Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh Brian Williams...

Did you see him on SNL back in November? I did. I loved every single minute of it. It is the first SNL episode that I have saved on the TiVo and have watched repeatedly. It is just awesome that a major news anchor did something like this. You would never see Peter Jennings (although legend goes he was quite a funny man), Tom Brokaw, Ed Bradley, Edward R Murrow or any other newsman on a comedy show like this. They all seem to stiff and proper to do such a show. Also, it is just not what they do. Newsmen do not show their real personality. They are to just read the news and go on with it. However, maybe things are changing. As the Baby Boomers, Generation X'ers and Millenials get older, the news industry has to adjust to these populations. As a Millenial myself, personally, I like to see the personality of the people that are telling me the news. It is nice to get the impression that the person you see on TV in the suit and tie is a real person and not just some robot who is paid some large sum to read news from a TV screen. I want some personality. I think that all 3 of the major network anchors, Williams, Katie Couric, and Charles Gibson, have the personality and we all have seen it in action.

Couric and Gibson are products of network morning shows. Couric from NBC's Today Show and Gibson from ABC's Good Morning America. With these types of shows, you have to have a personality and also be really good at what you do. You have to be able to go from extremely serious by interviewing the President of the Free World and in the next minute, go to light hearted when you interview some kid who won a worm eating contest. There are also segments that involve cooking and sometimes during the holidays, you will have to participate in some kind of activity. On NBC's Today Show, the main personalities would participate in a costume contest each year on Halloween in which one year Katie Couric dressed up as Donald Trump.

While Williams does not have the experience with the morning format, his appearance on SNL was a good opportunity for him to show his personality. He even made fun of himself several times. My favorite skit is the Digital Short that he did which showed a "behind the scenes view of NBC Nightly News". It is hilarious! He also shows a little bit of himself in his newscasts when he reads letters from the public and issues a response.

Others are starting to like him more too. And it may be in connection with his appearance on SNL. According to the Quick and Entertainment Weekly, Williams' NBC Nightly News won the November ratings sweeps. His viewership was an average 9.3 million viewers, 438,000 more than Charles Gibson's World News Tonight on ABC. Was it his stint on SNL that helped him or are viewers geniunely turning the dial just because they prefer his style of reporting? We may never know, but I like to think that it is due to his stint on SNL.
P.S. Williams' hosting gig was not his first appearance on SNL. He made an appearance on Weekend Update when he first got the gig at NBC Nightly News. I cannot find a clip, but here is a story about it..

Attention DFW Rock Fans!

The Eagle is back! 97.1FM KEGL is now a hard rock station again. I say again because in 2004, Clear Channel in its infinite wisdom chose to change the format from Rock to ACH (Adult Contemporary Hits) called Sunny 97.1. I welcomed this as I really enjoy the Sunny station in Houston (Sunny 99.1/KODA-FM), however, the year range spanned from 1960-1980 and they played a lot of stuff that I did not know and it was really different from Sunny 99.1 in Houston. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there is a really strong hold on the Adult Contemporary Hits format via 103.7 KVIL and 98.7 KLUV. With these 2 CBS O&O stations, the format is extremely competitive and there was no room for another station.

After the trial with the Sunny format, Clear Channel execs moved to an All-Spanish format, similar to what happened in Houston to 101.1 KLOL (a Rock station that converted to All-Spanish format that resulted in rage from listeners). Obviously that did not work out because now they have converted back to the old format of Rock music.

I know that there are a lot of people who are excited that the Eagle is back. I have listened to it for a little bit and it is not necessarily my cup of tea, but I am glad that I have another choice available if I am in a Rock mood. Currently, they are running a DJ-less, commercial-less operation, so if you are in a continuous Rock mood, definitely check out the Eagle.


On-Air : 97.1 FM


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cali Day 2 and wrapup

Day 2 consisted of going to Disneyland. And that was a day onto itself. You really need the whole day to see everything. We went to all of the major parks within the park and went to almost all of the rides that you could possibly ride. And I actually rode some rides. I rode the Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Train ride, and a car ride. On the car ride, it was pretty sad. It was not scary, but it did a bunch of stopping and going and it did get petty high. There was a small drop and I screamed. I think that I was the only one who screamed on that ride. Even the little kids in front of me didn't scream. I felt like a looser afterwards, but it was still fun. The Train ride went pretty high and it did go fairly fast, but it did not have any big drops, so I really liked it.

We ate at some good places while at Disney. One was an Italian place inside the park dedicated to the future. I had some pasta with sausage tomato sauce and it was great. It was a big plate but it was $8.99. I thought that was a little much, but it is an amusement park. For dinner, we went to an American themed food venue and it was great as well. I had Pot Roast and it was delectable. A big slab of meat and some potatoes and wax green beans. Needless to say, I left that place full, and again, $15 dollars lighter.

The day was pretty nice, but as the sun went down, around 4:30pm, it started to get cold. It was manageable though and not windy, so that helped. The rides and the buildings helped too.

We returned to our hotel at 12:30 am, so needless to say, I was dead by the end of the night. I passed out right as we walked into the door.

The next day, we had to get ready early, so I had to get up at 8 am to pack and whatnot. Amazingly, I woke up and was not tired. We took the rental car back to Advantage and rode to LAX. I don't know why, but LAX made me really anxious and I was kinda nervous while going through security. There was no need for me to be nervous, but there was a really long line, and it was a new airport, so I don't know what happened. Once I got through, I was ok. It was just going through the process that was a little nerve wracking.

The flight was a little bumpy as we were crossing over weather as we came back, but not a bad flight over all. This was my first time to take a Southwest flight outside of the state of Texas, so that was pretty cool. On the way, we stopped at Albuquerque, NM, and it was really dusty. The airport was pink! I hear that it takes the southwestern theme to the extreme. It would be nice to go back and actually see the city, although, from the sky, it didn't look like there was much to see.

All in all, it was a good trip. I can now cross Los Angeles and #2 DMA off of my "Must go to" list. Next is Chicago....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Fresh and Easy Trip

So yesterday while I was in California, I put on my "tourist to-do list" a visit at a Fresh and Easy store. This is the US version of the UK's Tesco store. I shopped at Tesco's while I was on my Field School and I was really excited to hear that Tesco was going to enter the US market. As we started to drive up, I was really excited. I started taking pictures, and people were probably thinking that I was crazy. I just wanted to have photographic proof that I was there.

We walked in and immediately I was reminded of the Tesco. They had all of these cold cases up at the front and it was laid out similarly to a Tesco. One thing that I did notice that was different was that they did not have any cashiers. They just had the U-Scan machines, which was ok because it is not that big of a store, and the average consumer of Fresh and Easy will only be picking up a few things, not usually doing their whole weeks worth of shopping.

They had many of the national brands that we are all familiar with, so that was great, but they also had many Fresh and Easy labeled items. Most of these items were organic or had attributes about them that were either guaranteed to be fresh or from products that had no extra fillers or crap in it. This is something that is carried down from mother Tesco because Tesco has a policy about providing the most natural foods possible.

The prices were amazing! Boxes of tea were $2.00, a small bottle of Fiji water was only $0.99. Many of the food stuffs had great prices. Fresh catfish was $2.99 a pound and ground beef was about $1.99 a pound. Fresh and Easy would definitely be a store that I would shop frequently.

I was hoping to see some Tesco branded items or other items that they could import from the UK, but unfortunately they did not have any. It totally makes since because it would just confuse the consumer and it would also increase the prices of the goods and would be an additional cost to the company.

One great thing about Tesco and Fresh and Easy is that they are extremely environmentally friendly. One thing that I noticed about this store is that everything was spaced out appropriately and there was no space that was not unused. This is good because it reduces energy consumption. In addition, I did not see any product on their shelves that had was over packaged, thus reducing waste.

I had a great experience at Fresh and Easy and I hope their ventures in the American Southwest are successful so they can explore outside of this region and make their way to Texas. It would be AWESOME!

You can find out more about Fresh and Easy on their website at They also have a great blog from one of the Execs at

Saturday, December 08, 2007

California Day 1

Last night, I flew from Austin to meet up with some friends in Los Angeles, CA. It was a very long day to begin with because it started out by waking up at 4:30 in the morning to fly from Houston to Austin to meet up with some co-workers for a meeting. After the meeting was over, they took me back to the airport where I sat around for a few hours as I waited for my plane to take me to San Jose, CA where I would catch another plane (much smaller) to Los Angeles's LAX.

When I got into San Jose, I was not really impressed with the airport. It was older and it had a small area for the gate that I was at, which I thought was weird as most gates are pretty big. There also was not much in the way of shops that were open either for me to get something to drink as I waited an hour for my next flight.

When I got to LAX, it was an interesting experience. First off, I had to take an American Eagle jet from San Jose to Los Angeles due to the rather short distance between the 2 cities and how American Airlines does thing. I sat in a seat that was next to the window and I was all by my self because the whole plane was only 3 seats wide. Then when we got in, we exited the plane in a small building that was disconnected from a terminal and was actually on the tarmac. We had to load onto a bus that then took us over to the AA terminal. On this bus, we actually drove on the runway and had to dodge some airplanes here and there. Then I had to make my way to the hotel shuttles.

When I got to the appropriate island for the shuttle buses to take me to my hotel, I had to wait for about 15 minutes. While I waited there, I got to look all around me and watch the traffic as it went by. It was a partial culture shock to see the way that some of these bus drivers were driving. There was a lot of honking of horns, fast paced driving and stopping, congestion, and overall chaos. It was crazy. It was just really weird for me to see these drivers acting this way.

When we got up this morning to start sightseeing, we encountered the same type of attitudes towards driving, but it was not just from professional motorists, it came from the average motorist too. The second that the light turned green, people behind us started honking and we hadn't even had the chance to go before we were "reminded" to go. It was just obscene.

I guess that a part of the chaos comes from the crazy roadway situation out in these parts. There are on ramps from other freeways that run into the existing freeways which makes driving almost impossible. There are a lot of cars on the road too, so that is hard to deal with also.

One thing that was really annoying was that there were no left turn green light to help make turns in the intersections. After watching others do this for a bit, we learned that it was required to sit in the middle of the intersection and wait for the light to turn red in order to make the left hand turn. We all were in agreement that Californians have the wrong idea about this and should consider the Texan way about left turns.

When we got to Hollywood, it was a lot smaller than I imagined. The area with all of the movie star's hand-prints and the Hollywood Walk of Fame was in a small area. The Walk of Fame extended all the way down Hollywood Boulevard, but who wants to walk all the way down just to see a name in the cement that the movie star had to pay for just to have that star.

It was also interesting to find out that the Kodak Theater, where they usually host the Oscars, is inside of a mall type building. The Chinese Theater was attached to that same building down from the Kodak Theater.

We also saw USC today, which was a beautiful campus. I had to go to the bookstore to get a t-shirt. In addition, we went to Fresh and Easy (more about that later), Santa Monica Pier, and Century City (where all of the TV/movie studios area). The Santa Monica Pier was beautiful. It reminded me of Kemah. The beach was also beautiful. Unfortunately it was pretty cold and there was a strong gust of wind coming off of the Pacific Ocean (yeah, that's right, I saw the Pacific) so we did not stay out long, just long enough to take pictures and leave. The sand was beautiful and I am sure if we were there earlier in the day, I would probably have seen blue water. I will definitely have come back again to see it in the full daylight (and also a warmer time to be able to stay out longer) to see it in its full beauty.

Over all this was a good first day in Los Angeles. I managed to take about 130 pictures, and with Anaheim and Disneyland on the itinerary tomorrow, I think that I may be able to double that number.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sittin at the airport

While I am sitting at the airport, waiting on a flight, I figured that I would write a little on the blog since it has been a while since I last posted. This past week, I have been in Houston working on the "Gulf Coast" week TACRAO schedule of College Night programs at local high schools. This week, I visited Deer Park, Victoria, Dickinson, Texas City, Alvin and my home district of Clear Creek ISD. The programs for this week were pretty slow, in that I didn't have nearly the amount of students to speak to that my team had last year.

It was fun to come back though because I know this area quite well, so I did not have to rely on maps a great deal. It was quite nice. What was not quite nice was the smelly Ford Taurus that I had to drive this week. It smelled like somebody smoked in it and then Enterprise tried to cover up the scent with a heavy perfume that over powered the car. It took a while for the 'ole nose to get used to that fragrance.. Now that I think about it, it may have been part of the reason why I had a headache for most of the week.

It was a group travel week because a few co-workers and I were giving presentations to the local area high school counselors updating them on the new things that are going on at UNT. We basically wine-d and dine-d them (except for the whole wine thing) and gave them a presentation while they ate. It was pretty fun. I did my first counselor update presentation in Austin today (where I sit now as I am waiting on my friends at AA to come pick me up) and it was a success. I basically did the presentation and added a little bit of personal experience in it and most of the counselors enjoyed it. We got lots of complements. It was nice.

The recruiting season is now over. That does not mean that the job is done with by any means. Next semester, I will be concentrating on my assigned high schools in the DFW area, giving presentations to them and going to visit during lunch. Also I will have a new responsibility of reviewing files and making the decision of whether a student can join us at UNT or if they will have to be deferred for a period of time.

I just know that I cannot wait until the Christmas holiday break so I can take some extra time sleeping.. For some reason, it is a favorite past-time of mine... :)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A test of the FCC

In the days where the FCC is only known for enforcing rules against obscenities on network TV, they are facing an issue which is not commonly heard from the average viewer. Residents in New Jersey are complaining that one of the local affiliates, WWOR-TV, the My Network affiliate from Secaucus, NJ, does not include New Jersey issues in the local newscasts. WWOR is in the New York City DMA, which includes portions of Southern New York State, the Northern Half of New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut and only focuses on news about New York. (For a map, see here.) However, in it's city of license, essentially the place where the station originates from, is in Secaucus, New Jersey.

WWOR is in Secaucus because of some financial difficulties that one of the owners had and to over come the problem, they moved the city of license from New York City to Secaucus. The FCC allowed this, but they added an amendment to the approval stating that by WWOR moving to New Jersey, it was required to focus on New Jersey issues and not just issues in NYC or New York state. This is important because besides WWOR, New Jersey does not have any other local affiliates from the other major networks. The southern part of New Jersey is covered by the Philadelphia media market. So you can see why this would be important to the residents of New Jersey.

On Wednesday, the FCC held a hearing to discuss the issues with WWOR. The session hosted 100 people and the concerns were heard.

“I’ve been watching Channel 9 for years, and I was surprised to know that WWOR wasn’t a New York City station,” said Patrick V. Adams, a 19-year-old Rutgers student.

WWOR responded to the critics by showing a video of news stories about New Jersey. However, they were still flawed because their slogan is "My9NY" standing for : My 9 New York. While they were at the meeting, their cameraman had put masking take over the NY on the logo sticker on his camera. The NY Times also reports that they changed the picture on their homepage ( from the New York Skyline to the George Washington Bridge which connects New York with New Jersey.

If WWOR does not fix the problem of focusing on New Jersey, then they may loose their license to broadcast from the FCC. If this happens, (the likeliness of this happening is slim) it would be definitely unique and also a first in a long time for a station to loose their broadcasting license. Not many stations these days have problems renewing their license, and if WWOR cannot renew theirs, it would be a wake up call to stations who have such agreements and also would show that the FCC actually does more than just fine stations for obscenities.

I know that this may be boring, but it is not everyday that a TV station is faced with possibly loosing their broadcasting license...