Saturday, November 06, 2021

Weekend Post


Do you always get sick just before a big exam? Or big performance? Or big game? Your problem might not be physical.  Take comfort.  You could just be a neurotic mess.  Your ailments could be psychosomatic.

It has happened to me.

Going back to my erstwhile radio career as a screaming top 40 disc jockey in the ‘70s, I would always get sick just as a new rating period was about to begin. Back then I was toiling in medium and small markets and ratings were only taken a few times a year. People would fill out diaries and send them in. Results arrived a few months later and since there were so few rating periods, each one packed a wallop. One bad ratings “book” and you were generally gone. Stations changed formats, people were fired, and it’s not like you were Whitney Cummings – there was no NBC to give you eighth and ninth chances.

So the pressure was on.

And I got a horrendous cold every time a ratings period started. Not that I sound great anyway, but with a cold I was Elmer Fudd. It’s hard to scream over Osmond records when you’re underwater. What came out of the radio was me at my worst.

This must’ve happened on four or five occasions.

And then one time when I was spinning the hits on KMEN, San Bernardino (and ALL of the magnificent Inland Empire), I got my usual cold and decided out of desperation to just have some fun with it. I copped to the fact that I was sick, sneezed, and blew my nose right on the air. I asked listeners to call in with cold remedies. It turned into a very funny show. One listener brought me chicken soup. Another arrived with blankets. And the best was I now had a way of dealing with my psychosomatic condition. I no longer worried about getting sick. In fact, I looked forward to it. I now had one of my better sure-fire bits. So bring it on!

I never caught another cold before a ratings period.

Better health can be yours… by fooling yourself.

(One final note: Notice I didn’t end this story by saying… “and I never got fired again!”?)


DyHrdMET said...

How similar was the ratings stress (for lack of a better word) in the radio industry when you worked there compared to the TV sitcom industry when you worked there? I know technology changed a bit, and they're different mediums with different ratings periods and impacts, but was there anything similar in terms of the performance at certain times of year? And is there anything comparable from your career as a baseball broadcaster to the ratings books or TV sweeps week?

Jim said...

And here we just bought Whitney Cummings tickets…should have checked with you first.

Darwin's Ghost said...

If you say KMEN while having a cold, it describes who Lindsey Graham likes to spend time with, or Lady G as he likes to be called by the KMEN.

Necco said...

@ Darwin's Ghost

Seriously? I'm a gay liberal, and I find that comment pointless/lame.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The tennis player Virginia Wade (won Wimbledon in 1977, last British female winner) has often talked about realizing that the back pains she sometimes got mid-match were stress-related.


Mike Bloodworth said...

When I was a little kid I would always get a cold sore on school picture day.
As an adult I would get a brain block. The stress would cause me to forget how to do even the simplest procedures. Now my brain is just failing. Must be all those paint chips I ate as a child.


YEKIMI said...

Stations I worked at were mostly in their death throes when I was hired so ratings didn't matter much to me. When the ratings came out, format change was usually instituted by the next day and everyone was fired. The one time it didn't happen was almost 40 years ago when I was hired for a pittance with the provision that if I brought the ratings up against the #1 morning team at the time [and I HATED the morning shift; much preferred overnights] I would get a big raise. I managed to do that by one whole point. I walked into the office and asked for the raise I was promised. Their response was "We don't remember making that offer and, besides, we think you can do better than one point." Quit on the spot and left the office and the station with both middle fingers flying high. Last time I worked for any station without getting it in writing. Next ratings book, they were even lower than they were before they had hired me and mass firings ensued. Glad to see the asshole station manager/PD who made me the initial offer was one of the first to go. Format change didn't help them any, they stayed at or close to the bottom of the pile. Of course, when you don't do any advertising, station promotions,'re not going anywhere ratings wise. I think the owner sold the station about a year and a half after I had walked out.

Darwin's Ghost said...


I had thought it would be obvious that my comment was not ridiculing gay people but was aimed at the hypocrisy of the vile Graham who has peddled homophobia his entire wretched career while secretly making use of male sex workers in DC.

Jay Thurber said...

I got a bad sore throat one weekend and by the time of my airshift, I couldn't talk ... but I could do a really good rasp that sounded just like Wolfman Jack.

So I did three hours as "Skunkman Jack," his long, lost cousin. Most of the listeners got the joke, but at least a couple of people thought it really was someone else.

My doctor yelled at me when I told him: "You could have really damaged your vocal cords."

When the sore throat eased, there was still congestion in my larynx and it gave me a real nice, mellow 1970s FM radio sound. Alas, NPR wasn't hiring, but I would have been great reading underwriting announcements, at least until the phlegm loosened.

Necco said...

@Darwin's Ghost

Nope, didn't work.

Regardless, I'm not sure why Graham has been able to by-pass what everyone knows, especially within the gay community. I am NOT into "outing" people - their decision. But if anyone deserves less consideration, it is Graham. History will not treat him kindly, so he's already #$%@ that up.

But, there are SO many "WTF?" scenarios these days, you just don't know where to turn.

Aren't we STILL at only 58% fully vaccinated?

Listen, last month, I worked on a TV commercial. The client and ad agency required that EVERYONE be vaccinated. I asked the police officer whom I have hired (or his fellow officers), for ten years, the question. He went BALLISTIC. Said some pretty nasty shit, and told me never to call him for assistance, again. It was BIZARRE.

I REALLY don't understand, why this is a "thing." My GOD

Mike Doran said...

Possibly off-topic:

Subject: WTF?

We've all seen A Face In The Crowd, and I'm sure we all recall The Big Finish: Lonesome Rhodes says bad stuff into an open mike, and the whole country turns on him instanter.
Walter Matthau sums it up by saying "We always catch on to them, eventually." (Quote approximate.)

How many WTF moments has Donald Trump had since his presidency kicked in?
That were at least as bad as Face In The Crowd?
And in the face of that, why haven't they worked to turn people against Trump?
Have we as a people really regressed that badly?
(Or at least the half of us who are right-of-center?)

A Friday Question, if ever there was ...

If it wasn't for half the people in this country, the other half would be all of them.
- Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle.

Jim said...

I’m so glad to have read those ratings you posted with this weekend’s entry. It gave me a lot to think over.

“Max, Shannon and Porkchop” were popular in Tucson, per this sheet from 2011. Porkchop? PORKCHOP!?!

Highbrow entertainment was not the first thing that came to mind. Who or what exactly was Porkchop?

Was Porkchop a Shari Lewis sock puppet? A talking dog? Did someone actually earn a livable wage on the radio as a Soupy Sales type of human prop? That seemed the unlikeliest scenario, given radio budgets.

Did someone decide on “Porkchop” as their radio name? If so, one must naturally presume the worst regarding the discernment of Tucson’s radio listeners, or lack thereof. This name bugged me all day. Porkchop. Yikes. If a human, Im picturing a most unhealthy specimen.

Turns out, Porkchop is a human male. How has his radio name aged? What is the health status of the human who adopts that name? A healthy eater was not likely. Ten years on, is that team still on the air? (Yes). Is the team intact? (Yes)

Is Porkchop still alive? Or, as suggested by the moniker, was he doomed by inevitably clogged arteries? (He is still alive.)

Ken, it’s clear to me after a day of pondering that you picked the wrong professional partner and the wrong town in which to practice. Writing dialog was never your passion growing up. Radio was! You can tell from my pic that I’m a Beaver fan, or at least a Beaver insider whenever the opportunity arises.

Screw Max and Shannon. Tucson and History lost out on Beaver Cleaver and Porkchop. Mornings on KIIM, Tucson!

Not to mention, you could have killed your two passion birds at one time by broadcasting the Tucson Toros on the side.

Most importantly, you missed out on a superior, more entirely-satisfying professional life. It went unlived because you met that David person instead of Porkchop. Sometimes, Fate really sucks.

(Can I get out of the house now? Is the pandemic over yet?)

Necco said...

@ Mike Doran

When you've had Fox "News" KNOWINGLY spewing lies for 25 years, and pandering to a whacko base that brings them a ton of money...I am not surprised. Add to that, all of the Facebook shit. Media - cable and social - has/have given a voice to a fringe of society that frankly doesn't deserve one. The Moral Majority was frightening in the 80s, but these MAGA people are terrifying. Willful ignorance at an incomprehensible level.

Then mix in a bunch a "Evangelical" "Christians," who would likely have despised Christ, in reality.

Listen, I went to high school in a small Southern town (Bible Belt). 1970s. We were taught evolution, birth control, the history of slavery, civil rights, etc.. We read "The Catcher in the Rye." I never would have IMAGINED that this country could have become this screwed up. That small town, from what I hear now, has turned into a bastion of MAGA, "prayer emoji" clones.

BGVA said...

@Mike Doran One would think the Access Hollywood tape would've ended a political career that never should've started. Of course, Billy Bush of all people is the one who suffered for four years...I wonder if he keeps his job if not for the on-air spat with Al Roker re: Ryan Lochte?