Friday, December 12, 2008

Big Bad Moon

If the full moon tonight looks unusually large, it is not your imagination – it is the biggest and brightest full moon to be seen for 15 years. Each month the Moon makes a full orbit around the Earth in a slightly oval-shaped path, and tonight it will swing by the Earth at its closest distance, or perigee. It will pass by 221,595 miles away, which is about 28,000km closer than average. The unusual feature of tonight is that the perigee also coincides with a full moon, which will make it appear 14 per cent bigger and some 30 per cent brighter than most full moons this year – so long as the clouds hold off from blocking the view. The next closest encounter with a full moon this large will not be until November 14, 2016.
In addition to this lunar flypast,we may also be treated to a strange phenomenon known as the moon illusion. As the Moon rises in the late afternoon, it will appear even larger as it lies close to the horizon. Psychologists have tried to explain this as a trick of the eye, as the landscape on the horizon appears to make the Moon loom much larger, an effect that disappears as the Moon rises above the horizon, although viewing it through a tube, such as a toilet roll, can make it look large again. With the Moon approaching so close to the Earth, its gravity will pull a slightly higher tide than normal for a full moon. This so-called perigeal tide adds about 1.6ft to the high-water mark, and with freshening southwesterly winds forecast, this may cause some flooding, especially along parts of the South West coast. Tonight’s full moon is also notable for rising to its greatest height in the night sky for the entire year, lying almost overhead at midnight. This is because we are approaching the winter solstice, on December 21, and thanks to the tilt of the Earth the Moon appears at its highest, as the Sun is at its lowest. Another astronomical treat that could be seen tonight and for the next two nights is the annual Geminid meteor shower, one of the year’s best displays of shooting stars. Up to 100 meteors an hour can fly across the sky. The meteors, which are easy to spot with the naked eye, appear to shoot out from the constellation Gemini, hence their name, but they can be seen all over the sky. However, with a full moon so bright, the best place to look is away from the Moon. Meteor showers happen when the Earth passes through clouds of debris shed from comets. As the tiny fragments smash into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at about 100,000mph, they burn up in streaks of light.

For reasons that are not understood, the Geminid meteor showers are tending to grow stronger each year.

I love this stuff. For my third grade science fair project, I created a solar system that actually worked with planets orbiting the sun. I was enthralled at the Gemini and Apollo space missions, I hung on every word. It will be cloudy tonight in Bloominton/Normal. Bummer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A tasty tidbit from Jerry D.

Priceless, priceless stuff. Jerry is a brilliant man and a great programmer. Too bad no one is listening to him.

Radio: No Balls and Jockless

By Jerry Del Colliano

The personnel cutbacks in radio continue.
Forget that it's only a few weeks before Christmas.
Each week another group gets to make a fool out of itself to shave more costs while rationalizing that they are doing better radio.
Someone must believe them -- but not my readers from the next generation who know better and -- believe it or not -- the programmers and managers who know how to run a good radio station. Or what I call the unemployed.
This week, it's CBS Radio on a rampage.
Their latest desperate move is to eliminate djs entirely and do an imitation of the "Jack" format -- you know, the "we play what we want, and you'll listen" concept. Except, that the listeners don't listen -- at least not in large enough quantities to make a statement. WKRK-FM in Cleveland can be added to the spineless list of yes men who said, "anything you want" to corporate and switched to an automated format called Radio 92.3 -- inspiring, eh? Opie and Anthony were pulled -- probably an okay move, but what's left of the local air staff is also out in the rust belt cold on the unemployment line. A sweeper voice is making a few bucks and he doesn't have to live in Cleveland. (Hey, what's wrong with Cleveland? After all, WKRK is in Cleveland?). The geniuses in the trenches think they've tweaked a female leaning alternative format that plays lots of music except where listeners have to put up with commercials and suffer the indignities of sweepers -- the worst formatic element ever invented by radio. Meaningless, repetitive, self-promotion. Jockless is "working" or should I say not being stoned to death in Hartford and Philly. Luckily young people don't care about radio anymore because radio sure doesn't care about them. More music -- fewer commercials -- greater variety. What a concept! So you don't think I'm going negative on you, let me pretend to suck up to the decision makers who are pushing this "improved" radio. God, listeners are going to eat it up. Who needs jocks? Listeners like to listen to stations that don't lose money for their owners. Someday PPM will confirm that! Anyway, we've got to do it -- there's a recession, right. And listeners want more music. They hate jocks anyway.

I'm going to puke.

You know what happens to decision makers who make lousy decisions, don't you? They keep their jobs when they work in radio. What happens if you know in your heart and through your experience that reducing radio to such a non-compelling experience can only hurt its chances of being a viable business? What some good programmers who have sold their souls to keep their jobs have forgotten is that you build the content first, market it second. Nowhere did I mention cutting costs?

A growth business is Apple. Not radio.

Apple comes up with great products that are generationally appealing and they deliver them in an atmosphere of desirability. Their marketing comes after they come up with the content like iPods, iPhones, Apple Air computers and so on. If radio executives ran Apple, here's how it would have gone.

Back when the money was pouring in, John Hogan(the head guy at Clear Channel), the new Apple CEO would have called a meeting and announced some changes.

1. He would appoint fifteen regional executives to meddle in Apple's retail stores.
2. Hogan would have announced to Wall Street that Apple was going to cut the length of the ear bud cords for the purposes of economies of scale. This would bring great savings that would be accretive to their share price. He would call PR Newswire and announce his new policy is called "Less is More" and consumers would carry their heads bent over in neck pain because they can't hold their heads up straight while listening because the cord is too short.
3. Apple CEO Hogan would then announce a reshuffling of his regional executives to eliminate the ones that won't say "yes" quicker and while he's at it, he creates three additional regional posts to make up for the weaknesses of the ones he's already named.
4. He announces the iPod will come complete with a radio that only plays Ryan Seacrest -- citing a research project that was commissioned by someone, someplace, somehow.
5. He announces budget cutbacks and starts firing store managers so the Apple store manager in Philadelphia has to run the one in the suburbs. This continues until he has one store manager per market -- running eight Apple stores. He calls this -- consolidation. Very accretive to shareholders.
6. Hogan announces that works so well that he's going to have his market retail store managers manage two markets. His first announcement reveals that he will be requiring the Philly manager to also oversee Kuala Lampur's stores. Not to worry -- he'll be required to visit each store every week.
7. Hogan reshuffles his regionals again and cuts back to four regions with the biggest four yes men (or women) keeping their jobs. The others are shown out of the building and their iPhones physically removed from their persons.
8. Then, as profits decline, Hogan calls the PR Newswire and announces drastic budget cutbacks to keep the stock price accretive. There's that word again.
9. Hogan suddenly drops the iPhone and iPod saying Apple can no longer afford to build and market these successful products because it would require them to actually hire more people instead of reducing the work force which would be -- more accretive. But he reassures everyone that Apple will remain in the laptop business.
10. Hogan calls Lee and Bain and offers them a chance to take Apple private at $100 a share. Meanwhile Apple stock is trading for $1.00 a share. But that's more than Citadel.
11. Apple announces that Lee and Bain have taken Apple private and to be reassured that John Hogan will remain as CEO for the next five years.
12. Apple cuts its work force by nearly 50% and finds some old computers in a warehouse that they can blowout under the name "Apple Air" -- never mind if it is or isn't.

You get the idea.

The way radio CEOs do things, they could even screw up Apple -- which if you follow their stock, is holding up pretty nicely in a bad economy.

No one is listening to radio.

Advertisers in deep trouble this holiday season are avoiding radio as a sales tool at any price. But go to an Apple store (run by Steve Jobs not John Hogan) and see how many people are buying iPods for their kids this Christmas -- in fact they will likely sell a record number -- and they are having the same recession everyone else is. And you see a lot of employees ready to help you buy something. Call their help centers and you actually get people answering the phone. Apple continues to expand which is why the company continues to grow.

Yes, radio has no balls -- jockless, mindless, people-less radio -- that your radio CEOs are giving the American public and advertiser.

While Apple may be the digital tomorrow and radio is in danger of being the analog past, the real mistake that is being made has nothing to do with technology.

It has to do with content -- or lack of it, thereof -- things like jockless stations, syndicated poppycock and non-compelling, cheap programming.

And a lack of understanding the generational media -- the differences between Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers as it pertains to media.

Its content they don't understand or value which is why Apple is a growth business and radio is a thing of the past.

How about some balls for a quick fix? The courage to get back to what radio once did by instinct and now can't do even with the help of radar.

Get a new plan. This one has failed.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Morning

Mizzou gets their ass handed to them again. You would think that we would shake off the old demons and be able to compete with the big boys in the conference. After the loss to Kansas, I just knew that this game was going to have ass kicking all over it. Most of the team will be gone next year and the "rebuilding" time begins again. I appreciate what coach Pinkel has done, but until they get past the big hurdle that is OU, Mizzou football will remain Mizzou football. Coach Pinkel is now 0-2 since signing that huge extension. The basketball team is 6-1, maybe there's a light there too...oh wait, Oklahoma is ranked in the top ten.

Here in Kirkwood, the birds have descended by the hundreds, the squirrels are out in numbers that I haven't seen before and scurrying about the place. The dogs in the neighborhood are howling. Could it be that this winter is going to be one of the worst ever? It's already dreary and cold and the official season is not upon us yet. Watching hundreds of blackbirds land in the yard across the street is a real scary deal. There are literally hundreds of them, they swarm and land, hang for a few minutes, then poof..they are gone.

I stopped by my favorite record store yesterday morning and got into a discussion with Tom and a couple of guys I have known from the record store through the years. I felt like we were the new version of the old guys who used to spend all day Saturday outside the old courthouse just spittin and chattin when I grew up in Ava. Or maybe the old guys who sit around the barbershop all day yapping about nothing important. Where else could you talk about the great chops of guitar player Paul Kossoff? Where else could you get three other guy who knew who Paul Kossoff was(he was Free's guitar player who died of an overdose in the mid 70s)? We did agree however, that Billy Squier was one of the hottest acts on the planet in 1981 with his LP "Don't Say No". That sucker was played every four hours on KY 102 for a year. with songs like "In The Dark" "Lonely Is The Night", "The Stroke" and others, he was a huge star. He killed his career with ONE video. This one...

I think most of the testosterone laden guys at that time looked at this video and said..."ick." Most of the women did, too. He never regained that same place again. I am not sure about his sexuality, but he was only one of two men who ever came on to me, movie director Allan Carr being the other.

Sunday night is coming. I dread Sunday night, no, I hate Sunday night and have spoken about this before. It has to be subliminal, deep rooted and highly complex on why Sunday night sucks so much for me. Separation anxiety? I don't know but there is something there.

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