Monday, May 27, 2013

Sarah going solo

Saturday morning, all five of us made it a point to listen to Sarah's solo performance. Us three guys listened because we knew she was more than the coffee girl. The two women in our group listened to Sarah, well, to be bitchy. (Fortunately, only one of us five actually writes these reviews, so I'll let the two women stew some more when they read that comment.)

We all agree that when the sun came up and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, Sarah gave a weather forecast of "mostly cloudy". The two women in our group texted, unequivocally, "What? The bitch couldn't look out the window and see that forecast would be wrong?"

Us three men responded, "She's not getting paid to be a weatherman. She's getting paid to read whatever comes across her desk and play good music." And play good music she did.

As far as 3/5ths of the reviewers of this site is concerned, Sarah's perky, happy voice made our Saturday morning sunny side up. Majority rules so who gives a damn about the other two reviewers?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick, what color is the guy?

We've been listening to WZBH and The Worse Show Ever off and on for the last few weeks.  Captain Blue and Doug McKenzie are still spot on as entertaining DJs, projecting an image, through sound, of professionalism.  As we already mentioned in our previous review (Lights Out With JJ is not entirely his fault ), we could do with a lot less of the dumbass-style quips as they are overdone throughout the day and night from everyone starting with the morning crew, through Captain Blue, Doug McKenzie, and ending with JJ.  (We've never listened to WZBH during the time slot after JJ and before The Worse Show Ever so we don't know if the dumbass-style quips are continued through the night and early morning hours.)  Perhaps it's just us, but when we tune into any radio station, we expect to hear lots of music and little talking.  When the DJ does talk, we like to hear about the music, the song, or the artist and little else. 

For a morning show, we expect to hear entertaining talk by characters who have built an image of themselves, through words, that we can identify with.  Maybe one character makes us laugh.  Another makes us see something we hadn't thought about.  Maybe one makes us rethink what we thought about something.  No matter what, we want morning show hosts who compel us to tune in every morning just to hear what they are going to say next.  They make us wish we were friends so we could enjoy a round of beer with them because they are that entertaining.  Crank, Phoebus, and Sarah fail miserably. 

We have pinpointed exactly why we really don't care if we tune in or not - lack of creativity and repetitiveness.  Yesterday morning (Wednesday), for example, Phoebus regaled us with a story of his experience at a convenience store.  The story was very much like the story of Crank and Phoebus on a quest to find a Mexican store or Crank's experience with an old man holding up the line at a convenience store. 

Need more examples of repetitiveness and lack of creativity?  These are stories we've heard more than once over the last few weeks. 
  • Crank's complaining that he isn't as strong or physically fit as he used to be.  Yes, we know.  You've hit middle age and every seven years from here on out, you'll notice radical changes in your body.  Quit whining about getting old and try telling us what most of us don't already know.
  • Descriptions of bathroom habits or lack of toilet paper.  We're sure a sizeable segment of listeners are driving to work and eating breakfast at the same time.  On more than one occasion, we have switched stations so we could eat our breakfast without being grossed out and never bothered to switch back.  Makes us wonder how many other listeners have done the same.
  • Vehicles each host drives.  Really, who cares?  Try telling a funny story about driving the vehicle instead of trying to convince us what is "manly" and not.  Vehicles are vehicles and hold no entertainment value.  What happens because of the vehicle or happens in the vehicle is the funny, creative story.
  • Obama and his demon wife.  Yes, we get it.  Phoebus and Crank don't like Obama and his wife.  Now try telling us why you don't like them.  Name calling is why the "sticks and stones" comeback was written for first graders.  By the time one makes it to a radio career, we sort of expect more than the elementary school style of making a point.
For readers who may be new, of the five of us behind the reviews, only one does the writing.  As we discussed the contents of this review, the other four issued me a challenge: write a creative paragraph retelling Phoebus' experience at the convenience store to hammer home the point of the hosts' lack of creativity.  No, I am not a professional writer and I don't fancy myself to be a good, much less creative, writer, but I don't back down from a challenge, either.  So here goes.

This morning, on my way in, I stopped at the convenience store to get my breakfast of tostados.  Not one of those fancy, big name convenience stores, mind you.  An old Mom and Pop style convenience store that's probably fueled up '57 Chevys and hasn't changed since.  Don't ask me what kind tostados I got, either.  They all are stuffed with the same ingredients, but are just given different names. 

There's no one in the store when I walked in, but I heard a lot of commotion in the back.  I grabbed my breakfast and waited at the register to check out.  I guess at four in the morning I'm like most people and really don't pay attention because I thought I was alone in the store.  As I'm standing at the register, I hear breathing behind me.  Startled, I turned to glance at who stood behind me.  A huge, hulking man with breakfast in hand stood patiently in line.  This guy was big enough to be a Raven's linebacker.  I don't know how I missed him when I came in, but there he was.  I stole my glance and faced the register.  I could still hear the hulking man's breathing.  I could picture his nostrils flaring in and out with each breath like a bull's.  I could feel his expressionless, dark eyes watching the hairs on my neck rising. 

A loud shriek emanated from the back room.  Chickens squawked in a frenzy as a small dude emerged.  As he walked behind the counter, I asked him what all the commotion was about.  He answered, in a heavy accent, "Making chicken wings."  As the sweat dripped off this scrawny guy's face, all I could think was the chickens must have won the fight.  Heck, judging by the guy's stature, a canary could have won the fight.  He must've been outmatched by the chickens.
Now, keep in mind, I am not a professional writer and my version of Phoebus' story is a first draft written in twenty minutes because I'm a slow typist.  Now, quick, what color was the hulking man standing behind me?  If I was somewhat successful at my descriptions, you not only pictured what the hulking man looked like, but you also pictured what the store and the scrawny man looked like.

Now here's Phoebus' story, paraphrased since I don't have a recording of the show.
This morning, on my way in, I stopped at this hole-in-the-wall gas station to get my breakfast of tostados.  Yeah, all tostados are the same.  They just have different names. 
There's no one in the store, but I hear a lot of commotion in the back. I go up to the counter and there's this big, hulking Black guy behind me. So it's just me and this big, Black dude waiting for the guy in the back.  
There's a lot of loud, squawking sounds, like chickens, and this little dude, no bigger than three-foot something, comes out of the back, dripping sweat. I asked him what he was doing. He said, "Making chicken wings." I think he was an Indian dude or one of those foreigners. (In Phoebus' defense, he only added the ethnicity of the store clerk because Crank asked. Crank has a hang up about knowing that all the races and ethnic groups of people are behaving in the manner stereotypes dictate they should behave.)
Ok, we give it to you that being creative while writing off the cuff and being creative while talking off the cuff with other people involved in the talking are two different things and about as comparable as a clam to an oyster.  But, like we have reviewed many times during Matt Walsh's days, why did Phoebus feel it was necessary to state the hulking guy behind him was Black?  His race had nothing to do with the point of the story, as bland as the story was.  In fact, the hulking guy had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story. 

We know why he pointed out the ethnicity of the store clerk.  Crank needed to know and Phoebus did such a bad job of story telling, Crank had no idea of how to picture the store clerk. 

We can't say Phoebus is guilty of bigotry or even stereotyping.  The guy behind him probably was a Black guy, even though this big, hulking Black guy had no further bearing on the rest of the story so why even mention him, much less state his race? 

Of course, one has to scratch his head when the whole story is taken into consideration.  After Crank asked what the ethnicity of the store clerk was, the stereotyping began.  People who work the overnight shift at a convenience store are shady characters.  They aren't too bright and certainly shouldn't be seen in the light of day. 

This is where Sarah blew her chance to shine as the intelligent star of the show.  After Crank had stated his description of overnight workers at a convenience store, Sarah asked, "But Crank, didn't you work at one on the overnight shift?"

Crank blew her point off.  "Yeah, and I probably shouldn't have been seen in the light of day back then." 

Come on, Sarah.  You had a chance to shine as a star.  Instead, you backed down and let Crank and Phoebus do the talking.  What?  Did you have to get up and get more coffee and donuts for the guys?

Yes, there was a reason Phoebus felt a need to state the hulking guy's race and Crank's need to know the ethnicity of the store clerk.  Only they know the reason.  We can only guess that non-creative minds need to have every detail spelled out for them and non-creative minds feel a need to spell out every detail for everyone else.  We have to wonder, though, if they didn't really want to go off on a different stereotyping bash fest at the beginning of the story in the same manner they stereotypically bashed overnight store clerks.

Phoebus and Crank carried on the story of bashing overnight convenience store clerks to an anti-climatic end.  Like we all do when they talk about bathroom habits, the two of us who were listening switched stations and called it a day for listening to WZBH.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lights Out With JJ is not entirely his fault

We did, finally, over the last couple of weeks tune in on "Lights Out with JJ". Definitely his comfort zone and uncreatively predictable. He plays lots of music, which is good, and we know better than to criticize his playlist. He plays what the recording industry wants him to play and he has little room to be creative with the playlist. We like his "Acoustics at Eight", even though the song plays as late as 8:32, and he keeps his commentary to a minimum, another good quality a DJ can have when most people want to hear music, and not the DJ.

What we don't like is his "Nightly Dumbass" reports. If JJ were the only one reporting the dumbass stories throughout the day, the short segment would be an endearing aspect of his show. Unfortunately, every DJ from the morning show through Captain Blue and Doug McKenzie has their own dumbass quips, so, enough already. Play the music or shut up.

Dumbass stories are entertaining once or twice throughout the day. Whatever happened to the days when DJs talked about the music, the groups, and the "behind the scenes" tidbits of information about making the music, the group, or the history of the song, itself?

It's not JJ's fault. The era of great DJs ended over forty years ago. Back then, DJs got listeners pumped up about the music, music the DJs chose, loved, and believed in. "Barefoot in Baltimore" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock in the late sixties, for example, made a regional hit, but not a national hit. The song made a regional hit because the local DJs loved the song and played it as if it were a hit and didn't relegate it to a special time slot like "Local Produce" of today.

Unfortunately, the record industry put a stop to DJs playing what they loved and started dictating what should be played to make money. Songs like "Barefoot in Baltimore" could be played in a special time slot when most people aren't listening to the radio, but couldn't be played when the record industry decided the songs they wanted to make money should be played. That left the DJs with nothing more than to promote commercial music and talk about dumbass stories.

Creativity, from JJ, Captain Blue, Doug McKenzie, or the morning crew would be a refreshing change, but, unfortunately, the pimp (the recording industry) has dictated to the prostitute (the radio station), what the Johns (the DJs) are expected to do to get paid.

By the way, what happened to the groundbreaking female DJ? The lineup is looking more and more like young, White male. Crank is about to be retired to the nursing home, JJ shortly behind him. The fact that both made it to or past thirty and are still employed baffles us.