After losing his re-election bid for State Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Hightower followed the traditional course of all frustrated politicians: talk radio. Initially establishing a foothold in the industry with two-minute commentaries, the nation's foremost populist now hosts a full-blown, three-hour call-in program every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Broadcast to more than 100 stations coast-to-coast from the KVET studios on Lamar, Hightower Radio is a breath of fresh air among the conservative programming that increasingly dominates the national airwaves.
SWBYPs had the gumption to poke fun at our mausoleum, er, convention center last year in a billboard right across the street on E. Cesar Chavez that giddily boasted below their logo: "Never a parking problem here!" The ad was whisked away days after the unveiling. Too bad. A little humor might help, along with some parking, a freight elevator, better food, local bookings, friendlier officials...
On those rare occasions that we agree with the opinions they are trying to express, the Statesman's editorial board usually finds some way to confuse us. Consider this jumbled sentence from a piece about high school graduation procedures that found its way into our local daily's March 26 edition: "No one who does not meet all graduation requirements should be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies." And those folks can all become editorial writers.
We had a swell going away party here for you, Michelle. Sorry you weren't invited. The only problem is, you keep sending those pesky reminders from Washington, D.C. that you're still around. No matter, D.C. is a world away, and at least for now we don't have to hear you try to persuade Austin folks to give up democracy, and so forth. Our personal favorite was the editorial, (just before you left), about those pesky people who speak at city council meetings and how if they'd just sit down and be quiet, we could actually get some work done down there. We quite agree. But then, we'd say just about anything to keep you up there.
While we must confess to being somewhat partial to the local music fanzines that derive such glee from slagging us as boring old hippies, somehow attitude just can't compete with sheer conceptual brilliance. And what else personifies our internationally renowned slacker status more than this semi-regular review of the best food bargains in town? (Note that we mean best bargains, not best food.) Covering the happy hour offerings and all-you-can-eat buffets of Austin, Hey Hey Buffet bites into its mission with cheeky élan, yet offers the most valuable basic advice - where to eat as much as you can as cheaply as possible. It's information you can use, and great reading to boot.
Hey, Hey, Buffet!
It's not just that Kevin Connor is our friend; to many KGSR listeners who'd never even met him, he felt just as much like their friend too. We're in no position to judge why Connor's contract with the station wasn't renewed, nor do we wish to slight local radio veteran Ed Mayberry, who has now teamed up with eco-reporter Cecelia Nasti in the morning. We just know that many Austinites feel a void since Connor left that station, one that another host just can't quite fill.
We know she's won practically every other award for advocacy and journalism she could possibly get, including The Stanley Walker Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, The Anson Jones Award from the Texas Medical Association, and the Jim Neubacher Award from the Detroit Free Press, among others, but we're not going to be left out. Gamino wins the Chronicle's award this year for revealing the story of people's lives we'd rather not think about - people who remind us of what it is to be human. Her "Lost Children" series on handicapped and orphaned children cared for in Texas nursing homes both enlightened and moved us. Not only that, the series prompted a statewide Senate committee investigation into the matter. That's reporting.
Though we're never truly surprised by anything political reporter Chris Walters might do, we were taken somewhat aback by his recent attack on KASE-KVET morning talk show host Sammy Allred, accusing the longtime local radio star (and Chronicle favorite) of being a "liar" and a "bully." And though we weren't surprised that Allred immediately responded by coming to our offices for a little "chat" with Walters - if you can find a fly that was on the wall when they met, we'll pay good money for the full transcript - we can't help but be intrigued by the face-off between one of Austin's biggest local personalities and our sometimes too-intrepid-for-his-own-good reporter. We're just glad, for Walters' sake, that it didn't come to blows.
"Flies cause AIDS, keep yours zipped" and similarly outrageous observations on contemporary topics enliven the day for commuters who take time to read the sign as they head east on 5th Street.
As she does the weather, time and station identification announcements for KUT-FM, weekdays between 5am and 8am, Ferguson subtly, improbably suggests Lauren Bacall saying hello from the next pillow. Ferguson also hosts "Femme FM" from 9-11pm Saturdays on the same station.
Perhaps no one at the Federal Communications Commission realized that the new call letters they had just issued for the University of Texas' student radio station invoked this institution's most hated rival, Texas A&M. The gaffe, however, hardly went unnoticed in Austin. A few threatening letters and phone calls later, KANM had quietly gained authorization from the FCC to switch its call letters again, this time to the less threatening KVRX.
It was for so long a good idea that we never thought would find fruition. And now we're happy to admit that we were wrong. In its test run, the Austin Music Network (AMN) has already proven its value and its quality. Even though their programming has been basically limited to what's already available, they've packaged it with simple style, creating a class operation that the city and its music scene can proudly point to as one good thing the city government has finally done for the music scene.
If they were doing it in the sports biz, they'd be making a lot more money. As it is, they'll have to settle for notoriety. The popular KVET morning radio talk show duo saw fit this political season to get the incumbent mayor some opponents, by gosh. Not by coincidence, both James Cooley and Daryl Slusher's campaigns were started on the Sammy & Bob show. Perhaps Cooley had already been thinking about it for a while, and maybe Slusher didn't seriously consider it for a while after, but clearly Sammy & Bob emerged from the race as the unofficial must-have endorsement. Incidentally, they can't endorse, as per FCC rules. But we don't think they ever would anyway, even if they could.
When KLBJ-AM decided to attach its fortunes to Rush Limbaugh's ultra-conservative coattails, among the casualties was Eric Blumberg, a talk facilitator who never forgot his roots as a tough, investigative reporter. Fortunately, his exodus from the Austin airwaves was short-lived. Blumberg, whose intense opinions do not usually prevent him from interviewing those with whom he disagrees, can now be heard on KVET weekdays from 10am-1pm.
Does That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh mean anything to you? We used to beg Mrs. Harris to turn on the radio in eighth grade art class just so we could hear K.C. and the Sunshine Band. She's a very kinky girl, the kind you don't take home to mothah. She's a superfreak, superfreak! We've snuck into a disco called Anabelle's with a view of the sparkling lights of a booming Houston. Night fevah, night fevah, something-something-something. It's not even 8am and I'm on my way to work. Hearing the BeeGees before breakfast puts the worst day of the week in perspective. Way Back Wednesday on 96.7 KHFI. We turn it up, roll down the windows, and slide behind our desk singing She's a bad mamma-jamma. Friday's just a couple of hits away.
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