Thursday, December 31, 2009

View From the Phlipside - 2009 review pt 2

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Year in Review time this week on the Phlipside. I try not to note the passing of every single figure in the media but I do like to take note of the biggest and most interesting. Those categories are not necessarily the same.

For example this year we lost one of the greatest news men of all time. Walter Cronkite had an impact and ability to influence the thought stream of the American public like no one since. Folks like Rush Limbaugh may claim to have that kind of sway but they all lack the true broad cross section of the American public as their audience that Cronkite held. He truly was a giant of the media. I very much doubt we will ever see another figure like him. The closest we have now is Oprah Winfrey. I'm not being my usual snarky self either, Oprah comes closest to matching Uncle Walter's grasp on the American mind.

At a smaller scale but worthy of a mention next to Cronkite was Paul Harvey. Harvey's career outlasted Cronkite's but a good long stretch but since his primary medium was radio, which was fading instead of growing, he falls to a slightly lower rung. This was a man also dedicated to the news but with a more homegrown touch. For many people that folksy flavor to his broadcasts spoke to the lack of sophistication of the audience and possibly the performer. That seriously underestimates the intelligence and business acumen of Harvey. You would be hard pressed to find any other media star ever to have the kind of staying power.

Slipping down another rung we find Casey Kasem. This small time radio DJ turned his spunky personal style into an icon of popular music. Kasem didn't pretend that the subject of his program was of any particular substance or weight. He just knew that the music was important to most of us at some point in our lives. Kasem knew that music is tied to memory and gave us the chance to explore them both.

On the other hand this year also saw the death of Soupy Sales. The pie in the face king was important only in the fact that he was a childhood bringer of laughter. He wasn't a great actor or singer or even a great comedian. But he knew how to make us laugh and he was willing to do whatever it took to get us there. The world may have suffered more by his death than it suffered in any of the others. There's always plenty of news. There's often not enough laughter. RIP to them all.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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