Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man




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8/31/2011


Government sues to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:55 am

From the Associated Press: Government sues to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger

From the article: “The government contends that the acquisition of the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country by No. 2 AT&T would reduce competition and thus lead to price increases.”

You think? Look at the merger between XM and Sirius; consumers got screwed over before the FCC agreements expire at the end of this year, so prices will climb dramatically with the monopoly. Cutting the major cell-service players from four to three sure ain’t gonna make prices better for those of us who depend on them to keep in touch with loved ones…

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8/30/2011


Book Review: A Voice in the Box, by Bob Edwards

Filed under: Radio Today, Reviews and Impressions — Charlie Summers @ 12:17 pm

Ok, let me start out by admitting I am anything but unbiased. I have spent almost my entire adult life waking up to the voice of Bob Edwards, on Morning Edition and now on The Bob Edwards Show, to the extent where I’m not certain what I’ll do to get moving in the morning if the guy ever retires. He is an intimate friend, just as he is to millions more who start their day with him in their ear. So I’m not going to pretend this is an impartial review…I can’t help but bring the last thirty-plus years along.

Now that that’s out of the way, Mr. Edwards’ new memoir, A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio, begins with what must be the high point of his career, his induction into the Radio Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Edward R. Murrow and the following year Walter Lanier “Red” Barber. This is only a few months after being removed from the role of host on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition in what is certainly NPR’s most idiotically-handled decision ever, and only a few short weeks into his blind leap into the brave new world of satellite radio with his possible listening audience only a pittance of his former program’s weekly rating.

The rest of the book is simply how he started, how he survived, and how he prevailed.

From memories of his childhood in Louisville, KY and his burgeoning desire to be one of the voices in the box he listened to so often, through his first radio job, hired less for his skill at the microphone than you might think, through his work in the American Forces Radio and Television Service (those of us who are familiar with the Armed Forces Radio Service of the 1940’s might have trouble with the frequent name changes of this organization), to his graduate work at American University under the tutelage of his mentor, Ed Bliss, through his hiring at the then wet-behind-the-ears National Public Radio, Mr. Edwards displays a newsman’s respect for the facts while maintaining an irreverence that frequently appears unexpectedly. (When reading about his time in Korea, I swear one line actually made me hear a snare drum rim-shot.) Indeed, the book frequently sparkles when he steps a little away from reportage and allows us not only to see what he sees, but know what he feels.

This is nowhere more achingly apparent than during his removal from National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, the show he took over in a crunch for only a month and owned for over twenty-four years, becoming for many “the” voice of NPR. Those who have been reading this blog a very long time will remember my outrage at this kerfuffle (the rest of you will need to search the archives)…knowing that it seemed to make as little sense on the inside as it did to those of us on the outside is sparse comfort. That Mr. Edwards still can’t answer the simple question, “Why?” makes the whole sordid affair even more puzzling, if such is possible. I do know that, in the reading, I became angry all over again. National Public Radio screwed around with my mornings. No one screws with my mornings.

Oh, alright, it isn’t all doom-and-gloom; in fact, his recollections of this time become an almost medieval saga, complete with dragons, jesters, and even treachery and a Mata Hari…Arthurian legends meet the cold war. Some of the incidents, while serious, can’t help but make the reader laugh. And to completely mangle my metaphors, there’s even a little bit of the Keystone Kops in the stodgy management of National Public Radio, frequently more interested in their own image than in making sensible decisions. The months between NPR’s initial announcement and Mr. Edwards’ decision to leave play out in these pages more convoluted than most feature film plots…it’s almost unbelievable it really happened.

The rest of the book details his, “second career,” that as host of satellite radio’s The Bob Edwards Show. He can finally answer the question, “Who is your favorite interview subject?” (Father Greg Boyle, and I discovered through this book that I was involved in a tiny sideways fashion in the run-up to that interview), and he tells some behind-the-scenes stories about producing seven hours of radio every week (five one-hour morning shows for SiriusXM and the two-hour compilation distributed through PRI to public radio stations, Bob Edwards Weekend).

Throughout the book, Mr. Edwards discusses his personal successes and failures, triumphs and disappointments with honesty and modesty. It is the life of a man who rather inadvertently became a huge part of our national culture while being our surrogate on the national stage; someone who on the worst days reassured us with his calm delivery while asking the questions we wanted answered. The story he tells here is presented in the same manor, by that personal friend of ours who roused us from our sleep and rode beside us on our drive to work.

Since his career is far from over, I look forward to listening to this particular voice in the box, even though that “box” is changing radically from the simple radio he loved as a child, for many years to come. And I expect one day I’ll read the sequel to this memoir detailing the adventures he has yet to experience.

A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio; Bob Edwards. Univ. Press of Kentucky, $21.95. 236p; ISBN 978-0-8131-3450-5.

Bob Edwards is also the author of “Fridays With Red: A Radio Friendship” (1993) based on his Friday morning radio interviews with renowned broadcaster Red Barber, and “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism,” published in 2004. He is a national vice president of AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the host of “The Bob Edwards Show” every weekday morning on SiriusXM and the compilation show, “Bob Edwards Weekend” distributed to public radio stations by PRI.

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8/29/2011


School superintendent gives up $800k in pay

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:29 am

From the AP: School superintendent gives up $800k in pay

From the article: “Some people give back to their community. Then there’s Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, who’s really giving back. As in $800,000 - what would have been his compensation for the next three years.”

Pretty sure my over-paid, under-worked Superintendent won’t be giving anything back…

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8/25/2011


Twitter tracks MY links now!

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:38 pm

I’m again annoyed…for no reason, Twitter has decided to replace my short links with its own t.co tracking links. I’m changing the way Twitpress reports to Twitter to see if I can avoid it, and this post is just a test of that change.

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If it ain’t one darn thing, it’s another…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:24 pm

I am having quite a time with domains and DNS. Let me explain…

It all started the other day, when I decided to renew some domains I have under my control that will expire in the next few months. I currently have domains at two different registrars, and decided to move all of them to one. So before making the transfer, I decided to renew the domains at the one I decided to keep.

I couldn’t. Why? Because in the recent months they have changed their payment screen to require loading a javascript from GoogleAPIs. I don’t accept GoogleAPI connections, for the same reason I don’t allow most any connection to Google’s machines…Google knows far too much about us all, and I don’t want them to know much about me.

But without accepting that AJAX code directly from Google’s servers I couldn’t pay them. When I suggested to customer service they shouldn’t do something quite so stupid (it is a one-line change to set up a fall-back to serve the js code from their own servers if the connection to Google fails, and something every web programmer should do without thinking about it), they basically said I had no choice.

Of course, I do have a choice, so I am now moving the domains under my direct control off of their registry to another. But this is causing some…issues…what with bouncing multiple domains from registrar to registrar.

While I was at it, I registered a new domain name for future use (androidwithoutgoogle.com…see a pattern here?), registering it with the registrar that doesn’t expect me to share private information with the Big G of course. But I needed to add DNS records so the domain could be found.

For years, I’ve been using EveryDNS.Net, a free and excellent DNS service. Before it was sold to DynDNS, I routinely made a $20 donation every year for the service, and considered that cheap for the rock-solid service I was provided. But as I mentioned, it was sold. Things didn’t really change, or so I though. But when I got there this evening, I discovered…

DynDNS was closing down the free service on August 31st, and required me to “migrate” my domains to the paid-DynDNS static system. Please note…no one bothered to tell me this, and had I not added that domain today, I wouldn’t have found out until all of my domains disappeared from the Internet on the 1st of September! We’re not just talking about business sites like lofcom.com or hobby sites like oldradio.net, but sites like fotr.net and this blog, for heaven’s sake!

To say I am annoyed is putting it mildly…and while DynDNS only wants a five-spot to “migrate,” they can kiss me where the sun doesn’t shine if they think they’re going to get a penny from me after not bothering to contact me and let me know they were shutting down the free service!

(Easy, Charlie…take a deep breath…ok…better.)

So now I need to change the DNS servers for all of my domains, and need to do it pronto so there is no interruption in service. I found a few more free systems, and will post more about them in a future blog post, but it’s clear I’m going to be a little busy over the next few days to make certain there isn’t any disaster when the EveryDNS.net service is shuttered.

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8/1/2011


The End of the Bob Edwards Weekend Podcast

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:32 pm

This past weekend (July 30-31, 2011) is the final Bob Edwards Weekend podcast. Next weekend, and for the foreseeable future, there will no longer be a podcast of the Bob Edwards Weekend program, which means new shows will no longer be available on the Bob Edwards Show/Bob Edwards Weekend Forum. Before I go any farther, I need you to remember this was not the decision of the program staff, and I certainly didn’t have anything to do with it, so complaining to me or to the program’s staff won’t do you much good. And don’t complain to PRI, since they can’t do anything about it, either.

Complete information about what you can do is available on the forum.

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