Friday, February 08, 2008

Some Help For Lent

I have a phone number for all of my fellow Catholics. Who has time to go to church for confession during this very busy Lenten season?

Call up this toll-free number in Ireland and they can give you a hand...The Catholic Confession Hotline

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Media Notebook (February 7, 2008)

Collected and Edited by Rick Kaempfer

The Sumner Redstone Tribute Gala
( I don't know why I find this article to be absolutely hilarious. Liz Gunnison writes: "Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom and CBS Corp., will be the man of the hour at the black-tie gala tonight. One wonders whether the Paley Center is finding it more difficult than usual to drum up friends and colleagues to speak well of the guest of honor. Redstone has long been an influential presence in the industry to be sure, but he isn't exactly the most popular media tycoon on the block. Of the eight special attendees listed by the Paley Center, four are more or less on Redstone's payroll: Andy Rooney and Bob Schieffer from CBS News, and Marlo Thomas and Frank McCourt, who are authors published by CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster imprint...But former C.E.O.'s Tom Freston and Frank Biondi, both of whom were pushed out by Redstone, may not feel they owe him tribute. Nor is Mel Karmazin likely to do so. He got so fed up with Redstone's backseat driving that he walked out of the C-suite in 2004 and didn't look back...Jon Stewart (who is employed by CBS Corp.'s Comedy Central), was originally slated to host the evening — an odd choice considering his public support of the striking writers. Unfortunately, Stewart backed out last week due to a "busy schedule" as he writes his own show and prepares to host the Academy Awards. Another CBS employee, Charlie Rose, will pinch hit."
(Rick's note: If only someone had written a novel about the kind of people who run the media business today. Oh wait, what's that below...)


Vanity Fair cancels it's Oscar Party
(People) Brian Orloff writes: "The annual Vanity Fair Oscar party is the latest casualty of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. The magazine has decided to cancel its annual bash on Academy Awards night. 'After much consideration, and in support of the writers and everyone else affected by this strike, we have decided that this is not the appropriate year to hold our annual Oscar party,' the magazine said in a statement. 'We want to congratulate all of this year's nominees and we look forward to hosting our 15th Oscar party next year.'"

Ferguson to host White House Correspondent's Dinner

(Washington Examiner) Dufor and Gavin write: Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’s “The Late, Late Show,” has been tapped as the entertainment for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Hollywood sources tell us the details are still being finalized but Ferguson is expected to discuss his participation this week on “The Late, Late Show.” Ferguson seems to be a choice that splits the middle ground between Stephen Colbert and Rich Little. Colbert, who performed two years ago, made some pols and journos squirm when his edgy material, according to some, violated the event’s unspoken rule: You may poke, but not pierce. On the other extreme, Little’s performance last year was both polite and harmless, but it also came off as dated and irrelevant (and not that funny). For his part, Ferguson tends to play it safe on his late night show."
(Rick's note: He may play it somewhat safe, but Ferguson's monologue is the funniest 15 minutes of television every night.)


Should Reporters Be Allowed To Vote For President?
Two Views...
Jon Friedman argues "Yes"
Steve Rhodes argues "No"

Progress Toward Ending Writer's Strike
(NY Times) Michael Cieply writes: "Informal talks between representatives of Hollywood’s striking writers and production companies have eliminated the major roadblocks to a new contract, which could lead to a tentative agreement, according to people who were briefed on the situation but requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak. A deal would end a crippling writers strike that is now entering its fourth month. The agreement may come without renewed formal negotiations between the television and movie writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, though both sides still need to agree on specific language of key provisions. If that process goes smoothly, an agreement may be presented to the governing boards of the striking Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East, the people said. The breakthrough occurred Friday after two weeks of closed-door discussions between the sides. Even if approved by leaders of the guilds, a deal would require ratification by a majority of the more than 10,000 active guild members."

Yahoo still considering Microsoft's offer

(Reuters) Yahoo Inc said it may take "quite a bit of time" to weigh its strategic options, including keeping the company independent, following Microsoft Corp's $45 billion offer to buy the company. In a weekend posting on the company's Web site, Yahoo said it was undertaking a deliberate review of Microsoft's unsolicited offer to pay Yahoo shareholders either $31 in cash, or 0.9509 of a share of Microsoft common stock. The review "will include evaluating all of the Company's strategic alternatives including maintaining Yahoo! as an independent company," the posting said. "A review process like this is fluid, and it can take quite a bit of time."


Fox TV executive named head of Tribune Broadcasting

(LA Times) Meg James writes: "Veteran television executive Ed Wilson will become president next week of Tribune Broadcasting, stepping into a job that carries the task of re-energizing 23 TV stations that have been squeezed in recent years by falling advertising sales. Wilson, currently president of News Corp.'s Fox TV network, is among the first high-level appointments for Tribune Co. Chairman Sam Zell and the company's executive vice president, Randy Michaels. Chicago-based Tribune was taken private in late December in an $8.2-billion buyout engineered by Zell and made in conjunction with an employee stock ownership plan...Wilson's last day with Fox will be Friday. He will join Tribune next Monday, replacing John E. Reardon, who spent 22 years with Tribune, including eight as general manager of KTLA. Reardon, 54, is expected to leave the company."

ABC joins Fox, CBS in fighting fleeting expletives appeal
(Radio Online) ABC is throwing its hat in the ring and will team with CBS and Fox to ask the U.S. Supreme Court not to review a lower-court decision that said the FCC failed to justify its fleeting profanity rules. ABC joins CBS and Fox after it was hit with a $1.4 million indecency ruling last week for an episode of "NYPD Blue" that showed the profile and backside of a naked woman. ABC plans to add its name to the Supreme Court petition, while NBC is reportedly filing its own brief, even though none of its TV shows are involved."


AFTRA Board votes to end SAG joint bargaining agreement

(Radio Ink) In an move that the union said "set the stage for AFTRA to move forward on its own in negotiating new collective bargaining agreements for members," the American Federation of Television and Radio Artist's national board has approved a resolution to end AFTRA's joint bargaining agreement with the Screen Actors Guild. The "Phase 1" bargaining agreement has been in place since 1981, but the board takes the position that SAG abrogated the agreement in July 2007, when it instituted "bloc voting," under which all SAG members on the unions' joint bargaining committee vote unanimously on all issues under consideration -- a move that some believe was designed to minimize AFTRA's influence. SAG denies that its move to bloc voting violated the Phase 1 agreement.

An interview with DreX
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) This past weekend I interviewed the morning man at WKSC, Kiss-FM 103.5 in Chicago. We talked about his web innovation "DreXVizzzion," the origin of his name, and much more. This coming weekend: an interview with WGN's Dean Richards.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Suburban Man: The Right Question

By Rick Kaempfer

I find that extracting information from the boys is one of the most difficult things to do. You can’t ask them generic questions (”How was school? Did you have fun?”) and expect anything more than generic answers (”Fine.” “Yup.”)

That’s why my wife and I challenge each other to come up with very specific questions to ask them instead. It’s amazing what comes out when you ask questions they aren’t expecting. The other day my wife hit a home run when she asked our five year old son Sean a question that I never would have asked.

(To understand the conversation, you need to know a few things. The boys call my mom “Oma.” That’s the German word for grandma. She watches Sean two afternoons a week.)

Bridget: Do you ever watch TV at Oma’s house?

Sean: All the time.

Bridget: What do you watch?

Sean: Oma’s stories.

Bridget: Do you know the names of the stories?

Sean: All My Children on ABC.

Bridget: Do people kiss on that show?

Sean: Uh huh. And they sleep a lot.

Bridget: You mean they’re in bed?

Sean: Uh huh.

Bridget: What are they wearing?

Sean: Nothing.

Bridget: Really?

Sean: But it just looks like nothing. They’re really wearing underpants.

Bridget: What kind of underpants?

Sean: Skin colored.

Bridget: What else do they do on that show?

Sean: One guy went to jail because he showed his butt to everyone in the world.

Bridget: Do you like that show?

Sean: No. But the butt was funny. (laughs)

This originally appeared on my blog at NWI Parent, "Father Knows Nothing." If you haven't yet checked out "Father Knows Nothing", there are several new columns there that I haven't shared here at Suburban Man headquarters.

Click here to see them.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday Musings

Every Monday stop by for jokes, links to stories you might have missed, amusing photos and video, and more. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Click on the "Email Me" link on the right to contribute.

Joke of the Week: Contributed by "D"

After the big Super Bowl party, Doug figured he better spend some quality time with his wife. He climbs upstairs, walks in the bedroom and crawls into bed.

"Alright honey," he says, "Give me a play you want me to run."

"How about foreplay?" his wife replies.

"What's the foreplay?" says Doug.

"You know," the wife says, "It happens before the two minute warning."

Stories You Might Have Missed

1. Uh oh. Study links binge drinking to learning trouble

(And not just recent binge drinking either. Read the examples of how it can manifest itself in your daily life years later. You may be saying "Uh oh" too.)

2. New slogan for the Blackhawks
(The real slogan is "Commit to the Indian." The Beachwood Reporter reveals the other slogans considered by the Blackhawks.)

3. Two white female CNN anchors joke about a reverse Oreo sandwich with black male CNN anchor

4. For those of you who think you can talk your way out of a ticket
(A woman in Tampa makes illegal U-turn to attend to vomiting three year old and gets a ticket anyway.)

5. Airline for German nudists

(You don't want to know how you qualify for seats in first class)

Video of the week: Just in time for Super Tuesday: Hillary's inner Tracy Flick. Contributed by "B"

Picture of the week: Just in time for Super Tuesday. A Hillary bumper sticker from my Republican friend "T"

Reader Response

Regarding "Wacky Remedies"

"Just read your bit about putting Vick's vapo-rub on the feet when you're sick. It's because it has eucalyptus in it. When I got tired of running to the doctor for antibiotics, I took a cue from a co-worker who swore herbal remedies worked. Not convinced, I read up on everything with anti-viral/anti-bacterial properties in it, and saw many similar results come up, including but not limited to echinacea, ginger, horseradish, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil. Herbal remedies are also popular among serious yoga practitioners, and I was pretty into it at the time. Some of my reading about the body, exercise, health foods and remedies showed links to putting some of these anti-viral essential oils on the feet because it somehow allows quicker absorption into the blood stream, and therefore, to quicker recovery. (That is, you can't touch it to your skin alone, but just a few drops with a "carrier oil" or lots of lotion, or it will burn you.) I haven't taken a pharmaceutical antibiotic in a couple of years. Never would have thought an OTC product would be pure enough to be absorbed like an essential oil, though. I throw about 3 drops of it in my humidifier and the shower every day. You can get them for decent prices at Whole Foods. Neat, huh?"

Regarding "Severance"

"I finished your book and would call it cynically brilliant! I was laughing out loud at points and couldn't get through it fast enough. Are you working on the screenplay? When I finished the book the first thing that popped into my head was that this would have been a great Robert Altman (too bad he's dead) movie with a bit part for Will Ferrell as the goofball son out in California."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: DreX

Drex is the host of the morning show at Kiss-FM 103.5.


Started at Q106(WQXA) York/Lancaster/Harrisburg. Then off to San Antonio to new rocker KXZL...which debuted and beat Heritage rocker KISS in one book! Really. Then to KSJO...Then back to SA to do nights at KTFM, then to KISS in Dallas, then back to SA to be PD/Aft drive, then help Elvis launch Q102 in Philly...then Power 96 (WHYT/Detroit mornings)...then back to KTFM, to drop the music and begin all-talk...then to KISS/Chicago!

Note: This interview was conducted live via video on the Internet—something DreX is calling "DreX-Vizzzion." This is a slightly edited version of our DreX-Vizzzion interview. (For those of you spelling it at home, that's spelled with three z's.)

Rick: So is the deflowering of a new concept?

DreX: It's the soft deflowering. It's still in beta form right now.

Rick: How do you plan on using it?

DreX: I'm just going to turn the camera on in my apartment when big news hits, and let it fly from my living room. It's gonna be totally live, totally voyeuristic, and hopefully, totally addicting.

Rick: Just whenever? How will people know to tune in?

DreX: We'll either let them know with an e-mail or if it's a big story I might call in to the radio station to let people know, but hopefully people will catch on and check it out on their own.

Rick: The website says 1 p.m, Monday through Thursday, but I take it you'll be doing it at other times too (this interview was conducted around 11:15 a.m).

DreX: Whenever I feel like it. I read all this stuff about radio people worrying that other technology will take over radio—but I say you gotta totally embrace the new technology. I embrace it. I love being innovative and changing and I'm all about the pop culture. It can take you to another level if you do it right. This will either be great or the end of my career. (laughs)

Rick: So, can I ask you a question I've wanted to ask since you arrived in town?

DreX: Shoot.

Rick: What is the origin of the name DreX?

DreX: Ah, that's an evolutionary process over time. I grew up in Pennsylvania (York-Lancaster), and from the time I was 14 or 15 I knew what I wanted to do. I would listen to Chicago radio through the crackling static, guys like John Records Landecker on WLS, and I always wanted to be in Chicago doing radio. I would do anything to get into a radio station—my first job was emptying trash cans, and once I got my foot in the door I worked my way up. By the time I was a senior in high school I was on the air, using my real name (Kevin).

When I was 19 I got hired by Dave Conway, who was a legendary PD, and I drove three days to accept the new gig. When I got there he told me: "You've got two choices. You'll either be known as 'Toasted Tyrone' or 'Mandrex the Magician.' I didn't want to be either, but I talked to my dad and he said, "You have to give a chance. You drove all the way out there." So, I chose Mandrex the Magician. I worked in San Francisco, and Dallas, and San Antonio, and along the way I dropped "the Magician," and then it was eventually shortened to Drex.

Rick: And the capitalization of the "X"?

DreX: That started in San Antonio.

Rick: So how did you arrive in Chicago?

DreX: That's a long story. When I became program director in Texas, I knew I had to get out of there. I hated Texas because of the heat. And I hated being a program director…it's just not my thang. I went to Philly to do nights, which was great because I was finally close to home. But even though things were going great in terms of ratings and everything, one day there was a big falling out, and everyone was fired. That's when it dawned on me that maybe I should think about saving my money.

I did mornings in Detroit for awhile, and I didn't want to go back to Texas, but they offered me the chance to come back to San Antonio for the same money I was making in Detroit—-plus this time I wouldn't have to play any music. That was an offer I couldn't pass up. By 2000, we were hitting #1 in every demo, and we were doing a morning talk show.

Along the way I befriended John Gehron, and he was negotiating with Eddie & Jobo (photo), trying to get them to move to mornings at Kiss-FM. Gehron told me that if those guys decided not to take it, the job was mine. They didn't, and the rest is history. Looking back, I'm so happy CBS decided to pay them so much money. This situation fits me so much better.

Rick: You've been in Chicago now for a few years (since January 2003) and have built up a loyal following…

I feel very blessed to have it happen here because so many shows come and go. I must admit, I really didn't know that this would be such a tough nut to crack. Very few non-locals make it in Chicago.

Rick: How would you describe your show to those who haven't heard it before?

DreX: I've heard so many definitions of the show, but I guess you'd call it contemporary talk or progressive talk. It's basically talk radio that's specifically targeted to women.

Rick: But when I listen to your show, I hear a lot of guys.

DreX: That's a talk radio phenomenon. The longer you stay on, the more you get other listeners, and if you don't have music to scare people away, you can attract all different ages and genders.

Rick: But when you choose your topics, you're thinking of a predominantly female audience.

DreX: Yes, but I have so many topics in a show it almost doesn't matter. I change my topics every segment unless it's a huge story. You've got to have the intuition to know when something is working…and when it's not working. It really takes a lot of work and homework to come up with that many topics, and we're on now every morning live until 10:30, so we need even that much more. But that's what makes it fun. I have ADD and so does my audience.

I come in with a huge folder of stuff, it's what I do all day long. I go on the Internet, cruising the web, watching The View, all the mags, all the papers, you name it.

Rick: Do you ever wish you still had songs to play just to get a breather?

DreX: No. To get anyone to hold on the phone during a song is impossible. When I did play music, the music just got in the way. About a month before Christmas our studio computers locked up and froze and we were off the air. We were just sitting there listening to the music, and boy does it remind you how long the show is when that's all you have.

Rick: I asked a friend of mine, who is a loyal listener of your show, to describe you. This is what he said: "He's a fan of the most random things: Notre Dame football, American Idol, The Cubs, stinky cheese, pork chops, and he was once kicked in the head by a pet horse! Oh, and he believes in ghosts." Care to comment on any of those observations?

DreX: (laughs) Yeah, it's not easy to describe me. I have not had one successful relationship in my life, and it kills me when people try to pigeonhole me. Is he gay or is he whatever? As far as my personal life there really isn't any—I'm married to my job. The key to this is really, I'm blessed that I have passion. I have a lot of respect for these guys like John Landecker and Steve Dahl (photo), who have stuck it out for so long, and who always found a way to tap into their passion.

Rick: Doing a personality morning show is a 24-hour-a-day job. There's really never a time when you're not thinking about show topics, bits or guests. Take me through your typical work day, in terms of how you do your show prep, who else is involved in the process, and when you know what you'll be doing.

DreX: There are times when the alarm goes off at 4:00 and I think: "you've gotta be kidding me." But these days we're able to get into the studio earlier, and my producer Smash is there at 4:00, and all of the cuts are downloaded and ready to go by the time I get in there, which gives me plenty of time to grid the show myself. (Photo: DreX being botoxed on the air)

Rick: You do it right before the show?

DreX: No. I've got half of it ready to go before I get there. Like right now (it's 11:30 am), I've got half of tomorrow's show planned out. I work on it all day. I sit here and write, write, write…

Rick: Your show has recently undergone some changes. I know it was hit by the Clear Channel budget cuts (Pete), plus another member of your show (Radio Boy) was arrested. How have those two things affected your show?

DreX: Well, Radio Boy wasn't really part of the show. He was a part-time employee who ran the board for me on occasion when Pete wasn't here. But, Pete, that was a tough one. He had been with me for a long time, and although he had come and gone before, he had become the perfect third wheel—plus he was helping me write the show. But his position was eliminated, and there really isn't anything I can do about that. What it has done is it has changed the dynamic of the show from more of an ensemble to a two-person show. On the other hand, it has proven that Mel & I can do the show on our own, and Mel (photo) has really stepped up. You don't have a choice. You can't go and brood about it—especially on the air. That's not really an option. My producer Smash has also brought in an element of organization. And that has really helped too.

Rick: After all these years in radio you've encountered hundreds of celebrities. Are there any that really stand out in your mind, positively or negatively?

DreX: To be honest, I tend to push a lot of music celebrities away, especially the b-list celebrities. I much prefer involving the listeners, and when we really get a topic going, there's nothing better than when I can step back and let the listeners go at each other. When that happens, I say "Thank you God, This is great." The show is really more about doing that than having celebrities. It took people awhile to get used to doing it this way, but now they know to go for it…and I love that. It gives a whole different texture to the show.

As far as worst celebrity encounters, about two years ago on September 11, I was doing a tribute show for the people that lost their lives. I had somebody on the air who was telling this heartbreaking story about losing a family member. Ludacris (photo) had been offered to me that morning and I had said no—because I had this tribute show planned. But he was trying to sell his new CD, and wanted to be on the air, so he showed up anyway.

Basically live on the air, in walks Ludacris, and I said dude, listen I can't do this today. I asked him if he was willing to talk about September 11th? And he said no, so I basically had to kick him out.

Rick: Where do you see yourself going from here? Is Chicago your final destination?

DreX: I'd love to stay here and make the show bigger, and maybe have the company syndicate the show to other markets, but I love Chicago. This is the greatest city, and I love my job. Being at Kiss feels right to me. I'm so happy it worked out the way it did with Eddie & JoBo. Can you imagine me over there or them over here? I'm just excited about the future, and as long as I keep doing things like DreXVizzzion, I hope to stay on the cutting edge.

VIDEO DREX: Nude Hippo interview with DreX