Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Open Letter to Clear Channel

This was sent to Clear Channel after I spent 30 extra minutes in traffic behind an accident that WHAS never once reported on during the time I was stuck.

Over 30 years ago, a traffic reporter from WHAS radio in Louisville, KY became a hero when he flew the helicopter around town following the path of the storm. That traffic reporter, Dick Gilbert, went on for many years to do traffic reports on WHAS that you could depend on, giving you information about where the back up was, how far back it went, what lane was blocked, and alternate routes to get to downtown. The station broke in for traffic reports on serious delays and allowed them to continue as long as necessary.

What do we get today? The traffic copter appears to have been grounded. The cell phone hotline for traffic reports of a few years ago is no longer mentioned. And instead we get a reporter on the ground reading accident reports from a website that appear to have come mostly from watching a few stationary cameras throughout the city and police reports. The reports are read quickly so they can be sandwiched in between two ads. There is seldom a mention of an alternate route, blocked lanes, or how far the backup is unless it goes to someplace where the cameras can see.

Yesterday I was stuck in traffic about a half an hour longer than normal. I turned on WHAS in hopes I could find out why. For two cycles of the traffic report (approximately 15 minutes of listening) there was not a single mention of the accident. I didn't listen any further, having switched back to my MP3 player.

Clear Channel's purchase of WHAS is the communications equivalent of Wal-Mart buying Neiman Marcus and then filling it with cheap crap from China and expecting the people to still shop there. Buy ignoring the value that WHAS (and other stations, for that matter) provided to the local community, you are driving away long time listeners such as myself to other forms of entertainment and information. If I can no longer get quality local content, why would I WANT to tune in to a local station?

I have no hope that this will receive any form of action, other than a form letter telling me how the traffic is somehow better these days, but I would like you to know that I think Clear Channel has taken a once quality station and turned it into crap in the interest of saving a buck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dodging the terrible Louisville tornado of 2005

Years ago, John Belski and former WAVE 3 weather guy Craig Edwards were doing a tag team on one of the latest tornados. It was a bad night for weather, and Belski was in full Belski's Bluster. As the storms intensified, so did his demeanor. By the time a major storm was rolling through, he was taking charge and stepping all over everything Craig Edwards was saying. I remember thinking, "What a jerk."

Within the next year, Edwards would leave, and Belski would go from the mode that is now reserved for Jay Cardosi into a much more mellow demeanor. Judging from tonight he hadn't let it go completely. As WAVE 3 showed off their new triple team doppler (appropriate for triple team weather coverage), now with flippovision. Flippovision is the annoying 3D feature of the radar that shows you exactly how high the clouds are over Louisville, or wait, is that Corydon, or is it Des Moines? I can't tell.

Trying to watch a lot of this coverage is like sitting in a room with a kid that has ADD and a remote control. As you try and get your barings and figure out where Popcorn, Indiana is in relation to Louisville, they're flipping it in and out, showing you colors that show the velocity of the wind, throwing in lightning strikes, zooming in to show you the weather at Earl's pig farm, and writing more crap on the screen than John Madden on crack.

Equally troubling is the fact that Wave 3's coverage is the new coverage for WHAS. The former "News, Weather, and Traffic" station is now simulcasting their TV coverage in major weather events. The problem is that none of these guys does their weather coverage for radio. If I'm listening on WHAS, I really am not going to get much from telling me, "As you can see here....." I need to know where thing are and when they're heading my way.

Anyway, we got sent home early from work, as did a lot of people because of this storm of the century. Around the time that it was supposed to hit, the two hours of non-stop weather coverage was switched back to the network. The storm disappeared with a wimper. I'm not complaining, but I do always find it amusing how unpredictible the weather is.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rick Moranis calls the kettle black.

The administration of Kentucky's Governor Ernie "Rick Moranis" Fletcher, former star of Honey I Pardoned the Kids and Ethicsbusters I & II indicated today that it had a database proving that former Lov Gov, Paul Patton did the same things they're accused of doing.

Kids, in case you didn't get the message, Governor Fletcher is using now answering "yes" to the question, "if your best friend jumped off a roof, would you do it too?" Fletcher campaigned on restoring integrity to state government. Maybe he figured it would be best if state government was eased back into integrity, so it didn't suffer from withdrawl from going cold turkey on corruption.

And while we're at it, shouldn't Scott Crawford-Sutherland drop his maiden name? It looks obnoxious.

When asked for a comment about the story, the Governor said, "pardon?"

News story below:

Administration says politics influenced hiring during Patton era


Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration claimed Monday that an electronic database showed political considerations were a factor in personnel decisions during his predecessor's term.

Fletcher spokesman Brett Hall, during a hastily called press conference, said administration officials found a database containing 7,400 names of people seeking state jobs, promotions or other awards during former Gov. Paul Patton's administration.

Fletcher's administration has long maintained it is being investigated and punished for the same kind of hiring practices as other governors. And several months ago, Fletcher and his office has provided what it claimed was evidence of such previous conduct.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland, the lead prosecutor in the personnel probe, noted that the statute of limitations on personnel offenses is a year.

Crawford-Sutherland compared Fletcher's point on Thursday to a speeding offense. Just because somebody didn't get pulled over for speeding three years ago doesn't mean they shouldn't be pulled over for speeding now, Crawford-Sutherland said.

Crawford-Sutherland said the administration event was a "diversion."

Hall claimed that to get on the list, individuals had to be politically connected, Hall said. It shows evidence of preselection in state hiring, among other things, Hall said.

Steve O'Daniel, an investigator in the state Justice Cabinet who worked on decoding the database, said there was not specific evidence of illegal activities. Officials had not cross-referenced all the names to see if some people were pushed ahead of more qualified candidates.

The database has been forwarded to the offices of State Auditor Crit Luallen and Attorney General Greg Stumbo for further review, Hall said.

Stumbo's office has been investigating since May allegations that the Fletcher administration broke the law in making personnel decisions involving rank-and-file state employees. That investigation, which is being reviewed by a Franklin County special grand jury, has netted 13 indictments of current or former Fletcher administration officials.

The special grand jury was meeting across town at the time of Hall's event.

Patton said in a telephone interview his administration did not have an "organized, systemic" way of placing people into state Merit System jobs.

"There was no program or effort comparable to what it appears the Fletcher administration may have had," Patton said.

The database was discovered in June, while administration officials were compiling documents for the ongoing attorney general's investigation, Hall said.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Southeast Christian -- Good for Louisville?

As a Catholic, I know I don't have a lot of room to talk about scary churches. But when I look at SECC, read their paper, and listen to some of their members and their pastors, I get a cold feeling.

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that the good people outnumber the bad by far at Southeast, and that they do a lot of good work within their own community. But I have trouble believing that every one of their thousands of members believes half of what the church teaches, or that many of the people there came there because of Jesus.

Here's a list of things that concern me about SECC.

1) Their bashing of other religions, sometimes subtle and sometimes not. Bob Russell has made attacks on Catholics in his sermons, usually subtle, but there. In the aftermath of 9/11, the church seemed to take glee in attacking Islam, ignoring the commandment to Love Thy Neighbor in order to attack a small subset of another religion that embraces violence.

2) Their embracing of "intelligent design". There is nothing intelligent about it. I've never understood why science can't be seen as a gift from God.

3) The idea that God "blesses them" because they have a country club for a church. I've always had trouble with this thought because, while you should be thankful for good things, you shouldn't take away that somehow you're God's chosen one because you have more than someone else.

4) This quote from Bob Russell (in Louisville Magazine), in explaining that they were not being anti-Semetic when they withdrew from a ministry involving multiple churches when it changed its bylaws to become "Interfaith" instead of "Christian".

"We have the utmost respect for Jewish people," he says. "Jesus Christ himself was Jewish. We have a number of people of Jewish nationality in our church. Our whole faith comes from a Jewish background."

This seems dangerously close to the cliched defense of your average bigot, "some of my best friends are (insert group here)."

5) The influence the church seems to have on the community at large. I don't believe any church should act as the moral compass for a community, nor should it be able to bully the government, legal system, or any other entity to act.

6) What I call the "hierarchy of sins" that many "Christians" embrace. At the top of the list, homosexuality. You could be a vicious murderer (like say, Mel Ignatow), and be accepted by SECC, but if you're gay, the church will probably direct you to one of the ministries designed to cure you of your "sickness." While there is certainly biblical reason to condemn homosexuality, there are dozens of rules in Leviticus and elsewhere that don't seem as important to churches like SECC. Who decided which of these rules was most important? Not God or Jesus, but man. I don't think it is coincidence that Jesus and the apostles spend lots of time talking about loving one another, and being good to each other, but scant time on some of the issues that so disturb the Christian right.

7) The idea that "our way is the right way" because God said so. Faith certainly involves belief, but the idea that a certain church within a larger faith (like say, Christianity) is the one right way to worship has always amused me because the divisions in faith are manmade, not made by God.

I will admit that SECC seems to be a good community. Just as the Catholic Church population shouldn't be condemned for the actions of the priests and archbishops, I can't dismiss Southeast Christian because there are things I don't support within their ministry. But I do remain concerned that their huge size gives them too much power in the community and its foothold within the community keeps some of its congregation from truly thinking for itself.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Carrie Harned & Kevin Harned -- The Scoop courtesy of the CJ's Buzz Column

"The Buzz" has been getting lots of questions about WAVE-TV reporter Carrie Harned's on-air name change to Carrie Weil. She and former husband Kevin Harned, also of WAVE, sent the C-J a joint statement:

"For the past four years, we have shared not only our talents and passion for the TV business and community with our viewers, but also our marriage. With that in mind, we certainly understand the interest generated by the announcement of our divorce. …

"We have always appreciated the support we have received professionally and personally from many of our viewers, and ask that you continue to keep each of us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."