A Liberal Disconnect

I have a friend of mine who is very liberal in his political perspective.

This person is a very talented artist. In fact, I have seen some of his work and am amazed at the quality he produces. He is, apparently self employed and says that never was able to afford health insurance before the Affordable Care Act came about.

Last week, he posted a comment on a social media site about health care costs being out of control and spoke of having an $8,000 ER bill reduced to $100 dollars thanks to “our great President and his Affordable Care Act.”

I posted a comment, saying that I agreed health care costs are out of control. And mentioned the cost of some basic blood tests I have to get two to four times a year have increased three fold since last year. (from $52 last year to $156 this year). Knowing of my more conservative opinions, he immediately jumped all over me online calling my example “trivial” and proceeded to immediately delete his blog, so I couldn’t reply to his answer.

What this shows me is the absolute disconnect and lack of intellectual honesty some of these folks have.

Where do you people think the money government spends comes from? How do you think the Affordable Care Act gets to be so “affordable” for those of you lucky enough to be poor enough (or willing to keep from working long enough) to qualify for the massive subsidies it provides if your income level is low enough?

Answer: It’s coming from people like me. And every wage earner in the country. When millions of us pay $25 for a 25 CENT tongue depressor (not a real example, just trying to make a point here), or pay 3 times what it cost last year for a simple blood test, you can AFFORD to subsidize a lot of people. And, uh…by the way. Those “greedy insurance companies” you like to rail against are still making a ton of money because the Affordable Care Act put the “fix” in for them. Otherwise, the insurance industry would NEVER have bought into it.

What’s the problem with this? It’s not affecting the rich, whom you think you’re hurting. They can afford to pay cash for their health care. Who you affect are people like me, the middle class…for whom a $156 blood test 4 times a year is a large chunk out of our spendable income.

The people who are being hurt the most here are not the rich, and not the poor…but the middle class…the engine of our nation’s economy.

When you don’t take care of the engine in your car, what happens to it? Same for the engine of our nation’s economy. When you don’t take care of that engine, it eventually ends up on the junk heap.

So, you liberal folks: the next time you pay $100 for an $8000 dollar ER bill, at least be intellectually honest enough to understand that it’s not Barack Obama, or “the government” that’s helping you pay your bill.

It’s me. And millions like me. And I hope my money doesn’t run out before The Affordable Care Act ruins me.

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In A Radio Studio A Long, Long Time Ago…

A DJ answered the request line at the station. And, a young voice asked, “Hey, Jim…it’s Kevin”. “Hey, Kev…how you doing?”, said the DJ. “Great”, the listener said. “Could you please tell me again how you cue a record?”

Jim, the DJ explained the procedure on the phone to the young man. Basically, “cueing a record” was the process disc jockeys used in the 50’s to the early to mid 70’s to prepare a record for play on the air. It involves putting the vinyl disc on the turntable and then spinning it with your hand until you hear the start of the song. When you do, you then turned the disc back about a quarter-turn. That was enough time so that when you started your turntable, it would be at 45 rpm speed just in time for the song to start playing within a split second of you starting the turntable.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the “caller” on the request line of station WING in Dayton, Ohio was me in about 1966. What you couldn’t probably figure out was that the DJ was named Jim Quinn. He would leave Dayton about a year later and become a radio icon in Pittsburgh at KQV-AM. (14K) He would rule the nighttime in Steel City Radio for about 5 years or so, and then when he moved to the morning show on KQV, he was replaced at night by a DJ named Jeff Christie. You know him today as Rush Limbaugh. But that’s another story for another day.

I mention this because I realized there are so many little things about my radio career that I still remember. Like the labels on the promotional 45’s we’d get from the record companies. I can still, in my mind’s eye, see “Laughter In The Rain” by Neil Sedaka, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “My Life” by Billy Joel spinning around and around on the turntable.

Backtiming to network. Back in the days when every radio station (or most of them) did network news at the top or bottom of the hour, you had to be able to figure out when, to the second to start your last song in the hour, so that it would end in time to play the station identification or newscast open and roll, seamlessly, into the network news and make a smooth transition doing it. It takes timing, and math skills to do it right. But, when you got it perfected…it sounded great on the air.

The computers do it today. Most of the time, they’re close, but not quite as good as we humans did it.

I remember, as a 19 year old DJ on the radio, wondering if I’d ever make it to the big city. I can remember my first vacation from radio. I was in Los Angeles…it’s where I wanted to go. Went past Johnny Carson’s house on a tour, saw a taping of the “Tony Orlando & Dawn” show at CBS/Hollywood. But the first thing I did in La-La Land was sit in my Holiday Inn room in Ventura and listen on a portable radio (that I had plugged into a cassette deck) to 93/KHJ, the monster Top 40 station known as “Boss Radio” in L.A.

I visited the station while I was there. Well, not exactly. I did make it into the lobby at 5515 Melrose Avenue. But, I was so unnerved just being in the same building where guys like Robert W. Morgan, Charlie Tuna, The Real Don Steele, Charlie Van Dyke and Sam Riddle worked that I chickened out saying hi to the receptionist. She must have thought that quiet kid was weird…

A dear radio friend of mine worked, for a time, at one of the RKO General stations that was KHJ’s sister station. He once told me, “I really think you were one guy who could have worked there.” He doesn’t know it…but that was, to me, the greatest compliment anyone could have ever said to me. Frankly, I damn near cried when he said it.

A couple of years ago, one of the stations I grew up listening to while in high school had a DJ reunion. Since I now work with our local Broadcaster’s Hall Of Fame, I was invited to the reunion. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when their night DJ remembered me on sight and told me, “Here. Sit down and join us. You belong here.”

We chatted and I listened as these guys who I listened to, admired and wanted to be like related stories of their years on the air. The night guy and I left the restaurant together and, while walking to our cars, he said, “Kevin, would you mind if I offered you a little advice?”

“Of course, Dave.” was my reply.

He said, “I think it’s so great you’re able to work on the air in Dayton now for such a good company. Tell me you plan to retire from there.”

I was kinda surprised by the remark, but told my friend, Dave that, yeah…that was the idea.

He told me, “I was hoping you’d say that”.

Amazing the things you do and the people you meet over 40 years. And even more amazing, the people you realize that really care about you, including some you don’t really thing would have.

As Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead once said, “Man! What a long, strange trip it’s been”. And mine’s far from over yet….

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Can We Learn The Lessons Of Newtown?

As a radio news reporter, the news that came out of Newtown, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago physically sickened me. Never in my lifetime did I ever believe I would ever be reporting on the massacre of innocent almost-babies in a kindergarten classroom.

For the record, as the news unfolded, when my microphone was turned off, I was beating my fist in frustration on the desk in the anchor booth. I just didn’t see how such a heinous act could happen in this country. And, yet it did.

Make no mistake about it. This was the act of a sick, sorry piece of…” humanity”…and I use that term loosely. I’d rather use a different word, but I’d like this to be a reasonable blog.

It doesn’t surprise me that the usual political types are coming out of the woodwork to scream their rants. It’s the lack of logic being demonstrated here that amuses and amazes me. You may agree, or may disagree, but what I think is logical here:

Ban all guns and only allow police to have them? You gotta be kidding me! Prohibition and the War on Drugs has proven that when you ban something you create a black market for it. Ban all guns…and criminals will still have them and many citizens will still get them. And gun violence will still go on. So, will tragedies like Newtown. A new study released shows Great Britain is more violent even with its harsh gun laws than the U.S.

So much for your rant, Piers Morgan.

You see, I don’t think you can craft a law that will stop a mentally impaired person from committing an act of gun violence if they are so provoked by their demons to do so.

The United States Of America had legal guns for about 200 years or so before we ever heard of a shooting at a place of education. What changed? Our culture, that’s what. And that, more than anything is what’s responsible for the sick society we live in. Video games, violent movies with graphic blood and gore available on our TV’s 24/7 where they can be seen by every impressionable young mind, with or without a parent’s approval and monitoring is part of it. Not that I think that the games or the movies, by themselves are the cause. But when you combine the violence they condone with a lack of parental supervision to them, don’t monitor your child for warning signs of delusion and disaffection or don’t act in time on them, and then, say…allow for the kid to know where the keys to the gun cabinet are…you have a prescription for tragedy.

Should guns be allowed in schools? To my way of thinking, the answer is both yes and no.

No…under no circumstances should they ever be in the hands of our children in school.

But, yes…they should be available to responsible adults, behind lock and key who have agreed to assume the awesome and awful responsibility of being a first responder charged with the ability to use deadly force as needed to protect innocent men, women and children who are charged with educating our children.

If the Principal at Sandy Hook had a loaded gun, instead of just her body to throw at her assailant…or if a school maintenance man had been armed and ran to the office at the sound of gunfire, the ending of that story may well have been less of a tragedy.

Now, I don’t think any of this should happen without voter approval. Sorry, teacher’s unions…you’ve already demonstrated you are incapable of protecting our kids against an armed assailant. On multiple occasions. So, the right of approving or rejecting the notion of guns in schools should be a decision of the district voters. At least that way, if the voters reject it and tragedy strikes, their children’s blood is on their hands.

I also don’t believe every teacher, school worker or administrator needs to be armed. This should be a decision made by the school administration of a handful of selected volunteers. These would be people who preferably have had some military or law enforcement related firearms training. And I wouldn’t want to see it happen without those individuals being required to take and pass a refresher course…the kind taught at local community colleges.

No one, other than those who “need to know” in a school (such as school and school board administration) should know who these volunteers are. And heavy should be the penalties for “outing” them, including but not limited to, instant termination and/or expulsion with no chance of appeal. You don’t get to play politics with our kids lives.

Those individuals who volunteer should be provided body armor to wear if they so choose….paid for by the school district.

Will all this prevent another tragedy from happening? Probably not. But if it stops just one…in my humble opinion…it’s worth the cost.

By the way, I do not own a gun…at least not yet, and never have. Not to say I won’t, though.

But, disarming our citizenry is the first step toward anarchy. And, a loaded gun cannot fire unless it is somehow acted upon. That’s simple logic. The gun isn’t the problem…the shooter is.

Our kids need protection from the people who would be behind the gun. Since we’re not gonna put them in lead-lined classrooms with locked, lead doors and no windows, we must protect them some other way.

Metal detectors? They already have them in some schools. And a metal detector is no good in the case of an assailant who wants to blast through and into a classroom window.

Do I like what I’m saying here? No…I don’t. But, I fear it’s quickly becoming the sad reality of a sick society.

We either treat the cause or the effect. We seem unable to treat the cause…because some of us are it. So, we’re left with the effect. Anyway, that’s how I see it.

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Hello, I’m Back!

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for a month or so…the election, Hurricane Sandy, and the general idiocy of our population just burned me out and I needed to take a rest for a while.

Happy to report though, I’m recharged and ready to get back at commenting on things.

“The general idiocy of our population”. Yes, sorry, but I think a lot of people in America today are idiots. They’re on the left and the right and in-between. And I think the results of the recent election show it.

Before you think I’m being a crazed righty here…here’s what I mean:

To the left: President Obama won the election by less than one percent of the vote. Now, I will agree: a 50-49 percent win…is still a win. But, Dear Mr. President: you’re delusional if you think that’s a mandate. Your approval rating is good now, at 56 percent. Let’s see how it is when we go off the fiscal cliff…states like Ohio lose 40-thousand plus jobs each, unemployment goes back to 9.5 or 10 percent and the country goes into a deep recession…at a time when everybody’s taxes go up about $3,000 a year (and yes, everyone’s taxes will go up, even if you avert the cliff…the “hidden” taxes in your health care plan will make that reality and you know it. ). Then, let’s see what that old approval rating looks like then. So much for your mandate….

To the right: You guys seem to have forgotten the lessons of 2008 and 2010…elections matter. So forceful were those arguments for Mitt Romney in October…how the Union (referring to the U.S. here) would fall if Obama was re-elected, how crucial it was that he be defeated. Then Election Day came…and you sat on your hands.

“I can’t vote for Romney because he’s a Mormon and that’s a cult”. Got news for you. A lot of people said that about Jim Jones and the Branch Dividians, too. Somehow I don’t think they were on the same plane as Mitt. But, whatever. You got what you deserved…4 more years of Barack Obama. Less than 1 percent of the vote made the difference. You can blame no one, but yourselves.

Now, onto the gun debate. But that’s another post coming next.

Happy New Year. I hope we can say next December we had one.

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Gotta Work Thanksgiving Day? Wahhhhhhhh!

Before I go further, let me state that I understand and do have sympathy for retail workers who would like to have holidays with their families.

It’s just that I live in a world that, especially early in your career, doesn’t allow for that.

You see, radio stations do not close on the holidays. This, despite the fact that audience listening levels are usually very low on holidays, and advertising, especially on days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is usually scarce.

So…if you don’t have a lot of listeners, and you’re not really making money…why would a station be on the air? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just sign off for a day and let the workers have the holiday with their families?

How asinine a statement like that is. And, if you’ll read further, I’ll explain why I believe such sentiments by retail workers are just as asinine.

Especially early in my radio career, but as recently as about 5 or so years ago, I worked (though not always necessarily each year):

New Year’s Day (starting at 5 am)
Christmas Day (starting at 6 am)
Easter
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Beggars Night
Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.
Christmas Eve (till midnight) and,
New Year’s Eve (till midnight)

And why? It’s simple…if we weren’t there, you would tune to another station. And if we were inconsistent on the air, chances are you’d listen to us a whole lot less.

Now compare it to the retail business. Traditional brick and mortar stores have been under attack by the likes of Amazon.com, WalMart.com, Barnes And Noble.com, Radio Shack.com, Target.com, etc. for a number of years. Now, I don’t even have to physically put up with the throngs of anywhere from overly exuberant to downright impolite and rude shoppers, and can order what I want in my PJ’s at 3 in the morning. This fact, alone should scream something in day-glo orange to the workers at retail stores:

We don’t need you anymore.

But, we’ll still patronize your stores if you are there when we want you to be there, offering deals that drive us in. You see…we’re “the customer” and we come first.

So your store is closed on holidays? No problem, I understand. But if a competitor is open and has what I want at a price I think is reasonable, don’t be offended if I shop there.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.

And there’s the rub. If you are not meeting the needs and desires of your customers, they won’t patronize you. If they want you to be open at 6 pm or 8 pm Thanksgiving night, you have to be open. That’s your job.

Same as it is if you’re a police officer, firefighter, EMT, News Reporter, TV anchor, Radio Announcer. Welcome, retail workers, to the ranks of those considered an “essential service”.

Oh yeah. And since most radio people who work holidays are those on the bottom rungs of the organization, the “newbies”, you might be interested to know that those part-time (and sometimes full-time) radio workers are often making minimum wage, or just barely above it.

A pizza delivery job on Thanksgiving night pays better.

Now, I’ve finally gotten to the point at my current station where I no longer have to work the vast majority of the holidays, barring some major emergency like a bad weather event. And, I am grateful. But just remember, I worked hard to get those holidays off.

It’s easy to think it’s all a “greedy corporation” that wants to make “extreme profits” off the backs of the “little people” (employees). But, it could just be simple economics tied to the laws of supply and demand. (If you took Business 101 in High School, you should know this).

Like it or not, for better or worse, we are now a 24/7/365 world. A country that never sleeps. The digital world has made it so. And if you’re not there for your customers when they want you to be, you won’t have a job.

Welcome to my world.

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There’s Always Radio, Dude…

I was absolutely aghast at an interview I saw the other morning on Fox and Friends.

They were interviewing a New York area resident…a young 20 something guy…about the abysmal storm recovery response there. And, toward the end of the interview, this guy blurts out:

“We don’t even know who the President is! We’re getting no information at all here!”

Wow! What a lack of knowledge and ignorance of the world around him this young man and, obviously, his friends near him have. Here’s what I mean:

The New York area is the #1 radio market in the United States.

New York City has three 50-thousand watt (the highest allowable power level) radio stations whose signals blanket the area. Their signals are so strong, I can receive them here in Ohio at night. They are:

WOR…NewsTalk…710 on the dial.

WABC…NewsTalk…770 on the dial.

WCBS…All News and Information…880 on the dial.

All 3 of these stations provided information during Hurricane Sandy. But, yes…these stations are all on the AM band. Which is sad. Because this young man and his friends have obviously never heard of, or ever bothered to listen, to any of these stations because….of course…who listens to AM radio anymore?

Which tells me my industry is doing a crappy job of getting the word out about these stations. Might not be a bad idea during a major storm like that for the FM stations to say, “Tonight is election night and our sister station, WXXX is providing complete election returns right now…tune to (frequency) AM for the very latest.” Or, “For complete storm updates, tune to WXXX at (frequency) on the AM dial.”

Radio has now been around for just shy of 100 years. And, today, you don’t even have to have batteries for one. There are what are called “emergency radios”. They’re anywhere from $19.95 to $39.95. Little portable radios that will operate on AC current, batteries, on solar cells, and even with a hand crank dynamo on the side. You crank it to create and store short term power for the radio. They can operate in any situation. And many will receive AM/FM and, in some cases, police band and shortwave. They’re environmentally friendly (for you green lovers out there), and, with just the exception of a few small daytime only stations, the vast majority of radio stations now all operate 24/7/365.

Yes, you have to put up with some commercials. But that’s the price you pay, other than the cost of the radio itself, for the information you’re getting around the clock.

So take the ear buds that are plugged into your iPod or i-Phone out of your ears, dig out that radio in the box in the basement and put some batteries in it, and rediscover that ancient “old technology” of radio. We’re still there when you need us.

Or, go buy an emergency radio.

Oh, yes…since you asked, Barack Obama was re-elected President.

Class dismissed.

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Voting Is WHAT???!?!?@#?#?>

I can’t believe I heard the President Of The United States suggest, in a speech that “voting is the best revenge”.

Voting is a privilege. And it’s one that we in America must respect, revere and cherish.

It differentiates our form of government from others in the world, in that it is the voice of the people. It allows us to self-govern, as our founding fathers intended us to do.

Voting must NEVER be done as revenge. And to suggest it is or should be is an uninformed, immature, childish, and even evil notion indeed. Voting should always be done after careful, informed consideration of the facts and issues and be aimed at the best interests of your community and your country. Which, regardless of your politics, I would hope you do next week.

As for the President’s comments, I just consider the source.

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