Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday Media Rant: “Loudmouth” Sly Nearly Derails The Elver Park Fireworks

After sputtering for a couple days, the Elver Park fireworks show on the 4th of July is apparently back on, with the city saying it’s forging a deal with the Woodman’s grocery stores to put on the show.

On Wednesday, it looked like it was off…with stories surfacing that Woodman’s didn’t want to work with Mid-West Family Broadcasting, and Mid-West saying it couldn’t go it alone.

It didn’t take long for “the rest of the story” to surface. The morning after the story ran on the local TV stations and my friend Pat Simms’ article hit page 5 of the State Journal, Sly was on the air saying he’s the reason Woodman’s won’t work with Mid-West to put on the annual fireworks show.

Thursday morning’s front-page story from Simms explained why Clint Woodman said his family’s chain of grocery stores won’t work with Madison-based Mid-West Family Broadcasting to put on the fireworks show this year. Neither Clint Woodman nor Tom Walker, CEO of Mid-West, aired the dirty laundry in the first article about the demise of the fireworks show, which is understandable, but Simms got the rest of the story the next day.

Back in December, Sly did one of his patented on-air rants about Woodman’s dropping mental health insurance coverage for their workers. I didn’t hear the rant, but according to Simms’ article, Sly then made another one of his patented moves, and got personal, ridiculing the way Phil Woodman wears his pants. (Phil’s the big boss at the grocery chain.)

Clint Woodman told Simms Mid-West should have reined in Sly, and not allowed him to talk badly about someone they do business with.

A scenario not exactly unique, where Sly’s show is involved. He is a polarizing figure.

Sly, of course, will stand on his First-Amendment freedom to rant as he pleases. And Woodman’s will stand on their privilege of doing business with whom they choose.

A couple items of disclosure: for those who don’t know, I worked with Sly for the better part of a decade. We’re still friends. And Pat Simms has been a friend for years, and was a regular guest on WTDY back when Glen Gardner and I were on in the morning.

And, for those not aware, broadcasting is not exactly what you’d call a “growth industry”. It’s slowly dying, just like the newspaper business. I’ll bet, if past is prologue, that the folks on the east wing of the first floor of the Mid-West offices and studios on Rayovac Drive (the sales department offices) are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Again.

There are no winners here, except the people who want to see the 4th of July fireworks show. Sly has a right to rant as he pleases, but criticizing the way the big boss chooses to wear his pants doesn’t win him many points. Woodman’s does not have a right to dictate programming policy to Mid-West because they are a sponsor. They’re buying exposure to the audience, not control of the station. But Woodman’s has a right to spend their money where they choose.

As I’ve told my children many times, choices have consequences.


  1. And yet, consequence is a concept that so few people today seem to understand...

  2. And I am now choosing to spend my money in other stores than Woodman's.