Friday, June 12, 2009

12 JUN 09: One Down, Three to Go

The poker night was successful, with a top-five finish. But because of that, the poker night was also late. I was driving home around 11:00 p.m. - and it was an amazing ride. I've never been able to hit so many green lights in a row on Manchester Expressway.

Tempting late-night things are lurking, when I drive home on Manchester Expressway. Now don't get the wrong idea about this. I'm talking about as many as three doughnut shops. I only know about the Platinum Club from the arrests mentioned on TV.

I said no to Dunkin Donuts on Manchester Expressway, then chose to turn left at Veterans Parkway to avoid Golden Donuts down the road. But I couldn't resist the third option, and turned in at Dunkin Donuts downtown. Yes, my resistance was D-D-feated.

I parked the car to walk inside, and then noticed something strange. A man was lying on the sidewalk, next to the Dunkin Donuts building. That guy on TV who used to say, "Time to make the doughnuts" has to take a break sometime....

The giant "D handle" for entering Dunkin Donuts was locked. A woman inside made the universal motion for me to use the drive-through lane -- rotating a steering wheel back and forth, like so many drivers of bumper cars at Zoo City USA.

I responded to the pantomime by pointing to the man lying on the sidewalk. The Dunkin Donuts employee indicated she knew he was there. But exactly why was he there? Did he try to rob the place, and got knocked unconscious by a baker with a rolling pin?

Not knowing the answer, I returned to my car and went around the small shopping center to the drive-thru speaker. I've admittedly never felt comfortable ordering doughnuts this way. I want to see my options, in case something new and interesting is on the shelves - or maybe the long-awaited comeback of glazed oat bran doughnuts from the 1980s.

Dunkin Donuts had two double chocolates, and that often works well for me. As I rolled around to the window, two Columbus Police cars approached quickly on Veterans Parkway - with lights on and sirens blaring. They were coming for the man lying on the sidewalk, almost as if he was a pro-croissant extremist from France.

"That didn't seem necessary," the woman helping me at the Dunkin Donuts window said to no one in particular. But I learned later at home of a gunfire exchange on the other side of Columbus, which left a man dead and a sheriff's officer wounded. One anxious moment in law enforcement can lead to another - and the mayor DOES want people to know our police are on the job.

One of the officers started asking loud questions of the man on the sidewalk, who didn't seem to move through any of it. "Are you in diabetic shock?" was one of them. This doughnut shop DOES double as a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop, after all....

I never saw the man move or heard him say a thing, but one of the officers confirmed he was breathing. That was good news - especially since gas stations with free air were on the other side of 15th Street.

"I saw him chowing down on an Arby's sandwich," the woman inside Dunkin Donuts told the police officer. "He might have choked on it." This is why I wait to eat breakfast until after the morning jog is over....

By this time my bag of doughnuts was in hand and paid for. As I pulled out on Veterans Parkway to go home, a third city vehicle approached the store - an ambulance which also had its flashing lights on. At least its siren wasn't blaring. Otherwise, the crew might have been forced to handle a sleep apnea case nearby.

As of this writing, I have no idea exactly what happened Wednesday night. But a case like this explains why the downtown Dunkin Donuts locks its doors at 10:00 p.m., and only sells drive-thru items overnight. Strange "Munchkins" can only go out, instead of sneaking in.

The best guess I can make for the man lying on the sidewalk is that he might be someone living nearby at the House of Mercy. Perhaps he's in the midst of some kind of dependancy treatment. Or then again, maybe an old-timer returned to this corner of Columbus and was stunned to see what's replaced the old Frisky Whiskey liquor store.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader recently longed for the return of Talkline. That brought a message from the long-time host of that radio show....

One of your readers sent me to your blog the other day when the discussion of ratings on Talkline and WRCG was mentioned [29 May]. I thought I would help you in providing the information you were writing about. WRCG actually lost Rush at the beginning of 2001(not 2003) as we decided because of the change mandated by Premiere to pull the plug on the show before he took back his microphone to start January. Talkline was not effected by any loss of Rush but certainly the station was. Just for the record, Talkline consistently during the ten year period I hosted 1991-2001 was higher rated per share than the 12-3p period as WRCG was built on local news and information. Rush was a great product, and still is, but was not the cornerstone either ratings or revenue of the station at the time. Talkline was consistently during its time period either the No. 1 or No. 2 listened to station (12+) as surveyed. WRCG was consistently in the top 3 of stations. Talkline continued to be highly rated through the time that Doug Graham hosted the show as well. Its demise, and the stations, can more to directly tied to the change of ownership than any thing else. Chuck McClure Sr. was committed to WRCG as the flagship of the company. This wasn't true of those from the Northeast who came in and didn't understand its importance. WDAK has benefited from the bad management decisions and the change of tower location which resulted in a very limited signal.

In addition, our coverage on TV 16 from 1991-2001 had a great impact on the impact of Talkline. I understand from broadcast experts, that I might have been the first to have my show on daily television. That extended(through cable viewers) the reach of the show into many homes the AM signal did not reach at the time.

For talk radio to ever be a force in the local market again, the product needs to be on a good signal FM with a commitment to a local talk show (quit worrying about who calls in) and develop the connection with the listeners that any good radio station makes.

Hope this helps and keep up the good work on your blog keeping the people in Columbus informed!

Doug Kellett

Thanks to Doug for setting the radio record straight - but what would Rush Limbaugh think if you called him a "product?" Wouldn't that be a bit like trying to tell Newt Gingrich he's a "citizen of the world"?

Doug Kellett's idea of Columbus FM talk radio may be coming true, in a way he never imagined. Did you see WFXE-FM's Michael Soul on WRBL Thursday night, talking about the Russell County school superintendent vote? "Black talk" is growing, especially on Davis Broadcasting's stations -- and the music around the talk seems more danceable than what Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity play.

Speaking of this, the noncommercial side of the FM dial had a strange moment Thursday. The religious programming of WFRC-FM "Family Radio" suddenly was replaced for a minute by sports talk host Jim Rome. Rome talked about "WAR," but certainly not about Christian soldiers.

Now from radio to television....

Richard: I wanted to let you know that due to the digital transition and WTVM's move this Friday to Channel 11 Digital, we have changed to Channel 13. We made this change on Tuesday night. Thanks

Best Regards,

Mark M Snow

WWCG Channel 13

I'll have to take Mark Snow at his word on this - because ever since I changed to a high-definition TV, I've barely been able to pick up his low-power station. Even Thursday afternoon on the new channel, I saw 95-percent.... uh, well.... I saw snow, but not his station.

This reminds us: Happy Big Switch day to you. This e-mail explains why they're telling you on TV to "scan and rescan" your set. Only with digital television, it's a DT-scan instead of a CT-scan.

(So if a low-power analog station moves two spots down the dial, does it make the Little Switch?)

The big station in Columbus began its Big Switch at 1:00 a.m. ET today, by turning off its analog signal. The change in dial position depended on an Atlanta station. WXIA's web site gave no clue Thursday as to exactly when it was moving out -- and whether it will still declare itself "11 Alive," or become 11-dead.

The major TV stations in Columbus have been running digital programming on the UHF band. The Big Switch means several stations will shift their dial positions for digital TV. For instance, WLGA is moving from channel 66 to 47 - and if it's like Georgia Public Broadcasting, over-the-air viewers in Columbus might never see it again.

By the way, WLGA must be hurting from the loss of The CW network to WLTZ. The station's web site is down to a "freebie," with GoDaddy advertising all over it. I did that three years ago, to save money while trying to start a sports league - and I hate to tell WLGA's managers that the league didn't last a month.

Let's see what else made news on Big Switch Eve:

+ Columbus Police admitted two officers have been arrested for drunk driving in recent weeks, and one has left the force. Maybe this city needs more doughnut shops after all....

+ The federal prosecutor for Columbus announced he will resign in late July. Max Wood told the Macon Telegraph he's been planning to leave office ever since President Obama was elected. All Gray Conger has to do is switch political parties again, and he could be in the running for this job.

+ WRBL reported former Muscogee County School Board member Joseph Roberson will move away from Columbus. He's leaving South Columbus United Methodist Church, to become a district superintendent in Statesboro. So the host of the radio program "Getting on Top of Life" now will be on top of dozens of churches.

+ The NCAA ordered the University of Alabama to forfeit as many as 21 football wins, while putting 16 different campus sports on probation for three years. Dozens of student-athletes apparently were given free textbooks - and apparently did NOT have to earn them by winning a contest to sing the college fight song.

(One of the Alabama football players reportedly caught with a "free textbook" account was former Carver High School lineman Marlon Davis. He's signed a rookie contract with pro football's Cleveland Browns - where the only free textbook he'll need to read is filled with diagramed plays.)

+ Instant Message to the Deli Central restaurant mascot: Hey, Mr. Giant Sandwich! I saw you on 13th Street with that sign. I hope you turn it the other direction every few minutes at this time of year - or else you'll have uneven toasting.

The number of unique visitors to our blog is up more than 12.5 percent so far this year! To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 633 (+ 13, 2.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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