Trivisonno Goes Ballistic

Letters published October 16, 2002

The Beer-Tasting Train Boston Mill Station, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Riverview Road in Boston Township 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, October 11. $40; call 800-468-4070.
Don't blame the host for bad talk radio:

Your recent article about the sorry state of AM talk radio ["Battle of the Blowhards," September 11] really was exemplified recently when Mike Trivisonno interviewed a weapons expert. Although the guest was a very knowledgeable man, Mike asked, "How do you make a nuclear bomb? I mean, it must take a tremendous field of scientist." I kid you not. Realizing he was just asked the world's most stupidly phrased question, the guest then helped out by spouting out a lengthy general answer.

Mike is very knowledgeable about sports (and gambling), but this city deserves better than having important guests interviewed by someone who, admittedly, has not mastered the English language and does not have deep knowledge of the military or many other subjects. This is not Mike's fault, but WTAM's. The most powerful station in the city owes more to its listeners than that. Not only was the interview awkward, but one caller wondered why U.S. experts weren't working on using tuberculosis as a weapon. Give this guy scripted questions, find another interviewer, or please avoid the interview format. Maybe this will keep the last few AM listeners in Cleveland from bailing.

Bob Dobush

Three talkers worth listening to:

I read your recent cover story "Battle of the Blowhards" and thought "A plague on both their houses." Although most Cleveland radio sucks, there are several broadcasters who deserve your attention:

Craig Callendar of 669 on WCSB-FM from 1 to 4 a.m. each Saturday. Craig remains the best shock jock of all -- much funnier than his commercial counterparts, because he's actually a likable guy who makes himself the butt of the joke.

Dan Goulder of The Show Without a Name, weeknights from 11 p.m. to midnight on WERE-AM. Dan, a professional musician and ex-bartender, has earned a devoted following by being the best mainstream talk-show host in Cleveland. He's friendly and witty, but is passionate about his convictions, which are unashamedly liberal in a market dominated by "dittoheads."

Uprise of Guerilla Radio, Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on WRUW-FM. Uprise is a member of the Burning River Collective, a local anarchist group, and his show features news and commentary from a perspective you'll never hear on commercial radio.

Mark Lungo
Middleburg Heights

Trivisonno's formative years:

I left my hometown of Cleveland in the mid-'80s. At that time, I enjoyed the great Pete Franklin talk show, except when an uncouth caller, who thought he "knew it all," would call in. Imagine my surprise, upon returning to Cleveland six years ago, to find that the loudmouth now had his own show. At first I thought it was a joke, but if it was, it was being played on us by the management at WTAM. I'm not surprised that such a program attracts an audience -- so would public hangings -- but I am disappointed that a once-proud station has fallen so low in its standards.

Mel Maurer

Wattage makes the man:

After listening for more years than I care to remember, I finally pulled the plug on Mike Trivisonno several months ago, following his attempt to interview Jim Brown, which I found painfully embarrassing, inept, and thoroughly unprofessional. Since his days as a caller on the old Pete Franklin show, I always had minimum expectations for Mr. Know-It-All, and he has never disappointed me.

How much class can we expect from a guy who talks with his mouth full of strudel on a 50,000-watt transmitter to "38 states and half of Canada"? He abuses and heaps obscenities on callers who dare to disagree, yet is sickeningly obsequious in his fawning interviews of members of sports hierarchies. He expresses nothing but contempt for worthy (and entirely professional) competitors like Bruce Drennan, Kendall Lewis, Greg Brinda, and Les Levine, any one of whom could easily replace him.

His ratings, I submit, are the result of power (50K) and placement -- drive time on Rush Limbaugh's coattails -- rather than personality and professionalism.

Why did I subject myself to such torture for so long? I guess I must fit the ideal Trivisonno demographic: I have no life, breathe through my mouth, and can't think and chew gum at the same time.

Charles E. Cartier

What's with the personal attacks?

I was mystified as to why Laura Putre chose to review the Red Star Café Slam School, an ongoing poetry reading series hosted by Dave Snodgrass ["Rhymes With Coma," September 11]. This is at the very least old news, since the Red Star has been closed two years or more. Why she felt inspired to do a postmortem on Dave Snodgrass's reading series in the context of what's happening now, I can't say. I thought her physical description of Dave had about as much to do with the quality of spoken word in town as Snodgrass has in common with Byron in style or substance. Her lack of scholarship was all over this column, and frankly, I was embarrassed for her.

Did she really call Snodgrass a balding, long-haired hillbilly with mismatched teeth? Would she like a comment about her journalistic skills to be prefaced by describing her as a mousy, long-necked slouch with an awkward gait?

Kinda nasty, huh?

Sorry. I'm just a hillbilly with roots in Hickory, Kentucky, and I don't know enough about her heritage to know whether to tag this statement with a label of Polack or wop or kike or what.

And how did actionable libel such as this get past the editors? Yeah, I wasn't so pleased about me portraying Emily Dickinson, either. I worked hard on that, taking every word of my presentation from her letters and poems. Turns out, with about 1,800 poems and voluminous letters, Emily was indeed a bit on the chatty side (see reference to scholarship).

Sara Holbrook

Hot for Dickinson:

Regarding Laura Putre's column on Other People's Poetry Night at the Beachland: Sara Holbrook's performance as Emily Dickinson was charming, witty, and fun. If we could bring this kind of stuff to a larger audience, you think that maybe, just maybe, it might turn people onto reading Emily Dickinson?

I was also livid at the comment about Katie Daley being a "word wrangler." Has she seen Katie perform any of her own writing? Yes, there are amateurs reading, and sometimes it's not great, but they are writing and learning as they write. To say that "At Cleveland's open-mic poetry readings, feeling tends to come out coarsely, like a dislodged hairball" is a gross collocation of Cleveland writers and performers. Next time you're at a slam or an open-mic night, let me buy you a drink, loosen you up a little. Maybe you forgot how to have fun?

Lisa Alford

Life in the Mills Lane:

Just wanted to let Laura Putre know how much I enjoyed her piece on Cleveland's coffeehouse poetry readings. You absolutely nailed it, and I'm still laughing. Now back to watching judge shows . . .

George Bilgere,
Poet in residence at John Carroll University
Shaker Heights

Sixty-seven years of discount-free shopping:

Enjoyed your article "Wal-Mart Menace" [September 4]. Well researched, well done. While I have sympathy for those customers who have been harmed by Wal-Mart, I don't understand why they fail to see the obvious solution to the problem: Don't go there.

I am 67 years old. I have never been in a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target. If I can live a full, comfortable, and contented life without any of that, anyone can. Eliminates the whole problem, and thankfully, would eliminate Wal-Mart.

Ed Martin
Fort Worth, TX

Where was the BWC?

I was very pleased to read your insightful article on Wal-Mart's legal frontline biz.

I am a former Ohio state employee. It was puzzling to me that this well-researched story did not include any inquiries to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. It may be that Wal-Mart is self-insured; however, the Tom Davis work fatality would seem to be a cause for action by state agencies against Wal-Mart.

The possibility that a lack of safety enforcement by the State of Ohio contributed to this tragic, work-related death concerns me and probably many Ohio workers. The Ohio BWC is great at getting claim-abusing fraud headlines into the media, but never a neglectful workplace like Wal-Mart. Ohio BWC seems to be so employer-friendly that workplace safety concerns have taken a backseat to reduction of employer premiums.

Just as corporate reporting fraud and the SEC self-regulating approach have proved disastrous to investors, so, too, has the lack of proper penalties for workplace safety violations become a threat to Ohio workers. The only viable penalty a large corporation like Wal-Mart would understand is a state-enforced removal of their license to do business. If a neglectful operator of a motor vehicle can have his driving privileges revoked, so should a company like Wal-Mart, whose neglect caused the preventable loss of Tom Davis's life.

Bill Gillespie
Hartland, WI

An unenviable position:

I noticed Pete Kotz's article "Love in 3 Minutes" [September 11]. I'm in a position where I can observe and listen to quite a few divorced females in the 35-to-45 age bracket. Their desperation in finding a mate is unreal. Every night, it's down in the Flats, a party, or some type of singles function. They have turned it into a full-time job.

As far as the belle of the ball you mentioned in your article: She is just looking for another jerk to pay the bills until she grows weary of him and decides to move on. She has probably chewed up and spit out more men than you'd want to know about. Then there is the single mother with three kids, looking for someone special. A very wise sage once said that a man who marries a woman with three children marries four thieves.

Rex Karres

Finally, a chick with balls:

Nice article ["Boys in the Attic," September 11]. I'm no fan of pretty boys or sexy rock stars, since I'm a hetero male who likes chicks (even if I don't get many chances to throw cold cuts at porn stars' asses), but I appreciate your prose. Heather Jewett writes with balls, if you'll forgive me for saying so, which is rare for a chick. Thanks for your article, and keep your brass balls shiny.

Jim Klar
Cleveland Heights

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