Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
The Lex & Terry Funeral
February 22, 2003
"I like doing what I want to do."
"Lou knows more than Mel Kiper!"
-Brent Hatley, on the tour bus on Thursday night
Let me begin by saying what a fun time I had last night at the Something Corporate last night at The Masquerade in Ybor City. They put on a show well worth my $15 cover charge. It was one of those intense, fun, well-performed shows that I always enjoy as a music fan. I saw them play at the "Next Big Thing 2" concert in Clearwater in December 2002, but that was a festival-type show with a massive crowd. This was a packed house of 1,000 fans who came for a good time and left satisfied. I've never seen as much stage diving at a show in my life as I did at this one. Some nutcase fan got on top of a high speaker and did a crowd dive a la Eddie Vedder in the Pearl Jam video for "Even Flow". In the band's last song ("If You C Jordan"), lead singer Andrew McMahon did a stage dive off the top of the piano on the last note of the song. A perfectly-timed ending to a solid performance. The only disappointment of the night was the cancellation of scheduled supporting act The Juliana Theory (due to illness). But if you don't know Something Corporate, make every effort to hear them. They're a great band.
As I mentioned yesterday, the "Lex & Terry funeral" was a great experience. It was my first event to take part in as a member of Bubba's team... and it was a great time.
I pulled into the Clear Channel parking lot at about 3:30 in the afternoon on Thursday. One cardinal rule with Bubba is don't be late. So I made sure I was there with plenty of time to spare (we'd hoped to leave by 4-4:30, but didn't pull out until 4:45). I forgot my camera, but figured it wasn't worth risking missing the bus to drive back here to get it.
I walked into Bubba's office, and did a double take when I spotted a stripper sitting over on his couch. "It's okay, come on in," she said. Fine by me. I was in there working on some last-minute stuff, and then two more strippers came in. And you wonder why I went from TV into radio?!?!?!?! They needed to change, and I left the room to give them some privacy. Someone (I think Spice Boy) joked "what does it matter", being that they're strippers and all. One of the girls agreed, saying "Yeah, you can stay in here." Of course, what work would I have been able to accomplish (though more importantly, who cares?!?) The girls were there to do a photo shoot with the show crew for a story that's coming up in next month's Entertainment Weekly magazine. Very nice.
It didn't take long to load my stuff onto the bus. This was my first time on a luxury tour bus, and let me tell you, it's an AMAZING thing to behold. David Turner, owner of Luxury Transportation Services, made sure we were traveling in style. Leather couches in the front and a TV hooked up to a DirecTV satellite dish that self-tracks (that feature costs a cool $6,000). The bus had 12 bunks, and many of the bunks had their own mini-TV that showed what was being seen up front. In the back was a large leather covered seating area, and another TV with DVD (and hookups that we used to play PS2).
Unfortunately there's not a real direct route from Tampa to Jacksonville, so we had to take some side roads at some points of the trip. By about 6:30 we were hungry; Bubba wanted Taco Bell, so we drove till we found one. This was the first hilarious scene of the trip, as this guy working behind the counter at the Taco Bell/KFC hybrid restaurant was talking on the phone with his girlfriend and said the phrase "What are you fiddlin' to do?" Of course that was repeated ad nauseum on the bus (along with the "shut up and spot me" line from Oz that I referenced on here yesterday).
Brent, Co-Co and I had a long, in-depth conversation about the 2003 NFL Draft. Brent is a Saints fan; Co-Co roots for the Cowboys. Brent and I both agree that the Saints will take a linebacker with one of their first round picks (either E.J. Henderson from Maryland or Boss Bailey from Georgia). We disagree over what they'll do with the other pick (I think they'll take a CB; Brent believes the Saints are fine with their corners). We'll see. Then Co-Co weighed in with his thoughts on the Cowboys. They pick at #5. I think they'll take Kansas State CB Terence Newman with the pick, then come back in the second round and snap up one of the quality RB's that will be available at that spot. Co-Co made a face when I projected Newman to the Cowboys.
One interesting area of disagreement was about the value of trading up. Co-Co said he thought that Byron Leftwich is the best player in the draft (I agree). But he said it wouldn't be worth it for the Cowboys to trade their first this year and a second next year to leapfrog the Bears and snag him (Houston wants to trade down from #3 in a major way). I tend to agree that it's not a good move in that scenario, but only because the Cowboys already have quite a bit invested at the QB position. And, I think Newman would be a perfect fit -- he's for sure the best corner in the draft, and could possibly be the first defender taken. Co-Co countered that the Cowboys need to do something for their offense. Again, we'll see what they do. We then discussed how it'd probably be more likely for Arizona to jump up from #6 to #3 to get Leftwich; the Bears take Arizona State DE Terrell Suggs at #4 and the Cowboys get Newman at #5, leaving Utah OT Jordan Gross at #6 for the Texans, who desperately need help at the offensive tackle position (lest QB David Carr sustain another year of hits like he did in 2002).
Well we were a little loud with our conversation, I suppose. About a half hour into it, Bubba came out from the back. As I mentioned on here yesterday, it was hilarious. "Enough of this draft crap! I can't take it anymore! 3 for 5, 5 for 3, conditional picks, I'm sick of it!" It was pretty damn funny.
We finally made it to Jacksonville, but we needed to stop by the Clear Channel studios to do a TV deal. See, Clear Channel owns two TV stations in Jacksonville (Fox affiliate WAWS and CBS affiliate WTEV), so they set up an interview with Bubba. The reporter was Josh Talkington, who did a great job. He's got the skills to be in a major market. I wish him luck.
From the CC Jacksonville compound, we ended up at the Adam's Mark hotel, this really nice place in downtown Jacksonville. The show rented out four rooms, but that was just fine with us having all the sleeping room on the bus. Drank some cold beers, played some PS2 and had a fun time. And boy, did we look out of place at the hotel, like Jake & Elwood at the fancy restaurant when they were putting the band back together in Blues Brothers. I'm not sure what the ministers convention thought of us.
Back on the bus, it was hilarious as Kato Clem and Co-Co went back and forth trying to win in a NASCAR game with this underperforming UPS car. Co-Co became especially frustrated by the view changing to the "first person" outlook (which Kato somehow managed to switch during a run). Brent and Damien and Whitey and I watched and laughed. Spice had a room; he had to get up extra-early to prepare for the precession route.
The 5 AM-ish wakeup came early. But I was excited -- the parade was about to begin. We headed over to River City Parking. Unfortunately, the hotel gave us bad info, providing directions to the River City Brewery. Oops. It didn't help that half of downtown Jacksonville is under construction (okay, that might be an exaggeration, but it FELT that way at least). Finally we found the broadcast location.
There were a lot of little things that needed to be done -- t-shirt sales set up (handled well by Whitey Pippen), papers run back and forth, etc. As a non on-air part of the team, I had the flexibility to go where I needed to get things done quick without being asked for autographs (getting everything from a bottled water for Big Show to a cup of coffee for Crystal Gunns to a Bud Light for Hulk Hogan to t-shirts for the Security crew). I checked with Ned and Garnett at one point to make sure they were doing alright, and they noted how I was going up and down the stairs to the stage alot. Anything to help make the show go as smoothly as possible, y'know?
I mentioned yesterday how amazing Bubba was in handling the crowd and the live broadcast, and I don't think I can emphasize that enough. Because you have to remember, there are so many variables and different things to remember. You have to entertain a live audience, while describing things accurately and compellingly for the radio listeners, all while handling the talent and the Q and A side of things. Bubba has the capacity to spin almost any scenario or situation into gold.
Of course, some things are an easy slam dunk. Like the girls out of the crowd who did various provocative things on stage (like the wet t-shirt girl). And then there's Crystal Gunns, who literally used her breasts to batter people's heads like a boxer going for a knockout punch. Even Test from the WWE looked a little stunned after he got the knocker treatment.
The fans were great. They came out with all sorts of crazy things on their cars, from the "Bubba's Navy" boat to Lex & Terry hanging from nooses to a likeness of Lex bending Terry over (if you know what I mean). The guys in the fake fros were great, especially the one dude with the three-sizes-too-small Knight Rider t-shirt.
Let me state that I have no ill will toward Lex & Terry. They do their thing, and we do ours. But I think that the results speak for themselves (them being dropped in West Palm, Fort Myers and Macon after we were brought in and them losing to us Men 18-34 and Persons 18-34 in their home market on Jacksonville). And now Bubba has me to handle the syndication side of things. I'm excited about our chances.
It's hard to beat hot wings from Hooters. They gave us two buckets full, and I chowed down. I was really really hungry, and they hit the spot. Then I slept for most of the trip back. Not a bad gig, to be sure.
A major thank you is in order for the people of Jacksonville. The city was Bubba's first syndication affiliate. Because of Bubba's success there, he's looking to expand nationwide. Because of that, he hired me. So, people of Jacksonville, I owe you a major debt of gratitude. Win us 25-54 and I'll be even more grateful.
This week will be very busy, as we look to get the promotional packets created and then mailed out. Then we'll see how it goes. But I like our chances. Look, we can provide strong numbers for (in many cases) less money than it would cost a station to fund its own morning show. We've shown a willingness to go above and beyond to visit our affiliate cities (like going to Hartford twice within six months of sign-on there, several trips to Jacksonville, Macon, West Palm, Fort Myers, etc.) But ultimately radio is a business. And Bubba means good business. If we can take you from 13th to 1st place in some of those key demos that we dominate (like M18-34 and P18-34), you'd have to be crazy to pass us up. We've proven that we can win going head-to-head with the other top syndicated morning shows out there. And I'm excited about helping some of our soon-to-be affiliates make money. Lots of it.
On the non-radio tip, it's raining pretty hard in Tampa right now. I had planned to go get a haircut today, and I might still tonight, but I don't feel like fighting the rain again (already did that when I went to work out earlier). This whole thing of having enough free time to work out consistently is great. I'm getting stronger in the weight room, and I'm feeling great doing the full cardio workout. This is wonderful.