Posts Tagged ‘ESPN 540’

Zig Was Big

November 29, 2012

Wednesday November 28th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Zig Ziglar passed away today – or at least his physical body did. His body of work has touched millions over several decades, and he will live on through that. If there ever was a life well spent, his was right up there with just about anyone in my opinion. He made the most of his time here.

I have enormous respect for Zig Ziglar for several reasons. He was a pioneer and a legend, and neither of those is easy to pull off. He built himself up from obscurity, and stayed there. It took a long time to accomplish, but it was worth the effort. He’ll go down as one of the all time greats.

Although I wasn’t necessarily a rabid fan of much of his recorded stuff, the fact he cranked out so much of it should not go unappreciated. He was very consistent, and his work ethic was at the top of the spectrum. I know how difficult it is to create ONE audio or video program. He put out product after product after product, and wrote books too. That doesn’t count his speaking career.

Zig Ziglar became his own brand, and I’m sure he was paid handsomely for it. He was the top name in motivational speaking for years, but never rested on his laurels. Jay Leno was known as the top name in standup comedy during the boom years, and he had a stellar work ethic as well.

Coincidence? Hardly. A hearty work ethic is a must for any entertainer, and that’s exactly what Zig was. Nobody can truly motivate anyone else, and I’m sure Zig knew that. But he presented a message in an entertaining way, and those who wanted to be motivated latched on and heard it.

I have his book ‘See You At The Top’, and I really like it. His audio programs weren’t on my list of favorites, but that’s no disrespect. His style and delivery were a bit syrupy for my personal taste, but that takes nothing away from what he accomplished. He achieved a level of greatness.

To me, motivational speakers have to be listenable for long periods of time. That’s not easy to do, and it becomes a matter of personal preference just like music. I can’t stand Pink Floyd, but I know millions of others love them. Are they right? Am I wrong? Personal preference is just that.

As far as speakers go, people like Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer I could listen to all day. Earl Nightingale is another. Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra and Zig Ziglar I can’t. That doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of any of those people, and I still respect every one of them.

My friend Steve ‘The Homer’ True is a sports talk host on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee. His father is Dr. Herb True, a very big name in the speaking field. Homer has always been a huge supporter of my comedy, and frequently comes to see me perform when I am working the Milwaukee area.

Homer asked his dad to call me years ago and give me some encouragement, and I never forgot it. A ten minute phone call made a huge impact, and that’s what Zig Ziglar’s work did for a wide variety of people from all walks of life and will continue to do for years to come. That’s what we all should aspire to, and many of us who do still don’t come close to achieving it. Zig Ziglar took it to the highest level, and for that he deserves major kudos. He sure gets it from me. Zig was big.

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Dabbling For A Day

February 23, 2010

Sunday February 21st, 2010 – West Allis, WI/Kenosha, WI

I promised my friend Richard Caan I’d take his table at the sports card show at Gonzaga Hall in West Allis, WI because he wanted the month off. I pieced together some scraps of collectible things I wanted to unload and arrived at 8:58am for a show that started at 9:00.

Nobody is ever going to get rich at that place, but for a $25 table investment I threw out my trinkets and spent the day haggling with the local chiselers. Milwaukeeans are right up there with the Scots as being cheap, so prying any money at all out of anyone is a miracle.

I did manage to make my table fee and a few bucks more, but not much. What set me in the black was finding out I had won the Super Bowl squares pool from last month and my $5 gamble paid off with $85! That was an unexpected break and I gratefully accepted it.

I’ll always enjoy the card hobby, but it’s not what it was. Nobody is hauling in millions, but that’s ok. It’s a social club to hang out with friends, and I love having a monthly time to just relax and escape the rest of the world. Yes, I bought all those cards and I wish now I hadn’t, but that won’t kill me. I’ll unload them eventually but keep a few for myself too.

What I noticed today more than ever was guys I normally don’t talk to coming up to me and asking about comedy or radio. They’d either heard me with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN or on The D-List on ESPN AM 540 in Milwaukee. I had no idea they even listened or had a clue who I was, but quite a few of them did and it felt really good to have them say so.

I never looked at myself as anything but a regular guy, but it felt like I was a celebrity or something by the way people were treating me. They would quote back a line I said on air that made them laugh, and I was amazed at how long they’d waited to come and tell me. I guess setting up as a dealer put me in their peer group, and I enjoyed being in it for a day.

I’m not going to kid myself though. I’ll never be a full time card dealer. That takes a ton of work doing all kinds of things I’m not good at, and on top of that the market isn’t close to what it once was. Richard will be back at his table next month, and I’m out. OK by me.
I’ve dabbled in this my whole life and drifted in and out. It’s a hobby, that’s what it’s for.

With everything else I’ve got going on, the card tide is drifting out again. That’s totally fine, I’ve had my fun. If I never see another card show I won’t complain, but if I decide I want to get back in it, I can do that too. It’s nice to have options, but now I need money.

I’ll take my $80 profit from the football pool and run. Maybe I can use it to finance my next set of comedy classes. Making copies of paperwork and buying binders will cost me right around that much. That’s what I need to be creating – multiple streams of income.

The Mothership Connection radio show tonight on WLIP AM 1050 in Kenosha was fun as usual. I got to dabble in radio all night like I dabbled in cards all day. That’s the best of all worlds, minus the money. If I can’t make money, at least I’ll have fun. Today was fun.

Romance And Radio

February 15, 2010

Sunday February 14th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Valentine’s Day can be the source of a lot of angst. Everyone wants to have that perfect mix of sex and romance with that ultimate partner, which probably doesn’t exist on Earth for anyone. Men want sex, women want romance and Hallmark wants us all to buy cards.

I read somewhere that there are a significant number of those who send themselves mail and/or flowers on significant holidays, especially Valentine’s Day. At first it shocked me, but then I remembered how the Valentine’s Day greeting card system worked in school.

I wonder if they still do that? We used to decorate our little bags and hang them up on a wall in our classroom, and the kids would drop little Valentine’s cards in the bag. My first crush in about third grade was a little blondie named Holly Lueck. I don’t know why I can still remember her name, but I do. It’s like Charlie Brown and that little red haired girl.

My heart ached for Holly, but I never really got to know her at all. I remember she made me stutter and stammer to be around her, and I never felt like that around anyone before. I remember picking out a special Valentine for her and decorating it with my own personal cartoons, as I fancied myself an ‘artiste’ back then. I put the card in her bag and waited.

I waited some more. And some more after that. Every day I’d come to school and scour  my bag, hoping I’d gotten one back from Holly, or even one that MIGHT have been from her. We had them sealed and were not allowed to open them until Valentine’s Day, when the entire class would do it together. No other Valentine meant anything except Holly’s.

Finally, Valentine’s Day came and the teacher let us take our bags off the wall and open our cards. Some kids got more than others, but a couple got shut out completely. That’s a hard pill to have to swallow at age 8 or 9, and I can remember feeling bad for those kids.

I didn’t get the goose egg, but I also didn’t get one from Holly for whatever reason. The smack to the self esteem resonates to this day as I looked over to where she was sitting at her desk and saw her opening her pile of Valentines and stuffing candy into her pie hole.

I wanted to go over there and throw my arms up in the air and say “Forget anything?” If I had to live life over again, I probably would, just to see the look on her face. It’s a funny concept now, but it sure wasn’t then. That pain of being rejected stung down to the soul.

Whatever happened to Holly Lueck is anyone’s guess. Maybe she’s an obese cow with twelve illegitimate kids and no teeth, or maybe she turned out to be a sweetheart after all. I doubt if she’d remember me, and at this point I don’t remember anything about her but that she had blonde hair. Maybe that’s why I’ve had my life long affinity for brunettes.

Anyway, I made a special point today to send Valentines or at least text messages to all the single women I could think of, no matter who they were. Just the thought of receiving something from someone and how nice that can feel made me want to spread some cheer.

As for me, I was in a fantastic mood all day. Three hot shows at Zanies yesterday was as satisfying as it gets, and my comedy itch was scratched thoroughly. Nothing lifts my spirit higher than having good solid comedy shows, and that would include a card from Holly.

Today it was radio. All day. All night too. Jerry Agar was in Haiti this week through his church and didn’t get back until Friday night. We weren’t sure if or when Jerry’s Kidders would be on this week, but it ended up being today from 3pm to 3:50. We met up at 2:00 to go over our stories and prepare as we usually do, and I could feel we were all clicking.

We took that energy right into the studio and kept it going when the little red light came on. It’s always fun when we’re in that groove, and even when the show wandered, we still were able to get some laughs out of it. That’s what makes the concept so much fun. We’re up on the high wire without a net, and everyone knows it. It’s high risk, but high reward.

Not all the jokes hit, but WE were on target as a team. Ken Sevara, Tim Slagle and I are  completely different in almost every way, and it took us a while to gel on the air. Ken is a voice and character guy and Tim is very up on current events and issues. My style doesn’t include any of that, so I’m coming from yet another angle. I’m just a disruptive smart ass.

The thing that makes it so much fun is that we all enjoy hanging out together off the air as well as on. It’s like a tree house or a weekly poker game we get to carry on in front of microphones on one of the biggest radio stations in America. I think our sincerity shows. Every joke isn’t always stellar and nobody claims that, but as a team we can get on a roll.

We had that today, and the time went by faster than it usually does. It felt like about ten minutes, when actually it was almost an hour. Then we went out for pizza afterwards and continued the laughs there. We had a new producer this week named Margaret and she’d never worked with us before so we asked if she wanted to join us and she did. It was fun.

I needed to wrap it up a little early as I had to be in Kenosha, WI to do The Mothership Connection from 8 to 11pm on WLIP. Today was double duty, but I didn’t mind. It’s fun to be on the radio, and when The Mothership Connection clicks, that’s a total blast also.

Again, we all like each other as people first, radio partners second. We hang out off the air when we can, and everyone contributes to the show. There may be a group of chumps that can’t stand me, but they can kiss my pale fuzzy arse. My friends and I get along well.

Having one group like this would be great, but I’ve got two. And I’m part of two others with both The D-List on ESPN Radio 540 in Milwaukee and with Stone and Double T on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL. I don’t do those shows every week, and I don’t run them either, but when I’m on it’s the same feeling. They’re great people and we all click on air.

I didn’t make a nickel today, but I sure had a good time hanging out on the air with a lot of people I like and respect. I hope it leads to something in the future as far as money and contacts go, but for today there was nothing I could think of I’d rather do. That’s success!

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540  with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were  a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster – so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?