Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Talk Radio 93.7 Needs To Think Big

For 93.7 FM in Pittsburgh to be taken seriously as a talk station, management must do something bold. Pioneer News talk 104.7 FM has a fabulous lineup with locals Quinn and Rose, but virtually everything else is syndicated (Ellis Cannon, of course does the sports talk thing from town). Granted, if the rumor mill is true, the introduction of both Scott Paulsen and John McIntyre will be a good start. Both are among the most talented talkers in the market.

But alas, the talk market industries’s most intelligent, most diverse—stop with the hyperbole—the unrivaled best talk show host ever to click on a microphone continues to sit on a sprawling fixer-upper estate in one of the farthest southern suburbs of Allegheny County.

Open the checkbook for Jerry Bowyer.

The NFL now has Golden Boy Bill Cowher sitting out a no-compete clause to become perhaps a $10 million dollar (a year) coach. Cowher’s legacy will only balloon; his legendary chin will jut just a little further, much like Paul Bunyan and the blue ox Babe.

Talk radio, Pittsburgh chat radio in particular, has its own Golden Boy waiting in the wings. Jerry Bowyer first appeared on the scene as the head honcho of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy ten years ago. He led the drive to knock down a ½ percent sales tax increase in Allegheny County and nearly a dozen other neighboring counties. The money was supposed to pay for two new stadiums and infrastructure around the region.

I have a confession: early on I despised Jerry Bowyer. He seemingly didn’t care that my beloved Pirates—the primary reason I declare as the reason I moved here nearly 17 years ago—would possibly leave town for greener, albeit still losing pastures.


Around the time of that near-debacle, Jerry started to fill in on 1360 WPTT, (although he might have started earlier on an AM religious station), and showed some real talk show chops. His personality and knowledge of virtually every hot-button talk show chestnut converted me from ideological opponent to aficionado.

Before you knew it, Jerry was on full-time. It was then you got to know him and his encyclopedic knowledge of everything from the minutia of science to politics, as well as cartoon trivia. Then there was his mastery of economic theories and business, most accepted religions, and a rather lofty insight regarding Hollywood starlets. For a guy with a complicated relationship with baseball (his father was a MLB scout), Bowyer could cover all of the bases.

On the show, Jerry would often dismantle usually adroit talk show guests who got too persnickety. Bowyer could make polished fiscal pariah “Living Wage” union boilerplaters sputter and froth, thus showing their true colors as selfish, under-educated, special-interest cretins. I was so impressed with one particular verbal disrobing that I called Jerry to proclaim the interview was a comedic send-up.

It wasn’t.

Because of that admiration and my eventual offer to write a feature story, Jerry and I became somewhat friendly. Over the next few years, I ended up writing two lengthy pieces on him and his show for a couple of periodicals. Our budding friendship expanded to the point in which we worked together to bring a business and entrepreneurial charter school to Pittsburgh’s southern neighborhoods, but were ultimately sold a bad bill of goods from our sponsor. For the record, that company never did roll out their ambitious plan for several local Charter Schools, and the one it does run here is virtually invisible of the learning landscape.

We’ve communicated about collaborating on a book about leadership and nearly got into the television business together.

And on an even more personal note, Jerry proved to me that a religious man could still enjoy those potty-mouthed brats on South Park. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to return to church had it not been for his masterful ability to make religion seem “cool.”

It was Jerry’s desire to add more religious talk to his secular radio show that ultimately made him move from his comfortable post at WPTT AM to the Christian FM-talker in town. I remember him saying that he thought he could make more of a difference in an arena where he could focus on the Good Book. Apparently, that move bit him in the posterior when management there didn’t want him to deviate from the all-religion talk, even for important regional issues.

In addition to trouble with format content, health issues have also plagued Bowyer in recent years, as a result he’s retreated to the sidelines, to be with his beloved wife Susan and seven children, who the couple home-schools and/or runs various family businesses. It’s also possible that Bowyer’s made outlandish sums of money by utilizing financial techniques he’s cultivated with some of the best brains in the marketplace.

I have no idea whether Jerry would even contemplate a return to the airwaves. Perhaps 93.7 could build him a studio in his home, ala the persistently-injured and vastly overrated Fred Honsberger.

If the folks at 93.7 want to do something incredible, and revolutionary, with its impending talk show venture, they need to at put out some feelers with Jerry Bowyer.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

When is Motznik Going To Resign?

It wasn’t that long ago, perhaps immediately following the last presidential election, but Pittsburgh City Council member Jim Motznik was a panel guest on the Ann Devlin-version of NightTalk, and promised to resign from public office to work on Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign, should she run for President.

Now I like Mr. Motznik personally. I’m still perplexed as to why he sprinted away from a Channel 4 cameraman a few years ago after being posed a rather pedestrian political question. He’s always been polite and friendly in the neighborhood, flush with folksy tête-à-tête, a sewer-boot wearing Paul Harvey if you will, albeit with only a third of a vulgarity. He’s a Renaissance man for the new age.

I remember the statement about giving up his day job for the betterment of our country as vividly as yesterday and thought it peculiar even then. Why would he have make such a declaration, even though it was the Ann Devlin version of NightTalk, which promised to deliver upwards of a dozen viewers at any given time, including me for at least one minute on any given evening.

I was always amazed that the show perpetually seemed to be in rerun. We’re not talking about the “good” NightTalk with John McIntyre, an above-it-all elitist with a fairly sublime sense of humor and quick wit, but the tumbleweed installment. Ms. Devlin appeared to have the cushiest post in all of local television, and yet the show would go for weeks upon weeks without new editions. It was kind of like “Lost” with decades between new installments…but I digress.

Anyhoo, as we all know, Mrs. Clinton appeared in a web-based video to “chat” about her run for presidency, a campaign everyone knew started the minute she and the former president smashed their last collector’s plate on the way out the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In the video, the Senator from New York via Arkansas and Illinois looked as comfortable as an Iranian hostage in 1979, emboldened by the muscular Jimmy Carter administration. Like some of those 63 diplomats and three U.S. citizens who were shown on tape, Mrs. Clinton exuded confident, assured that the “take no prisoners” Carter domination would soon kick down the door for freedom. Her titular “Smartest Woman in the World” gimmick would assuredly surpass even those steel-enforced days of Carter supremacy, where money flowed through the streets much like the omnipresent oil and coal mining jobs.

With that type of euphoria right around the corner (despite Carter and the first President Clinton’s salad days, minority home ownership is only now at its highest levels ever), it’s imperative that we only draft our best and brightest to assure another eight years of intern-groping and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason menopause humor.

We need Barbara Streisand to be relevant again…wait, she was never relevant outside of Broadway and Tinseltown (and yes, I am referring to the David Dukes/Kristy Swanson vehicle from 1997)…but I continue to digress.

We as a country need to assure an upswing in collective virtues and values first started by the highly-successful Governor Tony Soprano/Rendell, where taxes are nearly non-existent and competence—from the Lieutenant Governor position on down to the guy who sweeps up after the High Holy Priest’s daily cheesesteak—is once again on par with those heady Carter administration days where peanuts were as precious as the Peso.

When will Mr. Motznik hand in his two-week notice and help prepare the world for Marilyn vos Savant’s more impressively intellectual sister?

Only time will tell, but it should be any day now.

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