Archive for July 4th, 2011

From today’s Chron:

"There goes the first two weeks of school," Houston Federation of Teachers president Gayle Fallon said. "So much for us maximizing every moment."

It looks like the first two weeks of the school year will be without textbooks here in the Lone Star State. Check out the Chron story.   Why don’t they just start the school year two weeks later?

In today’s hard copy of the Chron there is a nauseating front page piece on GOP State Sen.  Dan Patrick.  It is not online yet.  Here is what The Dean says about him in the piece:  “I consider him a friend and an ally.” Oh no!!!!!

We are in last place and 16 games behind.  In 1986, the ‘Stros won the NL West by 10 games. What was our won-loss record that year?

Here is what my pal Joe Householder penned in the Chron over the weekend on the latest change over at KTRH Radio. 

A bit more than 20 years ago, I came to Houston as a young newsman. I wasn’t a newspaperman with great schooling or a long resume. I was a radio guy who was plucked out of a job I wasn’t quite enjoying in the relatively quiet city of Orlando, Fla., and given the privilege of joining KTRH.

For those of you late to the game, back in the early 1990s KTRH was not the right-wing radio blowtorch that it now strives to be. That KTRH would have preferred to shut out the lights than put on the likes of Rush Limbaugh, as it does today, or even some left-wing Limbaugh imitator.

We were a news station. Every morning every person on the staff woke up to the Chronicle and the now-defunct Houston Post and when we saw a story that mattered that we had not already broken on the air the day before it was in print, we felt like failures. We believed, rightly or wrongly, that we were the key information source for the millions of people who call this diverse and complex city home.

And the rocks of that organization at that time, and years before and after, were two unique, personally endearing and humble individuals by the name of J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes. Every morning, almost without fail, they went on the air at 5 a.m. and kept Houston informed.

I almost died covering a hurricane once. Literally almost died as the Ford Explorer I was driving along the coastline of Mississippi was picked up off the road by a huge wind gust and turned sideways. It was three minutes before 5 a.m. I had to go on the air at the top of the hour to give my update, but my stomach and various other internal organs were in my throat, and I was hyperventilating.

Then I heard J.P. open the newscast, referencing the storm with Lana picking up the cadence and saying, "Joe Householder is live along the Mississippi coast. Joe … " And all was well again. Their calm professionalism and their commitment to dispassionately telling the story coaxed me back to sanity — and I told the story, and I think I told it rather well, but only thanks to the voices from home that I had come to rely upon so heavily.

More than a decade ago I left KTRH and radio news altogether. Lana and J.P. didn’t. They persisted. They held on as the station changed by reducing its commitment to news from its reason for being to, sad to say, mostly window dressing designed to give their talk programming some degree of respectability for those listeners who still expect a calm objective voice to provide a break between the incessant hours of political rant.

I don’t know and would never ask them for particulars about what they liked and what they hated about the changes. I have opinions, but they’re just mine.

What I know for a fact is that Lana and J.P. never lost their sense of mission and their commitment to their duty, which was to do their best every morning to make sure their listeners were fairly informed. Unfortunately, that had to end.

KTRH has decided to move on without Lana and J.P. It happens in radio every day. Most times it goes unnoticed, but I don’t think so in this case, even though the station’s ratings are but a shadow of what they once were.

I will not second-guess the business decision that was made by the station’s corporate owners. They’re paid to know better than me what will make money for the company, even if I disagree with the choice.

I will, however, mourn the passing of my favorite anchor team in the world. When they signed on so many years ago, Houston was a smaller place than it is today in terms of population. As they are finally permanently signing off, it is so much smaller than that in terms of the voices of integrity it sends out to the world via radio wave.

In 1986 we were 96-66 of course.

About the only good thing from this past weekend was the money all the Red Sox fans spent at The Yard.  I saw a Red Sox fans wearing a Babe Ruth jersey, one wearing a ManRam jersey, one a Nomar, and one a Lugo.  In a show of hospitality, during the KissKam they played the “Sweet Caroline” tune that made some ‘Stros fans mad – so what!  They showed some fan on El Grande wearing a Miami Heat jersey and he was booed unmercifully. 

It is so bad out at The Yard that El Caballo is now being called El Cabrito – yikes!

As expected, Hunter Pence is our only All Star and maybe we will do better on the road this week.


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