500,000th Reader!

As this blog passes another milestone I want to thank all those who stopped by for a read!  I hope it is evident that I not only take pride in this site and wish it to look great, but that I also have passion about the topics covered here.  If you read about it here, then it is something I care about.  As such, I can sometimes vent easily, and even get ‘snarky’ from time to time.  I hope readers understand the passion of the moment that bloggers experience when posting, and can forgive those times when I might have stepped over the line. 

It has been a remarkable year covering Election 2008, and I am looking forward to the new administration in Washington.  Doubtless we are going to have lots to talk about as a nation.  I hope to have you as a reader as we write a new chapter in our country’s history.

Sincerely,

Gregory

a.k.a. deke

Greg Humphrey For President?

You decide.

Channel 3 has the news report.

8 Years Ago Today

Eight years ago today was also a Saturday.  I went to the Farmers Market alone, and it rained in the afternoon so I stopped at Borders Bookstore to read and drink coffee.  While I was reading the Times a person stopped at my small table and asked me if there was any interesting news to be known about.  I had just met James.

Eight years later, and we are still walking a shared road of life together.

Thanks James.

PRESS RELEASE: Dekerivers Offers To Be Democratic Vice-President

PRESS RELEASE

(UPI) Madison  April 1, 2008  In a bid to help unite the fractious and argumentative Democratic Party from another failed attempt to gain entrance to the White House Madison, Wisconsin resident and Democratic mouthpiece Dekerivers has offered to be the Democratic Vice-President. 

Little known outside the confines of Madison, at times known as the ‘Berkeley of the Midwest’, Dekerivers alerted both New York Senator Hillary Clinton and her Illinois nemesis Senator Barack Obama late on Monday night with the news that he would be available to donate his time and talent to the fall effort to retake the White House.

“I was really just going to call for pizza delivery, but then I thought since I am near the phone why not talk with Hillary and Barack too.  They were truly surprised by the late night call but I said that this is what a 3:00 A.M. phone call sounds like,” Dekerivers said.

“I love to travel and talk and so I see this slot on the ticket as a surefire way to put two of the things I enjoy most to work for the nation I love so very much” Dekerivers said in a prepared statement to reporters that gathered for coffee this morning at his downtown home.  “And with the high price of gasoline I think this is the only way I will see any part of the nation this year as the Democratic Party will pay for the trips.”

Dekerivers also told the assembled members of the Fourth Estate that he is a meek and mild man and would blend in with either of the candidates should they get the nomination.

“Look at me, read my blog, and you will notice I can take a back seat to anyone as I have no opinions of my own and never express any strong feelings about any topic, and so either Clinton or Obama can rest assured that I will be only using their talking points and never using any of my own,’ Dekerivers confided.

Other positive aspects the one-time Democratic staffer to the shortest man in the Wisconsin State Assembly would bring to the fall campaign is his love of chicken dinners and foreign travel.  “I think I will gain a few pounds from the chicken circuit talking trips that all candidates must endure, but I must confess I love home style chicken dinners.”

“I also have plenty of funny and folksy warm-up jokes that I have heard for years on the Grand Ole Opry, so I think that even Kansas will now be ripe for my party to capture this fall.  I will be a hit in the heartland.  Who knows I might even croon a bit in a nursing home or two on the road.  If the bid for office fails, who knows I might come out of this with a recording career, ” Dekerivers said.

Dekerivers also expressed a strong knowledge of foreign leaders and the backgrounds of the world hot spots as he pointed out he reads The Economist magazine.  “Really any time there is a state funeral I will know how to pronounce the name of the deceased correctly in my prepared statements as Vice-President.”  He added that is far more than the current President has been able to do while in office.

“I think the future of the nation hangs on my shoulders as I prepare for this possible position in our federal government, but it is the path I must prepare for,” Dekerivers said as reporters scrambled for the last donut on the platter.

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Legendary WGN Broadcasting Pioneer Wally Phillips Dies

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UPDATED

Once a week for several years I would get up before the sun and leave Sturgeon Bay to visit my home in central Wisconsin.  I was in my early 20’s, working at the local radio station, (WDOR) and feeling bouts of homesickness.  On the road in my blue Chevette I would drink coffee and drive westward as the day opened.  And on the radio was a friendly voice I had known since my high school days.

As I drove along I would marvel at the way Wally Phillips weaved the calls from the listeners with wit and information in such a way that it seemed effortless.  It was obvious from his banter and gentlemanly ways that he cared for, and respected his audience.  One thing was easy to discern when listening to him, in fact it was always clear from the start, Wally Phillips cared for those on the other side of the microphone.

Today the voice died.  Wally Phillips was 82 years old.

I heard the news early this morning as I was listening to WGN radio.  It was only natural that I heard about the famed Chicago broadcaster’s death on the station that was home to Phillips, the man who pioneered modern day talk radio.  It was his warmth, wit, and professionalism that first drew me to WGN as a teenager, and I never left.  WGN has awakened me every morning of my adult life.

Wally Phillips was the first person to make me truly enthusiastic about a possible radio career. (Clark Weber and Eddie Schwartz from WIND and WGN were the others.)  I would listen to Phillips as a kid and wonder how he did the amazing voice ‘drop-ins’, and seemingly effortless talk show that took place each day.   I wondered how he was able to be so funny and yet never cut loose and laugh himself, since I found it hard to be funny and not also enjoy the laugh with those around me.  

It was after I started broadcasting school that I discovered how proficient he was as a broadcaster, and how truly remarkable his production efforts were every day he was on the air.  I discovered how hard his job was even though he made it seem as if his whole audience was just a part of a large friendly conversation.  But in the studio he was a pure professional who had his hands on the dials and buttons that made him the host of the largest audience on AM radio.  In fact, he was number one in his morning time slot from 1968 until shifting for an afternoon slot in 1986.

As the Chicago Sun-Times reports his audience was almost 1.5 million listeners per day.

At the peak of his popularity as morning star at WGN, Phillips attracted half of all Chicago area radio listeners — an audience of nearly 1.5 million each day — making him the most listened-to radio host in the country.

“When we say ‘WGN Radio is Chicago,’ I quickly add that ‘Wally Phillips is WGN,'” said Wayne Vriesman, vice president and general manager of the Tribune-owned station. “He is the most creative, humorous and innovative person I have ever met in broadcasting. . . . (with) a lifetime of great radio listening and a public service never equaled in broadcasting.”

Wally Phillips was the first broadcaster to start the use of phone calls while on the air, allowing the listening audience to be a part of what he developed as the interactive nature of radio.  The calls were fun and uplifting, and interspersed with lines that were prerecorded with funny voices and ‘dropped-in’ at a moments notice.  It was a joy to listen to!

From 1984 listen to Wally Phillips.  The audio here is one of several that can be found on  WGN ,  the above segment is one where Wally celebrates “Goof-off Day” with a series of the “Candid Camera”-style phone calls he made famous. This edited segment includes a montage of calls originally taking place over several hours, including several to people in Atlanta and Lexington, where NCAA Tournament was being held, in which Wally attempts to see if the unsuspecting victims will offer weekend accommodations to him and his large family.

As The Chicago Tribune reports Phillips had an edgy streak that won him applause form his audience.

Phillips’ delivery occasionally had an edge to it, like the time he tracked down formal-wear mogul Ben Gingiss on a cruise ship on the Pacific Ocean and got him on the phone, saying “We’re down here at the store. . . . Where do you keep the fire extinguisher?” More typical was the morning when he started his broadcast by chatting with farm reporter Orion Samuelson about the coming Stomach Rumbling Finals in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Chicago Sun Times has a slide show of  Wally Phillips.

Wally Phillips was a far cry from what passes for much of talk radio today.  He was never mean, boorish, or ‘blue’ on the air.  After his more than 40 years of broadcasting had concluded he was considered by all as the king of his genre.  Much has happened to radio since Wally Phillips ruled the airwaves and helped encouraged this kid to give it a try.  I only wish that today’s youth would have the opportunity to know and love AM radio as it once was.

Thanks for the smiles Wally!  

I might add that WGN is still that diverse and wonderful station, that is often it seems, an island of great broadcasting on the AM dial.

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Iowa Caucus Predictions…Big Night For Fred Thompson?

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Predicting the winners of the Iowa caucuses is one of those blogging events that is just fun to do.  I say that because there is no real way to predict the outcome of a caucus when turnout is key to victory, and Democratic participants can be lured to another candidate if their first choice is not ‘viable’ in their local firehouse or neighbor’s living room.  There is no real way to gauge the mood of the actual caucus goers, and so one needs to rely on trends in the overall polling to even guess at the outcome.   Even then most will not write down any predictions.  Nonetheless I offer my predictions knowing that I have a real good chance of being so very wrong.  Unless an animal is found in bed with a presidential candidate between now and January 3rd, this is what I think will happen.

I start on the Republican side because I feel that this is where a potential news story that is not foreseen might happen on Thursday.  Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have been blasting each other and proving many ways why they are not the type of nominee that the GOP will require to win in the November election.  Romney has flip-flopped on so many issues, and seems fake to many voters.  Huckabee has social conservatives energized but has turned off many fiscal conservatives with his actions while Governor of Arkansas.  The negative ads and talking points have been blazing, leaving I suspect many Republicans in Iowa concerned about the overall tone of the GOP message, and potential messenger.

While Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are on the ballot they are not seriously vying for voters in Iowa.  But Fred Thompson is.  While I have poked at the former Tennessee Senator here on my blog (he warranted it) I think that Thompson has a chance to make news. As a candidate with conservative credentials who can be viewed as a seasoned politician, I am going with my gut instinct and placing Thompson in second place to Mitt Romney.  If this happens the news story on Friday will be Fred….Fred….Fred.

The top three GOP finishers in Iowa

Mitt Romney

Fred Thompson

Mike Huckabee

On the Democratic side I am going to echo what my overall thoughts were on December 19th, on my blog.  While I think Hillary Clinton will eventually win the Democratic nomination I think she faces a dust-up in Iowa.  John Edwards has a message of corporate greed and economic concern will resonate with voters who have already fought for him once before on a cold winter night in 2004.  I also think that Edwards will do well after other candidates are no longer ‘viable’ at the caucus, and he will be many folk’s second choice.  Obama will suffer from too many fresh faces at the rallies, but not enough of them having the drive to get them to the caucuses.  Howard Dean repeated.

The top three Democrats in Iowa

John Edwards

Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama

To my friends that want percentages…..you must be kidding!!

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My New Year’s Resolutions

With January 1, 2008 soon to be on the calendar this is the time for fresh starts.  Some will say that serious New Year’s resolutions are not wise as there is too much stress with the holidays just passed, and therefore large goals should be implemented differently to be successful.  That always makes sense to me if the goal is to lose 40 pounds, or to end a gambling addiction.  But my resolutions this year, much as in the past, are more tempered in the day-to-day living of life. 

When I first moved to Madison in late December 1986 I would often say that I lived in Madison, but my home was back where I grew up in central Wisconsin.  Over the years that has changed to where I am truly now home in Madison.  It took a long while to make that mental leap, but I love where I am now!  Yet I have never done a serious reading of Madison history.  I know bits and pieces and can weave the general narrative of the city to a stranger, but I wish to better understand the place I now call home.  So the first book of the year for me will be “Madison, A History Of The Formative Years” by David Mollenhoff.  The book came with our new/old house in 2007, and I am eager to start my voyage through the rich history of this amazing city.  In addition, I want to further understand the house I live in, and the people who once also called this place home.

High on the agenda is my continuing effort to learn to play the piano.  This past year did not afford me the time required to become the next Floyd Cramer.  But I do enjoy music and have personal incentives to drive me.   I plan to spend some time each day learning and practicing.  I am reminded as I write that Archie Bunker once likened Edith’s singing to that of cats being strangled.  I hope the neighbors will think more kindly of my musical efforts.

The aim of low stress living this year is one that both James and myself will try and abide by.  In that effort we are not going to garden our two vegetable plots, as they are a great deal of work throughout the summer.  Instead we are going to concentrate on the flowers and landscaping at our home.  I have already planned where the sunflowers will grow in the backyard, and am looking forward to expanding the flowerbeds and plants that will someday overtake the lawn.  Less grass is more attractive!  The flowers are not only fun to grow, but also provide the perfect place to sit around with a good read on a warm summer day.

I have always been quite good with geography but still find that while reading international news a more obscure city or river cannot be placed in my head.  So the new geographical dictionary at my desk is going to be used frequently while reading this year.  In addition, I am going to once again read a magazine that I loved for many years.  In December I subscribed to Columbia Journalism Review.  While working at the Capital I would buy it from Pic-A-Book on State Street.  Reading some stories online is fine, but I love to discover that our mailman has a magazine in the mailbox.

Oh…and I plan to follow politics too………

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Message Of Hope As We Exit 2007

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Some are more than eager to exit 2007, and get the New Year started.  The excitement about new beginnings and a fresh start is one of mankind’s remarkable features as it proves that we are highly resilient.  Even after a year where unfinished plans, failed endeavors, or sadness might have held sway, we have in our nature the ability to look ahead and dream again.   In the darkest moments of a bad year when only gloom seems to prevail we are told to hold to the notion that better days are ahead.  Others who care offer that timeless advice, and we nod in agreement to be kind, but at the time those words are heard we often do not believe in the power to bounce back.

Getting from the darkness to the light again is a trip that requires patience and self-acceptance of where one is, and where one wants to end up.  It also requires the time to make the trip.

Millions of Americans will always reflect on 2007 with a sense of sadness and loss, be it a failed marriage, loss of a job, illness, or the death of a loved one.  For many people bittersweet memories will be the strongest leftover from the past year.  But if you are one that endured hard times this year, and coped with them, then there are lessons that were gained.  With them comes the hope for a New Year.

To live life fully means that we must experience the entire array of events that come with the human experience.  Bright moments at one end of the spectrum, and tear filled days at the other end.  If we love the sunshine, we also must embrace the darkness.  When life forces us to deal with painful events the worst thing to do is shy away from facing the emotions inside.  We are only fooling ourselves by pretending to cage them.   Eventually the situation will demand attention, and if we do not deal with our feelings honestly at the time they are in front of us, we are doomed to deal with them in another form later.

In the mad rush that many have constructed as their daily life, it is difficult to find the time to deal with sadness.  In the late 1800’s one could still put out black on their doors to provide the time and space required for healing after the loss of a loved one.  The public respected the black fabric.  No one expected that in two weeks all would be fine again.  Today we have pushed ourselves to the point where in the hope of making it easier to get people to a funeral without disrupting work hours the deceased person’s visitation and funeral are all held in a few hours on one night.   I first heard of this in September, and find that it is spreading.  It makes me ill, as emotional needs should not be second place to the bottom line for a business.

It is not selfish or out of bounds to demand the time one needs to replenish the soul and body after a rough episode.  Finding the perfect means of serenity is essential.  It might be found in the sunsets each night, or the morning blooms that erupt in the dew outside the window.  It might be found in long walks, or even longer runs.  Whatever the means to soothe and heal it should be applied regularly.  And to do it correctly will demand a ‘time-out’ from what is considered the ‘normal’ routine. Whether it be for an hour each day, or a day each week, the most important way to heal is to allow the space and time to do it correctly.

If 2007 was rough it is in our nature to hope for a brighter 2008.  If we applied the lessons of coping correctly on the ragged edges of life just lived, then we are prepared to hold our head up and march into the New Year.

I wish you all the best.  Happy New Year. 

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