in media halls of fame. Sadly J.P died in 1995 and Talbert about 3 years later. Between them they provided the Detroit area with something to do each morning for more than 30 years apiece. They were a morning ritual. That is something worth noting.

Those were a few of my "media heroes" growing up. Everyone should have some.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Public Service

I'm not really sure when the political season starts, but there are signs it's underway. Herb Kohl has been running ads for months against an opponent that doesn't exist yet.

If you're running for County, state or federal office you can take out candidacy petitions and papers on June 1st. Some have already announced. Others are a little more and sometimes less subtle.

The proposal to close the Rolling Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was a podium opportunity last week. It's a chance for some to get their name in the press by jumping into an impassioned issue. Beware of those who take that kind of avenue to promote their own self interests. For me telling the County Board Chairperson that "He should be ashamed of himself" for allowing such a proposal to come up wasn't really helping those who are trying to save the facility.

Some people have all the right reasons for running for office. Others can't keep their eyes open during meetings and don't bother to read carefully prepared material to help them decide issues.

If you're ever urged by friends or family to run for office consider those who are doing the urging. I know a single father who was doing the best he could to raise his son. He felt that running for Mayor would help his son's image of him. Problem is those who did the urging were the people at the corner tavern he frequented too much and just wanted someone to make fun of him. He had a drinking problem. When the radio station I was working for asked him to come in for an interview he did.

He sobered up, dressed nicely and did his best to answer the questions he was asked. He was one of a number of candidates and barely registered a blip on the election radar screen. However he keeps running for the office and ran again this year. He may never win, but he runs because he believes he could do the job. I can respect any man who no matter what his problems is trying to give his son someone to be proud of.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saving Rolling Meadows

I heard the word crisis associated with the proposed closing of the Rolling Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center during the Fond du Lac County Board's meeting this week. It was used several times.

Those who have family members staying at the home or who work there painted a wonderful picture for the Board. It was one of a family atmosphere where workers go beyond what's expected of them to make residents comfortable.

Frannie Trewin, whose worked there more than 30 years, told a great story of a friend with Alzheimer's who is in Rolling Meadows and the promise she made to take care of that woman. She says the woman is battling dementia, but recognizes her when she comes into her room.

County Board member Mel Heller had tears in his eyes as he told about how the care at Rolling Meadows probably saved his life. It wasn't the only story like that heard in the legislative chambers of the City-County Goverment Center Tuesday evening.

Some employees even offered to make concessions to keep their jobs and continue to provide care for the residents at Rolling Meadows.

County Executive Al Buechel says the County went through something similar in 1978. I don't know that history, but would love to hear about it from someone who does.

Understand that whatever decision the County Board makes in the next couple of months it won't be an easy one. I would like to say one thing however. That is that family members of Rolling Meadows residents and employees at the Center are lucky to have had the opportunity to speak in a public forum about the proposed closing.

They still have time to try and change the minds of County Supervisors, look for other jobs or facility arrangements for residents. Private companies can't say the same thing. They make a decision to close plants, lay off employees or sell off pieces of a company and employees have little say in the matter.

They also don't have the option of raising taxes to stave off closing whether it's through raising a tax levy or instituting a sales tax. Beware of the silent majority though because they weren't as well represented at that meeting as those interested in saving Rolling Meadows. They could weigh in if a sales tax or spending more taxpayer money on the Center goes to referendum.

Some day there will be those of us who need a facility like Rolling Meadows. Whatever facility that may be, we can only hope it offers the same type of employee dedication and care that Rolling Meadows does.

I didn't really have a photo from Rolling Meadows for this blog, but if you have one please feel free to send it to me at

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Crows are organizing!

It was an odd sight to see in one of Fond du Lac's busiest intersections. A crow swooped down to pick up a piece of I don't want to know what right at one of the corners of Johnson and Main. The timing was impeccable because it landed and picked up its gross little treasure and flew off during a rare lull in morning traffic. You ever see traffic there at nine in the morning on a weekeday?

I mentioned this on "The Breakfast Club" one morning. I told host Jerry St. John that one guy I worked with in Beaver Dam had a theory about crows. He used to say they are getting bigger, bolder and smarter.

They almost dare you when they're enjoying a meal on some highway to interrupt with your vehicle. In high school I once hit a crow or he hit me. I actually slowed down and waited for him to move and he did at the last minute. I still remember my parents' skeptical look when I tried to explain the dented luggage rack on top of the family station wagon. As for Mr. Blackbird, he went on his merry way.

KFIZ Agriculture Director Rae Nell Halbur tells me that crows will actually pick off moles that come out from underneath hay piles. She says it's a common site and kind of shoots holes in the theory that crows only lunch on meals that aren't moving or come served up courtesy of moving vehicles.

Jerry St. John says if crows ever do organize and decide to fight back that seagulls will probably be their foot soldiers. Okay now we're getting into Alfred Hitchcock territory, but try walking past a line of crows perched on a telephone wire and not think about what's going on in those devious little minds.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Telling the Terrible Tale!

It's impossible not to be affected by some stories that you tell. Behind the scenes KFIZ listeners don't get to see the reports and criminal complaints we read. The people we have to talk to before the tale can be told.

Stark reality is reading in black and white the factual details about the incidents leading up to the death of a 3- year- old Waupun boy. It's also knowing that local police have to break the sad new to relatives across the country that a 79-year-old North Fond du Lac woman died in a duplex fire.

To me it's interesting to see the reaction you get from people in the community while you're gathering the news.

Some of the comments I heard. About the boy's death allegedly at the hands of his foster father.

"How could someone do that to a child?" "What was he thinking?" "Parents are supposed to be protecting their kids." And of course the one you hear the most often in such circumstances, "That's sick!"

About the death of the elderly woman.

"Isn't that sad?" "I feel sorry for the family." "I hope she didn't suffer."

One of the radio station owners I used to work for had a "If it bleeds, it leads" philosophy about news. I once asked him why that was the case. He said people find comfort in the fact that it didn't happen to them or someone they know. Problem with that is it does impact someone's life.

For me the two stories do get me to thinking. Mother's Day is coming up and it makes me appreciate the people I love and care for. So tell Mom you appreciate the sacrifices she made and hug your children for no special reason at all!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Weekenders...thoughts at the end of the Week!

Plenty of thoughts running through my head at the end of the week. What follows are just a few quick observations.

Packer 1st Round Draft Choice A.J. Hawk sounds like a good fit for the team. A small town guy with big play capabilities who'd rather impress on the field.

Don Winke of Fond du Lac saved 4-year-old Jacob Kay from drowning in the Lakeside Park Harbor. I met Don Thursday. He and his wife are nice people who didn't mind the attention, preferring to be subjected to the media spotlight over what could easily have been a tragedy.

There really is no way to give the families of 9/11 victims the justice that they deserve.

Ever wonder why the end of the TV season and start of the big summer movie season coincide?

If the U.S. is a nation of immigrants why weren't we all out on the streets protesting this past Monday?

Is the practice of flying flags at half-staff in honor of the passing of someone special becoming too common place?

Are bigger sized television sets replacing our real windows on the world, picture windows?

Congratulations to the Munson family of Fond du Lac who has given us four generations of firefighters and paramedics providing 113 years of service to the community and counting.

I had a guest on our "Focus" talkshow in the KFIZ studio Thursday. We have TV sets in our studios and he confessed the last time he was on the show he was distracted by shots over my shoulder of models for Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit model. I noticed he again was distracted by something that was on the television and asked him during a commercial break what he was watching this time. He said he was horrified to see some place where people were paying $4.36 a gallon for gasoline. Aren't we all?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Doing Your Bit

During the month of March KFIZ had the opportunity to participate in the Fond du Lac County Red Cross "Be a Hero for the Red Cross" campaign. Our part included doing on-air interviews with the co-chairpersons Marty Ryan, Larry Moldenhauer and others associated with the campaign. We ran public service announcements, did news stories on the campaign and the different activities that raised funds for it. Our investment was small, time and publicity.

Thanks to the businesses and agencies that held the actual fundraising activities, plus individual donations, the Red Cross reached its goal of $25,000.

What did we learn from the experience? Anybody can give their time and that can be just as important as the money sometimes. We have a very active Red Cross, one that does its part on both the local and national levels. This past Tuesday morning they held a thank you breakfast at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Fond du Lac for some of the "Heroes" who gave between $250 and $5,000 during the campaign. The Hotel chipped in and donated the breakfast. It was appreciated.

Before we left we learned how the money from the campaign would be spent. Suffice it to say that its been put in very good hands. In fact we also found out while munching on our scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, breakfast links and mini-muffins that more than $2,000 had already been spent on the six families displaced by a fire at a Ripon apartment complex last Friday. The year is just beginning. Larry Moldenhauer made a point of telling those at the gathering that you can donate to the "Heroes" campaign any time of the year. If your group is going to hold a brat fry or similar event this year, give a little of the proceeds to the Red Cross. Simply give Denise a call at 922-3450 and tell her you want to earmark the money for the "Heroes" campaign.

KFIZ is part of the community that we live in and so doing our bit for the "Heroes" campaign was something we enjoyed doing.

The nice thing about "Heroes" is that they often go without notice. Maybe the person sitting next to you at a baseball game or the movies gave blood during a Red Cross blood drive. The one waiting behind you at the checkout line spent two weeks on the Gulf Coast helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The man or woman getting gas at the pump next to you taught life guard training through the Red Cross that some day may save a family member.

Not all the heroes could be in that room at the Ramada Tuesday morning, but they were well represented.