Scott Free

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One of my favorite sports figures is a free agent. Outgoing (and outgoing) Syracuse football coach Scott Shafer has been relieved of his duties. (That makes both of us this calendar year!)

He was easy to like. I mean, how could you dislike a football guy whose last name sounds like an iconic old-school New York beer?

Unlike his immediate predecessors, he was not phony, he was not duplicitous, and he did not utilize references to children’s books in motivational speeches.

What you saw and heard from Shafer was what you got–a hard-working and honest man, who treated everyone around him with dignity and respect. He gave you his best shot and his best shot was never going to be quite good enough under the conditions in which he labored.

The prospect of succeeding as a football coach in the ACC is daunting. You’ve got your Florida States, Clemsons, and Miamis, schools with wide parameters for misbehavior and academic achievement. Then, there are your Syracuses, Wake Forests, and Dukes, where football will never be as big a priority, and where it’s harder to excel in that sport.

Part of Syracuse’s problem when it comes to football is an identity crisis. In a nutshell, do they want to be Duke or Florida State?

David Cutcliffe has a record of 46-53 as Duke’s head coach. His first winning season there occurred in YEAR SIX of his eight-year tenure! Scott Shafer could have been the Cutcliffe of the Orange, if the school had allowed it.

However, if Syracuse wants to be Florida State, they should hire a Jimbo Fisher and let him enroll anybody he wants. What kind of character do you want to project?

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I used to bump into Shafer out and about, in a grocery store, at a gas station, or at the Dome for a basketball game (above), and he would always say hello in a genuine and friendly manner. More than I can say for many similar public figures.

Shafer’s brand was infectious. The no-nonsense haircut. The way he pounded the podium at postgame press conferences. The salty language he used.


Factions at the university supposedly didn’t care for this kind of mildly profane Shafer-speak and tried to discourage it. But they wouldn’t criticize their legendary basketball coach for similar outbursts, now would they? And trying to muzzle Shafer would be depriving him of an endearing and honest quality.

Ultimately, Shafer loses his gig because of his unacceptable win-loss record. We’ll never know if he could have succeeded under different circumstances. Nor will we know the answers to other questions.

What percentage of Syracuse’s recent football failures should be attributed to him? How much are athletic directors and chancellors and others in positions of power also to blame?

We do know this: Scott Shafer made a positive mark on the people in Central New York. And he leaves without any scandals. The song (below) that I put together a couple of years ago with singer Gary Frenay for my previous radio show stands for me as a fine testament to the man and his work.

I loved this freakin’ coach. And I will always view him as a success. Like the old beer jingle, Syracuse truly was “Shafer City” for a while. If you’re having one tonight, raise a bottle or can to Scott.

Dave Coombs, once half of “Gomez & Dave,” is now the host of “The Talk of the Town” on 100.7 FM WUTQ.

Terrorism Questions Answered Here

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

(Credit:www.ohiobwclaw.com)

When faced with disturbing and question-provoking situations like the recent tragedy in Paris, it’s great to turn to experts for clarity. We did just that Monday on our morning radio show.

Jonathan Gilliam, a former Navy Seal and FBI operative, joined us on the phone and theorized here about the likelihood of terrorist attacks in small U.S. towns:


Scary sentiments. If and when it does happen, according to Gilliam, it behooves all of us to think about our options ahead of time, and then be ready to react and change our game plan at a moment’s notice, based on the scenario.

He also had key thoughts on the idea of closing our state’s borders, predicting this morning that others would follow suit after the “early adopter” decisions in Michigan and Alabama; he was right.

In another interesting exchange, Austen Givens, a professor in Utica College’s Cybersecurity graduate studies program, provided a differing viewpoint on the idea of closing our borders:


His opinion, coupled with those of Gilliam, illustrates why this topic is so complicated.

It also shows why I still love radio. To quote from the Dr. Evil character in Austin Powers, I “need the info.” And I love having the conduit to communicate that info to the masses. And I especially enjoy being a common sense moderate, with no preconceived political labels or affiliations. As I have always maintained, extremist behavior is unhealthy in religion, politics, diet, or broadcasting.

Dave Coombs is the morning host of “The Talk of the Town” at 100.7 FM Utica-Rome, New York. These entire interviews can be heard on his station’s website here.

Radio Ink!

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On January 20, 2015, I wrote about my latest effort to get national publicity for my morning radio program. This just in: I scored! The bad news: I’m no longer WITH the show being touted.

Somewhere between ponying up my own money to pay for a tattoo of my show’s name on the lower left calf of performance artist Illma Gore…and the creation of that tattoo (above and below)…I was fired from my job.

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I suppose there are options here. I could dig into my pockets again and pay Illma to WIPE OUT the two other names of the folks on my former show, but that would be petty and vindictive. Or, I could give my consent to Gomez & Lisa to allow MY name to be removed or altered. But, hell, that would be tattooicide.

So, I guess it stays. And I hope she never gets cankles.

There is another play. I could reach out to Illma and see if she has any real estate remaining. My current morning show is called The Talk of the Town, unofficially subtitled “Dave, Jay & Sam.” At least this time my name would be first.

Although, location can be risky. Gomez once had a radio partner who had the name of THEIR show printed on pencils. His partner’s name came first, reading left to right, from the graphite toward the eraser. As fans sharpened their prized promotional items, the partner’s name gradually disappeared!

There is no such danger in the world of ink. Unless, God forbid, there’s a prosthesis in Illma’s future. So, I’m checking my advertising budget. Although if I’m serious about getting the biggest bang for my advertising buck, I’m thinking maybe a REAL billboard this time. On a REAL highway.

Dave Coombs is the morning radio host on 100.7 FM WUTQ. He has no tattoos.

The Half Heisman


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Just past the midway point of the 2015 season, it’s fair to assess where the top candidates stand in the quest for college football’s major award. Presenting the Half Heisman.

And remember: the full trophy goes to the player whose performance is marked by “excellence and integrity.”

THE TOP HALF

Leonard Fournette
Unranked in NFL.com’s pre-season list of its Top 20 college football players, the LSU running back has run to the front of the pack. Unlike the depiction of our Half Heisman above, Fournette’s campaign appears to have legs.

Corey Coleman
The Baylor star grew up playing football on the mean streets of South Dallas where live gun shots were as common as shotgun formations. Among college wide receivers, Coleman is #1 with a bullet. He has more TD receptions this year than 110 FBS teams!

Matt Johnson
There’s always a smaller college Jordan Lynch or Colin Kaepernick in the Heisman mix. This year’s Cinderfella is Bowling Green QB Matt Johnson. His stats are mind-blowing. Temple was the only other bigger school to recruit him with any fervor. The most prominent programs blew it; he could’ve played almost anywhere.

Trevone Boykin
The TCU quarterback stopped eating fast food burgers in the off-season, lost 20 pounds, and gained friends in the animal rights community. He’s a lock with any Heisman voter who’s also a member of PETA.


THE BOTTOM HALF

Ezekiel Elliott
The Ohio State running back’s biggest issue this year is that fellow RB Fournette is better.

Dalvin Cook
The Florida State running back has the same problem as Elliott.

Derrick Henry
Due to his superior size, the Alabama running back may turn out to be a great pro, but his problem in the Heisman race is identical to the other top rushers: Fournette.

Christian McCaffrey
The Stanford running back’s stats are inferior to those of his peers, but he DOES have notable bloodlines. His father Ed is a former NFL wide receiver, his mom Lisa a former Stanford soccer star, and HER dad David Sime once held the world record in the 100-yard dash. Christian is Tebow-esque in his dedication to religion and fitness.


THE BOTTOM-LINE STATS

Here’s how the Half Heisman front-runners’ statistics stack up:

-Leonard Fournette: 1352 rushing yards / 15 rushing TDs
-Corey Coleman: 952 receiving yards / 18 receiving TDs
-Matt Johnson: 3321 passing yards / 29 TD passes
-Trevone Boykin: 2539 passing yards / 25 TD passes
-Dalvin Cook: 1037 rushing yards / 11 rushing TDs
-Derrick Henry: 1044 rushing yards / 14 rushing TDs
-Ezekiel Elliott: 1130 rushing yards / 13 rushing TDs
-Christian McCaffrey: 953 rushing yards / 6 rushing TDs

Dave Coombs, morning radio host on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica, New York, is one of 870 media voters for the Heisman Trophy.

Cult of Humanity

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(The Observer-Dispatch, 10/18/15)

Monday on our radio show, after a week of having our sensibilities bombarded with details, thoughts, and images involving the abhorrent revelations about the Word of Life Church here in our community, we turned to renowned and eloquent cult expert Rick Ross. Beginning with the question in the headline above from our local newspaper, this exchange transpired:


If this description sounds familiar, it should come as no surprise.

As I’ve been privately and publicly mulling over the lurid details and bloody behavior of the cult-like group at a church which sits exactly 3.5 miles from my front door, it has struck me that we’ve all been close to twisted human programming of various types and in varying degrees.

While very few of us have endured anything like the atrocities at the so-called “Christian” church in Chadwicks, we’ve undoubtedly experienced or witnessed some of what Mr. Ross described. How many of us have been in or observed a marriage or relationship in which one individual holds another “captive” in some fashion?

Maybe it’s a controlling spouse, bent on psychological domination over her partner or family. Or, perhaps it’s an alcoholic, whose moods shackle the ones he supposedly loves the most. We’ve certainly seen these types of characters depicted in popular movies like the aptly-named Ordinary People or Gone Girl.

How about the boss who leverages his power against employees and utilizes threats and coercion to achieve results? Simon Synek’s book “Start with Why” examines once-successful businesses in the early stages of failure. He theorizes that when companies lose sight of the passions and mission statements that drove their humble beginnings, “manipulations start to dominate not only how the company sells its wares but how they retain employees,” and then tactics such as “instilling fear in people become the only way to hold on to talent.”

And we’ve all encountered bullies who use physical force or superior attitudes in day-to-day life to control the people and/or situations around them.

Quite often WE are complicit in allowing the destructive behavior to occur, dooming our lives, when we could be rescuing them. Speaking up is a good place to start. It’s a strategy we covered on a show recently with New York State Senator Joe Griffo:


Good idea. See something, say something. Stop a shooting. Bust a bully. Call out a cult. Save someone. Save yourself. Of course there are no guarantees, but certainly nothing will come of doing nothing.

Dave Coombs is the morning host for “The Talk of the Town” on 100.7 FM WUTQ/Utica-Rome.

Sounding Good…

Justin Smithson and Keith James

(Photo by Rhonda M. Starer)

Our friend Justin Smithson (pictured above with great keyboard player Keith James) from the band “Showtime” got the chance Saturday to open up for REO Speedwagon at the legendary Stanley Theater in downtown Utica, NY.

Friday he was on our show and forgot his guitar. Today, he returned to tell us about his great experience and he remembered to bring his strings. Here’s his cool version of an Allman Brothers classic, straight from the acoustically-friendly Roser Communications studios at Canal Park:


Today’s show featured a little bit of everything–live and local music, political talk with a local assemblywoman, big local real estate news, a national cult expert on the recent tragic events at the church in our area, a comparison of our sleeping habits versus those of our ancestors (we do NOT get significantly less sleep than they did, probably because they rested uneasily, in fear of being eaten!), and our treatment of a story about a man who cut off his ears in order to more closely resemble his pet parrots. Now, that’s a full day!

Thanks to my bosses for allowing us to do the kind of radio that’s making an impact.

Dave Coombs is the morning host for The Talk of the Town on 100.7 FM WUTQ. He refuses to cut off any body parts.

 

The Bill of Rights and Wrongs

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The Hirshhorn wins one of our DC Civility Awards!

Washington, DC was a great place to spend Labor Day weekend. We learned about our nation’s proud history, saw The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, and encountered a number of heroes and zeroes in the civics department.

In fact, those elements all converged in one magical moment, with our eye-opening experience at the Lincoln Memorial. There, near the bottom of the august steps leading to the proud statue of the Great Emancipator, we witnessed a group of Confederate flag protesters.

Actually, it was more like a motley crew of rejects from The Jerry Springer Show. One fitness-challenged young woman clutched the rebel colors in one hand and a soda in the other. When she was done with the recyclable bottle of Coke (which was, ironically for her, a Diet!), she tossed it on the ground.

A humble offering to Honest Abe.

She took our Labor Day Weekend booby prize for the biggest violator of the values upon which the United States of America was founded. Ms. Dixie soundly defeated the surly employee at the Metro train station who offered a rude attitude when we politely asked questions about her company’s routes. She also edged out the discourteous teenagers who treated us to unruly behavior late at night in the hallway right outside our hotel room.

To be fair, the kids only finished third in the competition, by virtue of the fact that they probably couldn’t control their behavior because they were illegally drunk at the time. No doubt they were merely exercising their First Amendment right to “peacefully assemble and use the expression ‘fuckin’ dude’ at annoyingly strident decibel levels.”

This wasn’t the Washington our forefathers designed.

Fortunately there WERE manners, decency, and morals on display in OTHER quarters of our nation’s capitol.

The heroes of character included the kids who posed with their folks for a picture we snapped of them standing in front of The White House. Right before the shutter clicked, they knowingly asked their parents, “We should remove our baseball caps, first, right?”

There was also the humble and grateful African immigrant who served us a delicious dinner at his restaurant in Alexandria, even though it infringed on his normal closing time at Hawwi, the Ethiopian word for “dream.”

And thanks to the inquisitive employee at the Shake Shack for spotting my Washington Nationals’ cap and asking all about my interest in her favorite baseball team. She was friendly and charming and a fine ambassador for her employer.

First runner-up in the heroes department: the manager of a downtown CVS, who gave us a discount even though we didn’t have the requisite bonus card to present at the register. Honorable mention goes to the security guard at The Hirshhorn Museum, who let us sneak in a side door rather than walk all the way around the entire building in the searing heat to reach the main entrance.

So, civility DOES exist in Washington, DC. You just have to know where to find it. (Hint: it’s probably not waving a Confederate flag.)

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host whose show is on 100.7 FM WUTQ, and is also available on your computer or on your phone.

Oh, de Toilet!

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My wife and I recently learned a few things while installing a couple of toilets ourselves. For instance, the names of the models are very creative. Want to play a round of Toilet or Automobile?

Cimarron. Both car and crapper, as it turns out. Cadillac cranked out about 133,000 Cimarron sedans in the mid-1980s. But a little research shows it’s also a novel, a movie, and a firearms company.  Plus, an herbicide, a mortgage firm, a golf resort, and a village in New Mexico. And that’s just from the first two pages of a Google search.

Prelude. I don’t know about you, but while I’m doing MY business, I don’t want the Prelude, I want the Finale.

Santa Rosa. I’m sure the folks in the charming town in the heart of Sonoma wine country in California are so proud to have a commode named in their honor. May we suggest an earthy Merlot with that?

Renaissance. Huh? As if you’re creating a work of art?

VorMax. Sounds more like a character in a Harry Potter book.

We went with the Cimarron (pictured above), but mostly because it fit the small space we were working with. I’d actually like to see some better names for facilities. How about the following ideas, complete with built-in celebrity spokespeople.

The John. Why not make the longstanding nickname official? It’s about time to formally honor John Harrington, the inventor of England’s first flush toilet. John Goodman is the obvious choice to plug this one.

The Lucy Loo. Come on! This is a natural! She hasn’t been real busy since Charlie’s Angels. She could probably use the income.

The Jenner. Unisex?

The Rock. Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?

The Schwarzenegger. All you’d really need is one of his most famous lines tied to the flush mechanism: Hasta la vista, baby!

The Trump. Who wouldn’t enjoy unloading on the Donald?

The Levine. The lead singer of Maroon 5 is everywhere else these days. Why not in the bathroom?

If you have any other brilliant ideas for toilet model names, please pass ’em along.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and toilet connoisseur.

How Cyclists Are Like Voodoo Dolls

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Sometimes cyclists aren’t too smart. But, most of us are just minding our own business, trying to get in a little exercise.

Here in the U.S., we recently celebrated National EMS Week, in honor of the thousands of invaluable and intrepid souls who provide essential emergency medical services to those in need. Kudos to all! Except the one idiot I encountered last night.

When you’re pedaling your bicycle properly, in the correct direction, along the extreme edge of the shoulder of the road…is it standard procedure for the operator of an EMS vehicle to drive up beside you and blast his siren twice in your ear, triggering your heart to skip a beat, and causing you to lurch and nearly steer your cycle into a ditch, before continuing up the road?

And no, there was no emergency ahead. The vehicle in question continued driving at a normal speed, with no siren or warning lights. Maybe it was a slow evening and they were trying to create an emergency situation, so they could circle back and assist?

These are the same operators who expect us to pull over to the side of the road when we’re in our cars, in order to make it easier for them to pass by and do their jobs, right?

It’s always appalling when people in power abuse the trappings of their positions. We’ve all read about or suffered the rare circumstance of a rogue law officer who takes his position a bit too seriously, and then strong-arms a vulnerable citizen.

Same thing goes for someone driving a motor vehicle next a cyclist. Last I checked, the car usually outweighs the cycle by at least a couple thousand pounds. Great scenario for a bully to exert his advantage.

Another stat to consider: Cars on the road outnumber cycles 255 million to 60 million. It’s just amazing that there’s even a small percentage of the former that would treat the latter like a character in a video game who they get to torment, torture or endanger in some sort of real-life Grand Theft Auto.

Why the hatred for cyclists among some motorists? Is it kind of like the nearly universal hostility toward mimes? Certainly not all cyclists abide by the rules, and maybe some motorists take their frustrations out against specific cyclists taking too many liberties on the road?

Or, maybe it’s a jealousy issue? Could it be that some drivers are secretly covetous of the fitness being gained by cyclists, but they lack the discipline or desire to earn it themselves?

Someone needs to examine these phenomena and answer these questions. Maybe we could appropriate a portion of the $171,000 that funded the study on how monkeys gamble or the $331,000 dedicated to find out why “hangry” spouses stab voodoo dolls representing their partners. There’s a half million right there that could be better spent.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who still pedals the same Trek hybrid bike his mom gave him as a gift in 1990.

Jobbed!

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 Ever since I got fired earlier this year from my long-running morning radio show, I’ve been paying attention to ads (like the one above that appeared this week on a leading radio site) seeking professional morning hosts. And feeling bad for the guys or girls whose own jobs are being advertised.

It must suck to read one of these ads and realize the job up for grabs might be the one you currently hold.

On the other end, if you’re seeking a new job, as you read an ad like this, you tend to ask yourself a few questions. How many of my “great ideas” and “proven bits” will they actually allow me to execute? Does a smaller company automatically qualify as the antithesis of “evil”?

Do I really want to work for an outfit that doesn’t spell a simple word like “jokester” correctly? And if they don’t utilize spell-check, what other important details will fall through the cracks?

The process of finding the right job is always a challenge in broadcasting.

One time I drove five hours to meet with my prospective new morning show partner, the station’s program director, and the station’s consultant. The partner never showed up and the consultant tried to get me to smoke some weed with him in the parking lot. Even though I was out of work at the time, I turned down that job. And the joint.

On another occasion, I drove to a Top 10 market to interview for a morning show position. The process included a two-hour trial shift on a Saturday.

I prepped heavily for the try-out, wrote and recorded a customized parody song, pre-taped an interview with an iconic NHL Hall of Famer who played his entire career in that city, and lined up other famous locals to join me as guests to discuss topical issues.

I knocked it out of the park!

When I met back up with the station’s program director who brought me in for the interview, I asked him what he thought.

He said: “I was busy with some other stuff. Sorry, bud, never heard it.”

Wow! Did you acquire those management skills from Donald Trump or working at Chuck E. Cheese’s?

Thank God I didn’t need THAT job either!

Through the years, I’ve discovered that factors like market size or salary mean very little in determining the value of a job. So, this time around, I’m keeping it real. I’ve narrowed down my choices to (A) making announcements over the loudspeakers at local high schools, (B) wearing one of those cool headsets at Old Navy, or (C) calling Bingo numbers at the American Legion.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host whose next show begins shortly.

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