Archive for July, 2007

Me and 103.7 Free FM

Speaking of (the late) 103.7 Free FM, although I was not, in general, a fan of the station, I must confess: I was addicted to The Dangerous Dick and Skibba Show, which was on the air from 19:00 to 22:00 weeknights from March of 2006 until their “Valentine’s Day Massacre” on February 14th, 2007.

The show was, at the beginning at least, primarily hosts Dick and Skibba talking about their love lives, especially Dick’s romantic failures. After all, let’s admit it, it’s a lot more interesting to follow the story of a serial dater than that of someone in a comfortable long-term relationship. (Later, Dick said that baring all to the world each night had taken too much of a toll on him and he stopped speaking so much about his own life, to the show’s detriment I must add). In fact it was rare that a caller would be as interesting as the hosts themselves.

Listening to the show was akin to getting hooked on a soap opera. I started skipping evening activities so that I wouldn’t miss the latest installment of the show and find out what had happened in Dick and Skibba’s lives in the previous 21 hours. (Kind of like how a friend once tapped into a female neighbor’s phone line and got so wrapped up in her life that he couldn’t leave the house for fear of missing something…but that’s another story for another posting.)

I even attended a late-night Dick and Skibba listener party on Ocean Beach, and ended up with my picture in the Reader (that’s me on the left),Me with Anana and Skibba

Skibba (right) with fans

the most popular local weekly. I was also mentioned in the accompanying article, where the reporter wrote:

There was one guy standing by himself, and I talked to him for a little bit. He said he used to listen to NPR, but when he tuned into Dick and Skibba, he thought they were funny. He didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the crowd. We laughed about the people walking by in a drunken stupor.

Ahh, the story of my life; not fitting in with the rest of the crowd. And I surely didn’t feel completely at home with a bunch of stoners in OB late at night, but I still had a fun time and I’m glad I went.

Fast forward 8 months…

I head up to Carlsbad to see a magic show put on by my buddy Smoothini The Ghetto Houdini. I run into him as I enter and he has me sit at a table with a few of his friends. As soon as I sit down, one of the women at the table says with surprise, “You’re the guy from the magazine!”

I assure her she must have mistaken me for someone else. She then says
“Didn’t you go to the Free FM bonfire party in OB?” Yes I had. She said there was a picture of her, me, and Skibba in The Reader. You see, I remembered reading the article but somehow I didn’t recognize myself in the picture, nor did I catch the reference to me in the article. Smoothini said he had seen it too.

I remembered talking to her (her name is Anana) that night. She was in the neighborhood looking at an apartment and figured she might as well stop by the beach party. We talked for a while, actually, but I’m so bad at recognizing people (I didn’t even recognize myself in the Reader!), I would have never recognized anyone I met that night, even if they were sitting across the table from me at a restaurant.

That was quite a coincidence! The woman I met and was photographed with at a random public beach party in OB eight months earlier happened to be friends with a friend of mine who lives way up in Oceanside.

I only called into (and was put on the air) the Dick and Skibba show once. Lindsey, the ditzy phone screener and news reader for the show, was about to go off to Malaysia on vacation and she was wondering what clothes to bring, and I called to remind her that Malaysia is a Muslim nation and that she should take that into consideration when selecting a wardrobe.

I still miss the show, and if they land a gig at another station, I’ll be sure to tune in, via the Internet if necessary.

As for the rest of our Free FM, the only other shows I ever listened to more than once were Tom Leykis and The Third Shift. I used to listen to Tom regularly on KFI (640 AM) in the late ’80s when his show was more politically oriented (I would describe him as socially liberal and a libertarian) and he talked more about himself and his father, but even then I could only take so much and would have to turn him off after an hour or two.

Jack, meet Sophie

On June 22nd, CBS Radio closed the book on their “Free FM” hot talk format, including a format change at San Diego’s KSCF, 103.7 FM.

My guess is that what they really would have liked to do is use the Jack FM format that they have had much success with in other markets, including Los Angeles.

Alas, Midwest Television Inc. had already licensed that format for this market and is running it on their KFMB-FM (100.3).

So they came up with the anti-Jack. Jack, meet Sophie. While Jack stations proudly proclaim that they don’t pay heed to their listeners and play “what we want”, Radio Sophie actively solicits its listeners’ feedback. Maybe it’s a female (Sophie) vs. male (Jack) kind of thing.

I have to say that Radio Sophie plays the best mix of music I’ve heard on San Diego radio in a long time. I like stations that play an eclectic mix, and I would listen to Jack with its 1000-song playlist if not for the fact that it consists mostly of oldies.

Those songs may have been fine back then, but I’m just not interested. I’m always looking for the next great song, and I love the fact that Sophie, almost the antithesis of Jack, plays all contemporary music, including some unsigned bands, with styles ranging from rock to blues to folk.

I just hope they keep it this way. I have seen way too many radio stations start out with an adventurous playlist, only to become more corporate and conservative after the major labels notice them and send in their promoters, flush with “incentives.”

Bulgaria vs. Greece – Part 2

OK, so maybe I should have listened a little more closely to what the Greeks told me about Bulgaria, and been a little more careful.

I always tend to trust people, and in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, this resulted in having my camera, along with most of my trip photos, stolen.

I was wandering around the town lost when a guy who looked like Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont HighJeff Spicoli pic came up, introduced himself, and offered to help me find my way. He pointed me in the right direction, then helpfully offered to take a picture of me with his buddies.

I was a bit suspicious, and even briefly considered yanking the memory card from my camera just in case, but I handed it over, and after he took a few shots, he ran off with my Casio EX-Z40.

His two friends didn’t run, but since technically they hadn’t done anything, there wasn’t much I could do. I urged them to help me find their friend, but they claimed to not know him and eventually they gave me the slip and ran off too.

I went back to my hotel and asked the owner if I should call the police or if that would be just a waste of time. Her response: “It’s a waste of time. I’m sorry.”

I’m not sure there are really any lessons to be learned here. One might be tempted to just not trust strangers met on the road, but if I traveled with that attitude, I would miss out on too many experiences. 例えば、I never would have had dinner with a bunch of Egyptian students who approached me in Cairo, and I would not have allowed myself to be invited into two homes in Morocco for meals and coffee.

So I will try not to be cynical, and if the price for these adventures is the loss of an occasional camera, so be it. I still maintain that most countries in the world are way safer than the U.S. After all, they didn’t shoot me. And I even had an excuse to buy a new camera.