Even the ticket to get into the Grammy Awards is special. It's large and formal and a collector's item in itself. It lets you know well ahead of time that you're in for a special night. And that's what the 50th Annual Grammy Awards was from my view inside the Staples Center.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Even the ticket to get into the Grammy Awards is special. It's large and formal and a collector's item in itself. It lets you know well ahead of time that you're in for a special night. And that's what the 50th Annual Grammy Awards was from my view inside the Staples Center.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Interviewing celebrities is one of the mainstays of The Scott & Erica Show. And it never gets old.
The first celebrity I ever interviewed was at my first radio job in Newark, Ohio. It was the one and only Boxcar Willie. In case you haven't had the pleasure of knowing him, Boxcar was an old-school country music singer with a trademarked hobo hat and a train whistle that he would work into most every song he did. He pulled up to the station in a less-than-new camper that he toured the country with. Both he and his vehicle had seen some miles. But, back when we only had three TV channels, everybody my age watched Hee Haw on Saturday nights, and Boxcar was a regular guest on that show. So when he started answering my questions on the radio, I was in total disbelief that he was actually sharing a converstation with me.
Fast forward 20-something years to this weekend. I'm in Los Angeles at the 50th annual Grammy Awards. For the past two days, I've been in a room filled with superstars from Janet Jackson, to Kanye West, to Carrie Underwood. It's about as cool as it gets, but now for a different reason.
The bulk of the thrill I feel is delayed until I get to talk to my wife and daughter back in Orlando. I don't feel like it makes me more special to be around famous people, I just happened to pick a job that regularly includes that opportunity. But when I hear the elation in my family's voices, that's when the real excitement races through me.
This is very rare air I'm in this weekend. I feel extremely fortunate to get this chance. But it doesn't completely hit home, until I phone home.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 3:23 PM
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Wow it's been a long time between blog postings, hasn't it?
Being sent to cover the Grammys seemed to be the perfect time to fire things back up. The truth is, I haven't really done anything of note yet since I just got here to LA, but I wanted to get the ball rolling.
I just barely made my flight out here, so I didn't have time to grab any reading material for the flight. So once I'd read the SkyMall catalogue and the airline magazine, I had another 5 hours to do other things. After a 10 minute snooze I attempted to tune in to the in-flight movie, but my seat's audio didn't work. That left me almost 5 hours to do other things. The other thing I chose to do was sit and look forward. I haven't had a middle seat on a crowded flight in years. I usually travel with my family, so I get dibs on the aisle seat. But since I'm doing this trip solo, I had the honor of sitting between two wannabe mimes. I'm only guessing that to be their vocation because they didn't say a word the entire flight. Even when the guy next to me needed to use the restroom, he just pointed to the front of the plane so I would get up to let him past me. That killed probably 7 minutes though, so I only had 4 1/2 hours to sit and look forward.
But the flight was on-time, my luggage made it, the cab ride went smoothly and I made it to the Grammy orientation meeting that I thought I'd be late for.
So tomorrow it begins. Celebrities from the music, TV and movie worlds will be brought to my broadcast table at the Staples Center and we'll have a lot of fun. I'd gladly trade 5 hours of solitary confinement on a sold-out airplane for this opportunity any day.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 11:28 PM
Monday, July 30, 2007
My poor wife. She's been wanting us to take a family trip to San Francisco for years. I've always been the whiner who said "Too cold!" This year when it came to planning a summer getaway, she just went ahead and did all the research, and proclaimed, "We're going."
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 2:02 PM
Monday, July 9, 2007
Reality TV is obviously here to stay. But it doesn't come close to the real life dynamics of a hospital waiting room. I didn't really plan on being here today, but surgeons kind of expect you to come to their place when your wife needs a metal plate and two screws to fix her broken ankle after she falls on a slippery walkway.
I've been here before as my wife has had some procedures. Nothing has been life-threatening, so I can sit and watch this live reality show without stress. I realize that there are people who come here going through some major trauma, but today the crowd seems pretty loose.
Don is the gentleman who runs the family waiting room. Each of us has been called to his desk at the front, so he can match family with patients, and keep track of where we're sitting. He's probably seen it all, yet he has a warm personal style. He just called me to come back and see my wife one more time before they start to send her to la-la land. With her all hooked up to the machines I tried to see if I could get her heart rate up with a kiss. I think I got an extra 3 beats per minute. Maybe my lips need some repair while I'm here. They seem to have lost their effectiveness.
There's a husband and wife next to me who are cuddling with his arm around her and her head on his shoulder as they watch the local 24 hour news channel. It seems as if they've turned this event into a date. Doppler weather is no "Bridges Of Madison County", but they seem to be enjoying the show, and each other.
The loud family is here too. Husband, wife, and two teenage daughters. They have one volume. It doesn't matter that they're sitting right next to each other, they talk to each other as Regis talks to Kelly...assuming that while they chat, millions of other people should be listening. A few minutes ago a man asked them a question about something they had said, and they immediately yanked that verbal fishing line and hooked him. He can't get away now. He just gave me the "help me" look, but I'm too busy blogging about him to dive into that no-win situation.
Thelma is next to me with her book and cup of coffee. I don't know what her name is really, but she looks like a "Thelma". I admire people who can be anywhere with their book and feel at home. I remember when I was the public address announcer for the local hockey team, there was a season ticket holder who would read during the games while 10,000 people would cheer on the Solar Bears. She never looked up. Thelma is so still that if she was outside, birds would be landing on her. But I'm not going to fault a reader. It'd be wrong if Thelma was mashing on a Gameboy or setting up her preferences on her new iPhone.
I just used the facilities, but the motion-sensor activated light didn't come on. I asked the first guy who walked by if he knew how I could make it work, only to see that he was a doctor. It'd be like asking Lance Armstrong if he knew how to install tassels on my daughter's handlebars. Turns out the doctor couldn't help me. I resisted the urge to say, "It'd take a brain surgeon to figure this thing out..."
So I wait, and wonder how and what Fran is doing. Arrival time was 5am, surgery set for 7:30, post-op at 9:30, and awake by 11:30. I have wireless internet access though, so I'm all set. As soon as I post this blog, it's back to people watching, and then I might Google "kissing" to learn how I can get my wife's heart out of first gear!
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 7:57 AM
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Looks like it's not gonna happen.
I will never meet a Beatle.
It was their explosion onto the music scene in the '60's that inspired me to get into radio in the first place. As a young boy, I spent my after-school hours listening to my favorite station waiting to hear Beatles records. I had the posters, the trading cards, the stamps, the sweatshirt, the sunglasses, the magazine covers, and albums. I wrote them letters as a child. I repurchased all their albums when they came out on CD. I own the movies on VHS and DVD. I cried when John Lennon died. I cried when George Harrison died. I've seen Paul McCartney in concert 3 times, and Ringo twice. I have a clock in our family room that plays a snippet of a Beatles song at the top of every hour. I have Beatles collectible figurines in my home recording studio. I dragged my wife to Liverpool during our honeymoon trip to Europe. We walked down Penny Lane, and visited Strawberry Fields. I took my daughter to the Abbey Road studios in London and took a picture of her crossing that famous street just as the Beatles had for the album cover. I've done my part! But the Beatles have been content to keep me in the crowd of people who feel they are the world's biggest fan.
I've had some painfully close calls. When the Beatles tour came to Cleveland, my cousins got to go. I didn't. When Paul McCartney played the Citrus Bowl, I managed to get a front row seat at the press conference. I had my camera. I schooled my wife on how to use it and take the picture that would define my life. But as I walked up to pose with him after the Q & A, security formed a human wall, and he was gone. I was within 6 feet of fulfilling my dream! A few weeks later, my friend Charlie, an afternoon deejay in Minneapolis, got an exclusive interview with Paul. He sent me the pictures and the cassette to rub it in. He thinks I think it's funny, but it's kinda not.
A couple of years ago, our Stairmaster was on the fritz. The local certified repairman came over to fix it. When he noticed all the Beatles paraphernalia around he told me all about his chance meeting with Paul, and how they had developed a friendship. I just about pleaded with the guy to hook me up, but he went into turf protection mode. After all, why would the most famous musician in the world want to meet a guy who plays records for a living, when he could get a discount on cardio equipment?
When our former sales manager found out I was a Beatles fan, he told me about how his wife had been in the hospital as a child, and during a promotional tour, the young Beatles did a promotional visit there. They stopped by her room, chatted a bit, and autographed a picture. It's worth thousands now. A classic case of the right illness at the right time.
I've chatted and had pictures with Bon Jovi, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins and hundreds of other superstars. I've been on rock stars' tour busses. I've been on stage to introduce Matchbox 20, Maroon 5, Pat Benatar, NSync and many others. It's always cool to do that. And in the eyes of their fans I can see how envious they are of me as their versions of The Beatles come out and shake my hand as I bring them on to perform. But after decades of meeting fans, the surviving Beatles still haven't gotten to ME yet.
He's a billionaire, a british knight, and the most famous person of our time. He probably feels he's done it all. Somebody tell Sir Paul McCartney that he's almost right. There's just one more thing.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 3:17 PM
Monday, June 4, 2007
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 1:21 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, an old radio friend of mine whom I haven't heard from in decades found me on the internet and sent me an email. I was thrilled. There's nothing like hearing from someone who knew you in a much earlier time. It's like getting a piece of yourself back that you didn't even know was missing. I've had this kind of thing happen before, and I always get very excited. I guess a little too excited.
Almost without fail, I've messed this kind of thing up each time. I'm so jazzed to hear from old friends that I go way over the top with the whole process of catching up. They must feel like I've been totally alone since they last saw me.
At my most recent high school reunion, I was so excited to see my old friend Ricky Kirk, that I totally creeped him out recalling the entire layout of his parents' old home. (You could tell he wanted to run and hide, but I would've tracked him down in that little study right off the guest room on the west side of the house.) When college chum Bruce Boyd wrote me an email a few years ago, I responded in my usual way and never heard from him again. And the old radio friend I told you about has no doubt applied to the Internet Protection Program by now since I haven't heard back from her either.
The problem, which isn't really a problem, is that I really like my life. I always have. And I really like the people who have been, are in, or are attempting to be back in my life. I make it a point not to just talk about me. I ask a lot of questions. I always want to know what old mates have been up to. I also don't always expect old friends to be new best friends. Sometimes just saying, "I was thinking about you, even after all these years" is enough. I'm more than happy with that. I just want to somehow express how thrilled I am to hear from them without having them think that I'm one of those old friends whose brain chemicals have shifted just enough that they're now pressing cat poop into scrapbooks. In fact, of all the people I know, I've evolved the least. I've been doing the same job for 29 years, I still play guitar in a band, and I love to take pictures and play golf. There's no unknown to fear about me.
It must be like dating I guess. You're not supposed to call the new girl back right away. You're supposed to be aloof. So from now on, I'm holding back. Words liked "thrilled" are going to be replaced by "surprised". "It's so cool that you tracked me down" will change to "It's a good thing I double-checked my spam folder". And "Write back soon" will be substituted with "Gotta run", which I actually do because my cat just finished dinner and I have some memories to preserve!
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 5:23 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Orlando's TV's Hunkiest Hunk 2007 is now in the books and your winner this year is WKMG's Todd Jurkowski. It's Todd's third win...something no other hunk has been able to accomplish in our morning show's annual contest.
Since this is our 16th year holding this slightly tongue-in-cheek male pageant, it's an interesting time to notice it's evolution. In the early days, it was all about hair and abs. Anchors and reporters would appear on our show to demean their competitors by talking about their opponent's mini-vans, thinning scalps and hours logged at Gymboree.
But hunk tastes change.
This year the leaders were more than happy to flaunt their marital status. Large egos were replaced by big hearts. The contenders' wives called in to talk about how sensitive their spouses were. Children were heard in the background cheering on their fathers. What used to considered baggage now made the phones ring with female votes.
In the end, Jurkowski won not by flexing, or arm wrestling, or bench pressing. But by baking.
Congratulations Todd. You've figured out what women want.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 2:03 PM
Thursday, May 10, 2007
When grown-ups complain about getting older, words like metabolism, chronic, ache, and pain get a lot of play, along with 50 other terms that end in "itis" or "osis." Aside from exercise, eating well, and a well placed nip or tuck, we can't totally stop our slow and steady physical decline. But we rarely embrace one of the great aspects of aging. We get smarter. If the old addage "You learn something new everyday" is true, and if you've ever said "I wish I knew then what I know now," then you know what I mean.
But before you make me out to be a delusional optimist, I have a complaint about being more knowledgeable. It's the part about turning grey. Not the grey on my head, but the grey IN my head.
I've noticed that as I get older, I can't seem to settle on choices, make decisions, or take stands on things as quickly as I used to. Last year it took me weeks of research and two 2-hour visits to the store to decide on a new cell phone. And now that I need a new guitar amplifier, I'm putting the sales person at the music store through the same hell. It's not just me either. At restaurants kids can order their meal in 5 seconds, while adults can take 5 minutes after all the questions, switching, and special requests.
When it comes to decisions, I feel like I have Randy, Paula, and Simon in my head, each seeing things differently. As I get older I find that I can't get both feet to jump in the same direction. I eventually do climb off the fence, but only when I've really considered every option, angle and consequence. On the internet, if there are 165 user opinions on a product, I'll read all 165 and then check back the next day to see if number 166 has appeared that'll settle it all for me. I'd rather be right the first time, than wrong in fast time.
Now before you deem me to be wishy washy, or to lack character or conviction for not seeing things in more black and white terms, consider the fact that dictionaries can't even come to a consensus on how to spell the color of my world. Is it gray or grey? That's beyond ironic.
And as we become more worldly, which is it? Knowledge is power? Or ignorance is bliss?
I'll get back to you on that.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 6:33 PM
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Being married rocks. It's the coolest thing in the world to be able to share my life with the one and only person on the planet who truly understands me. I'm not sure what she gets out of the deal, but I'll feel bad if I worry too much about that, so let's move on.
I think I speak for happily married husbands everywhere when I declare that one of the best things our wives can give us is The Green Light.
Let me distinguish though between a green light, and The Green Light. A green light is when she doesn't mind that you want to play 9 more holes. A green light is when she doesn't wake you up from a nap because you promised to cut the grass. That's great stuff, but The Green Light is the best of the best. Where a green light is more spontaneous, The Green Light requires more long-term planning and campaigning. It also requires swift action once you get it. When I got the okay after two years of carefully posturing for a Vespa, it was in our garage within 24 hours of getting The Green Light. Waiting only makes her feel that she may have given one out prematurely. It'll hurt with future Green Light requests. Green means go. Don't dally. You can say your thanks when you get back.
Now, for the uninitiated, Green Light school.
When vying for The Green Light, be aware of all the stages she must go through, and don't push too hard or too often.
The Early Stages
1. She giggles at your outrageous request, thinking that you're kidding.
2. She seems to ignore hints to revisit your new passion.
3. She appears annoyed when your new obsession doesn't go away.
Then, if The Green Light is going to happen...
The Hopeful Stages
4. Seeming to hear you for the first time, she asks a quick question about what you're talking about.
5. She giggles again. This time it's because she's totally empowered, and your sincerity is now kinda cute.
6. She says those 7 magical words, "Well if that's what you really want..."
Time it takes to get from stage 1 to stage 6? 3 weeks to 3 years depending on your skill level. Remember, there are no guarantees. You may even red light yourself if your interest starts to wane.
Because I've recently joined a band, and my impotent amplifier is getting drowned out at rehearsals, I applied for The Green Light.
Just last night I hit Stage 6. See you at the music store this afternoon!
Time to crank up my guitar because being married rocks!
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 5:46 PM
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
No matter what your thoughts are about President Bush, you have to give him this much...he's organized. By 6am, he knows he has a cabinet meeting at 8am, a photo shoot with Cub Scout Troop 568 from 9:10-9:14, alone time with Laura from 9:30-9:34pm, and probably 20 other items on his printed agenda in between. He's the most powerful man in the western world and he's probably rarely late for any of his appointments.
I, on the other hand, don't and can't work that way.
At 7:15am I may turn on my microphone with a plan to talk about something like Alec Baldwin's appearance on The View, when right then a listener may call in with a talking parrot who can mimic her husband belching the alphabet. Sorry Alec, we have to go to Polly on line 2.
And that's how my whole day goes. I could walk down the hall to use the bathroom, when I may get called into our marketing office for an impromptu promotions meeting about what color our new t-shirts should be. 10 minutes later I'll head back to my office, with even my bladder forgetting about needing the men's room.
It's like being a human pinball. Bounce here. Bounce there. Start working on this, and then stop mid-sentence because I just had an idea about something else.
And just when I think I'm done for the day, a flipper bats me back up to bounce around some more. That's why my wife just laughs when I tell her I'll be home in 30 minutes or so. After 17 years of marriage, she knows "or so" adds an hour to my best intentions.
I've done the Franklin Covey type thing, where I prioritize, categorize, and organize. It works, I get much more done. But I need and bleed chaos.
For me, random beats plan-dom everytime. Seeing something through from beginning to end in one sitting rarely, if ever, hap
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 6:41 PM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
In school I was never one of the jocks. I was in the class clown group that organized the skits for pep rallies. I wrote parody songs that my friends would sing during morning announcements. I made short films that were shown after school.
In gym class, Mr. Click made us run and run and run. He didn't care that I would throw up in the locker room afterwards. I'm just not built for speed or endurance. I'm good at sports where it's customary to wear a nice belt. Golf...bowling...ping pong...pool. Now we're talkin'. But running is something only my mouth does.
Even though I will usually hit the treadmill on most weekday mornings, it was very cool, yet odd at the same time that I should represent MIX 105.1 at the recent Insurance Office Of America Corporate 5k at the Citrus Bowl. This year it attracted over 7300 people ready to blow off some steam after work. After I finished my responsibilities as an emcee, I blended in with my fellow Central Floridians at the starting line to wait for the "go" signal from the air horn.
In the few moments before the start, I passed the time by acting like an athlete. I did kind of a low kick with my feet while rocking back and forth. Then I bent my knee and grabbed my foot behind me as if to stretch my thigh muscles. I followed that by bending over and touching my toes, and then ripped off a move I see professionals do on TV...the old loosening my neck by rolling my head in a circle thing. After all, running is all neck.
Once the air horn sent us on our way, I quickly realized that warming up like a runner isn't nearly as important as actually running like a runner. Sure there were hundreds of people who chose to walk the 3.1 mile course. But those people weren't the ones passing me like I hadn't heard the horn. About 15 minutes into my run, my iPod died. (another reason why those things will never catch on...) And after a little over a half hour, I was crossing the finish line with my hands raised in the air like they do in the olympics. It wasn't a personal best time or anything, so I'm not sure why I did that little celebration. You can't really bluff that you set a record when there's a 10 foot digital clock silently, but accurately, screaming your time.
But like paper covers rock, and scissors cut paper, pride snuffs out self-consciousness. Finishing the run, sweating up my MIX t-shirt, and feeling that special kind of tired afterwards is intoxicating. So look for me at my next 5k in Winter Park on May 12th. Make sure to say hello as you pass me.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 3:38 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2007
If you've ever seen NFL films where you get to hear what the players and coaches are saying during a game, you notice that not much is actually said in the huddle. Because the team is so well practiced, all the quarterback has to say is something like "45 moose tooth double wingnut left on 3" and that's enough for 11 guys to know what they have to do.
On "normal" days, our morning show doesn't huddle. Erica comes in loaded with her stuff, and I come in with mine. Jay and Zack provide us with more material plus celebrities and other guests. It's up to each show member to think on their feet to quickly (and hopefully entertainingly) respond to what we've chosen to talk about. I call it "planned spontaneity you've come to expect to be surprised by." 4 1/2 hours later we pitch all the stuff we didn't get to, and then spend the rest of the day filling our heads with material for the next day.
Then there are those mornings that aren't normal.
The past several days we've needed to suspend some of our silliness and publicly work through Central Florida's feelings about the shootings at Virginia Tech, and the Don Imus controversy. The massacre in Blacksburg has touched us and our listeners deeply, and talking it out has hopefully helped a little. It's an interesting process behind the scenes because, while our show is usually a blend of Regis & Kelly, The View, and The Tonight Show, we can't ignore the pink elephant in the middle of the room all morning on breaking news days. The trick then is to negotiate how to be relevant while offering an alternative to people who are burned out on the 24-hour news channels' constant rehash of the big story.
On trouble days we spend about 3 seconds in a huddle and either decide on "normal", "talk mode", or "information mode." With choice three you won't hear us talk about American Idol, but you will be able to find out where you can get bottled water and sandbags. Option 2 is our usual fun 'n games MIXed with Essence Of Wolf Blitzer folded into the batter.
The feedback we received last week using play number 2 has been very favorable. However, we have heard from a couple of people who've told us they were turning us off for the morning because they weren't getting what they came for. I always appreciate calls like that because it means they thought enough of our relationship to tell us they were tuning away. I'd much rather have an angry friend clear the air, than me wonder why we don't hang out anymore.
Obviously we prefer to do our normal shtick. It's more fun, and it means there hasn't been a tragic incident in the news. Plus Jay doesn't always understand the difference between huddling and cuddling.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
To a fault, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I assume that people know what they're doing. However, some people I've trusted for over 20 years have lost me.
Today, NBC News received a multimedia package from the Virginia Tech mass murderer himself. In the video, the killer states his written manifesto, casting the blame for his actions on everybody but himself.
I totally disagree with the timing and the vision of giving this cold-blooded killer this kind of marquee coverage. It's obscene.
If he had offered millions of dollars to buy ad time in the evening news to state his case against the world, the shooter would have been rejected out of hand. But exchanging 32 lives for a guaranteed ratings spike was something NBC couldn't say no to. How lucky they must feel to have been the recipient of the package so they could slap their logo in the corner when they released the video later to the other networks.
I'm aware that this isn't the first time a TV network has aired the words of a killer, but I hate the fact that this one knew the network would comply with his wishes to have this video make the evening news if he just killed enough people first.
Not only will NBC and the rest benefit tonight, but they've planted the seed for future ratings opportunities by encouraging other narcissists to act out for their closeup.
Posted by Scott McKenzie at 7:27 PM