Saving Radio.

What the hell, radio? Why do you keep trying to destroy yourself?

 

Let me back up.

Some friends on Facebook recently got into it over why, philosophically and morally, one shouldn’t listen to Pandora (I’m throwing Spotify into this conversation, along with all the ‘radio’ style online streaming playlist generators available everywhere now) and further, why one should embrace the good ol’ fashioned LOCAL RADIO.

Except that there’s no such thing anymore. Not really.

And I’m not just implying that all the little mom and pop radio stations have gone away, because as you surely know by now, they mostly have. The ones that cling tenaciously to life in this day and age do so with automated satellite programming in every daypart outside of maybe morning drive, which begs the question “how are you considered a local radio station if you don’t have local jocks or local news or sports or weather after ten AM?” It’s like a local businessman owning an Applebee’s. It’s in your town, but it sure ain’t a “local” joint.

Ah, good point, Turner!

Thanks. But let me finish.

Local radio. Okay. I’ve got a plan to fix local radio, to save it, to grow it back into the behemoth it once was. The great thing about it is that my plan provides for those radio operations owned by great big monster corporations, too. Sorry, whiney buy-local types, but at this point there’s no distinction. Radio, to survive must embrace what it has become, which is a business, a factory, a product. And like it or not, those megalithic companies like iHeartMedia? Despite laying off or firing thousands over the past decade, that company in particular still accounts for over 20,000 employees. Those are real, live humans with mouths to feed and mortgages.

So, what’s my plan?

 

Be. Local.

 

It’s so simple. So brilliant. And it’s not an original thought; consultants have been screaming this at air talent for decades.

 

Be. Local.

 

How in Christ’s name are you going to claim to be a “Live and local” radio station if the only topics of conversation are Metallica and Donald Trump? Or Taylor Swift and the next Avengers movie? Or whether Big Bang Theory got renewed? Or Connor McDavid retaking the NHL scoring lead? Because here’s the tough medicine, kids: if I want to hear about those topics, I’ll go to a national news or entertainment outlet. I’ll do this because I know those outlets have you totally outgunned. They have reporters on-site, backstage access, the agent’s phone number, etc. They’ll do a much better job of covering the big stuff than you ever will. It’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is.

That’s one reason why I have NEVER been able to listen to local home-grown sports shows in markets outside of the top fifty or so. Because once your local AA baseball team news has been covered in three minutes or so (“Looks like Jennings is getting called up to the AAA team! Okay, on the MLB scores…”) you literally have nothing else to talk about but the big leagues. And brother, if you think I give two shits what the guy in Champaign, Illinois thinks about this year’s Masters, then you, my friend, are sorely mistaken. Leave that stuff to ESPN. They know what they’re doing.

Can a local radio show talk about the big events, the hot new movie or mobile device or TV program? Absolutely. Can they express disbelief at our moronic President and encourage discussion? Certainly! Hell, I’d say you’d be falling behind if you didn’t touch on those things. But you have to make them local. BE. LOCAL. There’s talk of Trump being impeached or quitting. If you’re a radio show in Indiana, you must absolutely discuss how your former governor might soon be president. What does that mean for the state? After Pence’s record of gutting education in his home state, how does the DeVos appointment help or hurt? Did a listener used to work for Pence? Are there local teachers that have horror stories? Or a business that maybe was saved by Pence’s tax credits or some shit? These are discussions that the guys in Washington D.C. will never tell as well as you can. James Hetfield had a mic malfunction at the Grammys. What happened the last time Metallica played your town? Good? Bad? Who was there? Are they coming back any time soon? DO YOU HAVE TICKETS?!? BE LOCAL.

Anyway. Maybe radio doesn’t stand a chance. Maybe people enjoy satellite radio because it’s safe and uniform and they can travel the world and hear the exact same thing no matter where they go. That seems impossible to me, though; but then again, the average Sirius XM listener has like 140 channels and only listens to about six of those (seriously, everyone really likes Lithium and like one 80’s station and some sports feeds until they go on spring break and check out the reggae channel only to discover that it isn’t 100% Bob Marley all the time.) Safety in boringness. Vanilla remains the top-selling flavor of ice cream. Big Bang Theory is “America’s #1 Comedy!” Fucking puke.

 So, radio friends…fight the fight. Dare to improve. Stop getting your entire show from show prep services and Reddit. Tell the story about that weird guy who always hangs out on the corner of Fairfield and Washington. Even better, get that guy on the air. Bring him into the studio. New donut shop in town? Buy a dozen and bring them in, eat em on the air. Had an unusually mild winter (or even better, an unusually bitter one?) Host a beach party. Fake tan contests. Give away a trip to the Bahamas. WHATEVER. Do your own thing. Relate. Be local.

Save radio. I’m counting on you. I believe in you.

Peace.

TW

Job Love.

So, here it is.  4:39PM on Friday, January 16th.  I’m at my desk.  I’ve done all I can really do today.  This week.  For now.

“And what is it that you do, exactly?” you ask.  Ostensibly, I’m a copywriter.  So that means I’m tasked with providing the written words for any number of different advertising campaigns. Projects carried out by my employers, the highly-regarded Asher Agency.  From the script for the flu bug radio commercial or the miniature screenplay for those Indiana Tech television commercials.  The hashtags on that Subway print ad.  The direct mail piece you got from PHP Healthcare.  That’s me.  That’s what I do.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. Just as I discovered in my radio career, each member of a team does more than one thing. “Everyone fights.  No one quits.”   We all have our particular focus, but the overlap is considerable. Each member of the creative team chips in with and develops concepts, comes up with visual ideas and directions, creates via the great crowd-brain-hivemind here in the creative department.  I love that shit.  I truly do.

I love being part of a team.  That was one bright spot in my radio career: even when things got dodgy,  I knew my teammates (the other  members of our on-air staff) were there with me.  As with any team, when everyone pulls together and does the impossible? Well, like Captain Mal says:  that makes us mighty.

But there are other perks here in advertising land.  For example:  I’m sipping a Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout from a pint glass at my desk  During business hours.  Things have certainly changed since the ol’ Don Draper days.  Folks don’t keep bottles of scotch or rye at their desks (Okay, some do.  Seriously.  But we don’t flaunt it, don’t partake all damned day.  We save it for the Friday of a long week or for special occasions. Everyone here is a professional.  We act like it.  That’s what we rule.  The stakes are just too high nowadays, the demand for quality too great to be achieved by a bunch of drunks.)  It’s still nice to unwind at the end of a busy week.  Feels good, man.

As I sat here doing maintenance/cleaning house on my email inbox, I rediscovered the following exchange which sums things up so very nicely.  See, last week I wanted to tip my supervisors off to the fact that I would be missing the first hour of so of the workday this past Monday (the 12th) for a routine doctor’s appointment. I start by sending this to my bosses, Dan and Kelly.  They’re both brilliant guys.  Geniuses.  So goddam smart and creative. Anyway, here’s what I said:

 


From: Turner

To: Dan, Kelly

re: Doctor’s appointment

Hey, fellas.  I have a doctor’s appointment Monday morning early, so I’l likely miss the traffic meeting.  Just wanted you to be aware, and not freak out and think “He’s finally done it!  Run off to live the life of a hobo, riding the rails of this great nation.  Sleeping in box cars, eating soup right from the can.  Fare thee well, strange tattooed man!”

 
Or whatever.
 

 

My first response was from Kelly, who I imagined chuckling, his shoulders convulsing as he typed.  He said simply:
 

From: Kelly
To: Turner
CC: Dan
Re: doctor’s
 
LOVE IT!!!

 

Three exclamation marks.  THREE!  And then Dan chimed in:

From: Dan
To: Turner, Kelly
re: Doctor’s appointment
 
All the while listening to Box Car Willie’s Greatest Hits on a Sony Walkman he picked up at the Salvation Army using batteries stolen from the countertop wire rack display at a 7-11 near the train yard in Waterloo, Iowa.

 

See what he did?  He continued the story! That’s fun! He could’ve ignored it, or sent an “Approved” message.  He didn’t.  So I expanded…

From: Turner
To: Dan, Kelly
re: Doctor’s appointment
 
Not “technically” stolen.  I left an old silver dollar my pappy gave me, and the promise to return once I’ve made my fortune.

 
(But really, I‘ll be at the doctor’s.)
See, I wanted to underscore the fact that I would be at the doc’s.  Dan’s warm response:

From: Dan
To: Turner, Kelly
re: Doctor’s appointment
 
Perfect. Be well. Don’t let the Doc poke and prod too damn much.
 
Now, the thing is, those guys could’ve handled my note in a couple of different ways.  Their response could’ve been very matter-of-fact.  “Okay.  Let us know when you arrive at the office on Monday.”  Or even “make sure this time is covered under office coding procedure vis-a-vis your timesheet.”  They could’ve responded with a terse “OK.”  Or, they could’ve been complete dicks and fired back “In the future, clear any and ALL delays or time away with us ahead of time.”
None of that happened.  Instead, they treated me like a valued employee.  Someone whose continued happiness within the company framework was important to them.  It was amazing.  It was…new.  To me, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong:  I’ve had a bunch of great supervisors in my professional life.  Radio, pawn shop, parts department, ice rink…wherever I’ve found myself employed.  But the stakes are just…higher?  I don’t know.  It’s just weird.  In a good way.  My sister-in-law works for Google out in Mountainview, CA. In the past, she would tell me stories much like this and I’d scoff.  I thought that there was no way that a worthwhile company would play it so fast-and-loose with employees.
One of these two is a friggin' VP.  How about that?

One of these two is a friggin’ VP. How about that?

That’s before I worked for a company that “got” it.  Like Google does.  Like Blizzard and Microsoft and a dozen different advertising agencies do. And it struck me that the best companies, the ones with a pulse, the ones that know what the hell’s happening out there…they’re great for a reason.  And it ain’t the amount of money they bring in (although that certainly helps matters) or the number of people they employ.  Its because if you work for them, they want you to be happy. (My wife works for a software engineering company that has a ping-pong and corn hole room for de-stressing during the day.  It’s no surprise that they’re a company that’s growing exponentially, hiring and building.  They’re going to be massive.)  Ye gods, what a great concept.
May you all be so lucky to work for such an enterprise some day.  Cheers.
(By the way, I recently signed up for a Behance account, sort of like an online portfolio.  If you’re curious about some of the stuff I’ve been lucky enough to have a hand in, check it out at https://www.behance.net/turnerwatson)

And Then THIS Happened

I waited.  I didn’t sleep.

 

I waited.  I mean, I was lying on a thin pad of a mattress.  A mattress that felt like it was stuffed with dryer lint and potatoes. A mattress shoved into the corner of the room, right on the greasy linoleum floor. Waiting, not sleeping.  Propped up on one elbow, stamping out one smoke and lighting another.  My legs were covered by grimy grey sheets which I’d pushed down in the middle of the night simply because my torso rejected the very idea of them.  The one tiny window (or rather, the hard blade of yellow sunlight coming through it) told me it was daytime.  I didn’t give much of a fuck what time it was.  The only company was the smoke and dust and a gnat or two that swirled through the shaft of sunlight, reminding me of the old Star Trek transporter effect.  I waited, and I had to pee.

The door exploding inward startled me.

No.  No, that’s bullshit.  It scared the living shit out of me, made me jump literally to my bare feet, hand flailing at my hip, searching instinctively for a weapon that wasn’t there. Hadn’t been there for days.

Fucking Motia.  Give that crazy witch credit, she knew how to make an entrance.  She liked to announce her presence with her boot flying into something it shouldn’t, whether it be a man’s junk, a flimsy wooden door (like right that second) or a pit full of timber rattlers.

Then you know what that maniac did?  She laughed. She stood there with that psychotic smile and laughed out loud. Laughed at me.  

She stifled the guffaw with a hand to her mouth.

“Get your shit together and come with me.”  All business, Motia.  “He’s waiting, goddammit!”

My arm hurt right above the elbow, a yellowish bruise from the last time she’d grabbed my carcass, hauling it out of yet another predicament.  I didn’t give her the chance this time, shrugging her off and side-stepping.

“Okay!  Jesus!  Let me at least grab a shirt and–”

She didn’t grab my arm.  She grabbed a handful of hair on the back of my skull and threw me out the door.  One-handed.  Hard.  Like I’d imagine a linebacker tosses his laundry bag down the stairs.

So that’s how I came to meet Dan.  Barefoot, stinking, shirtless. I smelled of last night’s booze and this morning’s stale nicotine and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten or showered.  Hell, I wasn’t even sure which one I wanted more:  to be clean or to be fed.

Except, of course, none of that is true.  Okay, let me switch gears here.

2014 has been the Ragnarok of Radio.  Yes, we’re going back to when I was in professional radio.  I lost my gig in June, for those of you that care and/or want backstory.  It was nobody’s fault, really.  I gave my employers enough of a way out, and they took it.  I won’t say it was amicable, but it really did work out for all parties.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  I ended up being better off, and I’ll explain later.

But it wasn’t just me.  Ft. Wayne radio got shaken to its very core this year.  People got fired.  Lineups changed.  Stations disappeared.  Much of the change was actually just aftershocks from the big WOWO/Bob & Tom switcheroo from a few years previous, combined with a few new ownership groups playing chess with their properties.  The dust is still settling, and even though nobody likes the idea, the fact is that there could be more changes to come.  That’s business.  That’s life.  That’s radio.

But it wasn’t just this market. For God’s sake, South Bend got gutted. Ft. Wayne got shaken pretty hard. Some folks got displaced  (or left of their own accord) and found their way out of town. WAAAAAYYYY out, for folks like Chris Cruise, who’s now doing country (!) radio in the Pacific Northwest. Some folks are still waiting for a ride, and wondering if they should even try tho find another job in the biz.  And then there are people like Jenna.  The Jenna Raetor.  Former midday host at The Bear, and more recently employed as a social media guru and host at some station in California.  That is until she lost her gig there, too.  I’m telling ya, folks:  radio is a fucking pit of vipers and nobody knows what the hell they’re doing.  Remember that scene in Apocalypse Now where Martin Sheen asks the soldier “Who’s in charge here?” and the dumfounded guy responds “Aren’t you?”  That’s what radio is.  And that’s a big part of why I’m glad to be out.

So, what exactly am I doing?  I’m doing work, son!  My title is “copywriter” but as I quickly discovered once I joined the award-winning Asher Agency, that barely scratches the surface.  Yes, I write copy (the words, the text) for radio, print, and television commercials.  But I also conceptualize advertising campaigns, and come up with creative ways to get the message out.  I work with our graphic designers and artists, telling them what I want or need and then watch as they masterfully put it all together.  I storyboard TV shoots and cast the actors.  I pick the music for spots and the announcers. I direct.  It’s awesome.  As my friend and podcast partner Joe Schultz says “It’s like a modern-day Mad Men!”  And he’s absolutely right.  And it’s awesome.  And I am happy.  And it’s awesome.

EPILOGUE:  I’d long since tuned-out the beeping of the monitors or whatever the hell they were.  The distant low hiss of some respirator somewhere in the next room.  I just sat.  And watched.  I waited for her eyes to flicker open or something.  Anything.  It was terribly discomforting to see her like that.  I’d never seen Motia in any other condition but wild berserker blitzkrieg or falling-down drunk.  The person in that bed, the person recovering from surgery couldn’t possibly be the same woman.  And yet it was.

A grunting cough shook me from my reverie.  Caleb.  That guy hadn’t left her side for a second.  I don’t think he’d even slept.  And for most of the time since they’d wheeled her back in, he’d had his eyes bored directly into me.  The dude was a helluva watchdog, that was obvious.  He loved her.  That, too, was unmistakeable.

“Relax, cupcake.” I smiled at him.

“Hmmph.” He snorted back.  The only reason he tolerated my presence just then was because he knew that Motia respected me.  Sure, she may’ve tried to kill me a few times in the past, but there was a level of trust there.  Caleb’s huffing and puffing was his not-so-subtle way of saying “Thanks.  You can go now.”

He was right, of course.  She had a guardian.  A hulking, shaven-headed sentry with a snub .38 tucked into the back of his belt and brass knuckles in his left-front jacket pocket. It dawned on me that three of the most dangerous bastards I knew were in the room.  There really was no one that would dare mess.  Not here.  Not with her.  Not today.

I stood.

“Well, good luck.” I smiled.

“Brrrrrmmm.” Or something like that.  That’s what came out of Caleb’s throat

I smiled again in spite of myself.

 

(In all seriousness, get well soon, Motia!!)

Radio, Radio…

I recently stumbled  upon a snippet of an old radio show I used to do.  The show was called the TnT Morning Show. We chose that show title because in its first iteration, I was joined by the amazing Tommy Collins (currently co-hosting the TnA Show on Wave 104 in Myrtle Beach.)  See, it made sense:  [T]ommy and [T]urner.  TnT.  When Tommy said “FUCK THIS SNOW!!” and returned to the Carolinas, the show continued with me and Parker [T]homas.  Here’s the insider tip that you might’ve been able to figure out regarding Parker:  his last name isn’t really Thomas.  We made that shit up to make it fit the TnT thing.  In fact, when I asked him if he minded adding a surname to his moniker, he shrugged and said “Yeah, sure!” and I handed him a LaBatt Blue and the rest is history, including the part where the little bastard up and left for Los Angeles.  Now you can hear Parker afternoons at 94. 1 WVIC.  When Parker took off, the third iteration of the show began with Barry [T]hickk (hey, at least he was already using that name!) until we got bumped by the syndicated Bob & Tom show in a cluster shake-up.

Anyway, here’s the break in question.  The “Safety Pop” in question is none other than Mr. Nathan Fast, a kid who will eclipse Ryan Seacrest in terms of visibility in the next five years. (Fact. Mark my words.)  The kid is HUGE and began his radio career as a lowly intern at 98.9 The Bear.  The Natalie you’ll hear was also an intern, and now runs Bark Like a Cat Media with her husband.  Not bad, kids.  Anyway, here it is.  Click the title to play…

Touching it, Dora, and Life.


 

How old is that thing?!  I mean, we mention MySpace for God’s sake!  Wow.  I brought this up to the attention of the parties involved, and Parker sent back this YouTube video that some listener put together.  A listener.  Someone that heard (and somehow recorded) a bit of our show and then put together a tribute video of sorts with pictures from our old MySpace and Facebook pages.  Never before have I been so flattered and totally creeped out at the same time.  The great thing about it is that it features one of my favorite characters, Fat Wal-Mart Lady.  Yes, she’s still out there, active on Twitter and Facebook and sometimes slumming at the Dollar Tree.  Brace yourselves…

So there’s a little walk down memory lane for ya.  Note to self:  I absolutely MUST dig up some old Tommy and Barry clips.  I’m sure they’re laying around somewhere.  In the meantime, we’ll always have MySpace…

For My Next Trick…

My blog entries have become rather scarce of late.  Yeah, sorry about that.  Things like work and children and a thousand-dollar-a-day coke habit tend to wreak havoc on my writing schedule.  The other main distraction has been, well…writing.

Quick backstory: I’m a failed screenwriter.  Okay, that’s harsh.  I guess I could say that I’m a successful screenwriter, as I penned two screenplays and entered them into the Project: Greenlight competition around the turn of the century.  One of ’em made the Top-100 (out of over 4,000 entries) but it still wasn’t enough to garner any interest from studios or, just as importantly, from agents.  Agents that COULD potentially get interest from studios.  In other words, I never became a professional screenwriter.  The scripts sat there for a while before a couple of different friends mentioned that I should turn them into novels.  So, that’s what I’ve been doing with my spare time.  Transforming what I now know to be very amateurish screenplays into (hopefully) readable and sell-able book manuscripts.

Will I run into the same difficulties getting published as I did trying to get the stories optioned for films?  Probably.  Will I decide to e-publish them, hoping that people will shell out $2.99 at Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a Kindle or Nook version?  Truthfully, I’m still working that all out as I strive to polish this baby into something resembling a presentable final draft.  But I thought I’d let you read a little sample, since you’ve read all my other silly stuff.  This excerpt is from the opening of Chapter Seven of my novel “Dead Air.”  It’s a fun little murder-mystery set in the good ol’ days (the best days) of radio: the Mid-90’s.  The main character’s name is Trey, and he’s pretty much me.  (But you probably would’ve figured that out.)  Please excuse the formatting.  WordPress is great, until you want something to read like an actual “book.”

Thanks for reading, guys.


 

Night-shift jocks keep bachelor hours.  Into the station around five for production duties, checking voicemail, show prep.  Staying after, sometimes as late as one or two in the morning for additional prod or putting together show elements for the next night.  A solid five hours of actual on-air time.  All told, it makes for some lengthy worknights.  Of course, when the jock is done at work, the party is just getting started in his or her favorite haunts.  Dancing, karaoke, live music; they’re all on tap until last call.  Then there are after-parties, breakfast at IHOP, etc.  The point is that sometimes a night jock doesn’t crawl into bed until near sunrise.

That’s why the digital, birdlike scream of my phone at 7:38 a.m. was so damned cruel.

Trust me, I realize that the simple thing to do would’ve been to turn the ringer off. Permanently.  Doing so would’ve saved me all kinds of heartache.  But as much as I resisted being a responsible adult, the fact of the matter was that most real-life decisions are done during the day.  If I was going to be fired or promoted or there was an emergency staff meeting or my mom had finally left dad for that old sailor buddy of his or whatever, I would have to hear about it during the bright, clear sunshine of midday.

7:38 in the morning?  That’s early even by the standards of real, God-fearin’ people.

Alarming.  That’s what it was, no pun intended.  By the same logic I employed in keeping the ringer on, I knew that if the stupid thing rang, it  meant trouble.  It meant that something mighty important was going down, or better damned well be; otherwise my ass was staying in bed.  I yanked the cordless handset out of the cradle and barked a non-standard ‘good morning.’

“WHAT?” I demanded of the caller.  It was Jim, who wanted to know if I had been listening to Doc’s show.  He knew damn well I was doing no such thing.

“No, Jim, I sleep.  Now.  I mean, I sleep in the day.  I was asleep.”  My brain slowly came online and my words started making more sense.   “Did he play that ‘Wheel of Scrotum’ bit again?  He knows what he’s doing.  I wouldn’t worry—“

I stopped.  My spine became rebar.  I sat upright on the edge of my broken-in old futon.  The expression on my face must’ve been classic: the look of someone who has mistakenly backed over their girlfriend’s cat.  On Christmas.

“Jesus fucking Christ…”  I muttered.

“Yeah.  Yeah. I’ll be right there.”  I hung up without saying goodbye.  It had always annoyed me when people did that in the movies, yet I didn’t even give it a second thought.  Not that day.

“God damn it.  No.  Please.  Not Janice.”  That was as close to a prayer as I think I’d ever gotten.

 

 

21 Hours in Vegas.

As some of you that read this blog know, my “real” job is as a midday jock (Disc Jockey) for 98.9 The Bear in the tropical paradise of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  So a quick bit of backstory for the tale you’re about to hear:  the radio station had an on-air contest, the grand prize for which was a trip to Las Vegas with yours truly.  The winner would be taking a guest, and so would I.  Since my lovely Sweet Baby could not take the necessary time off, I chose my friend and beer-league goalie Nick Farkas.  Farkas is a seasoned traveler, making trips all over North America in his role as a union representative and adventurer.  The trip was to take place between Saturday, February 1st and Monday, February 3rd.  A quick trip.  Essentially two night in Vegas.  Sounded wonderful.

Saturday, 2/1/14.

12:20pm I text our winner, Eric, to tell him we’re on the way to the Ft. Wayne International Airport.  He responds that he’s actually flying out of Detroit, since it’s closer for him.  I wish him well and tell him we’ll hook up out in Las Vegas.  For some reason, he and his buddy are staying at a different hotel: the Hard Rock Casino.  Farkas and I are at the Embassy Suites.  Hmmm.  Okay, that’s cool.  I didn’t anticipate spending much time in the room anyway.

1:06pm – I receive a call from an unknown 800 number.  The caller leaves a voicemail.  I check it.  Uh-oh…bad news: our flight has been pushed back.  We arrive at the airport, my lovely wife drops us off.  Nick and I go in.  Looks like there’s been a problem with the plane getting here from Atlanta.  Fucking Atlanta.  (This is a bad bit of foreshadowing.)  I inquire as to any other flights to Detroit (for our connection to Vegas) as I’m concerned that we’re really going to be pushing it, time-wise.  Our Detroit-to-Vegas flight leaves at 3:30.  We originally were scheduled to leave Ft. Wayne at 1:45.  As the clock creeps towards 2:30, I know it’s going to be close.  I am told that there are seats on a flight to Atlanta that evening, then to Vegas.  However, another airline employee says that no, that isn’t the case.  I tell the airline guys that we’ll soldier on, and worst-case, we catch a later flight out of Detroit. I call and leave voicemails to my bosses advising them what’s up and promise to keep them posted.

2:20pm – Halfway through security, a TSA guy comes running over saying “WHOA! WHOA!!  I can’t let you fly!”  He explains that the boarding pass that I’ve shown him…and that he has signed off on…is for Sunday the 2nd.  I think that’s got to be mad.  He read it wrong, maybe.  I look at my boarding pass to see that he’s absolutely right.  Somehow the airline has misunderstood or something, and has us flying out of Ft. Wayne the following day.  Fuck.  Farkas and I grab our crap, get out of line, and stumble sock-footed back to the ticketing desk.  One dude says “uhh…I thought you were leaving tomorrow.”  I explain that I’d JUST TOLD HIM that we were trying our luck in Detroit.  His supervisor straightens it out, prints new passes with our original flight times, and away we go.  Again.  Through security.

2:35pm – We sit on the goddam tarmac for an eternity.  Finally, we’re airborne. One last check of the flights out of Detroit shows that the departure has been pushed back to 3:40.  That’s good news, as minutes count.

Despite Nick's goofy mugging, neither of us was pleased.

Despite Nick’s goofy mugging, neither of us was pleased.

3:20pm – The plane  lands in Detroit.  Looking good.  Then we taxi.  3:30pm.  I look up exactly how far our departure gate is.  Holy shit.  Imagine a capital “H” on its side.  Got it? Our plane would be pulling into the lower-most, furthest-to-the-left gate.  Our plane to Vegas was in the upper-most farthest-right end of the “H.”  Fuck and fuck.  Okay.  We’d run.

3:30pm – Farkas and I (along with a couple of guys in Chive gear who are are also heading to Vegas) perform a “Flying-V” to get out of the gate.  Luckily, we’re all carrying our only luggage.  We run.  And run.  There’s a weird sensation that occurs as you sprint down one of those moving sidewalks and then reach the end:  it’s deceleration trauma, as your legs think the ground beneath you is still moving.  Of course, it isn’t.  My knees are already shot, so this jarring experience each time is annoying and painful. It  happens again and again and is unnerving each time.  I look back and see Nick is falling behind.  He stumbles, puts his hands on his knees.  He’s spent.  He’s done, and we’re halfway through the tunnel to the other side of the “H.”

The tunnel between concourses at DTW.  It feels about two miles long.

The tunnel between concourses at DTW. It feels about two miles long.

I ask if he wants me to run ahead.  He nods assent, then bravely tries to pick up the pace again.  I leave him, running as fast as my leopard-skin creepers will carry me.  Up the escalator, taking a hard right, moving sidewalk, floor, moving sidewalk, the gate is ahead, none of my travel companions is nearby.  Not sure what happened to the Chive guys.  Don’t care.  See the gate.  Rush to the desk. Look at the video monitor…

It’s gone.  The door is shut.

A Chive guy runs up behind me, tells me that  I must’ve been “flying” through the terminal., adding that  “I took the tram, and you beat me by thirty seconds.”  He mentions that he’d seen our plane pulling way from the gate literally as I arrived.  Wouldn’t have mattered.  Farkas was still back there somewhere.  Then I see him, and he knows from my face that we’ve failed.

3:45pm – The gate agent is a delightful, helpful lady.  She informs me that there might be a couple of seats on  the 7:55 to Los Angeles; the flight continues to Las Vegas.  I tell Nick that I’m running down to the help desk immediately, in case the seats disappear.  He elects, wisely, to stay there at the gate and rest.

3:50pm – Another long sprint, only to find a sea of humanity at the Delta help center.  I see the Chive guys talking to an agent.  I finally get one of my own, and she steers me to the bank of old-school black wall telephones.  I pick up a handset, talk for a while with the female voice on the other end.  No flights.  None at all, not even on their “partner” airlines.  She mentions that there’s a 6am flight to Atlanta, then to Las Vegas.  We’d be getting in around noon, Vegas time.

Fucking Atlanta.  Fuck.  I ask about where I’m supposed to stay, am given a number to call for a “discounted” hotel.

4:10pm – I grab a couple bags of complimentary Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Chips and two little Aquafinas.  I consider taking the whole damned basket. As I walk back to Nick, my phone rings.  Jeff Davis.  Jeff is an independent promoter.  He works with record labels and brokers deals with radio stations to “promote” artists/bands.  Often, he gets the record labels to pay for things like hotel stays as a way of saying “thanks for the support!”  Indies are the only thing standing between a radio station and payola charges.  They’re the middle-men, the brokers.  They keep things above-board and within FCC and FTC regulations.  Anyway, Jeff asks how things are going.  We chat.  There’s really nothing he can do, and I know it.  He wishes me luck.

4:45pm – We wait outside in the brisk Detroit air for our shuttle to the Days Inn near the airport.  And wait.  And wait.

This.  This was our "sanctuary."

This. This was our “sanctuary.”

5:30pm – The Days Inn.  With the airline “discount” it’s sixty bucks.  The station petty cash will have to pay for it, cutting into our “fun money.”  Whatever.  We check in, throw our bags in the room, head downstairs to the bar for something to eat.  Trish the Dish (nobody calls her that) is our waitress.  She seems amiable in that hard Michigan way.  Starving, Nick and I order a basket of shrimp and some burgers.  We guzzle a couple of Labatt Blues while we wait.  Then we wait some more.  Nick playfully hints that we’re sort of hungry.  Trish points to the order window and says “See how many orders he’s got on his wheel?”

Okay then.  Wonderful.  I love Detroit.  Finally, a couple of beers further along, we see a plate of shrimp in the window.  Our hopes are dashed when a different waitress grabs it and hands it to a guy who JUST SAT DOWN at the bar.  Vegas feels so very far away.  Finally, we eat.  Nick showers.  I text Eric and tell him that we’ll be in tomorrow, good luck, holla if he needs anything. I hit the sack, knowing that we’re going to be up at 4am.  It’s about 8:30pm in Detroit, Michigan

Our room number couldn't have been more perfect.

Our room number couldn’t have been more perfect.

Continue reading “21 Hours in Vegas.”

Q & A, Part Two

**Cracks knuckles.  Sips Scotch.  Exhales.  Turns to keyboard.**

Here…we…GO!

Into part two.  Moar questions answered!  (And thanks for liking my Facebook page.  Seriously, it means a lot.  If you haven’t yet, feel free to visit it on the right-hand margin over there. I’ll wait.               Got it?  Good!)

Leslie asks “Is you mother still writing?”

Leslie and I are old theater cohorts, and she’s asking, literally, about my mom’s writing career.  Many people don’t know that my mother used to write romance novels.  She started out at Harlequin Romance, doing those monthly soft-core romances that you mom likes.  She dabbled with other publishers, and actually had a few books out with her name above the title.  In other words, her books said “LYNN TURNER” and then “NAME OF STORY” underneath.  And yes, Lynn Turner was a pen-name.  She took my middle name (yeah, so?  Lynn is just as masculine as…as…like, Dale or something) and first name, transposed them, and BAZINGA!  Fun fact:  later on, as the internet became “a thing” mom would do Alta Vista searches (remember AltaVista?  It was the Google of the mid-90’s) for “Lynn Turner” and found out that…SURPRISE!  Lynn Turner was a 90’s porn star.  Anyway, sadly, it’s been a  while since mom published anything.  She contributed a few items to anthologies and such for old editor friends, but nothing of late.  Perhaps she should start blogging…giving tips to aspiring writers and such.  Hint-hint, mom.  (Then again, she could be my editor, as I just finished a damned manuscript and have no self-control…)

This is actually still available for your NOOK reader!!

This is actually still available for your NOOK reader!!

A very special query from my dear friend Joe:  “Why do you do this on a weekly basis after our hockey games … Stand like Captain Morgan while holding a beer wearing ONLY your birthday suit or if I’m lucky you’ll throw on a shirt, but that’s it ?!?! I’ve seen your hog more than I’ve seen my own. Welp, see ya later.”

For those of  you that don’t know, Joe is one of my very best and dearest friends ever.  And I’m 43 years old, so that’s saying something.  Anyway, Joe is also the drummer in the band RAINS and my linemate on our beer-league hockey team.  Next to Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, he’s the most famous guy I’ve ever shared the ice with.  But his distress comes from the fact that, yes, I often throw my “hog” out for display.  See, my “hog” has gotten me attention in the past (due to its shimmering, glistening beauty…and a purplish vein on the side that spells out ‘radiant’ in cursive and OH GOD, STOP TYPING!!)  Anyhoo…ol’ Joe’s penis has been known to cure blindness and make the crippled walk.  It also, ironically, has crippled non-believers who won’t accept that it is the ultimate power in the universe and STOP TYPING!!  NOW!! THAT IS AN ORDER!)

Rather than post a picture of my "hog" I decided to remind you that 'Back in the Day' is available right now on iTunes.  Ahem.

Rather than post a picture of my “hog” I decided to remind you that ‘Back in the Day’ is available right now on iTunes. Ahem.

Daniel (or, as we call him in da Fort ‘Porch’) has a good ‘un:  “Why are you a closet case for your love of Batman over Spider-man.. or.. what attracts you to Spider-man and when did you first feel that chub?”

I intend to do an entire blog about Spidey, who is the super-hero with whom I most identify.  He really does deserve his own blog, so deep are my affections for ol’ Web-Head.  But my Batman love isn’t closeted in any way.  I love Batsy. In fact, Batman and Ambush Bug are my all-time favorite DC Comics characters.  And if you don’t know who Ambush Bug is, please do yourself a favor and run (RUN, I SAID!! MOVE YOUR GODDAM FEET!) to your nearest (local) comic book store and inquire.  They’ll steer you right.

Ambush Bug: the ORIGINAL Deadpool.

Ambush Bug: the ORIGINAL Deadpool.

Time for one more?  Okay.  One more.

Finally, this question from Jess:  “How do you balance family/real life with the bear?”

She’s referring, of course, to my primary job, which is hosting the midday show on 98.9 the Bear in Ft. Wayne (but with online listenership spanning the literal globe!  Wae’aye, Newcastle!)  The thing is, the radio side of my life is part of my “normal” life and vise-versa.  See, nowadays radio guys are just like audio bloggers.  We use our lives as show-prep.  By that, I mean that what happens to us away from the radio station informs upon the show itself.  Follow?  John the Mexican talks about his new house during his show, Barry Thickk talks up his latest blowjob adventure (SPOILER: it was with a LADY!)  Hell, I just had my kids in to do a show with me AGAIN.  This, because I am sick and tired of trying to find childcare during this hellish winter that we’re having in the midwest. The point is that if you have a family, and you’re going to do radio, well…they’d better just get used to the idea.  This isn’t TV or movies.  You don’t get to shoot the scenes and go home.  You work at it, constantly.  24 hours a day.  Your life is show-prep, and radio is your life. That’s just how it is.  Concerts, remotes, appearances, guest-judging wet t-shirt contests…it’s all part of your life, and the other way around.  It’s why radio is so trying, demanding, and exhausting.  It’s also why it’s so blissful.  If you’re gonna stay in this biz…and I’ve been doing it for over twenty years…you learn that there’s no other way.  Radio = your life.  And the other way around.

Of course, sometimes your life demands that you hang with Corey Taylor.

Of course, sometimes your life demands that you hang with Corey Taylor.

Q & A, Part One

Oh, this year has been awesome so far, hasn’t it?  Man…things are happening, wheels are in motion, and ol’ Uncle Turner needs a break already.  (It sucks being old, kids.)

That’s why I decided to turn the tough part of blogging (inspiration!) over to you.  Over at my Facebook page, I asked you to ask me questions.  Nothing was off-limits, and you guys are so creatively insane and brilliantly stupid that I got some really good questions.  Too many to handle all at once, lest this be a 48-page blog entry.  Nobody wants that.  Hell, my radio consultant said the last entry was too long, so…let’s begin.

Ryan asks: Does God have feet?

An excellent question, and quantum physics teaches us that God both does and does not have feet.  Also?  This explains the dual nature of God as both male and female simultaneously.  Hence the old line about us being created “In God’s image.”  Whoa, it got really serious right out of the gate.  Let’s change gears…

"I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON'T STEP ON ME!!"

“I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON’T STEP ON ME!!”

Mike submits: Do you think Hollywood should do a reboot or sequel to Real Genius? And are you available to play Chris Knight, cause Val Kilmer is fat now?

I’ve covered reboots and sequels in previous blogs, and I’d be down for a sequel to this film (one of my all-time faves) if they mixed it up and made Chris the professor or even the project lead at some company.  He’s lost his way a bit, and needs a young, brilliant student to bring him back to the irreverent Chris Knight we all know and love.  Alas, I am also old and fat, so it’ll prolly end up starring Ryan Gosling somehow.

Negative, ghostrider.  The pattern is full...of donuts.

Negative, ghostrider. The pattern is full…of donuts.

From Joe: Colecovision…best gaming console ever?

Son, you know that it’s a war between NES and Sega.  A very tightly-contested war, with no clear victor.  That being said, “Buck Rogers” on the Colecovision was incredible.

My brother and I called this level "Holiday Road" and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from "Vacation" as we played.  True story.

My brother and I called this level “Holiday Road” and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from “Vacation” as we played. True story.

Brian asks: Rick Flair or Stone Cold Steve Austin ?

No question, it’s always going to be Rick Flair.  Ask me again in twenty years.  It will still be Rick Flair.  WOOOOOOOO!

One of these guys dresses with class.  The other might be Goldberg.  I can never tell.

One of these guys dresses with class. The other might be Goldberg. I can never tell.

The music-minded Tuler submits: What’s your favorite local bands?

Ft. Wayne has a surprisingly deep well of local talent.  And like most Midwestern towns, it seems like there’s a bedrock foundation of cover bands, upon which a layer of metal and blues rock lays.  Then you get all the other genres sprinkled about like feldspar. (Geology, bitches!)  I have talented friends in bands like Beneath it All and Valhalla, standout metal bands.  KTR and Downstait are great, too. I’ve always figured Left Lane Cruiser would be a huge national act by now, and it boggles my mind that they aren’t as popular as, say Cage the Elephant (I know, different styles and such.  LLC isn’t easily quantified and packaged, so there’s that.  Perhaps I should’ve compared them to Leon Redbone instead.)  But my tastes are decidedly more punk-rock in nature, so I’d say that you can’t go wrong with Flamingo Nosebleed.  They’ve had (and totally earned) the opportunity to tour with the likes of The Suicide Machines and other “national” acts.  One could make the argument that they’re more popular outside Ft. Wayne proper, which is a shame.

Okay, running out of space, so let’s have one more, hopefully from someone too drunk to stand…ah!  Perfect.

Jake asks (slurringly): If you were half man, half sausage, which half would beer man.

Every man is half sausage and half beer and beer man, beer, man.  Beer.

Yes, this stock photo exists.

Yes, this stock photo exists.

How Not to Radio

Oh, brother.  Let me start by telling you that I’m not here to tell you how to radio.  I’m here to tell you what NOT to do.

My whole reason for writing this is that I hear a lot of terribly executed radio here in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Not to say that I don’t hear some really amazing stuff, too; quite the contrary.  As a general rule, this and other smallish radio markets have some of the most gifted jocks with the best, most appealing personalities and on-air presence that I’ve ever heard.  And I listen to radio from all over this great world thanks to online streaming and the multitude of smartphone apps.  The problem is that with all these great folks in one market, there are bound to be an equal amount of complete imbeciles.

One final note for those not blessed/cursed with a job in the radio industry:  when I say “market” I refer to an arbitrary area that the ratings companies stake out for their measuring purposes.  Sometimes it’s a town. Chicago, for example.  Sometimes it’s a large geographical area, like the one I worked at in North Carolina.  That market was known by the Arbitron people (radio’s version of the Nielsen ratings) as Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville.  If you’ve ever been east of I-95 in NC, you know how far apart these communities are.  The “market” is HUGE.  Consider this:  anyone who has been to school at Eastern Carolina University (the Pirates!) or been stationed at Camp Lejeune (or MCAS New River or MCAS Cherry Point) has lived in this market.  That’s a very disparate group, which makes it very difficult to program a radio station in a way that will make EVERYONE happy.  Just some background.  Let’s go.

Pictured:  Greenville, NC.  Or Cancun.  Dammit, Google...

Pictured: Greenville, NC. Or Cancun. Dammit, Google…

You Are Not Famous.

You’re barely recognizable. Maybe.  A great friend of mine who has dabbled in roller derby and burlesque and mastered the art of being all-around incredible coined the phrase “Fort Wayne Famous.”  The idea was that someone might have an elevated profile in their smallish radio or TV market, but outside of said market?  Nobody gives a shit.  I think it’s a perfect phrase to use for ANYONE, regardless of what town they are in, who perhaps thinks they have risen higher than their peers.  Oh, you play arena football in Billings, Montana?  Good for you!  If you walk around Billings acting like King Shit, despite the fact that nobody outside of Billings has even heard of you, then you, my friend, are Fort Wayne Famous.

Perhaps you’ve done some TV stuff or you do voice-overs for some commercials and you have a very distinctive voice.  In that case, the person serving you at the local hot-dog stand (I do so love a good hot-dog stand) might ask “Hey, aren’t you that person whose voice is somewhat familiar?”  If so, good for you.  Hope and pray that they write your name down in their Arbitron diary.  But know that this person isn’t going to give a rat’s ass who you are within twenty seconds of you asking if they have relish or extra napkins.  They have lives, and you’re just not that important.  They might recall meeting you if they catch your radio show, in which case you’d better pray that you followed my next suggestion.

I take back everything I wrote in the previous paragraph, apparently.

I take back everything I wrote in the previous paragraph, apparently.

Don’t Be A Dick.

I mean this specifically in the real-life situation scenario.  It’s widely known that there are air-personalities have adopted a dickish on-air persona.  Not to say that they aren’t really dicks in real life…they just amp it up for “the show.”  Even then, real, professional assholes know how to tone it down in public.  I’ve heard multiple times that Bill O’Reilly is a generous, polite, kind person in real life.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t.  The point is that he acts like a gentleman.  You don’t want that pimply-faced cashier riding around town with his buddies when your voice pops up on the radio and he turns to his bros and says “Oh, I met this dude.  Came into the store last week.  Dude was a total dick.”  In other words, it’s unlikely that anyone will give two shits about meeting you, at least not enough to gush about it to their friends…

Unless you screw the pooch and show your proverbial ass.  People are more likely to pass on negative impressions than good ones.  Just human nature.  Check your Facebook timeline if you don’t believe me.

Okay, this person gets a pass.

Okay, this person gets a pass.

Don’t Make Stuff Up.

Oh, my GOD this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  And there are sooooo many jocks that are guilty of it, at every level of radio.  I’m talking about fabrication.  Being less than genuine.

Lying.

Stealing.

Here’s an example: a once-successful (and syndicated) radio host whose name rhymes with “Dancow” was taking a bunch of jokes that he got from an online prep service and passing them off as his own on Twitter.  Now, lots of jocks get material from prep services.  They do.  No biggie.  The good, creative, talented jocks make those jokes their own.  They change the punchline up so it reflects their market or the other personalities on the radio station.  Worst case, they’ve just passed off someone else’s joke as their own.  Again, we’ve all done that on some level.  Not too terrible.   But the usual jock with a couple hundred or a thousand Twitter followers can get away with that.  When you are nationally syndicated and/or have listeners in other markets and such, stealing jokes is a bad idea.  See, when the average listener sees you Tweeting a joke that they heard six hours ago on another media outlet, they’re going to assume you stole it.  It’s just stupid and it’s lazy and I hate it.

This goes much further, though.  You hear this one all the time, and it makes me so mad.  It’s the “we got an email from a listener who wants our advice” bit.  Good God, no.  Please no.  Not this again.  See, when I referred to Jancow earlier, I used the example of prep-service jokes.  A prep service is a website or email or whatever that provides radio hosts with a daily assembly of useful stats, facts, news stories, sports scores, sound bytes, and so on.  When used correctly and with discipline, they can be very helpful.  But they also offer pre-recorded funny bits and written “conversation starters.”  Sometimes these appear in the form of fake emails.  These faux-emails are chock-full of controversy, and so contrived that anyone who knows what to listen for can spot them immediately. “I think my girlfriend is cheating on me, and now she won’t ever let me see her phone and she changed her Facebook password.  Am I being paranoid?”  Groooooaaaaaannn. Or  “My boyfriend wanted to have a three-way with me and another chick, but now I want to have one with him and another dude and he’s all like ‘No way!’ and I don’t think that’s fair!”  Look, I’m not saying that these sort of emails don’t ever end up in the radio show inbox, but COME ON. (Also, who really uses email anymore?) If the show you listen to does these sort of stories with regularity, you know they are lazy.  When you hear the SAME EXACT EMAIL on another station (especially in the same market) you know it for a fact.  I’ve witnessed this, and felt myself cringe.  If you don’t have something juicy from your real-life experiences, then for Marconi’s sake, DON’T FAKE IT.  The average radio listener is very savvy and has a delicately-tuned bullshit sensor.  You may fool them once, maybe even twice…but when they figure out that you’re nothing but a phony, they’ll turn on you.  Fast.  And you’ll deserve every bit of the hell you’ll get on social media.  Speaking of social media, I know it’s hard to live by this rule whilst sharing memes and such on your Facebook or Twitter.  I get it.  But it’s not a bad idea to sometimes give credit, like “I found this on Reddit” or somesuch.  It just helps people trust you.  And that’s a good thing.  You want that.  You don’t want to be exposed as a plagiarist or thief.

The most obvious recent example.

The most obvious recent example.

So, to recap:  Unless your name is Howard Stern, Rick Dees, or Ryan Seacrest, you are not a famous radio person.  So be nice to people you meet (and co-workers.  Forgot to mention that.  Don’t have the people in your building whispering about what an prick you are behind your back) and be genuine.  Tell stories from your life, not someone else’s.  They’re probably better anyway.

Video Breakdown – Material Issue, Valerie Loves Me

I had a blast breaking down the perplexing nonsense of Belly’s song “Slow Dog” because, well…the nineties.  The thing is, I really enjoy that song.  But early-to-mid nineties music and fashion, however enjoyable it may have been, invites people to make fun of it.  As a former college radio DJ and flannel-and-Doc Martens-wearing “alternative/punk” kid, I still create Pandora stations that sound like the legendary KROQ must’ve sounded back in the Jed the Fish/Rodney on the ‘ROQ days.

But the videos?  Man…they were usually ridiculous.  They were all grainy, shaky handicam shots or some asinine attempt at edginess.  Sometimes they told a story.  Sometimes they just put the band in wacky situations, like a piss-poor version of the Beatles’ “HELP!”  Sometimes they borrowed form all these formats and added some ‘live’ performance shots of the band itself.

For example:  this.  “Valerie Loves Me” by Material Issue.  One of my favorites from that era. The first time I heard the song I was POSITIVE that the band was one of the hot English acts: bands that cropped up in large part thanks to the “Madchester” scene that gave us Happy Mondays, Blur, Inspiral Carpets, and later branched out to the Soupdragons, the Farm, and Oasis under the group heading “Britpop.”  Material Issue fit nicely into that sub-genre of Alternative music, and I was stunned to learn that they actually hailed from Chicago, Illinois.

Huh.

Anyway, here’s the lackluster video to the amazing song.  Watch it, then join me for the breakdown.  Then watch it again and go “Oh, yeah!”

Okay, we begin with…RUN!! IT’S ENGLISH PEOPLE!!  (Editor’s note: we’ve already established that this band is from Chicago, not anywhere in England.)

:05 – Oh, hey!  It’s not English people, it’s a Liv Tyler look-alike!

:10 – Thank goodness.  The lost Gallagher brother.

:23 – Freddie Highmore is now in a band, but cannot afford a shirt that fits.  Perhaps he will grow into it?  Let’s hope!

D'awwwww...they grow up so fast!  (And unattractive!)

D’awwwww…they grow up so fast! (And so unattractive!)

:29 – Remember when you had two hoop earrings in your left ear and none in your right?  Remember?  God, I do.  I also rocked the glittery Ankh on a French hook because ALTERNATIVE!

:33 – Sorry. It’s not Liv Tyler, it’s Ally Sheedy circa Short Circuit.

Seriously...is this even the same girl?!

Seriously…is this even the same girl?!

:59 – Young Ric Ocasek is just plain creepy.  Give her some space, dude!

Who's gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

Who’s gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

1:02 – Ally Sheedy says “Ha ha!  AS IF!!  L8R, sucka!”

1:23 – Uh-oh.  Mike Ness’s bastard kid is creepin’ in the girls’ room.

1:26 – My bad.  It’s really Arnold Horshack.  And he is SO BUSTED!

1:52 – “Hey, you gotta quarter?”

2:03 – It’s either “Hey, look at that hot piece of ass!” or the “Hey, why am I wearing sunglasses inside a dim, smoky bar?”

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI 'YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI ‘YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

2:12 – Air/Water.  Your choice.  Fuckin’ England. (Ed. note:  Chicago.)

2:18 – DOUCHENOZZLE ALERT!!

Beard?  Check.  Tie?  Check.  Shades?  Check.  Conclusion: 100% douche.

Beard? Check. Tie? Check. Shades? Check. Conclusion: 100% douche.

2:30 – One of my favorite parts of this song is completely wasted in this video.  Jim Ellison screaming “VALERIE LOVES ME!” is such a powerful, anguised counterpoint to his usual sing-song English (CHICAGO!) style of power-pop…and he doesn’t even get a closeup or a camera-shake.  Lame.  Probably why Ellison took his own life in 1996.

2:35 – That guy is totally rocking a Kurt Cobain-style shirt.  Man…the nineties…

2:45 – OH SHIT! GUYS!  SHE’S HERE!!

2:47 – The Aryan Drummer Brotherhood approves.

"Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!"

“Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!”

2:49 – Jesus, Horshack, could you be any creepier?

2:56 – “HA HA!  LOOK AT THOSE DWEEBS!  NICE SHIRT, HIGHMORE!”

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

3:04 – She is totally fucking with them.  “RUN, GEEKS!  RUN ALL THE WAY BACK TO ENGLAND! (Chicago.)

FADE OUT.

Conclusion: great song.  Average video.  They get points for almost having a narrative.  The loveable losers in the band crush on Valerie (Fun fact:  all the girls in the 90’s were either named Valerie or Veronica) and spend the video trying to woo her, only to have her drive off at the end.  And you know she’s totally gonna hook up with that douchebag with the tie.  Fuckin’ ties, man.  That’s life, man.  That’s life.

But Valerie loves me…