Tulsa: April 2007 Archives

A new blogger is out to debunk the old palindrome: "Tulsa night life: filth, gin, a slut."

Tasha Does Tulsa is a delightful new blog aimed at challenging Tulsans to stop whining about nothing to do, to get out of the house, and to discover all the fun this city has to offer.

The opening entry introduces Natasha and her co-bloggers Chester (a goldfish) and Party Brenda. Natasha describes herself as:

...a fifth-generation Tulsan, a new downtown resident, and a girl who is willing to pay out-of-pocket to prove Tulsa is more than the sum of its histories, the “there’s nothing to do here” rhetoric, and art deco architecture....

As to the future contents of the blog:

You folks have nothing to look forward to here except proof that there is tons to do in Tulsa.

The most recent post (the only other one so far, published today) is an essay on "How You, Too, Can Do Tulsa." Natasha has nine pieces of sage advice on how to discover what the city has to offer, including getting involved in community service, a church, and (if you're young and professional) one of the young professional groups. She recommends avoiding highways and just driving around. She links to local news outlets, including a merged feed of Tulsa blogs (which includes this one). Several times she recommends reading Urban Tulsa Weekly, which she says is "by far the most definitive source on cool stuff to do in Tulsa."

I especially liked what Natasha had to say about local news -- don't watch it. With all due respect to the good people at 2, 6, 8, and 23, she has a point:

I'm pretty sure the local evening news is tailored to shock and/or scare you out of doing anything in your town, ever. It’s not that they get their thrills from scaring you. If the local evening news couldn’t tell you anything shocking or scary about your city, how would you convince advertisers to buy into those broadcasts instead of The Simpson’s and Seinfeld re-runs?

For that matter, scaring the snot out of you about going downtown is more likely to make you want to curl up on the sofa and watch Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns.

Contrary to what the evening news has to tell you to get you to watch their stations enough to attract advertisers, downtown is not a heathen hide-away. Innocent people are not getting shot all over the place, and cops aren’t hiding out in the construction zones and neighborhoods to pull you over on camera.

Tulsa is a peaceful place. There are lots of fun things to do in safe places. Consult the Urban Tulsa. Live a little.

I'm looking forward to reading more of this blog. There's a place to focus on problems, but it's good to have blogs like Tasha Does Tulsa and (the slightly more established) Indie Tulsa to highlight the good and unique and interesting things that we might overlook.

Domus improvement

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I just came across a Tulsa blog that is nearly a year old. Haec Est Domus Domini is an account by Mike Malcom of the process of restoring downtown Tulsa's Holy Family Cathedral, the ninety-three-year-old seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma. The blog features photos and videos of the restoration work, visibilium (carpets, walls, windows) et invisibilium (plumbing, wiring). It's a great use for the medium of the blog. (I found it via the blog God Spede ye Plough, which belongs to a newly arrived resident of Oklahoma.)

The blog title is from the words engraved above the east doors to the church, which translate to "This is the house of the Lord."

(Come to think of it, Holy Family has an odd orientation for a cathedral, with the altar at the west end. So when the priest is celebrating mass ad orientem, he's actually facing ad occidentalem.)

Although Someone keeps hurling lightning bolts at it, the cathedral is an important part of downtown's architectural fabric. In many cities, the oldest and largest churches have abandoned downtown for greener suburban pastures. Tulsa is blessed that our oldest and largest churches have stayed put and kept their facilities in excellent condition.

We'd be even more blessed if the downtown churches would work with business and government to find a parking solution that doesn't involve tearing down more buildings. And perhaps, after the cathedral is restored, the Diocese will fulfill a promise made when they purchased and demolished the Tulsa Apartments and Cathey's Furniture (8th to 9th on Main) in 1998. That won't be surface parking -- I was assured at the time -- we're going to build a diocesan chancery and a plaza there.

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a farewell salute to KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno, who wrapped up his 17 years in Tulsa media last Friday and is now holding court on Nashville's WWTN:

Many readers' brains may explode as they read the following sentence, but it's true nevertheless: Politics and public dialogue in Tulsa are better off for Michael DelGiorno's tenure here.

Here's a bit of newspaper trivia you may find interesting. Writers don't write the headlines or cutlines for their stories. Those tasks are performed by a copy editor. At times the copy editor also adds text to provide a smoother transition between paragraphs or to provide some explanation that he feels the reader may need. Deadlines being what they are, I don't get a chance to see those changes before I see them in the paper. Those kind of edits don't happen often, but there was one this week. Here's what I submitted:

There was a niche to be filled, and DelGiorno, a conservative Republican and Southern Baptist, persuaded Journal Broadcast Group to let him step in and fill it.

Here's what's in the paper:

Until DelGiorno began to exploit the obvious. Just like some transplanted Tulsans discover fertile, virgin soil in untapped treasures (much as coffee table book author Michael Wallis discovered as he began cultivating interest in Route 66 with his "Mother Road,") there was a niche to be filled, and DelGiorno, a conservative Republican and Southern Baptist, persuaded Journal Broadcast Group to let him step in and fill it.

The phrase "began to exploit the obvious" reminds me of Roger Clemens's record-breaking 20 strikeouts in a game against the Seattle Mariners. Some baseball fans dismissed the accomplishment because Clemens did it against the worst team in the American League. But every other pitcher on every other team had faced Seattle. If it was so easy, why hadn't anyone done it yet?

As for Michael Wallis, I'm a fan, and as someone who loves Route 66, I'm glad he traveled the road and gathered stories and photos when he did -- so many of the people and places are gone now.

MORE: Here are my earlier thoughts, and the comments of other bloggers, about the changes at KFAQ. And Tennessee political blogger Bill Hobbs has taken note of DelGiorno's arrival in Nashville. (Also, Hobbs is looking for center-right political bloggers in Oklahoma. Drop your recommendations in his comment box. I've already sent along my list.)

(Also, fixed the number of Clemens's strikeouts. 19 in a nine-inning game was the record he beat, held by Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan.)

FOR NOW at least, you can still download the podcasts of Michael's farewell show, which included replays of many of the best radio cartoons from the show:

Preshow, Hour 1, Hour 2, and Hour 3

The song with which he ended the final broadcast, "Build It Anyway," by Martina McBride, was an appropriate and touching ending.

He made a very brief announcement at the end of Tuesday's show -- Friday will be Michael DelGiorno's last day on KFAQ. He's landed a job in Nashville, and Journal Broadcast Group, owners of KFAQ, let him out of his contract early to pursue it.

I'm happy for Michael. The change will do him good, and Nashville is a big step up in market size.

Details should be released during Wednesday's show, but it's my understanding that the mission and direction of KFAQ and its morning show will remain unchanged. That's good news for Tulsa.

A longer tribute will have to wait until I'm not worn out from finishing my taxes and fighting a cold, but I'll say this much now:

We're approaching the 5th anniversary of KFAQ's launch. The station's format started as Michael DelGiorno's vision, a vision that was embraced and implemented by Journal Broadcast Group.

When other stations were becoming more automated and homogenized, DelGiorno gave Tulsa talk radio about local issues. When other news-talk stations were cramming local content into ever tinier segments, DelGiorno provided time to cover an issue in depth.

DelGiorno provided a bypass around local media dominated by a few narrow interests. He gave politicians and activists the chance to get their side of the story out to the public.

Michael gave me a platform that I wouldn't otherwise have had. The exposure I got on his show brought more readers to this blog and ultimately led to the opportunity to write for Urban Tulsa Weekly.

DelGiorno brought concerned Tulsans, who otherwise wouldn't have met, together as allies. He helped them see the big picture, bigger than the specific problems that awakened their interest in local government.

Michael often expressed frustration that the same old issues kept recurring, and it seemed as if no progress was made. But as someone who has lived here most of my life and who has been involved politically for twenty years, I know that things are much different, and much better, for his work at KFAQ. Important issues that used to be under the radar are now front and center in the public dialogue.

We have a City Council that wasn't handpicked by the Tulsa Whirled. That wouldn't have happened before KFAQ.

Michael could be frustrating. He would let passion get ahead of precision. It could be tough at times to get a word in edgewise. He and I were never going to see eye-to-eye on the importance of a healthy urban core.

But it's been a blessing and a privilege to get to work with Michael these last three and a half years, and I am thankful for the difference he's made here. I wish him and his family all the best in their new city.

UPDATE: Michael spoke at length this morning, paying tribute to his listeners for taking what they heard on the show and acting on it and to Journal Broadcast Group management in Milwaukee and here in Tulsa for sticking with the station's vision and with Michael, despite a lot of pressure from advertisers and other influential folks to shut him down.

Through it all, GM Randy Bush and program manager Brian Gann embodied the spirit of their long-ago KVOO predecessor Bill Way. W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel had successfully intimidated managers at several stations in several cities to keep Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys off the air, but Way refused to cave in to O'Daniel's threats or enticements.

You can hear what Michael had to say in the 6:00 hour about the station management and the listeners here (MP3).

Gwen Freeman will move from the sidekick's seat into the host's chair, with Chris Medlock as her sidekick. Gwen is smart, talented, and has a voice I could listen to all day long, and I'm happy to see her coming into her own.

I'm happy for my friend Chris, too. It had to have been a challenge for him to stifle his laughter at the leaflet that was circulated at the Republican state convention on Saturday, claiming that DelGiorno had been fired and that Medlock's (and my) "public platform has been significantly reduced as of Monday April 16, 2007." Not quite.

(If you were wondering, that leaflet (PDF) is what Michael and I were discussing on Tuesday.)

UPDATE: Comments on DelGiorno's departure from Tyson Wynn and Dan Paden.

UPDATE(2): Michael will be taking the 9 am to 1 pm slot on WWTN in Nashville, which is the highest-rated news/talk station in the market. I saw the schedule on their website before they modified it today -- he is replacing G. Gordon Liddy's syndicated show and an hour of the Bill O'Reilly show. He'll yield 15 minutes each day to Paul Harvey's noon broadcast.

For his first two hours, Michael will be up against another local show, hosted by a conservative lawyer named Steve Gill. The second two hours he'll be head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh.

After reading the bios of the other two local talkers on the station, I think Michael will be right at home. The afternoon drive host on WWTN is Phil Valentine, who is legendary for leading the 2002 Tennessee taxpayer revolt. When a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor were about to institute a state income tax for the first time ever, Phil brought listeners to the State Capitol where they successfully turned enough votes to stop the tax from passing.

MORE: MeeCiteeWurkor testifies to DelGiorno's impact on his political involvement:

I started listening to MDG a couple of years ago when LaFortune was mayor. Before then, I didn’t even care for politics or anything remotely related to talk radio. MDG got me interested in the inner workings of Tulsa and surrounding communities.

A couple of years later, and having actually been on-air with MDG, I can say this for fact: No one has done more to create awareness about local issues in Tulsa than this man. I am thankful for that awareness and the fact that he’s the only local media outlet that ever organized rallies and gatherings of what was called the “Q” Nation. Can you think of anybody else that did that? I can’t.

Tyson Wynn has more to say
, and I think he gets what made some people so angry with Michael:

In a day and age when the vast majority of radio programming is a satellite feed of national issues (which we do need), it was nice to turn on the radio and hear a local guy who cared about local issues talk about things we locals care about. It was nice to hear him broadcast from a vacant lot that somehow managed to vote in an election. It was nice to hear him rant and rave about things that, when we’re really honest with ourselves, make us all rant and rave, too. And I have heard many detractors over the last few year who hate MDG for various reasons. In one case in particuler, I know of one violently vociferous MDG critic who launched a series of anonymous online attacks against MDG simply because MDG refused to accept this person’s worldview and counsel. It was shameful and self-serving, but the safety and anonymity of online forums made him feel brave and unaccountable for his comments.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from April 2007.

Tulsa: March 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: May 2007 is the next archive.

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