Thursday, April 30, 2009

Injured Ankle And The Cuts At Clear Channel

Big Pun reportedly weighed 698 lbs. when his heart called it quits at the age of 28. In other words, he was overweight. And I'm guessing that if you were to go back in time -- like, the day before he stopped breathing -- and beat his ankle with a sledge hammer for sixty of seventy minutes, it still wouldn't be as swollen as what I have going on just above my right foot.

(Important piece of information: I hurt myself playing rec-league basketball Monday night.)

You hear it all the time, player-turned-broadcaster complaining about high ankle sprains: "In my day it was just a sprain." Let me tell you something, old timer, you must not have been trying hard enough if you never suffered a high ankle sprain. Because I've broken each of my ankles and dealt with numerous sprains, and I've never had swelling up to my calf. My calf! It's ridiculous, and it's painful and it explains why I haven't posted anything in a few days.

Well, that and I'm a big pussy.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been a part of noteworthy events since Monday, either.

For instance...

I'm pretty sure I witnessed the death of my jerk neighbor (which wouldn't be terrible), or possibly his awesome little daughter (which probably wouldn't change my life at all, despite her awesomeness). And by "I witnessed," what I mean is that while I was lying on my couch and reading Rob Neyer, I heard five seconds of mysterious thumping and a desperation yell, followed by deafening silence. That was four hours ago, and the ambalance still hasn't paid a visit. Who knows? Is Robert Stack still among the living? Can somebody call him if he is? Tell him I'd love to play myself in the reenactment.


I bartend/barback for a living (Lodge Bar, downtown Cincinnati if you'd like to pay me a visit). It's wonderful. I'm surrounded by booze and decidedly non-ugly young ladies and it pays me far more than I'm worth. I don't know much, but I know this: If you enjoy drinking and girls and being in a social environment, bartending is hands-down the best "job that isn't a real job" on the planet. I'm telling you this because my ankle is so jacked up that I've now been forced to call off two shifts already -- and in my world, that's a nice chunk of American currency. There are no sick or personal days in the bar industry. It's show up and get paid or stay at home watching 90210 re-runs before masturbating and going to sleep. Really, those are your only alternatives.

So, being that I'm out $300-400, with two more shifts this week that I might not be able to handle, one would think I'd be pinching pennies until I can literally get back on my feet.

Am I pinching pennies? Of course not. I'm an idiot. An impulsive, one-legged idiot. And eBay loves dopes like me.

My recent obsession, fueled mostly by my Andre The Giant biography that never leaves the bathroom: Scouring eBay for old WWF tapes from the late 80's (not including WrestleManias, which I've seen countless times). This means Royal Rumbles and Summer Slams and everything else hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. As of now, I have bids on Royal Rumble '89, Summer Slam '88 and Survivor Series '89, and I've purchased Summer Slam '89 and The Best of Saturday Night's Main Event. To say I'm excited to go the mailbox every five minutes for the next 7-19 days would be an understatement of "Michael Beasley is a selfish ball hog who only cares about FGAs" proportions.

(Oh, I also bought an already-worn Winnipeg Jets t-shirt for $16.95. Jackpot! They could have doubled the price on that puppy and it would've felt like stealing. Note: I get the same feeling when I only have to spend $7.73 at Taco Bell.)

So, as you can see, I've had some time on my hands. Time enough to witness dead neighbors and time enough to probe eBay for twenty-year-old VHS tapes, but not enough time to write. I've just been an observer of things since Monday night (which will soon be known as "The Tragic Events of 4/27/09"). Many things have happened this week, and I'm just now getting to them.

What effected me most this week were the cuts at Clear Channel, most notably the termination of Alan Cutler and Paul Daugherty and the removal of Mo Egger's show on 1530 Homer (Mo predictably was offered a job in house).

Look, I know all of these guys (as well as others who received their walking papers), and it's strange to read a newspaper article about people you know on a personal level. The same phenomenon happened when Connor Barwin was drafted in the second round by Houston. I've never written about this, but he's someone I got to know fairly well over the past four years -- I even spoke with him and bought his brothers' beers the night before he was drafted -- and it's just plain bizarre to see him become a millionaire overnight. But enough with the name-dropping, this is about Cutler, Doc and Mo...

The second word broke about Cutler's ousting, I received no fewer than fourteen emails, all sharing the same theme: How happy are you that Cutler got fired? My answer: I wasn't happy. Sure, he wasn't worthy of his position, and sure, I didn't like him personally, but that doesn't mean I'm overflowing with joy because the man lost his job. Anything else I've had to say has been documented dozens of times in this space over the past two years.

As for Doc, I only worked with him for five or six months, but I really liked the guy. He was an honest man who didn't treat people like crap; I even wrote as much 18 months ago. I will tell you that I wasn't a big fan of his talk show (although his interviewing skills were fantastic), but I respected him because he wasn't there simply for the paycheck (Jeff Piecoro, anyone?) I'm sorry Doc lost his job, but relieved to know he's brilliant at his other one (even when I strongly disagree with his opinion, like a few weeks ago when he had the nerve to suggest Cincinnati not host Opening Day every year).

(Before marching onward, you might want to check out Daugherty's blog piece about his final moment at Clear Channel, and radio in general. There's buckets of truth in his words, and it's obviously well written. But I disagree that radio has been reduced to "biting heads off chickens." I know it seems like that, but there's a way to execute an intelligent, entertaining show without compromising your morals. It's difficult, but it can be done. Steve Czaban, the national guy who can be heard in Cutler's old spot, is the best example today.)

Which leaves us with Mo Egger.

You have no idea how devastated I was when the plug was pulled on Mo's show. For one, the show was funny, and getting better. Second, Mo is not an acquaintance or an old pal. Mo is my friend. He was my boss for nearly four years and I can tell you there isn't another soul you'd rather work for. He was fair, available at all hours and willing to stick his neck out for his people. He worked crazy hours, never EVER called in sick and in a business notorious for grossly underpaying everyone, Mo might have been the most underpaid of them all (I've told countless folks in barroom conversations, Mo Egger is one of the most important people walking the hallways at Clear Channel. Without him, that building wouldn't function properly. You cannot put a price on his value).

When Barry Larkin retired, I recall reading a story about my baseball hero buying a Corvette for a lifelong clubhouse guy (a member of the Stowe family, I believe). Accompanying the shiny new sports car was a note that simply read, "Thanks for never saying no." I think about that story a lot. I relate it to my parents, mostly, but it's certainly true of Mo Egger. Before he became a radio host he did everything that was asked of him at Clear Channel. The guy never said no. His work ethic is remarkable. He's one of the most reliable people I've ever met and the most competent radio person I'll ever know.

If I had a nickel for every closed-door meeting or marathon email session I had with Mo, I'd spend the next eleven days at the arcade, attempting to beat Street Fighter 2 (or whatever the kids are playing these days). I was the most frustrated person in radio history. It made no sense that Jeff Piecoro and Alan Cutler were hosting coveted programs when I knew I was better. It seemed that nothing I did was ever good enough to get a fair shot. Sure, I was allowed to fill in here or there, but never long enough to settle into a groove and prove my worth. And I only tell you this because Mo was the only person willing to hear me bitch over and over about the same topic. He routinely offered advice and he always encouraged me to do more than what I was doing. I'm forever indebted to Mo Egger, and I hope to work with him in the future.

Mo may not know it right now, but he'll be on the top of the radio world (whether it be terrestrial, satellite, online or whatever) before it's all said and done. He's just too good. In the meantime, he'll continue to offer the best local blog around.


I was planning on writing words regarding Edinson Volquez, Adam Rosales, Rey Mauluga, the Celtics-Bullis series, Bill Cosby and other important matters, but it just doesn't seem appropriate.

I do, however, have a piece of good news (at least in my world): I'm now the newest sports writer at Derf Magazine. This is the biggest break I've caught since I started writing nearly three years ago. So check me out, spread the good word and visit me on the message boards for some good ol' fashioned name-calling (or intelligent discussion, or whatever).

End of words.

-Brad Spieser (


Daniel Phillips said...

Big Pun was a funny dude. He use to come through a department store i worked at. Massive dude but was really cool