Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DO YOU REMEMBER ROCK AND ROLL RADIO?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Northeast Ohio’s newest radio station is targeting a wide audience that spans from classic-rock fans to younger listeners who go to shows at the Grog Shop. Lorain's 107.3 FM WNWV switched to Adult Album Alternative format on December 28, after 22 years as a smooth jazz station. The new station is nicknamed Boom!

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The locally owned, Elyria-based station now has a playlist comparable to Akron’s WAPS 91.3. Artists in regular rotation include Owl City (pictured), Sheryl Crow, Needtobreathe, the Black Crowes and Amy Winehouse.

“This is not an off-the-shelf format,” explains vice president and general manager Lonnie Gronek. “This is unique to Cleveland. No [other stations] had been covering Triple-A. We talked to people, and they said their personal likes were very diverse. And Triple-A seemed to fit that bill very well.”

Gronek says he wants Boom! to sound like your iPod. And in its first days, it’s breaking many rules of traditional commercial broadcasting. DJs are free to play multiple songs in a row by the same artist. They’re free to reach deep into albums, or beyond albums. Early broadcasts have included multiple deep cuts by Bowie and the Police, plus nuggets like Ani DiFranco’s cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

The format — not the exact playlist — was assembled after some experimentation by Gronek and program director Rick Bennett, former program director for 107.9 The End and DJ for WONE and WMMS. Golden-era WMMS program director John Gorman is consulting. Most of the station’s staff remains, and smooth jazz is still on the menu if you know where to look. WNWV still broadcasts jazz via its high definition signal 107.3 HD2 and its website.

Gronek says listeners can expect not just music, but information about the music. DJs are free to talk about the artists they play, from current news to old trivia. Explains Gronek, “The vision includes being an independent music voice, as music used to be 20, 25 years ago.” — D.X. Ferris

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

IT'S MASON'S COUNTY, WE JUST LIVE IN IT

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:04 PM

Time's running out for Jimmy Dimora or Tim Hagan or someone else in county politics to make one last bid for most controversial figure of 2009, after Prosecutor Bill Mason's late-game surge. Last week the Plain Dealer reported that Mason had attempted to get involved in a personal injury lawsuit overseen by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo. Mason, according to the PD, called and even visited Russo's office on behalf of the man, Frank Sidari. Mason says he has no relationship with the Sidari (who he apparently knew in high school) and tells the PD that didn't do anything inappropriate. Russo, however, says she was "baffled" by Mason's meddling and questioned the ethics of such a move.

That was just the latest headline in a busy year for the politically powerful prosecutor.

January 2009: Mason finally makes a move in the long-running open discovery argument. As defense lawyers complain that prosecutors routinely withhold evidence that could favor defendants, and public pressure mounts, Mason concedes to the critics and sets up a Web-based document system that gives defense lawyers access to police reports and other case documents. Despite the new setup, Mason promises to appeal the open discovery rule.

March: Mason attacks Cuyahoga County Judge Joan Synenberg, saying the judge holds a bias against prosecutors in the case of death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio. Synenberg accuses Mason of provoking her in an attempt to get her disqualified from the case. The Ohio Supreme Court finds nothing wrong with Synenberg's behavior.

Also in March, reports mention Mason as a possible candidate for Secretary of State.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

RUH-ROH — REFT BEHIND!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Certain Christian denominations believe in a phenomenon called the Rapture. It’s pretty complicated, and the details vary from sect to sect, but basically it’s a series of events surrounding Christ’s return to Earth, including the sudden beaming to Heaven of most good God-fearin’ folk. Or something. Anyway, we know from the Left Behind novels that these are not plus-one invitations, so presumably the pets of the raptured are stuck here too.

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But an Akron-area business says if you’re a believer, your animals won’t have to suffer for your salvation, starving in a cage while you enter the pearly gates. Post Rapture Pet Care is poised to rescue your pets and care for them until the Lord calls them home too.

Co-founder Dana (she asked us not to use her last name, “due the overwhelming amount of criticism this organization gets”) says that Post Rapture Pet Care associates “share a love for animals, and [have] good morals and ethics.” Not good enough to be raptured, admittedly, but then, if everyone was taken up, it wouldn’t be very special, would it?

“We are a large group of confirmed atheists who honestly care about the well-being of pets, should the Rapture occur,” explains Dana. “Most of us, being pet owners ourselves, see that this event could potentially devastate the lives of thousands [upon] thousands of pets and would hate to see this happen.”

Dana says the business has “hundreds of people” stationed over the Northeast United States, from Virginia to New York, and as far west as Ohio. She wouldn’t say how popular the service is but claims the business has “an extensive client database.”

For a one-time fee of $50, a representative will visit Raptured souls’ former homes, secure the pets, adopt them and care for them as their own. They do allow for special requests or instructions, in case a believer would like the pet to be delivered to, say, a Jewish brother-in-law. Terms, conditions, and frequently asked questions are posted at postrapturepetcare.blogspot.com.

Dana says the business has protocols to verify whether an event is merely a mass disappearance or the Christian Rapture. They plan to have all animals rescued within 18 to 24 hours of the Rapture. And she insists she’s not kidding: “Under no circumstances is this a joke.” — D.X. Ferris

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WE'LL ACCEPT YOUR APOLOGY ANYTIME, MR. WENNER

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

New York City’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC will close January 3, just over a year after it opened. The nondescript 25,000-square-foot SoHo facility hosted rock memorabilia like Bruce Springsteen's 1957 Chevy and special exhibits like the currently-running John Lennon: The New York City Years. Admission was over $25, more than most popular museums.

"There is no doubt the economy factored into our leaving, but overall we had a good year," Caren Bell of S2BN Entertainment, the Rock Hall’s partner in the facility, told Reuters when the news broke.

The NYC outpost opened November 2008. The next month, at its grand opening party, co-founder/Rolling Stone publisher co-founder Jann Wenner told a Rolling Stone reporter, “One of the small sad things is we didn't do it in New York in the first place.” His comments were later removed from a video posted at the magazine’s website.

According to the Rock Hall, all is going according to plan.

“The Annex was never intended to be a permanent facility,” says Rock Hall director of communications Margaret Thresher. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s New York City Annex was an opportunity for us to extend our mission into one of the major cultural centers in the world. It increased our visibility in the media, introduced us to new supporters and even led to a few tourists visiting Cleveland.”

In 2005, the Rock Hall announced plans to open a satellite site in Phoenix, Arizona, adjacent to the America West Arena (currently the U.S. Airways Center, home of the Suns) on a hotly contested piece of real estate. The site never opened.

With New York shut down, the Rock Hall plans to go back on tour.

“At this point, we’re taking the information we’ve gathered and incorporating it into a long-term plan,” says Thresher. “The vision is to use satellite facilities, technology and other partnerships to take our work to new audiences, while at the same time building Cleveland as a rock and roll center with things like the our new Library and Archives, a major redesign of the Museum, and other upcoming initiatives.” — D.X. Ferris

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ROKAKIS SAYS THANKS BUT NOT THANKS

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis says he will not seek the new county executive position next fall.

Rokakis' proclamation came as he announced a six-month moratorium on foreclosures for delinquent property taxes, according to PD scribe Henry Gomez. The moratorium is expected to give relief to about 1,700 owners already in the foreclosure process. Those owners will be expected to pay their taxes after the moratorium ends, as well as interest and penalties.

Rokakis has been lauded for his work in bringing attention to Greater Cleveland's foreclosure disaster. The longtime treasurer and former Cleveland councilman was viewed as a viable candidate for the new county top spot created by the passage of Issue 6.

Rokakis didn't say why he wasn't seeking the new county office and playfully asked his two adult daughters to confirm his decision. — Damian Guevara

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Monday, December 21, 2009

VOINOVICH LOVES PORK, HATES THE TROOPS

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Alleged "deficit hawk" Senator George Voinovich loves to rail about spending, but never fails to pat himself on the back for bringing home the bacon. In his latest press release, he bragged about the $69.2 million coming to Ohio from the just-passed FY 2010 Defnese Appropriation bill, thanks to Voinovich's position on the Senate Appropriations Committee. That sum includes $2 million for Sherwin-Williams to develop "interior paint designed to intercept and destroy microbiological threats." Seriously — paint.

But that's just garden-variety hypocrisy, the kind that's as reflexive for Republicans as breathing. There was much more going on around this bill that Voinovich and his cravenly partisan colleagues would rather you didn't know about.

Voinovich's press release included some chest thumping about the process:

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, which passed all the appropriations bills out of committee in a timely fashion, I am extremely disappointed with the handling of the Defense Appropriations Bill by leadership — just as I was with the handling of [a separate spending bill] passed by the Senate just last week,” Sen. Voinovich said. “I voted against that bill because it was not given the time and oversight necessary to ensure responsible spending. In 28 of the past 30 years, Congress has failed to enact all the appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year. This irresponsible fiscal policy affects our economy, interferes with our ability to maintain and improve our infrastructure, hurts our ability to fight the War on Terror and impedes efforts to reform our health care system.

Got that? Voinovich wishes "the leadership" (Democrats) shared his passion for fighting wars and reforming health care. He must've just forgotten to mention the stunt his party pulled late last week that put both things in peril. From the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans said Thursday that they would try to filibuster a massive Pentagon bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unusual move that several acknowledged was an effort to delay President Obama's health-care legislation.

Go ahead, read that again. Unbelievable, right? As Democratic Senator Dick Durbin explained, "They are prepared to jeopardize funding for troops at war. If Democrats did that, there would be cries of treason."

How'd it work out? From the Post's followup:

On a 63 to 33 vote, Democrats cleared a key hurdle that should allow them to approve the must-pass military spending bill Saturday and return to the health-care debate. After years of criticizing Democrats for not supporting the troops, just three Republicans supported the military funding.

… [Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison joined Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe as the only Republican votes for the defense bill. But their support came only after waiting for all 60 members of the Democratic caucus to cast their "aye" votes, hitting the 60-vote threshold and making the GOP votes moot.

Once the fillibuster hurdle was cleared, the bill passed by a vote of 88-10. That, coupled with the overwhelming support among House Republicans for the exact same bill, proves that Senate Republicans were using defense spending as a political football to further stall on healthcare reform.

And Senator George Voinovich was one of them. We used to think there was hope for Voinovich, but we were wrong. He is indistinguishable from the rest of the modern GOP, breathtakingly hypocritical and proudly belligerent. — Frank Lewis

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Friday, December 18, 2009

BRUNNER STIRS THE POT

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 3:20 PM

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When U.S. Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner ventured to Washington D.C. Wednesday night for a fundraiser, she did quite a bit more than raise a few bucks in her attempt to keep her campaign viable in the face of her Democratic primary opponent Lee Fisher’s seasoned fundraising machine. She also talked to National Journal’s Hotline, which posted an extensive story yesterday on the roadblocks she’s encountered in her bid to be the Democratic candidate.

She claimed that in September, Senator Bob Menendez, chair of the national Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said he would actively work against any candidate perceived to be underfunded — thereby risking splitting Ohio Democrats and antagonizing many.

Brunner said she responded: "If you do that, the women of Ohio will never forgive you." Menendez, she said, retorted: "I know you're not scared of me, and I'm not scared of you."

Brunner also said that Congressman Zack Space (Oh-18) told her he had to endorse Fisher out of fear that Gov. Strickland might use his influence on the apportionment board to eliminate his district following Ohio’s expected loss of two districts after the 2010. Space’s office has denied that. In addition, Strickland’s support for Fisher has been muted, and there are too many variables involved in the upcoming redistricting to guess what role Strickland might play. Brunner also says that Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Oh-11) told her that while she wasn’t going to endorse in the race, she believed Brunner would be the better candidate.

Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer’s Stephen Koff whined, “Jennifer Brunner came to Washington on Wednesday and uttered things that the Ohio media only wishes she'd said to them. But sorry, Buckeyes, Ohio's secretary of state saved her dish for National Journal's Hotline, which has about the same penetration in Ohio as, say, the Bakersfield Californian.”

Someone should tell Koff about linking. — Anastasia Pantsios

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