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Halcyon Schayes

Dolph Schayes-rip

The phrase “halcyon days” is derived from a Greek tale and describes the period of calm during the winter, when storms do not occur. It also frequently conjures images of nostalgia, when times were good. It fits Dolph Schayes, who passed away this week at 87.

Dolph was as sweet a man as he was a basketball player. And that’s saying something.

I knew the gentle giant during my many years as a broadcaster in Syracuse, where Dolph starred with the NBA’s Nationals, and where his son Danny forged his own basketball identity as a collegiate star with the Orange.

I’d bump into Dolph occasionally at a charity golf tournament or at Wegmans grocery store. He always met me in a friendly way, and personalized the greeting by including my name. I’ve had co-workers whom I see every day fall short of that standard.

On the court, this guy was a superstar–a word used far too liberally these days. He was selected as an NBA All-Star 12 times. Same number as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. Pretty good company.

And Dolph was good company on the radio. He scored big laughs from me with this segment a few years ago, as he recalled the death of one of his contemporaries:


Dolph passed along his wit and intelligence, his gentle spirit, and a few of his basketball skills to his son Danny, who played 18 seasons in the NBA. Dan’s weekly radio segments with us were just as funny and well-informed as his dad’s clip above.

Dan also inherited his father’s class. When I lost my radio job earlier this year, Dan was one of the first guys to reach out to me and extend some kind words. The Schayes brand is forever stamped in my book.

Dave Coombs is a morning radio host on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica and a one-time solid 10th man on his Division 3 collegiate team.

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.

Jobbed!

Jobbed
 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.

The Anatomy of an Award

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I tripped while receiving an award last year from The New York State Broadcasters Association and severely injured my pride. I’m still recovering from the embarrassment, which explains why I was not in attendance last night to receive my 10th annual NYSBA award for broadcast excellence.

(Kidding. I was fired earlier this year. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.)

Since many of you who read this blog have listened to New York State morning radio shows I’ve worked with (WCMF in Rochester, WQBK in Albany, 95X and TK99 in Syracuse, to name a few), I thought you might enjoy a peek behind the curtain of these awards.

First of all, they’re voted upon by an outside source, in recent years by members of the Missouri Broadcasters Association. Folks there have no idea who I am, nor do they know CNY Central TV sportscaster Niko Tamurian. So, when one of us is fortunate enough to win an award, we know it didn’t result from fan-based ballot stuffing or inside connections, but was granted with complete impartiality.

It’s truly a merit-based award system. But I’m sending bottles of wine and chocolates to every broadcaster in Missouri for next year, just in case.

Here’s the entry that won the 2015 award for Best Sportscast:


The clips I utilized were a combination of real sports “actualities” from that day’s news, along with recognizable movie or TV clips culled from the flotsam and jetsam in the vast ocean of pop culture. It’s a body of water I’ve been swimming in ever since I can recall. I put special emphasis on grabbing the attention of the listener in the first 15-20 seconds, as I do whenever I go on the air.

Aside from the eight trophies I’ve picked up for Sportscasts, our former morning show at TK99 also won twice for Best Personality/Team. Here’s our winning entry from 2011:


This montage of highlights from that year featured celebrity interviews, some local and national content, original games, parodies, segments and production elements, creative “back-sells” of songs representative of the Classic Rock format of our station, all mixed together in a particular order and featuring a dash of production and attitude.

So, now I’ve earned 10 New York State Broadcasters Association trophies. The ones in my possession are gathering dust in a box in the basement, along with Punt, Pass & Kick trophies from my youth.

I’ve never really cared to display them; the work I put into them and the honor of the awards are most important to me, as opposed to the actual trophies.

When I return to the airwaves in my next job, I’ll give one away to caller #9. Each trophy resembles the Washington Monument and makes a great paperweight. Stay tuned for your chance to win.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who’ll be back on the air soon.

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