Saturday, December 28, 2013

Adventures on the Beltline


I saw it coming a split-second before it hit – a chunk of ice, about twice the size of my fist – and it made a huge noise when it hit my windshield and did the damage you can see in the photo above. I’ve lived in Madison long enough to know that when you’re on the Beltline near the Channel 15 tower in winter, you need to be aware that you could be attacked by chunks of ice falling off the tower and guy wires. And, sure enough, when we were on the eastbound Beltline at that spot at around 1:30 Friday afternoon, we got hit.

A lot of my friends say we’re lucky it didn’t sail right through the windshield and either kill us outright or cause me to lose control of my venerable road-warrior SUV and get into a multi-car wreck.

A year or so ago, they had to close the Beltline for about three hours when Channel 15’s tower and guy wires were shedding ice like crazy. The circumstances yesterday were similar to what happened back then: lots of moisture in the air, condensing and freezing onto the tower and guy wires; a nice sunny day with a moderate southerly wind, which blows the falling ice right onto the Beltline.

My daughter and I had gone to see Anchorman 2 (don’t bother; it’s one of the worse movies either of us have ever seen, dishonoring the original movie which was pretty funny) and then to lunch on the far west side. As we were coming home, right across from the Channel 15 studios, the chunk of ice hit and made enough noise to scare the wits out of my daughter, who let out a hundred-decibel yell. When I explained what had happened, I said “take a picture of the windshield”- and that’s the image you see above.

When we got home, I called Channel 15 to see if they were aware of what was going on, and they said Madison police and the State Patrol were in their parking lot “monitoring” the situation, ready to close the Beltline again if it got really bad.  Then I called to make an appointment to get a new windshield, and discovered that it’s essentially a monopoly now. I called a company which I thought was a local outfit, wound up on hold, and when the guy finally answered and I went through the song and dance with him, he told me the earliest they could come would be Tuesday.

Not good enough.

I called another company which I thought was local, and got the same message as the first outfit I called, and got put on hold. I hung up.  I called a third company (these were all local, Madison phone numbers) and went through the rigmarole again, assuming that there’s just one giant glass company which operates under different names. The order-taker asked my zip code (53713) and asked “do you live in Madison, Fitchburg, or……ah……Ma-na-no?” I said “where are you, that you have no clue on how to pronounce Monona?” and he said “Phoenix”.

After some wrangling about my insistence that Tuesday was just not acceptable, the deal was done and set for 2 o’clock this (Saturday) afternoon.

I posted the picture above on Facebook and I’m still getting comments from friends, reminding me how lucky I am! My lawyer said “be sure to file a claim against Channel 15” (thanks, Counsellor….) and several other friends from my days in broadcasting commented on the irony of ME getting hit by ice off a broadcast tower. One messaged me and said it was broadcasting’s “revenge” on me for winning a settlement from my former local employer after I was fired several years ago. My tuba-playing friend Tom from western Iowa, after saying he was glad my daughter and I were OK, asked if I had to change my shorts when I got home! (darn near) 

Eric Franke, my friend and anchor at WISC-TV News 3, posted lightheartedly “I blame it on John Stofflet” – his counterpart at Channel 15. Stofflet replied that he was on vacation, hence blameless, and then was kind enough to say “glad you’re OK, Tim”. I replied saying I was blaming it on Charlie Shortino (Channel 15’s main weather guru).

Gerrit Marshall, a tech wizard (engineer) at Channel 3, posted that he was glad we were OK, and went on to say that on his first day of work at WISC-TV in December of 1981, the Channel 3 tower shed a chunk of ice that took out the windshield of his car in the parking lot!

I also got a private message from my friend Tara, a former news colleague at MidWest who was an anchor at Channel 27 before that, saying she was glad we were OK, and telling me her dad – who is my insurance agent – was up in Minneapolis for the weekend visiting with Tara, her husband Kenny Jay (who’s with CBS radio in the Twin Cities), and their kids, and offering to have her dad call me right away. I thanked her for the offer but said it’s just a busted windshield, nothing that required taking time away from the grandkids!

So, in a few hours, I’ll go get a new windshield put in, and then the REAL fun – dealing with all the administrative paperwork about who winds up paying for it – will be the way I’ll start the New Year.

 When my daughter gets back to New York in a few days, she’ll be able to tell her friends about her great adventure on the Beltline. And we’ll have another tale to tell at future family gatherings.


At least we’re here to tell the story – which could have had a much different ending – about our adventure on the Beltline.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

We All Wanted To Be Larry Lujack



It wasn’t Larry Lujack’s voice, although he had a great one for radio and he knew how to use it. I always thought the best voice on Chicago rock radio was Joel Sebastian. And, as far as voices go, Oklahoma-born John Doremus, who was on WMAQ in Chicago at the same time guys like Lujack, Sebastian, Bob Sirott, Gary Gears, Bill Bailey, and Steve Lundy were on WLS or WCFL, probably made more money with his voice than any of those famous rock-jocks.

It was what Larry Lujack did (said) on the radio that made me, and thousands of other guys like me, want to be like Larry.  Which is exactly what he counseled against, always telling the people he trained “be yourself”.

We wanted to have a sidekick like Little Snotnose Tommy (Edwards). We wanted to do Animal Stories. We wanted to read the Crank Letter of the Day (which later became the Clunk Letter of the Day) on a radio show like Uncle Lar did; we wanted to do Cheap Trashy Show-Biz News.  We loved that he would break format and just do whatever the hell he wanted to do. We wanted to work at a station so big that we had our own engineer, just like Spacey Dave engineered Larry’s show.

In college in the late 60’s, all the Radio-TV students had their own tape recorders (long before little portable tape recorders were available) and we made aircheck tapes of the big-time Chicago jocks. We studied the way Larry was so unlike the other talk-a-mile-a-minute rock jocks and how he used the dramatic pause – in an era where any unmodulated carrier (“dead air”) was considered a mortal sin. We listened to how the engineers processed his voice – how much reverb was added, what kind of equalization might be in the audio chain – we talked in class, in hallways, and over beers, about those big-time Chicago rock jocks.

But Larry was the king, the icon, the center of the young radio student’s universe.

I still have WLS and WCFL airchecks from those days.  You can still hear Lujack and all the legendary Chicago rock-jocks on YouTube and blogs and tribute sites all over the internet. My favorite tape from that era  is “Larry Lujack’s Farewell To Rock and Roll”, when WCFL changed format from Top 40 to beautiful music, and, as Uncle Lar said, “I’m needed here. I’m not going anywhere.” (Until a few days later when his contract with WCFL was bought out and he was back across town rockin’ away.)

I met Larry for the first time at some radio confab in Chicago, where he was one of the panelists on some discussion of where radio was headed. A few years later I went to a book-signing event in Chicago when Larry’s book “SuperJock” came out, bought a copy for me (which I still have, and stupidly never had him autograph) and a copy for my parents, which I did have him inscribe. He wrote “Your son is in a worthless dead-end occupation. With regret, Larry Lujack”.  Classic cynical Lujack! I hope mom still has that book somewhere.

When I opened Facebook this morning and saw so many of my broadcasting friends with links to stories of Larry’s passing (at age 73, of esophageal cancer), I paused a long moment and thought back to those days when so many of my friends and I were just beginning our radio careers, and how much time we spent talking about whatever Lujack did on the air that day.

What a wonderful time in my life – with great memories.  Rest in peace, Uncle Lar.

(Editor’s note: many people know my on-air persona as that of a news anchor. My first decade or so in radio was as a DJ (“air personality” as we called ourselves back then), and while Larry Lujack was always an inspiration, I owe my real mentors, the late Dr. Robert Snyder and my good friend Jerry Burke for really showing me the way. Jerry went from being a premiere DJ in the Fox Valley to a distinguished career as a TV news anchor and reporter. I could not have had a better path to follow than Jerry’s when I transitioned to news broadcasting.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Old Late-Night Radio


A Facebook post I saw this morning opened the door to memory lane, and the hits just came flooding down the lane. My tuba-playing friend Tom played at the Ames (Iowa) Tuba Christmas Saturday afternoon and then had a combo gig on e-bass after that; as he headed for home in Lake City he posted that he was doing his customary thing on the way home – listening to the oldies station in Des Moines.

Now, Tom didn’t identify the station by call sign or frequency – I could have asked him – but to me, when you say oldies and Des Moines in the same sentence, you’re talking about 93.3 KIOA-FM.  This powerhouse station – radiating 82-thousand watts off an 1100 foot tower – is what broadcasters call a “C-1” station, a high-power FM that blasts a signal for miles and miles, covering a dozen or more counties.

KIOA-FM has been through more format changes than I can remember, but since the early 80’s has pretty much owned the oldies franchise in the center of Iowa.

When I was a young broadcaster, travelling with polka bands on weekend gigs, AM radio was king. FM was just beginning to come of age, and because FM transmission is essentially line-of-sight, you had to be relatively close to the tower to pick up an FM signal. It doesn’t travel farther at night, like AM signals do, skipping on the atmosphere. A 50,000 watt AM signal on the lower half of the AM band can pretty much cover half the nation at night; but even a C-1 high-power FM signal only covers a couple hundred miles at best.

In the mid-60’s to mid-70’s, travelling with John Check’s band, after the band had finished playing, packing up, and was finally rolling toward home, it was usually around 2AM. And the radio stations of choice for late-night homeward bound listening on the Check band were either WTMJ-AM  620 in Milwaukee or WHAM-AM 1180 in Rochester, New York. Those two stations played jazz late at night on weekends, and that’s what the guys in the band wanted to hear.


The guy who held forth on WTMJ-AM was John Grams, seen above interviewing Louis Armstrong, early in Grams’ career as a DJ on the station he started out with, WHBL-AM in Sheboygan.  His show on WTMJ was called “Grams on Jazz” and he played everything from Satchmo to the latest jazz hot off the presses from Blue Note, Arista, Columbia, and the other major labels who were still doing jazz releases back then. And Grams was an authority. He knew jazz inside out and backwards, and always said a few really relevant things about the songs he selected to play on his jazz show.



Here’s a shot of Grams in the massive old WTMJ-AM library (circa 1977) selecting the records he’d be playing on his show that night.

The other late-night weekend jazz DJ we loved to listen to was Harry Abraham, broadcasting his jazz show on WHAM-AM 1180 out of Rochester, NY. Because of the way AM signals are affected by atmospheric conditions, sometimes WHAM would come powering off the shore of Lake Ontario in upstate New York to blanket the nation all the way to the Rocky Mountains, and it would come in clear as a bell in Wisconsin.


Here’s a shot of Harry Abraham (love that late 60's 'fro!), who, like John Grams, knew a great deal about jazz and the musicians who made it, and shared his knowledge in succinct “intros and extros” between the jazz records. Both Grams and Abraham knew darn well they were talking to a lot of musicians travelling home from gigs, and they treated their audience with respect, never “talking down” or trying to sound too academic. It was clear they loved the music and loved sharing it, as so many musicians do.  When 1180 wouldn’t come in clear enough, you could count on hearing 620 anywhere in Wisconsin in the small hours of the morning.

As time moved forward into the later 70’s, FM radio was starting to come into its own, and more and more high-powered AM radio stations changed to a format that didn’t involve a lot of music. I was still working with the Check band until ’76 or so, and usually rode to and from gigs with three other guys my age (late 20’s) in the band: Dave Hoopman, Dick Wehner, and Don Hale – our designated driver. We frequently listened to the old WFMR-FM on the way home from gigs, if we were anywhere near the Milwaukee area.


Here’s a shot of Ron Cuzner, who did an overnight jazz program on weekends called “The Dark Side” on WFMR-FM. The call letters stood for “Wisconsin’s Fin Music Radio”, and the station played classical music all day and evening, and after midnight, Cuzner took over with “The Dark Side” and played jazz. He loved the new, roaring, powerful big-band jazz that was popular at the time – Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, Quincy Jones’ big-band stuff, Don Ellis, Maynard, stuff like that.

We would crank those tunes up all the way in Don Hale’s car, and just dig it. Cuzner had the most unusual voice and delivery; it was all very “other-world”. He didn’t call the city of license of the station “Milwaukee”; he called it “Henry’s City” (for then-mayor Henry Maier). And he left a LOT of dramatic pauses between records.  He’d play a real high-powered track from the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis big band, and when it ended, he’d leave about 15 seconds of dead air, and then say something like “It’s a quarter to three with 53 degrees in Henry’s City; music from the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin big band is straight ahead on WFMR-FM 96.5 in Henry’s City. This is The Dark Side; I’m Ron Cuzner.”

Those were the days; young and foolish, riding home with friends and great jazz, played by some memorable personalities on radio stations that pretty much don’t even exist any more.


But the trip down memory lane made them just as vivid as if it had been only last night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't Be So Hard On The Kids


The title of this post is a comment my friend Doug made in response to one of my Facebook posts last night. The last few days I’ve been snarky about the children doing weekend weather on a couple of the local TV stations (not the station Doug works for), and Saturday morning I posted that one of the local dweebs had just said the wind chill factor was “minus 25 below zero” (which, in English, is said “25 below zero”). The post got a few dozen “likes” and engendered a string of comments, many of them from current or former nooz people, about the dearth of experience of many of the young folks doing nooz, weather, and sports on the local TV stations.

One of the TV kids last night said the temperature was headed down to “negative five”.  I don’t know where he was raised – presumably in some climate where the temperature never got below zero – but where I come from, in the Fox Valley, we say “five below”. I’m pretty confident you’ll never hear a native ‘sconnie say “negative five” or “minus five” in conversation.  In true ‘sconnie dialect, you’re more likely to hear someone say “oh for the cry-yi I goes to the kitchen window and looks at the big thermometer the old man’s got nailed up to the garage wall and it says it’s twenny below zero”!!!!!

Doug, who is an experienced and talented TV photographer, said I was lucky they didn’t have Facebook back when I was on the radio.  And then he made the “don’t be so hard on the kids” comment.

It often comes as a shock to Doug, and lots of other media people around here, when they find out I’m still very much “on the radio”. My reports for the Wisconsin News Connection (owned and operated by Public News Service) are heard pretty much daily on several dozen radio stations in the Fox Valley, Eau Claire, Rhinelander, and lots of other small burgs around the state – just not in Madison or Milwaukee.

Every one of my reports – which are one-minute and two-minute “voiced” news stories – is subject to a level of editorial review which would shock most electronic media news people. Every word I write is examined by one of four hard-nosed editors before my script is approved for recording and distribution.

Years ago, when I anchored news on several of the local radio stations, I was also the “coach” who reviewed the writing and reporting skills of the rest of the news staff. I’m confident any one of them will tell you our weekly coaching sessions were pretty thorough. And, to their credit, my bosses made sure my work was reviewed by a coach. “Somebody’s got to coach the coaches”, the senior board members would say.

For WTDY, my coach was nationally-famous radio consultant Holland Cooke, who is the premiere news/talk consultant in the industry. He would listen to my newscasts at random times (online) and make critiques, and about once a month, at his in-market visit, he would critique my work.  For Q-106, my coach was Tommy Kramer, who works for another big national consulting company, Audience Development Group. Tommy’s a Texas boy who knows his way around a good country newscast, and like a good Texan, he’s cordial and polite, but he does not mince words.

One time, one of the news staffers I was coaching said I was being a little too tough. I said “you want to see my latest critique?” and pulled it out of a desk drawer. As he read it, his jaw dropped farther and farther, until he finished, and looked up at me, and said “holy cow…that IS tough”. I said “and you’ll notice at the top that this report is copied to each member of the board of directors”.

I was tough on the “kids” because I wanted them to be better writers, reporters, and anchors.  My coaches were – and now, my editors are - tough on me for exactly the same reasons.

So, Doug, let me ask you this: is your work reviewed? Is every piece you shoot reviewed by a coach, peer, or manager? Does someone edit every news script that’s written in your newsroom? Does someone spend at least one full hour a week working one-on-one with your writers, reporters, anchors, producers, to coach them, sharpen their skills, develop their talent, and – heaven forbid – help them correct their mistakes?

Didn’t think so.


So, I’ll take a snarky facebook comment any day, rather than a withering glance from Holland Cooke or Tommy Kramer.  

Copied to the board, by the way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It Was A Simpler Time


If you’re a baseball fan and haven’t seen the recently discovered video of the last few innings of a 1965 baseball game telecast by WGN, do yourself a favor, and when you have an hour, watch it.  You can find it lots of places, but there’s link on Deadspin that’s also got some other neat stuff.  The link is here.

It’s a great game; a ten-inning no-hitter Jim Maloney of the Reds hung on the Cubbies the afternoon of August 19th, 1965, and Jack Brickhouse and Lloyd Pettit are calling the game for WGN-TV.  My wife IDOLIZED Lloyd Pettit, not only for his Cubs broadcasts, but for the way he called the Chicago Blackhawks games.  Pettit is a hero to Wisconsinites, of course, not because of his connection to Chicago sports, but because of the tremendous gift he and his wife gave to the people of Wisconsin: the Pettit National Ice Center, an Olympic training/hockey facility at State Fair Park in West Allis.

I digress.

My friend Jim Bartlett wrote a great blog-post about this “ancient” TV footage recently unearthed, and pointed out how different televised baseball was back in the 60’s.  To paraphrase Jim, he referred to Brickhouse and Pettit as being like a couple of knowledgeable baseball guys who came to the park to watch the game and talk baseball.  They didn’t overanalyze, they didn’t preach, they treated the viewer with respect, and assumed you were following the game and didn’t have to be told every little thing that happened on the field.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about my formative years in baseball. I grew up listening to a couple of the best “minimalist” sports announcers of the 50’s and 60’s: Earl Gillespie (and later, Merle Harmon) doing the Milwaukee Braves games; and the great Ray Scott doing the Packers’ telecasts on CBS during the glory years.  There was no “color” or “analysis”; just the announcer, describing the action.  Laconic doesn’t even begin to describe Scott. His patter consisted of stuff like “………Starr……….to Dowler……….Touchdown.”  Or “........second and six……Starr hands to Taylor….Thurston and Kramer leading the sweep………….first and ten.”

You really didn’t need much more than that.

And during my years in LA, I had the privilege of listening to Vin Scully call the Dodgers games.  What an icon!

The soundtrack of the “ancient” footage of the Cubs/Reds game at Wrigley in the 60’s with Brickhouse and Pettit really isn’t that different from the kind of announcing that WGN-TV has had for decades on the Cubs broadcasts, whether it was the colorful Harry Carey with Steve Stone, his grandson Chip with Stone, or Len and JD. Like most “local” guys…I’m thinking here of Brian Anderson and The Rock on the Brewers telecasts…they don’t wear out their welcome motor-mouthing, and the production elements are actually pretty basic.

But the network broadcasts of Baseball and Football…..whether on Fox, ABC/ESPN, NBC, or CBS – talk about OVERKILL.  There are so many graphics, so many sound effects, so many things on the screen at the same time including the “crawl” at the bottom of the screen updating scores of other games, that it can drive you batty.  And there's nonstop talk - much of it inane - as if a few seconds of silence would cause everyone to lose interest in the game and change the channel.  

I'm comfortable with silence, or simply "crowd noise".

Fox has this one sound effect they play every time they change the graphic on the screen, and on our “big” home theatre system in the media room at the Morrissey Compound, it’s enough to drive you batty, a combination of the sound of a 747 taking off and some other electronic element that causes the bass speakers in our system to move enough air to create a breeze.

I know, they’re aiming the broadcasts at my kids (who are 30 and 28 years of age), who “watch” a game while texting andsurfing the net on their smart phones, confident in the knowledge that if anything big happens, the TV will replay it a dozen times from a dozen angles so they don’t really miss anything by not truly paying attention to the broadcast.

Enough with my nostalgic rambling.  Bookmark the link and enjoy the old broadcast….when you have time to just savor the unhurried pace and un-hyped announcing.


It was a simpler time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Five Years Later.....


Five years ago this morning I was pulled off the air, escorted to the office of the bookkeeper, and in front of two witnesses, fired from the company which had employed me for a little more than 30 years. I was a few months shy of 59 years of age and had just a few weeks prior set a retirement date with the person who engineered my demise. A few minutes later, my longtime friend and morning show partner Glen Gardner was given the same treatment. Several other people were fired later in the day.

We’d both known it was coming for a week, tipped off by our sources at the top of the food chain, so our lawyers were in place, the litigation commenced, justice was done, and we were both eventually paid off for our investment in the company (both of us were long-standing shareholders), settlements were agreed to, and life moved on. 

There’s no sense minimizing the huge disruption this was in our lives, but we picked up the pieces, reinvested our payouts, and reinvented our professional lives. The station Glen and I had worked on eventually failed and was shuttered with another mass firing at the end.

After the litigation was settled, my wife – the world’s greatest support system – and I took a long vacation at Spring Training in Arizona. While we were soaking in sun and baseball, the person who had engineered our firing suffered a massive stroke and died a few days later. Ironically, our daughter was the unit coordinator in the neuro facility where this woman spent her last few hours on life support – a horrible and sad fate not to be wished upon anyone.

Having been business partners in broadcasting for many years, Glen and I had come to be good friends at and away from work. Some months after our abrupt dismissal, Glen started an online news service for which I became a contract writer, along with some other media friends from the area who were similarly “at liberty”.


If you’ve lived around here for more than five years, you’ll recognize most of the names above. The last half-decade has not been kind to the media business. 

I realized my future was as a contract (freelance) writer/researcher, and the first big project I accepted after joining the YourNews operation, was development of a huge website for the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation. I did some contract work for wonderful non-profits like the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, and a few years ago Glen brought me on board as a contract writer/producer for Public News Service, where I’m still cranking out Wisconsin-based stories. Glen has since left Public News Service and moved “back home” to the Boston area, where he operates a thriving consulting business and spends a lot of his time on airplanes cris-crossing the country. 



A year ago today, Glen married his childhood friend Lauren, giving us something to truly celebrate on November 18th every year! Glen and I are most fortunate to have such wonderful supportive spouses. Mazel tov, Glen and Lauren!

Five years out, I still have some bitterness about giving essentially my entire professional life to a closely-held private company, being a partner, investor, manager, and performer for 30 years – only to have friends and partners of long-standing dismiss my decades of service without even a thank-you. But for those of you reading this who’ve suffered similar fates during the ongoing media purges, know that there is abundant life after broadcasting.


As George Herbert wrote in 1651, living well is the best revenge.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why Bo Should Put The Players Names On Their Uniforms


Simply because it’s smart marketing. And it’s dumb not to.

Suppose you heard about a locally-owned grocery store with good selection and prices, and you walked into the store and found nothing was labeled. You could quickly determine which was the produce section and the dairy section and the bakery, but nothing was labeled. Suppose you stopped a clerk and said “what’s with the no labels?” and the clerk said “we find that most of our loyal customers are already familiar with our products and labels are not necessary”.

That’s essentially the argument I got when I posted a Facebook status last night saying I hated that Bo refuses to put the players’ names on the back of their jerseys.  My own kids ridiculed me. The female (I’m not putting her name on her jersey here) said “watch more games to become a real fan” followed by an emoticon smiley face; and the male (not putting his name on his jersey here either) “liked” the female’s comment.  Another commenter (a journalist for one of the local newspapers – not putting his name on the jersey here either) said “It’s about the name on the front of the shirt”.

Oh, puh-leeze.  As if that crap worked 30 years ago when it was somewhat popular.

Collegiate sports at the level the UW has decided to participate is about a hell of a lot more than the tiny percentage of “student athletes” who actually suit up and compete. It’s about putting fannies in the seats and justifying the ever-escalating ticket prices and fat TV contracts, more than about whether some coach decides he has to leave that “student athlete’s” name off the jersey so he or she remembers that there’s no “I” in team.

Collegiate and professional sports are marketed as personality battles.  It’s not the Packers versus (or, as the young folks say, “verse”) the Bears.  The promos the airwaves are saturated with say stuff like “Aaron Rodgers and the Packers take on Jay Cutler and the Bears”. Or “can the Rodgers-less Packers get past the Cullen Jenkins-led Giants defense” or whatever.  And please don’t give me that shopworn crap about how big-time collegiate sports are not comparable to pro sports, and amateurs, and all that BS. Every week, collegiate football (and basketball) broadcasts are promoted with the use of specific player names.  It’s not Texas A&M. It’s Johnny Manziel and the Aggies.

If the UW is going to continue to compete at the BCS level in Football and at the nationally-ranked level in basketball, you’d better believe Barry Alvarez knows damn well it takes BIG bucks to sustain such programs. And those programs support “the lesser sports” which can’t charge 50 bucks a seat. Those big bucks come from fat TV contracts and marketing deals all the way from which company makes the uniforms (name or no-name) the players wear, to which business’s name is most prominent on the scoreboard advertising, to sales of team merchandise (name or no-name). 

Implicit is the argument that you’ve got to keep a huge fan base happy – a fan base exponentially larger than the number of people who buy tickets.  So you’ve got to market.  And if you want people to quickly learn to enjoy (“use”) your product, you damn well better put a name on it.  You want to make it as easy as possible for people to learn your brand (UW Baskeball) and the names of your products (players).  That’s the engine that drives this big collegiate sports money machine.

After all, it’s not the University of Wisconsin Basketball Arena.


It’s the Kohl Center.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Andy Pafko Isn't Dead And Never Will Be, To Me


Andy Pafko, a small-town boy from up in Dunn County – Boyceville, to be specific - went to his eternal reward earlier this week – but in my imagination, Andy will always be alive, it will always be the summer of 1957, he will always wear uniform number 48 for the Milwaukee Braves, and he will always be one of my idols.  Andy was 92 years old, one of the last links to an era of baseball that’s long gone and vastly different from today’s game.  He played with Jackie Robinson, for heaven’s sake! Andy Pafko is as alive in my memories today as he was when I saw him play at County Stadium decades ago, at the end of his career.

When I heard of Andy’s death, the floodgates of memory opened wide.  I love baseball, and have ever since I can remember.

The young slugger with the unusual stance pictured above is me – back in 1957, all of 8 years old – ready to launch an imaginary pitch from my grandpa (the cameraman) over Roebeck’s hedge - the Roebecks lived next door to my grandparents in Oshkosh - and run the bases to the cheers of the imaginary crowd. Years later, legendary baseball coach Russ Tiedemann would take care of that stance when he coached me at Hortonville High, and would teach me to become a “singles machine”.  I can still hear his words echoing across the years – “stop tryin’ to kill the ball, big fella – shoulders square, level swing, just meet the ball”.  I was always big for my age, and thought every at-bat called for a home run.  When I’d learned the fundamentals, Coach Tiedemann taught me how to swing for power. And he taught me another baseball fundamental which is in short supply today: how to bunt.

Years later, Tiedemann would go on to coach at UW-Oshkosh and establish a dynasty there, and send a whole bunch of his young ballplayers – Jim Gantner and Gary Varsho are probably the most famous – off to the pros.  I would go on to become a broadcaster and do play-by-play of baseball games, and play a lot of bar league ball. And win a bunch of trophies for power-hitting.  I was never a fast runner, so I compensated by whacking the crap out of the ball and hoofing it as best I could.  One year, I lead my bar league in doubles.  For anybody else, those doubles would probably have been triples or inside-the-park homers.


Baseball was my passion growing up, shared with my dad and my grandpa. I was a Braves fan from birth. Here’s a shot of me with my sister Lynn – I’m 7 and she’s 3 – and if you strain, you can see that under that stylish sweater is an official Milwaukee Braves t-shirt. I was glued to the radio whenever Earl Gillespie came on to announce the Braves games over WTMJ radio. In 1959 I saved my lawn-mowing money and bought a Raytheon 8-transistor radio so I could listen to the games no matter what I was doing.   I looked it up – the Raytheon 8TR-1 radio – one of the earliest models – cost $80 in ’59 – and that would translate to about $700 today. That’s a lot of lawns at roughly a buck apiece – and a lot of birthday money, because mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and all my aunts and uncles knew I was saving up for a transistor radio.

I knew the ’57 Braves lineup as well as I knew the names of my friends and family members: Pafko was in right field, with Hank Aaron in center and Wes Covington in left. Frank Torre played first base and so did Joe Adcock; Red Schoendienst was on second; Eddie Matthews played third, and Johnny Logan was the shortstop.  The catcher was Del Crandall and the pitchers were guys like Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, Bob Buhl, Juan Pizarro, Dave Jolly, Joey Jay, and Ernie Johnson. Topps Baseball Cards were the coin of our realm, and we jealously guarded our favorites, and traded them amongst ourselves to get the ones we coveted.  I can still taste the slab of gum that came packaged with the cards.

The guys I hung out with knew the Braves’ batting averages and ERA’s; we pored over the sports section of the Appleton Post-Crescent, studying the tiny print for all those fascinating statistics and box scores.  We imagined what it would be like to be at a game at County Stadium in Milwaukee.  We imagined it to be huge, the stands reaching to the sky, the scoreboard in center field had to be at least as big as a house!   We had an idea of what it looked like from the pictures in the sports section, but to go there – well, for an 8 year old kid in Hortonville whose dad worked all day and quite a few nights “establishing his business” as mom said, going to see a Braves game was, well, just not something that was going to happen.

But then it did.

As pennant fever turned into an actual World Series berth for the Braves in ’57 (and it was SO hard to have to miss those Braves afternoon games when we had to go back to school in September), news came that my dad’s younger brother – Uncle Jack – actually had TICKETS to World Series game #4, at County Stadium! FOUR glorious tickets! Third base line, halfway up the lower grandstand! And who was going? Grandpa, my dad, Uncle Jack, AND ME!!!!! My very first trip to see a pro ball game was going to be a WORLD SERIES GAME!

Uncle Jack was a spy during the cold war (it was called OSS – Office of Strategic Services back then, before it became known as the Central Intelligence Agency); he came back home, finished his college degree, and then took his first job as a route salesman for the Liggett and Meyers Tobacco Company, selling L+M Cigarettes to stores and bars.  And because he was such a good salesman, he won four World Series tickets in some L+M contest, and we were GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES on Sunday, October 10th, 1957 in Uncle Jack’s brand new “company car” – a big, black Buick Roadmaster.

I think we found out about the tickets on Wednesday and I don’t think I slept until very late Sunday night after we got back from the game.  We left from Oshkosh early that morning so we could watch batting practice and drink in all the atmosphere of the game.  I was so excited I don’t even remember what it was like seeing the actual diamond at County Stadium for the first time…I was sort of in a trance.  We sat down during the Yankees’ batting practice.  Oh my God, there was Mickey Mantle. Yogi Berra was playing catch with Tony Kubek, warming up his arm. These were the guys I knew so well from baseball cards, the box scores in the paper, and hearing their names on the radio….and I was now seeing them in person!

Then my guys came out to warm up.  Spahnnie was pitching the game. As it turned out, it was a ten-inning complete game win for Spahn.  Relief pitcher? You kiddin’ me? Spahnnie went ten full innings, giving up a run to the Yankees in the first, and then 3 more in the 9th, including a homer from Yankees first baseman Elston Howard with Berra and Gil McDougald on base.  My Braves had scored 4 runs in the 4th on the strength of homers from Hank Aaron and Joe Torre.  So the Yankees had tied it up in the 9th and the Braves couldn’t get a run across in the bottom half of the inning. The Braves went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, Adcock pinch-hitting for Frank Torre and grounding out; Pafko grounding out, and then Del Crandall flied out to deep center.  Spahnnie held the Yanks in the tenth. I’ll never forget how much my grandpa enjoyed seeing Spahnnie “shake off” signs from Del Crandall in the tenth – grandpa kept saying “Spahnnie knows what to do here”.  Grandpa also had me watch Augie Donatelli, the home plate ump, saying “he’s just as famous as some of those ball-players.  (I had to look it up to see if I remembered right, and sure enough, I did….and I also noted that Jocko Conlon was umping third base for that game.)

Kubek scored on a Hank Bauer triple in the top of the tenth and Mantle flew out to end the half-inning with the Yankees up 5-4. In the Braves’ tenth, Schoendienst bunted Felix Mantilla to second, and then Johnny Logan smashed a double to left field to score Mantilla – tied at 5! Eddie Mathews came up with Logan on second base and clobbered a fly ball to right field – OVER THE FENCE – and the Braves won, 7-5! What a game – my first ever, never to be forgotten!

It really was a different era, and, someday when my kids stumble onto my blog and read it – probably long after I’ve played my final inning – the names will probably mean nothing to them.  They grew up watching games in hi-def and to them, going to Miller Park is something that happens regularly.

But to me – the ’57 Braves are just as vivid in my mind’s eye as the ’13 Brewers.  Those ancient Topps baseball cards are as clear to me as hi-def TV, and Pafko, Spahnnie, Aaron, Schoendienst, Covington, Crandall, and all those guys are still very much alive in my head.


Rest in peace, Andy.  Too bad your wish - for the Cubs to win a World Series before you died - didn't come true.

Maybe next year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Neanderthal Jock Insults the UW Tuba Players and Band


The jerk in the photo above is Detroit Lions Center Dominic Raiola -not to be confused with his brother Donovan, who played his college ball at the UW. Dominic Raiola is a Nebraska grad. This marginally-talented jock on the downside of his career is living several decades in the past, because he thought it would be a good idea in the warm-up before yesterday’s Lions/Packers game to call the UW marching tubas “fat motherf**kers”.  Then – all this without provocation – he said the tuba players sucked.

Later, according to verified reports, Raiola told a UW Marching Band trumpet player that he was going to take his trumpet and shove it up his sister’s p**sy.   Then, for good measure, Raiola repeatedly called the trumpet player a fag. Band members also reported that as they assembled to play the National Anthem just before kickoff, Raiola continued his unprovoked harangue of homophobic insults.

A trombone player said Raiola yelled at him “Hey, fat guy, you want a hot dog?” and continued his venomous harangue against the band as they marched off the field.

This story, which has appeared on several reliable NFL blogs this morning, has gone viral.  All of them agree that nothing was said or done by any UW Marching Band member to provoke Raiola in any way. One of the blogs reported that Lions safety Louis Delmas apologized to the band members for Raiola’s rants, told them he’d talked to Raiola about it, and then added that he enjoyed the band’s performance.

This sort of trash-talking is completely unacceptable, no matter what the context.  I’m not sure how another NFL player would have handled it if Raiola leveled his trash-talk at him, but by all reports, the UW Marching Band handled it with class, and refused to drop to his level and respond in any way.

If you’d like to make your feelings known where they might do some good, you can contact Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, at 212-450-2000.

The Lions have a form on their website where you can register a concern or complaint, and you can find that here.

If you're on twitter, you can make your voice heard by tweeting to Roger Goddell at this handle: https://twitter.com/nflcommish .

If you do, please don’t lower yourself to Raiola’s level and use foul language.  A simple statement of disgust at boorish conduct will do more to generate results than a hate-filled partisan rant.


Oh, and Raiola: the tuba players are watching you. Insult one of us, and you insult all of us.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Wife and I were "Guest Stars" on Breaking Bad




Sunday night’s second-last episode of AMC’s acclaimed Breaking Bad featured a bit of UW-Madison hockey history, which attracted the attention of a lot of hockey fans.  Near the end of the episode, when Walt is in the bar in New Hampshire, dejected and demoralized, there’s a hockey game on the TV in the bar.

 

I tried to listen to both the soundtrack of the show, and the soundtrack-within-the-soundtrack of the hockey game on TV, because I suspected it might just be a Wisconsin hockey game.  But I couldn’t tell for sure.  A lot of hockey fans with ears more keen than mine figured out right away that it was a Badgers hockey game, and the backstory – as reported in the Cap Times this morning by Rob Thomas – is a fascinating tale.

 

Rob’s article points out that Wisconsin Public TV has a huge archive of old Badgers hockey games, and that there’s a clip of a UW vs. Minnesota hockey game fairly early in the great flic “Fargo” (which I noticed the first time I saw the movie, because I immediately recognized my friend Paul Braun’s voice doing play-by-play of the game), and more recently, there’s a UW hockey clip in Clint Eastwood’s baseball movie “Trouble With The Curve”, which I also picked out the first time I saw that flic.

 

But the hockey clip in the bar scene in Breaking Bad kept me wondering, and yesterday several stories about it appeared on social media, pointing out that it was indeed a UW hockey game.  Sports Illustrated writer Sam Page did the hard work and narrowed it down to a game between UW and Denver University on February 13th, 1998 at the Great Dane (Dane County Coliseum).

 

I remember that game very well, even though it was 15 years ago. The Badgers were trailing Denver 3-1 with about 7 minutes left in the 3rd period, but they came back to score SIX goals and win the game 7-4, which is one of the greatest comeback stories in UW athletic history. 

 

My wife and I were at that game.

 

We were Badger hockey season ticket holders, and back then we had “Friday night tickets”.  Most WCHA hockey matches are a two-game weekend series, with the first game Friday night and the second game Saturday night - and it’s the same this coming season with the new Big Ten Hockey League debut. The UW Athletic Department splits season tickets into Friday night season tickets and Saturday night season tickets. Toni and I had Friday night tickets, and we went to every home game.

 

I also remember the game because somewhere in my vast collection of VHS videotapes (just dying to be converted to digital files and burned to DVD) there’s a clip of Channel 3’s coverage of that game. Back in those days my friend Eric Franke was a sports reporter - not at all like the highly distinguished news anchor he’s become.  In his report on the amazing comeback, he used a bit of videotape (which the TV folks call a “cutaway” or “B-roll”) that showed Toni and me jumping up and down cheering one of the six comeback goals (yes, back then I could actually jump, even though my hip replacement was 3 years in the future at that time).  Eric said something like “and there’s News 3’s Assignments Manager, Toni Morrissey and her husband Tim, cheering on the Badgers”.

 

One of these days, I’ve gotta find that clip in my videotape collection.

 

Just as the size of the fish grows each time the fisherman tells the story about catching “the big one”, I’m pretty sure I can continue to morph the story of that tiny bit of videotape into a tale about how Toni and I were guest stars on Breaking Bad.

 

Of course, about 10,229 other UW hockey fans can make the claim, too…..but I’ve got the videotape!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chuck Todd: FAIL




Like so many people who pass themselves off as political commentators, Chuck Todd (NBC’s “Political Director”) really isn’t so much a player as he is an actor.  Like the folks who anchor the “news” on the financial networks, Chuck is really a wannabe .  He’s on TV because he likes being on TV – just like the financial news folks like to be seen by the titans of industry they “report” on, and, in many cases, like the guys who anchor sports coverage (those who aren’t ex-jocks). They’re guys who love sports and the people who play sports.

 

Please understand there’s a difference between loving politics and reporting on it; between loving the financial industry and reporting on it; and between loving sports and reporting on it.  I think today, we’ve got a lot of lovers and not many reporters.

 

If ever there was any doubt that Chuck Todd is not a reporter, it went away last week Wednesday when, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, under blistering questioning from fellow guest Ed Rendell, Chuck said it wasn’t his job to correct misrepresentations about the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare.

 

Really?  Well, then, don’t call yourself a reporter or a journalist, Chuck, because people who fit that job description do their best to get to the TRUTH of any story they’re covering.  Todd said it was the job of the White House to correct the misinformation being spread about ObamaCare, not his.

 

I did my best to teach my two kids that under many circumstances, “no” actually means “I want more information”.  There are clear exceptions to this notion, particularly when a young lady says “no” to your romantic advances, but often a “no” means “we can get to yes from here, but I need to know more about what you’re saying”.  The popularity of ObamaCare is dropping, if you ask me, for two reasons: the White House really is mismanaging the message, and one of the political parties, which thinks it will benefit from people not liking ObamaCare, is telling some tall tales about ObamaCare. 

 

This is to me a classic case of “no means I need more information”.

 

If we are to have good information about ObamaCare – or any other government program at any level, from Washington DC to your own municipality– we must rely on reporters and journalists to try and ferret out some TRUTH.  It’s no wonder so many have reservations about ObamaCare – will there be death panels? Will I get to keep my doctor? Will I still be able to go to my clinic? Will my health insurance cost go up or down?

 

Truth is an elusive thing, sometimes, but when you’ve got one party saying one thing and the other party saying another, it’s hard to tell where the truth is.  Commentators, like Todd, can say whatever they want.  Reporters have to dig to try and find the truth.

 

Many people are saying “no” to ObamaCare because they want more information.  They want answers for their questions.  And guys like Todd – and there are a lot of them on TV – really do more harm than good, because they love the politics but don’t try to get at the truth.

 

If you’re a parent, you’ve lived the “more information” scenario many times.  Your child asks for something and you say no. If the child takes the time to explain more about what they want, or why it’s important to them, your initial “no” could easily become a “yes”.  In sales training, we were taught many ways to overcome objections and get to “yes”.  And I learned, years ago, peddling radio advertising to local merchants, that if I did a good enough job answering their questions, I could get a signed order.

 

Bottom line: NBC’s job should be to get factual information to its viewers during its news programs, and that involves fact-checking and research, and that’s often what separates the reporters from the wannabees. NBC should let Chuck Todd have all the fun he wants as a commentator, but should not put him on its evening newscasts unless he decides it IS his responsibility to try and get at the truth of statements made by politicians.

 

And NBC shouldn’t have to tell that to Todd.  It should understand its responsibility to the public and keep wannabees off the news without being told.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Not Journalism, It's Info-Tainment




If there’s anything the national media should have experience in covering, it’s mass shootings.  They’ve had several chances to hone their skills in the past couple years, and yet when put to the test again in the Washington Navy Yard massacre, they came up woefully short.

 

I have concluded that these national outlets are aware of all the misinformation they’re spreading, and that they don’t care.  It’s now a game to see who can get the latest tweet on the air.  I believe there are enough seasoned news veterans on the staff of these national news-gathering organizations that they’re aware of one of the fundamentals of journalism, namely, that first reports are almost always wrong – and they simply don’t care about accuracy.

 

They care about delivering the most compelling live coverage they can muster.  This is info-tainment, not journalism, and it’s all about getting eyeballs on the screen.

 

There’s also an element of stupidity, which exists because of the lack of content supervision.  Take a look at the photo at the top of this post.  It’s a screen-shot of CNN declaring that one of the weapons the shooter used was an “AR-15 shotgun”.  Of course, there is no such thing.  An AR-15 is a semi-automatic assault weapon.  And, for those who need further depth of information, a gun is generally something with a smooth bore barrel, and a rifle is something which has “rifling” in the barrel which makes the projectile (bullet) spin. That increases accuracy, for the same reason that an accomplished quarterback puts a “spiral” on the ball when he throws it.

 

It’s hard for me to believe, as a ‘sconnie boy raised in the Fox Valley who went deer hunting with his dad, a decorated WW2 vet who rigorously inculcated his son with firearm safety training, that there is no one at CNN who didn’t catch that “AR-15 shotgun” error and pull it down within a few seconds.  You can blame some 22-year-old kid who grew up in an urban area and has never actually held (much less fired) a rifle or shotgun for creating that graphic, but is there no one at any level of authority at CNN who didn’t take a look at that graphic and correct it within seconds of it going on the air?

 

I guess not.

 

Any veteran newsie can tell you how they learned first-hand that the earliest reports at the scene of a breaking news story are almost always wrong, and that eyewitnesses are often the least reliable, but now it’s a game of following Twitter feeds. 

 

Here’s a screen capture of a CNN reporter’s tweet regarding that non-existent AR-15 – note the time-stamp and consider that it was more than an hour after she sent out that tweet that CNN (and all the others) finally corrected themselves.

What’s even more troubling to me is that some of print media play the same game.

 

Above is the cover of the New York Daily News, a publication which has a well-earned reputation for sensationalizing everything, trying to grab eyeballs (and lure purchasers) with a typically sensational cover story.  Oooh, AR-15, bad, bad! Read all about it!  Maniac! Newtown all over again!

 

A lot of people think this sort of stuff is part of the vast left-wing conspiracy (with apologies to Hillary Clinton) to do away with all firearms, and to empower Barack Obama’s Secret Muslim Army to come into your home and take your guns away.  It’s not.  It’s just that what used to be journalism is now, in many cases, no more than info-tainment.

 

One more thing: do you think Wolf Blitzer will ever learn to stop asking astonishingly stupid questions during coverage of these breaking-news-massacres?



One of the best send-ups of Wolf’s on-air ineptitude was a lampoon piece done by Jon Stewart of Comedy Central.  The screen-capture above is part of a 7-minute parody The Daily Show did of Blitzer’s dunderheaded questions, including my favorite, where Wolf said to a CNN reporter on the scene something like “we are getting word that the suspect was dressed in a black pair of pants and wearing a black top….what, if anything, does this say, in a preliminary sense, about what may have been his psychological make-up?”  Stewart ran a split-screen with Wolf on one side, and a picture of CNN’s Anderson Cooper on the other….dressed in black slacks with a black top.

 

Just keep this in mind as you watch the next edition of live coverage of a breaking news event involving a shooter: it’s info-tainment, it’s not news. 

 

And certainly not journalism.

Friday, September 6, 2013

He Learned Me To Talk Good




Back in the 60’s and 70’s, you didn’t get a speech degree of any kind – including an MST (Master of Science in Teaching) – without taking Don Burdick’s famous VD class at UW-Oshkosh.

 

Yah, that’s what we called it.  VD class.

 

VD, in this case, stood for Voice and Diction, and no one taught it like Don Burdick, who, at age 80, passed away a couple weeks ago.  I found out about Don’s passing while perusing the latest UW-O alumni newsletter.  The second I saw the headline for the story about Don’s death a flood of vivid memories came over me.

 

Back when I took the VD class, 40-some years ago, UW-O was in the midst of a huge enrollment explosion, with a lot of young men trying to maintain their 2-S deferment status with their local draft board, and a lot of young men who’d already done their time in Viet Nam and had figured their lives out, had come to get an education with a little help from Uncle Sam, and start a career.

 

With the explosive growth of enrollment, UW-O was always short of facilities. They were throwing up classroom buildings, dorms, and service buildings left and right.  The brand new, huge Clow Social Science Center had just been built, but it was already over capacity.  So Don Burdick’s VD class was held in some God-forsaken glorified ramshackle shed on the southeast corner of campus.

 

No one could have made that funky old warehouse-converted-to-a-classroom come alive like Don Burdick did.  And nobody cut Don’s VD class. Not because Don had a policy about cutting class, and not because he took attendance.  The class was so cool, so good, so informative, so useful, so much fun, and taught so well that nobody wanted to miss anything that went on in Don’s VD class.

 

Don’s undergrad degree was in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern, and his Master’s was in Theatre from UW-Madison.  He loved to act, and he put his substantial acting talent to use every time he stood in front of a class.  Don had an absolutely gorgeous bass-baritone voice, and he knew how to use as well as a virtuoso musician knows how to use his instrument. And he had "mad skills", as the kids today say, in helping each individual student make the most of whatever kind of voice the good Lord had given them.  In short, he made us BETTER. That's the kind of teacher you remember.

 

The class was packed with a yeasty mix of future actors, teachers, and broadcasters. Quite a few would-be broadcasters came into Don’s class pronouncing the 23rd letter of the alphabet like George Bush – dubya – but left his class pronouncing all three syllables of that letter.  He would thunder “half the broadcast stations in this nation have a name beginning with W, and you’ll learn to speak the name of that station (the call letters) properly before you leave this class!”  Actually, it only took any dubya-sayer one session with Don to cure the "dubya syndrome".

 

Another memorable part of VD class for me was that one of the most beautiful girls on campus chose to sit next to me.  She was a UW-O Titan cheerleader; her boyfriend was one of the toughest, strongest, and most athletic young men on campus, the tight end on the Titan football team; and she wanted to be a speech therapist.  When she sat next to me and introduced herself the first day of class, she said she knew who I was from Dr. Check’s TV show. I was the tuba player for UW-O Ed Psych Professor John Check’s Wisconsin Dutchmen band, and she said she loved to dance the polka! Sitting next to Goldie (her self-approved nickname) three days a week would be cause enough for distraction, but Don Burdick demanded – and earned – every ounce of every student’s attention.

 

We learned how to articulate, how to project, how to use the full dynamic range of our voice, and we did it out loud, in front of Don Burdick and all our classmates.  And he made what might well have been a terrifying and potentially embarrassing experience fun.  Try saying “toy boat” ten times, fast.  Now do it in front of 30 people. “Grip top socks” was another of Don’s famous vocal warm-up phrases.  Try saying that one five times fast.

 

The things I learned in Don Burdick’s VD class – and in his Voice Science class (another requirement for the MST degree) have stuck with me for over four decades, and I still use things I learned from Don to this day, voicing news stories in my part-time work for Public News Service.

 

Don and I became colleagues, when the late Dr. Bob Snyder – my chief academic broadcasting mentor – hired me as a faculty adjunct at UW-O to teach night classes in Broadcast Law and Broadcast Advertising. I saw Don at a faculty gathering, and told him again how much I’d learned in his classes and how much I enjoyed them.  I called him Mr. Burdick.  He looked me square in the eye and said “I’m not going to call you Mr. Morrissey and I won’t have you calling me Mr. Burdick, Tim”.

 

You’ve earned a good rest, Don.  Your work here is done.  You did it extremely well, and you will never be forgotten.