radio

Why Do We Hate Everything?

So, Bill Murray grabbed the mic during Game 3 of the World Series and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as Daffy Duck. And the haters arose.

Reading the message board comments below the post of this story in Deadspin.com shines a light on a very ugly aspect of our culture – the necessity to criticize everything.

Deadspin is a great website, because it presents sports topics with an entertaining and irreverent slant. But very often the posts and comments dwell in the gutter; Apparently we like it when we have company down there.

It reminds me of a former relative who was miserable on the golf course. And if you were having a good game, instead of allowing you to enjoy it, he went out of his way to make you miserable too.

Maybe dragging Murray and other stars down makes us feel better about ourselves. And celebrities make great targets. You know, because they’re wealthy and entitled, and thus…despicable.

So, the critics on Deadspin chastised the comedian for his performance, assailed his character, and attacked his career.

Okay, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Murray’s shtick. But I guess the idea here was to be distinctive. Do something that hundreds (thousands?) of others have done. Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the iconic part of the party in the middle of every Cubs game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, but make your version stand out.

It’s sort of the challenge we morning radio hosts face every day in our jobs. Take the same stories and audio clips every host at every station across the country has at his or her disposal…and inject your own style and personality to make it unique. Be distinctive.

Some of that uniqueness flows from your natural and inimitable personality, and some of it requires a conscientious application or strategy. This singularity is an admirable trait to pursue in life.

If I were hiring for a radio job or any position for that matter, I might make the assignment the same for all applicants. Then, see who distinguishes themselves from the pack.

Imagine your assignment is to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley. If you had a shot, what would you do to make it different? Could you come up with a unique take? Or would you end up just blending in with all the others who’ve ever sung it? Either way, you’d probably be criticized.

Dave Coombs hosts mornings on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica, New York.

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Rating the Presidential Candidates By Athletic Ability

barack-obama-football

Photo credit: Business Insider

As the 2016 presidential race kicks into high gear, and Barack Obama gets set to pass the political football to his successor, you may be wondering “Who’s the best jock for the job?”

Okay, maybe you’re not wondering that. Still, many modern presidents have had strong sports associations, from George H.W. Bush’s playing days on Yale’s baseball team to Obama’s golf and basketball habits.

It’s a proven fact that playing sports develops good characteristics, like teamwork and discipline. And practicing how to cheat and get away with it.

For what it’s worth, here’s a breakdown of the main candidates’ athletic backgrounds or influences, and how it might translate to votes and political applications.

Jeb Bush was captain of his prep school tennis team. Those skills might come into play at some point, like volleying issues back and forth with other world leaders. Or, maybe physically clobbering Putin with a racquet. Otherwise, tennis may not be a big help. (B-)

Ben Carson, while appearing to be fit, does not seem to have any actual experience in sports, other than playing with his kids in the back yard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, even Obama would probably poke fun at Carson’s basketball form and uniform in this picture:

Ben Carson-hoops-Vince Rodriguez

Photo credit: Victor Rodriguez

Untuck the shirt and ditch the belt. Come on, Ben! It’s game day! (C-)

John Kasich may not be much better at hoops. During a campaign stop at a gymnasium in New Hampshire, he displayed an ugly jump shot. But, at least he had the persistence to get the job done that day from behind the three-point arc, finally connecting on his ninth attempt in front of reporters and cameras. The only problem is: you don’t get nine tries to fix the economy or prevent a world war. (C)

Martin O’Malley maintains his physical fitness by following the rigorous P90X video workouts. If you’ve seen pictures of the former Maryland governor without a shirt, it’s clear that “gun control” is not an issue. (B+)

Ted Cruz has no apparent connection to sports other than through his body man. Bruce Redden was a placekicker for the Oklahoma State football team before hanging up his cleats and picking up a briefcase to trail Cruz around. Also, Cruz admits to playing some sports as a teenager, but only to avoid further ridicule he received as a young nerd. Cruz coincidentally resembles current Duke basketball star Grayson Allen, as The Washington Post pointed out in a 2015 photo comparison:

IMG_3703

Cruz is the one on the right. Of course. (D)

Marco Rubio played defensive back at a Miami high school and was good enough to score a football scholarship to Tarkio College in Missouri, where he spent one year before eventually securing degrees at the University of Florida and the University of Miami. If he’d played football at either of those schools, he wouldn’t be where he is today. (A-)

Rand Paul also played defensive back at his high school in Texas, and was on the swim team at Baylor University. So, he may be the field’s top pure athlete. (A-)

Chris Christie was a catcher on his high school baseball team. The position calls for brains and is considered a grind on the body, just like a political campaign. Christie’s body and popularity may be past their prime. (B)

Bernie Sanders ran track in high school and claims he once notched a 4:37 mile. The Vermont senator grew up a big Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball fan and played slow-pitch softball for a team called the People’s Republic of Burlington. From the looks of the photo below, he wouldn’t have any problems throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. But if he’s doing it as President, he’d better not go underhand. (B+)

bernie sanders-softball

Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

Donald Trump warns that the socialism Sanders espouses will eliminate golf, a sport that is currently struggling on its own in many areas around the country. Trump is a single-digit golf handicapper. His game will no doubt suffer if he ever really gets the chance to Make America Great Again. (B)

Hillary Clinton has listed speed-walking as a pastime she’s enjoyed. So, she might want to pick up the pace. (D)

Based on these stats, who do you like in 2016?

Dave Coombs hosts a morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ. He rides a bike and will never run for president.

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.

Radio Ink!

Gomez, Dave and lisa-2

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.

Left shin side 1

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 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.

Think Macro, Not Micro

Micronesia Minnows Soccer

(Credit: Twitter)

We’ve all been on the short end of the stick in sports. Playing for and/or coaching teams that had no chance, or vying against opponents so superior that the match-up really wasn’t fair. But 114 goals to zero?

That was the aggregate score in three recent soccer matches against the team from Micronesia in a competition called the Pacific Games (which has a great website for you fans). Micronesia lost 30-0 to Tahiti, 38-0 to Fiji, and 46-0 against Vanuatu. So, they’re definitely not improving.

Maybe next year Micronesia should consider wearing shoes. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but seriously: in the team photo above it looks like one of the goalies is wearing jean shorts! Can’t the people at Nike just step in and fix that?

Perhaps switching coaches is the recipe for positive change? Easier said than done. The current boss, Stan Foster, claims he’s the only certified coach in Micronesia. Maybe he meant certifiable, because you’d have to be a bit nuts to put yourself through this much pain.

And it’s possible no one else wants the job. It comes with, um, challenges. Micronesia’s population of 104,000 is spread out across 7.4 million square kilometers of the Western Pacific Ocean and comprised of 607 islands. Finding, organizing and training a competent soccer team can’t be an easy task.

The Cleveland Browns may never win a Super Bowl. But at least their players don’t have to take boats to get together and practice.

The Federated States of Micronesia also face other challenges. Its four geographic states include ones named Chuuk and Yap. Let’s face it: I could’ve told you these were locales in a Dr. Seuss book and you would’ve bought it. But, breeding grounds for top midfielders and strikers–forgettaboutit.

Micronesia obviously needs to start THINKING bigger. When your soccer team gets skunked 114-0, maybe you should give them another name besides Minnows. Come on! There’s lots of fish in the sea. Minnows? Really? Change that, folks!

Or maybe it’s time to just give soccer a rest and dedicate your energies in a different direction. Micronesia has excelled at other sports in these 2015 Pacific Games. Weightlifter Manuel Minginfel won a gold medal in the Snatch and a silver in the Clean and Jerk. And certainly Micronesia has SOMEONE who can swim, right?

Now, we’re not saying there’s NO hope for Micronesia soccer. After all, if Jamaica can field a bobsled team, anything’s possible. But, it would take a miracle. Until then, Micronesia may have to hang its straw hat on offering some of the best SCUBA diving sites on the planet.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who is wagering on Micronesia’s Va’a (canoeing) team.

Another 4th Down

front door

It was quite an Independence Day weekend at my house. To sum it up: red, white (black) and blue.

Red, from the cuts and abrasions I suffered. Black and blue, from the bruises on my back and side. White, because I’m just an ordinary average white guy trying to survive another suburban 4th.

I didn’t blow off any fingers. I didn’t try to launch fireworks off the top of my melon. I didn’t challenge any alligators by diving into their natural habitats. However, I did suffer a personal injury. My attacker is pictured above. You have to look REALLY close to make an identification.

Here’s the story…

Lugging overstuffed garbage bags and recyclables from the house to the garage, I fell down the front stairs. If any of our neighbors witnessed the incident from across the street, they must have laughed.

The fall was one of those slow-motion deals that seemed to take FOR. EV. ER.

Due to the garbage bags in front of me, I could not see anything below my waist, including the crucial stairs in the picture. At some point, one of my feet became twisted and I started to go down.

Let me get an important fact out of the way: I had NOT been drinking. Which actually kind of makes my lack of balance even more pathetic.

On the way down, I remember hopping on one foot once or twice and trying in vain to right the ship. Not sure if I did a complete 360 in the process, or just a partial, as I performed my dismount from the concrete staircase.

I do recall bouncing off the table-saw with my shoulder, dislodging a candle in a round glass case that shattered on the garage floor, slamming my spine against the garage doorframe, and landing in a sitting position on my ass–not hard, but in the sad fashion of someone trying and failing to claim the final seat in a game of musical chairs.

I ended up with a cut on my hand, a scrape on my upper arm, and bruises on my back. The drinking began shortly after that.

Next year, I’m sticking to my duties at the propane barbecue grill. Nothing can possibly go wrong there. Hope YOUR 2015 July 4th festivities were smoother than mine and injury-free. If not, I’d love to hear about it.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who can’t wait to be back on the air.

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