Tulsa::Media Category

Jay Cronley, RIP

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Longtime Tulsa newspaper columnist, novelist, and screenwriter Jay Cronley has died at the age of 73. Cronley was an institution on the front of the City/State section of the Tulsa Tribune, then made the transition to the Tulsa World after the World's publisher purchased and shuttered the Tribune. Cronley's curmudgeonly voice ran under his own byline and also that the Tribune Picks, the cynical weekly take on the weekend's upcoming football games. Growing up in a Tribune household, I looked forward to Jay's thrice-weekly columns and weekly football picks (everyone suspected it was him). When I subscribed to the Tribune by mail in college, Cronley's columns were among the reasons I felt no embarrassment in leaving the Tribune on the commons coffee tables next to the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal.

Cronley left the World just about a year ago, but continued to write three times a week, behind a paywall, on his own website, jaycronley.com. His final piece, "Mayfield Punishment is No Gimmie," appeared on February 26, 2017.

In his final column for the World, Cronley explained what it takes to be a descriptive writer.

Good column writing is descriptive.

At TU, I had them make a list of descriptions.

Cold as what?

One of them wrote cold as the devil.

What makes a good columnist?

It's simple: reading.

If I wanted to become a writer all over again I'd major in English, where you have to read literature. In journalism school, too often you read textbooks. The only way to learn how to write is to read. Reading literature is how you learn to think. You can be taught to be a reporter. When you read literature, you see what works through the ages and what didn't.

That's a good point in favor of the classical approach to education and the benefits of a liberal arts education. The only exception I'd take to Jay's suggestion is that majoring in English these days would likely get you bogged down in intersectional theory and identity politics, while keeping you away from the classic works that would make you a better writer. Better you should find a school that teaches the Great Books, the canon of Western Civilization. I've been encouraging my wordsmith daughter to take a close look at those sorts of schools, the kind that accepts the new Classic Learning Test.

The World has made available Jay Cronley's final columns for the paper and a selection of favorites over the years.

Randy Brown has been posting Top 30 hit lists from his days at Tulsa's legendary rock station KAKC (he called himself Bob Scott on the air) on Tulsa Memories from the 60's and 70's Facebook group. The lists were based on surveys of sales at local record stores. He posted the KAKC Top 30 from September 8, 1971, and wrote:

I always sort of made it my mission in life to take over the design and publication of the weekly Big 30 list at every radio station I worked at. In 1971, I gave our Big 30 sheet a pretty dramatic redesign. And lookie!! There I am on the cover, handing over a check for cash to a lucky KAKC contest winner who knew the phrase that pays in our Pay Phone contest. Survey dated September 8, 1971.

Well, that date rang a bell. In September 1971, right after Labor Day, I started at Holland Hall as a 3rd grader, back when the lower and middle schools were at 2660 S. Birmingham Place.

That's also the week when I first heard KAKC. At our house we listened to KRMG-AM and -FM (now KWEN 95.5) -- middle-of-the-road and easy listening, respectively.

Mom taught in Catoosa and Dad worked downtown, and we lived in Rolling Hills, then unincorporated territory east of Tulsa and about 12 miles from school. So I was in a carpool. Dad would meet the carpool at the 11th & Garnett DX (SE corner, now Mazzio's).

Mr. Ivers, the elementary PE teacher, was the driver, and he was a KAKC listener.

He had a Volkswagen station wagon, and somehow he managed to squeeze five or six students in the car with him. There were a couple of sisters and a veterinarian's daughter who lived near the KVOO towers. On the way to school we picked up a Monte Cassino student (a girls' high school back then) who lived in the Rosewood neighborhood NW of 11th and Mingo. (The neighborhood was demolished after the 1984 Memorial Day flood.) Then we drove south on Memorial, stopping to pick up a girl who lived on the west side of the street, just south of a creek, about where 13th Street would have been if it had gone through. On south to 21st, then west to Lewis, south on Lewis to drop off the Monte Cassino student, then left on 27th Place and the south entrance to Holland Hall's Eight Acres campus.

Since we rode in a VW, we played a game like "Slug Bug" -- counting VWs along the way. The big prize went to the first one to call the big VW repair shop on the SW corner of 21st and Yale -- dozens of beetles, wagons, and microbuses.

KAKC was the soundtrack of my daily ride to school, new music en route to a new school in an unfamiliar part of town. My life the two previous years had centered around Admiral and 193rd East Ave. -- church, school, the Red Bud grocery store, Raley's Pharmacy, TG&Y, Lon's Laundry, In'n'Out convenience store. There was the occasional visit to a doctor's office or big shopping center in "Tulsa proper," but that involved crossing four or five miles of farmland. I was leaving behind the school where Mom taught and where my neighbors and Sunday School classmates went.

The music made an impression, and a song from that week's top 30 list has strong associations with those first rides to school: The banjo-infused "Sweet City Woman" by The Stampeders. Maybe I identified with the lyrics. "So long, Ma, so long, Pa, so long, neighbors and friends" -- if only for seven hours.

Here's a playlist I put together of all 30 songs, starting with #30 ("Imagine" -- sorry about that, but it is what it is) and ending with #1 ("The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down").

97_KAKC_Thirty-19710908.jpg

Legendary Tulsa TV weatherman Don Woods is "gravely ill", but "in good spirits" according to a report on KTUL.com:

Don is now 84 years old. He spoke with Channel 8 News Director Carlton Houston Tuesday and says he's been in good spirits recently and enjoying the company of family and friends.

Don Woods was the meteorologist for KTUL channel 8 from its first sign-on in 1954 until his retirement in 1989, and every weathercast featured an impromptu cartoon of a character named Gusty illustrating the forecast. The cartoon would go to a lucky viewer whose name was announced on the air. Our wild weather is an inherently interesting topic, but Don Woods' lighthearted and friendly manner made it fun to hear about cold fronts and high pressure cells as he sketched them on the US map. I imagine I wasn't the only Tulsa kid inspired to ask for a home weather kit for Christmas by Don Woods and his KOTV contemporary Lee Woodward. It was a golden age for local TV, a time of homegrown creativity, replaced too soon by cookie-cutter consultant-driven content.

Woods often made appearances at churches and schools; I remember him doing a presentation at our little church sometime in the '70s, and everyone left with an original Gusty sketch. Since his retirement, Don has often appeared at the Tulsa State Fair and trade shows on behalf of a local company, drawing Gusty and visiting with the fans who grew up watching him. In 2005, Gusty was designated as the official cartoon of the State of Oklahoma.

gustybook.jpg

As concerned as he was about today's weather, Don Woods's greater concern for his audience is epitomized in the title of a little booklet featuring Gusty as its main character: "Do You Know How to Have a Happy Forever?" You can read the booklet online (in English, French, Spanish, and Russian), download a printable digital copy, or order copies in bulk to give away.

It was touching that the KTUL.com story made special mention of the booklet and provided a direct link.

Don wants everyone to know that Gusty -- who is now the official state cartoon of Oklahoma -- is still uplifting people and making them happy to this day.

Don is also well known for a little orange booklet. It's called, "Do you know how to have a happy forever?"

It features Gusty's message that God loves you. Over the years, Don has passed out thousands of these books around the world.

You can find information about the book at his website, www.gusty.us/books.htm. There, you can also leave a note of encouragement for Don.

You can also leave a message for Don in the comments on the KTUL.com story, and they'll be passed along to him.

Please join me in praying for Don Woods's health, and take a moment to leave a happy memory and a kind word for him.

MORE: Tulsa TV Memories has more on the history of TV weather in Tulsa, with an eight-minute TCC video of Don Woods reminiscing about his years covering weather on TV. I especially enjoyed hearing about the origins of Tulsa's first TV weather radar and the filming of the legendary "The News Guys" western-style promo.

Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter Mike Easterling has accepted a position as managing editor of the Montrose (Colo.) Daily Press.

Week after week, for over two years, Mike has provided thorough, perceptive, in-depth coverage of local government for UTW. I'm happy to have had the opportunity to work with him, both as a colleague and as a source. It's always a pleasure to talk with Mike. He asks insightful questions, grasps the key issues, and conveys that understanding to the reader.

Easterling served as editor of the Oklahoma Gazette, OKC's alt-weekly, through the 1990s. (In April 2010, he wrote a piece for the New York Times to mark the 15th anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing.) Prior to his stint with UTW, he was a reporter and city editor for the Albuquerque Journal's Santa Fe bureau.

Mike Easterling's departure, back to the mountains he loves, is a great loss for Tulsa. I wish him all the best in his new endeavor and wish UTW all the best in finding someone to carry on his work here.

OKDemocrat.com is a very old-school message board, mainly about struggles within the Oklahoma state and Tulsa County Democrat organizations, but also touching on broader local political issues. If you want to find out which local Democrats don't like each other and why, this is the place to go. Sometimes there are rumblings of stories and scandals weeks before they emerge in the mainstream.

The tone of the board is set by its proprietor, Rusty Goodman, a Vietnam veteran and long-time Democrat operative. Rusty and many of the regulars on the board are old-fashioned, pro-military, pro-traditional-values economic populists who are frustrated with the anti-military, anti-traditional-values liberals who dominate the state and county organizations and, according to the OKDemocrat regulars, are running the Democrat brand in Oklahoma into the ground.

(An aside: I don't understand my fellow Republicans who wish our side had a message board like this. It's fine for the Democrats to air their dirty laundry for our amusement; why should Republicans return the favor?)

All that to say that Rusty Goodman and the OKDemocrat board have had a run-in with Tulsa's monopoly daily newspaper. On February 9, a message was posted on OKDemocrat, apparently by Tulsa World web editor Jason Collington, saying that an OKDemocrat post "contains a copyrighted story from the Tulsa World and it is printed in full on your website, which is a violation of the copyright,' and that the story had been altered, which "makes your website subject to civil action."

The post apparently from Collington went on to ask for the deletion of the offending post "and any other posts that contain complete versions of our copyrighted stories."

The next sentence tickled me: "You are welcome to excerpt our stories and provide a link back to the story." It was six years ago this week that Tulsa World VP John Bair sent me, Chris Medlock, and two other websites a letter saying that we were not at all welcome to do that, that the act of linking and excerpting constituted a copyright violation. (The Whirled made no effort to follow through after the threat received national attention and ridicule.)

I confess I have sympathy for the World's position. I love it when someone excerpts and comments on a BatesLine post, with attribution and a link to the post. I don't like it when someone posts the entire entry, particularly if there's no attribution and no link.

A newspaper needs money to hire reporters, editors, and webmonkeys, and that money mainly comes from advertiser dollars. If you put a complete newspaper article on your website, the reader has no reason to go to the newspaper's website to read it, where his presence boosts readership numbers which in turn can be used to sell ads, so that the reporters and webmeisters can be paid. If you don't even provide a link or attribution, the reader doesn't even know where to go if he wants to read more stories of that sort. The right thing to do is to excerpt a few sentences to provide the context needed for your comments, cite the source, and provide a link to the source if it's on the web.

That said, it appears that the Whirled is taking an odd route to defending its copyright, using people on the content side of the house to pursue the matter, instead of someone on the legal or corporate side of the company. According to statements on OKDemocrat, the paper's state capitol reporter posted a request on Facebook for contact information for OKDemocrat. Web editor Collington submitted his message to an OKDemocrat feedback form and, when that got no response, posted to an OKDemocrat topic.

In reply, Goodman stated, "I have copies of over 30 stories that broke here first and a few days later showed up at the Tulsa World. Some of them almost word for word were printed in the Tulsa World from this site. Yet no credit was given to this site for breaking the news first."

I'll be watching OKDemocrat to see how all this works out. Should be interesting.

Another unexpected honor: I've been nominated for the first-ever Tulsa Press Club Newsie awards, in the category of Favorite Blogger. The competition is fierce: Natasha Ball of Tasha Does Tulsa, and three of the daily paper's bloggers: Jennifer Chancellor, Wayne Greene, and Jason Ashley Wright.

The nominations came from Tulsa Press Club members, but voting is open to the public. Here's a direct link to the Newsie ballot.

Tickets for the Feb. 24 awards ceremony are $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

We've lost two Tulsa TV pioneers in the last little while. Newsman Jack Morris died in early December at the age of 88. Betty Boyd, host of local daytime shows and later a state legislator, passed away Thursday at age 86.

Whenever someone says, "It's 10 o'clock!" I mentally supply the rest: "Jack Morris news time!" I remember Morris at KTEW (NBC) in the 1970s, but his first television job was as news anchor at KTUL.

Here's an 15-minute profile and interview with Morris, from 1991, the year he was inducted into the Oklahoma Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (Jerry Webber, who worked with Morris at KTEW, is the narrator). Morris talks about the course of his career, including his nightly commentaries from a conservative perspective, traveling to Israel right after the Six-Day War for a documentary on the mideast crisis for KTUL, and what it was like to have to deal with news footage on film. In 1978, he won a Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge gold medal for his commentaries. (For Hal O'Halloran fans, there's a brief glimpse of a promotional photo of the KTUL news team -- Morris, O'Halloran, and weatherman Don Woods - at 4:45.)

KTUL has a tribute to Betty Boyd, which includes a promotional video from 1965; it appears to be aimed at selling Boyd's daily noontime show to potential advertisers. In the video you'll see a brief Cy Tuma newscast, an ad for Wilson's MOR canned ham and BIF canned beef (the shot of MOR with sliced olives belongs in James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food), an old-school weather cast, a Maxwell House commercial, and a bass player and a pianist who played the theme and incidental music throughout the show -- live.

MORE from Tulsa TV Memories: Jack Morris is featured on one of the "Newsmen" pages, and Betty Boyd has a page all to herself.

Here's Jack Frank's video tribute to Betty Boyd from a few years ago.

She mentions Hal O'Halloran and Cy Tuma at about 2:20. And at about 1:10 in, Lawrence Welk flirts with Betty.

You may know This Land Press as the folks behind Goodbye Tulsa, a podcast devoted to well-known and well-loved Tulsans who have recently shuffled off this mortal coil, but (as reported here a few weeks ago) the online This Land project has expanded to be something much bigger, and now it's extending its reach into print.

This Land has produced its maiden print edition ("Relevant Readings by Oklahoma Writers, Artists, and Thinkers), and it's available now at Dwelling Spaces, 2nd and Detroit in downtown Tulsa's Blue Dome District, for a mere $2.

I'm honored to have a place in this premiere edition. I was asked by publisher Michael Mason to put together the data and text for an infographic, by graphic designer Carlos Knight, illustrating the top 10 private land and building owners in downtown Tulsa and how much of downtown they own. It was fascinating to research, and I think you'll find it just as fascinating to read. Carlos did a beautiful job of bringing text and numbers to life through his design, and it was a privilege to get to work with such a talented artist.

I haven't yet seen the rest of the paper, but the back cover portrait by Michael Cooper of Rocky Frisco is worth the cover price alone.

This Land Press

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By now you've surely heard one of the wonderful podcast tributes to recently departed Tulsans at Goodbye Tulsa. But Goodbye Tulsa is part of something bigger. This Land Press describes itself:

As a collaboration of Oklahoma's best writers, thinkers, and artists, the aim of This Land is to deliver engaging content that's relevant to Oklahomans, and to encourage a richer sense of community through our various projects.

The project is attracting a growing number of contributors, including some names you've seen on bylines in the local alternative press. For example, my friend and former colleague Erin Fore is writing about her new, simpler, nicotine-, booze-, and car-free life in Norman. Photographer Michael Cooper is posting portraits of fascinating Tulsans. He's posted a great shot of musician and sometime politician Rocky Frisco and one of Melinda and Marcia Borum making the mugs that are used to serve coffee at Melinda's Shades of Brown. Josh Kline is writing about movies. Ray Pearcey's first piece for This Land is about the Fab Lab in Kendall Whittier.

Some interesting things are happening at This Land Press. Keep an eye on it.

A couple of days ago someone sent out an apparently pseudonymous email attacking a local media personality. This email was sent to a whole bunch of local bloggers, activists, publishers, and competing media personalities, challenging us to have the courage to publish his allegations and expose this person as a phony:

Let's see which of you have the stones to expose the truth about [media personality].

Sir or madam, if you had any stones, you wouldn't wait on me or Jamison Faught or Mike McCarville or MeeCiteeWurkor or Charlie Biggs to put this info on the web.

  1. Go to http://www.blogger.com
  2. Click "CREATE A BLOG."
  3. Follow the instructions.

If you have confidence in this information and want it made public, publish it yourself. If you think it's important for the public to know, put it on the web where Google will index it. Sure, if it turns out that your information is false and you know it, putting it on the web would be considered an aggravation of libel, but you've already committed yourself by sending the email to a couple dozen media people, so if it's that important to you, prove it by publishing it yourself instead of expecting someone else to take the risk for you.

The Tulsa Police Department could be making better use of the internet and social media tools to communicate with the public, particularly in emergency situations. TPD has a blog, a Facebook fan page, and a Twitter account -- you've probably received the ominous email: Tulsa Police is now following you... -- but they aren't using any of them in an effective and timely fashion.

For several years now, I've been on a Tulsa Police Department Media Relations e-mail list. Nearly every morning around 8, I receive an email with subject line "Daily" with an attached PDF file. The PDF consists of a description of significant TPD activity the previous night. Except for the TPD letterhead, the PDF is mainly text. Until recently, the body of the email contained only the name of the media contact of the day. Over the last week or so, they've begun to put the text of the document in the body of the email -- an improvement -- but they still attach the PDF and now they're embedding a 262 KB image of the TPD badge in the email, bloating the size of each email to about 1/2 a megabyte.

There are occasional bulletins, too, like the one I received Thursday night about a special-needs child who had wandered away from his south Tulsa home. The email included a high-resolution photo of the boy and a description.

The TPD's use of email seems to assume an old-media approach to disseminating information to the public: The assignment editor at the newspaper, TV station, or radio station receives the email, prints off the attachment, and hands it off to a reporter, who follows up with the TPD media relations officer of the day to prepare a story for broadcast that night or the next day's paper.

Let me use Thursday's missing-boy story as an example of how TPD's approach slows down the dissemination of information they want to convey to the public.

As soon as I saw the email on Thursday evening and decided to help get out the word, I saved the attached photo to my hard drive, uploaded it to my blog database (using the blog software's capability to produce a smaller version that would fit the blog format -- I might also have edited it myself), created a new blog entry with the text from the TPD email, and then published it. I went through all these steps mainly so I could have a link to detailed information that I could then post to Twitter and Facebook. Shortly after I got all this done -- within 30 minutes of TPD sending the email -- I learned that the boy had been found, and so I updated the blog entry and sent out the news on Twitter and Facebook. Had there been a blog entry to which I could have linked, I could have pushed the information out to my blog readers and social networks within a minute or two of seeing the email.

To the extent that word got out to the public, TPD was dependent on media outlets to be paying attention at 8 pm on a Thursday evening. There's a better way that would allow TPD to reach more citizens more quickly and more directly. Here's the way the missing-boy story could have been handled:

  • TPD posts the photo of the boy, description, and details of the disappearance on the Tulsa Police Department blog.
  • TPD uses its @tulsapolice Twitter account to send a bulletin with a link to the blog entry with all the details. The link should be shortened with is.gd or a self-hosted link shortener, so that more of the maximum 140 characters are available to explain what's up. As an example, here's my tweet from Thursday night:
    9 yr old special-needs child missing near 101st and Yale #tulsa http://is.gd/8aKXR Tulsa tweeps please RT
    (If such info were available via @tulsapolice, I'd have those tweets sent to my phone, so that I'd see them ASAP. I'm sure many other Tulsans would do the same.
  • TPD sends a direct link (not a shortened one) via its Facebook fan page, and uses the boy's photo as the link summary thumbnail. The accompanying text should still be brief, but Facebook allows a bit more room to explain the situation.
  • TPD sends an email to its media list with the text of the blog entry, a small version of the photo, and a link back to the blog entry. If a media outlet needed a high-res version of the photo, they could obtain it at the relevant blog entry.

The media and the public then would help TPD spread the word:

  • Twitter followers of @tulsapolice retweet the link to the TPD blog entry. All it takes is a single click to spread the message.
  • Facebook fans of Tulsa Police Department share the link to the TPD blog entry with their Facebook friends.
  • Bloggers post info online with link to TPD blog entry, hot-linking photo from TPD site.
  • Traditional media posts breaking news online (with a link to TPD blog entry), follows up with TPD for news story for later broadcast or publication.

Under this approach, when the boy was found, TPD would have posted an update at the top of the same blog entry, and then sent that same link to that blog entry back out via Twitter, Facebook, and email, with the accompanying message that the boy had been found. By putting the updated info on the same blog entry, someone reading the alert later and following the link would immediately see the latest developments.

(It should go without saying, but every such email and blog entry should include day, month, and year in the body of the text, to prevent out-of-date information circulating forever as an emailed urban legend.)

Cool and cranky

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It's always a surprise to get a comment on an old post, usually a pleasant one.

Over the last 24 hours, two old blog entries have received comments.

The first, from Lisa S. of Joshua, Texas, was posted to my July 2008 entry about a visit to the pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas. Last week, she and her dad were heading back home from visiting the town of Paint Rock and decided to follow the signs to the pictographs. I guess she was looking on the web for more info, came across my writeup, and was kind enough to report her own wonderful tour of the pictographs.

The second, from Howard Giles, posted from an Albuquerque, N.M., IP address, complains bitterly about my May 2009 entry on a 1981 Downtown Tulsa Unlimited plan for redeveloping what we now call Brady Arts District (or, better, the Bob Wills District). I had quoted from an April 7, 1981, Tulsa World business news story on the plan, which included extensive quotes from planner John Lauder of Urban Design Group. Mr. Giles thinks I should have done further research -- actually sought out a copy of the plan -- before writing anything about it. I replied: "It's not meant to be a finished piece of research, just a snippet of information I thought deserving of wider exposure. I let my readers know the source of the information and where it could be found so that an interested reader could do further research on his own." In my reply, I invited Mr. Giles to share any specific information he has about the 1981 plan.

Apropos the recent story on high water usage, here are a couple of public service announcements on water conservation featuring Gailard Sartain:

Check out the Tulsa TV Memories YouTube channel for more glimpses into Tulsa broadcasting history, including several more clips from KGCT 41, the short-lived attempt at news-talk TV on downtown Tulsa's Main Mall.

TulsaGal has been posting scans of past Tulsa ephemera on her blog. The latest scan is of a little 16-page magazine called This Week in Tulsa, December 31, 1948 edition. Recently she posted a copy of the competing magazine, The Downtowner, from March 19, 1948. The magazines had ads for nightlife, restaurants, theaters, and more mundane retailers. Where possible, she's ferreted out photos from the Beryl Ford Collection of the places that advertised in the two magazines.

As an interesting point of comparison, Iowahawk has scans of a similar, but much racier, 16-pager serving the Chicago convention business: The April 3, 1959, edition of Night Life in Chicago.

MORE FUN TULSA EPHEMERA: Irritated Tulsan has a promotional flyer for Scene2News from the 1970s, handed out at the Tulsa State Fair, featuring Jack Morris, Jerry Webber, and John Hudson. When I see a clock that shows 10 pm, sometimes there's a voice that booms out in my head, "IT'S TEN O'CLOCK! JACK MORRIS NEWS TIME!"

Chris Medlock, former city councilor and former afternoon host on KFAQ, is relaunching his talk show as a podcast today, the first anniversary of his first solo show on KFAQ. The show (in MP3 format for downloading to your computer or portable music device) is due to be uploaded to his website, medblogged.com, at 2 p.m. today.

Relocate-America.com has named Tulsa the best place to live in America for 2009.

Throughout the calendar year, we accept nominations for cities & towns throughout the country to be considered as a "top place to live". The nominating parties must include their own reasons why they feel their city should make the list. The nominations, along with key data regarding education, employment, economy, crime, parks, recreation and housing are reviewed, rated & judged by our editorial team. Special consideration is taken on the Top 10 Cities as they are listed in a ranked order of America's Top 10 Places to Live.

The top 10:

  1. Tulsa, OK
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Raleigh-Durham, NC
  5. Huntsville, AL
  6. Houston, TX
  7. Albuquerque, NM
  8. Lexington, KY
  9. Little Rock, AR
  10. Oklahoma City, OK

Jenks also made the top 100 -- a specific ranking wasn't provided.

This honor is a good excuse to publish the following. My dad received an e-mail from a fellow Santa containing a Tulsa TV jingle from the 1980s:

There's a feeling in the air that you can't get anywhere except in Tulsa.
I'll taste a thousand yesterdays and I love the magic ways of Tulsa.
From the green countryside, we share the glowing pride
Each time we touch the sky.
From where the rivers flow, where all good feelings grow
With all good neighbors passing by.

Makes no difference where I go,
You're the best hometown I know.
Hello, Tulsa.
Hello, Tulsa! TV 2 loves you......

(Turns out the "Hello News" package, written by prolific jingle composer Frank Gari, has been used in 36 markets in the U.S, and in Australia, Canada, and Latin America, with local references built in for each. More about the Tulsa and Dallas deployments of the theme on Tulsa TV Memories. Gari is also responsible for two recruitment jingles: "Be All That You Can Be" and "Be A Pepper.")

Again, no time to comment much, just to note the situation.

Tulsa has three Taxpayer Tea Party events scheduled for April 15:

  • Civic Center Plaza, 5th and Denver, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • LaFortune Stadium, on Hudson north of 61st St., between 12 noon and 2 p.m.
  • Veterans' Park, 18th and Boulder, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

From the tulsateaparty.org press release:

A group of citizens in Tulsa, OK, the Tulsa Tea Party, are organizing two Tax Day TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party protest rallies on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, the day tax returns are to be mailed, in the downtown Tulsa area....

The TEA Party is part of a national movement formed to protest the spending of trillions of dollars, which will leave our great-grandchildren a debt they must pay, and to restore the basic free market principals upon which our country was founded. This is a grassroots, collaborative volunteer organization made up of everyday American citizens. This is not about Democrats and Republicans. It's about the defending the Constitution and loving America.

Tax day rallies are being held in over a thousand cities across the nation and are being promoted by Americans for Prosperity, American Family Association, 912 Project and several national radio and television programs, among others.

While the multiple events at different times and locales will allow more people to participate, there's also some talk radio tug-of-war going on as KFAQ hosts are emceeing the Civic Center and Veterans' Park tea parties, and KRMG is promoting the LaFortune Stadium tea party.

Chris Medlock, who "no longer [has] a dog in this fight," has an interesting analysis of the Tulsa Tea Party situation (and a great graphic -- rockem-sockem radio stations) and how it could work in the protest movement's favor. The post has already generated 17 comments, including one from "joe.kelley," although I have trouble believing it was really written by the KRMG morning host -- the tone is way out of character.

Jai Blevins, who organized the February Tea Party at Veterans' Park and is organizing the Civic Center and Veterans' Park events for next Wednesday, seems to have found the whole experience eye-opening.

I've been around grassroots organizing for a long time -- neighborhood organizations, political parties, campaigns, and other causes. I've seen many people like Jai, who get passionate about an issue, get motivated, and seemingly come out of nowhere to get something going. We need people like Jai, who haven't yet become worn down, jaded, and cynical, who still believe that it's possible to make a difference.

These freshly-minted grassroots leaders often learn, to their shock and displeasure, that the biggest challenge to their movement's success may not be from outside opposition but from internal dissension, as some people seek to use the movement to promote their own agenda. Sometimes that agenda is hidden, sometimes it's right out in the open -- as it is with the radio stations and their understandable desire to use the tax party movement to promote their own business prospects.

But from the perspective of someone like Jai Blevins, this isn't a time to jockey for advantage, but a national emergency that demands patriotic cooperation from people who might otherwise be at odds. To call him a whiner or to say that he's insincere and doesn't believe in free-market competition is to misunderstand his motives.

Eventually, an activist learns how to deal with individuals and companies that are trying to use his movement. He learns to use them to promote his movement's agenda. They achieve a kind of symbiosis, but there's an understanding that the relationship is one of convenience, not permanent and grounded in principle. In the process of coming to terms with that reality, you lose some of your idealism.

Like Chris, I don't have a dog in this fight either. I haven't been invited on either station for months, and I don't expect that I'll ever be invited on either one again. I hope all three events draw big, enthusiastic crowds and get plenty of media coverage.

As for which one I'm attending -- it's also my wife's birthday, so I doubt I'll be able to get to any of them.

MORE: American Majority, which provides training for prospective political candidates and activists, is offering to help you learn how to make an ongoing difference after the tea parties are over.

Chris Medlock is back to blogging, having moved his blog to a domain with a matching name, www.MedBlogged.com. Since relaunching, he's written about both local and national issues, including the strange case of Obama excluding the press from a ceremony in which he was to receive an award from a press organization.

His most recent entry includes audio of Pat Campbell's comments on his show the Monday morning after KFAQ cancelled the Chris Medlock Show. Pat has kind words to say about Chris, and he made it clear that the cancellation of Chris's show reflected the station's economic situation, not Chris's performance.

Shortly before Pat's arrival in April 2008, I was informed that my weekly segment on KFAQ, which had run continuously since September 2003, was being discontinued. I was told that I might be called on from time to time to talk about a particular local issue that I covered here or in my UTW column. (And indeed that happened, with occasional appearances with Pat, Chris, and Elvis, most often with Chris, although the time of day didn't always allow me to participate.)

The change made sense: The station was launching a two-hour daily program devoted primarily to local issues, hosted by an expert. There really wasn't a need for my segment to continue. It was fun while it lasted, but I haven't missed having to get up extra early every Tuesday.

But now that there isn't a Chris Medlock Show, it would make sense to add a regular local politics segment alongside all the other weekly segments on the Pat Campbell Show. And it would make sense for that segment to feature the insights of a former city councilor and mayoral candidate named Chris Medlock.

MORE: Muskogee Politico notes that KFAQ has reposted the final week of podcasts of the Chris Medlock Show; MP calls it a "good start." Steven Roemerman says the gesture is "too little, too late."

The breathless tweets began about noon:

NewsTalk740KRMG: MAJOR NEWS about the Tulsa radio landscape to be announced in three hours - at 3pm. Please RT.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 12:02:11

NewsTalk740KRMG: MAJOR changes to be announced AND implemented at 3pm on Tulsa's KRMG.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 12:47:58

I duly "retweeted" the message (that's what RT means in Twitterese) and so did a bunch of other folks.

The intensity gathered momentum with a little over an hour to go:

NewsTalk740KRMG: Make no mistake about it, behind the scenes here we're working feverishly to get our 3pm announcement and implementation ready.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 13:48:34

NewsTalk740KRMG: Mindful of radio stunts, I want to insist that this IS NOT a radio stunt. We're moving mountains over here.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 13:50:04

NewsTalk740KRMG: Channel 6 has TV cameras in our Talk Studio for our CW12/19 morning broadcast. I've had to feed them color bars to NOT see what we're doing.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:18:47

With 40 minutes remaining, we seemed to be nearing the boiling point:

NewsTalk740KRMG: I've just learned that we had a leak of information. It's OUT. Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:20:46

NewsTalk740KRMG: 30 minutes until the announcement. We're going to be cutting it close. Listen at AM740 or at www.krmg.com
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:31:11

NewsTalk740KRMG: I wish you could see what's going on here. People are FREAKING OUT. We have 15 mins until the BIG DEAL. I just saw our PD in the fetal pos.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:45:20

NewsTalk740KRMG: KRMG just sent out a text alert to those who subscribe to Breaking News Alerts with scant details.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:52:50

NewsTalk740KRMG: I'll give you a hint - Sean Hannity actually spilled the beans an hour ago in OKC. Hannity will also talk about it just after 3pm on KRMG.
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:54:10

As zero hour approached, I had my headphones, which are normally plugged into the computer, plugged in to the old AM/FM/cassette player I keep on my desk. This pretty much encapsulates how I felt when the announcement came:

"Underwhelmed," I tweeted. I noticed similar sentiments from a few other Twitterers.

After reading a statement explaining the reason for the change, I could better understand the excitement within the walls of KRMG:

AM740 has a massive signal that reaches great distances across the length of Oklahoma. But, the weakness of AM740 is the limitations of north-south signal strength. The signal strength of AM radio across the US also faces limitations when it comes to penetrating large buildings, such as offices and some homes.

Adding FM102.3 to our stable of delivery platforms will nearly eliminate any of the weaknesses that AM740 presented our listeners.

102.3 is certainly easier to pick up at the office, doesn't seem to suffer as much from nearby computers, and it's a much more vivid sound. And I've experienced the massive dead spot in the KRMG signal pattern, driving home at night down US 75 or US 169 from the north. 740's signal is limited because two other stations on 740, one in Houston and one in Canada. (You can sometimes hear a few seconds of it around sunrise if the transmitter switchover takes a bit longer than normal.)

Here are three maps to illustrate the problem:

KRMG 740 daytime (50,000 watts)
KRMG 740 nighttime (50,000 watts)
KKCM 102.3 (50,000 watts)

(The reason for the bizarre KRMG signal pattern: U. S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr, the station's founding owner, wanted his station to cover both Tulsa and Oklahoma City.)

So KKCM 102.3 (the FCC database still shows the old call letters) will fill in the gaps for KRMG in the northern half of the metro area. They'll also be able to reach MP3 players and portable radios that have FM reception but no AM reception. In a sense, they're taking over for KOTV, providing a way for FM listeners to pick up breaking news and weather bulletins. (KOTV's assigned frequency band, 82-88 MHz, made it possible to hear the TV station's audio on the radio, but that's gone with the end of analog broadcasting and frequency reassignment.)

So I can understand the KRMG guys' excitement, but I'm not sure if they realized the expectations they were creating with the build-up to the announcement. They gave us each an opportunity to assume that our own hopes for Tulsa radio were about to come true, and I suspect most of those hopes pertained to content, not broadcast reach.

For example, FixedOn66 thought KRMG might move Rush Limbaugh one hour earlier, so that Tulsa would hear his show live. I imagine a few people were hoping for a replacement for Michael Savage -- maybe Fred Thompson's new talk show.

Several people expressed hope that the announcement would represent an expansion of local talk radio programming to compensate for its recent, sudden contraction. In other words, they hoped they'd be hearing something like this at 3:00 p.m.

This announcement made for an interesting experiment in marketing through social networking -- and there were dozens of local PR and advertising pros watching it unfold on Twitter. KRMG created buzz, but there was a disconnect between the significance of the news for them and the significance for most of their listeners. When the big announcement came, they could have done a better job of explaining the benefits to the listeners. They had people paying attention to the frequency announcement, but they may have blunted the effectiveness of the strategy for future announcements.

Although the announcement of the FM frequency was not about content, upon further reflection, I can see how it might expand opportunities for content. BBC Radio 4, which is mainly spoken-word programming, broadcasts on three bands: VHF (what we call FM), mediumwave (equivalent to our AM band), and longwave (148.5 to 283.5 kHz, not used for broadcasting outside of Europe). Most of the broadcast day is simulcast, but certain programs, like the Shipping Forecast and play-by-play coverage of cricket test matches are heard only on longwave. (I seem to recall that KOMA in Oklahoma City used to do something similar some years ago -- simulcasting oldies on 1520 and 92.5, but carrying paid religious programming on 1520 only at certain times.)

Speaking of the BBC, they set the standard for frequency-change announcements back in 1978.

Oh, about returning to the FM dial: Circa 1970, KRMG-FM broadcast "beautiful music" on 95.5 MHz. Our parents would sometimes set the RCA clock radio (just like the one Bob and Emily Hartley had, except that ours was gold) in the hall, tuned to KRMG-FM, to help us get to sleep. KRMG-FM later changed its call letters to KWEN. (Chuck Fullhart worked at KRMG-FM back in the day and shared his recollections of this early example of an automated radio station on TulsaTVMemories.com.)

MORE: Tyson Wynn is "giddy" at the thought of an FM talk station. He explains why, and uses KRMG's announcement to put KFAQ's cancellation of the Chris Medlock Show into perspective:

KRMG will be the Tulsa radio king as long as it carries Rush Limbaugh. Frankly, KRMG has a heftier overall lineup of syndicated shows (with the exception of the legend-in-his-own-mind Michael Savage). That said, I am a fan of Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin on KFAQ. But, KFAQ's real mode of attraction (when it started up) was the passion of the live and local Michael DelGiorno and its running shows live so that listeners could participate (they even ran promos about it)....

As far as KFAQ goes, it's not enough merely to be the other talk station in town. Newspapers are learning they can band-aid their dismal situations by cutting local reporters and filling space with nationally syndicated columns, but that doesn't fix the big issue. Radio, in the same way, can fill time with any number of nationally syndicated hosts, many of them very good, but none of them provide the localism radio must have if it is to be successful in a market. If your national hosts are largely second-tier, if your local news team is second-best, you better out-passion and out-local-issue the other guys.

Further, KFAQ's handling of the Medlock dismissal betrayed years of positioning. No one buys that the station that claims it is "standing up for what's right," did the right thing by dismissing Medlock, the only daily injection of passion and loyal opposition in Tulsa, especially so suddenly. They added insult to injury by not allowing him to say goodbye and then removing every trace of his existence from the station's website (though it is a fairly typical practice in radio).

Read the whole thing.

I hadn't planned to post again today, but I've received several e-mails from people who tuned into the Chris Medlock show on 1170 KFAQ this afternoon and were surprised to hear the Laura Ingraham show two hours early instead of Chris.

Chris was laid off this morning. The new schedule has Laura Ingraham from 2 to 5, an hour-long call-in show from 5 to 6, hosted by Elvis Polo, followed by Mark Levin from 6 to 8.

Although I'm told that Chris's ratings have been good -- the best for his timeslot since Tony Snow was on mid-afternoons several years ago -- parent company Journal Communications is suffering. In June 2007, the stock neared $14 a share; it was at $5 as recently as last September; yesterday it closed at 39 cents. (It ticked up today, back to 50 cents.) According to the transcript of the company's 2008 4Q earnings teleconference, Journal had a net loss of $223 million for that period. Journal Communications' flagship is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper:

At the daily newspaper, total revenue of $50 million was down almost 13%. The major revenue category of advertising was down 18.6%, while circulation revenue was essentially flat and our other revenue category was up nearly 12%.

Other revenue includes using the presses in off-hours to do commercial printing. Read the report for specifics.

I'm not in a position to criticize the move as a business decision, but I'm disappointed to lose a knowledgeable voice on local issues from the airwaves, and I'm disappointed with the way the layoff was handled. If it were my station, I'd have given Chris a chance to say "so long for now" to his listeners.

I would not have tossed his webpage, his blog, and his podcasts straight down the "memory hole" -- deleted from the website without any acknowledgment of what had happened. (I wasn't surprised, however, because that was done when Michael DelGiorno left in 2007 and again when Gwen Freeman left in 2008.) Something I appreciate about the the Urban Tulsa Weekly, Tulsa World, and some of the TV stations is that they see their archives as more than just ephemera; it's a part of the contemporaneous record of Tulsa's history, so they don't purge articles by former staffers. Chris's commentary and that of the newsmakers who spoke on his show ought to be a part of that record as well. (Ditto for KFAQ's other hosts, both past and present.)

I wish Chris all the best and hope that he'll continue to be a part of Tulsa's civic dialogue. I hope, too, that KFAQ continues to engage local issues in some form, but it will be harder to do without Chris Medlock's contributions.

MORE: Steven Roemerman is not happy with the cancellation of Chris's show or with the way it was handled, and he wrote KFAQ management to complain. He received a response from Brian Gann, Operations Manager for Journal's Tulsa stations, which read in part:

The economy has forced many businesses to make choices. With our move at KFAQ, we've had to make a difficult choice to stop working with someone we really care about by canceling the Chris Medlock Show. It was not an easy decision. We do hope to be able to call on Chris' expertise in the future.

Just a reminder that tomorrow morning at 6 on 1170 KFAQ, you'll hear the first edition of the Pat Campbell Show.

This morning was the final edition of KFAQ Mornings -- Chris Medlock will be moving to afternoons, 2 to 4, beginning on May 5 -- and during the 7 a.m. hour, Chris interviewed Pat. It was interesting to learn that he started out as a talk show caller. He said that he started listening to Rush Limbaugh during the 1991 Gulf War and would stay tuned to listen to the local liberal host. No one else was challenging what the host was saying, so Pat would call in and argue with him. A couple of competing station managers heard Pat and called to offer him a tryout, impressed at his ability to debate the host extemporaneously. That's how he got his start.

I have the impression that Pat has been carefully studying state and local issues in preparation for his debut, and he's already got a good grasp of who the key players are. Even as a newcomer, he could clearly see from the opinion section in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled how hostile our daily paper is to the conservative views of the vast majority of Oklahomans.

With a new host you can expect changes. For a start, the show will begin at 6, not at 5:30 as the previous morning show had done ever since Michael DelGiorno moved from afternoons to mornings back in 2003.

I'll be sleeping later tomorrow than I usually do on Tuesdays, although I still plan to wake up in time to hear the start of Pat's first broadcast. With the change in show format, there won't be a regular time to tune in to hear me, although I'll certainly be available if Pat or Chris, or Elvis Polo, Bruce Delay, or Darryl Baskin on the weekends on KFAQ, or, for that matter, Joe Kelley on KRMG or Rich Fisher on KWGS wants to talk to me about an issue on or off the air. If I'm asked to be on one of those shows and I know far enough in advance, I'll be sure to post something about it here.

Best of luck to Pat, and welcome to town!

I found out last night; the promos started running today: Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's search for a morning show host is over, and the new man is Pat Campbell, formerly of WFLA 540 in Orlando. As I noted a month ago when Pat was in town to try out, he seems to be a solid conservative. In 2006 and 2007, he was named one of Talkers Magazine's 250 most influential talk show hosts. Pat's first day will be next Tuesday, April 22.

Elvis Polo will stay on in the mornings as Pat's producer. Chris Medlock will move to afternoons from 2-4, starting in May, and Brent Smith will run the boards for him. (Chris's show will displace "Brian and the Judge.")

MORE: Pat announces the move on his blog: "I was just blown away with my visit to Tulsa. Journal has put together a top notch team led by Randy Bush and Brian Gann. I have all the tools needed to make a real ratings splash. I'm surrounded by a team of professionals that will help us take KFAQ to the top." Pat also mentions that his contract with Journal is a three-year deal.

KFAQ, with its emphasis on local talk and its motto of "Standing Up for What's Right," means a great deal to many Tulsans who for many years were frustrated by the one-sided way the mainstream local media outlets framed the issues. I'm happy that KFAQ has found someone of Pat's caliber to carry on that legacy, and I'm sure I speak for many others in the "Q nation" in wishing him a warm welcome

RELATED: Last month, KFAQ's parent company, Journal Broadcast Group, announced a special election year emphasis for its TV stations and news/talk radio stations during the month before November's general election:

"Our stations are always committed to providing comprehensive, high-quality news coverage of important local stories. This year we renew our initiative to provide viewers and listeners in each of our markets with the best we have to offer in election coverage," said [Doug Kiel, President, Journal Communications Inc. and Vice Chairman and CEO, Journal Broadcast Group].

The Journal Broadcast Group's "2008 Red, White and Blue Election Initiative" on television newscasts and news/talk radio stations includes:

  • A minimum of five minutes of news coverage daily, Monday through Friday, in the 30 days prior to the general election. This coverage will be broadcast in the afternoon and late evening newscasts on television and in high listener time periods on radio.
  • The coverage will be focused on candidates running for office in federal, state and significant local elections.
  • Coverage will consist of interviews, profiles and viewers' questions.
  • Debates will be offered where appropriate.
  • Stations will run public service announcements encouraging viewers to get out and vote.

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