Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our Over-Communicated Environment

-Well, I have decided to not only return to the blog for a bit of thought-presenting, but also tread very lightly into dangerous territory...the political arena and aftermath of the election.

I will not ever divulge my political leanings in a public setting. I made that decision many years ago when I decided to get into broadcasting. It's no-one's business but mine. And as someone who believes in maintaining some level of credibility and, at least the appearance of objectivity, my choice to do so is as much professional as personal.

I teach a course at Lindenwood University-Belleville (Mass Comm Theory) that delves into the many propositions and postulations espoused by communication and sociology professors over the centuries, even going as far back as Aristotle and his thoughts on rhetoric. Aside from the nuts-and-bolts of communication analysis, after digesting most communication theory you come to realize one thing; that most of what is said or manufactured in the way of messages, can be taken in a multitude of ways depending on one's cultural background and upbringing. We all ascribe, usually similar, but often very different meanings to words, gestures, images and all other forms of communication. And these meanings are based on our own values. Neighbors, friends, and anti-friends can, will, and do value and define the very same communication attempt potentially much differently than we do. We don't all laugh or cry at the same movie.

Why is this important? I'm of the opinion that, in the digital world, words have become relegated to the backseat of the communication process. Aristotle would be appalled. The populace is more interested in who is presenting, and what overarching picture is being presented to the brain. People are too busy with their own little digital worlds to be bothered with actual words of persuasion.

I recently read an article about the election that suggested supporters of, now President-elect, Donald Trump looked beyond his campaign promises to "build a wall", and other unusually ostentatious and difficult-to-swallow utterances, to place more meaning on the big-picture person. Trump supporters, heard and saw his speeches but their minds went  past them to the basic values he proposed and represented, rather than the temporary words of his line in a speech. Trump's supporters just wanted reinforcement of their own thoughts on the issues, they didn't much care who was delivering them, as long as he represented the things in which they believed. This concept seems to make sense to me. Otherwise Trump may have been laughed off early in his attempts to run in this election.

If this is true, could it also be true that Hillary Clinton's words were not powerful enough, or indicative enough of Democrat/liberal values, to present her supporters, or would-be supporters, with a representative worthy of a vote? The typical Democrat turnout was way down from President Obama's in 2012. Perhaps the Democrat-leaning public looked past her speeches to other background issues and unconsciously said, "she's not connecting with me"...or " I'm not getting excited." One has to believe something along those lines as an explanation of what blew up the predictions by the pollsters.

Are we now living in a world in which political speeches have become just "face-time" for the candidates? Do we hear and see the sound bites and not care about the news analysis of them. Do the pundits get tuned out and turned off? Are the left and right-leaning news channels just so much noise to the voting public? Whatever the explanation, it's obvious that the pollsters and those who predict elections have some work to do to figure out what's going on in the world of new and social media. Have we devalued the words that public figures speak, or tweet, to the point where they don't really register? Communication has obviously changed in the digital age. Politics, and politicians, will have to adjust.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RESPONSIBLITY

-Following up on my last post... 

If we decide to respect ourself, as well as those around us, (and it is a decision), we will find it natural to show it. We must show it to ourselves first. We have to be proud of the person in the mirror. How we came into the world, and the circumstances we were presented must be put aside. They merely represent a starting point. We can't blame God, the government, parents (or lack thereof), the boss, or any other factor. If we are respectful to and of ourself, and behave accordingly, we put the blame game behind and allow for happiness in all phases of life.  


This goes to taking responsibility for who we are, and the way we interact with others. As mentioned in the last post...being response-able. 


The life we have can only change if we take ownership of it. The quality rests within our own brain and approach to behavior. But this requires taking responsibility-

-for all decisions

-for actions or inaction
-for consequences
-for our environment or living situation
-for our choice of associates and friends
-for the quality of who, what, where, and what we are...essentially everything

That's a lot of responsibility. And it's not easy to take. It's much easier to look around and point fingers, withdraw, and complain. But then we surrender control of our life to others. There are others much wiser than me who have seen the fault in that line of thought. 


“It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.”
Sophocles


“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
Denis Waitley


“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”
Joan Didion


“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Abraham Lincoln


“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.”
Henry Ward Beecher


Responsibility- Let's try some on for size. It might fit better than we think. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

RESPECT

I've been thinking quite a lot lately about the way things are in this world, particularly here in the greatest country in said world.  And it's my belief that the social issues we are having, especially the recent confrontations and killings along racial lines, boil down to one thing. We don't have the proper regard and respect for our fellow human being. 

Respect is not just an Aretha Franklin "golden oldie". It's what one must have for another human being. It's what that other human must have for you. At all times...not just when it's convenient or personally beneficial. Otherwise, we live in a world that nobody wants or likes.

A high percentage of the humans one encounters on TV and radio, the internet, or in public, seem to demand and expect the respect of others, but then behave in a way unworthy of it. This observation isn't limited to any particular race, religion, profession, or region. It's prevalent wherever one looks. I'm not sure this is new in my lifetime, but it feels like it's worse than I ever remember. And I lived through the 60's! I'm suspecting the unfiltered, and sometimes hateful, opinion-sharing on social media might have something to do with it. It's rarely a place where you see someone write--"I see what you're saying, and I respect it. Let me do some thinking about your opinion and see if it changes mine." Instead, we're instantly connected to the hate-mongers and ca-ca disturbers who delight in using their devices and social platforms to screw up the world; or at least force their version of it on us.

In light of recent events, even if we believe we have proper respect for others, we must make the effort to have more. If the other person doesn't treat us in a respectful manner, we must give consideration to them, their opinion, their behavior, their LIVES, even more. (Turn the other cheek?) It's not easy, but necessary.

One of the courses I teach at Lindenwood University-Belleville features the writings of the late Dr. Stephen Covey and his best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit number one- Be Proactive- suggests that you have control of your life and have the choice in all situations to determine your own behavior. Dr. Covey states one should use that power to be response-able; meaning you have the ability to choose your response. One can choose happiness, sadness, anger, ambivalence, honesty, or dishonesty. On the other hand, reactive people blame their environment and outside influences and choose to believe those influences determine their behavior, or are reason to follow the crowd. When presented with a stimulus, they react as though they have no power over their behavior. But, in truth, we always have the power to determine our reaction and behavior, and the responsibility for the decision.

I dislike referring to religious tenets, but some form of the Golden Rule has been a basic concept germane to the peaceful existence of most civilized people since man started walking upright. Even the non-religious among us can surely appreciate the idea "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Or.."love your neighbor as yourself".

Today, disrespectful, or at least uncaring, behavior is everywhere. From small things like not saying "thank you" and not showing up for an appointment on time...to the larger things; and we're seeing those on the news every day. But, it seems if things are going to change for the better, it must start with each individual. We must first respect ourselves, and our lives...but then absolutely respect the other person at least an equal amount. In other words, be response-able.


We Baby Boomers made a lot of noise a few decades back about changing the world for the better with peace and love. I'd like to think that one of the Boomers who's running for President this year could make an effort to accomplish that mission. How about that for a campaign promise?

It starts with R-E-S-P-E-C-T...sing it with me.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Final Thoughts- Blues 2015-2016

So..my 29th season with the Blues ended last night like all the others. Thud. But, this campaign was
WAY more fun than most. When the team is successful like this, and the fans are really into it, my job turns into an amazing combination of fan/announcer/spokesman/PR man, and I realize how overwhelmingly grateful I am for the life I live. Playing such a role for the Blues organization and game-night experience is a magnificent gift. Other thoughts-
  • Looking back, I guess what bothers me quite a bit, as a part of the home-game experience, is that we lost so many playoff games at Scottrade
      • Apr. 15- Hawks 3 Blues 2
      • Apr. 21- Hawks 4 Blues 3 2OT
      • May 5- Stars 3 Blues 2 OT
      • May 9- Stars 3 Blues 2
      • May 17- Sharks 4 Blues 0
      • May 23- Sharks 6 Blues 3
    • Two games in each series played at Scottrade were won by the visitors. Not saying I'm
      ready to take any blame, or that there is any at all, but it's strange that these guys work so hard during the regular season to get to the top of the standings to secure home ice, and then it doesn't really work to our advantage in the post-season. Better to have it than not. But it was obviously not the advantage that we were hoping for. 
  • Having to deal with the salary cap means that this team will have to look much different next season. Like it or not, that's the way it is. Some players will have to get paid somewhere else. Some of the younger guys will be asked to step up into more significant roles. What that means for the face of the roster, David Backes, will be a very interesting story this off-season. 
  • I'm so proud of our Scottrade/Blues presentation team. I won't name names here for fear of
    leaving someone out, but everybody was awesome. Everywhere I go people remark about how amazing the presentation was during the playoffs. And I particularly take note of comments from people who are in the sports business. All have been amazingly positive. Well done gang! 
  • In my years of working for the Blues I haven't felt any better about the ownership situation than I do now. I'm so happy that we have a man like Tom Stillman leading a group of locally-connected owners. Tom is, as you likely know, totally hockey-driven. He wants to win that Cup in the worst way...or any way. And that's what's bringing many casual fans into Blues Nation.
    The obvious dedication to winning goes a long way with most of us who call St. Louis home. 
  • I can't express adequately how awkward the ending of a hockey season is for those of us who work as part of the show and behind the scenes. We are friends, colleagues and hockey lovers who get together some 50-plus nights a season to perform important, various functions around the game. Off-ice officials, technicians, television and radio commentators, front-office folks, ice-maintenance people, in-game hosts, music performers/presenters, security staff, food service staff, and many others become like a big family by the end of the season. Then, inevitably, the Blues go on the road after a home game with the hopes of winning to continue the season. We usually say good-bye to one another not knowing if we'll see our friends again until the first pre-season game of the following season. We usually say something like..."See you next time"..."See you Friday" (hoping that we do) or something similar. This season we were lucky to have the Blues successful in two rounds of the playoffs.
    But, unless the Blues were to go all the way, we usually end the season at home, watching on TV, when it sets in that we won't see our hockey family again for several months. I'm not attempting to compare our emotional pain with that of the players and coaches, but it's real nonetheless. And it takes a while to get over. I continue to hope that someday soon we are able to have a post-season party for all of these people who are emotionally invested in this team that includes a parade.
Thanks for reading. LGB!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

TYMNHS-Game 2 WCF

-Let's not talk about the game. Sharks tie the series 1-1.
  • There's been a lot of discussion lately about the Rally Boobs lady who sits directly behind the visiting coach. Some readers of this blog have asked me to explain what's going on. But I was beaten to the punch by columnist Aisha Sultan of the Post-Dispatch and stltoday.com. Read all about it here
  • If you're lucky, moneyed enough, or well-connected, you may some day get to spend quality between-periods and before-and-after-game time in the Sub Zero Vodka Bar. It's high-end space that sits right next to the hallway leading from the Blues locker room to the rink. While enjoying a libation, patrons can get up-close-and-personal with the players, coaches and support personnel. I snapped a photo before the game so you
    could have a glimpse of what you and I are missing.
  • To me, there was a surprising number of fans on hand last night wearing Sharks gear. After the game, there were quite a few capturing photos of themselves standing in front of the rink glass in the afterglow of a big win. I figured there would only be a handful of Sharks fans on hand given the distance between StL and the Bay area. But, of course, there are always fans from every major metro area who happen to live in StL and are pulling for the home boys. 
  • Yes, the officials like to warm up before the game on a stationary bike; or at least have that
    option. 
  • Once again, the buffet line in the press lounge featured a carving station. This time, delicious roast beef. 
  • While in the line, I bumped into NBC broadcaster Joe Micheletti who was featured in my last post. I asked if he had read all of the "slanderous material" I wrote about him since the last game. And, to his credit, with a smile he answered.."I don't read, or participate in, any social media." Not many broadcasters can get away with that in the current mass-media climate. Good for him!
  • During the pre-game skate the stand-by officials are asked to be a presence in the penalty box
    just in case any "monkey business" should break out. Usually this is just a precaution. But there have been a few instances in the past in which a simmering grudge was cause for combat. Last night the stand-by ref was Wes McCauley and the linesman Greg Devorski
  • If you are following the series even halfway closely, you should be familiar with the story of Wyatt and Gerry Nelson of Saskatoon. If not, here's a link to the Post-Dispatch story of their visit to last night's game. The in-house presentation featured the Nelson's story on the
    videoboard and some of Wyatt's play-by-play audio. Classy move by the Blues organization and Saskatchewan native Kelly Chase, who's heart is as big as all outdoors, for bringing this hockey-fanatical dad and son to town. 
  • Speaking of Saskatoon, many of us older folks remember how close the Blues were to moving there back in 1983. For you younger fans, it's an amazing story that writer Jeff Fahrenkrog compiled for stlouisgametime.com back in 2009. After you read this, we should all consider ourselves extremely lucky to even have pro hockey, and this current playoff run, to enjoy in 2016. 
More TYMNHS after Monday's Game 5. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 16, 2016

TYMNHS-5/15/16 Game 1 Western Conference Finals

So most of the talking heads believe that the Sharks were the better team in Game 1 (Final 2-1 Blues) but didn't win the game. Well, in this corner we think that if you score more goals than the other team, you are the better team on that night. If you take the goaltenders out of the game, maybe SJ was better. But you can't do that. Moose was better than Jones. And they still play the game with goaltenders. But I would like to see the Blues control the puck a lot more in Tuesday's game. On to the Things You Might Not Have Seen on TV in Game 1.
  • Joe Micheletti is probably the nicest guy in the world...or at least in the top ten.
    The former Blues defenseman is working the Blues-Sharks series for NBC in the booth with Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher at ice level. I got to know Joe well during his days doing radio for the Blues with the great Dan Kelly at around the same time I started doing the Blues PA announcing. I was always impressed with his genuine interest in people and their well-being. He would always ask about how my wife and kids were doing and we would discuss our families. This was at a time when he was a young family man and just starting to have kids of his own. We usually talked about "real life things" more than hockey. Every time Joe is back in town, I make an effort, or he does, to get together somewhere in Scottrade and say hello and catch up. And he always asks about my family...and I do the same of him. He is the kind of person you are lucky to know...and thrilled to see have success in broadcasting at a very high level. But I will always be jealous of the fact that he doesn't seem to age...while my hair keeps getting whiter. Joe, a Hibbing MN native, played for the legendary Herb Brooks at U of Minnesota and was named the MVP of the 1976 NCAA hockey finals. He's another outstanding broadcaster that traces his professional roots back to the Gateway City
  • Jamie Hersch, another Minnesota native and a studio host for NHL Network, is in town for this series.
    When I reported to my microphone for game 1, she was doing a live shot on NHL Network in the penalty box. When she was finished, we chatted and each took a selfie. Obviously, she is quite photogenic while I still have the "face for radio". I also have an issue with holding the phone steady...sorry about the blur. 
  • In my last edition, I mentioned how the press lounge food is always consistently good, but that high-end touches such as carving stations hadn't been seen
    since the Dave Checketts ownership days. Well...voila!! The picture illustrates my power over things with the Blues organization :) Delicious pork tenderloin being doled out at the carving station last night. Of course, I had nothing to do with this. It has much more to do with the Blues stepping up the game for the national press group covering the WC finals. And, there was a large group of out-of-town press on hand. 
  • The pre-game show was tweaked a bit for this next round of the playoffs. Another outstanding presentation by our group
    of professionals. This shot of the rink was taken during the pre-game rehearsal which is standard for the playoffs at around 2-1/2 hours before game time. 
  • The back-up officials for last night's game were referee Francis Charron and linesman Jonny Murray. So two of the best were once again ready if needed. 
  • In earlier days, Blues fans loved to hate Mike Ricci, a former agitator for the Sharks. I noticed on the game notes that he continues to be employed by the Bay-area fish in a player-development job. Talk about a face for radio. I think he's got
    me beat. 
  • The crowd was very supportive and loud at all the right times last night. I was a bit worried about this going in because some of the 300-level fans sometimes have a difficult time affording playoff tickets. But last night's crowd was in it from the start and gave the team the home-ice advantage they needed. 
Thanks for reading. I'll have another edition after game 2.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TYMNHS- Game 6 - 5/9/16

Things You Might Not Have Seen on the tube. Well... The crowd of 19,808 was into it. The game entertainment crew (pic to the right) was hitting on all cylinders. Everything was perfect for a clincher...but...a bad stretch in the first period sends the series back to Dallas for Game 7 tomorrow night. Final..3-2 Stars.
  • The production crew has a meeting, usually about 2-1/2 hours before each game. Director of Entertainment Jason Pippi (that's him peaking into the picture from the right) goes over the script and timing of events for that night's game. Senior Director of Event Presentation Chris Frome makes sure all of the technical necessities are in order. All of the "players" are in attendance...Yours truly, In-game host Angella Sharpe, Organist Jeremy Boyer, Music Coordinator Carl Middleman and, as you can see, many others totally adept at what they do. (The photo doesn't include several other key people) Camera operators, technical directors, scoreboard and matrix board operators, and, for the playoffs, our visiting crew of on-ice projection folks, are all involved. We discuss any new and different elements in detail. Much preparation, production, creativity, and thought goes into each element of the game. That's why Scottrade Center's presentation has been judged one of the tops in sports. 
  • I first met Trevor Nickerson when he was a teenager and working as a production
    assistant for the late Joe May who was operating a company that produced numerous high school sports broadcasts in the Metro-East. Trevor, obviously a talented and thoughtful young man, quickly established himself as a valuable person on the technical and production side of the broadcasting business. I don't have his complete resume' to work with, but he eventually worked his way into a broadcast engineer vital to the CBS Radio operations in St. Louis. (KMOX/Y-98/KEZK). In the recent past he accepted the position of Producer/Editor for the Blues. He will engineer the radio broadcasts of the games, home and away. And he performs many other important, but usually unseen, broadcasting and production tasks for the team. Here he is getting ready in the KMOX booth, where he works with Chris Kerber and Kelly Chase, for last night's broadcast. 
  • I'm often asked about the pre-game meal at Scottrade. Usually 2 hours before game time, the
    press lounge buffet line becomes active. Most employees of the team are provided with coupons for a free meal. Members of the press and other credentialed personnel are provided a meal at a highly-reasonable $7. As to how the quality of the food compares to that offered elsewhere, I can't comment. But I keep hearing that Chicago offers a stellar feed. During the Dave Checketts ownership, food started out at barely edible (a carryover from the Bill Laurie days) to occasionally spectacular with carving stations and other high-end offerings that you would only find in a top restaurant. The menu these days is not nearly so spectacular...but very good on a consistent basis with few complaints being heard.  
  • Winning The Hardware...the in-house feature added for the playoffs spotlighted the great Hall-of-Famer Brett Hull at last night's game. We all remember his 86-goal season and the Stanley
    Cup-winning goal he scored while with the Stars. We all also should remember that his spectacular offensive shows brought fans back to the Blues and made it possible for the franchise to transition from almost moving to Saskatoon in the mid-80's...to it becoming possible to build a new arena downtown in the early 90's which would house pro hockey in StL for many years. His contribution to our enjoyment of the sport in the Heartland of Hockey can never be over-estimated. After I read the summary of his career on the PA system, in-house video cut to a shot of Hullie in one of the management suites. By then the Blues were down 3-0 and he had an understandable look of total disappointment for the video board. Hopefully, the boys will remember their knack for winning on the road at American Airlines Center tomorrow night. 
  • Poor John Kelly and Darren Pang. Their first-intermission, in-house report for the crowd last
    night had to be a severe challenge. With the team down 3-0 at the time and everybody wondering what the hell had happened, the guys did a great job of analyzing the situation and also keeping things as positive as possible. 
  • Two of the best, referee Brad Watson and linesman Greg Devorski were the back-up officials for last night's game. 
  • In my last post, I complained about the energy level in the crowd at last Thursday's game that Dallas won in overtime. I couldn't understand how so many people could be so quiet and uninvolved for a playoff game. Well, as I said at the top, the crowd was into it last night in a big way. Lots of energy at the start...and until Dallas went up 3-0. But as the Blues crept back into the game the crowd was really great. Way to go Blues fans! The loss had nothing to do with atmosphere in the building. 
  • I'll have another of these after we play game 1 of the Conference finals. Thanks for reading.