Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2.9 The Big Blog

That's the only thing I can call this blog. I've got SOOOOO  much to talk about today, the Big Game, the leader of New York's Big Show, big doings over in Russia, but all that's just a warm-up to my next blog  which is gonna be HUGE!

In all the years I've had the pleasure to know Michael Scott Shannon, I've never known  him to be shy and retiring, but after four decades in the entertainment business, he's finally retiring as the ringleader of WPLJ radio's "Scott & Todd Big Show" to focus on his duties as the Vice President of Programming at Cumulus Media.

Everybody has his/her favorite Scott Shannon story, and mine happens to be one of the first, at least the first of his New York tenure. In the early morning hours of August 2,1983,I was relaxing to the smooth sounds of Les Davis on WVNJ 100.3 FM (WVNJOY by day, WVNJAZZ by night) until 6 AM  when I heard a ringtone and a voice say, "At this time,  Radio Station WHTZ  signs on the air. WHTZ is owned and operated by Malrite Communications and transmits from the top of the Empire State Building. Signing on the air, this is WHTZ, Newark." He pushed a button and a nuclear explosion sound effect made a large boom. The voice said, in a singsongy tone, "It's time to wake up." As  Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" rocked on my radio, I was of two minds. Part of me loved this new sound, and part of me wanted to take this guy and knock...his...head...clean...OFF!

When he finally announced the phone number, I called it, and when he answered, I asked him,  in my calmest voice,

He told me he was  Scott Shannon, a DJ from St.Louis who had this talent for turning losing Top 40 radio stations into ratings winners, and he had come to New York to fill the void left by our iconic Top 40 station, 77 WABC, which had joined its one time Top 40 competitor, 570 WMCA, as a talk radio station. I remembered the glory days of the WMCA Good Guys and WABC All-Americans,  so I decided to stay awhile. (Besides,  the activist who fought to turn a former jazz  station, which had been country for two years and now broadcasts as 106.7 Lite FM,back into a jazz station had fallen off the face of the earth, and if she wanted us to run this new guy out of town she would have told us, which she didn't.) In time, Scott was joined by his sidekick (and former WABC All-American) Ross Brittain, newsgirl and long-suffering Rangers fan Claire Stevens, socially aware weekend public service host Jonathan B. Bell, Bell's goofy assistant Mr. Leonard (played by John Rio from a Houston station where Scott had also worked), and WHTZ, better known as Z100, became the Number One rated radio station in the tough New York market, and all of America, and Scott became THE talking head CNN,Entertainment Tonight,Oprah, and NBC all wanted to talk to when it came to music as well as a founding VJ on a new  network called VH1. Not being satisfied with merely conquering New York with his mix of music and comedy, he created a syndicated weekend version of his popular Morning Zoo format called the ROCKIN' AMERICA TOP 30 COUNTDOWN which wasn't only heard all over the country but also as far as Paris. (Ironically, Scott was dragged off to Paris kicking and screaming when his wife Trish wanted to celebrate the station's first anniversary with a second honeymoon.One good thing that came out of that vacation was a daughter, Kathleen.) Not only did he love playing the hits FIRST AND EXCLUSIVE but he also loved biting the hand that fed him. When a radio station  in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima were developed, signed on with the call letters KBOM, or K-Bomb, he played the same sound he did when he announced Z100's  intention to blow the other stations out of the water. Since then, K-Bomb has been  featured on two CNN documentaries on nuclear war and changed formats from oldies to Top 40 to smooth jazz to NPR before completely disappearing. If only ShanMan had joined the station in an advisory capacity the way he did so many others!

Unfortunately, all good things must  come to an end, and Scott was seduced by the siren song of Hollywood,  where, hoping he would write another radio success story, he took over a struggling beautiful music station and said, "If you're looking for K-Lite, it don't live here anymore! WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE! This is the NEW Pirate Radio 100.3 FM!' Despite the help of some fellow Z100 veterans, Pirate failed to make the kind of impact Z100 did, although Scott,  backed by the support of NBC  affiliates, participating radio sponsors including Z100, major corporate advertisers, and CNN,challenged the music video dominance of MTV(a network he originally backed and provided the inspiration for Z100's music mix) with "The Official Smash Hits All-Request Top 10 Video Countdown," a compact 30-minute mix of video, comedy and interviews which was taped at his L.A.studios.

Since the other L.A. stations had sunk his Pirate ship, Scott returned to New York, this time WPLJ, the radio station he had once called WIMP, Wimpy 95 because it had abandoned a successful rock radio format to copy Z100 from stem to stern He into an East Coast version  of Pirate called Mojo Radio 95.5 FM, but Z100 was still a formidable competitor. Fortunately, his luck improved when he coaxed Albany jock Todd Pettengill downstate. Todd provided that X Factor Scott was looking for with his witty song parodies and merciless phone scams, and the Scott & Todd Big Show lasted 23 years with listeners all over the New York area and thousands more all over the world thanks to internet streaming and exposure on FOX's  Dish Nation entertainment news show.

This past Friday, Scott shattered any illusion that he was going to continue as the Energizer Bunny of American radio by announcing his retirement after FIVE DECADES in the business, which have been rewarded by, among other honors,  a prominent place in the Radio Hall of Fame.On Feburary 24, the TODD SHOW takes over the WPLJ frequency and web site( and the iHeart Radio and TuneIn apps)and continues on a Monday-Saturday basis from 6-10 AM Eastern time. (Europe and Asia, please set aside a decent amount of time,'cause it COULD be habit forming!)

Now on to the Big Game:


They came  to a great, but cold,city wearing images of a blue and green hawk wearing a determined expression and  later visited a certain sunny land of dreams in a state whose name means  "Land of Flowers" and took a VERY IMPORTANT meeting with a jovial rodent and  his many friends.


The Denver Broncos, under the leadership of coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning put on  an admirable performance, but no matter how  many "OMAHAS!" came out of Mr. Manning's lips, nothing they could do could stop the Hawks from handing them a crushing 43-8 defeat. The heroes of the Northwest proved more than equal to the task of winning the first Super Bowl ever to played outdoors in a cold climate, although, truth to tell, conditions were better than earlier anticipated.  Former college coach  Pete Carroll and star players Russell Westbrook and the highly controversial Richard Sherman delivered a performance worthy of Broadway, and, although there are many, myself included, who believe the NFL should not put on a Super Bowl in the New York City area until we build a sufficiently climate-controlled domed stadium in Midtown Manhattan, the League got a significant return on its investment.


TOUCHDOWN: RadioShack's  tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 80's. It starts with an employee reading a text saying, "The 80's called! They want their store back!" and continues with 80's icons such as Hulk Hogan, the California Raisins,  and ALF dismantling the Shack to make room for the Shack of today.
FIELD GOAL: Toyota's two ads with the  Muppets saying the new Highlander has "no room for boring"
SAFETY: Jaguar's tribute to British CINEMA villains such as Tom Hiddleston, better known as Loki,  God of Mischief.
PENALTY FOR DELAY OF GAME: Dannon Oikos yogurt's not-too-funny reunion of the guys from Full House. If they brought the Olsen twins off the bench, it would have been way better. (Forgetting Jodie Sweeting, a/k/a Stephanie? HOW RUDE!)
FUMBLE: Bud Light's total mishmash of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle, and other talent that should have been used to better effect.


I didn't hear Renee Fleming and her National Anthem, but I'm sure the Met Opera will provide a platform so I can make up for the grevious mistake of missing her. I DID hear the Pepsi Halftime Show starring Bruno Mars and he put on a stellar performance which, thankfully, went undamaged by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and WHATEVER they did. There were a lot of great PRE-game performances from such acts as The Band Perry, American Idol Phillip Phillips, and New Jersey icon Jon Buns, I mean, BON Jovi. I was just man crushin' on him.


The highlight was a beautiful tearjerking report on the aftermath of 9/11, including a tour of the new One World Trade Center.

Now,  onto the Games of the Winter Olympics.


The good news  is, the American women are scoring all kinds of victories from the hockey rink to the ski slopes. The bad news is Sochi  itself. The beach resort town which has been forced to double as a winter wonderland has many unpaved roads, and the conditions at the hotels are bad FOR EVERYBODY, so much so that one bobsledder accidentally locked himself in the loo and muscled himself out, a la the Incredible Hulk. Fortunately, the Games have become the release both the Russian people and the frozen American people need, especially since temps in Sochi have reached the 60's.


This just in, Derek Jeter, the Captain of the New York Yankees, the only team he EVER played for, will retire at the end of the 2014 season, thus driving the final nail into the coffin of the Pinstripers' most successful era since the glory days of Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle and Gehrig. Thanks for the memories, Derek. The Bronx won't be the same without you.


...and they are dimpled darling turned ambassador Shirley Temple Black and TV comedy pioneer Sid Caesar. Every child and teen star owes a significant debt to Shirley and every comic from Cosby to Colbert was inspired in some way by Sid. After spending almost a century on this earth, they both made their final exit this week. Their respective contributions will live on as long as up-and-comers take the stage, and as long as there are museums  and YouTube pages, future generations will see and appreciate their work.

Well,that's the Big Blog, but the next blog is gonna be HUGE! In fact, it's gonna be SO huge, it will need its own web address, and it's coming to a computer near you THIS President's Day! As  the aforementioned Mr. Shannon would say, be there or be square and bring clean underwear!

That's pretty much it, except for have a nice weekend, Happy Valentine's Day to everybody celebrating, AND...

Bye, Buckaroos!

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