Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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April 2005
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OTR Fans, Heads-up…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 5:14 pm

On next Monday’s The Bob Edwards Show, after a check-in with David Broder of the Washington Post to talk politics, Mary Margaret McBride will be the featured topic. Bob will interview Susan Ware on her book, “It’s One O’clock and Here Is Mary Margaret McBride: A Radio Biography.”

If you’re an XM subscriber, be sure to tune in to XMPR, Channel 133, Monday at 8:00am EDT, repeated 9:00am EDT and again at 9:00pm EDT, also available all day long at (If you’re not currently a subscriber, simply pick up a radio over the weekend… ;)

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Wisconsin Public Radio interviews Bob Edwards

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 5:34 pm

There was an interesting interview this afternoon with Bob Edwards, conducted by Ben Merens of Wisconsin Public Radio (and to be archived on their site eventually so you can hear it as well). The opening was a montage of audio, apparently originating from the CD Bob took with him on tour last year, although there was a section from the first XM Bob Edwards Show, too. Then it lead into a conversation between the two broadcasters, with calls from WPR listeners.

Some interesting information came out; Edwards did schedule an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon about Simon’s new novel (”Pretty Birds”), and the “powers-that-be” at NPR quashed the interview. However, next Tuesday Bob will interview on his program Susan Stamburg; when asked by Merens if she would get into any trouble for the interview, Bob simply said, “I don’t imagine they would mess with Susan Stamburg, do you? I wouldn’t…”

Lots of listener calls, containing the respect and reverence you’d expect. Bob did make a mistake when asked if his XM show was archived anywhere for listening in the middle of the day…it is. XM subscribers can easily register to the on-line listening service (now included in the basic rate), and listen anytime until 7:00am Central the next morning. The show is looped all day long, and the entire week is then looped over the weekend, repeating every five hours.

Check out and enjoy the interview, where the tables are turned and Bob is forced to do, in his words, the “heavy lifting.”

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A Public Response to NPR’s Ombudsman

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:20 pm


The NPR “Ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, has posted an article calling for, “Some Closure on Bob Edwards’ Departure.” After reading it, I have to admit becoming quite angry with the assumptions, inaccuracies, and areas of admitted ignorance in the piece. I found it quite impossible to avoid responding to him, and to NPR in general, in part to complain/correct the errors, and in part to let them know that some of us do not simply, “forgive and forget.”

The following letter was sent to Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ken Stern, Kevin Klose, Jay Kernis, Ellen McDonnell, and Morning Edition at NPR, along with copies to NPR Board Members Cephas Bowles, Tim Eby, Rob Gordon, Bruce Haines, Scott Hanley, Michael Lazar, Ellen Rocco, John Stark, JoAnn Urofsky, and Mark Vogelzang.

I urge you to post comments about my letter here, and should you, too, be moved to contact NPR with your thoughts on Mr. Dvorkin’s column, please post a copy of it here in the comments section so other readers can be inspired to write their own.

   I am certain you are buoyed by your recent press release proclaiming “Morning Edition” with a 6% gain. Indeed, the claptrap posted this week by the “Ombudsman” made it clear you are thrilled to the point of gloating. I hope your new listeners are as generous as those of us who for almost thirty years supported NPR through member station donations, volunteer work, and “word-of-mouth” advertising to anyone who would listen. Of course, after last year’s disaster where NPR (and in many cases those individuals I write to now) did everything they could to alienate those long-term supporters, many of us have refused to give a dime to member stations. We refuse to funnel support to an organization we can no longer trust.

   I only mention this because some of you sarcastically commented at the time that Mr. Edwards would be nothing but “a footnote” in a year. Mr. Dvorkin’s column clearly shows that to be a wild underestimation. It’s been a year, and for many of us, your “dumbing down” of the morning program with the “Barbie-and-Ken-happy-talk” nonsense, apparently to match the limited intelligence of your management and target listener pool, is something we will neither forgive nor forget. The fact you were forced to drop that insipid format and essentially emulate Mr. Edwards’ version of the program with a lesser substitute is a clear acknowledgement that you were wrong, and achieved nothing but his removal. Congratulations, because in the process, you also achieved the removal of many longtime listeners…and supporters.

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If You Subscribe to XM, Don’t Miss the Edwards Show…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 11:43 am

Today’s The Bob Edwards Show is mostly a “Best of Bob” episode, with a rerun of the interview with Phil Jackson (Bob’s heading off to Cheney, Washington and the “Get Lit!” Festival - yeah, guy, we keep track of you…). But starting off the show is an interview with 2005’s National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras, and if you have children, grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, you owe it to yourself to listen to this bright young teacher talk about his profession, and his students. Believe me, it will fill you with hope for the future of education, no matter how bleak the picture sometimes appears.

If you aren’t a subscriber to XM (and why the heck not?), take advantage of their three-day free trial of the on-line service. That way, you’ll not only be able to listen to today’s Edwards Show, but also be able to catch the show from Tuesday, which dealt with the 10-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and is in the opinion of someone who has listened to all of the shows one of the best hours of radio they’ve yet produced, and that’s saying something.

(All during the weekend on channel 133, the past week’s Edwards programs are rotated, so each show is re-run every five hours. Check the schedule, linked above, for details on teh week’s programs.)

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It’s time for TV TurnOff Week again…

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 4:50 pm

…and again, the school (or more accurately, the PTO, even though it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference) is again coercing my daughter not to watch “Between the Lions” for a week, assuming that she is like the rest of the PTO organizer’s kids and veges out on television all the time. Here’s a hint, do-gooders…some of us believe in a well-rounded education for our children, and do not allow them to waste time watching TV all week. (But then, each year I attend the first PTO meeting, check the balance sheet and projected spending sheet to discover the titanic waste of money and energy the former cheerleader-wannabe’s who “operate” it are putting into their misguided attempt to make school “fun” and “a party” for the kids instead of actually supporting the education they are supposedly there to receive, and leave disgustedly until the next year when I foolishly give them another shot at acting like grown-ups. I support my school, and my daughter’s education. That doesn’t mean I have to support the PTO and their brain-damaged decisions, though - I know they can’t figure it out, but the two are not the same thing.)

Anyway, since very little has changed in my feelings on this nonsense, I will instead refer you to the longer post I made on the subject last year, TV-Turnoff Week…What a Waste. I still believe that it is useless for those children who’s television watching is already controlled, and useless for those children who’s television watching is not already controlled. It’s another useless, “Just say no” campaign to make do-gooders feel good while accomplishing nothing.

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I’m Getting There…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 2:02 pm

I have a whole bunch of pics to post from the Cincy convention, but unfortunately I still haven’t had the time to get them together; since we got home on Sunday night, I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get caught up with all the “real-world” things I need to do.

Add to that today having my time wasted by being unnecessarily insulted by the sock puppet of an old “friend” (someone I saw at Cincinnati, actually), and having the Windows box decide to hard-fail. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, other than wasting the next four or five hours getting the machine back together (and you all wonder why the office has moved to primarily linux?).

But honest, over the next few days I’m determined to get the photos together and posted, along with some screen caps from the videotape I shot of the recreations. Pics and stories to come as soon as I can get the time, I promise…

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Cincinatti Convention…first pics

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 12:33 am

Apologies things are so sparse; blame the Ramada Plaza, for having the WiFi so painfully screwed up. Anyway, a few precious pics until tomorrow or Monday when I can get more of the many photos I took posted…

Director Don Ramlow begins the fan tryouts for the weekend’s recreations.

Hal Stone prepares.

Rosemary Rice and Hal Stone rehearse “Escape.”

Hal Stone.

Rosemary Rice.

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Cincy Problems…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, News — Charlie Summers @ 11:36 pm


I’m really sorry I haven’t posted more about the events at Cincy…there seems to be a problem with the in-room Internet access (it’s non-existant so far as any of us can tell). I can access in the lobby, but running between the rrom and the lobby to work/post is getting sa little wearying.

I have some pics from this evening’s re-creation, which I’ll post as soon as I can. Honest.

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Onward to Cincinnati…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:44 am

Just a reminder that we’ll be reporting live from the Cincinnati OTR and Nostalgia convention this weekend. I’ll post as much as I can find time for, so those of you unable to attend can join in all the fun!

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A Quick Personal Comment about Support for the Web/Mail…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:32 am


Before I do anything else, I want to thank all the folks who support the Nostalgic Rumblings blog and other lists, web services, etc., whether by financial support, moral support, or simply posting questions, answers, or comments; it’s because of all of you that the OldRadio.Network exists in the first place. I’d also like to note that no payment is ever required to visit the web sites or receive the mailing lists…not now, not ever; or at least as long as I’m operating them, anyway.

That said, there is some need for support. Prices increase, time investments increase as well, and for various personal reasons my company is increasingly unable to subsidize the “hobby” aspects of the server, so I’d like that side of things to be a little bit more self-sufficient. At the same time, though, as some people have noted, I don’t routinely post notices requesting financial support the way Bill did…it’s a little uncomfortable for me, and sometimes feels just a bit unseemly.

The web services, as you can see, do have small single advertisements at the top of each page (compare this to the bazillion of ads thrown on the top, sides, and bottom of most other website pages). The unfortunate truth is that they bring in very little income. The Barnes and Nobel book sales are in the same category; for the past EIGHTEEN MONTHS, we’ve received a few cents over $25.00 as commission for sales through The Nostalgia Pages/The Nostalgic Rumblings Blog. I’ve been seriously considering the addition of advertisements onto the top of the mailing lists, and there are quite a few dealers who would be happy to advertise on the lists. But I think that would be ugly and annoying, particularly to those visually-impared subscribers who use software to read the lists. Besides, I’ve held out this long on general principle, so I couldn’t bring myself to add advertisements now.

To rectify all these different issues, and after considerable thought and research, I’ve decided to take a two-prong approach to making the old-time radio/nostalgic TV aspects just a little bit more self-supporting, and it’s to explain these two prongs I send this over-long message. To those subscribed to all of the mailing lists on the server who will receive multiple copies, I apologize in advance.

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TiVo plans to replace old commercials with new

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 7:56 pm

From Ars Technica: TiVo and Comcast announced yet another advertising innovation which will insert updated commercials into older, recorded programming.
TiVo plans to replace old commercials with new

The line that scares the hell out of me is, “Plans are for the companies to track peoples’ viewing habits and eventually target the ads on a per-household basis.” So any time anyone says they aren’t watching you, not just tracking the data “in aggregate,” feel free to call them a liar. Yes, Virginia, TiVo is watching everything you do, and attaching it to your account information.

Big Brother is indeed watching…

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Postal Service Seeks 2-Cent First-Class Stamp Increase

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 5:43 pm

From the AP via Yahoo: The post office wants an extra 2-cents-worth for its stamps. However, at the same time Friday that the agency proposed the stamp price increase, it also invited Congress to eliminate the need for it.
Yahoo! News - Postal Service Seeks 2-Cent Stamp Increase

You know what frosts me about this? First-Class mail is what keeps the Postal Service in the black, yet most mail sent is bulk-rate advertising junk. It’s long past time the Postal Service stopped forcing bill payers to subsidize the crap companies continually foist on consumers (be honest…how many unsolicited credit card offers have you received in the past month?). If you want to raise rates, it’s time to raise the rates of commercial bulk mail and leave the First-Class rates alone.

What? That would mean less bulk mail would be sent? So what the bloody heck is wrong with that?

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NPR REALLY doesn’t Want to Hear from Listners…

Filed under: General, News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 1:52 pm

NPR is pulling itself farther and farther away from its listeners.

Last Saturday, I sent a short note to (the email address for Weekend Edition Saturday, one of the precious few NPR programs I still listen to); it was no big deal, actually just a wise-*ssed comment about something Scott Simon said on the program:

Subject: Anniversaries…


Scott Simon said, “You think NPR gets a little carried away with
anniversaries…” How about that fever-pitched celebration of Morning
Edition’s 25th Anniversary?

Oh, right, there _were_ two 15-second top-of-the-hour mentions…

Charlie Summers (who just couldn’t resist)

Ok, so I wasn’t asking for a response. But clearly, NPR has decided to make it d*mned hard for anyone to communicate to them any comments on their programming. Today (Wednesday), I received an auto-response from NPR saying, in part:

We are no longer using for the show’s listener mail. Now, ALL correspondence must go through our Web site!

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Looking for an alternative to Starbucks?

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:03 am

Try The Starbucks Delocator, a site dedicated to indi coffee shops that don’t have the same bland look. If you want some character with your coffee, hit The Starbucks Delocator.

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Everyone heads to Rome…

Filed under: Television, News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 8:35 am

With the death of Pope John Paul II this past weekend, everyone is heading to Rome. Anchormen, fluff-show hosts, everyone seems to be on a plane to Rome to host their shows from there. Even local radio and television stations are shoving anchors on jets to “report” from St. Peter’s Square.

Who are the “consultants” who are telling everyone this is a good idea, and will someone please strangle them in their sleep?

I realize using common sense is a “radical” way of looking at things, but let me tell you what we need as news consumers. We do not need anchors who still think they are reporters; they aren’t, and they need to just get over it. If you want to report, then quit the anchor desk and go back to the field (without waiting for a scandle to send you there)…the last thing we as news consumers need is a bunch of yahoos trying to reclaim their youth jumping into the middle of a story they do not understand. Seriously, guys…sit at your desk, introduce a story by someone who does know what they are talking about, get out of the way of the information coming to us, and stop trying to be something you aren’t. You’re paid the big bucks to be an anchor…so anchor already. And please…don’t “interview” the reporters on-scene. Force these reporters to actually file stories, well-researched and on-point, instead of this nonsense of an anchor debriefing a reporter on-screen or on-mic. Drives me crazy…I don’t want a reporter to be treated as an expert (he ain’t), I want to see and hear the reporter interviewing a real expert in the field.

It’s this same misplaced sense of needing anchors to “report” that caused NPR last year to fire the only decent host Morning Edition ever had so that two bland quasi-”reporters” could waste our time pretending to understand stories they parachute into. When that last bastion of “legitimate news” in this country bails out on us and starts following the highly-paid and brain-damaged “consultants” into dumbing-down our news instead of giving us what we want and need, it’s time to start listening to the BBC World Service and stop supporting the system that is more interested in ratings than in giving us solidly-reported news by professionals, anchored by someone we can trust.

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XM Radio Goes Up $3 Today

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 2:43 am

Yeah, today is the day XM Radio goes up three bucks. And to tell you the truth, I don’t mind that it’s going up three bucks, because I love the service (especially XMPR, the BBC World Service for the finest in news reportage, C-SPAN Radio for the same hands-off coverage of the Washington, DC scene as you get on C-SPAN television, and my daughter can’t live without Absolutely Mindy after school on XM Kids) - but I am a little miffed about their stated reasons.

According to their letter to current subscribers, they, “recently announced an agreement with Major League Baseball® to provide play-by-play coverage for every team, all season long, beginning this spring.” I’m certain that cost them a pretty penny, but it doesn’t mean anything whatsoever to me. If I listen to a half-hour of play-by-play baseball this season, it’ll be a miracle…I haven’t listened to nor watched baseball since Earl Weaver coached the Baltimore Orioles team including Boog Powell, the two Robinsons, and Davy Johnson. They also talk about their other sports offerings…again, ho-hum. I know many people out there care about sports, but I’ve never understood the fascination.

But here’s the piece that tells most of the story; “Beginning April 2, 2005, we will expand the basic service package to include two premium services at no additional charge — the High Voltage channel (previously $1.99/month) and XM Radio Online (previously $3.99/month).”

Pay attention here…they’re basically telling us that the “shock-jock” team of Opie and Anthony (which are the High Voltage channel) can’t gather enough subscribers to pay the freight. And I can understand why…during one of the weeks when XM previewed High Voltage to all subscribers, I listened to about fifteen minutes, and won’t be listening again. These guys may be loud, but they aren’t clever, nor funny; at least not if you’re over fifteen and stopped tittering at dirty words. These guys make throwing up at a frat party look like a good time…it’s completely understandable that relatively few people want to pay extra to hear their nonsense.

And XM Radio Online, I have to admit, never did make any sense to me. One of the main selling points for XM Satellite Radio is the amazing quality of the music…so tell me again why I’d want to stream it through the Windoze Media Mangler again? I mean, yeah, I’ll probably sign up for it (screw it, it’s now part of the package I’m paying for), and might even use it a time or two to hear an edition of The Bob Edwards Show I missed in the morning run, but I cannot imagine spending much time listening to a tinny Internet version of 70’s on 7. They have none of the talk-radio channels I listen to (with the sole exception of The Bob Edwards Show looping to replace all the other wonderful shows on XMPR), so how much of a “bonus” is this really going to be for me? Truth is, my guess is this “service” didn’t go over as well as they had anticipated, either, and they have to make their nut by getting the rest of us to pay for the formerly “premium” service knowing few of us will actually use it.

Yes, XM Satellite Radio is worth the $13/month. And yes, I’m still a loyal subscriber of the service even though the price has gone up those three bucks. But I’m not even a little happy about the obvious reasons for the increase. Personally, I’d have prefered they simply dump the O&A channel if it wasn’t paying for itself, drop the Internet service if they couldn’t make it viable, and charge a three buck premium for all those baseball games I won’t be listening to. But the other two premium services must have made it pretty clear to them that baseball would never break its nut without the rest of us shelling out for it, too…

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