The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Mazzei’

Scan it!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 16, 2012

In my last post I wrote about my road trip to and from Las Vegas in which I happened to listen to an hour or two of right-wing radio.  This prompted Verdon to comment about a childhood memory of being able to pick up a Mexican radio station from his home in the Southwest.

When it comes to matters of the radio the ultimate source to turn to is my best friend, and occasional guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei.  Jeff was the program director for WCBS FM for over thirty years, and he knows radio like Charles Dickens knew adjectives.

Enough of my needless prattling.  I give you…Mr. Mazzei.

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Guest blogging for Keith Saunders is like going to a concert expecting Cedar Walton to play only to find out that it’s Bill Walton.  But I’m here to expand on the subject of scanning for distant AM signals which is a subject dear to my heart having spent decades in the business.

Growing up in New York City, nighttime scanning for distant AM signals was great sport in the Marble Hill Projects.  For music, we loved WKBW from Buffalo which had an out-of-control nighttime disc jockey named Jack Armstrong.  But the real thrill was CKLW from Detroit which understandably had the inside track to all the new Motown releases, and we all felt as if we had the underground r & b pipeline to Motown a week ahead of everyone else.  In the summer, we scanned baseball games from Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Cincinnati to go with the Mets & Yankees.

But on the west coast, they had a unique scanning experience.  In the U.S. & Canada, the legal power limit for an AM station is 50, 000 watts in order to protect stations from interfering with each other within a reasonable distance.  Mexico was never interested in such good will, so their legal limit is 250,000 watts.

One such station was XERB in Rosarito Beach with a 250,000 watt transmitter near San Diego.  This was the station that hired Wolfman Jack who became a radio icon with his unique brand of announcing.  He was not only a wild man on the air, but he exposed the west coast audience to r & b records that were never played on most west coast top 40 stations, and it was not uncommon for Wolfman to say hello to his listeners in Portland and Vancouver.

XERB actually had offices in Chula Vista, California and on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  They also made money by selling time to pentecostal preachers who solicited donations.  One such preacher, Reverend Ike, had the sales pitch, “The worst thing you can do for the poor people is to be one of them, so send me your donations!”

I had the pleasure of working with Wolfman Jack (or as his co-workers called him, “Wolfie”) in New York at WNBC.  The real life Wolfman Jack was not unlike his on-air persona, but it was more low-key.  It alway amused me that this wild man of the airways with the zany moniker of Wolfman Jack actually had the most mundane of real names—–Bob Smith.

Sadly, both Wolfman Jack and XERB have passed from the scene, and CKLW in Detroit no longer is spinning Motown exclusives, but scanning never dies.  There are still baseball games hiding up there somewhere on a hot summer night.  It just takes a little patience and a talented wrist.  Scan it!!

Bill Walton

Cedar Walton

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The wild card run amok

Posted by keithosaunders on September 15, 2011

Today’s post will be devoted to my esteemed guest-blogger, and best friend, Jeff Mazzei.  Since he wrote this, (last week) a couple of the races have tightened up, but with only 15 games or so remaining on the schedule, time is getting short. 

The Redsox, with their myriad of pitching injuries, have somehow let Tampa back into the picture; they are four up in the wild card race.  In the NL wild card, while I wasn’t looking the Cards crept to within four and half of Atlanta. 

But enough of me.  Here’s Jeff!

I don’t know why I should be surprised and confounded by this, but with the pennant races evaporating, all I read is how we need another wild card team like the commissioner wants because he’s coming to the rescue of this September’s non-races.  Talk about another knee-jerk reaction!  How long has the current format been in place?  To my recollection, this is the only time in 17 years it may come down to the wire with no race.  And may I point out that were it not for the wild card, there would be an exciting race in the AL East.  And if the Braves were to close the gap on the Phillies, that would be another non-race race.  Oh, but if the American league only had a second wild card, then we could throw the Texas – Anaheim race in the trash as well.  They just don’t get it.  The people who run this are so myopic.

Mr. Selig wants 2 wild cards in each league having a play-in game.  I can see this coming from 3000 miles down the road:  the first wild card is the Yankees or Red Sox with the 2nd best record in the league.  The second wild card is a so-so team—-we’ll call them the Seattle Mariners—-who happen to have a blue chip pitcher—–we’ll call him Felix Hernandez—-who throws a 2-hit shutout at the 2nd best team in the league, and on goes Seattle.  Let the hand-wringing begin and sound the alarms.

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Crankee in Oakland

Posted by keithosaunders on June 3, 2011

During my many years living in New York City I went to dozens of Yankees games.  I was a Mets fan, so I ended up going to Shea Stadium more often than Yankee Stadium.  Around about 2000, when the Yankees, or as a fellow Mets fan friend of mine refers to them — the Crankees —  current dynasty was in full swing and it became an event to attend a game, I pretty much stopped going.   Every once in a while I would go with my best friend Jeff, who is a lifelong, and a true blue Yankee fan, but for the most part I couldn’t take the touristy atmosphere, and I hated the forced patriotism of being subjected to God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch.

I almost never saw the Yankees lose.  Even when they were bad, in the late ’80s through the early ’90s, they almost always won when I was in attendance.  I wish I had kept track of the games — I would bet I have a lifetime .800 Yankee winning percentage.

If that stat is true, then my percentage currently stands at .802.  On Wednesday I made my 2011 debut at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, taking in an Athletics – Crankees game with a drummer friend if mine.  We sat in the upper deck behind home plate, right next to the big green tarp which covers up the seats that they cannot sell.  I’m enclosing a photo of it so that you can experience the joy that is the A’s tarp.

Somehow we were sold seats right in the middle of a kids section.  We were sitting amongst hundreds of high school students who were enjoying a field trip.  They were nice enough, but as you can imagine, they spent most of the game shuttling back and forth between their seats and the snack bar.  And here’s something:  None of them are baseball fans.  They paid little or no attention to the game.  Often times, after a key out, or good defensive play, my friend and I would be the only people in the entire section clapping.  This does not bode well for the future of the game, at least fan-wise.

I was so looking forward to finally getting to be in the majority of the Yankee haters, but being in the kids section more or less negated that factor.  I was thrilled when the A’s, on the strength of a Josh Willingham home run, took a 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning.  It was not to hold up, however.  And who should ruin my afternoon but Nick f**ing Swisher, an ex-A, who hit a three run dinger off of A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez. 

At some point I looked down into the lower level to see hundreds, who knows, maybe thousands of Yankee fans.  What the hell are they doing here, 3,000 miles from the Bronx?  People really do like to root for a winner, don’t they?  Witness the legion of newly minted Heat fans. 

As for the game, that was all she wrote.  The A’s offense, punchless as it is, could only muster a two out Coco Crisp triple.  Then I was subjected to that fat blowhard, Joba Chamberlin in the 8th, and the artistry of Mariano Rivera in the 9th.  Blinc, blank, blunk.  

Ballgame.    

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Super Bowl memories: Part II

Posted by keithosaunders on February 4, 2011

The 1980s and ’90s were an era of Super Bowl routs.  You can count the compelling games on one hand.  Whether it was the Buffalo Bill’s four-peat of futility, the reaming of the Denver Broncos, or the one-off pratfalls of the Chargers and Falcons, it was an era of lopsided spectacles.  I watched them all.

Super Bowl XXII — San Diego

Redskins vs Broncos

I watched the game at my Aunt Ellie’s and Uncle Herb’s in downtown Brooklyn, USA.  My friend Jeff and I volunteered to bring over food from the 2nd Ave Deli in the East Village.  We didn’t count on the fact that every Jew in New York had that same idea, and we ended up missing practically the entire 1st quarter.  By the time we arrived Denver was ahead 10-0 and had concluded the scoring portion of their afternoon.  Before we had finished our corned beef sandwiches, Doug Williams had thrown four 2nd quarter touchdown passes and the game was, at least for this blog’s purposes, over.

Super Bowl XXIII – Miami

49ers vs Bengals

A rematch of Super Bowl XVI.  This time I was couch-side for the action.  Once again Jeff and I found ourselves at Ellie and Herb’s, this time joined by cousin Alan.  This was one of the few good games of this era, capped off by a late 49ers drive to give them the victory.  After the game the normally mild-mannered Herb lost his temper.  All day long he had been doing the slow-burn because Alan, upon arriving, had taken his shoes off, and Herb hated feet.  When Herb’s repeated attempts to get Alan’s attention failed, he finally lost it, exploding in a rage of invectives — an eventful end to an action-packed day.

Super Bowl XXIV — New Orleans

49ers vs Broncos

The first of many Super Bowls I would watch at Jeff’s house in the Bronx.  I had a gig in Connecticut so Jeff taped the game.  Somehow I made it back to Jeff’s without having discovered the score.  What followed was a good old-fashioned blood-letting.  52-17 Niners.

Super Bowl XXV — Tampa

Giants (!) vs Bills 

Jeff scored tickets to this game, but I had a gig at a restaurant called Camelback and Central on the East side, with the singer, Richard Lanham, and was unable to go.  Thank god there was a TV there and I was able to see most of the action, most notably the Giant’s clock-eating 3rd quarter drive, the Bill’s 4th quarter scoring drive, and the subsequent Scotty Norwood missed field goal.  20-19 Jints!  

Super Bowl XXVI — Minneapolis

Redskins vs Bills

Don’t be fooled by the final score, which was 37-24 Redskins.  This game was 24-0 at the half and going nowhere fast.  I’ll give you $100.00 if you can name the Redskins quarterback.  Time’s up!   Mark Rypien.  The game was so forgettable I don’t even remember where I was.

Superbowl XXVII — Pasadena

Cowboys vs Bills

The Cowboys had become good again but more importantly for them, they played the Bills.  I watched the game in my Long Island City apartment (I was living in Queens by then) with my wife, Debra.  Final score:  52-17.  Ouch.

Super Bowl XVVIII — Atlanta

Cowboys vs Bills   

I went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my wife to visit my in-laws.  My parents flew in from Las Vegas to join us.  My brother, who was living in Orlando at that time, drove down to Ft Lauderdale to complete the family affair.  I watched the game mostly with my Dad and brother.  I say ‘mostly’ because midway through the 1st quarter my father in law sat down, watched one series of plays, and declared that Dallas would win the game.  He then left the room and we didn’t see him until dinner later that evening.  It turned out he was right.  30-13 Boys.

 Super Bowl XXIX — Miami

49ers vs Chargers

How ironic that with all of the supposedly great Chargers teams of recent history, their one actual Super Bowl team was a forgettable squad quaterbacked by, of all people, Stan Humphries.  Stan who?!    I had a gig at Trumpets in Montclair New Jersey and missed most of the game.  Good thing, too.  The 49ers romped.  What’s that I hear?  The 49ers just scored again!

Super Bowl XXX — Tempe

Cowboys vs Steelers

Not a bad game compared to the array of clunkers that preceded it.  Final score 27-17 Dallas.  I watched the game at my LIC pad with my wife, one year old son, Jake, and cousin Alan who had free reign to take his shoes off. 

Super Bowl XXXI — New Orleans

Packers vs Patriots

I watched the game with Alan’s poker cronies at the apartment of Dan Afariat (The Afarianator) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  At halftime a poker game broke out.  I drank too much beer, and all I recall is losing a large amount of money.  This was my pre anger management days and I ended up screaming at poor Alan.

Super Bowl XXXII — San Diego

Broncos vs Packers

Viva Las Vegas!  I was visiting my parents in Vegas and watched the game with my Dad.  The Broncos finally won one.

Super Bowl XXXIII — Miami

Broncos vs Falcons

DRG.  That stands for Don’t Remember Game.  This was Elway’s swan song.  He was da winnah.

To be continued…

 

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Super Bowl memories!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 2, 2011

It’s that time of year again.  A time of renewal and a time to reflect.  Without further ado I give you…Keitho’s Super Bowl sagas!

Before 1977 I wasn’t that interested in sports so my memories from that period are not specific enough to cite.  I remember Miami kicker Garo Yepremian trying to throw a pass after a botched field goal attempt in Super Bowl VII.  I also recall that the Mary Tyler Moore show used Super Bowl VIII — the Dolphins vs the Vikings — as  part of the plot for one of their episodes.   Most of the games in those days were one-sided affairs and were anti-climactic.  On the other hand, there wasn’t nearly as much hype around the games. 

Enough preamble, let’s get started.

Super Bowl XI — Pasadena

Raiders vs Vikings

I was there!  My Uncle Ernie got tickets and I went with my Dad, cousin R, and Ernie.  We parked in the driveway of the home of the L.A. District Attorney, John van De Kamp, who was friends with my uncle and lived walking distance of the Rose Bowl.  Our seats were a few rows in front of O.J. Simpson and Franco Harris who were sitting next to each other.  We also saw Cary Grant.  After the game we found that Ernie’s car was parked in by another friend of the D.A.’s.  My cousin, who had an impatient streak, ended up keying the guy’s car.

Super Bowl XII — New Orleans 

Cowboys vs Broncos

I watched this one in my Van Nuys living room with my Dad and my girlfriend.  The game was a rout but my girlfriend impressed us by knowing the names of the Broncos skill position players.

Super Bowl XIII — Miami 

Steelers vs Cowboys

Once again we were couch side at Casa Saunders although that year I was sans girlfriend.  Present were my Mom, Dad, brother, and cousin.  This was the brother of the cousin who keyed the car at SB XI. 

Super Bowl XIV — Pasadena

Steelers vs Rams

I was playing a gig at a club in Malibu called Pasquale’s with the drummer Roy McCurdy.  Rather than miss most of the game driving to the gig the band decided to arrive early, rehearse, and watch the game at the club-owner/bass player’s apartment, which was located above the club.  It was an exciting game but too bad the Rams lost.

Super Bowl XV — New Orleans

Raiders vs Eagles

The Eagles?!  I remember watching this one at home with my immediate family.  A terrible game but Philly was crazed with success from a few months earlier when the Phillies won the World Series for the first time in their history.  That being said they still await their first Super Bowl win.

Super Bowl XVI — Pontiac, MI

49ers vs Bengals

I missed this one because I was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  I was upset because it turned out to be an exciting game and up until that year there hadn’t been that many compelling Super Bowls. 

Super Bowl XVII  — Pasadena

Redskins vs Dolphins

I only saw the first half of this one because I had a gig with drummer Dick Berk in Seal Beach which is way he hell down in Orange County, CA.  I remember listening to the second half on the radio and hearing John Riggins break off that long run for the deciding score.

Super Bowl XVIII — Tampa

Raiders vs Redskins 

For some reason I don’t have visceral memories of this one.  I probably was gigging with Berk again.  All I know is that Marcus Allen dominated.  This was the last Super Bowl I experienced while living in L.A.  It’s odd that I don’t remember this one too well since the Raiders had moved to L.A. by then.  You’d think it would have been a big deal for the city finally to have been a champion after all of the years of disappointment with the Rams. 

Super Bowl XIX – Stanford

49ers vs Dolphins

My first Super Bowl as a New York resident found me back on the west coast.  I was on the road with the saxophonist Richie Cole and we watched that game at his friend’s house on Whidbey Island somewhere off of the coast of Seattle.  The Marino era had dawned but unfortunately it would be his first and last Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XX — New Orleans

Bears vs Patriots

Daaaaaaaaa Bears!  Not much memories of this game other than the Bears dominance.  I was living in Brooklyn and must have watched the game at my Aunt and Uncles apartment on Jay St, which was near Brooklyn Heights.

Super Bowl XXI — Pasadena

Giants (!) vs Broncos 

New York had not yet come down from the high of the Mets improbable Series victory three months earlier.  Unlike Philly, New York was able to pull off the daily double and went on to claim the first of their three Super Bowls.  I watched the game at my cousin Judy’s in Rockville Center Long Island with her family, my Aunt Ellie, Uncle Herb, and my best friend Jeff.  After the game Jeff drove us all home which entailed making stops in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.  I tried to get him to go to Brooklyn first but he was having none of it.  After all, it was my family. Why should I get dropped off first?  This typical show of magnanimity on Jeff’s part prompted my Uncle to utter the now famous comment, “Jeff, you’re a prince.” 

To be continued…

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