Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Silent Nights?

I usually get several calls in November and December about playing corporate Christmas parties or New Year's Eve celebrations, and I've played several Christmas parties over the years. They're always a lot of fun because everyone's in a festive mood, and we try to play songs especially for the client and the occasion. This year was different. I didn't get a single call.

I ran into a friend of mine, and he was telling me about a Nashville blues singer with whom I've shared several bills in the past. The guy's really good, especially for parties. He said he only had one holiday party booking this year, and it canceled. Another friend asked me where we were playing New Years Eve as it was the first time he didn't have a gig on New Year's in 35 years. The truth is, because of the economy, there weren't nearly as many company Christmas parties as in years past. I know of several companies locally which canceled their parties altogether. The effect of the economy on live music is very real. There were a few gigs, but not many.

I read one satirical article, which commented on the sad state of the music economy. The article's funny, but the hard times for musicians are real. In times when people have to choose between milk, bread or music, music's out! Music sales in general are down, especially country music, which has fallen almost 25%. The effect would have been even more dramatic if not for Taylor Swift, and she's much more Pop than Country. Of course, part of Country music's problem may lie in the quality of Country music being put out these days. Tom Petty called it "bad rock bands with fiddles."

Earlier this year, touring musicians were in a bind because of the price of fuel, but now everybody's in a bind because of the economy in general. I'm lucky in that I don't depend on my music for food on my table, or I'd be starving, but I feel for those who do. They're already feeling the pinch and turning the corner into a year with an uncertain future.

Here Comes 2009

I got this e-mail from a longtime friend of mine who is a GM in a Top 20 Market:
"2009 is going to be terrible for the industry as a whole. I think you will see more of the cuts that most groups have announced. The word is that FOX and Univision are waiting until the holidays are past to do their trimming. All we can do is hold on for dear life and hope that 2010 comes very quickly."

Here's to 2010!

I, too, have a feeling that 2009 will bring more of what we saw in 2008 as far as the broadcast and newspaper industry is concerned. More and more experienced journalist will either be fired or accept "buyout" deals as payrolls undergo shrinkage. More and more "behind the camera" types will also be done away with through a combination of technological advances and payroll cuts. Big time news anchors, especially on the local level, will be a thing of the past. We'll see more single anchors along with anchors who report extensively and they'll be making less money. In at least the short term, at more and more stations and newspapers, the trusted and seasoned reporters and meteorologists will be out, in favor of lesser experienced, cheaper labor.

In the bigger picture, I expect to see a bit of a fire sale on television stations and newspapers. They're not worth near what they were only a few years ago. It's a buyers market for many stations, with over-leveraged owners willing to cut their losses, at any price. Newspapers, especially are seeing their value limbo under a line few would have thought possible ten years ago. They can still make money, but they have to change everything, including and especially their business models. Maybe they should work more on their website and web sales.

To quote University of Memphis journalism professor Joe Hayden, "I dread the quality of newscasts cobbled together by skeleton crews," he said. "Forcing fewer people to do more work is always a disastrous recipe for journalism."

His conclusion: "I think the market will eventually compel newsrooms to either emphasize quality or disappear. The phase we're going through now isn't a pretty one."

At least one of the more respected columnist has an even dimmer view than me about the coming year for the media.

I think we'll eventually come out of this with more multitaskers (one man bands) as far as journalism is concerned. That's not such a bad thing in some aspects. That's how I started my career at WBBJ in the early 80s, and I did some of my best work. That will help weed out the pretenders, as viewers eventually flock to those who know their craft, over those who simply love "being on teevee." In some ways, it's just like the economy in general, we'll see the quality "bottom out," before it begins improving. Quality and excellence will eventually separate the pros from the wannabes, although I think everyone in the media, especially on the local level, will draw a smaller paycheck than in the glory years of television.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cable TV Pulls The Plug

The good news is that HDTV is coming soon! The bad news, at least for some, is that HDTV is coming!

I actually have HDTV and it's truly amazing. I especially love watching sports, music concerts and nature programs in HD. The Weather Channel in HD is pretty cool too! I don't have to worry about the cable company though. I live so far out in the sticks there is NO cable TV.

HDTV requires more bandwidth though, and that's making for some interesting decisions for some local cable TV systems. In Dyersburg, they're dropping WPSD , KFVS and maybe WBBJ. In Union City, they're dropping WREG, WPTY, WMC and WTVF. Same thing in Martin, Do they HAVE to drop them? They say it's to make way for channels their viewers have asked for. Many of the viewers are saying, "no, we didn't!" Hmmmmm.

Viewers in Dyersburg seem mostly unconcerned about losing KFVS in Cape Girardeau, and WPSD in Paducah, but many are upset about losing WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Although Dyersburg (Dyer County), is in the Memphis television market, Dyersburg is closer to Jackson than Memphis. Although KFVS and WPSD are no doubt unhappy to be dropped from the Dyersburg cable system, the fact is their main audience and revenue base is in Southeast Missouri, Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. Naturally, that's where they focus their coverage. WBBJ focuses a lot of coverage on Dyersburg. It's relatively close to Dyersburg (47 miles), even though it's not officially in their "market." According to Dyersburg's cable company, if enough viewers voice their opinion, WBBJ might stay.

Nationally, part of the situation has been brought about by the television stations themselves. It's called retransmission and the haggling is going on all over the place. Many of them are demanding payment from cable systems for carrying their signal. In some instances, this had led to playing hard ball.

In Union City, we've heard from many viewers who are upset with Charter Cable. Charter doesn't scare easily though. Unless a last minute deal is worked out, they're yanking KMOV, the CBS affiliate off cable in St. Louis. Congressman John Tanner, a Union City resident, even sent an official letter to Charter urging them to reconsider dropping the channels in his hometown. In this case, Tanner was treated like any other viewer. "Forget it." Contrary to what you might have heard, the customer is not always right, at least to some cable companies, even if he's a ranking member of Congress.

It's like my dad used to say to me at supper time when mom served up asparagus, "You'll eat it, you'll LIKE IT." Well, I might have eaten it, or at least some of it, but...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ice, Ice Baby!

I have a 50 mile commute to work each day, from Fulton to Paducah. It usually takes about an hour. Today it took all of THREE HOURS because of black ice on area roads. As I started out this morning, roads were just starting to ice in Fulton County. As I started down the Purchase Parkway at a blazing 25 mph, I made sure to leave my cruise control OFF, and leave plenty of room. Sure enough, a red Chevy Aveo shot by me at around 60 mph. I said to myself, "I'll see you again later." I did. About 3 miles down the road. He had spun 180 degrees and gone down an embankment. Luckily, he missed the trees and the guardrail.

My friend in the Aveo was not alone. I must have seen 25 wrecks along the way, and actually witnessed 4 of them. Perhaps the most ironic were the three guys who ran their four-wheel-drives together. Four-Wheel-Drives are cool, but on ice it's merely 2 more tires spinning out of control.

To be honest, I wouldn't have gone to work at all but needed to get to the transit for a public hearing. I knew it could be a tough commute because I had checked the forecast myself before I left home. Nothing against the TV Meteorologists, but I still trust myself more than anyone else when it comes to meteorology. I guess it caught some of them off guard, because they didn't start issuing "alerts" until I was an hour and a half into my trip, and had seen a dozen vehicles in the ditches and into the guardrails. Black ice, of course, can cause a fender bender for even the best drivers, but the novices don't have a chance.

Here are some Winer Driving Tips:

Tips for driving in the Snow & Ice:

  • Don't use the cruise control!!! You hit a patch of ice and INSTANTLY lose it. Don't believe me? Give it a try. Please wave at me as I pass by and I'll call the KSP for charge.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Appling the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for retraining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning - nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety in front will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don't stop if you can avoid it. There's a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until the light changes, do it.
  • Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don't tempt fate: If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
  • Stay Away from ME! (OK...I made that one up....but I'd really like it...)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas

There are things I love and dislike about the holiday season (I don't hate....anything or anyone...but somethings I dislike).

I love the football bowl season, even though the bowl games are meaningless. I love watching the NFL games......especially in the snow.

I love smoking turkeys for my family and cooking and eating tailgate food.

I love visiting with my family, hugging all of them, telling them I love them and meaning it when I tell them I wish I could spend more time with them.

I love making my resolutions to work out more, eat better and lose weight....even if I don't.

What do I dislike about the holidays??? Year-ender stories, "best ofs". Whatever you want to call them. The truth is, there is NO NEWS to speak of to cover around the holidays and NO REPORTERS since so many are taking time off. These are nothing more than time-fillers to fill out the newspapers and newscasts so there won't be blank paper and dead air from the network all the way down to the local level. Keep that in mind during the Today Show's "look back at 2008." (yawn)

It's funny how the holidays have changed for me over the years. When I was a child, I dreamed of "what I would get." The older I got, the more I cherished what I had, especially the relationships. Now, I don't want for anything. The most precious gift is to share precious time with loved ones. This Christmas could be a tough one. All of us, may not be together next Christmas. Let's share a meal, a smile and a laugh and keep our fingers crossed that we're blessed enough to do it again next year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

15 Things They Don't Want You To Know

OK....the "15 Things" & "Don't Want You To Know" are marketing ploys, but here's what I have learned from my travels across the nation in the past year.....

1. If not for us at PATS and others in rural transits, many senior citizens would never leave an 8x10 room. One of the drivers we trained in recent months recently carried a man to a store, who had not left his home in 2 and a half years.

2. On the road, at many convenience stores, a 20 ounce soda is $1.89 while a TWO LITER soda is $1.79. Why don't consumer reporters do a story on THIS? Have they all been laid off?

3. There are stores which sell miniature roses in crack pipes and electronic scales ("for tobacco use only" ...yeah), but if someone buys them, they could be arrested immediately upon leaving the store for possessing drug paraphernalia. Why doesn't law enforcement stop the stores from selling these things in the first place? Aren't they selling drug paraphernalia?

4. Deer are really stupid animals. If you take one with a bow, a black powder rifle, a .270 rifle, a Dodge Ram or a Ford F-350, is there a big difference? Why do deer want to die so badly? It's a tragedy they don't taste more like Black Angus.

5. I already knew drinking and driving do not mix, but when I saw the tears well up and heard," my father died while driving drunk," "My brother was killed by a drunk driver," etc. Just don't do it.

6. We cannot preach about defensive driving enough. We trained one driver who told us about the child who ran out out in the road, and who he struck and killed in 1963. "There's not a day that has passed since that I have not thought about that kid and seen his face, and there never will be." Slow down. Watch out. It's worth it.

7. Put in for wake up calls, but don't trust 'em.

8. There's nothing more depressing than being on the road, nearing the holidays, hearing Christmas Carols on the radio, and being alone, away from your family.

9. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing that "light bulb" go off in a driver's head, and knowing that tip you gave him/her, might save someone's life or prevent an injury.

10. Some of the BEST places to eat are the Mom and Pop "Meat and Threes!"

11. Some of the WORST places to eat are the Mom and Pop "Meat and Threes!"

12. There are more people than you think who cannot read, write, add or subtract. That doesn't mean they're not good people.

13. Waitresses can make your food taste a lot better, or a lot worse, depending on their smile.

14. EVERYBODY knows where the BEST BBQ is!

15. EVERYBODY knows "what is wrong" with the Kentucky Wildcats.

Merry Christmas Y'all. Let's love each other and try to get along.....even if we're family!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Ax Continues Falling...

Layoffs in the media, along with other businesses, in the past few weeks have been coming as fast as rounds from a Thompson machine gun, but the bullet has hit the bullseye at Raycom with deadly results for more journalists, engineers, marketers and production types. They called it "Bloody Tuesday." It really hit home in one of my favorite towns and favorite stations, Memphis' WMC.

Two of their more popular anchors, including one of the main nighttime anchors got pink slipped. One of them, on the day after she commented on the air about how lucky she was to work there. Ouch! Memphis Mediaverse has been following the story. I found this quote from the newly unemployed Bill Lunn the most interesting.

"The standards of journalism have changed since my days as an intern at WBBM-TV in Chicago 20-plus years ago. They will continue to change as budgets grow tighter and tighter. But we are a consumer-driven economy. Demand excellence and you will find it."

I never met Lunn, but everybody I know in Memphis says he's a good guy and a solid journalist. Nighttime co-anchor Donna Davis, along with a sports reporter/anchor were also sent packing.

"Davis got the bad news from her news director, who leaned on her shoulder and cried."

I used to work for that news director, Tracy Rogers. She's a good person, and I know it broke her heart to see them go. A sad footnote to the whole situation is while the three on-air personalities were let go by WMC, WMC, at this writing, plans to enforce the non-compete clauses in their contracts, so they cannot work at any other Memphis station in the near future. Non-compete clauses for broadcasters are illegal in Illinois and Missouri, but are still very much alive in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Closer to home, there were also layoffs at Raycom stations in Jonesboro, Arkansas (KAIT) and Cape Girardeau, MO (KFVS 12) although you couldn't find stories in the Southeast Missourian, or the Jonesboro Sun. Perhaps they've also laid off to the point that they're missing stories. Newspapers have their own problems these days. Maybe worse than TV Stations.

One thing I find interesting, is the quote from WMC general manager Lee Meredith. "For the station to properly position ourselves for the business challenges ahead of us, we have taken the difficult step of making a work force reduction."

In other words, although I'm sure revenue predictions were way off for this year, they anticipate the coming year to be even worse. Not so long ago, election years, especially presidential election years, were cash cows for stations. I remember one year when I was working in television, we had a presidential election, the Olympics and a Super Bowl in the same year! Now THAT was a great Christmas bonus!!!! This year? It didn't work out that way. There wasn't as much political advertising for local stations and many auto dealerships have slashed advertising budgets in the wake of their own problems. Those car dealerships can represent up to 33% of a station's total advertising revenue. The result? Layoffs, no Christmas bonuses, no corporate Christmas parties, and for some, no more job.

While some may argue if local stations improve their product, they might get more viewers and improve ratings, the fact is that it doesn't matter what their ratings are or how many viewers they have, if the advertisers don't spend money with them in the first place. Much more important than the number of viewers, is total revenue.

We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Hard Candy Christmas

Merry Christmas! You're fired! It seems like that's what more and more people are hearing in so many industries, and the TV Biz is no exception. Many local stations , including WMC in Memphis are cutting their news staffs, again, and nationally, NBC is laying off, including some big name correspondents. A generation of local TV anchors are being shown the door, and the list goes on and on. Of course, newspapers, including several in our region, are also feeling the pinch, and folks are getting their walking papers. All, just in time for Jesus' birthday.

The most troubling part, for many, is more than the loss of jobs. It's the loss of experience. From one of the articles, "When the anchors depart, they take decades of experience and insight with them. “Basically, you replace someone who knows City Hall with someone who can’t find it,” said John Beard, who lost his job at KTTV last December after 26 years as a news anchor in Los Angeles." Of course, consumers notice a difference, no matter the product.

The tough part for today's newspapers and television stations is trying to attract the younger consumers. That's another reason many of the "old" anchors, reporters and meteorologists are put out to pasture. The thinking is that younger viewers don't want to see "old" personalities, and TV and newspapers are desperately trying to find new viewers and readers to replace the ones who have defected to the internet and cable/satellite TV. In many cases, they risk alienating the viewers they still have left. On the other hand, with the economy in it's current state, it doesn't matter how many viewers or readers you have, if your advertisers don't have the money to advertise.

Longtime newsman Joe Larkins, of Memphis, reported on his blog he received a note from the General Manager of one of the Memphis TV Stations:

It is as ugly as I have ever seen it — down right scary. TV gets 20% of its ad revenue from auto advertising. The Big Three are on the Hill with their hand out and as of yet, it is still out there, empty. What does that mean? Lower ad revenue. Not just auto but the housing bust takes its toll on furniture and everything else that a homeowner might buy.

Many, many media companies are over leveraged. When they took on that debt, the lenders put covenants into the agreement that said the debt to revenue ratio couldn’t exceed a certain amount. Well no one anticipated a drop in revenue like we are seeing across the board. Those ratios are not being met, which means default.

Not only will you see hiring freezes and layoffs, I predict within two years you will see many markets with only the top two stations producing a newscast — this will be particularly true in markets 50+. There is just not enough of a news pie to justify three or four stations producing news. Losing money is not an option.

So, there’s my Christmas Cheer for the day. Feel better?

Focus on being efficient and effective in your job because your company is doing the same.

The GM

Of course the same premise holds true for all industries these days. The higher salaried people are most at risk, especially if someone can step in and assume their duties rather easily , improving the bottom line. That IS the bottom line. Gas may have gone down, but apprehension is still running high, and we're all in "hunker down" mode. Keep your fingers crossed. My forecast calls for it to get even colder after Christmas. If you're looking for good news out of this, it's that more and more of the incompetent media/print managers might soon find themselves in the unemployment line.

I think local TV and newspapers will survive, but it won't be the same as it was, even 5 years ago. Gone are the days of the Media Czars. That's good and bad. Although you'll have more choices for your news, there will be fewer, if any, with the resources and experienced personnel to do the best job possible. That's not good news for us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We Miss Ya, Glenn

I'll never forget, when Fat Moe's first opened in Paducah, someone said something to me about playing there. I went to "check it out" and thought it was such a cool place! I loved the old record album covers and instruments around the walls. The stage was SO small. I didn't think I could fit the band on there.....but we squeezed in there and played the night away. The food was great, too, but one thing that struck me more than almost anywhere I'd ever played, was how genuine and sweet Glenn and Mary Jordan were. Their personalities gave the place a special atmosphere that just makes you feel welcome and like family. In the years that followed, it became one of our favorite places, if not THE favorite club we played. I would often get off work, then head over to Moe's to kill time before the gig. I usually spent that time enjoying a Fat Moe Burger at the bar, and many times shared a stool next to Glenn. It was always a treat. We'd talk about anything and everything. He was always asking me about the TV Biz & Meteorology, then the Transit Biz, and always the Music Biz. His wit and wisdom always brought a smile to my face.

He had his share of health troubles recently, but the sudden passing of Glenn came as a shock when I heard about it Monday. His family called that afternoon, and asked if I could play and sing at his service. They said we were his favorites. There's no way I could refuse. He was one of our favorite persons, too. We decided I should sing one of his favorite songs we played, "Funny How Time Slips Away." It's a wonderful song, but I decided to change the words just a little bit. Instead of singing the original lyrics about an old, spurned love, I decided to change them to reflect how quickly this time on Earth passes with those we love, and how we should keep that in mind, and always treasure the time we have with our loved ones. I hope I did him proud, because he sure deserved it. For the record, he also really liked "Waffle House Woman"!! Local Attorney Tod Megibow and Pastor Don Young did wonderful jobs with the eulogy and the message. That's right, a Jewish lawyer, a Baptist preacher, and a blues singer! That just goes to show you the range of lives he touched. Glenn loved live music in his place, and we loved playing our best for him. Mary said he remarked that we got better every time we played there. Maybe part of that had to do with the environment of Fat Moe's and the love in that place.

I won't pretend that we were best friends, but we became friends over the years. I think just about everybody who got within an arms reach of Glenn became his friend in no time! I learned more about him after his passing, such as how he doted over his grandkids and supported them. How good his kids all turned out, and how much they all loved him. I wasn't surprised.

Say a prayer for Mary and the kids and the grandkids. They could use it. He was at heart, one of the good guys, and it's always sad to lose one of them, because there aren't as many as there used to be. I have a feeling, though, his spirit will live on at Moe's, forever.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tennessee's Gamble

It appears as though the University of Tennessee is about to hand the keys to it's multi-million dollar corporation, known as the UT football program, over to 30-something year old coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin is the fired Oakland Raiders Coach, which is actually no knock on him. I actually thought he did pretty well in trying to deal with Raiders owner Al Davis, who should have his keys taken AWAY from him. Kiffin is supposedly assembling his staff. Some of whom I like, and some of whom I don't. He begins his Rocky Top tenure on a short lease, and he already has his detractors.

To make way for Kiffin, the Vols sent 17-year-coach Phil Fulmer out with a win over Kentucky on Saturday. Fulmer coached Tennessee to a National Championship in 1999 but hasn't even gotten to Vols to the SEC Championship game since 2007.......uh....last year. So it was time for him to go! I really think Fulmer is a good head coach, but his problem with this disastrous season was his choice for an offensive coordinator. Tennessee's defense was among the best in the nation, but the offense was among the worst. With the departure of longtime coordinator David Cutcliffe to Duke, Fulmer hired David Clawson from Richmond, an innovative offensive mind for sure, but it just didn't mesh. Perhaps because they didn't have the luxury of time to make it work. Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville faced the same dilemma with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. In Auburn's case, Franklin was fired mid-season. I happen to think Tuberville pulled the trigger too quickly on Franklin, while Fulmer was simply not afforded the chance to make the new offense work. Rome wasn't built in a day, or one football season. The record shows Auburn's record got WORSE after Franklin's firing. In Tennessee's case, the baby was thrown out with the bath water. Being from Western Kentucky, I witnessed Franklin's offense produce a high school quarterback who threw for more than 90 touchdowns IN ONE SEASON, without the greatest athletes. Granted it was high school.....but it works in college too. It's just difficult to quickly shift from a traditional run-oriented offense to a version of the spread offense. Just look at Michigan this year.

In any event, I hope Kiffin gets a fair chance, although it would behoove him to win and win fast, beat Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and LSU in his first or second year, or a national championship (reccomended). I can't wait to see which team lands Tony Franklin because I know if they give him some time, he'll be lighting up the scoreboard again. I also can't wait to see Phil Fulmer, hanging around Knoxville, and wondering if he'll be looking pretty good as a coach in a couple of years. I really hope this move doesn't set the football program back, such as when Nebraska fired Frank Solich, Syracuse fired Paul Pasqualoni, etc, etc. When Tennessee ousted Johnny Majors, to make way for Fulmer, it moved the program forward, but so many times, these kinds of moves have set programs back for 10 years or more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gone Too Soon

I was thinking the other day, about all the musicians I've seen play, who are not with us anymore. I feel treasured to have witnessed their brilliance, yet sad that they were silenced, especially so young. Little Feat, with the late Lowell George for example. One of the best shows I ever saw. I was in college and went with Mike Harbin and Chuck Zumwalt. (What ever happened to those guys?) I never saw Little Feat after he died. Had no desire to. Someone pointed out to me later,"he always sung with his eyes closed, just like you." I never noticed:

Another was Bill Chase, a great trumpet player, a one hit wonder, who probably would have done so much more had he not died in a plane crash. I saw him at Dyersburg, TN, of all places. He wore it out. He left too soon.

I never went to see AC/DC after Bon Scott's passing. I wasn't that much of a fan of the band, until I saw them live in the 70s, and realized that they were as much Rock n Roll as Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry, The Stones, etc. They "got it" and Scott was the perfect front man to guitarist Angus Young's frenetic character on the side. I wonder if they ever would have become as big as they did had Scott lived. Death seems to spur sales and interest (see Elvis). BTW, I always thought Angus was a great guitar player, very underrated, and I never heard this song the same after Scott's passing. Strangely prophetic.

I never saw Stevie Ray Vaughan. One of my biggest regrets. He toured so much, I always thought, "I'll catch him next time..." When he died, it shook me.

After his death, I made up my mine. I'm going to see everybody I ever wanted to see, first chance I get. I don't want to miss them, in case they are taken away. I went to see Clapton, The Who, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Todd Rundgren, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Gatemouth Brown, Santanna, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Bill Monroe, Dr. John, Porter Waggoner and many more. Bill Monroe, Porter Waggoner, Kim Wilson, and others signed my cool is that!

I saw Bonnie in Mississippi, not long after Katrina, with Jon Cleary on keys. You could have heard a pin drop in the hall several times. Bridget and I were breathless.

I stood through the rain, outdoors to hear Gatemouth play. I knew he was suffering from cancer, but Katrina finished him off. He "killed" the night I saw him though.

A perfect spring night, a glass of wine, and Steely Dan.

I always wanted to see Carlos play. He exceeded my expectations. He had just released "Supernatural," but it hadn't hit big yet. The best 20 dollar concert ticket I ever bought. We worked our way up to the front row. A must see...

I was on the front row for Isley's! Ernie threw me about a half dozen picks!

Bridget and I saw Todd Rundgren in Memphis. We had it all planned to catch Todd's show at the New Daisy, and then head across the street to a bar to hear Shawn Lane with the Willys. Unfortunately, Lane had hurt his leg the night before, and didn't show up! Dang!

It was Christmas in New Orleans, Briggy and I went to see Dr. John. What a precious memory.

Some of those have left us since. There are sitll a few on my lists, such as Loretta Lynn (Damn I love her) and The Kinks....but I'll see them 1st chance I get too. I don't want to miss any of them. I had already missed Jimi, Janis, Jim and so many others years earlier through the curse of 27 or earlier, or later. To me.....80 years old is young now!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Help Wanted: Must Win Big

Coaching sports in college is a tough business. Think about it. You're supposed to get a group of 18 to 21 year olds, to do what they are SUPPOSED to do, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Tougher still, when you have so much pressure to make them do just that.

Phillip Fulmer is out as football coach at the University of Tennessee. His crime was a losing record this year, and not winning a national championship in 10 years. Pretty tough for Phil. You have to consider though, that he was so well compensated over the years that he's a millionaire several times over. It costs $6 million just to fire him! So why fire him? You have to consider this. The University of Tennessee football program brings in about 68 million dollars a year through ticket sales, concessions, souvenirs, media rights contracts and the league's annual distribution checks. That money supports almost all of Tennessee athletics programs, and needless to say how much Tennessee football means to the economy of the city and the region. If the Vols aren't winning, that figure goes down in a hurry. Way down. So much so, that the $6 million buyout, doesn't seem like much at all. They simply cannot afford to field a loser. Even for a short time. Of course the trick is, hiring a winner to take his place.

Kentucky's basketball program got rid of Coach Tubby Smith for much the same reason, except he wasn't a loser. He just didn't make it to the Final Four in the last few years. He won only 1 national championship too, and had only made it to 2 Final Fours during his tenure. Sure he won 20 games each season, but that's not good enough for the boosters with the fat wallets and fat egos. They're not contributing to a program which is really good. They're paying for really great, and if it's not there, the money stops coming. Kentucky basketball, like Tennessee football measures its sucess not by how many games they win, but by how few they lose. The wins are measured by how many points. If it's not enough, in many fans and boosters' eyes, it counts as a loss, even if it's a win.

At Kentucky, they were sure they'd get Florida's Billy Donovan, the Rick Pitino protege with a national championship under his belt. Of course, he'd leave Florida for a chance to coach the Wildcats! If he turned them down, there were some who felt sure they'd get Rick Pitino to leave Louisville, and return to Lexington. Whoops... neither happened. Maybe one or both realized how good they had it, and how quickly it could turn at UK should they not make a Final Four in the next two years. Kentucky settled on Billy Gillispie, an "up and comer" who had a good run at Texas A&M. But already, in Lexington, after a loss to little VMI at Rupp Arena, there are those who are screaming to jettison BG, and of all things, bring Tubby back! Can Gillispie get the Cats back to Final Four? Who knows. The only thing certain is that he does not have the luxury of time.

Remember Nebraska, when they fired Frank Solich, after a 9 win season to hire Bill Callahan, who came closer to losing 9 in one year? Remember Syracuse, when they fired Paul Pasqualoni for only winning 8 or 9 games a season, only to find themselves with a program that turned into a perennial doormat? Better get it right, or set your program back another 10 years, or more.

That should be on the minds of those at Tennessee in replacing Fulmer. They need a superstar coach, and they need him now, but is one available? Plenty were touting Texas Tech's Mike Leach, until the Red Raiders got shellacked at Oklahoma. What about Steve Spurrier? or Tampa Bay Bucs Coach Jon Gruden? Not interested. Some were pushing Butch Davis, until North Carolina got smoked by unranked NC State. Uh oh. Who do they hire now? I don't know, except that whoever they hire better win, win big and win fast. They simply cannot afford anything less.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Heavy Weather & Hard Times

Like so many other businesses, the broadcasting industry is bracing for layoffs. For some, it's been happening in waves for the past couple of years, but many believe, especially after Christmas, it will become even more widespread.

It's already begun in some corners. NBC Universal, the new owner of The Weather Channel, during "Green Week," chose to axe the entire environmental unit of the The Weather Channel, along with 3 popular on-air meteorologists.

At The Weather Channel, the article says on-air meteorologists Dave Schwartz, Cheryl Lemke and Eboni Deon are gone. I actually was a Mississippi State classmate of Dave Schwartz when I finished up my meteorology education. I found him to be a nice person, in person. Maybe a bit syrupy on the air for my taste, but that was his personality, and many really like him. He was really into learning about my local region, especially the "Little Egypt" part of Southern Illinois. I hope he lands on his feet. Likewise, I always liked Cheryl Lemke, although I never met her. Forecast Earth was hosted by Natalie Allen, a Memphis native, who left KFSM in Ft. Smith, AR shortly before I was offered a job there......but that's another story!

I think we'll see many more layoffs in broadcasting, along with other industries in the coming months. In broadcasting, the annual dry spell for revenue follows the elections, which are ripe with political advertising, and the Christmas advertising, which end around the holidays. That's when the axes will fall at many stations, especially for those making the higher salaries (I never fell into that catagory....LOL). At any rate, it looks like it could be a "hard candy" Christmas for many of us, including your local television celebrities. Stay Tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Read It In The Newspaper, While You Can...

It used to be a Sunday tradition. Bridget and I would drive to Fulton and stop and get a Commercial Appeal, Jackson Sun or Paducah Sun and later that day, we could peruse the paper and enjoy the articles. How sad the other day, when we drove to town and saw the Commercial Appeal racks turned around and later, removed completely. They quit delivering to Fulton and many areas in West Tennessee too.

I read an interesting piece in the New York Post lately, about the decline of newspapers nationwide and how it could also affect Local TV Newsrooms.

Here's a quote: "Most local newscasts have for years taken much or most of their hard news from newspapers. The freshest genuine news that local TV newscasts now provide are weather forecasts, unless you count updates and previews of "American Idol," "Survivor" and "Dancing With The Stars."

I used to get asked all the time, "How much of the TV news comes straight from the newspaper?" The correct answer is, quite a bit. First thing in the morning, producers scan the local newspapers to get story ideas and see what they missed. Also, local newspaper editors make sure to watch the local TV news in the evening, to see if THEY missed anything. Nothing to be ashamed of, on either side, as it makes good sense to check out other outlets and see if you missed on any stories.

Is there professional jealousy between print and TV? Yes, but more so among some print reporters. There is one reporter at the Paducah Sun, whom I respect greatly, who makes no secret in his columns about his dislike for television news. The ironic part, of course, is that the Paducah television station and biggest newspaper are owned by the same company. These days, both, like so many companies in other businesses, are feeling the pinch of the current economy. That begs the question, why don't they combine their resources? I've wondered this for years, as it would enhance both's ability to cover the local news.

I was always told that the owner, at that time, wanted competition between the local TV and newspaper since there was no other real competition for either in town, and it benefited the readers and viewers to have that healthy competition. It made good sense for many years and worked well for readers and viewers. These days though, the game has changed. First of all, there IS more competition these days, from a number of sources. Newspapers nationwide are hurting to the point that they're contracting their delivery areas, as subscriber numbers go down. The old joke goes to look at the obituaries, and that's how many fewer newspapers will be sold that day. On the television side, the internet has eaten into viewership, like cable television, and further sliced up the pool of consumers. More younger people get THEIR news, if they get it at all, over the internet, from a myriad of sources. Viewer habits are much different than they were even 5 years ago. Maybe that's why people still come up to me almost every day and say, "I watch you every morning!"

Are reporters dumber than they used to be? That's a tough one. I know I'm a much better reporter/meteorologist and overall smarter person than I was back when I started, for sure. Although I was always honest and tried as hard as I could to present the true story. Nowadays, when I work with some young reporters, I'm amazed at how hard it is to get them to comprehend the facts of a story. Maybe that was ME so many years ago, or maybe it's today's news reporters aren't too bright. I'm not sure! One thing I AM sure of, is that most reporters are much more interested in doing a good, factual story, and not as much interested in the company's profit margin, sometimes, much to the chagrin of the newspapers, or TV stations managers. Also, older, more experienced reporters and meteorologists ARE much better than younger ones. The same holds true, of course, for carpenters, attorneys, truckdrivers, matter your trade, you know what I'm talking about.

Newspapers and TV Stations are still powerful, but only a fraction of what they once were and less powerful each day, and the trend promises to continue, unless they learn how to harness the internet and consumer habits of today. If they combined their newsrooms and advertising, they could cut costly management positions, cover the news much more effectively and increase their bottom lines, however both are saddled with managers who understand print, or TV, but not both, and precious fewer who understand how to profitably produce information on the world wide web, which is where it's ALL going. Some newspapers and television stations have already combined their operations, and more probably will in the future. Those which don't learn how to adapt won't survive. I hope they do survive. We need reliable news from trusted, experienced, professional journalists, more than ever.

Telethon Night

Saturday night/Sunday morning was my 20th Lions Club Telethon of Stars. Hard to believe. It makes for a lot of fun on the long night. I played twice, at 4 AM and again about 5:15 AM. Lot's of us who play the long overnight shift have gotten to know each other and it's like a family reunion.

It was good to see my old buddies Rhonda Belford, a talented singer-songwriter out of Southern Illinois, Becky Freeman, a talented singer from Cadiz who's had us for the Cadiz Relay for Life Benefits over the years, and my former co-worker Johnette Worak, along with some of my other former co-workers from TV, including John Champion along with his lovely wife Michelle, and Jeff Bidwell.

This year the Telethon was moved to the Carson Center for the Performing Arts because of construction at the Expo Center in Paducah. The Carson Center is a beautiful hall and I love playing there. The telethon made the 3rd time I've gotten to play there. The telethon itself is the longest running locally produced telethon in the nation. This was the 52nd year. It benefits Easter Seals West Kentucky in Paducah; T.L.C. of Southern Illinois; Community Developmental Services (CDS) in Martin, Tennessee; and Easter Seals Southeast Missouri. All of the centers deal with disabled children and adults, with CDS focusing primarily on adults. All of the money raised by the telethon goes directly to these centers. At PATS, we transport several of the people served by Easter Seals, so in that way, the telethon is closer to my heart than ever before. The more I've met them through my work at PATS, the more I've realized just how special they are.

I played the 335 through their backline, which for me was a Fender Deluxe. It's always tough to get the tone dialed in with a 30 second sound-check, but in these situations, it's necessary, and it sounded pretty good! (thanks Joe and the rest of the crew!) I'm usually in low gear for a day or so after telethon night, so I'm glad it's only once a year, but it's a wonderful night for a very worthy cause.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Looking for old friends again

Every now and again, I go looking for some old friends on Youtube.....

I love Joe Cocker, and someone did a great captioned video of him at Woodstock.....maybe this explains some things about "my generation."

I used to shop at Big Star, I used to listen to Big Star! That was 30 years ago....they're still around???

I'm still high from meeting one of my heroes earlier this year: Derek O'Brien. I got to see another of my idols the same night, Lou Ann Barton, but I'm still too scared to meet her. Maybe one day. Derek's the coolest though....

More recent video, with Lou Ann, Derek and Denny Freeman, who played with Bob Dylan recently....and at a custom car shop, no less.....too cool!

I really like the Black Keys....

But I love one of their inspirations even more....a guy I opened for once...RL Burnside....

I miss ya RL! Just like I miss Jr. Kimbrough....another of the Mississippi Hill Country greats I opened for once....

I noticed where AC/DC is releasing their first album in years. Am I the only one, who saw and misses Bon Scott as lead singer of this band???? I mean, the "new" guy's good....but he ain't no Bon...

Finally....I'm a blues why would I dig 80's band, "Vixen"???/ Well....#1, THEY ROCK, and #2...My buddy Chris plays with 'em!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

The vote is in, and change is coming in several ways. The country's voters decided to change from a Republican president to a Democratic president. The most cited reason was the economy. That's not a surprise. When you start taking money out of voters pockets, they're ready for a change. In my job now, I talk to a lot of "salt of the Earth" people, and they're hurting. They're ready for a change. A change for the better. Rightly or wrongly, they blame the Republican party for their economic woes. Many did not support the economic bailout, which cost 700 billion of their dollars, only to see some of those executives who caused the mess, partying from the spoils days later. Many blamed the Republican party for the high price of fuel, which wound up driving up the costs of so many items besides gas. I don't think as many voters were against John McCain, as were simply against the Republican party. The majority of voters wanted to give the Democratic party, and Barak Obama a chance to turn things around. Although there are a few exceptions, in the course of history, the US economy has historically done better under Democratic administrations than Republican, believe it or not.

On a sad note, I heard from some voters who voted for McCain, not because they supported his policies, but simply because of Obama's race, or because of the false accusations contained in anti-Obama chain e-mails. Sadly, there are still some racists in America and sadly, there are those who know that their fear is a big motivator, especially among the ignorant. To Obama's credit, he overcame the hate campaign, and if he's voted out in 4 years, it'll be because he didn't get the job done, not because of his race. The stakes were and are too high to allow that to become a factor. I can understand why his election is a source of pride for African Americans, but I didn't notice a lot of bravado, just quiet pride, and hope. Hope that Obama can deliver. To my mind, he can't be worse than some of the white presidents we've had over the years, but I can understand the aprehension. Whether you or I voted for him, he's OUR president now. Let's give him his due respect and work with him to help work through America's current situation.

Another incumbent lost his election for a much higher paying post! Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer was ousted after 17 years and ONLY 1 National Championship. I like Fulmer, but I thought the Vols needed a change. There's a chance the program could get worse, but of course, a chance it could get better. It's ironic in the sense that his ouster is not unlike that of his predecessor, Johnny Majors. There were those who hated Vols Assistant Coach Fulmer at the time, because they thought he had stabbed Majors in the back. Needless to say, with a 6 million dollar buyout, Fulmer is richer for the experience. Coaching at this level can be a very tough, but enriching job. All you have to do to stay at that level is to get 22 twenty-year-old boys to do exactly what they're supposed to do, all at the same time, and win very single game. I guess when you look at it in that regard, they earn every penny!

Who's the next Vols coach? Mentioned so far are former Oakland Raiders coach Layne Kiffin, current Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John Gruden and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, among others. Gruden is a former UT Grad Assistant, who met and married his wife, a UT alum, while in Knoxville. Those who know him, say "no way." He's addicted to the NFL. Texas Tech promises to negotiate an extension for Leach at the end of the season. Also, his style, while exciting, doesn't lend itself to winning a national championship. Kiffin is interesting though. He did as good as he was ALLOWED to do with Al Davis. He has the pedigree, as the son of Monte Kiffin, and as the recruiting coordinator at Southern Cal, he convinced USC Coach Pete Carroll to recruit nationwide and served as his recruiting coordinator. One thing for sure, if whoever they hire at UT doesn't get the job done, they'll be voted out in LESS than 4 years. There's more leeway for President of the United States, than there is for Tennessee football coach!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do You Know What We Do?

I spent the past 2 weeks in Appalachia, training Rural Transit Drivers. Lot's of you might see the 22 foot cutaway buses traveling the highways and byways, but never know exactly what they're doing and where they're going. During the last 2 weeks, I've been working in Hazard and Mt. Vernon, KY in the Appalachian hills and mountains, and in Bowling Green, KY, working with rural transit drivers. Paducah Area Transit System (PATS) is also classified as a rural transit. Let me tell you a little about these drivers.

They don't get paid much. Usually $7.50 to 9.50 per hour. Many of them are retired from other jobs, or got laid off from factory jobs. More and more of them say they worked at factories for 10 plus years, until NAFTA closed them down, or corporate cutbacks led to their factories closing the doors. Many of them, though, say they love their new jobs, even though they don't get paid much. They say they feel like they're touching others' lives in ways they never imagined. It's true.

They're taking patients to life-saving dialysis and other medical appointments. They're taking home-bound persons to the grocery store. They're taking people to church. They're getting these people out, and letting them live life to the fullest extent possible. They're taking mentally challenged people to their "jobs," at places which use menial labor to make simple products, but you can't imagine how much it means to these mentally challenged people to help support themselves. They rarely miss work. They take great pride in their work. Other workers could take a lesson from them.

If it were not for these drivers, many people would never leave an 8 x 10 room. One driver told us that he had recently transported a person who had not left their home in 2 years. Drivers bond with their regular passengers. The passengers notice when their regular driver takes a day off. The drivers notice when a regular passenger isn't there. Sometimes it's because that passenger has "passed on," and a few tears are shed. Some of the drivers see their passengers more than the passengers' own family members, and they bond. It's a special relationship.

God surely has a special destination in mind, for rural transit drivers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

BBQ, Blues and The Colonel

(Photos: Wm Gross Magee)

BBQ on the River in Paducah is always a special treat! Smokin' BBQ and Smokin' Blues with 60,000 of your closest friends! This year, we played it for the umpteeth time (I think I've only missed one), and we had a special treat as Colonel JD Wilkes of Th' Legendary Shack Shakers joined us for the show.

JD is an original member of 61 South. I was not. I joined the band as a guitar player after they had already been together for a couple of years. I always enjoyed gigging with JD though. He went on to form Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, and has played around the world, opening for the likes of Robert Plant (who is a big fan of theirs), Southern Culture on the Skids, Reverend Horton Heat, Hank Williams III and so many more, along with headlining their own tours. Every once in a while, though, JD still performs with us when time and his schedule allows. When he does, we have a blast!

I think the BBQ on the River was the first time JD had played with us since we opened for Chuck Berry in St. Louis 2 or 3 years ago. The cool thing about playing with JD is that it was as if we had just played last week. We had a great time and played a pretty good set.

Although I was bummed that Th Legendary Shack Shakers had to cancel, at least JD got to play with us in his hometown, and as usual, he smoked 'em.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm Sending Out Some Memos

I'm busy sending out some memos:

Memo to: Some, Not All Conservatives and Liberals
RE: The truth
Please stop forwarding emails containing lies about the candidate you oppose, to me, and everyone else. Please use the following references concerning emails about John McCain and Barak Obama.

Memo to: Tennessee Vols Football Fans
RE: Phil Fulmer
The Tennessee Football program under Phil Fulmer has "jumped the shark." Understand that the past 17 years have been wonderful, but it's to the point that "term limits" should be brought to bear. It's the same reason Houston Nutt's evangelical coaching style, as effective as it is, begins falling on deaf ears after a few years. Just make sure the coach you really want is going to be available before you hand the parachute to Fulmer. Please reject the inevitable application from Bobby Petrino, which no dout, you've already received.

Memo to: New England Patriots Fans
RE: Matt Cassell
The Pats will NOT be all right with Cassell at QB. There is a reason he was a backup. That's how one of the worst teams in the AFC beat you today at your own stadium using single wing plays, and high school option plays. Now's your chance to prove you are not a fair weather fan, and cheer a team that's not as good as the one you bargained for at the beginning of the season.

Memo To: The New York Jets
RE: Brett Farve
Let him do what he does and don't handcuff him. You know what he does. Let him do it. If you place restraints on him, it won't work. Take the interceptions with the TDs and pray there are more TDs. Just get on the roller coaster and ride.

Memo To: Jessica Simpson
RE: Your Future
Bridget, my lovely wife, respectfully asks that you break up with QB Tony Romo, as she is convinced your continued relationship will stop her beloved Dallas Cowboys from advancing in the NFL playoffs. On the other hand, I respectfully ask you to discontinue recording music, as your singing is advancing my hearing loss and confidence in mankind as a species.

Memo to: The Hickman-Fulton RECC
RE: Thanks
Thanks for the hard work you did getting the electricity back on following the remnants of Hurricane Ike moving though the area. You did a wonderful job! You saved a year's worth of meat in our freezer and reminded us how much we take for granted the convenience of power. Well done!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Legend Leaves Us

Even if you're a football fan, you probably never heard of Walter Kilzer outside of West Tennessee. When you think of great coaches, you might think of Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Don Shula, Bear Byrant, Joe Paterno, etc. His 44-year coaching record was just above .500, but I would have given anything to have played for him. Countless parents savored the chance for their sons to play for Coach Kilzer at Trenton, TN's Peabody High School and later at Old Hickory Academy (now University School of Jackson) in Jackson, TN. Back in the 1970s, at Peabody High, he was my coach....although he never coached me. I was too small and slow to make the team, but I still cheered them on, every Friday night, where he directed The Golden Tide, along with his many "assistant coaches" in the stands. No doubt, if he'd had less players like me, he'd have had a better won-loss record, but whatever he had, he got the best out of them, and on those years he was blessed with some athletic talent, they really shined. By that time, I was in the band, where I was still small and slow! In his later years at Peabody, he was probably not as appreciated as much as he had been earlier, and then was again later when he laid the foundation for a highly sucessful program at Jackson. I'll always remember Milan High School's legendary coach, John Tucker (a distant cousin of mine...believe it or not) going on and on about Kilzer, who he felt was one of the greatest coaches in the history of Tennessee High School Football, even though it was Tucker who got the better of Kilzer, more often than not. No doubt Kilzer's best teams at Trenton were in the 40s, 50s and even 60s in the heyday of the old Big 10 Conference in West Tennessee, but one constant remained throughout his 30 year tenure there: the way he taught his kids to carry themselves when they took the pads off and moved on from high school, and into the real world.

He certainly had the early pedigree, starting at Vanderbilt, before transferring to Georgia Tech, where he played with and under a couple of legends: Frank Broyles, and head coach Bobby Dodd. For a while, he and Broyles held the record for the longest pass play from scrimmage in the Southeastern Conference, back when GT was in the SEC. He was on Bobby Dodd's first team at Georgia Tech. He thought so much of Coach Dodd, he named his first son "Bobby Dodd." No one ever called him Bobby. It was always Bobby Dodd. He held a reverence for Coach Dodd and I discovered many years later, just how deep that reverence ran.

I never heard him cuss. I think the strongest expletive out of his mouth I ever heard was "Dad June It." I never heard anyone say a bad word about him, only glowing words of admiration. Even when he got onto his kids, it was in such a loving, encouraging way.

Years later, in 1993, I was sent by WPSD to cover the Peach Bowl in Atlanta where Kentucky was taking on Clemson. I spent the week around Kentucky Coach Bill Curry and his team, including on the sideline during the game. They were undoubtedly the most intelligent, well-behaved, mature college football team I have ever been around. I knew Curry had been on one of Coach Dodd's last teams at Georgia Tech, so I watched him closely and how he handled himself, and his team. I never heard him cuss, and even when he got onto his players, it was in such a loving, encouraging way.

The following year, I drove home to see my old alma mater, Peabody play a football game one Friday night, when I spied Coach Kilzer up in the stands. I had to talk to him. Even though it had been almost 20 years, he called me by my name and flashed that wide smile which always lit up the room. I said "Hey coach! I want to tell you something! I went to the Peach Bowl last year and watched Coach Curry coach his team, and the most amazing thing was, I could really tell that you and Coach Curry were coached by the same man!"

He stopped for a moment. Then I began to see tears welling up in his eyes. At that point, it dawned on me just how much he had loved Coach Dodd.

I realized just how important a football coach can be in shaping a young man's life, teaching him values which he would carry throughout his entire life. I realized that a won-loss record on the field wasn't nearly as important as a coach's record in turning out quality people. In that aspect, Kilzer's record might be unequaled, as is Coach Curry's, or Coach Dodd's. Even so, when he had the athletes, he would beat you, and sometimes if his athletes were not quite as good as your's. He had a good chance of beating you anyway! They had their priorities right......and they still would, long after the game was over. There are a lot of coaches with better won-loss records, who will never be half the coach that Coach Kilzer was.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We Don't Like Ike!

Hurricane Ike wasn't too kind to the Texas Gulf Coast and the remnants weren't too nice to us! I don't have an accurate measure of the wind gusts at my house, but there were high enough to bring down a number of big limbs and kill our power for most of the day and night. Was it a Tropical Storm when moved through the area? Not officially, but the gusts were something else!

Here's what the National Weather Service reported:

The following are some of the highest measured wind gusts (unofficial) reported to the NWS office:

  • 81 mph at Kentucky Dam (Army Corps of Engineers, unconfirmed)
  • 78 mph at Grand Rivers, KY (barge loading facility on KY Lake)
  • 75 mph at Calvert City, KY (off-duty NWS employee)
  • 73 mph at Owensboro (emergency management)
  • 67 mph at Cairo, IL (emergency management)
  • 67 mph at Madisonville, KY (emergency management office)
  • 66 mph at Poplar Bluff, MO (airport ASOS)
  • 66 mph about 6 mi. southwest of Greenville, KY (handheld anemometer)
  • 64 mph at Evansville, IN (airport ASOS)
  • 64 mph in northwest corner of Christian Co., KY (handheld anemometer)
At my house

I'm thankful that our home suffered no damage, although I banged my already broken toe while trying to clean up limbs. OUCH! I also lost a Sunday's worth of NFL Sunday Ticket on TV and a chance to grab Darrin Sproles of the San Diego Chargers for my NFL Fantasy team. I would have too! But that pales in comparison to what others lost and for that I am thankful, while offering my prayers to them and their families.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NFL: Early thoughts...

I love college football and love and am intrigued by the NFL, since in the NFL the difference between winning and losing is truly a razor's edge. What about Week One of the NFL:

1. Tom Brady's Knee: Forget about New England. They'll be respectable, but they're finished as far as the Super Bowl is concerned. Brady is the straw that stirs the drink. They invested a lot in him. Unfortunately, they never invested a lot in a back up. Because of their easy schedule, they'll rack up some wins, but not a deep playoff run. Open the door a little wider for the rest of the AFC East, including the Jets.

2. Colts-Bears: Colts QB Peyton Manning showed some rust. Colts WR Marvin Harrison showed some age. They'll get better, but how much? The Bears showed their great defense, and an offense, under Kyle Orton, which takes better care of the football. They'll be better this year, but will they be better than the Dallas Cowboys?

3. Dallas-Cleveland: The Cowboys showed they had more talent than anyone in the NFC, but can they keep the peace intact and the law at bay long enough to take advantage of their stacked lineup? The Browns have some talent, but can they meld as a team soon enough and avoid injuries long enough? Dallas has the talent to win the Super Bowl, but with Romo at the helm they've yet to win a playoff game. I saw Romo at Eastern IL against Murray State. He looked great. Unfortunately, he's not playing the Racers anymore. Unless he breaks up with Jessica Simpson, I have to downgrade their chances of winning it all. No boyfriend of Jessica Simpson has ever won a Super Bowl.

4. Titans-Jaquars: Titans coach Jeff Fisher knows how to win in the NFL: stop the run, use the run on offense and don't turn the ball over. The Titans can stop the run. They have a good running game with White and the explosive Johnson. Vince Young has had trouble with turning the ball over. He needs to play more with his heart and instincts and less with his ears and ego. Were all the reports about the cops being called Monday night because he was "down" being overblown? No. He must close his ears and grow up quickly, or move out of the way. He has so much natural talent. He needs to trust it, or move aside. The Titans defense is good enough they can make do with a "game manager" as opposed to a "game-breaker." It takes a tough personality to play QB in the NFL. We'll see soon enough whether Young has it, or not. Young should talk to Tavarous Jackson, who has responded so well to the pressure. When Young returns, don't be surprised if he has a hard time unseating Collins or Simms for the starting job. It's a shame because he has more natural talent than either. So much of the job, though, flows through what's in the mind.

5. Green Bay-Minnesota: Aaron Rogers got off to the best start possible for him, Will he sustain it? He'll have to, or the Farve comparisons will come quickly and rightly so. Can Minnesota still make the Super Bowl? Yes, as along as Jackson can manage the game, not turn the ball over and the defense keep them in it.
6. San Diego-Carolina: The Chargers' big stars, outside of Thomlinson, all have health issues. The Panthers appear to be healthy (especially DeLohome) and perhaps are the team we expected a year ago. Either team could have won. The one that made the last play did.

*The answers to these questions and more coming as the season unfolds.....ain't it great!