Monday, January 31, 2011

What Is Transitional First and Why Do We Need It?

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.01.31

Our Local School District has cut the Transitional First Program or T-1. This is a reaction to the budget knife being wielded against 5 and 6 year olds.

First time parents are clueless (even more than second and third time parents). Anyone who says they know what they are doing is lying.

Back in the mid-90's our oldest was going through kindergarten. We thought things were honky-dory until the third marking period. We got an ominous sounding note about our son's performance. We were a little taken aback when the teacher said our kid wasn't ready for first grade. I guess you go through some K├╝bler-Ross steps and eventually accept that your kid isn't Mozart or Carl Gauss.

The teacher wanted to put our kid in a "Transitional" First Grade or T-1. Instead of repeating kindergarten, our kid would be put into a situation where kindergarten would be re-taught, with many elements of first grade. After the year of T-1, our child would go into regular first grade.

We weren't crazy about it.

Holding a kid back? Holding our first back? Would he become some maladjusted kid if we did this? Would he become just as warped if we didn't? It is a damned-if-you-do moment. The teacher put us in contact with another parent who we knew from around town. 30 minutes talking to her made us realize it was the right decision for our kid.

As parents we needed to realize a few things:
  • We aren't in a race. There are no prizes for graduating ahead of time. (Unless you really, really want to start paying those college loans back.)
  • Every kid develops differently. There are all types of intelligence: academic, social, emotional, physical. Respecting each form of intelligence develops differently means sometimes you slow down to allow one facet of the kid to catch-up.
  • The purpose of school is to set your kid into a slingshot to get the best possible outcome. Public schools are trying to make sure that society as a whole has the ability to handle diversity at the end of the process. (Yes, given the nature of our micro-casting society, this is a good and necessary thing.)
  • The school - the government - with this program was helping us immensely with a tough decision about raising our kids right. Thank you. (I can go James Carville on you at this point about how government helps...)
  • Girls mature faster than guys.
  • Age (as it relates to birthdates) matters.

We were clueless parents ready to push our kid into a situation that other school districts would be happy to allow us to push forward in. We could have short-circuited the system by sending our kid to first grade at a Catholic School and bring him back for second grade. But what would that have done for our kid?

Had we pushed it, he may have been the youngest kid in the class with good academics and a poor social attitude. He would be the runt of the litter as far as his relationship to the other kids physically. Eventually, this could impact his confidence in general and start a downward spiral across the board.

He likely would have been "Pushed Through". How many times do we hear about failing academic performance because large groups of kids have been "Pushed Through"? If you aren't going to catch the problem early and rectify it then, why would you do it later? The longer you push off repeating a grade the worse it is for the kid as relationships are formed, broken and reformed.

Currently, our local school district, afraid of seniors or tax increases or robots on a rampage, has dismantled this program. This is a penny-wise dollar-foolish decision made by a group of people who would rather put more cops in schools than teachers. This school district had one of the best records for elementary school education as far as the standardized tests in the Philadelphia region.

When we were looking for a place to live in the late 1980's only one other school district in the region met our criteria for schooling (high on academics -- low on snobbery). This was a selling point for this school district that will be thrown away. Nothing like seeing your real estate values crater a little more.

We won't see the adverse affects for three or four years when the standardized testing comes out and there is a dip in performance. Whoever is on the school board then will be set up for failure. I hope those school board members' names who made the decision to cut this today will be remembered in the future for this decision.

Another problem isn't this T-1 program is being cut; it is the testing associated with it. When our oldest went through T-1 there were about 20 other kids in the same boat from this one school. They had about 5 Regular First Grade classes that year. The teachers evaluated all those kids with an eye for who was going to do well later. Meaning, as this program goes away, about 20% of the kids are now slated to fall through the cracks.

When you think about it, if you have that many kids in an at-risk group, why wouldn't you take them aside and get them really ready for the 12 year trip ahead?

Are the at-risk kids going to be allowed to repeat? I doubt it, if you have an administration that is this cost conscious about education; they are going to be more likely to "Push Through" kids who aren't ready. By allowing the at-risk kids to be mainstreamed, you are negatively impacting the kids who were ready to go. It may drag more kids down with them; more downward spiraling.

Eventually, the at-risk kids will be put into a slower track and left in the dust as the years go by. By the time an at-risk kid hits middle school or high school, you have essentially wasted all the money you have spent on them. We can then hear the cyclic chorus about how bad the public schools are and how they need to be dismantled or fixed by taking money away from them.

BTW, our oldest had a great his high school career, and is on the dean's list at college. Our younger guy also went the T-1 route is doing very well in high school. Our daughter did not do T-1 (girls mature faster than guys -- yeah we hear it all the tim-d think - they are all nuts.

Why should anyone get involved in the political process?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Saw a Different SOTU

Published: The Huffington Post 2011-01-27

I did not see the Presidential State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

I did not hear how we are in a Sputnik moment. I did not hear from the president that the Chinese are out-developing us, out-researching us, out-solaring us.

I got a look at the local state of the union. I was at my local school board meeting. It ran long. It was scary. (When I get the video of the meeting I will post it. I think you will find the board members' take on how government should work as fascinating. There are some real YouTube moments; if I can get the file.)

As the soaring rhetoric of President Obama told the nation how we are going to out-educate the world, my local school board was talking about how they dismantled a Transitional First Grade Program.

It got better as they all voted on increasing the police presence in the high school as they have "bought" a cop from one of the townships to patrol the high school. The other township is refusing to pay for the cop. (This is an affluent suburban Philadelphia district.) In the next breath, they were talking about the teachers that were about to be let go.

I think at that point President Obama was probably talking about high speed rail lines in China. The nine member board talked about how they are freezing the purchasing of textbooks, while spending $22,000-plus on wireless access points for the administration building. I am sure this is when the president was talking about South Korea's wifi initiative.

The school board, all 9 being members of the GOP, complained about how the stimulus money ran out and how they are going to have to sue a luxury senior facility in order to get some tax revenue from those who have checked out from society. I wonder if this is where Paul Ryan was chiming in on cutting everything?

The smartest person sitting at the table was a high school junior who is one of two token students allowed to attend the meetings. He ran circles around the superintendent. The student put clearly into focus how the school district is about and for the students. The kid was asking for a say in what is going on. He may be the only keeper of the group.

I am sorry, but as the president is trying to get this country to educate itself out of its problems, at the local level it is cut the taxes and cut the kids.

The board actually took 25 minutes out of the meeting (was Michele Bachmann on at this time?) to berate one of their own members for writing a letter to the editor about the demise of the Transitional First Program and how much they will be spending on athletic fields. They did this business on a snowy night when no one could show up at the meeting. But the rest of the school board ripped into the one guy who spoke up. One board member even went so far as to say that the Board Member could not write a letter to the editor identifying himself as a Board Member. (The video will be priceless).

No wonder the kids can't win. We have put them in a position where they already will owe everything they will work for during their lives. Out of college they will be saddled with debt. Out of high school they will be taught to tests and not to think critically. Our kids need to think their way out of this paper bag we have put them in.

In the public school system, teachers are thought of as expendable. I am sorry, but the teachers are the ones who interact with my kids -- not the administrators. The teachers help my wife and I put our kids into a slingshot to release them into the world. But they are pawns in the political games played by people with small minds.

The most appalling thing about this is: petitions for the November elections may now be circulated. Five of these nine seats are open this year.

No one is stepping up to run. Even AFTER a promise from the local Democratic Party to endorse the best people -- regardless of party affiliation.

I think I have seen this act before. The president steps up and puts out a solid and winnable goal. The Democrats (or other sane people) don't show up for the election fight. I am not just talking about elected officials here either.

The president talks globally while at the local level everything gets dismantled. No one steps up. No wonder our population can't win.

No wonder the Chinese are running circles around us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Please Lighten Lawrence O'Donnell up

Published: Personally 2011-01-25

"Wit is the Spice of Conversation"

Attributed to Ben Franklin

Spice cannot replace the main part of the meal. I guess that is why cinnamon never made it to be a main course.
Red potatoes with Rosemary are always better than Red Potatoes without Rosemary; especially if Rosemary is doing the cooking...

Lawrence O'Donnell has moved into the spot occupied by The Keith (Olbermann). Lawrence seems to be a really nice guy. He appears to be a super-wonk. In a lot of ways it makes for a really good, high-content, full-of-meat show. It appears to be really filling.

Many serious minded people will like Lawrence because he is, well, one of them. Lawrence needs to attract more than just the serious minded folks. Many are nice people too, but there are a lot of us out here who cannot take hard news for an hour without release.

Many times good art is about tension and release; music, writing, drama, and yes, comedy (politics being a subset of comedy). Part of the problem with a lot of non-Right Wing Media is that they forget this is entertainment. It quickly can become an "Eat Your Peas" experience - all tension and no release.

Rachel Maddow handles this very well with Moments of Geek and mixing drinks on the air. Matthews is a looser guy to begin with and can get away with more.

The Keith had a number of devices he used to get the release. "Worst Person" worked really well until Jon Stewart included it his Rally for Sanity montages. Reading from Thurber was a cool idea, but got old after a while.

Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert work because they ARE the release from all the built up news media tension.

Lawrence O'Donnell does analysis and interviews very well, but this 8PM time slot needs some more entertainment. Maybe I am wrong, I don't get the sense that Lawrence is that loose.
You cannot be serious with issues that set your hair on fire all the time. You need a minute to let your hair grow back.

Asking Lawrence to do a 5 minute stand-up monologue with jokes is not going to make it. It is just not him. Having comedians of questionable quality appear for a set-up straight-man interview can be a painful experience. It would sap his credibility. Play to the man's strong suit and don't try to morph him.

How about going Retro for Lawrence? He is on MSNBC. The NBC part of this operation has a treasure trove of material that would make a great release. Intersperse old Saturday Night Live commercial parodies within the standard commercial set. Don't say anything about it, but right after the commercial for the investment firm, Dan Aykroyd appears with the Bass-O-Matic or Spud - the beer that made Boise famous. There are a ton of them to be placed on a rotation.

Exploit the long relationship Bob Hope had with the Peacock Network - the next night a Bob Hope clip about politics could appear. The old Mike Douglas Show was filmed at the Philly NBC affiliate, KYW. Access to that material would be a great way to move in and out of commercials.

It would not turn Lawrence into someone less serious than he is, but it allows the viewers the release that cleanses the mental palette.

Excuse me while I put some Shimmer on my Butterscotch Pudding - I hear it is a floor wax too...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jack LaLanne Truisms

Published: Personally 2011-01-23

Even while dead - Jack LaLanne can still kick the tar out of Chuck Norris.
No disrespect to Mr. Norris.

LaLanne is the one who taught Chuck Norris how to count to infintiy.
LaLanne did it backwards too!
(BTW, if Infinity tried to count towards Jack - he would say enough and it would stop.)

Chuck Norris may have been able to chew nails.
Jack LaLanne could digest them.

Chuck Norris would bend people into Pretzels.
Jack LaLAnne could straighten them out.
Jack LaLanne gave Chuck Norris one of his outgrown jock straps.
Chuck is still trying to fill it.

King Kong thanks Jack LaLanne.
Kong was a 99 pound chimp when he started.

Superman was faster than a speeding bullet; but not by much.

Jack LaLanne was the guy who threw it.

no - duh
Jack LaLanne taught Superman how to be more powerful than a locomotive.

Jack LaLanne used to joke with Superman by picking up the tall buildings as Superman was leaping them.
Face splat - 86th floor.
Really funny

Last one -

The sun learned how to shine brighter because Jack LaLanne showed it how.

RIP. Big Guy!

You earned it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Before Everyone goes Bat Guano over The Keith...

Published: Personally 2011-01-22

The Keith (Olbermann) gave his last show on Friday. (The Keith is a sign of respect here...)
Before everyone decides to light their hair on fire and start screaming, could there be an alternative narrative to corporate takeover and purge action?

Let's say for argument a host was:
  • smart,
  • funny,
  • high-maint­enance,
  • thin-skinn­ed,
  • ego-starved (it is network TV after all).

Would timing of an announceme­nt like this cause a big splash with a corporate leadership change or not. Tying these two events, could be a ticked off employee slamming the door as they yell, "I Quit".

The guy did 8 years of the show. The last year was rough going to say the least. Is there the possibility he is just fried and needs time to recharge his batteries?

He is angry at suspensions and sniping. He may figure that the new management is going to be more hassle than they are worth. What mountains does The Keith still need to scale here. He is at the level of "been there, done that".

This puts the new management back on their heels; a emotional big bonus as he walks out the door. If they were thinking of keeping The Keith around until things settle on the merger, Olbermann cut them to the quick. The new management now has to play defense. Credit to The Keith.

Look, I don't know any more than anyone else here, but this is in the realm of possibility.

By the way - MSNBC does still have a lot of legitimate talent in the line-up. It may be time that they deepen their bench. Moving The Keith out allows more people to get developed.

Also, if you start running boycotts of MSNBC, that just gives the bean counters more reason to dismantle what remains.

We won't really know until things start settling down. Look for The Keith to tweet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thanks for helping me get an interview

Published: Personally 2011-01-19

Over the last few weeks I have been running a little campaign to get on the radio. I was asking people on Facebook or the Huffington Post to make a call or send an email to the Operation Manager of the local Right Wing Talk Station, Andy Bloom.

To those of you who did (I know there were a lot of you) - thank you, thank you, thank you, I really appreciate it! We will never know the final numbers, but I think they were effective. The campaign did what it needed it to do. I am on the radar screen.

The calls resulted in a call-back interview with the guy in charge last Friday Night.

Let me say it was a very cordial call with the man who allows Rush Limbaugh to speak in the Philadelphia Market. Andy and I don't agree on much, but we could be civil while speaking. In his position, he gets a lot of calls telling him the way things should be, he started out saying that he was pretty impervious to a campaign like the one waged. I basically said that it is radio, and sometimes stunts like this need to get run.

We talked about discourse and how coarse it is. His take on all the civility is to say we have had incivility in the past and it is really ok. He cited incidents during the founding of the country where duels are fought and sessions in Congress were interrupted by hot-poker jousting and canings. We talked about how the Jefferson/Adams Presidential Elections were very nasty.

I brought up how Philly City Council regularly had fist fights back in the 70's. We differ on whether this is a good thing.

We then talked about how his station was contributing to the nasty discourse. Earlier in the week we had a big snowstorm. The new morning host thought it would be a good idea to talk about how people put out chairs for dug out parking spots. He actually was soliciting calls with "have you had any fights over this". He got a few people calling but, one woman said she flattened the tires of someone who parked in a spot. The host was giddy. I called up in the next hour when the host started going after the President's call for civility as if it is some kind of joke.

I got on the air and called the guy out on it. I was civil, but firm. I did not call this guy any names. In return, I was accused of being the smartest guy in the room and somehow crazy. You know you score the direct hit when the host gets two or three people on after you to call you crazy too. I am hoping Andy makes the exchange available publically, as it can make both of our cases.

At that point we talked about how the station would actually be losing money by turning people away. People who are not foaming at the mouth right wingers are no longer welcome in their regular programming with the exception of Michael Smerconish. He tried to make the point that WPHT is a Right Wing Station and somehow for every one of me - non-Right Winger, he had 3 rabid Right Wingers. I am not buying.

We got to the part of 'where do we go from here'. Basically, Andy said you can't start directly on a major market station. (I kinda expected that response.) His take was I needed some seasoning in the minor leagues before he'd take a further look at me. That is a reasonable response. So, I am going to be putting some feelers out to see if I can get a smaller gig on a station around here with an internet feed.

It was about a 20 minute call. It was very nice that Andy took the time. It was also very nice that you took the time to get me the interview.

I am enclosing my thank you note to Andy to you too.

Again, thanks.


Thanks for taking the time to talk to me last night. I will begin seeking an outlet to squawk on locally. I was wondering if Internet radio is also an option for you to look at in conjunction with standard radio?

Every time I have an exchange like the one we had last night, I process a bit afterwords. It was hard to tell the parts of our conversation that were testing my handling of a caller as opposed to listening and assessing your point of view. I realized afterwords you may think I agree with all your points by my silence. You are pretty forceful, and yelling at each other on the phone would be counter-productive; especially, if I am asking to work for you.

As far as your examples of ratcheted up rhetoric, your congressional examples and the Burr/Hamilton duel may not be apples and oranges as much as Granny Smiths and MacIntoshes. In each of those cases those involved knew the other person. It was not a random attack. Using hot pokers, pistols at dawn, or canes in the Senate are all up close and personal culminations of two people going at it for an extended period.

Giffords was unprovoked by her. By all accounts this woman is a conciliator. She openly worked with everybody to the point where she was being vilified politically by both extremes. She didn't know it was coming or to be on the look-out for a particular person as the shooter.

I think the media was a tipping point. There are quotes from folks here with guns in their hands crediting Beck ( You can discount pieces like this from source, but the general public can discount RW Talk Radio from source just as easily.

Talk Radio involvement of the Giffords case, while passionate, can't yield a right or wrong because we are dealing with subjective material. It is perfect for talk radio. Having talk radio acknowledge there is a viewpoint with respect to its responsibility would gain it credibility in the eyes of the larger public. In other words, full-defense all-the-time cycles back into the conflictonator. There is nothing wrong with some Judo here.

You have your opinion and I have mine. I won't attack you personally for yours. It is almost like religion, you cannot say yours is right or mine is wrong. I have arrived at both my religion and opinions via my own path. We both have access to the same set of facts. We can process differently, that is the energy that makes the engine go.

As far as challenging the facts. If I were on the air and you used the "Obama has broken every one of his promises" attack, I would have a produced piece of audio queued up and ready to go in 10 item (or a smaller number) segments of promises Obama has kept (the pieces are titled "The Next 10"). It would be read in a softer female voice. If after the first Next 10 the caller came back with a "but but but he's a socialist", I could play a different Next 10. Any of those Next 10 items becomes bait for callers to join the conversation.

On Healthcare Reform - you stated that nothing from the GOP got into the bills. I have a hard time reconciling that with this Slate article: It has a link to an Excel spreadsheet of what was offered and by whom and what happened to the amendment. I am sure I can drill down for more detail into the congressional record for this stuff. It becomes fuel for another set of "Next 10" type of production pieces.

I will be honest in not knowing what to expect from an extended conversation with you and was happily surprised by the end. Hope you had a great Friday night.

Again, thanks, I appreciated it !!!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Make an Uncorrected Mistake

Published: The Huffington Post 2011-01-17

If you don't correct a mistake, you'll make the same mistake again.

It was a mistake nationally to take Single Payer off the table in 2009. Had the Tucson shooter gotten diagnosed and treated, would we be looking at the carnage now?

Today in Pennsylvania a program called AdultBasic is under the knife (Link). Governor-Elect Tom Corbett wants to do away with this program. The funding for this medical coverage program comes comes from health insurance company profits. Well over 40,000 at-risk people are in this program.

Currently, if the Tucson shooter were a Pennsylvanian, the AdultBasic would cover hospitalizations. In hindsight, do most of us feel this guy should have been hospitalized? Are we so sure there aren't members of this commonwealth who have these same conditions and need treatment? Do we want this for our state?

You can take all the resources out of social programs, but then what kind of society will we have? What will we do with the lunatics walking the street? Have the actuaries who have worked the numbers to cut AdultBasic taken into account how many robberies and shooting we will gain by saving a few cents in insurance? What is the cost to the social fabric as we fray the ends?

Even if we don't look at this from a direct mental health standpoint, how about the stress and frustration one would have when being sick with no resources? It is common knowledge that stress is a factor in many illnesses. Stress of not having a place to live is a pretty big stressor.

What does the secondary stress do to the families that watch as a relative is winding down? Are they more stressed that the winding down of the relative is accelerated by the lack of resources? We find the stress cycle rippling across more people. If you want to be actuarially cold about it, this shows up in reduced productivity in the workplace.

Since we have all these guns and gun rights in Pennsylvania, is it a good idea to stress people out?

Is it a cheap point to make that a Tucson rampage can happen here in order to preserve a health resource? I guess you can call me nasty names for bringing it up, but if we have a state that will allow lunatics to walk the street with relaxed gun laws then we are going to pay a price somewhere along the way.

Am I trying to scare the hell out of you from a criminal/crazy standpoint as well as a personal financial disaster standpoint? Yup - the same way we get scared into going into wars or building prisons or producing TARP bailouts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

No Connection to the Rhetoric - yeah Right...

Published: Personally 2011-01-14 full opinion...

There is no connection to the Right Wing Media rhetoric and the shooter.

I am not buying it, but not for the standard reasons. Let's use the indirect method.

The shooter is being diagnosed as a schizophrenic by all the armchair psychologists in the country.

Ok, let's go with that one.

In 2009, we had kind of a debate over getting single payer health care. It got taken off the table in the Obama Administrations unending bid to be a nice guy to people who hate him.

It was taken off the table by Right Wing Media yelling about death panels and pulling the plug on grandma. (I did not know we could electrify her. I will have to let her know. I am sure she will be thrilled.)

Theoretically, inside the concept of single payer would be mental health care. Since single payer was removed by the Right Wing, they have opened the hole, not by rhetoric, but by their policies, for what happened in Tucson. No money for the meds - we have wandering zombies.

Rachel Maddow did an entire hour program of the gun control consequences of the Right's obsession with warm guns. It is another area where the Right Wing Media indirectly contributed to Tucson.

You know - promoting the NRA mantra: You toucha my guns - I breaka you political face.

Great - now we have wandering zombies with access to guns!

It is more Right Wing Policy enacted by Right Wing Media. (This may be a chicken and the egg type of thing.)

We all know the tax consequences of having a single payer - they would likely go up. Let's see that patented Right Wing Media apoplexy to raising funds for anything. (How did they pay for the two wars we got ourselves into anyway?)

Access to medications and mental health care removed by right wing policy plus gun laws relaxed to the point of silliness by Right Wing Policy is a deadly as drinking and driving.

When you start mixing this together and add a daily dose of shrink-the-government - you have a situation where you have loaded the chambers.

The Right Wing Media doesn't have to say much directly to get the gun in the shooters hands. The unmedicated voices inside the shooter's head can do the rest. The miracle is that it hadn't happened before.

Even if it isn't said directly, Right Wing Media directed or supported by the Right Wing Politicians does bear a large measure of responsibility for what has happened.

The Right Wing Media operates on money. The jury on this indictment will be the listenership and sponsorship of the Right Wing Media outlets. Will they be able to hold a profit through these times?

Would it be good to buy or sell the stocks of the companies supporting the Right Wing agenda?

Selling would drive the prices down. It could drive a company out of business.

Would buying the stocks give legitimate control of these companies to stockholders who could stop policies supporting the intentional deterioration of society? Dick Gregory used this tactic to integrate restaurants and hotels during the civil rights era. Is it hostile takeover time?

Where we go from here is open to debate...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Change the Tone?

Published: Personally 2011-01-11

How do you change the tone when those speaking are tone deaf? Today, 3 days after the Tuscon Massacre, the local RW radio host in the morning was busy taking self-absolution of any responsibility for the environment. His term for people who use the Daily Kos was Daily Kooks.

So much for: "disagreeing without being disagreeable". That is now one of the slogans of this particular radio station.

I am trying to get a gig on a RW Radio Station. This RW Radio Station - WPHT in Philly. They are in a state of flux. They currently schedule UFO Abduction Programming from 2am to 6am Eastern Time (11pm to 3am PST). I can do better and with your help, we can make a profit for everyone.

Actually, this station has already proven that being respectful to callers and people you don't agree with is profitable. This station is Michael Smerconish' flagship station. He is moving to the PM Drive Time so, theoretically, he can do more national stuff without having his head explode from warped scheduling.

Smerconish has proven that ONLY Right Wingers can make a profit on the radio as a canard. Look at the common sense of it. If you don't insult people, they will stay and listen if you provide interesting and coherent content (my game plan). If you insult people they will go elsewhere (what is happening now).

Aren't you tired of the insults?

I need your help.

I am burning up my Facebook Account asking people to make a phone call for me. There are causes that ask us to make calls to Congresspeople all the time. We call Congresspeople because they are the ones that make the decisions.

I am asking you to call Mr. Andy Bloom, Operations Manager at WPHT 610-668-5800. This is the gentleman who makes the decisions about the tone and timbre of WPHT's product line.

People are telling me they have gotten busy signals, please keep trying. Please melt his answering machine.

I am enlisting as many people as I can find.

Even if it doesn't happen we are putting the person in charge on the spot. This is the guy who gets to make the call as to who gets on and when. Since WPHT streams live to the internet, everyone is a potential customer.

Yes, I said customer. When you listen to a radio station, you are a potential customer of the sponsors. (Boycotting doesn't work because there is a big enough piece of the pie out there from the other side to make the operation viable.) By putting a product out there that is more inclusive (non-insulting) it is possible to expand the demographic and charge more for ad revenue. It would expose the Right Wing only model as not making ENOUGH money. It puts the model at risk.

Beyond politics - it is about money. My last Huffington Post article was pushed hard for this reason; it was about Political Money (Link - it got over 250 likes). This is a related article and a different facet of the cash.

The media is about making money first. The media is a business. Politics is a business. How well you convince people of your ideas equates to how profitable and successful you will be.
Want to change the tone. Change the people.

I got no problem going from 2am to 6am Eastern Time. West Coast Owls with East Coast Owls and early risers. It would be a blast. I am a night owl (Temple '84). A schedule like this would let me finish seeing my kids playing sports through high school.

Here is my vitae stocked full of articles from the Huffington Post:

I am also reaching out to the DailyKos, DemocraticUnderground, NoLabels, the CoffeeParty and anyone else I can find on the internet to help me get on the air. Please get to me with suggestions.

Help me help you.

Again - leave a message for (if for no other reason than to tell him what you think about having Rush Limbaugh on the station):

Andy Bloom

Operations Manager

WPHT - CBS Radio.


Thanks, I hope to talk to you soon!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Help me pull a Keith Moon (and get on the radio)

UnPublished Draft: 2011-01-07


Irony comes in many forms. Over the last week I was gearing up a campaign for myself to get onto the radio in Philly. Not just any radio - the biggest RW Talk radio station in the market, WPHT. As part of their new line-up they brought in a standard RW talker for the morning drive. I had written the piece below and was starting to elicit help from various sources, including a PR firm, reporters and the management at Huffington Post. I was about to start the Facebook portion of this campaign.

Friday night I got an email from the person I was about to target in this campaign to get a gig. He wanted my phone number. I put the piece on hold. Then the horror of Saturday happened. I still haven't gotten the call, but an email saying he'd be out of town for a week and maybe we'll be able to talk.

Here is the dilemma. Do I go forward with my campaign or sit tight for a week waiting on the call from someone who would be my boss? On one hand, I would normally let the guy get a chance to get back to me. I'd like to hear what he has to say. On the other hand, this is the gentleman who brought Howard Stern to Philly, he has hired a cadre of people who are just sometimes plain nasty to folks on the radio. His line-up included Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. These are people who put pressure on those on the non-right without mercy. Is pressure how this guy operates?

In some ways this is the perfect storm. RW Talk radio will be pilloried for their role in the current environment. Did they put the gun in the shooter's hand? They have to know they need to change their act.

From a personal perspective, do I look at this as a test for me to get on? Can I rally enough people to get on the air? Can I create a sustainable, respectful, passionate, moderate media product in a toxic right wing environment?

I ain't getting any younger.

I need to stop waiting for phone calls and go for it.

I need your help! I make my case below...


Legend has it that Keith Moon jumped on the stage and literally threw The Who's old drummer out of the band while in the middle of a set.

Do you want a different voice on the Radio? Are you tired of the great conflictonators?

I have been on the Huffington Post for a little over a year with about 2600 fans. I have about 2100 Facebook friends over the last several months. I want to parlay you into a spot on the radio. I have been thinking about jumping back into radio for a long time (25 years). Now is as good a time as any to go for it!

Yes, I want to use you!

A couple of months ago I wrote about a shuffle at a large Radio Station here in Philly, WPHT, The Big Talker. Michael Smerconish, their morning guy was moving to the PM Drive time (Link). They got a new guy in the morning.

This week it was revealed that this guy is a standard, poke-a-stick-in-the-eye-of-everyone-I-don't-agree-with, right wing radio host. A conflictionator radio host.

Examples from this week:

  • During the 6 o'clock hour the host projected what happened in New York with their storm situation onto the Philadelphia Street Department. He made baseless accusations against the Philly Unions. (I thought about calling and challenging the guy to put up or get off the air.) If you want to go after the Philly Unions - they do enough on their own, they don't need to suffer the sins of what goes on in another city.
  • In his next segment he went on about how the President and Liberals think business is about providing jobs. Evidently the host forgot that the taxpayers gave a ton of tarp money to the business sector to stimulate the economy. The host decided that if the President wants to hold business responsible for the cash we gave business - it is a great way to tee off on the President for a cheap shot.
  • In the 7 o'clock hour he got a "democrat" analyst who could not even pronounce Joe Sestak's name properly. Sestak was the local congressman here...

It was difficult to listen after that. This new outsider host is calling to threaten the jobs of people like Will Bunch and has attempted to marginalize good reporters like Annette John-Hall. Both local Philly people. Later in the week I tried calling up with a different viewpoint - I got the click in the ear.

I wrote a note to the station manager. I know it may be arrogant and egotistical, but I am tired of the Right Wing whining and their spitting of the term liberal as though it is some kind of epithet. There is room in the talk radio world for people who are NOT RIGHT WING.

I want a tryout at this station! Even if it means a 2 am shift.

I need your help to get it!

I am asking you to do two things:
  1. Contact the management
  2. Then listen and participate once I get on. (There is an internet feed so no one will get frozen out.)

Here are 2 ways to contact the management:
  1. Phone Call: 610-668-5800 Ask for Mr. Andy Bloom
  2. Send an email: Here is a sample (I know your voice would be better than mine).


Subject: Give the Nerd A Shot.

Mr. Bloom,

Over the last few years talk radio has become the domain of one voice: those on the right side of the spectrum. There is room for more people and better discourse. It is even profitable to have a non-Right Winger on the air as you have experienced with Michael Smerconish.

Joe Ferraro blogs as Joe the Nerd on the Huffington Post and Facebook. He deserves a crack at your line-up. I normally don't listen to talk radio because it is so one sided, but I'll make an exception for Joe. He is a fair minded moderate who can be funny. He is also an activist.

Another good story line with this is he's a blogger and radio caller who's making it out of the crowd to say something of value. Can you give him a shot?


Joan Q Public...

Am I being a shameless self-promoter here; yes - I apologize. But I think I can bring something other than the nastiness of partisan rhetoric to the table. It is time to be part of the solution.

I really believe that non-Right-Wing radio has proven to be profitable and has a huge growth potential with those who are not in the right wing. I need your help to get in on the ground floor.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Democracy Is About Representation, Part 2: Media and Money

Published: The Huffington Post 2011-01-04

For the last year on and off I have written about expanding Congress. We will now have approximately 710,000 citizens per congressperson. It is the second worst ratio on the planet.

Doubling the size of Congress would put us in the middle of the pack at around 355,000 people per slot.

There are economic and political forces that need to be convinced that this is a legitimate way to go. Part 1 of this series was about convincing Congress to expand.

One economic force that needs to be addressed is the media. This interest must be protected. There will never be a limit to the amount of cash raised by a politician because this is fuel for the media.

I remember when Howard Dean was running for president and he made a crack on CNN about controlling the media. (My first thought was something about dead men walking.) Was it coincidence a couple of weeks later "The Scream" was driving him from the presidential field?

Where does all that cash raised by the political system go? The simple answer is: commercials (radio, TV, print), bumper stickers, signs and the like. The media isn't about to sit around and let that cash cow get slain in the name of "good government" -- whatever that is.

If you want to change the system, you have to make sure the media gets its cut.

I can make a business argument that the media is losing money on the national election process. An analysis of FEC filings for the 435 races in 2010 revealed there were 69 that were unchallenged seats. That is over 15% of the seats. Were these 'safe' seats? Maybe the Congressperson is doing such a great job that no one wanted to challenge that person? Or maybe it cost too much to take a chance on even setting foot onto the field?

Let's put a $1,000,000 price tag to run a campaign (maybe more -- maybe less) per candidate. That means for each of those unchallenged seats the media lost at least $2,000,000! (Each candidate's campaign plus any third party activity...) Why should a 'safe' incumbent spend anything to run? They aren't running against anyone.

Could the media have lost 69 seats times $2,000,000 or $138,000,000?

Let's split that district in half. We will also split the $1,000,000 per candidate in half too! ($500,000 per candidate per race.) Instead of 2 slots we will have 4 slots. Just on the first pass alone the media will recoup at least $1,000,000 because that new smaller district will be contested.

Since it ONLY costs $500,000 to get into the game, chances are the original incumbents will have competition. The media gets the other $1,000,000. (Please notice I am not asking for any spending limits here.)

Let's apply the capitalist system of competition to the election process so someone can make some money.

We all know how the media loves to predict horse races with polls. We all know that to feed the beast the media needs something interesting to report about.

With all these extra seats, and the seats being competitive, you know there are going to be some really fun-to-watch bat-guano-certifiable loop-jobs running. How much fun was watching Christine O'Donnell last year? We will have more of the races as we let more people access to the government. It is a democracy -- anyone can run -- let's prove it.

Races like this generate ratings. Isn't that the name of the game for the media? If people are watching Wolf talk about Sarah Palin going into a small district, that is going to drive ad revenue. Campaigns aren't paying for story coverage or talking heads, but the Jon Stewart conflictonator will be able to produce more greenbacks with less effort.

I really don't think the media's bean-counters care all that much about the government as long as they can make a buck off of it.

So split all the districts in half -- (the new gerrymandering stories alone will keep the media busy for months) you get more competitive races with more wacky candidate campaigns to report on. Everybody wins!

So -- to all you financial analysts for the media: Increase the size of Congress and you will increase your bottom line. Please send be a 1% retainer for this advice to ...