Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Day the "Geeks" Stole Christmas!

The unthinkable happened on Christmas Eve, my home computer crashed! I diagnosed the problem and determined that it was the power supply that had failed.

I patiently waited until the day after Christmas and went to the nearby BestBuy on 90th and Shea and bought a replacement power supply first thing Friday morning. While in there I saw their Geek Squad department. I asked them If I could bring in the computer and have them replace the power supply for me if I had problems. They said they could and it would cost fifty dollars.

I took the new power supply home, mounted it into the computer and then got thoroughly confused on where the half dozen or so cables went to. Instead of sitting down and reading the directions, I decided I was going to give my self a holiday present and take the computer back to the "Geeks" at BestBuy and have them install it for me. That is when the nightmare compounded!

I brought the computer to them, I had already opened the case and mounted the power supply. All they had to do was connect the wires. The first thing I noticed when I got there was a sense of arrogance by the "Geeks". They told me that they would first have to clean the computer before they installed the power supply. That cost an additional twenty dollars added to the fifty that it was going to cost for the install. I was not happy but saw that I did not have a choice and agreed to the frivolous up-charge. When asked when I could expect the computer back they were ambivalent and said they were not sure but that I should have it within 24 hours.

I went home and late in the afternoon I received a call and email from the Geeks. My computer was ready.

This will come as no surprise to you, Fran was out shopping. I called her and asked her if she could pick the computer up on her way home. She said no problem. An hour later, she called from BestBuy. They would not release the computer to her. They said she needed the receipt. She asked if they could put me on the phone to authorize it? They said no and were quite rude to her.

At around six-thirty Firday night I made it back to BestBuy and picked up the computer. Took it home, plugged it in checked my email and updated some software which required that I restart the computer. To my surprise, the computer would not restart. The power was on, but it would not boot up. Not Happy!!!!

I unplugged all the cables and went back to BestBuy and talked to the arrogant "Geeks". They looked at the computer and said that the CPU fan was bad, the CPU was overheating and was shutting down the system. I told them that I thought that it was strange that before they cleaned the computer everything was working fine and now the fan is bad. They could care less and would take no responsibility for the fan going bad. I think that when they cleaned the computer with their compressed air something lodged in the fan motor causing it to fail. I asked them if they had a fan to replace it with and they said no and that I should go to Fry's electronics and get one and if I wanted they could install it for me for an additional sixty dollars.

I'm getting unhappier as the moments pass. On the bright side, Jude one of the "Alien Geeks" was actually compassionate towards my cause, he was pleasant and helpful, he tried to resurrect the fan but could not. He was nice enough to remove the fan for me so I could take it to Fry's and get it replaced.

A Breath of Fresh Air:

I came home called the Fry's in Tempe to see what time they would be open until and if they had the part. When I called the young man that answered the phone said they closed in fifteen minutes at nine pm. He could not have been nicer of more helpful. He checked his inventory and saw that they did not have the part in stock but had it online and at their Phoenix store, the cost was ten dollars. He gave me the skew number and said I could order it online and have it ready for pickup in Phoenix first thing in the morning. My plan was to pick up the part, return home and install it myself. This was a project that I felt I could handle.

I went online, ordered the part and was off to Fry's first thing Saturday morning. When I arrived I was greeted by an associate who directed me to the checkout line to pick up the fan. I decided that I would walk around the store for a while and look at all the computers, electronics, gadgets, software and more before I checked out.

In my travels through the store, I saw that Fry's has their own tech support and repair service similar to BestBuy. I stopped by the counter and once again was greeted by a friendly associate. I recounted my nightmare to him and asked him if they could install the fan for me and how much it would cost. He said they could, it would cost thirty dollars (half of what the geeks wanted to charge me) and take about fifteen minutes. Oddly enough, the computer was still in the back of my car from the night before, I brought it in, picked up the part and had them install it for me.

When I came back fifteen minutes later the computer was ready, the associate plugged it on for me and showed me that it was working fine. My nightmare was now over.

Back in May I wrote about the great customer service that Fry's has. I learned my lesson, I should have gone to Fry's first. To me, BestBuy is just like the corner convenience store. You pay a premium and the customer service is lousy. Do yourself a favor, take the extra time and go to Fry's. They have great customer service, a larger inventory, better variety and their prices are the best in town.

The irony of the story is, I gave a few BestBuy gift cards as holiday presents this year. In retrospect, that is like putting coal in someone's stocking!

Learn from my mistake go to Fry's!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chinese Food on Christmas

With the holidays around the corner, I'm reminded of the first Christmas that I can remember. I must of been four or five and we lived in an apartment in Skokie, Illinois. What I remember most of all was that it was getting late (or at least it was late for me) and we were sitting in living room. My mother had left out milk and a sandwich for Santa Clause and my parents wanted me to go to bed. The next thing I know is that I hear bells jingling outside the window. My folks say you must get to bed so Santa Clause can come. I went to bed and remember waking up early the next morning, half the milk was gone and the sandwich had a bite taken out of it. I remember that Santa Clause brought me a big, red fire truck that year.

It wasn't until years later that I found out that their wasn't a Santa Clause and I discovered that the bells jingling were actually coming from my uncle Jay who was out side the window.

As the years went on and my brother and I got older, we did not celebrate Christmas, we celebrated Hanukkah. On Christmas day we would typically be with friends, go to the movies and either go to, or carry out Chinese food. That tradition has stuck and forty years later Fran and I do the same thing with the girls.

Imagine my delight the other day when Ellen Brown posted this video by Brandon Walker on facebook. Enjoy!

As long as we are in the Holiday spirit, Sydney and I were watching the movie This Christmas with Chris Brown. It was a cute movie. What I enjoyed the most was Chris Brown singing "This Christmas". This is my new favorite Christmas song.

Watch the music video here.

On a much more serious note, it is tough out there right now. Not only in the broadcasting industry but in just about every other industry as well. Radio consultant Jim Taszarek had a heart felt post in his "Daily News and Tips" email on November 25th.

The headline was "Layoffs and Thanksgiving". The message is just as powerful for the holidays as it was for Thanksgiving.

This is what Jim had to say.......

Want to feel good over Thanksgiving weekend? I know two anonymous heroes; a MM and a GM who didn't choose, but were required to lay off some people in the last couple months. One is having a Thanksgiving Dinner for them and their families. Another gave up frequent flyer miles for a former jock to see her mom. That is so cool.

If you're at a station that had recent layoffs, but you still have a gig, let's take a moment to discuss our departed brothers and sisters. Things they might be able to use . . .

A Call

Ideas for where to look for a gig.


Rides for kids


Borrowing a laptop

Car repair - but mostly . . .

Your Attention

Your Time

Your Concern

Your Friendship

Your Encouragement

This will help both of you to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

Sign up for Taz's news letter here. It is a must read for radio people.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Steve Dahl's Influence

I just read in the radio trades that Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl has been let go by CBS radio. He had been heard 5-9 a.m. weekdays on WJMK-FM 104.3 (Jack FM).

Steve Dahl was just starting out in Chicago radio when I was in finishing high school in 1978. Steve Dahl was one of the first "Shock Jocks" that I remember listening too.

Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal writes about Dahl's departure and the departure of other high profile / high paid media personalities in Chicago and around the country. A very interesting and insightful read. Read it here:

Here is another post by Phil Rosenthal. Read it here:
Here is the link to Steve Dahl's website.

Personally, I vividly remember driving with with my father somewhere listening to Dahl in the car (my choice not his) . Dahl was detailing a story about the tragic death of a young woman who had died during a love making session with her boyfriend. He went on to say that when the doctors performed the autopsy, they determined that she had choked to death and discovered a foreign substance in her throat (interesting). I remember the story, but don't remember how my father reacted. I was a bit embarrassed and am sure he was too. I was biting my tongue so I would not laugh hysterically. (Hey, what do you want? I was 18 and this was locker room humor at it's best)

Dahl was funny, topical, crude and he certainly new how to relate to a young male audience at the time.

Believe it or not, the car incident with my father in 1978 has helped me formulate some of the on-air philosophies that help guide me today. When targeting young males the content of the show is one thing. When targeting people that have young kids in the car with them, acceptable content is quite different. I suggest to our programmer and jocks on MEGA, an adult 25-54, family oriented station that we should not broadcast any content that would embarrass a parent while listening with their kids.

On the flip side, I also feel that parents have to take responsibility for what is acceptable to listen to as well. A case in point was just this week when I made the mistake of listening to POWER 98.3 in the morning while driving my eleven year old daughter to school. POWER is going through some imaging and programming changes and I wanted to hear what was going on.

The morning show was taking calls from listeners, asking them what happened to their first boy/girlfriend. A girl called in and said her old boyfriend had been in jail for a while and when he came out he was into tattoos and piercings. Today, he is a professional "Pecker Piercer". Funny bit, not appropriate for an eleven year old. Shame on me for listening to POWER with her in the car. Needless to say, I had to explain what a "Pecker Piercer" was. Embarrassing....

Back in my EDGE days, when we carried Howard Stern, I would listen to him in the morning while taking my oldest who at the time was four or five to daycare. One day, I heard a childs voice from the back seat say, "Daddy, that was a bad word"! Oops, that was the last time I listened to Howard with her in the car.

Both girls are probably scarred for life and will remember these incidents 30 years from now just like I remember Steve Dahl with my father...

Dahl could also be funny without being crude. After I moved to Arizona to attend ASU, Dahl gained notoriety for executing one of the best radio promotions I can ever remember. The Disco Demolition at Comisky Park, the former home of the Chicago White Sox. Dahl and the White Sox encouraged listeners to come to a Thursday night double header, bring a disco record and get in for ninety-eight cents. Dahl would blow the disco records up on the field in between the games. The promotion was a success, thousands of listeners turned out with their old disco records. When Dahl blew the records up, fans went crazy, they stormed the field and a small riot ensued. Game two of the double header was canceled. Not a great day for the White Sox organization, but an out of the park home run for Dahl and the radio station. This put Dahl and WLUP on the map.

The Chicago Tribune's Phere:

Also, there is a great entry in Wikipedia detailing what led up to the demolition, the promotion and the aftermath. Read the Wikipedia entry here:

Finally, Steve Dahl's wife Janet writes a blog titled Janet's Planet. In her most recent entry she writes about Steve and his departure from WCKG.

Here is an excerpt from her December 5th, 2008 entry...
It was a rough spot, but it had a happy ending. Many happy endings, really. The Loop, WLS am, WLS fm, The Loop again, AM 1000, WCKG, Jack. Every job had its personal challenges; Steve learned in every slot. He got crazy. He drank. He partied. He became a father. He grew up, grew wise, grew sober. With every year, his show evolved to reflect the man he was. He refused to be a fake personality. He couldn't do pranks. He grew tired of the old parody songs. His goal was to be a constant presence in the lives of his fans-a human being in a box, so to speak. It was his job to be an extended family member, a guy who gets to spin a story, comment on the vagaries of life, or laugh at its absurdity. He could give volume to Everyman's irritations. His financial goal was to get his boys through college- a goal refined by his own entry into radio at 16, armed with a GED and a dream. His determination to provide for his family guided him to CBS. It was acquiring Howard Stern, and Steve would be the afternoon Yang to his Ying. The rest is history. Done.
Janet gives you a rare insight into what it is like to be the wife of a radio personality. Read her entire December 5th post "The years spin by... " here: It is well worth the read.