Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

The Curse of the Mainstream Media

‘Democrats have their own SuperPAC, it’s called the mainstream media.’- Senator Marco Rubio  (October 28, 2015 Republican Presidential Candidate Debate)

mainstream-media

Anyone who’s ever worked at one of the broadcast television networks knows that their staffs are composed of a hodgepodge of political (and a-political) opinions.  The only agenda is to be relevant and interesting to the 18-49 year old American adults who advertisers yearn to reach. There’s also the news division’s quest, which they take very seriously, for journalistic integrity.

Here’s something to consider. By definition, doesn’t’ “mainstream media” mean that it resonates with the majority of people; the actual mainstream?

Of course, the reason that “mainstream media” is such a tempting target for these politicians and for demagogic radio and TV personalities is that the audiences to whom they are pandering tend to be fringe groups; outsiders who perceive themselves as special, unique and superior to the majority of their fellow citizens. Therefore, media who represent the values and attitudes of those in the mainstream must, somehow, be tainted.

And who, actually, are the “mainstream media”? Are they just the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and their cable news subsidiaries? Is Fox News a member of the “mainstream media”? What about Facebook and Twitter? One could argue, given their vast audiences and news dissemination services that they also belong in the category of “mainstream media”.

So, the next time you hear someone attack the mainstream media, it might be worth asking yourself exactly which fringe group that person is trying to impress.

January 8th, Elvis & Me

Elvis-Presley (1)

January 8th is a special date for me.

It’s not because I’m an Elvis Presley fan. I like a lot of Elvis’ music but I wouldn’t categorize myself as a fan.

No, it’s because Charles Manson was a fan. Not THAT Charles Manson but, instead, the Charles Manson who was the general manager of radio station WGLD-FM, Chicago on January 8th, 1973. It was on that day forty-one years ago that Manson decided to switch the station’s format, without bothering to tell the station’s owners, from Progressive Album Rock to Oldies.

At the time, I had just been fired from WGLD’s sister station, WMOD-FM/Washington,DC for defending the use of a “Chicken Man” joke on-air by the station’s morning personality, Jack Casey. It’s a long story.

In any case, as a member of the union American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), I had received a several pay package from WMOD and Sonderling Broadcasting which owned both the Washington and Chicago stations. Three weeks after being fired, I found myself flying to Chicago at the behest of Sonderling’s corporate program director, Dave McNamee to take over as program director for WGLD-FM. Consequently, I had not only been promoted from the ranks of on-air personality to management within the Sonderling organization but was also receiving both my severance payments from WMOD and my new program director’s salary from WGLD!

Radio. You’ve got to love it.

As it turned out, my stint in Chicago didn’t last very long. Manson didn’t like the idea of corporate imposing me on him and our relationship was strained from the beginning.

In early 1973, the Nixon administration was out to get broadcasters because they felt that the media was being too critical. This was just prior to the Watergate hearings and the administration was sending a message to the media.

At the time, a radio personality named Bill Balance was having some success doing a sex talk call-in show in Los Angeles so radio general managers in other cities decided to create their own local versions of a sex talk show. Charles Manson was one of them. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought it through.

WGLD’s midday music personality was assigned to host a one hour sex talk show each weekday.  If I recall correctly, it was scheduled between 10-11AM Monday-Friday.  I wasn’t a fan of the show because it really didn’t fit with what we were trying to accomplish with the station and I would have preferred to can it but the general manager ignored my objections. Of course, typical of the radio industry at that time, management hadn’t bothered to train this DJ about any of the legal ramifications involved in such a show.  One of the FCC’s rules made it clear that it was a finable offense if the content of a sex talk show was targeted at persons younger than 18 years old.

One morning during the sex talk program, the host found himself assigned to do a live read of commercial copy for a local driving instructor. Although I had warned him about being careful about the appearance of talking to teens, during his reading of the commercial the host ad-libbed a comment in which he said something along the line of “Hey, kids. They can help make sure you pass your driver’s test.”  Either the FCC was monitoring the show, a competitor had taped and submitted the recording to the FCC or a listener complained. In any case, WGLD got busted and the station became a poster child for the Nixon administration’s war against smut on the radio. Of course, as the program director I was held responsible for the DJ’s gaff.

That episode plus some other “philosophical differences” between Mr. Manson and myself resulted in my departure from WGLD in July, 1973. Once again, Sonderling Broadcasting was paying me a generous severance which allowed me to lounge by the pool and to watch the Watergate hearings.

One day, I received a call from Dick Booth, a former colleague at Northeastern University’s WNEU radio, who offered me a job at a new FM station in Pittsburgh where he’d been hired as station manager.  I was his second hire. The first was a 19 year old kid named Bob Pittman.

So, I loaded up my meager belongings into a rental van and drove to the Steel City where I met the guy who would ultimately offer me positions with his teams at WNBC, New York and at MTV.

All because of Elvis’s birthday.

Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Evil

Dilbert-Marketing

A recent Scott Adams cartoon shows a marketing team member complaining that engineers are paid more than marketers. Dilbert’s responds that the pay disparity might be explained “Because engineers designed and built every important part of modern civilization and all (marketers) did was misrepresent it”.

Unfortunately, the idea that marketing is synonymous with lying and that members of the marketing profession rank somewhere near or below used car salesmen, lawyers and congressmen is quite prevalent. And, of course, the TV series, “Mad Men” didn’t help.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

My sense is that part of the problem comes from the notion that marketing is a sales function. From my perspective, marketing should be the next logical step after product development. Its function is:

1)    To make potential customers aware of the product/service’s existence.

2)    To make potential customers aware of the product/service’s merits

3)    To position the product/service in the potential customer’s mind in a positive light relative to the competition.

Problems arise when marketers become disingenuous and create blatantly misleading messages about the product/service. Today’s consumers have sophisticated BS detectors So even if you fool them once it’s less likely that they’ll be fooled a second time. Exaggerating about a product’s/service’s benefits or, worse, downright lying about them simply exacerbates the problem.

A recent article in the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School’s magazine, ONE discusses how companies have begun using neuroscience technologies such as fMRI and PET to observe how the brain functions during the decision-making process. The best way to utilize this data is not to employ it as a tool to manipulate people’s purchase decisions but instead to use the information to make a brand’s marketing more selective and to increase a campaign’s effectiveness by being better targeted.

I don’t mean to be Pollyanna-ish about this but, in the end, the marketing profession will be much better served if we can forego the temptation to be deceitful and instead make an honest attempt to put the product or service we represent in the best light possible without resorting to exaggeration or deception and let the chips fall where they may.

 

November 22, 1963

jfk-jr

November 22, 1963 was a Friday.

I was a typical shallow, self-possessed, care-free teenage male in the first couple months of my first year in high school at Mount Pleasant High in Providence, Rhode Island.

On Friday’s, my last class of the day was gym. In 1963, gym class for males was an active, athletic program to prepare young men for military service and which required students to develop skills on the parallel bars, pommel horse, horizontal high bar, still rings and for rope climbing. The gymnasium also served as the school’s basketball court, so the space was cavernous and the class was noisy. Consequently, we couldn’t hear messages being transmitted over the school’s loudspeaker system.

So, on that Friday, after I’d showered and walked along the typically noisy corridor to my locker, I was in a good mood and oblivious to what was going on around me.

I  was in a good mood because that night was scheduled to be opening night for the Mount Pleasant High School Dionysiac Player’s production of Thornton Wilder’s classic play, “Our Town” and my theater debut as a member of the stage crew manning the main spotlight.

My original plan had been to try out for the football team but, at the last moment, I wisely changed my mind. The football coach was also my Geometry teacher and, for some reason, there was an unsettling level of antipathy between us.

So, instead, I decided to join the theater group at the urging of my friend, Mike Grace. It was a decision that, to this day, I’m glad I made.

Arriving at my locker and fetching my things for the bus ride home to Smithfield, I was blithely mocking the sweet young woman I’d befriended whose locker was to my right. She was emotional and, because I couldn’t hear what she was saying, my initial thoughts were that she was laughing. But then I realized that it wasn’t the sound of laughter but of grief that I was hearing.

When I asked her what was wrong, I presumed that she was reacting to a misunderstanding or breakup with her boyfriend. The usual stuff of adolescent drama.  So, when she told me that the President was dead, it didn’t register. I laughed thinking that she was telling me some sort of sick joke. Then, I looked at her face…and I knew.

John F. Kennedy was a mythic figure in Southern New England. In 1963, Rhode Island’s population was heavily Roman Catholic Italian and, although JFK was Irish, he was one of our own.  His was like a death in the family.

The first reaction I can recall was wondering how this tragic event might affect the play.

Our theater group had worked hard, rehearsed and devoted much of our lives for the previous two months in order to be ready for this moment. The school wouldn’t cancel opening night, would it?

Other than the moment when I was told about the assassination and the overarching sense of loss and sadness which enveloped the school, there are two incidents that I most vividly remember about that afternoon. The first involved one of the wise guys who, like me, was bused in from Smithfield and with whom I’d shared classes since elementary school. He started laughing and making jokes about Kennedy’s assassination. I was appalled and, frankly, embarrassed for him.  Over the years, I’ve wondered if he sometimes stopped to consider how he’d reacted and, if he did, how that affected his life.

The second incident occurred when we discovered that the school administration had, indeed, canceled opening night for our production of “Our Town”. Of course, it was the appropriate decision under the circumstances. But, we were emotionally invested in our work and had difficulty accepting the decision. What shocked me was when the student who played George Webb, one of the play’s primary characters, lay down on the stage and while pounding his fist sobbed “Why did he have to go get killed on opening night?”  I understood the kid’s angst but found his self-absorbed attitude embarrassing.

The Mount Pleasant High School Dionysiac Players production of “Our Town” did go on as scheduled on Saturday night. And, as I recall, the show was well-received by an audience which was probably affected more than usual by the play’s story of day-to-day life, youthful love, premature death, sorrow and grief. That play continues to touch me to this day.

On Sunday afternoon, while continuing wall-to-wall commercial-free live coverage of the weekend’s sad events were being broadcast on the existing three television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), Mike Grace and I were doing a project for Mike’s aunt and uncle in the living room of their home when I happened to glance over at a TV and noticed the Dallas police escorting Lee Harvey Oswald down a corridor. It all seemed pretty mundane until, all of a sudden, a man in a black hat stepped out from the crowd, shoved his hand towards Oswald’s stomach and shot him. The black-and-white photo we’ve all seen over the intervening decades of Oswald crumbling in pain is still shocking. But, to see an actual murder occur live on a national TV broadcast as it happened was stunning. At first, it seemed unreal. And, thinking that I might be imagining it, I asked Mike if he’d just seen what I saw.

The 48 hours from the moment  when JFK was killed on Dealey Plaza until the moment when Jack Ruby’s bullets ended Lee Harvey Oswald’s life,  were surreal and shook America’s sense of order and complacency to its core.  This was a time in American life when we lived daily on the brink of nuclear holocaust in our conflict with the Soviet Union. We were all subconsciously concerned that, at any moment, we might get word that the missiles were coming in.

Leading up to this anniversary, journalists have been focusing on how coverage of the events of that weekend changed news because it was on TV. I would argue that it changed America.

For the first time, we were able to not only hear but to see events as they happened. Radio had provided us with theater of the mind. With TV, we were there…watching Jackie grieve at her husband’s coffin, watching little John-John salute the passing caisson, seeing Lee Harvey Oswald murdered in cold blood.

On that weekend leading into Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, we were shaken to the core.

When World War I began, we got our news on time delay via newspapers.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we learned the news from radio.

John F. Kennedy’s assassination was the first calamitous event which we Americans shared communally through television.

It remained the most significant historical event of my lifetime through the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy in the late 1960s, the Kent State Massacre, the murder of John Lennon and other tragic events which we experienced through the years.

For me, a change began to occur when I watched the Challenger disintegrate as Dan Rather was covering its launch live in 1986. It became obvious to me that I was going to continue to witness these occasional tragedies through my remaining days.

Then, of course, came September 11th.

jfk-gravesite

 

 

PS- A fellow Rhode Island native, Bill Flanagan, has an interesting insight on how the death of John F. Kennedy affected our parents who were his contemporaries in the World War II generation. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jfk-assassination-when-a-nation-coming-of-age-lost-its-youth/

Confession Of A Fair Weather Fan

 

boston-red-sox-logo

Postseason=The beginning of the Major League Baseball season for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I like baseball. I just don’t care about the MLB until post-season. The same is true for the NFL.  It wasn’t always this way.

I was raised in a small New England village with a great baseball field about 100 yards downhill from our back porch.  Between the ages of 5 and 13 , during the daylight hours when I wasn’t in school, doing homework or participating in organized sports at another venue, that’s where you’d probably find me with the other guys from our neighborhood playing baseball in Spring and Summer or touch football in the Fall.

Since I was a New Englander, I grew up a Red Sox fan. The Yankees represented the Evil Empire.  New England didn’t have an NFL team in those days and the Jets didn’t exist, so the New York Giants was my default team of choice.

 

In later years, I lived in Pittsburgh where I became a Pirates and Steelers fan.

But now I’ve lived more than half of my life as a resident of New York state and, although during some of those years I’ve been a half-hearted Yankees fan, I’m not emotionally committed to any of the New York teams. I may, at times, like certain MLB and NFL teams more than others but I’m not passionate about any of them.

I’m a fair weather fan.

Which is why baseball season starts for me this week. Now that “the wheat is separated from the chaff”, “the cream has risen to the top”, or whichever metaphor you choose to use to describe the process which has brought these contending teams to the playoffs, I’m about to get interested.

I was particularly looking forward to watching Terry Francona and his Indians battle the Red Sox. But, alas, it’s not to be.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to an October and early November of close games, late nights, emotional ups & downs, and watching some amazingly gifted athletes and managers perform under pressure.

I find watching them to be inspiring and educational….even if I’m just a lowly fair weather fan.  

                                                             Batter up !


   

Irony & Ecstacy

I was running errands this weekend and listening to the audiobook of Michael Chabon’s “Manhood For Amateurs” when I was surprised to hear Chabon talking about KFRC-FM, San Francisco and how its format change which essentially eliminated the Motown-British Invasion-Beach Boys music from the station’s playlist had affected him.

Chabon pointed out that most of the songs which he listened to on KFRC were already on his iPod but he observed that his reaction to the music in that context just wasn’t the same. “No medium is so sensuously evocative of the past as radio.”

That particular observation caused a low-level ecstatic reaction within my soul since the majority of my career has been invested in radio broadcasting. The irony, of course, is that I wasn’t listening to the radio in my car. I was listening to an audiobook which was talking about the radio listening experience.

But the real surprise for me was when Chabon mentioned that, while living in the Washington, DC area in 1972, his mother’s favorite radio station was WMOD-FM (“Stereo Gold”). I was an “on-air talent” on WMOD, (OK, a “DJ”) at the time.

In this chapter of “Manhood For Amateurs”, Chabon talks about how he listens to music radio virtually every day and about how that experience impacts his life.

For some reason, I feel grateful

Chabon-Manhood

MTV Memories

Flattered to be acknowledged by Martha Quinn in the new book, “VJ:The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave (No)”

MTV VJ Book-Martha Quinn story about REB

[Minor inconvenience: You have to click on the picture to actually read the story. (Insert sheepish smile)]

It’s not quite how I recall it. But, close enough.

Boston

Sebastian Junger, author of “The Perfect Storm” and “Restrepo”, has created a documentary in tribute to the photography, Tim Hetherington who filmed the video for the documentary version of “Restrepo”. Hetherington was killed in 2011 while accompanying a band of rebels in Libya. Junger’s documentary, “Which Way Is The Front Line From Here” is currently showing on HBO.

While being interviewed about the documentary by Terry Gross on her NPR show, “Fresh Air”, Junger spoke about how he had been at home in Massachusetts when the bombs went off at the Patriot’s Day marathon. He described how he was having a conversation about the attack with a friend when, all of a sudden, he zoned out and his mind transported him back to a vivid recollection of battle scene which he’d witnessed in Afghanistan. The tastes, the sounds, the smells, the emotions of that battle washed over him as though he were actually back at that place at that point in time. The experience lasted for only a few moments and then Junger snapped back into reality.

As I listened to Sebastian Junger describe his experience, I wondered how many other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were in Boston that day or in Watertown during the Friday morning shootout, if they experienced similar reactions and, if they did, what the impact of those reactions might be on their lives and the lives of those with whom they live.

February 1964

It was Sunday, February 9th, 1964. Just eleven weeks earlier, America had been shocked and stunned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK had been a beacon of hope and inspiration for Americans, especially BabyBoomers. But Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun had silenced those hopes and created a void which needed to be filled. That void was filled by The Beatles.

Music industry veteran, Steve Meyer has vivid memories of that moment and he’s graciously allowing me to share them with you:

“We were four guys…I met Paul, I said do you wanna’ join the band, ya’ know? Then George joined, then Ringo joined…we were just a band that made it very, very big, that’s all.” — John Lennon

Yes…very big indeed, once the “Lads from Liverpool” hit our shores and nothing was ever the same.
Beatles on Sullivan 1964
Their first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was watched by an estimated 74 million people that Sunday night in February 1964 making it one of the biggest events in broadcast history, and the crime rate in U.S. cities dropped dramatically during the show’s broadcast. It was indeed, as Ed Sullivan used to say, ” A really big show!”

The assault on American radio and charts was equally overwhelming. In the past few decades you’ve all read about the chart accomplishments of such mega-artists as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and others, but they all pale in comparison to this statistic:

For the week ending April 4, 1964 The Beatles had 11 singles on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart, including the first top five slots:

* #1* – Can’t Buy Me Love
* #2* – Twist and Shout
* #3* – She Loves You
* #4* – I Want To Hold Your Hand
* #5* – Please, Please Me
* #31* – I Saw Her Standing There
* #41* – From Me To You
* #46* – Do You Want To Know A Secret
* #58* – All My Loving
* #65* – You Can’t Do That
* #79* – Thank You Girl

Of course if you’re old enough to remember listening to your favorite Top-40 station back then, you remember hearing all these songs and more as the “British Invasion” started. It’s almost impossible to imagine any artist or band being able to monopolize the charts and radio in such fashion today, and I don’t think we will ever see it happen like that again. It was a different time.

Just how much The Beatles changed everything in pop culture has been the subject of many articles, books, TV specials, and now they teach courses on them in many colleges. Prior to The Beatles, Top-40 radio didn’t play album cuts from best-selling artists … not even Elvis at his height.

But when The Beatles released ‘Rubber Soul’ and made the decision there would be no single released from the album for radio or retail (much to Capitol’s dismay originally), radio programmers simply put “Michelle” on their stations along with “I’m Looking Through You,” and about four other tracks from the album. The Beatles ruled at retail and requests, so radio had to respond.

But the fact is, NOBODY had ever achieved that kind of airplay (album tracks) at Top-40 radio previously. The Beatles were the first. Of course ‘Rubber Soul’ wasn’t the only album they released without a single for radio/retail. ‘Sgt. Pepper’ (the first rock “concept” album) didn’t have a single and neither did their double-album, ‘The White Album.’ But it made no difference, they were all over Top-40 radio. Of course the release of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ (and subsequent concept albums by the Stones, Who, etc.) gave birth to the notion that the radio audience might want to hear more than just singles and great radio men in Boston, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, and elsewhere, put FM stations on the air that played albums and “progressive radio” (the forerunner of all album radio that followed) was born.

Before The Beatles, there was no such thing as “stadium rock.” Nobody had ever played arenas or stadiums before 1964. But The Beatles sold out Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park, and other stadiums around the country in mere hours after tickets went on sale, shocking those in the press and media who predicted the shows by the group (“a fad” as they were called back then) wouldn’t sell tickets in those quantities. I was lucky enough to see them at Carnegie Hall, Forest Hills, and at both Shea concerts. The word mania doesn’t begin to describe what occurred the minute The Beatles took the stage.

Long before MTV hit the air (thirteen years to be exact), The Beatles made a TV film called ‘Magical Mystery Tour.’ Though the critics in the UK panned it for the most part, in hindsight one can watch it and realize it was merely a long-form video with five separate concept videos to support their new songs. They were years ahead of the curve in realizing how music and video could be merged for greater audience.

Another amazing fact: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ was recorded in four-track. Yup, that’s right. Four track. Listen to it today and you realize what an engineering masterpiece it is, and how many tracks had to mixed down and on top of each other to make the final recording. Many albums made today use dozens more tracks and updated technology … but sonically, Pepper remains a masterpiece.

I could go on and on … I’ve been a Beatles fan for these past 49 years. I never imagined that night I watched them on the Ed Sullivan show that within five years I’d be lucky enough to get a job working for Capitol Records selling Beatles records, and then promoting them to the very radio stations I grew up listening to. When I worked for Capitol Records in 1970 and 1971 in New York City I was fortunate enough to meet John Lennon briefly. The first time I talked to him I got “mealy mouth,” was nervous, and he asked me what was wrong. I mumbled and then said,” I … I watched you on Ed Sullivan …” And he said, “Ah…well, that was The Beatles thing and all that … I’m just John now … so tell me what kind of music do you like?” We talked until the wee hours of the morning and I walked back to my apartment on a cold December morning with my mind racing.

The Beatles created the soundtrack for our lives back in the ’60’s and each song they sang made us feel like the wait wasn’t going to be too long, and that sooner rather than later, we’d all be on our way to better lives. Maybe that’s been only partly true, but it’s what we all wanted to believe because their music made us feel such things. So we sang their songs loud, proud to claim them as “our own.” But we should’ve known they belonged to the whole world and that the world we lived in was moving away from innocence.

John was right…they were a “band that made it very, very big.”

They were all that … and a whole lot more. A helluva lot more.
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The closest I ever came to meeting a Beatle was when I was about five feet away from Paul McCartney as he left the premier of his movie, “Give My Regards To Broad Street”. We had eye contact for a few seconds. He didn’t look happy.

I also had the chance to hang out one night with John Lennon’s son, Julian. Unfortunately, I blew it. The realization that I was actually spending time with a Beatles’ son left me tongue-tied. While I should have been having a pleasant conversation focused on him, his opinions and aspirations, I was too busy second-guessing myself so that I wouldn’t come across like a dim-witted fan. Too bad. Turned out that Julian’s a pretty nice, down-to-earth guy.

Stephen Meyer is a music industry veteran who has served in executive positions for several music labels including as National Promotion Director for Capitol Records from 1976-1983. You can subscribe to his weekly music industry newsletter at http://stevemeyer.webs.com/

Sunday Morning


CBS Sunday Morning has been one of my few “appointment viewing” TV shows since it debuted with Charles Kuralt in 1978. It seemed to me that what Kuralt and producer Shad Northshield had created was essentially the secular equivalent of a religious service complete with sermon, homily, music, and moment of reflection for a nation which was increasingly foregoing organized religious services. It was also very much radio on TV with a lot of effort put into creating sound which enhanced to impact of the visuals.

It’s been apparent for a long time that the current producers of the show don’t share this vision. They don’t seem to grasp what marketers would call the show’s “brand ideal” and the purpose that the program serves as a part of many viewers’ lives. Instead, it’s treated as just another morning news/infotainment vehicle for the sales department. Consequently, we get a bumper stating “This moment of nature is brought to you by Prodaxa…” leading into some usually very abbreviated nature footage which is immediately followed by a pharmaceutical industry spot targeted at the 60+ crowd. (Note to sales: It’s not about demographics. It’s about psychographics. “Hangover” star, Bradley Cooper said he was thrilled to be interviewed by CBS Sunday Morning because he had grown up watching the show and I have Millennial friends who are avid fans of the show.)

OK. Here’s what prompted this outburst.

Today, CBS Sunday Morning presented its annual end of the year “Hail And Farewell To Those We Lost” tribute to folks who’d died during the past year. I come from a broadcasting background, so I can appreciate the editing decisions which are part of this compilation process. I also understand that the network is interested in making the show relevant and interesting to a younger 35-49 year old female audience. So, I the programming guy part of me can understand why the producers would choose to spotlight a pop icon like Whitney Houston but essentially (forgive this choice of words, but it seems appropriate) bury important historical figures like WWII hero/ Senator/ Presidential candidate, George McGovern and Gulf War hero, General Norman Schwarzkopf in a brief three-way montage with WWII hero/Senator Daniel Inouye in the piece as historical footnotes.

McGovern’s presidential bid was a colossal failure in 1972 but I would contend that it politically galvanized Baby Boomers, helped legitimize the anti-Vietnam War, and contributed to the downfall of Richard Nixon’s presidency. Whitney Houston was talented artist with incredible promise who lost her way and experienced a tragic decline. Hers is a heartbreaking story but I’d contend that McGovern’s was more significant.

I was also annoyed as the final strains of Etta James’ version of “At Last” provided an underscore for the end of the segment. Ideally, the music would have reached its end, there would have been a few poignant moments of silence with the appropriate CBS Sunday Morning logo bumper, and then programming would have resumed. Instead, there was a quick fade of the music before its end into an inappropriately upbeat bumper teasing the use of pink in today’s world. It reminded me of some of the ”train wreck” moments I’ve heard in radio when a somber news bulletin about some tragic event is immediately followed by a DJ who was obviously not listening and who jauntily launches into some inappropriate song or, worse, an inane contest.

Again, I can appreciate the pressures and time constraints that the producers and staff are under at CBS Sunday morning. It’s not my intention to be a cantankerous old fogey and bitch just for the sake of complaining and venting some unrelated frustration at an easy target.

Call me a starry-eyed idealist but I really believe that radio , TV, and movies are more about art than about commerce. My goal here is to contribute to the conversation about content.

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