Saturday, August 26, 2006


You may have heard something about a country music singer killing a tame bear and a lot of folks being upset about that. I really don't know what happened, but I will pass along the latest. You can draw your own conclusion or you can wait for the trial and the verdict.

In addition to earlier statements from Troy Gentry and his management last week regarding Troy's arraignment of federal charges last week for allegedly killing a tame bear and being complicit in illegal tagging of the bear, Troy's manager released this open letter to Gentry's fans and friends with more details of the incident:

"To Montgomery Gentry Friends and Fans:

You are probably aware of the allegations made against Troy Gentry in a federal indictment filed in Duluth, MN. Unfortunately, the false accusations made against Troy in the indictment have been reported in the media as a statement of fact.

These charges are very serious, and the potential penalties are very severe. Troy has hired the best trial lawyer in the state of Minnesota to represent him in this manner. Accordingly, Troy's attorney has advised him not to make any statements about the facts of this case.

Since Troy cannot speak for himself, I feel it is important to give you some perspective on this case that has not yet been reported in the media.

Troy is accused of conspiring with a professional hunting guide to improperly fill out a hunting tag. To back up this charge, the indictment claims that Troy shot a tamed bear in a cage, then made a video to appear that he did not shoot the bear in a cage, but in the wild. These claims are wildly inaccurate.

The bear in question was never in a cage or pen; not when it was killed or at anytime prior to that. This wild bear occupied its own habitat (consisting of several acres of woodlands) on a game preserve owned by the codefendant. Troy shot the bear with a bow and arrow from a tree stand mounted on the private game preserve. Troy did video tape this hunt for his personal use, but did not edit it to make it appear anything other than what it was. He did not distribute the video for commercial use or intend to use it to mislead anyone.

Troy is an avid environmentalist and hunter who supports and follows all game laws. Before he killed the bear he was told by the bear guide that it was proper and legal to kill the bear which again was not a tamed bear and was never in a pen or cage. Troy reported the kill to the wildlife authorities and tagged the bear per the guidance of his professional guide. This all occurred in October 2004.

Troy is disheartened that he has been falsely accused, and looks forward to speaking with the US Attorney's handling this case. A press release regarding the indictment was serviced to the media by the US Attorney's office in Minneapolis immediately following the arraignment. Although they were aware of Troy's legal counsel, they did not include his contact information in their press release as is customary. Thus the media ran with the false information on without contacting anyone on Troy's behalf.

The result is that Troy has been convicted in the court of public opinion without fair representation. A true travesty of justice for a guy who truly loves God's creation, treats it with respect, and obeys the laws designed to preserve and maximize its splendor.

Please continue to support Troy and Montgomery Gentry in this time of crisis.

Sincerely, Johnny Dorris, Hallmark Direction Company

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Aluminum Luminary

It was a September day in 1961. The Cincinnati Reds were at the top of the National League and were on their way to winning the pennant. The New York Yankees were doing the same in the American League. There would be a World Series in Crosley Field and I would be there. But that’s another story.

On this sultry Cincinnati Monday in September I was about to meet Dick Wagner.
I had left my temporary residence at the YMCA (No, I’m not kidding) and walked to the Sinton Hotel on Fourth Street in the Queen City and up to the Mezzanine floor. These were the studios of WSAI-1360 AM; the same studios that had been there for 30 some years.
I peeked thru the thick glass of a small window in a thick door. Look at that! A shinny black grand piano, left over I’m sure, from the days when music was performed “live” on the air and beamed over the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana countryside from a powerful transmitter atop Price Hill.

Up a few stairs, I met Joanie, the receptionist, who took me into Gene Nelson’s office. Gene was the Program Director who had called me in Buffalo and invited me to join the staff of a new Top 40 sound in Cincinnati. I met Richard “Dick” Nason, the General Manager and then it was off to tour the studios. It really wasn’t that much of a facility. I was not impressed. Very old fashioned and certainly a far cry from the studios and offices of WBNY, located in Buffalo’s Statler Hilton Hotel.
Dick Wagner was doing the late morning shift---9-noon.
What I heard on the hall speakers was a warm and friendly air personality; snappy production and a sharp wit to go along with it. As is the case with most people, I listened to that radio voice and created a mental picture of the person behind the voice. I was totally fooled. Dick Wagner wasn’t a big guy, in fact he was rather short. His hair was short as well…and bristly. Big eyes peeked at me thru a pair or dark, round glasses and he extended his hand in a peculiar way. As I reached for the hand I realized that Dick Wagner was crippled---Handicapped is what we call it today. Maybe it was polio, maybe it was something else.
“I’m Dick Braun. Wagner that is, on the radio. Good to meet you and welcome aboard”.

I don’t know if I showed my “shock”, but I hope not. If I had I’m sure he was used to it. He was the type of guy who looked at his disability as an inconvenience that could be and was overcome.
Dick used the name Wagner in Cincinnati. Management had made the suggestion in deference to the fact that there was a TV-Radio personality named Bob Braun at 50,000 watt WLW.

As I watched him cue up 45s, flick switches, rev up the pot, turn on his mic and talk, I was truly amazed. He wasn't handicapped or inconvenienced. He was a wonder. He was an inspiration.
When I first saw the control room set up, I figured there would be some difficulty in mastering this set-up, but after watching Dick do his magic, I made up my mind that it wouldn’t be a problem.
Later when I saw Dick go thru the hall with leg braces and traveling on crutches, my head exploded with a “Wow!”.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is an obituary.

BRAUN, RICHARD "DICK," 77, of Louisville, passed away Friday, July 28, 2006, at Baptist Hospital East.
A friend in Louisville, Allen Bryan, said this about Dick: "He was a really decent guy with a serious physical handicap for most if not all of his life. He used to call himself the 'aluminum luminary' because of the braces and crutches he needed to get around.”
Dusty Rhodes who worked with us at the time, and passed along this information said: “He was a wonderful human being and a great talent. Dick was one of the original deejays on WKBW when it went "top 40" (that's him at the steering wheel of the 1959 news cruiser in the photo of the 'KB jocks) and came to Cincinnati from Buffalo where he helped kick off the format on WSAI in 1961. He went to Louisville in the late '60s”.

Dick Wagner always wore a smile. Something had to be truly insane before he got pissed off.

I can recall his creative mind. In a day when radio stations had to run public service announcements, he created two characters called Drs. Mortar and Pestle to rely health tips. Perhaps no big deal to you, but it stuck in my mind.

I remember Dick playing soccer in our back yard. He balanced himself on the sticks and swung his right foot at the ball. He missed, and fell flat on his derriere...but not for long. He picked himself up, set up again and put that soccer ball into the vacant field in back of the house.

He did the play-by play for the station baseball and basketball teams. He went everywhere with us. He challenged the rest of us...Gene Nelson, Dick Purtan, Ron Britain, Dusty Rhodes, Mike Sherman and me. No exception, I have never worked with a better team of radio professionals.

The Obituary went on to read: Dick Braun was born in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1928, and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dick was well known in Louisville as a radio announcer on WAMZ Radio and WINN Radio. WAMZ was a big part of his life, and he made many personal appearances over the years, along with his wife. Dick also recorded talking books for the Kentucky School for the Blind. He had the good fortune to have an exciting and fulfilling career.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Genevieve Shrewsbury Braun. He was also preceded in death by his son, Richard Braun, Jr. He is survived by a daughter, Jackie Braun; grandson Garrett Nutgrass; and many relatives in Pittsburgh and Sophia WV.
The family would like to thank his friends for taking care of him for the past year, the Edlin Family, the Baker Family, the Diebold family, Betty Clark and James Volpert. The family would also like to thank the employees of Friendship Manor.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Kosair Charities

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Wasted Days and Other Stories

Back in my memory there is a story of the listener who called the request line at Chicago's Country Music Power House and told me that he and his new wife were on their honeymoon and wanted to hear a special song.
Hey, for that or almost any other occasion, I was willing to comply.
"And what would you like to hear" I asked.
"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights by Freddy Fender".

Grammy-winning artist Freddy Fender, who is almost 70, has been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times says that Freddy was diagnosed in June and has cancelled all bookings and is resting at his Corpus Christi home.
Freddy is best remembered for a number of hit recordings including Wasted Days and Wasted Nights and Before the Next Teardrop Falls.
Freddy told the paper: "I woke up this morning and I’m ahead of the pack — to my surprise," he joked to the paper. "I feel OK. I feel all right, but I’m on chemo, so I get side effects. I’m getting ready for my third treatment for the second time..... I’m one year away from 70 and I’ve had a good run. I really believe I’m OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven’t lived long enough, but I’d like to live longer."

Back in Chicago, and working for WJJD-AM 1160, I hosted shows with him and had him on the air with me one afternoon after he had sung the National Anthem at Wrigley Field in front of a Cubs crowd.
While we were talking, I noticed writing on his hands; he had written the words to the Anthem on his palms. “Well, I didn’t want to forget them. That would have been embarrassing. I didn’t want to be known as the guy who blew the lines to the National Anthem at the Cubs game.“

Arista/Nashville has confirmed that the multi-platinum selling act, Diamond Rio has parted ways with the label. The group's most recent Country single was, "God Only Cries."
A little history about God songs:
In March 2005, "In God We Still Trust" was performed at a Diamond Rio concert.
They received an immediate standing ovation, and continue to do so every time they perform it!
Sadly, major radio stations wouldn't play it because it is considered politically incorrect. Consequently, Arista/Nashville was reluctant to release the song to the public. If they did, I didn’t get a copy.
However, I did receive a copy of Diamond Rio Greatest Hits II...and the 13th cut.... The last cut on the album is "In God We Still Trust".

I'll give the guys credit for making the company put that one on the CD. Now if we can only get the lamebrains of the radio business to play it occasionally. Once a day would be nice.... Along with our National Anthem. Like the good-old-days. (Although I have heard that some stations have revived that practice)

In God We Still Trust is a wonderful song, thought and fact that most of us still trust in God.
Thank God that radio programmers of past years played Kate Smith‘s “God Bless America” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”

I'm often disappointed with my brothers of the broadcasting business. They lack guts, individualism and any sort of spirit of adventure. They truly are sitting on their brains. But that again, may be corporate policy; a judgment made by some corporate VP who never spent a day in front of a mic or talked with fans at a country concert.
He/she can however move a pencil well enough to come up with a enough black ink to make the stockholder’s happy---forget the listeners---forget the fans---forget entertainment. Just make money.

Alan Jackson put on a free private show at the Grand Ole Opry on August 2nd for a special group of about 1200 volunteers currently working to build a house for a family for the hit TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
The Hawkins family's home was destroyed this past April when a tornado ripped through the Nashville suburb of Gallatin. Amy Hawkins was home with her two young sons when the cyclone touched down and she covered the boys with her body to protect them from the flying debris. The heroic act saved her sons but when the house collapsed on her, Amy was paralyzed from the waist down.

Like most area residents, Allan had heard of the family's plight and wanted to do his part to help. He says, "Being close to home here, of course anybody that went through that you're more connected with. And then I think the fact that I'm a parent and I would give my life for my children, so I know she didn't think twice about it, and just the personal devastation they felt, not only with their home but of course their health. It's a never-ending battle, it sounds like."

Keith Urban beat it back to Nashville after his marriage and honeymoon, to work on his new studio album due out this fall. First single out of the project is called Once In A Lifetime.

Country Weekly readers recently voted Keith Urban as "The Sexiest Man in Country Music," and in their August 14th issue, they explore the "mystique".

A couple of years back Sara Evans was the first female star publicly saying Keith turned her on big time, saying her husband would just have to deal with that.
In the article some other lady stars add their reasons for the same reaction, including Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton and Danielle Peck.
Dolly says, "He's handsome, he's sexy, he's talented, he's tender." Miranda, who once toured with Keith, simply describes Keith as, "One of the most beautiful people I've ever seen." Chely Wright taps into Keith's generous side, telling Country Weekly, "I have never known a kinder soul than Keith Urban. And he is simply gorgeous to look at." Keith, now married to Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, has downplayed his celebrity, which appeals to SHeDAISY's Kristyn Osborn. "The humility with which he handles all this attention is actually very charming," she says.

Martina McBride is thinking ahead to the Christmas holiday season and has announced she will be touring once again this Christmas.
Now in it's fourth year, "The Joy Of Christmas," will start spreading holiday cheer in Chicago on November 24th and wind it's way through 15 other cities. The show will prove to be a holiday extravaganza complete with 18 seasonal classics by Martina, special effects, elaborate sets and a talented cast of actors. Martina elaborates, "Christmas is such a wonderful time, and I wanted to create a memorable holiday experience for the entire family. For more information and tour dates log onto:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rush and Sean are not my kind of talk show hosts

Perry Michael Simon, an Editor at All Access News-Talk-Sports Website put together the basic idea for this column. I’m borrowing a lot of stuff and adding a comment or two.
Perry, I hope you don’t mind.

I don't know exactly when the conventional wisdom changed to create all-conservative talk stations and all liberal talk stations, but that's the way things are now, for the most part. Maybe it's a sign of the increasing polarization of American political discourse. Or maybe Program Managers just got tired of hearing complaints from one host's fans about the other host's show. It's kind of a shame, actually.

I was talking about this with a host who lands on the liberal end of the political spectrum that's worked at some conservative stations. And the reaction he got, as a left-winger on a right-wing station was surprising: listeners mostly liked him, even when they disagreed with him.

Here in Dallas, there is a propensity of conservative program hosts; mostly on the powerhouse AM stations. All excellent actors. I Personally don’t think they believe 90% of the things that say, in fact, I think most of their material is made up. I just don’t believe they are THAT dumb.
By the way Air American, the liberal voice, is relegated to a low-power AM in the Northern suburbs.
Back when I was a kid and the nation's hosts cowered in fear of the dreaded Fairness Doctrine, you got liberals and conservatives and who-knows-what-else all on the same station, all the time.

I remember lots of hosts, and what I remember is less their political stances than their styles, the entertainment value. And today, some of the best local hosts defy political pigeonholing- just when you think you have 'em pegged as conservatives, they say something you'd call liberal, or vice versa. They're unpredictable from day to day, from topic to topic. That would appall some Program Managers; I think it's a good thing.

I can't tell you, actually, whether you should really mix conservative and liberal political talk these days. Perhaps the polarized formats ARE a better idea. After all, you'd tune in Top 40 station of the 60's and 70's and you'd get the Beatles and Frank Sinatra and Glen Campbell and Marvin Gaye and Cream back-to-back: you can't do that anymore, because someone who wants rock can hear all-rock stations, someone who wants country can tune in the country station, and someone who wants Frank Sinatra can go buy a satellite radio. Talk's that way, too--- you have the conservative station and the other conservative station and the liberal station and the sports station and maybe a weird brokered one that always seems to have fake talk shows about miracle dietary supplements. You don't need to sit through the "song" you don't like to get to the one you do. And I suppose it's better that way. But I kinda miss the days when there were hosts you loved and hosts you loved to hate, all on one station.

Maybe there's room for "Jack-AM: We Say What We Want." Just a thought.