Category Archives: Stupid People

One Down, A Whole Lot More To Go

Bye JerBear.  It’s been…um…real.  I heard the hosts talking about what was his worst move as GM of the Bears.  There’s several to pick from, but I have to agree with one of the hosts that the Thomas Jones trade was brutal.  If you don’t recall the deal; the Bears sent Jones and their 2nd round pick (63rd overall) to the Jets for their 2nd rounder (37th overall).  Jones was a wildly popular guy in the locker room and, to anyone with functioning eyes, was clearly a better player than Cedric Benson – whom the Bears had drafted 4th overall in 2005 (more on this in a second).  Benson, being a high draft pick and all, apparently needed to be the starting back, thus Jones was expendable.  Ugh. Continue reading

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Bears Post Mortum

Hey look!  I finally got a new computer so it no longer takes 45 minutes just to boot the damn thing up.  Yay me!

So the NFL regular season is in the books and I’d love to give you a complete and detailed break down of each team that’s in the playoffs, but I really can’t.  Truthfully it was a busy, busy last few months so I haven’t seen nearly as much football as I normally would have.  What I do know is this: Continue reading

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Dr. Dumb

Who else thought I had quit posting huh???  Be honest….  Actually I just got buried the last two days at work and when I got home, all I really wanted to do was cry.  I mean, um, do manly stuff.  While crying.

Okay, so if you missed it (and you may have as this didn’t become a huge story), Dr. Laura (host of a nationally syndicated radio show) announced she will retire from her show later this year when her contract expires.  This came closely on the heels of her getting in a bit of trouble for dropping the N-bomb (or N-word if you prefer) repeatedly on her show.

Quick set up if you don’t know the whole story: a caller asked a question having to do with the word, Dr. Laura said it, caller said she probably shouldn’t have, Dr. Laura said to the caller “don’t NAACP me” and then dropped the N-bomb several more times.

Stupid.

So Dr. Laura then issues a pretty weak apology and tells Larry King she’s retiring because she wants her first amendment rights back.  If Dr. Laura wants to retire, far be it from me to tell her not to.  But that’s complete bull.  I’ve been in radio for over ten years and never once in that time has anyone ever come anywhere close to violating my first amendment rights.  There are only seven words you can’t say (find them here but note, they’re dirty…I’m told anyways).  Except now, maybe we can say those because the Supreme Court told the FCC that not allowing us to say those words violates our freedom of speech.  So maybe I have had my rights violated.  But that’s not the point.

If Dr. Laura’s rights were being threatened or trampled, she would have been fired or at the very least suspended.  Neither happened.  In fact, neither was even suggested by her employer.  Pundits suggested it, but never was Dr. Laura’s job in any real danger.  She didn’t even lose an affiliate!  What this really boils down to is that she stirred up a storm and decided to use it as an excuse to walk.  Maybe she has other plans (I’m calling it now, she pops up on FOX News), or maybe she’s just tired of doing the show and doesn’t need the money anymore.  Either way though, her rights are not being violated.  By telling the rest of us that we’re oppressing her, she is actually trying to take away our rights.  See, just like she is allowed to speak her mind freely, although hate speech is not protected by the first amendment and that very much is hate speech, I have the right to speak my mind as well.  So Dr. Laura, you are f-ing stupid.  You never should have thought you could say that word on a nationally syndicated show and expect nothing to happen.  You offended people and you don’t get to say you have a right to speak and they don’t because they’re mad at you.  If you believe any of that then seriously, you’re dumb.  I’m sure you did it on purpose, after all I guarantee you have a dump button that would have allowed you to make sure that didn’t make the air, but you didn’t use it.  I don’t  know what your end game is, and I don’t care.  You lost your relevancy over a decade ago, as evidenced by the lack of real attention.  I mean Don Imus got WAY more coverage than you did.  So good riddance, but please, do us one last favor.  Don’t “crusade to protect our rights” or any of that crap, just enjoy the obscurity you’ve already been living in.

New Year’s Resolution…in August

I have made a decision.  I just thought you should know that.

Oh you want to know what I decided?  No, of course you don’t.  Too bad, I’m telling you anyways.  I decided that I’m going to really work at writing regularly.  We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over/under is currently 2 weeks.  I’d take the under if I were you.

So let’s get to it.  Biggest story of the summer: The LeBacle (hands down my favorite name for the insanity that surrounded LeBron this summer).  Quick story: I used to LOVE basketball.  I’m a Bulls fan and I grew up in the 90’s otherwise known as the Jordan/Pippen Era.  It was a magical time.  I watched two hall of famers get coached by one of the best coaches ever in Phil Jackson (some would argue THE best).  Then, they left the Bulls and the league seemed to fall apart.  I’m not totally sure why.  I guess these things are just cyclical.  Anyways I gravitated to college ball as it was just a better product.  Maybe because the top high schoolers jumped straight to the pros and that forced the colleges to build stronger teams instead of just relying on a stud or two.  Then LeBron happened.  Suddenly this likable kid who just might be the real deal was on his way to the league.  He would save it.  Being one of the most ardent defenders of Jordan’s legacy, I refused to allow anyone to be mentioned in the same breath as him…until LeBron.  I believed.

Flash forward to 2010.  LeBron’s antics were starting to wear thin on me (the pregame stuff, acting like a general fool on the bench), but I let it go because hey, he’s 25.  He’s a kid.  He doesn’t really have any structure around him because Mike Brown isn’t about to stand up to his only star.  I could justify it.  When LeBron’s impending free agency was upon us, I thought he would either stay in Cleveland or go to Chicago.  That’s it.  Those were the only options.  The case for each was pretty simple:

Cleveland: stay at home with the franchise that you saved and finish what you started.  LeBron had all the leverage.  He could get whatever coach he wanted, whatever GM he wanted, and if he agreed to take less money they probably could’ve landed some crop along the lines of David Lee/Ray Allen/Kyle Korver/Ronnie Brewer/J.J. Redick and maybe Carlos Boozer.  Probably not Bosh because he made it pretty clear he was going to be Dwayne Wade’s lapdog.  Now, I admit that Lee/Allen/Korver/Brewer/Redick doesn’t make a championship automatic, but combine them with some of the pieces they already have (Hickson, Mo Williams, Varejao) and you’ve got something.  Especially with Boston making their way over the hill and Orlando lacking the ability to take that next step to elite status.

Chicago:  Easy choice if you want to win immediately.  Add LeBron to a team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng?  Yeah, game over.  I mean, what else do you want me to say here?

Now, I don’t think anyone would have blamed LeBron for leaving Cleveland.  He killed himself the year they went to the Finals and promptly got handled by San Antonio because a good team will beat one great player every time.  Ask Michael Jordan about the Pistons before Scottie got there.  But the way LeBron left?  Pathetic.

You get ESPN to give you an uninterrupted hour of prime time and you use it to rip the heart out of your home?  Shame on you LeBron.  And shame on ESPN for facilitating it.  I was disappointed in his immaturity.  I was disappointed that he took the easy way out by going to Miami with Wade and Bosh.  I was really disappointed that he didn’t seem to care at all about what he just did.  He talked in the third person and he never really showed regret.

The backlash began.  Sport Illustrated ran a great piece that I thought accurately and fairly destroyed LeBron, Bosh, and Wade.  If I could find it, I would link to it.  Talk radio, blogs, even ESPN made fun of the “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” line.  One show I heard very astutely pointed out that the first photo would be telling.  Photo positioning is a big deal.  Your eyes will naturally go to the center and work out, so photographers will put the most important part of the picture in the center (hence: center of attention).  They thought that there would be three versions with each player in the middle, and maybe those other versions exist, but this is what SI ran…

Interesting...(Photographed by: Gregory Heisler / SI)

Quick side note: if you can find it online, read that piece by Ian Thomsen.  It is excellent.

Like I said, the middle is what matters and it’s Wade.  But note how small LeBron looks.  Where is his trademark ear-to-ear grin?  I think this picture is the beginning of LeBron realizes he may have messed up.  No matter what Wade will have one more ring than LeBron.  No matter what, LeBron ran to Wade’s team because he couldn’t handle being the man.  That will forever be his legacy.  Win a title in Cleveland, you enter the air with Michael, Magic, Bird, and Kobe.  But I guess that doesn’t matter to him.  And Lebron?  We don’t care how many tweets you send out telling us you’re taking mental notes about every single person who takes a shot at you.  An adult lives with the consequences of their decisions.  You want to be the man?  Act like one first.

So sad.

Skynet is now self aware

Ok, first off let me say that it’s my goal to post more stuff.  No one reads this anyways, but I want to do it for me.  I feel like it could be good for me to write more.  Or not.  We’ll see.  On to the news of the day…

Oh Tiger.  Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.  Full disclosure time, I did NOT watch the “press conference” today.  I didn’t see any reason to.  I knew what he would say, and he said exactly that.  Which is to say, he said nothing.  He apologized.  Shocking.  Here’s my problem with it, he controlled the environment.  That just won’t do it.  The way he’ll beat all this is to show that he is actually human.  Cry.  Show fear over the thought of losing your family.  Show remorse.  But DO NOT stand in a room in the PGA headquarters surrounded by hand-picked friends and family members with no reporters and read a prepared statement.  The guys on PTI (whom I love by the way) drank the Kool-Aid.  Wilbon said he was moved and Kornheiser made the claim that we wouldn’t hear any more questions about this ever again.  C’mon guys.

Let’s start with Wilbon.  You’re better than that Mike.  You know as well as I do that this was written by a team of P.R. guys.  You need look no further than the fact that Tiger apologized to his business partners before his own wife and children.  There was nothing moving in the statement.  There was no genuine emotion.  Do I think he’s sorry?  Hell yes.  Do I believe him when he says that he believed he could live by a different set of rules?  Absolutely.  But I still don’t believe he’s human.  He’s the first wave of Terminators.

Oh and Tony?  You KNOW damn good and well he’ll get asked about this again.  You’re smarter than that.

So the obvious question that one would ask is “well smart guy what would you have had him do differently?”  Glad you asked.

1.  Have a REAL press conference.  Face the firing squad.  Answer the tough questions from reporters because you’ll have to eventually.  They wrote their questions down and they’ll ask them at the first tournament you play in because all golfers are required to talk to the media then.  Oh they’ll ask, and Tiger if you do your best Mark McGwire impression and tell them you don’t want to talk about the past, they’ll eat you alive.  Get in front of it now.  Own up to your mistakes like a man and show us that you’re really trying to be better.  Think of what Kobe did.  He sat there with his head down and answered every question.  It paid off in the long run for him.  There’s nothing wrong with sitting there and saying “I’m an idiot.  I deserve every joke, every insult.  I’ll do whatever it takes to make this better, but yes, I’m human and I’m a dumbass.”

2.  Admit your faults.  Don’t simply say you were wrong, explain why you did what you did.  This is where I always thought Kobe messed up.  Remember that Kobe Bryant took Brandy (who at the time was still REALLY famous) to his prom because he had just been drafted.  From that moment on, the world belong to Kobe.  Same for Tiger.  He began getting ESPN attention in college.  You think co-ed’s didn’t immediately line up for the attractive phenom?  Of course they did.  After he won his first tournament, he could have any woman he wanted, never had to wait in line, etc.  Keep in mind, this all happened before he was 25 (I think).  Wouldn’t that go to your head?  I know it would’ve gone to mine.  We always see it.  Dozens of athletes who are living paycheck to paycheck because they can’t handle having money.  Celebrities with major drug problems.  Jay Leno’s car collection.  For Tiger it was women.  Probably would’ve been the same for me.  I’m not saying playing the “too much, too soon” card fixes everything, but it does actually explain a lot.

3.  Change the format of the speech.  Now I realize he didn’t write it, but that’s kind of my whole point.  Whoever set all this up, whoever his team is, are morons.  The speech should have had apologies to his wife, children, and fans – in that order – first thing and last thing.  They’re the most important, not your sponsors, not your business partners.  After his family and fans, he should’ve (and he did do this, but it got buried) apologized for the harm he caused his charity.  He needed to apologize to his deceased father, the man who made sure we knew who Tiger was before he won his first tournament.  The man who Tiger had such a special relationship with.  He needed to do that.  He needed to show how hurt he was by Earl’s death.  It’s totally plausible, and frankly I think this is part of it, that he lost his way when Earl died.

So, ok, he botched the first step, but it’s not completely out of reach yet.  Admitting he’s going to continue therapy and find his center again with Buddhism were excellent admissions, and he absolutely should do that.  His next step needs to be working on his family.  I don’t know if Elin will stay, in fact I doubt she will, but Tiger has to let her make that decision on her own.  Don’t try to pressure her, just let her think her way through it on her own.  If he tries to pressure, as there have been reports he is, it makes him look like a control freak.  And coming off that joke of a press conference, he can’t afford that right now.  But do your work Tiger.  Saying you’ll play golf again, but you don’t know when, was excellent.  Stick to that.  Give it time, let the healing process work, and when you’re ready in 3 months or so, go on Oprah.  If (and that’s a HUGE if) she asks you the tough questions, answer as best you can.  Don’t give cliche answers, don’t give rehearsed statements.  Answer honestly even if the answer is “I don’t know.”  After that, play.  Actually, don’t just play.  Win.  Dominate.  Be Tiger again.  The best thing that happened to Kobe was him not getting traded after he publicly demanded one.  Remember, at that time, he was almost the lost superstar.  Brilliant on the court, but a total ass off of it.  He was despised outside of L.A.  But then the Lakers got smart and built a team around him, got the great Phil Jackson back, and won another title.  Suddenly Kobe was the great teammate because winning fixes everything.  He knew that by being back on the big stage, if he said and did the right things he would win the public back.  Even if it was all an act, which I think it is, it didn’t matter.  He did it right and Nike came back.  His jersey went back to the top of the best sellers list.  You see my point.  But Tiger, learn from that.  You’re all alone on a golf course so you can’t blame anyone if you don’t win.  You can’t really embrace the bad guy image.  Instead, put your head down and be brilliant again.

Oh, and fire your current P.R. team and hire me.  I’ll take 15%.

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Stupid Thy Name Is Bud

Hurricane Ike has apparently come and gone and while it didn’t cause nearly the destruction that Katrina did, Houston’s still a mess.  It caused plenty of havoc with pro sports.  The NFL had to some schedule adjusting for the Houston Texans and Major League Baseball postponed two Cubs-Astros games.  Now, the folks down in Houston said that Ike didn’t do any damage to Minute Maid Park (where the Astros play) so in theory, they could’ve played the postponed games there like they were originally supposed to.  They’re not, and I understand that.  Frankly it’s the right call.  But that’s the only right call MLB made here.

Yesterday it was announced that the games would be played at a neutral site…in Milwaukee.  Upon seeing that on ESPN, my brother-in-law said “That’s hardly a neutral site.”  Milwaukee is a pretty short drive from Chicago and when the Cubs play there, they always have a ton of fans show up.  It’s a home game for the Cubs.  End of story.  You want to play it at a neutral site, that’s awesome, but play it at an actual NEUTRAL site.  Play at Seattle, New York, Boston, Miami, Tampa, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Kansas City, hell pick one.  Just don’t pick a ballpark that’s a short drive away from either team’s home park.  But of course, Bud Selig did.  Why Milwaukee?  Well, when Selig became the interim commissioner, he was the majority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.  His daughter ran the team until 2004 when the Selig group finally sold the team.  I’m fine with people being “homers,” but c’mon.  But hey, it’s OK because it’s not like the playoffs could be on the line…oh wait they totally are since the Astros are chasing the wild card birth.

If the Astros lose both games (they lost one tonight) they have a very, very legitimate gripe.

Bartman, 5 Years Later

Remember this guy?

 

That is the unfortunate Steve Bartman.  A guy who was widely blamed for adding to the Cubs 100 years without a World Series win.  I bring him up because I heard something on a sports talk radio station today that sparked a small argument at work.  A station in Chicago does a weekly segment in the afternoon called “Who you crappin’?”  The premise is simple, you find someone who may have engaged in some double talk or just general stupidity, and you “crap” them.  Moises Alou, who is the Cub player in the picture and currently plays for the Mets, was crapped last week.  Before we get in to why, if you don’t know the story of the 2003 NLCS, click here and scroll down to Game 6.

After the game, Alou claimed that he was just about positive he would’ve caught that ball.  Last week, Alou was asked about the incident and told the press “I doubt I would’ve caught it anyways.”  Hmmm, interesting.  Thus, we see why Alou was crapped.

I mentioned this at work and it sent the guy I was talking to in to a fit.  He claimed that Bartman interfered and cost the Cubs and blah blah blah.  Let’s look at the picture above.  That’s the exact incident in question here.  Is Steve Bartman (in the hat) in the field of play?  Maybe.  It’s hard to tell from that angle.  I honestly can’t tell if he’s over the railing or not.  Here’s what I do know, look at Alou’s glove.  To me, it doesn’t look like it’s far enough over to get the ball.  I think Alou mistimed the jump and he’s already on his way down in that picture.  In other words, he’s not going to be able to catch that ball because there’s too much of the wall in his way.  The umpire agreed and did not rule fan interference.

Now what really kills me is after the game, media interviewed other people that were in that section, or at least claimed to be, and all of them swore, SWORE that they knew that Alou was going to catch the ball and thus, did not even think about, let alone attempt to catch the foul ball.  Really?  Look at the picture again.  Look at the guy in the gray jacket.  He’s clearly going for the ball (just for laughs, check out the guy in the blue that’s between Bartman and the guy in the jacket recoiling in fear like “Oh my God it’s a baseball!”…makes me laugh).  Notice the hand behind scared guy’s head.  Again, clearly going for the ball.  I would also argue that the two guys behind Bartman are going for the ball as well, but that’s probably up for debate.  Point is, if it hadn’t been Steve Bartman going for that ball, it would’ve been someone else.  There’s a minimum of 3 people going after the ball.  That’s what you do when a foul ball or home run is coming for you, you try to catch it.  I’ve caught 2 foul balls in my day, neither time did I think “wait, I might interfere with the play, I should wait.”  No, each time I thought, “hey that’s coming right at me, I better catch it before it breaks my face.”

Here’s the ultimate point to all this: Steve Bartman wasn’t at fault.  He didn’t doink a routine double play ball that would’ve ended the inning, Alex Gonzalez did.  Steve Bartman didn’t leave Mark Prior in despite the fact that he was out of gas, Dusty Baker did.  Just like the 1986 Red Sox blamed Bill Buckner, you can blame Bartman if it makes you feel better, but it wasn’t his fault.  Just like the 86 Sox, the Cubs had another game to play.  9 whole innings, 27 outs, to get in to the World Series.  They didn’t do it and even if they had, there’s no guarantee they would’ve beaten the Yankees.  Steve Bartman didn’t deserve death threats, but he got them.  So to any and all Cub fans that are still angry over this, I say grow up.  It wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t a billy goat’s fault.  The team, and only the team, is at fault.

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The Fairweather Fan, Nature’s Moron

Yesterday, I went to one of my more favored sandwich shops to grab dinner.  At this particular place, they grill up the meat once you order (part of the appeal for me) so you have to wait a few minutes for your food.  No big deal.  I sat and watched the end of the UCLA-Memphis game (don’t get me started, let’s just say I had UCLA winning it all over UNC so I’m not having a good weekend) and some guy who was sitting by himself felt the need to strike up a conversation with me.  Now, let me start by saying I really hate when people do that.  It just bugs me.  Anyways, he tells me that UNC will be the next to fall, which it turned out he was right, but then he starts telling me how University of Illinois Men’s head basketball coach Bruce Weber is going to leave for the newly vacated Marquette job.  This guy then tells me he’s glad because Weber isn’t a good coach and Illinois will hire Coach K (nope, not even going to try to spell his last name) from Duke.

Where do I begin to tell this guy how dumb he is?

Let’s start with Coach K…

If he didn’t leave Duke to coach the L.A. Lakers (you know, the team with that Kobe guy) when they threw a ridiculous amount of money at him, then Coach K isn’t about to leave for Illinois.  In fact, I don’t think he’ll leave Duke until he retires, which I respect.  So that’s this guy’s dumbass moment #1.

Now for the Weber comments, and this goes for just about 90% of the “fans” in this town…

Bruce Weber is one of the best coaches in the country.  Read that again.  If you truly are an Illinois fan, pray to whatever higher power you believe in that Weber never, ever leaves.  Bruce Weber has done more with some mediocre to flat out bad teams than most coaches ever could.  I contend that in 2005 when Illinois went to the “National Title Game That Never Happened”, they got there in no small part because of Weber’s coaching.  Bill Self, whom Weber took over for after he left for Kansas, would not have gotten that team that far.  They would have lost more than one regular season game and they never would’ve gotten past Arizona in the Elite Eight.  That’s just the truth.  Now I know, you’re thinking “hey wait, Self’s Kansas Jayhawks are going to play for the title tomorrow night” but let’s just wait and see what Memphis does to them.  My guess is they’ll take Kansas apart big time, but I digress.

Yes, this past season was terrible.  Yes, Coach Weber deserves some of the blame because he didn’t land the recruits necessary to prevent this.  I readily concede those points.  However, let’s look at this last season realistically. 

Strike 1 against Weber – Jamar Smith was arguably the best player Illinois would’ve had this year, however due to your standard college kid stupidness, he was suspended for the year.  That, as much as certain people want to blame it on him, is not Bruce Weber’s fault.  If you think losing a guy who would’ve been good for 15 to 20 points a game doesn’t hurt you, you don’t know basketball at all.

Strike 2 against Weber – Eric Gordon.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Did Kelvin Sampson do some shady dealing to get Gordon to go to Indiana?  It certainly looks that way.  Can anyone blame Bruce Weber for that?  Not if you have a functioning brain cell in your head.  The only way to counter that is to cheat more than the other guy cheating.  Bruce Weber doesn’t work that way, and I commend him for it.  If it means we miss out on guys like Eric Gordon, so be it.

Strike 3 – Recruiting in general.  Yes, he deserves some blame here, he will tell you that.  But before you cruicify Bruce Weber for missing out on the Derek Roses and Eric Gordons of the world, remember, only one school gets those guys.  Rose went to Memphis, Gordon to Indiana.  That means the great Coach K failed in recruiting them.  Roy Williams at UNC failed.  Billy Donnovan at Florida, Rick Pitino at Louisville, Bill Self at Kansas, Billy Gillespie at Kentucky and so on and so on failed.  Get the point here?

This is the bottom line, you don’t get to blame a guy for one (1) losing season.  By the way, look it up, since he’s been at Illinois, this was the first losing season coach Weber’s had.  Great players can overcome bad coaching, great coaching can’t overcome bad players and we had some bad players.  Believe me when I say that getting rid of Brian Randle, who is by all accounts a great kid, and Shaun Pruitt will help tremendously.  The team will be better next year, they’ll be good in 2009, they’ll be great in 2010.  Every program has down years, so back off.  Either support the team, or don’t.  I don’t care which.  Just pick one and go with it, but DO NOT DARE talk about how great a coach is when everything’s coming up roses, and how terrible he is when things inevitably go bad.

As always with these types of things, if you think you can do better, apply for the job. 

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Reason #8,932 Why The Record Industry Is Incredibly Stupid

(That’s a rough estimate…there could be WAY more reasons than that)

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has once again demonstrated their mind-blowing stupidity.  Let me say first that these people apparently feel that the Internet is just some fad because, despite calls from their own artists whom they claim to care so much about, they refuse to abandon CD’s and go purely digital.  This is explained in much better prose and detail than I can offer by my friend J.B. here.  However, as if their refusal to embrace the future wasn’t enough, they’ve once again popped off at the mouth on their “biggest night” (their words, not mine), the GRAMMYs.

Now you may feel the urge to point out that the RIAA doesn’t actually put on the GRAMMY awards, it’s produced by the Recording Academy, to which I would say, you’re absolutely right.  However you can’t talk about the music industry without talking about the RIAA, and frankly, what this rant is about didn’t come from the Recording Academy.  Each year, just before the tribute video to all those who passed away that year, we’re treated to a lovely speech about how great the Academy and the RIAA is from Academy President and C.E.O. Neil Portnow.  The last two years, Mr. Portnow delivered a speech talking about how piracy is bad.  Essentially saying that if you download just one song illegally (read: for free), you are taking food off the table of everyone connected with the record industry.  FALSE.  Are you hurting their sales?  Potentially, however studies have actually shown that piracy in some cases actually boosted record sales.  Essentially what happens, in a nut shell, you download a song, you like it, you go buy the CD that it appears on (or in today’s world, you go to iTunes or whatever and download it).  However long before Napster, iTunes, Rhapsody, etc., there was radio.  And that’s what Mr. Portnow chose to reign down on tonight.

Mr. Portnow pointed out that the Academy supports all their artists, and certainly they have done great things with their Music Cares program, I would never attempt to take that away from them.  But Mr. Portnow pointed out that they will make sure that all their artists will finally be fairly compensated for their work being played on radio (that’s not a direct quote, but it’s pretty close).  They way he delivered that line implied that radio has been ripping off the RIAA and musicians since the dawn of music radio.  This, again, is FALSE.  Apparently Mr. Portnow forgot about ASCAP and BMI.  Those are two entities that every single music playing radio station in the country pays a rather hefty sum of money to each year for the rights to play any song that is covered by ASCAP and BMI, which is pretty much all of them.  While I am not in a position where I see how much is spent annually on ASCAP and BMI licenses, I recall my general manager mentioning once that the amount is several thousands dollars.  Let’s do some quick math.  I’ll give the RIAA and Recording Academy the benefit of the doubt and rule out all AM stations as music playing stations (even though there are several nation wide that still play music).  There are roughly 7,000 FM radio stations, the great majority of which are music format stations.  So let’s say that each station pays ASCAP and BMI $4,000 per year.  7,000 stations x $4,000/year = $28,000,000 per year.   My point is this, if musicians aren’t getting money from their songs being played on radio, it’s not our fault, it’s the RIAA’s.

So already we’ve debunked the myth that John Mayer doesn’t make a dime from “Waiting on the World to Change” playing on the radio.  But let’s not forget that the chief marketing wing of the record industry has and always will be radio.  Think about it this way, MTV and VH1 don’t play videos during prime time hours, or even daylight hours, anymore.  So you can’t turn on Headbanger’s Ball like we did years ago to hear new music.  Certainly the record labels can and do take out ads in magazines and they run commercials on TV, but in this day and age, unless an ad REALLY grabs you, you tune it out as background noise.  So we’re now left with one final source for the artists to turn to for help to get their product out there…radio.  Study after study continues to show that good old fashioned radio, who unloads millions of dollars per year for the rights to play these songs, is still the #1 source that people turn to for music.  Yes, iPods, satellite radio, and Internet radio have made a dent, but the vast majority of people still turn to radio for new music.  In other words, not only is radio paying an estimated $28,000,000 per year to the RIAA, radio is driving their sales, but that just isn’t enough for the RIAA.

Late in 2007, the RIAA began lobbying Congress to pass laws forcing radio stations to pay more money for the licensing rights to play music.  Radio owners are fighting it as hard as they can, but the RIAA simply has a better lobby than we do (a.k.a. they have more money…which they got from us, it’s a vicious cycle).  What does this mean to you?  Well, radio has threatened to abandon music formats all together as an “F-You” to the RIAA to prove that they need us more than we need them, but don’t count on that EVER happening.  What it truly means is that if you have a favorite D.J., you might want to send them a “thank you” card because if these new laws go through, that D.J. probably won’t have a job much longer.  Radio has long been on a trend of replacing jocks with anyone or anything that’s cheaper.  Syndication has put many, many talented people on the unemployment line and if these laws pass, expect a lot more to join those already there.  Owners will do what all business men and women would do when faced with a cost increase that wasn’t budgeted for, they’ll cut overhead however they can.  That means people lose their jobs.  Call it downsizing if you want, but it’s what will happen.

To be totally honest, this is all part of the RIAA’s ongoing overreaction to downloading music.  They killed Napster.  In fact, I don’t actually know of any P2P music websites anymore.  I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to find out that a LimeWire or something like that still exists, but most everyone uses a pay site such as iTunes these days.  So, the RIAA won and they know they did, yet CD sales continue to decline.  Something that most people don’t know: the artists make the bulk of their money from tours, not CD sales, so artists don’t really care about the downward trend in CD sales.  The labels though, oh boy do they care.  They make their money from you dropping $13 on a piece of plastic.  So since they’re now sweating, wondering how long they will continue to be employed, they have to find someone to blame.  They blamed piracy, they beat piracy, and it didn’t help.  So they looked around and asked “who else is putting music out there for free?” and saw radio and said “AH HA!  It’s those bastards!”  As J.B. points out in his blog, going 100% digital would cut production costs for the RIAA which would offset the 99 cents it costs per individual song or the roughly $10 for an entire CD, but don’t tell them that.

So once again, the RIAA remains committed to the 1980’s way of thinking and continues to believe in their own infallibility while they attempt a move which would be the real world equivalent of England stabbing America in the back.

Neil Portnow’s officially off my Christmas card list.

 UPDATE:  Turns out, I was waaaaay off on the numbers.  After the GRAMMYs, several people at work asked my general manager about this new “performance tax” as the RIAA calls it, and he let everyone know the scoop.  According to him (and he would know, he pays the bills), our group of 4 radio stations paid ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC (3rd one that I didn’t know about) $175,000 in 2007.  He also says that the rate that you pay is based on your market size, so it’s actually a lot cheaper for us in market #200-whatever than it is for New York (#1), L.A. (#2), or Chicago (#3).  Obviously I don’t know what the larger markets pay, but if we assume that the rates paid for all 7,000 stations in the U.S. that play music works out to about $500,000 per station then the RIAA is making….are you read for this?….$3,500,000,000.  That’s a lot of zeroes.  By the way, TV has to pay too, and we’re not even counting them.  My G.M. called the above organizations a “perfect storm,” saying that if someone ever wrote a book about the “cartels” that control the world, these agencies would be the source funding them.  He says that the money basically goes in to a vault and no one knows what happens to it from there.  The massive sums of money being paid to the organizations makes accounting incredibly difficult, so tracking the money’s virtually impossible.  I’m going out on a limb and assuming that it’s propping up failing record labels, but that’s just me.  The proposed “performance tax” would produce another $2 to 8 billion for the RIAA, so once again we see the record industry making a move that is essentially the business equivalent of the bully demanding your lunch money.

So I beg you, write your Senators and Representatives and tell them this is incredibly wrong because it is.  It’s extortion at it’s finest, indeed, Michael Corleone would be proud.

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