Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

On the Road Again July 20, 2007

Driving through Hell in Buffalo and Toronto

After loading the CRV, I was on the road at 8:30 AM and headed northwest towards a little area called Spanish, Ontario, Canada, for 9 days of relaxation, fishing and general keep-me-out-of-the-house fun. Most of the drive was uneventful with the exception of a few brief showers here and there. By the time I hit Rochester, NY, the Sun was out for the remainder of the day.

While driving through my least favorite city on this planet, Buffalo, I hit the first traffic jammof the day. Somebody needs to explain to the folks at the NYS Thruway Authority that E-Z Pass was designed to reward drivers who invested in the tag. The Thruway Authority in Buffalo decided that E-Z Pass should only have two lanes, and both lanes have the old “stop-and-wait-for-the-gate” technology. Traffic control at other tolls, bridges and the border is none existent. In fact, I think we will wait until midnight on our return to go through U.S. Customs to avoid the five-mile back-up we saw today.



The Panic in Boston Begins July 19, 2007

Red Sox Fans Looking Over Their Shoulders

The first signs of panic have started in Boston. According to one blogger, the Boston sports radio station WEEI is fielding call after call from Boston fans sensing another Yankee comeback. This comes on the heels of the Sox losing two of three in Kansas City while the Yankees are in the middle of a five-game winning streak.

More importantly, the 12-game lead that the Red Sox enjoyed two weeks ago has dwindled to seven games. The Yankes are only six games back in the loss column and have two games in hand, and seventy games to go.



Rangers’ Trade Creates Questions

Cullen Trade Leaves Some Fans Bewildered

On Tuesday, July 17, the New York Rangers announced that they had traded center Matt Cullen to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, forward Joe Barnes and a 2008 third-round draft pick. The trade has received a mixed reception from Ranger fans. The move is largely regarded as an attempt by the Rangers to create more cap space, presumably to sign restricted free agents Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa. There has also been speculation that the Rangers are pursuing Toronto free agent Michael Peca.

Cullen, who will turn 31 this season, was an important part of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup. Although Cullen did not live up to expectations in his first season as a Ranger, his hustle, speed and tenacity were respected by many fans. His effort in the drive to make the playoffs, and his performance in the playoffs, seemed to hold promise for some fans.

On the other hand, it is possible that management felt they were overpaying Cullen who became the third-line center with the acquisition of free agents Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Cullen disappointed many fans with his frequent failure to hit the net with shots and his inability to finish (score on good opportunities).



Miss American Pie Lives July 18, 2007


Announcing the launch of my new American Pie web blog

I am pleased to announce the initial launch of my new blog, Miss American Pie, an analysis of the lyrics of the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. This site was inspired by my trip to Clear Lake, IA, and a longstanding desire to help people understand the magical imagery in McLean’s fabulous work.

While there have been many interpretations of the song, Don McLean has not answered any questions about the “meanings” contained in the song. An artist or poet does not explain their work. If it truly as an artisitic masterpiece, such a work is open to many interpretations. That allows a broader audience to develop their own meanings, their own understandings.

My intent is not to force an interpretation. In some cases, I was able to provide clues because of my familiarity with McLean’s home town and because we attended the same high school. For example, I hope that I have offered a probable solution to the riddle of “the sacred store.”

I hope you visit and look at the great pictures from Clear Lake, Iowa, the location of the crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens on February 3, 1959 … the day the music died


CBS Doesn’t Know Jack about Radio July 16, 2007

The Oldies Return to WCBS-FM in New York, NY

The author is a former Oldies DJ for WDAQ-FM in Danbury, CT, and WCZX-FM in Poughkeepsie, NY. The former owner of Bluboo Radio, one of the Internet’s first on-demand radio programs, has a Master of Science in Education, a minor in Journalism and has studied the history of Rock and Roll and radio broadcasting.

On July 12, 2007, at 1:01 PM, WCBS Radio started its attempt to reverse the betrayal of its loyal listener base by canning Jack-FM, its voice-tracked, computer operated jukebox, and bringing back the successful Oldies format dumped unceremoniously on June 3, 2005, in favor of Jack-FM.

According to The Journal News, WCBS-FM will follow the trend of most oldies formats by playing hits from the 1960’s and the 1970’s, ignoring the 1950’s except through some special programming. While it will be good to hear Bob Shannon and Dan Taylor again, the old familiar voices of “Cousin Brucie” Morrow and his contemporaries will be sorely missed.

The cautious radio listener will avoid being dazzled by this blatant publicity move on the part of CBS Radio, which is still suffering the throes of ratings losses as a result of its mismanagement over the last two years. Besides the Jack-FM fiasco, CBS Radio took a major ratings plunge when it callously fired Don Imus. In short, they are likely to lose a major lawsuit that will require them to pay-off the remaining $30 million on Imus’ contract. In that light, this is a move by CBS Radio to garner radio ratings and advertising revenues, not to be penitent to the listeners it betrayed.

If you cannot forgive CBS Radio, and you really have no reason to forgive them, there are plenty of great oldies stations to choose from in the metro New York market, including: WVLT-FM (92.1, Vineland, NJ), WTKU (Cool 98.2, Ocean City, NJ), WJRZ-FM (100.1, Manahawkin), WMTR-AM (1250, Morristown, NJ), WMID-AM (1340, Atlantic City), WNNJ-AM (1360, Newton, NJ), WHTG-AM (1410, Eatontown, NJ), WGHT-AM (1500, Pompton Lakes), WRNJ-AM (1510, Hackettstown, NJ) and WREF-AM (850, Danbury, CT).

If you still don’t think this move is self-serving, you may ask yourself why the publicity department has already rewritten the Wikipedia article about “Oldies” to put WCBS-FM back at the forefront of Oldies Radio. This is not true yet and may not be true ever again.



The Day the Music Died July 14, 2007

Clear Lake, IA

The site of the Plane Crash on February 3, 1959

On the Road, Day Eleven

I left Albert Lea later than I hoped, but the drive to Clear Lake, Iowa, was quick. As I drove along, I thought about the events of the early morning hours of February 3, 1959. My eyes welled-up often as I thought of that awful crash in a corn field that took the life of Buddy Holly (one of my heroes), J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), Ritchie Valens and Roger Peterson (the pilot). I could not help but think of the many ironies connected with my visit to Clear Lake.

First, as a former on-air deejay at Oldies 97 (WCZX-FM, Poughkeepsie, NY) and producer/intern/deejay for “Super 70’s Saturday Night” on WDAQ-FM (Danbury, CT), I have a certain expertise when it comes to the music of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I also was a student in “The History of Rock and Roll” at SUNY Oneonta in 1978 … the first time such a course was offered in New York State. Without sounding too old, I have a very vivid recollection of Rock and Roll from 1963 forward; I’ve read and studied music from 1954 to 1980 and the roots of rock. IMHO, Buddy has always been the single greatest influence on rock, not only through his music but also as an inspiration to other major artists (The Beatles, for example).

Another connection between Buddy Holly and me goes to Don McLean, the singer/songwriter of “American Pie” … a tribute to Buddy Holly. McLean and I attended the same high school (Iona Prep, a few years apart), so many of the references in the song make perfect sense to me. I hope to set up a Buddy Holly page next week with an interpretation of the lyrics to “American Pie” and some great photos for you to download.



Payback Time for MSNBC July 8, 2007

First, I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to Catcleopatrick for a very nice referral on the MSNBC discussion board, post #756. You are tops, Cat.

In message 758, Cat supplies the following information: “Cable News Ratings from Imus’ last day until Friday. Fox & Friends: + 30%. American Morning: + 26%. Robin & Co. + 45%. Morning Joe: – 68%. Let me say it again. a loss of 68%. Minus 68%. I.E., two-thirds of the audience. A 68% loss. Even Mika trying to light the MSNBC building on fire in tribute to Al Sharpton’s 1995 Harlem demonstration won’t improve the MINUS 68% STATUS AT MSNBC. How is Brian Williams doing? More to be revealed.”

The Cable News ratings tell a very dramatic story. A 68% loss in audience is total self-destruction, a catastrophe beyond any recoverable levels. This is what happens when Corporate America listens to a loud, uninformed segment of the population and makes decisions based on panic rather than sound, loyal thinking. Despite MSNBC’s attempts to spin the story to make themselves and CBS Radio look like heroes, they simply come out looking like the rats they truly are.