Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
|Photo by Rod Flores on Unsplash.|
Yes, in Philly as in the rest of the country talk radio means conservative talk radio. And in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one, that's a decided niche market that would seem to war against the whole concept of mass communication. But people like the late Rush Limbaugh (who single-handedly saved AM radio) proved that it didn't have to be that way. He showed that a right-leaning broadcast could not only pack a big wallop but could build a big wallet as well.
Still, Rush was 70 years old when he passed away and the fact that no clear successor to Rush has emerged in the nearly three years since his passing shows that talk radio is facing a decided generational shift as well as other challenges. And if you haven't noticed that the format's audience is grayer every year just listen to the ads on the talk stations and the aging demographic will become obvious.
In Philly, the two talk radio stations have been busy shifting programs, hosts, sidekicks and concepts so frequently that it takes a scorecard to keep track of it all. So, let's take a look at the current personalities and their teams reviewed roughly in their order of longevity:
Dom Giordano - Dom is the undisputed Dean of Philly talkers. At WPHT/1210 AM he's held just about every daytime spot and is currently heard in the 12 to 3 PM bracket that used to be Limbaugh's domain. Nobody in the city knows more about the format; no talk jockey is more respected and no one knows Philadelphia better than Dom. His institutional knowledge is legendary. Midday Dom is paired with a young sidekick, Dan Borowski and the two of them seem to work well together. Dom is fearless and insightful. He's been on the radio for nearly 40 years and has proved to be resourceful, adaptable and (most important to Philly audiences) reliably steadfast. What happens to this spot if and when Dom is no longer there? Philadelphians are creatures of habit and they don't like to contemplate such matters. We don't blame them. But you can bet the station (now owned by corporate giant Audacy) has at least a tentative plan in place.
Chris Stigall - Until a few years ago Chris was the morning drive guy at PHT/1210. He's smart, quick, funny, engaging and brings a welcome midwestern sensibility (he's originally from Missouri) to Philly. Plus, he's a genuine principled conservative who's built a significant following. After he and PHT "parted ways" (station parlance for non-renewal of contract) Stigall showed up at WNTP/990 AM in the same drive time spot. At NTP Stigall seems to have found real sweet spot. Paired with the likable (and again, younger) "Fast Eddie" Caiazzo, Stigall attracts big time guests (most recently he chatted with President Donald Trump), handles listener call ins adeptly and tackles real issues thoughtfully. In fact, Stigall gives us what is probably the most substantial, issue-based show in the market and he makes it interesting because it's all done with a human touch that's authentic.
Rich Zeoli - The irrepressible Zeoli is in a class by himself. He's intense, frenetic, bombastic, quick-witted, shrewd and seemingly unpredictable. All of these characteristics made this Joizee Guy perfect for morning drive when Stigall left PHT for NTP. And Zeoli held that spot (with sidekicks Dawn Stensland and Greg Stocker) until recently when Zeoli went to the afternoon drive spot (3 PM to 7 PM) as part of a shakeup. Zeoli said he didn't want to get up so early in the morning anymore. Whatever the reason, the station touts Zeoli as the "next generation of talk radio." But even Zeoli is paired with a still younger sidekick. None of this seems to matter to Zeoli once he gets wound up and it doesn't seem to take much for that to happen. Zeoli comes closest to Limbaugh in this sense -- he could easily do several hours with no guests and no co-hosts and still keep you entertained. Yes, Zeoli's a political junkie but he's not a policy wonk. He's a happy warrior and the funniest guy on local talk radio.
Dawn Stensland - Broadcast veteran Dawn Stensland now has her own show from 10 AM till noon on PHT sandwiched between her stint with Nick Kayal (see below) and the Girodano Show. This makes her the hardest working person in local radio and she handles it with aplomb. She obviously loves Philadelphia (she's a big cheerleader for the city) and she brings a non-idealogical, graceful common sense (something that's often rare on talk stations) to her own program. She really listens to callers and addresses their concerns with tact and understanding. But don't try to pull her chain as you (literally!) have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool her.
Nick Kayal - Nick Kayal (pronounced kale) is a graduate of Temple University who started at a Philly sports/talk station and then gained experience at sports stations in Nashville and Atlanta. Audacy brought him to Philly last September to take over morning drive at PHT after Zeoli moved to the afternoon spot. Kayal inherited Zeoli's morning pals (Stensland and Stocker) and added younger semi-sidekicks Daniel Valdez and Anthony DiRenzo to the mix to create something called "Kayal & Company" which seems to have been put together by Kayal and Stocker who is also WPHT's brand manager (translation, the station's overall program director). They appear to envision a sort of "morning zoo" of talk radio, mixing politics, sports, pop culture and anything else that comes to mind. The show is short on live guests and call-ins and long on aggregated sound bites from other media and plugs for podcasts and similar social media links including Twitter, facebook and a live You Tube feed. Hey, the challenges to radio are real. So, it seems that Stocker may be attempting to turn the station's morning drive program into a laboratory for what may work as terrestrial radio (and AM radio in particular) face accelerated dissolution. What can radio latch onto to survive or will it have to morph into something else and what will that something else be? That's what Kayal & Co. is grappling with. But in the middle of all this the Kayal show seems awfully crowded with five personalities. Maybe the host might benefit by having just one primary sidekick. That would clearly be Stensland, a congenial media pro who brings needed gravitas to the proceedings, not to mention the distaff view. That would also free up Stocker to do what he was presumably hired to do which is run the station. After less than a year, this is still a work in progress.
And let's not forget our friend Matt Rooney and Christine Flowers. Matt, who appears to be a real rising star at WPHT, is heard every Sunday evening from 7 to 10 PM. Matt will also join Kayal & Company this Friday morning (6/2) from 6 to 10 AM to fill in for one of Nick's sidekicks. As for Christine, she often fills in for Chris Stigall at NTP and she always delivers a smart, opinionated, quick-paced show.
A caveat: The world of broadcasting is notoriously secretive. What you see and hear is not necessarily what's going on behind the scenes. Careers can be cut short in a split second. Since it all comes down to market share, ratings, advertising and money it can be quite cutthroat.
2024 West Virginia Senate: Jim Justice holds 22-Point lead over Joe Manchin— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) May 30, 2023
(R) Justice : 54% (+22)
(D) Manchin: 32%
Justice approval: 57/29 (net +28)
Manchin approval: 33/59 (-26)
ECU poll, May 22-23, 957 RV https://t.co/foJkr58fiY pic.twitter.com/H5rhdqS9UB
Monday, May 29, 2023
Paul Newman was not terribly articulate. Yes, he was a fine actor but in real life he was enigmatic, brooding and often unapproachable. This is all revealed in the book Paul Newman, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man. Big portions of the book were written by Newman to be part of an autobiography that was never published. After Newman's death his children put the project back together and added recollections of those who knew him to provide a full picture of the man and his life.
Paul Newman hated all the fuss and attention that went along with being a movie star. He didn't like being recognized by people; he didn't like being stared at; he didn't like it if you asked for his autograph; he didn't like watching himself on the screen. He seemed tortured by all this and throughout the book Newman insists he doesn't know what his special talent is and why it brought him so much fame and fortune. Yes, he admits to being blessed with good looks but doesn't seem to understand why that would be so special. Bottom line: he doth protest too much!
Also, Newman never got over guilt that accompanied his sizzling affair with Joanne Woodward and the breakup of his first marriage. Though he and Woodward married and had three children of their own, Newman still had three kids from his first marriage.
You'll find no whining, no protesting or lamenting from Taylor in Kate Anderson Brower's new book Elizabeth Taylor, The Grit and Glamour of an Icon. This authorized biography gives us Taylor as the ultimate child star who survived it all: the daily grind of movie mass production in the 1940s and '50s; the sex and drugs of the '60s; the upheaval and collapse of the studio system in the '70s; the wealth and high life of the '80s and the plague of HIV/AIDS that followed. Elizabeth Taylor was touched by all of it and more: unparalleled tragedy, ill health, near death experiences and eight failed marriages (Richard Burton, twice) to name just a few of the bumps along her life's journey.
Through it all, Taylor wore her stardom and notoriety like a second skin and rarely complained. She endured her movie flops, thumbed her nose at the critics, took repeated ridicule like a trooper and emerged as a sort of feisty, benevolent Earth Mother.
To their credit, both Taylor and Newman raised millions for charity. In that sense, they were responsible stars who made sure to give back.
Taylor was often loud, demonstrative and confrontational -- a shrewd broad who did not suffer fools gladly. Newman was more introverted, self-reflective and moody -- it was not always easy to know where you stood with him. After reading both these books, you come away feeling that Taylor probably would have been a lot more fun to hang out with.
|TWO big live video interviews coming up on Dan's facebook page (and on Twitter) both at 8 PM: Tuesday 5/30, Emerging GOP star Darwin Cooper, Jr. and Wednesday, 5/31 Dan's exclusive chat with State Senator Ed Durr. Don't miss these!|
"The 30th day of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance, no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
"We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms.
"We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.
"If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us…" - Gen. John A. Logan
Sunday, May 28, 2023
When the movie Some Like It Hot opened in 1959 directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis it was an instant sensation. It soon entered the annals of movie classics and today, nearly 65 years later, it's considered one of the greatest screen comedies ever. In fact, many rank it at the very top or among the top three. And who can forget pretty boy Curtis and the swift footed Lemon disguised as babes in an all girl band as they flee the mob in depression era Chicago?
But in 1972 when they made a musical stage production (titled Sugar) which was based on the film, things did not work out quite so well. Even though it featured Broadway stars Bobby Morse, Tony Roberts, Cyril Ritchard and Elaine Joyce, the show was only a modest hit, running for 505 performances. Though it had several reincarnations elsewhere, Sugar was never revived on the Great White Way.
But now there is a big, splashy new musical on Broadway called Some Like It Hot that's based on the 1959 movie and retains much of the original story line. With a new book by Matthew López and Andrew Rubin, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Whittman Some Like It Hot, the musical, boasts the sort of proven talent that usually leads to a long Broadway run. And this time, with a whopping 13 Tony award nominations, the show could have a Very Big Night when the awards are handed out on June 11.
In fact, there's hardly an awards category in which Some Like It Hot hasn't been nominated. And guess what? Every nomination is amply justified and the evidence is right there on stage, live eight times a week at Broadway's legendary Schubert Theatre.
In the lead roles Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee and Adrianna Hicks make musical comedy come alive with devilishly delightful performances. Together with Kevin Del Aguila, Nattasha Yvette Williams, Adam Heller, Mark Lotito, and Angie Schworer, this is a dazzling ensemble that delivers split-second timing, uproarious antics, toe-tapping steps and memorable tunes. There are so many big production numbers in this show that it's hard to figure out which ones to highlight. The title song is a genuine rouser but there are others (notably I'm California Bound and Let's Be Bad) that are equally delightful. But there are ballads as well and zany spoof songs (such as Dance The World Away) that trigger belly laughs.
No expense has been spared on this production which features a big orchestra, full Broadway sound, delightful sets, eye-popping costumes and lighting that caters to the quick takes, fade outs and other cinematic touches that borrow from Wilder's film. But don't expect the chase-based story to exactly follow the movie. For one thing, this is 2023, not 1959 and cross dressing has a whole new connotation in the age of gender fluidity. But here's the deal: though the show embraces modern sensibilities it's not (perish the thought!) "reimagined". No, this Some Like It Hot is played for laughs rather lectures, remaining faithful to the endearing sentiment of the original. Which is to say it strikes just the right balance in the tradition of such blockbusters as La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots.
This is Broadway heaven. Don't miss it!
To read more reviews like this and get the lowdown on the best of Broadway, click onto Dan's Broadway Blog, Dan on Broadway.
Saturday, May 27, 2023
OMG! This really flies in the face of everything we know, everything we've learned, everything we've actually experienced, everything we've been taught! Unvelievable!
“Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you're healthy or unhealthy.”— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 26, 2023
— New York City’s Democrat Mayor Eric Adams pic.twitter.com/iuYNHhOHQO
The NJ State BOE is proposing to make extreme changes to the existing Chapter 7 Rule. Please take a moment to read the letter I’ve sent to the BOE. I urge you to send a letter as well, deadline June 2, 2023. #ProtectOurChildren email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 26, 2023
It's Memorial Day weekend and we hope you're having a great time.
This year, we hope that you take time to remember those who have protected us and who have made (and continue to make) our freedom possible. Because Memorial Day is all about those who gave their lives defending our country. They made the ultimate sacrifice. In this way Memorial Day differentiates itself from Veterans Day which honors all veterans.
Now, let's get to the business at hand:
1) Not everyone will spend the long weekend at the Jersey shore. The media would have you believe that everyone is headed to the shore but that's just an easy way for the media to not report real stories over the weekend while at the same time nurturing the myth of the Great Shore Exodus. In fact, people enjoy the weekend in many different ways at many different places. We know we do -- and will.
2) Summer doesn't begin on Memorial Day. Summer begins on June 21, the summer solstice. And summer doesn't end on Labor Day. Summer ends on September 23 when autumn begins. The media and the travel industry concocted the idea that summer lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It doesn't.
3) As we noted, Memorial Day is actually May 30. Congress changed the day around to make it a three-day weekend in another attempt to rob a fine holiday of its true meaning. So, Memorial Day is now the last Monday in May which means it can come as late as May 31 or as early as May 24. Leave it to the government to mess things up.
4) Memorial Day didn't become Memorial Day until 1966 when President Johnson officially renamed it. Prior to that it was widely known as Decoration Day - the day when Americans decorated the graves of the fallen. At it's core it's a somber day.
5) The artificial boundaries of Memorial Day and Labor Day mean absolutely nothing even though many people perceive these boundaries to coincide with the school year. Most children go to school well past Memorial Day. Many children (particularly in southern states) return to school well before Labor Day. Others return several days after Labor Day.
6) This year Memorial Day actually arrives close to the traditional date and Labor Day (the first Monday in September) is September 4. So, the stretch between the two is about average -- mixed news for vacation and travel vendors.
But, remember: Memorial Day isn't when people say it is. The summer hasn't begun - yet. It won't end on Labor Day. Many people will get through the whole summer without ever going to the Jersey shore. They will have a wonderful time nonetheless.
The Memorial Day and Labor Day boundaries are totally imaginary!
So, there you have it.
Enjoy what's left of spring.
Then, go ahead and enjoy summer all the way through till September 22.
In fact, enjoy each day as a blessed gift. Savor every day, no matter the season.
Don't be cheated.
Thursday, May 25, 2023
The survey of 1,013 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on May 21-23, 2023 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
It’s a very simple question, what is the rush?— Mike Testa (@Testa4Senate) May 24, 2023
We owe it to ourselves to protect our marine life, our tourism industry, and our bustling fishing industry in the Garden State.
I will not stop fighting until this issue is resolved and we have ALL of the answers we AND the whales… pic.twitter.com/xCnrY3U1Fv
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 30% of Likely U.S. voters say they trust the political news they’re getting – down from 37% in July 2021 – while 52% say they don’t trust political news, and 19% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)