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Jan 2001 / media shoegaze :: email this story to a friend

Random Notes on Local Media
By Thomas Crone

CHUCK KNOWS HOW TO PARTY: The Chuck Norman Christmas Party is an odd bird, one of those wonderful, anachronistic events that could only happen in St. Louis.

For starters, there's Chuck's insistence on the phrase, "for the handicapped," in his advertising. Along that line, there's the never-ending supply of signs around town, from billboards to bus shelters. It's long been thought that the WGNU topper spends more on the ads than the event raises at the door. Chuck may cut corners on new microphones for his studio, but he doesn't skimp on the signage.

This year's party featured all the usual stuff, from the kid dancers to the Buddy Moreno Orchestra, swinging easy to the hits of yesteryear. A handful of 'GNU staffers held court at their own tables, as did Norman, just on the edge of the dancefloor. A steady stream of well-wishers came up, shook hands. It's an annual ritual for many of them, no doubt, delighting in getting to meet the man behind the strangest station in medialand.

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit frightful on the Sunday in question, reducing the crowd by a large bit. The oldsters are the regulars and snow and the elderly don't mix as well as they could. The Regal Riverfront's great hall was half-full at best.

But what a group! Tables piled high with snacks, which are strictly bring-your-own. Stage-moms hovered, making sure little Chrissie and Jennie were captured in a full roll of film. Father Time, never content to let an event go by without his mugging the spotlight, patrolled the aisles.

The station's full of hate, but this party's full of the opposite. Hopefully, it'll be with us a few more years.

FRIENDS CLOSE, ENEMIES CLOSER: What a pleasure it is to make an appearance in JC Corcoran's new book, on the second-to-last page, no less! The well-traveled local radio personality makes reference to yours truly deep in the tome, on page 207, in the "updates."

Here's the paragraph in question: "I'm told Thomas Crone and Richard Byrne, partners in character assassination as colleagues at The Riverfront Times, had a serious falling out and no longer speak. At last check, Crone fronts for the civic group, 'Metropolis.' Byrne left the country."

Hilarious. And an honor: to be disliked so greatly by such a louse is indeed high praise. There may even be another reference, but that would require actual reading the work, which is too daunting a prospect to even consider. What's equally amusing about JC this month is the over-the-top praise from longtime defender Larry Hoffman to Corcoran's tome in this most recent St. Louis Journalism Review. As regular readers of the SJR know, Hoffman has long served as Corcoran's house organ in the monthly journal of media critiques.

In the December issue, Hoffman not only gives high marks for Corcoran's debut as an author, spending a full page on the job, he also finds room for two more mentions of JC's "Breakfast Club" show in his monthly column. Consistency. You get that from Hoffman. Each and every month in the pages of SJR.

GONE SHOPPING: The Mall has found a permanent place on my modest, five-slot car radio receiver. The 1980s supplied us so much pappy pop that it's a delight to hear so much on one station. Predictably, the codgers at the usual outlets (RFT, NoisyPaper) have bashed the station for its' over-reliance on the same 100 songs, which seem to shift subtly from day-to-day.

Wednesday, perhaps, you get the B-52s "Roam" before "Need You Tonight," by INXS. On Thursday, the order seems to flip.

Since no one at the station asked, one solution is to offer a nightly show focusing on the not-so-greats of the genre (the New Regime, Zot and GTR brigade), while mixing in some B-sides from the bigger acts, as well as some under-rated and under-represented near-hits. Granted, a super-computer in Arizona probably spits out the playlist.

But if station honcho Eric Schmidt is ever interested, here's a sample selection of possible tunes for immediate inclusion: Vitamin Z, "Burning Flame"; Pale Divine, "Freedom in a Cage"; The Cure, "Seventeen Seconds"; anything by Asia; Ten Ten, "What it Rains"; Rain Parade, "Depending on You"; Dramarama, "Depending on You." Ah, the list could go on.

Eric, gimme a call!

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