Sunday, February 11, 2024

Bee-otches of the Day: Tyrone Bynum and Robert S. Womack

Names: Tyrone Bynum and Robert S. Womack
Ages: 62, 58
Occupations: lawyer, Kent County Commissioner
Last Seen: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Bee-otched For: attempting a hostile takeover

The saga of the radio douchebag known as Tyrone Bynum just won't end.

Last year, we handed BOTD dishonors to the asshat who operates urban AC WPRR 1680 and its low-powered translator at 102.5 - operating as The Ride - for running an illegal operation. Under FCC rules, 1680 and 102.5 must be simulcast 24/7. But, 10,000-watt 1680 has been airing an oddball mish-mash of random classic urban tunes for about a year with no commercials and another FCC no-no, no legal station IDs.

We also ripped Bynum a new one because The Ride's new studio is located at Rogers Plaza, the Grand Rapids area's most-dead shopping mall and the butt of many, many jokes. You could say that it is more embarrassing than the rickety parking area at Rivertown Crossings. If you want to hear some of those jokes, BTW, just listen to the old Chris Rock routine of "Every town in America has two malls: the mall white people go to and the mall white people used to go to."

Well now, we've heard from a reliable source that Tyrone, along with fellow radio prick and Kent County commissioner Robert S. Womack - who has a show on The Ride - attempted a hostile takeover of 97.3 The Heat. The 49-watt urban station is owned by the non-profit Empowerment Radio Project, which is run by Jose Flores. Word has it that Flores knows a few folks from the FCC and is now threatening to report WPRR to them.

But, there's one problem: Tyrone does not own WPRR. 

According to my source, Bynum has been leasing the station, formerly liberal talk Public Reality Radio from longtime owner Robert Goodrich who filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Goodrich was marred with poor business decisions, such as firing station programmer and Southpaws host Darren Gibson because of his lack of support for 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton due to the screwjob the Democrats put on the more progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders. Goodrich also made headlines for firing all of his minor employees at his movie theaters so he could start selling liquor. In the end, Goodrich lost the GQT movie theater chain his father started in 1930, which is now owned by several private equity firms.

Goodrich - now in his 80s - also lost his home and now lives in a small townhouse off of East Paris in Kentwood. But somehow, he still has WPRR, which he's leasing to Bynum, who is also his personal lawyer.

If WPRR is fined for Bynum's idiotic bullshit, sadly, Goodrich might be the one slapped with the fine. Why, you might ask? Look no further than Traverse City. 

A few years ago, a similar situation occurred between a radio station owner and another entity that was leasing his stations. The renters broke an FCC law but it was the owner who paid for their snafu.

The owner was Roy Henderson, who owns WLDR 101.9 Traverse City, WBNZ 92.3 Frankfort, WLLS 99.3 Beulah, and WWKK 750 Petoskey. He used to own 100.7 Bear Lake and WMTE 1340 Manistee, but he lost those stations due to them being silent for too long.

With a partner, Henderson started WKLT in Kalkaska in 1979, then at 97.7, 6,000 watts, and a top 40 format. With northern Michigan being overloaded with CHRs, Kilt 98 was a ratings dud, even with Michael O'Shea as one of their jocks. In 1981, WKLT flipped to country, but ratings did not improve. 

Obviously, Henderson had nothing to lose when he flipped WKLT again a year later to a format that was successful in larger cities, but not up north: album-oriented rock. Now known as 98 Rock, the station's ratings rose and two years later in 1984, Henderson sold the station for $250,000 to Langer Gokey, a wealthy Pepsi bottler from Minot, ND.

Henderson took the money and ran off to Texas where he started a chain of successful stations that played Texas-style music. He also bought tiny, small-town stations that made little - if any - profit and moved them to larger cities, which made him millions.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a blessing to deep-pocketed broadcasters like Henderson. He could buy up more radio stations and he was eying one of the fastest-growing in America: the one he abandoned years ago, Traverse City. While he was investing in Texas, WKLT's new owners boosted their signal by moving 97.7 to 97.5 and expanding their power from 6,000 to 32,000 watts. They even purchased 98.9 WJML in Petoskey - a station that once creamed WKLT in the ratings in its short lifespan - and flipped it to WKLZ, a full-time simulcast of WKLT. Henderson was jealous of KLT's success and growth. So, he felt that buying up a ton of lackluster signals in the Grand Traverse region - plus a 100,000-watt heritage station in the area - would boost his ego.

In 2000, Henderson bought WLDR from longtime owners Don Wiitala and Dave Maxon for $3.6 million, the biggest price for one single radio station in northern Michigan. Henderson also bought several other stations, such as 1210 AM in Kingsley, a station that despite being a 50,000-watt flamethrower, was daytime only to protect WPHT Philadelphia. 

Henderson also planned a giant multi-use project called the Covelly Broadcast Centre at the corner of Front and Park in downtown Traverse City. He demolished several buildings and put up a foundation. However, he butted heads with the city commission over building height and even threatened to sue them. He even tried to move the long-troubled Bear Lake station to Bellaire, but the FCC didn't allow it.

And then, 9/11 hit and it gave Roy an excuse to abort the Covelly project. He blamed a lot of people for his problems. One finger was pointed at Ross Biederman, the owner of Midwestern Broadcasting (owners of WTCM, WCCW, Z93, and KLT) and Radio Centre. Roy wanted Covelly to be taller, but the city commission complained that it was too tall. Feeling that the city was in bed with Biederman - whose father, Les, founded WTCM and NBC affiliate WPBN 7&4 - Henderson flipped WLDR from its decades-old AC format to country as Sunny Country 101.9.

Biederman's WTCM-FM 103.5 had ruled the radio ratings roost for many years. Henderson even took one of WTCM's top jocks, Ryan Dobry to handle middays at WLDR. However, WTCM still came out on top of the ratings heap. Even worse, Dobry and the rest of WLDR's jocks all quit due to bounced paychecks and a toxic workplace that Henderson inflicted on his staff. Rumor had it that Henderson threw staplers and even computer monitors at his staff. At that time, Henderson put his botched Covelly project - basically a hole in the ground with a fence around it - on the market for $5 million. It sat abandoned for years until the city forced Henderson to sell it to the highest bidder. He got $2 million.

Not long after the mass exodus at WLDR, Henderson hired market vet Dan Stevens - the former night jock at WCCW - to handle mornings, programming, and even sales at the station. I chatted with Dancin' Dan a few years ago and he told me that under contract, Henderson was supposed to pay him $28,000 plus benefits. Instead, he was paying him $22,000. He knew that he had to cover his ass, so he recorded himself arguing with Roy and his British wife, Susanne. Well, it was enough for a judge to rule in favor of Stevens, who was awarded $25,000.

Over the years, Henderson had his fair share of legal problems and people who simply avoided him and his stations like the plague. He installed an HD transmitter for WLDR so he could air more programming, such as smooth jazz and oldies. He even used WLDR's signal to retransmit the programming on his Bear Lake station, which aired a conservative news-talk format that featured Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Don Imus. Word had it that he slapped on a banner on his stations' studios across from Tom's West Bay telling fans of those shows that they now needed an HD radio to hear them. Well, that didn't sit well with WTCM, and eventually, Henderson had to knock it off. Rumor also had it that Henderson forced electronics stores to carry $100 tabletop HD radios. Obviously, all they did was collect dust on the shelves.

It's worth noting that the Bear Lake station at 100.1 FM is now silent, and so is another Manistee area station Henderson bought, WMTE 1340. In WMTE's case, the previous owners sold off the transmission site. Henderson couldn't secure a new site and its license was deleted by the FCC due to inactivity. As for 100.1 - whose call signs over the years included WRQT, WZTU, WSRI, and WCUZ - the station never had a stable life, no matter the owner. When it was AC-formatted WRQT in the late 80s, it was silenced due to tax trouble. When it was 80s-centric classic hits Star FM in the late 90s, it lasted only a short time due to its lack of profitability. It was silent most of the time Henderson owned it, save for its short-lived talk format and when it simulcasted WLDR. A few years ago, Henderson finally sent 100.1's license back to the FCC after the station's tower's owner, Roger Hoppe - who himself owned 100.1 in the early/mid-90s as WZTU 100.1 The Storm - reported him to the FCC because he did not pay him tower rent for two years.

Speaking of the West Bay studios, with few people working for Roy, it became very neglected. In 2015, a water main in the building broke, forcing WLDR off the air. Word had it that Roy shut the heater off to save on his bills. Reportedly, Henderson was forced to toss most of the station's equipment because it was water-logged. 

Also during the 2010s, Henderson would have his non-WLDR stations off the air without telling the FCC. One brave soul reported him regarding 99.3, only to have Roy lie to the Commission by telling them what commercials aired during the time in question by his station's programming supplier, Westwood One. Often, if you listened to WLDR's top-of-the-hour ID, you'd hear Roy's other stations bunched in to make the FCC feel that all of them simulcasted each other. On the outside, Roy wanted everyone to feel that he was almighty and powerful. Instead, he was in dire need of help.

Roy owned several houses in Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and even England, where his wife was born. He allegedly stopped paying his taxes and he had to sell them to pay them off. Henderson even lost the transmitter site for WLDR, which was sold in a Sheriff's sale to Jerry and Sheryl Coyne, whose Blarney Stone Broadcasting owns Grayling-based rock station WQON/Q100 and sports-talker 101.1 WGRY. 

In 2018, Blarney Stone worked a deal to help Henderson by operating his stations. Under the Local Marketing Agreement (LMA), WLDR rebranded from 101.9 The Bay to simply 101.9 WLDR. Meanwhile, 99.3 simulcasted Q100, and 92.3 repeated WGRY as Up North Sports Radio.

Things seemed to be hunky dory in the beginning until the FCC slammed Henderson with yet another fine. This time, it helped to expose how neglectful Henderson really is. In the 2010s, 99.3's 50,000-watt transmitter had a failure and it could only pump out a few hundred watts. With no money to fix the transmitter, Henderson kept 99.3 silent most of the time. Since 99.3's signal could not reach Traverse City, the Coynes installed a small transmitter on their WLDR tower without FCC approval. Apparently, the engineer at Alpena country station WATZ - also at 99.3 -  was flustered at the Traverse City area 99.3 bushwhacking at the Alpena 99.3's signal.

By the way, WATZ is owned by Roy's sworn enemy, Ross Biederman. 

Because of this, Roy evicted the Coynes from their LMA. Within days, they moved WLDR's format to 94.5 Mackinaw City and 106.3 Thompsonville as North FM. They also moved their Traverse City studios to Building 50. North FM was a ratings flop, so they ended up relaying Q100 while WGRY's sports format moved to 1210 and 101.1 Traverse City and 1110 Petoskey. 

Henderson took the Coynes to court, which was all done virtually during the pandemic. The Coynes alleged that Henderson violated the contract because 99.3's signal was not at full power. All sorts of vitriol was put on Henderson because of his mismanagement. 

However, Henderson had his excuses. He told the judge - and even the FCC - that he hasn't been in the involvement in managing his stations for years because he had a heart attack several years ago. He now lives in Cascade Township - just outside Grand Rapids - in a townhouse over by the Walmart there. According to Henderson, he moved to GR to be close to his son, Ward, who now works in real estate. 

(Interesting fact regarding Ward: when Roy traded 1210 for AM 750 in Petoskey, he assigned 750 with the call sign WARD. On the other hand, 1210 was given WJNL since it now simulcasted 1110 WJML Petoskey. Oddly enough, WARD and WJNL were once the call signs of what is now CBS-owned independent tv station WPKD channel 19 in Pittsburgh, formerly a dual CBS and ABC affiliate in Johnstown, PA. Long-hampered with a poor signal and competition from far-superior Altoona CBS affiliate WTAJ-10, the station moved to the Pittsburgh area in the 1990s. Being a move-in expert, Henderson might know a thing or two about the station and its unique history.)

To make a long story short, after the judge read his verdict, the results were made confidential. But, he also had to report to the FCC, who made the results public. Simply put, he told Roy that he needed to buy the transmitter back if he wanted WLDR to broadcast ever again. Right before the verdict was made, Roy started broadcasting WLDR from the station's tiny relay tower on top of its West Bay studios with an oldies format. With a meager 800 watts, the station was only heard in Traverse City proper. He also re-signed 99.3 (now WLLS) and 92.3 WBNZ back on the air with various formats, such as adult standards and even an all-over-the-road rock format ala Q100.

Last April, all of Henderson's stations in northern Michigan fell silent due to financial distress. If the stations do not re-sign back on the air until then, the FCC will automatically revoke their licenses. Now, if WLDR, WARD, WBNZ, and WLLS all leave the air forever, the good news is that it could be a game-changer for the northern Michigan FM dial. The bad news is that if Henderson either A) allows his stations to be silenced forever or B) sells them all off (and he ain't gonna get a million bucks for sure), it's likely that it will probably go into the hands of a religious group like K-Love or the dolts who now own the old WFUR-FM 102.9 here in Grand Rapids, Bible Broadcasting Network.

(And in the "Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone Department", I used to trash WFUR for sounding boring and ancient. BBN's programming is just simply horrible.)

Coincidentally, guess who just lives down 28th Street from Roy? None other than Bob Goodrich. Maybe the two are good friends. 

If the world could ever learn anything from the Bob Goodriches, the Roy Hendersons, and the Tyrone Bynums of the world, it's NOT how to run a successful business. Gaslighting, lying and backstabbing are no ways of treating others. I've worked for many people in my lifetime and the company that I work for now is the sole employer I've ever had where I'm paid a decent wage, have good benefits, and haven't had my hours cut to make way for an asshole who can't wipe his own ass. I wanted to be a DJ growing up, and I'm happy I never got behind a microphone in my life knowing how idiotic radio station owners are.

If Bob Goodrich gets fined for the shit Tyrone's been pulling for years, it will be karma for putting his trust in the hands of someone who should not be trusted. He left the left in Grand Rapids voiceless. Judging by the ratings, 102.5 The Ride has few, if any riders.

As Trent Reznor sang, "Bow down before the one you serve, you're gonna get what you deserve."


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Sunday, February 4, 2024

Heroes of the Day: Detroit Lions


Name: Detroit Lions
Age: 95
Occupation: football team
Last Seen: Detroit, Michigan
Awarded For: trying

The year was 1957.

Elvis dominated the music world with "All Shook Up". TV sets were tuned to Gunsmoke while teens were tuning in to American Bandstand with Dick Clark. Michigan's Mackinac Bridge opened and the Little Rock Nine was allowed to attend school.

That year, we lost Humphrey Bogart, Oliver Hardy, and MGM founder Louis B. Mayer. However, Steve Harvey, Katie Couric, Vanna White and Melanie Griffith were all brought into this world. 

Several things happened in Detroit in '57: Ford introduced the flop known as the Edsel and the Lions won the NFL Championship. A few years later, Edsel's son, William Clay Ford, Sr., purchased the Lions.

WCF made some good moves for the team, such as moving them out of rickety Tiger Stadium and to the then-state-of-the-art Silverdome north of town in Pontiac in 1975. With 80,000 seats, at one time, it was the largest stadium in the NFL. It was also lauded for not being a cookie-cutter stadium where baseball and football were played (although the Pistons played there from 1978-88 when they moved to The Palace of Auburn Hills. 

But as that old saying goes, "Ya can't polish a turd". 

The Lions were to football as the Cubs and the Red Sox were to baseball. The team was a laughable curse that made the day for late-night talk show writers and meme creators. In the fifty years Ford owned the Lions, the team only won one playoff game, and it was in 1991. Under his aegis, the team only won two out of five games and quite often, the games were never shown in Detroit area television due to NFL blackout rules. It might have played a role as to why their current home, Ford Field only has 65,000 in capacity, 15,000 less than the Silverdome, which was demolished in 2018 after being abandoned for sixteen years. 

It was George Harrison who once boasted that "All Things Must Pass", and that meant the legacy of WCF, who died in 2014. His widow, Martha quickly took control of the team and made drastic improvements . One was the hiring of Jim Caldwell as head coach. Everything considered, Caldwell was the best leader the team had in over five decades. But, he was still fired on New Year's Day, 2018 only because the team missed the post-season despite a 9-7 record. 

Because the Lions hired former New England Patriots scout Bob Quinn as general manager, it created a false hope that the team could indeed go to the next level. Quinn hired Pats' assistant coach Matt Patricia as the Lions' new head coach. Just because a film wins an Oscar and becomes a box office smash doesn't guarantee that some of the guys behind it will produce another hit. After all, there were many #1 songs on the pop charts that were the sole hits for their artists (i.e. "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and his Playboy Band, C.W. McCall's "Convoy" and, dare I say, "Macarena" by Los Del Rio). 

Well, the Matt Patricia days in Detroit were not well-received. He and Quinn were both fired after the team lost their 2020 Thanksgiving Day game. In two-and-a-half seasons in Motown, Matt had a puny 13–29–1 record. 

It was that same year that the Lions switched hands again when Martha Ford transferred ownership of the team to her daughter Shiela. She knew that things would be shaky in the beginning, especially in 2021 when they hired a former Lion to coach the team: Dan Campbell.

Yes, year #1 for Campbell and Co. was not a nice one with a 3-13-1 record. The trade between the Lions and the Rams for their quarterbacks was also not well-received in the beginning, especially when Matthew Stafford helped his new team win the Super Bowl. Before he became the new head coach, Campbell made a quip about "scaping the other team's kneecaps". Well, he had a lot to learn. 

And then, a bit of a miracle happened. In the 2022-23 season, the Lions returned to winning, finishing the season with a 9-8 record. Under Campbell, the Lions of old were moot. The bad 'ol days of Matt Millen, Marty Mornhinweg, Rod Marinelli (who gave the team its infamous 0-16 season), and those late-night gags were becoming a thing of the past. Campbell - who played on that 0-16 Lions team - was serious about winning.

This past year, the Lions went 12-5, its best record since 1991. The team won their wild card against (surprise, surprise) the Rams and Matthew Stafford. They beat another Super Bowl-winning team, the Buccaneers in the Divisionals. But despite starting the game 14 points ahead of them, they were barely beaten by the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Had they won, it would have been the equivalent of winning the NFL Championship in 1957. Of course, the creation of the Super Bowl in 1967 and the NFL-AFL merger changed things. 

With the Lions' loss to the 49ers Sunday, the Lions still have that unlikable record of being the sole football team in NFL history to not appear in the Super Bowl. Both the 49ers and the Chiefs - which the Lions beat in Week #1 - have been Super Bowl winners. 

If there's anything to cheer us Michiganders up, it's the fact that the Lions have drastically improved under Dan Campbell and owner Sheila Ford Hamp. From embarrassment during year one to winning record year two to winning playoff games this year shows that Sheila is not her father. She's to football what Rocky Wirtz was to hockey. WCF was all about the Benjamins while Sheila wanted to show the world that Detroit can be good at winning. With too many years of under-.500 records with all four teams, she helped to build a team the city and the world could be proud of. And it's considering that the Lions never won a Super Bowl. The Tigers last won the World Series in 1984. The Pistons last won the NBA Championship in 2004 while the Red Wings' last Stanley Cup was in 2008. Currently, the Wings are playoff-bound while the Pistons are proving to the world that owner Tom Gores is a fucking twat who should have never bought the team from Bill Davidson's gold-digger wife. In 13 years, Gores has only one winning season with the Pistons under his belt. Currently, the Pistons are the worst team in the NBA. As for the Tigers, time will only tell once the season begins. They were damn near .500 last year, and this year could be pivotal. 

In all, there's no shame that the Lions didn't quite make it to the Super Bowl this year. But at the end of the day, the world is still turning. At least Sheila isn't her father, or worse yet, classless Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who threw a drink all over some Jacksonville Jaguars fans and was fined a paltry $300,000 by the NFL (he's worth $20 billion, BTW).

So now, we get to root for another team that's not the Lions for the Super Bowl. And for me, it's an easy choice: the Chiefs. 

For starters, I'm still pissed at the 49ers for beating the Lions, but my hatred for that team rums a little deeper. I hate the fact that they dropped Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem. He had every right to do so as a protest against a country that has long spat on black folks like himself. Plus, the team's former owner, Eddie DeBartolo was pardoned by Drumpf. Methinks it's a thank you from the big orange douchebag for firing Kaepernick.

Granted, KC's owner, Clark Hunt is a Rethuglican. But, the Chiefs do have an unofficial cheerleader who stands for a lot of things that Drumpf is against, and it's their beloved mascot, K.C. Wolf.

Just kidding, it's Taylor Swift. 

Granted, you might not like her music, but you love what she stands for. I'll betcha that the NFL loves how every time she's in a stadium skybox, it boosts morale among their female fans, plus those who are now knowing what a First Down and a Pick is. For many, being in the same building Tay-Tay is in is like being in the same building God is. It's just too bad that Eminem is likely going to be watching the game at home like many of us Lion fans still heartbroken over the situation from last weekend.

But, all we can do is cheer up. The Lions have shown drastic improvement year after year and there's always next year. Let's remember: just because we've sucked at football forever doesn't mean that we suck at everything. Detroit gave us the automobile, Motown, a prototype of punk rock that includes acts like The MC5 (RIP Wayne Kramer), delicious pizza, Faygo, Vernors, Soupy Sales, Bill Bonds, Madonna, and the list goes on. Every city and small town in America will always have their pluses and minuses. 

And for Detroit, a good football team is definitely a plus.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bee-otch of the Day: Nexstar Media Group

Name: Nexstar Media Group
Age: 27
Occupation: broadcast giant
Last Seen: Irving, Texas
Bee-otched For: airing a football game the hard way

Sadly, climate change is a reality, but at least hell is freezing over.

After decades of being the laughingstock of the NFL, the Detroit Lions had a good season. But on January 21, people in Grand Rapids learned the hard way on how bad things really are at their beloved NBC affiliate, WOOD-TV 8.

During the NFC Divisional, with a little over five minutes on the clock before halftime, the screen stuttered until it went pitch black. 

I, like many watching the game, thought, "Probably just a burp in the satellite. It'll be back in a few seconds."

Well, a few seconds became a few minutes. Thankfully, I have LazerTV, which had several channels devoted to the game. Periodically, I checked with TV 8 and it was either a blank screen or a pixelated NBC feed with both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking announcers. 

Halftime came and my dog and I rushed out to Hungry Howie's for pizza. We got back and 8 was improving, but far from perfect. I was told that 8 was picking their feed straight from WNBC New York while they were fixing their snafu.

Later on, they were airing the straight feed from NBC. I could tell because, during the time they were supposed to be airing local spots, the feed was showing peacocks changing color with the NBC chimes playing over and over. Basically, it's designed to tell viewers that their local affiliate is asleep at the switch.

By the end of the game, the bugs were worked out and WOOD-TV was back to normal. During the game, angry viewers - me included - took to the socials to bitch about WOOD-TV's lackluster performance during the game. I even joked that the Lions are All Grit while WOOD-TV was All Shit.

So, what caused the meltdown at WOOD-TV? It all boils down to the heart of any TV station: the master control. 

Traditionally, stations have a master control room or MCR. It's where someone sits in front of a machine called the switcher and they switch from a network feed to commercials and back. Back in the olden days, commercials were either on film, live, or on videotape. Also, there were no computers. Everything was manual. 

Usually, the FCC-mandated top-of-the-hour ID was on a slide with a live announcer saying the station's call sign and community of license, like "Television Three, WXXX Buttfuckville. It's eight o'clock." At exactly 7:59:59, the man at the switcher would hit the button to go back to the network on time for either the CBS bong or NBC buzzer that symbolized that it was the top of the hour (I don't think ABC had a TOH noise, but prove me wrong).

Well, times have changed and most MCRs are now automated. The days of film and tape are long gone and so is having a live body in the MCR. Years ago in the 00s, I was watching a hockey game on WOOD-TV when the NBC feed went out. The switcher quickly re-established the feed with a little something extra: a weather bug on the corner of the screen from Detroit's WDIV.

Bumming another station's feed is nothing new in the world of television. As a matter of fact, it's been going on since the early days of the medium. Up until the mid-80s, most stations received network programming from AT&T's Long Line system. However, there were notable exceptions because of territorial reasons, namely stations in Alaska and Hawaii. Until satellite became the normal for network programming, those stations had to rely on the US Mail. Usually, those in the non-continental US had to wait a week after they originally aired on the mainland.

My childhood TV stations in northern Michigan had to rely on microwave signals until satellite became commonplace. NBC affiliate WPBN-TV 7&4 relayed WOOD-TV or Bay City's WNEM-TV 5 (now with CBS). CBS-er WWTV 9&10 was linked to Kalamazoo's WKZO-TV 3 (now WWMT and ironically WPBN's sister station today) since both stations were owned by John Fetzer. Lastly, WGTU ABC 29&8 hooked with Flint's WJRT 12 or Grand Rapids' WZZM 13, depending on their schedule. 

Being a master control operator in the Traverse City area wasn't totally easy, especially when it came to network programming. If one of their sources down in Southern Michigan had weather problems and they had to put a W on the lower left corner of the screen, the TC station would have to put a graphic on the screen that the warning was for the Grand Rapids region. Sometimes, northern Michiganders were subject to seeing logo bugs of downstate stations be immediately covered by the logos of 7&4, 9&10, or 29&8. And if, let's say WOOD-TV had to break into programming for a special report, master control at 7&4 would have to dial a telephone number to switch over to WNEM. 

And yes, atmospheric conditions weren't always a friend to those manning the stations up north, either. I even read an old newspaper article about the fuzziness of the ABC shows on 29&8 in the late 70s. It turned out that one of the stations that relayed WJRT was not working correctly.

Back to WOOD-TV, I fondly remember a few days after that hockey game, they were still having issues with their satellite and WDIV was their wingman. But sometimes, a wingman can't be there all the time. During their late-night lineup of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the satellite took a dump again. At the same time, WDIV was airing a special report of a massive fire at an old automobile plant. Poor 'ol WOOD-TV had to re-air their 11 pm news, telling viewers that they were experiencing technical difficulties. They briefly aired Conan, only to go back to the news because WDIV returned to their special report.

Now, on a day like that Sunday, if the NBC feed bailed on WOOD-TV, the switcher would immediately flip over to WDIV, and all of West Michigan would be joyous. But it wasn't meant to be.

During the olden days, WOOD-TV was owned by LIN Media, which owned a few dozen TV stations. In 2003, LIN did some cost-cutting and moved WOOD-TV's master control to then-sister station WISH-TV in Indianapolis. WOOD-TV and WISH-TV were sold to Media General in 2014 and WOOD-TV was sold to Nexstar two years later. However, WISH-TV had to be spun off since Nexstar purchased stronger CBS affiliate WTTV beforehand (WISH lost CBS in 2014 in a contract dispute and is now the market's CW affiliate; bear in mind that CW is majority-owned by Nexstar).  Because of this, the hub was moved to WTTV, and WISH-TV was sold to local black businessman DuJuan McCoy. 

Allegedly, Nexstar had 16 hubs at one point, but it's now down to five. At times, watching WOOD-TV is like watching an amateur hour rife with mistakes galore. Many times when it's time for the station to air local spots, they wait a little too long. Maybe it's because the poor person who's running the station in Indy is also watching many other of Nexstar's stations. 

Shortly after the Lions clobbered the Bucs 31-23, WOOD-TV aired their Sunday evening newscast. They had reporters all over the area attending watch parties and interviewing excited Lions fans happy that for the first time since 1957, they'll be playing for the NFC title. Very briefly during the newscast did anchor Amanda Porter - a young black woman whose delivery resembles Paul Shaffer's impersonation of rock music impresario Don Kirschner on 1970s SNL - apologize for the technical embarrassment. 

This only adds to WOOD-TV's embarrassments in recent years. Last year, the station made headlines when news director Stanton Tang and his assistant, Amy Fox were fired for a leaked memo telling producers and reporters to lay off talking about LGBTQ+ issues during Pride Month out of concern for their conservative viewers. The two producers who leaked the memo, Luke Stier and Madeline Odle were also fired. The station went through a roller coaster of staff changes, especially in the weather department when long-time morning weather girl Terri DeBoer left the station after some 30 years to become the director of communications for Jacobs Financial (which makes perfect sense since Jacobs uses Allianz, who financed the Holocaust; Terri made headlines when she hosted an expensive fundraiser for Dick DeVos' aborted gubernatorial run in 2006). WOOD-TV kinda had to fake their forecasts by outsourcing them from Texas-based Brian James, an intern at the station in the 1990s.

Of course, times have changed over the years regarding how a TV or radio station can be run. Once upon a time, a station HAD to have their master control in their community of license. Not anymore. As a matter of fact, WCHY 97.7 in Cheboygan's studio is by Torch Lake, about 77 miles away and way out of the station's broadcast range. It also doesn't help that the station's owner, "Trucker" Randy Bishop is a convicted felon and uses his wife as the de facto owner of the station. Thankfully, at last check, a convicted felon cannot own a broadcast outlet in America.

Thanks to the FCC, the world of broadcasting is supposed to be a good one for the assholes who run radio and TV stations and the shareholders who own them. The viewers and listeners? Not so much. Because of this, we no longer have truly fair and balanced reporting. Too many important stories get broomed under the rug and it's up to independents - like me whenever possible - to tell the truth. 

Nexstar is just another evil media company loaded with shell companies to take over more TV stations. Recently, they purchased 75% of CW while the other 25% is still owned by its founders, Warner Bros. and CBS. As a matter of fact, CBS dumped CW from all of their stations, including Detroit's WKBD-TV 50, which is now an independent. 

Not only did CW programming move to WADL-TV 38 in the Motor City, but they also announced that they were buying the station through their shell company, Mission Broadcasting. However, WADL's owner, Kevin Adell personally pulled CW from the schedule after he claimed that the network missed payments to him. Not only that, he claimed that the sale between him and Nexstar was going "very slowly".

It's also noted that there's nepotism at Nexstar. It happens so that company founder and president Perry Sook's son - who has the same name - works as a reporter at the company's WPIX channel 11 in New York City.

Nexstar also owns the cable network Newsnation, formerly the cable version of Chicago's WGN-TV. In 2019, Nexstar purchased Tribune Media, which owned WGN, along with the aforementioned WPIX and KTLA channel 5 Los Angeles. Tribune also owned WXMI Fox 17 here in Grand Rapids. But, since Nexstar already owns two full-power TV stations in the West Michigan broadcasting market - the other being WOTV 41 out of Battle Creek - it had to be spun off. WXMI was sold to Scripps.

One more terrible story about WOOD-TV and its reputation is one that I've wanted to tell for years. I have a friend who worked at a place that boarded dogs. During the pandemic at work, this person received a phone call from an angry customer who was on vacation in Petoskey with their significant other. This person SCREAMED at my friend, demanding that their two dogs - who were being boarded at the time - get a free grooming and a wash. My friend even told this person that it was against company policy because if they got free services, then other customers would be given the same treatment. 

The person on the other line screamed harder. "DO YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?!?" I don't remember the outcome of the conversation, but it changed how I looked at this angry customer for the rest of my life. 

Now, the reason why I can tell you the story is because my friend no longer works in the pet hospitality business. But, back then, my friend was only making $15-16 per hour and living in a tiny apartment while this angry customer lived in a home on a lake and made way more than my friend. 

And that angry customer was none other than WOOD-TV news anchor Susan Shaw. 

To stir the pot even more, allegedly, other local news people used that same facility to board their pets. According to my friend, only one of those people was friendly, and it was former reporter and weekend anchor Leon Hendrix.

The truth is that if I owned a TV station, I would outsource as extremely little as possible. And that means master control. If the network feed is broken, I don't want 40-odd stations in the dark. I would hire people with experience and train the inexperienced to be experienced. I would also pay these people a good, livable wage and set a good example for the broadcast industry. I understand that social media can make or break anything and Nexstar fucked up royally. The only people I applaud are those who re-established the NBC feed for WOOD-TV in a fair amount of time. They were the true rock stars that day.

Aside from the Lions, of course.


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Monday, January 22, 2024

Hero of the Day: Mark Staycer


Name: Mark Staycer
Age: was 68
Occupation: former broadcaster and John Lennon impersonator
Last Seen: somewhere out there
Awarded For: just being a wonderful human being

January 6th is definitely a day that will live in infamy.

It was the day a vicious group of losers stormed the Capitol in 2021, crying over a big lie. 

Three years later, it was another day of infamy for me.

I just got home from an afternoon at Costco, shopping with my mother. I put the groceries away and sat down to check on my phone's notifications. Then, I checked my Facebook and my jaw dropped.

I saw a post from former northern Michigan DJ Mike Galloway (now in Chicago working for the Cubs) that Mark Staycer had passed away. The two worked together at WTCM. I clicked on Mark's name and other posts verified his passing. 

Mark died suddenly while asleep on December 30, 2023. Staycer - birth name Stytzer - would have been 69 on January 16. 

A single child born in Detroit to a Catholic family, Staycer developed a love of rock 'n roll at an early age, especially towards four particular lads from Liverpool. As a matter of fact, he was in attendance when The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York City in 1965. Mark told me about the acoustics being so bad that the sounds of screaming girls dwarfed the Fab Four. Even more, the stadium reeked of urine because the young girls were peeing themselves. For them, seeing John, Paul, George, and Ringo in the flesh was more important than a quick trip to the ladies' room.

Mark told me that he deeply loved his father, a postal delivery man. However, the Catholicism in him showed. Mark had a vast collection of rare and foreign records as a teenager. After he discovered that his son had some dirty R. Crumb comics under his bed, he personally smashed his records.

But, it didn't stop Mark from growing his collection. 

Of course, The Beatles broke up in 1970 and all four had their own success as solo artists. However, according to Mark, what was cool in the 60s wasn't as cool in the 70s. He would buy up Beatles memorabilia from garage sales and thrift shops. Relics of the past that might be worth a lot more now.

Professionally, Mark would enter the world of broadcasting as an artist. He worked for a company that made graphics for Detroit's TV stations in the 70s back in the days when everything was on slides. However, he loved radio and had humble beginnings at such stations as WGHN 92.1 Grand Haven and the now-defunct WBRB 1430 Mount Clemens over by Detroit. WBRB was co-owned by Gilda Radner. Mark told me personally years ago that her cousin, Leigh, who managed WBRB was not a very nice person. No wonder why they've long fallen silent.

Mark worked at WKCQ in Saginaw in the early 80s. He told me about his hatred towards the MacDonald family, especially in the early 80s when the family patriarch, Ken, Sr. busted the union that represented their air talent. According to Mark, Ken's words were, "I started without a union, and I'll go out without one!" Needless to say, Mark, who was struggling as-is, got tired of Sagnasty and the MacDonalds. It happened so that one of his childhood friends was Ryan Dobry, WTCM's midday jock. One of WTCM's DJs was quitting to become a golf pro (this being current WCCW 107.5 midday jock Dave Gauthier). Staycer applied and soon, he was kissing Saginaw and the MacDonald family goodbye. Mark told me personally that he always had a good relationship with WTCM owner Ross Biederman; he admitted that he would go fishing with him and his stepson, current station runner Chris Warren. 

Mark left WTCM in the early 90s to go to WKLT where his "Stayce the Ace" morning show helped the station achieve #1 status in the ratings. I fondly remember attending a monster truck rally at the Fairgrounds where he sang the National Anthem... poorly. He would move to Dallas where he worked at ABC's satellite radio services.

Eventually, Stayce would return to Traverse City and WTCM. He held the afternoon shift at WTCM-FM, plus one of the worst jobs he ever held: operating the board at WTCM 580 during the first hour of The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Mark told me that WTCM-AM was a very outdated operation in the late 90s. It had an old, circular knob control board and no automation. The station had to be manned 24/7. Usually, Merlin Dumbrille ran the station during Rush, but it was his lunch hour and Mark got the shortest straw. Thankfully, Rush had music cues to let board-ops like him know to go to commercial. Usually, he had the speakers on low so Rush's moronic rants wouldn't infect his mind.

Eventually, Mark left radio once and for all to tour the world as a John Lennon impersonator. He appropriately named his act ImagineLennon after John's signature song. He could do it all: the 1964 moptop who sang covers of old R&B tunes to the psychedelic, long-haired Lennon who was inseparable from his beloved bride, Yoko Ono. According to Mark, his first gig as John was a child's birthday party. Thanks to his gig as a faux Beatle, he played on many cruise ships and got to see the world. 

Staycer's resemblance to Lennon even made him a minor movie star. He appeared in a 2009 Canadian film called "Let Him Be", a film about a college girl who suspects that her professor is John Lennon.

My experience with Stayce began years ago when I was a regular poster on a popular internet message board devoted to Michigan broadcasting. I decided to post as my avatar a picture of legendary Northern Michigan radio station owner Trish MacDonald-Garber to get a rise out of people. He shot me an email telling me that he loved my posts, he loved Bee-otch of the Day, but please, please, PLEASE get that pic of Trish off of there. From there, we became good pen pals, often talking about BOTD. 

No topic was off limits between me and Stayce. Often, he'd talk about the happy days of his childhood, such as lighting up old, flammable nitrate film as firecrackers with his friends. He'd often go up to northern Michigan with his parents and was childhood friends with Dale Dumbrille, the son of legendary Northern Michigan broadcasting great Marlin Dumbrille. Mark often visited WTCM as a child, which piqued his interest in broadcasting. He'd also tell me stories of meeting WTCM founder Les Biederman as a kid; he fondly remembered that he smelled like an ashtray everywhere he walked (Biederman, a heavy cigar smoker, died in 1986 at the age of 75 from lung cancer; ironically, he sold the TV stations he founded, NBC affiliate WPBN-TV 7&4 to U.S. Tobacco in 1980, but kept his radio properties in Traverse City and Alpena).

Despite being a Beatle fan and a rocker at heart, Mark and I did have one discrepancy regarding music, and it was his love of country. Mark did somewhat scowl over the fact that if I linked a music video for a country song, it would go to one of the offerings by Johnny Rebel instead. Mark met a lot of country legends over the years and admitted that most of them were actually quite friendly. He even met The Dixie Chicks early in their careers when they played a gig in Traverse City some 25 years ago and back then, they were very nice people. He also made friends with producers, managers, and other industry people.

Mark was quite a civil person. He told me that he and his longtime friend and coworker Ron Jolly NEVER saw eye-to-eye on politics. Mark was a lefty while Ron - like most of the hosts on WTCM 580 - is to the right of Attila the Hun. Like me, Mark often emailed Ron a lot to check up on how things were at his old stomping grounds. And yes, the two often chatted about music. 

For many, many years, we'd email each other. But then came that day three years ago when my life personally changed. After nineteen years of apartment hell, my father wanted to buy a house with me. We did and my days of hovering over a laptop to update BOTD daily were over. My fear of my MAGA father knowing that I'm a Drumpf hater would lead to some unwanted arguments. So, my policy became that I now did BOTD from my phone. If I completed an article, then I published it.

Unfortunately, it also marked the end of my writing to Mark often. For the past few years, I've dealt with a massive amount of overtime at work and Dad wanted me to take care of him and the house. When it came to this blog, if it was done, it was done. It was not as often as I wanted to, but it was what it was.

He would check in from time to time to see how I was doing and often wondered why I aborted BOTD. Of course, this past year, I worked on one that turned into a fucking travesty. So, I threw it aside. I felt like I needed to write articles that were shorter and not just one general category. 

I started pumping out some good BOTDs late last year and Mark was happy. The last time we wrote to each other was regarding the bad weather here in Grand Rapids last fall. Plus we chatted about one of his favorite movies, "Joe Dirt". I started getting more articles out, but I noticed that he had stopped writing. 

For some reason, I thought that he was busy with family during the holidays and simply didn't have the time to write. But as it turned out, something was wrong. And when he died two days before the New Year, I, like many of those who knew him, was indeed in shock.

Tributes came flowing into Mark's Facebook page, which he never posted on. He wasn't a big technology guy except for emailing me and friends. That was him and other boomers who weren't into that newfangled technology. But, it was still nice to see people share their memories regarding one of the nicest and funniest men in northern Michigan broadcasting history. 

Obviously, because Mark had friends worldwide, Reynolds-Jonkoff, his funeral parlor, live-streamed his funeral. Since Grand Rapids was smack dab in the middle of a blizzard, I was grateful that I could watch the service at home.

The family decided to keep the memorial short and sweet at just 45 minutes. There were no hymns, nor was there a preacher blabbing about his life. All it involved was his family and closest friends touching on his best moments and a short video about his life set to John Lennon's "Imagine".

Two of the speakers were two of Mark's best friends: Ron Jolly and Ryan Dobry. Ron talked about their time working together at WTCM in the afternoon and the hijinks the two had. One time, he talked about Ron manning the Tigers baseball broadcast on 580 AM. Occasionally, there would be a pause from the announcers and you could hear a vendor screaming "HOT DOGS!" or "ICE COLD BEER!" One time, while the announcers paused for a few seconds, Mark turned on his microphone and walked away from the board. During that moot point, he yelled "PRUNE JUICE!" 

Mark had a love of fart and poop jokes and he was not in short supply of them. At the podium, Ryan Dobry talked about the time Mark recorded a bumper for Merlin Dumbrille's marine forecasts that featured a loud fog horn. It was a sound Mark created by recording one of his farts and then slowing down the tape. 

Bar none, the saddest part of the funeral was when Mark's son, Christian took the stand. Jan and Mark waited years to have a child, whom Mark nicknamed "#1 Son". Christian, in his 20s had a hard time keeping it together paying tribute to his fallen father. It was clear that the two had a wonderful bond that many fathers and sons wished they had.

When I heard of Mark's passing, I shot Jan a message on her Facebook messenger. After the funeral, she responded, thanking me for the condolences. She told me that Mark always spoke highly of me. 

Over the years, I've talked to many people who admired my writings. And many of them have been involved - past and present - in the media. Many have been very gracious people, but others have been flaming assholes whose shit smells so bad that there's not enough Poo-Pourri to mask their stench. I'm happy to say that Mark was my #1 fan. He loved my writings so much that he wanted me to syndicate them. However, I told him that I was no sellout. Bee-otch of the Day is not for sale. Would I ever make a book of my best BOTDs? Maybe someday. I fear that if I syndicate my writings to a newspaper or magazine, then I would be told what to write about, or have deadlines to meet. Granted, the money would be nice. But let's face it: traditional media has been dying for years. Hell, Jan was an ad rep for Traverse City's Northern Express but quit because the paper was sold to a right-winged asshat who decided to post Glenn McCoy's racist and pro-Drumpf bullshit comics. I'm sure that if Luke Haase ever read my blog, he wouldn't want to hire me.

Ditto with Grand Rapids. Independent media in this area doesn't even exist, save for Darren Gibson's Southpaws radio show and 88.1 WYCE. I was a fan of the monthly paper Recoil, but that folded years ago.

The point is that my blogs are a hobby and not one for profit. True, I've had a few folks cry that my blogs hurt their feelings and they pulled a Will Smith on me, telling me to keep their motherfucking names out of my motherfucking blogs. Well, guess what? There's a little something called "The First Amendment" and they all need to read it sometime. 

I'll admit that with Mark's death, my life will not be the same. But, thankfully, I've kept all of his emails and the memories. He might be gone, but his memory shall remain. 

Thank you, Mark. //O-O\\


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Tuesday, December 26, 2023



Well, 2023 is almost over. As some of you have noticed, I've only published three BOTDs this year. The reason is that I decided to play by the Warner Bros. Handbook and take tax write-offs on all my unpublished works. I'm now worth hundreds of millions of dollars!

All kidding aside, I had a busy year at work and didn't have much of a home life thanks to having an elderly father who lives with me and doesn't see eye-to-eye with me politically. So. I do the bulk of my work on my cell phone. Things can be tough when your WPM suffers a nose dive when you can only use one finger at a time. Speech-to-text? Meh. I'm not a fan of heavy amounts of editing.

Well, we've tallied the amount of buzz we've gotten from those three BOTDs. Without delay...


For decades, Bynum has shown West Michigan how not to run a successful radio station. When he ran 640 WMFN, the R&B station had zero ratings and eventually was forced to give up the station's lease. Eventually, 640 moved to the Chicago area and now airs a Spanish format. Several years ago, he was handed 10,000-watt 1680 WPRR and its low-power translator at 102.5 after his boss, Bob Goodrich filed for bankruptcy. He flipped the station from its successful progressive talk format to - you guessed it - R&B for 600-pound black women with Type II Diabetes. The station - now christened 102.5 The Ride - has zero ratings and even worse, is breaking the law. Under the Federal Communications Commission's guidelines, 102.5 is a translator that MUST simulcast with a full-powered station. 102.5 is set to rebroadcast WPRR's programming. But for most of this year, 1680 has been airing in a separate format. Even 1680 is breaking FCC regulations by not airing any legal IDs. The straw that broke the camel's back for Bynum is the fact that The Ride now broadcasts from Wyoming's aging Rogers Plaza, a shopping mall that has seen better days. I visited on a Saturday night not long ago and the place didn't have even ten people inside. It wouldn't shock me if The Ride had fewer listeners than even that.


In July this past year, the Grammy-nominated industrial metal band was scheduled to play at Grand Rapids' Upheaval Festival, but canceled at the last minute. On their socials, the band released a statement claiming that the event's organizers did not provide them enough space to set up their equipment. As a result of the snafu, the organizers moved a 16-year-old DJ from the local stage to ITM's slot on the main stage. Concertgoers expecting to hear their hits like "Blood", "Whore" and "The In-between" instead were handed some kid who dropped the first two minutes of popular rock songs. I stood in the merchandise line and there weren't many people watching the kid, who wasn't talented enough to play Upheaval's sister festival, Breakaway. Speculation had it that Maria Brink wanted more space for her costume changes and her wishes weren't granted. Sad, considering that years ago, the band toured the country in a beaten-up old van. Maria was a young single mother who worked hard to provide for her young son. Now that they're one of rock's major bands, they put money over their fans, especially in rock-friendly West Michigan. Sad, since they used to be one of my favorite bands. Not anymore.



The summer of 2023 was musically dominated by country music and Jason Aldean had one of the biggest hits of the season with the controversial "Try That In A Small Town", a song that went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune - which Aldean did not write - was an attack on those who rob and vandalize their communities. The music video showed footage of looting and robbing while Aldean and his band played in front of a courthouse where a black man was lynched in 1927. Many - like myself - felt that Aldean's song, along with the botched banning of Morgan Wallen which led to his surge in popularity, and Oliver Anthony's surprise #1 hit "Rich Men North of Richmond" is giving people the message that it's OK to be an angry white conservative. And sadly, country music is their soundtrack. 

**RANT MODE** I'm a straight white male who hates country music with a passion, who busts his ass off at work ten hours per day, and has never voted Republican in his life because I have a brain. I get pissed that because of the bullshit that's out there, people have a misconception that Drumpf is the good guy but Biden ain't because of his son's problems. Since Biden took over the White House, the economy has improved, inflation is down, gas prices are down and unemployment is low. Recession? Don't think about it.

I know Joe ain't perfect. He's not as progressive as Bernie Sanders, who should have been president. But Biden's an upgrade over Drumpf, whose policies have severely hurt women by beefing up the Supreme Court with the intent of overturning Roe V. Wade, which he was successful with. He was ignorant regarding COVID-19 and raised taxes on the middle class, like me.

Granted, Biden needs to care even more about the middle class. Nobody should have to work 40 hours and then have to turn around and do a gig job because they can't afford the rent, even for a modest house. He needs to start taxing the wealthy and make them pay for a lot of the shit they got us into. Also - and I don't give a fuck what people say - he needs to spend our money on our problems instead of spending it on Israel and their asshole dictator who got them into war. Sorry, not sorry.

Over twenty years ago, I was introduced to the music of Johnny Rebel on Howard Stern's radio show. To me, his music reflects on how fucking idiotic country music always has been. I grew up HATING country music because it was everywhere in northern Michigan. I was a rock guy, through and through. Yet, the inbred douchebags who all moved up north to get away from the colored folk in Detroit had several stations to choose from. 

What sucks is that thanks to the corporations that run the music business getting bigger and greedy, you see the country everywhere. They know that country fans aren't all that bright. On the other hand, if you want a local, true blue active rock station on the dial, you won't find one in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or San Francisco. As a matter of fact, of the top ten radio markets in America, only Philadelphia has an active rocker. But, WMMR plays its fair share of crusty classics.

I don't know. Maybe it's the angry young man inside me that society will put shit on a pedestal while talent goes by the wayside. I even cringe knowing that even rock radio is making that same bullshit mistake since as of this writing, Staind's latest single is on top of the rock charts. Of course, their lead singer, Aaron Lewis is a whiny Republican. So is Scott "I'm going out to kill Obama" Stapp of Creed. I almost threw Avenged Sevenfold into the list for lumping Hillary Clinton with Vladimir Putin in their video for "The Stage". However, I see that lead singer M. Shadows has come out in support of Black Lives Matter and has voiced his angst against Florida governor Ron DeSantis. 

You see, I have a friend who has a rare disability. It's so rare that the medicine needed to help her is outrageously expensive. For over 30 years, her parents have fought in court, urging the government to help people like her. As a matter of fact, her case made headlines when she was a teen. One time, a strange man called her family in the dead of night, telling them to drop their case. 

Recently, her father - who happens to be a lawyer - went to Circuit Court in Ohio to urge them to allow free medication for her, but the case was denied. Now, the family is planning to take the case to the Supreme Court. Of course, with a Republican majority, I will expect that if they hear her case, they'll spit on her. And sadly, if that's the case, she's already told me that she'll move abroad. 

Seriously, I wish that people would understand world history. In 1929, we ended up in a Great Depression because the wealthy had way better treatment than the working class. Fuck, we didn't have a minimum wage, social security and a 40-hour workweek. Thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it all became reality.

The funny thing is that because it's a big tent party, there were many Democrats who hated FDR. One that comes to mind was congressman Willis Robertson, the father of douchebag preacher Pat Robertson. Not only did Willis opposed The New Deal, which Jumpstarted the US economy, he was a vicious opposer of Civil Rights. By the time FDR died in office, not only was the Great Depression over, but World War II ended, too.

FDR wanted to create a second Bill of Rights, but died in office before it could be passed. JFK was our next president, but he was assassinated. Granted, LBJ put a man on the moon and passed the Civil Rights Act, but he shipped our men to Vietnam to be slaughtered. To the Greatest Generation, the Democrats were their heroes. But to their children, they were Satan. Nixon got us out of 'Nam, but Watergate tarnished the Repukes' reputation. 

Sadly, the media made a mockery out of Jimmy Carter. He inherited a weak economy that Nixon and Ford created. Then, 1980 came, and people wondered what America would really be like if a celebrity became president. They felt that if Reagan could successfully run California, then he could run America right.

Well, the brainwashing went into full effect. Taxes for the wealthy went from 70% to under 20%. The illusion was that jobs would be created. Instead, jobs were shipped elsewhere. Reagan told striking air traffic control workers to get back to work and employers were given the freedom to bust unions.

But one thing Reagan did was he eliminated something that kept Americans intelligent: the Fairness Doctrine. If you had a radio or TV station and you had a conservative giving a viewpoint, you had to have a lefty giving a counterpoint. But in 1987, that was abolished thanks to Reagan's FCC. Thanks to Reagan, he paved the way for the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others to spew their stupidity on AM radio. 

Even worse, Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed for more corporate control of the media. In the 2000s, Air America was launched in hopes of bringing quality left-wing talk radio to millions of Americans. However, they signed a deal with Clear Channel, who ended up sealing AA's fate by dumping its programming on their stations after Bain Capitol - operated by senator Mitt Romney - purchased a stake in CC. In the end, AA went bankrupt. 

Sadly, there's hardly any true blue progressive talk radio stations on the radio anymore. Here in Grand Rapids, as mentioned, WPRR 1680 Grand Rapids was given to Tyrone Bynum. In Detroit, 1310 WDTW was sold by Clear Channel to a Spanish group. In very leftist Ann Arbor, Cumulus' 1290 WLBY flipped to conservative talk despite a two share on a weak signal. Hell, even northern Michigan had a lib-talker in 750 WWKK. However it was sold to Roy Henderson, who flipped it to a simulcast of then-country WLDR 101.9 Traverse City. Just like all of his other stations, Henderson ran 750 into the ground and is now silent. 

As I'm typing this on Christmas Day, 2023, I'm watching "It's a Wonderful Life". It's a great movie with a happy ending, though it's bothersome that the humble townspeople bail out George Bailey while Potter escapes unscathed. Of course, Saturday Night Live fixed the problem nearly 40 years ago.

So, why can't we have nice things? Simple: stupid people. We've long a mentality where if someone is a celebrity, they need to be worshipped. Reagan was a celebrity and so is Drumpf. On the other hand, Biden's just a politician. Repukes love stupid people and the Democrats aren't far behind, especially with what happened in 2016 when they fucked over Bernie Sanders. Of course, Hillary had to be their choice because she pees sitting down. Fuck the fact that she voted for the fakes wars BusHitler started and the fact that she sold out her party when she took bribes from those fighting against universal Healthcare. 

The system is broken, folks. It's up to us to fix it. I hope that in my lifetime, we'll never have another Repuke as president. Even more, the Democrats need to stop being sellouts to the right. They need to stop being a big tent party and start listening to We The People.

2024 should be interesting.


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Bee-otch of the Day Archives can be seen on

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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Hero of the Day: Joe Yuchasz


Name: Joe Yuchasz
Age: was 82
Occupation: former businessman and mayor of Elk Rapids, Michigan
Last Seen: The Great Beyond
Awarded For: being a rock in the community I grew up in

It was thirty years ago this past May 18 that my life would change forever. 

I was playing Nintendo in my bedroom, waiting for my mother to come home from work to cook dinner. She did, followed by two more cars, driven by two of the biggest assholes I would ever meet in my life. 

After a long while, my dad summoned me to the living room. He announced that mom had filed for divorce and that I would be moving in with her and her friend, a 400-pound bitch who was also a former boss of hers at a gas station in Elk Rapids. 

There were many good and bad things about moving to a new town. The worst was that I ended up changing bus stops three times. One time was because I was bullied and harassed, maybe because I was now being forced to live with the town whore. 

But, the big plus was that I now lived where I could now go anywhere without begging my parents to drive me ten-plus miles. I could grab a slice of pizza from Chef Charles. I could grab the latest issue of Mad Magazine from Riteway Party Store. I could go to Ed and Son's IGA and grab a gallon of milk so my mom wouldn't have to. 

And yes, I could watch a recent Hollywood hit at the Elk Rapids Cinema. 

Thirty years ago, the theater was in somewhat rough shape. Seats were missing in the auditorium. The floors were worn and worse of all, the sound was horrible since it came from an old PA speaker. 

But, its owner was good at shushing his critics, too.

Joseph William Yuchasz was born in Detroit in 1940. Six years later, he and his family moved to the tiny hamlet of Kewadin, a few miles outside Elk Rapids. On the weekends, Joe and his two younger sisters would catch Saturday matinees at the Cinema, then called the State. He graduated from Elk Rapids High School in 1959 and went to Notre Dame. He also enlisted in the Navy and was on its reserve for over 20 years. 

In his 20s, Joe came home to Elk Rapids where he became a schoolteacher in Bellaire. In 1967, he started the popular Ye Olde Music Shoppe. He also operated a t-shirt shop as well. He also was looking at starting a radio station in the area, but money and the lack of good frequencies for the Grand Traverse region squashed that idea.

One cold winter day in March, 1973, the owner of the Elk Rapids Cinema, Howard Coddington came to Joe and asked him to buy the theater. Coddington, who made his fortune with a dry cleaning business, bought the Cinema from founder Ed Loomis in 1960. 

Loomis built the Elk Rapids Cinema in 1940 as the State Theatre. Previously, he owned the Community Theater where the Town Club Bar now resides. In its first 20 or so years, the State did exceptionally well, especially during a time when television, video or streaming existed. Back in those days, movies were bicycled from one theater to the next, showing for two or three days. Loomis expanded his art deco masterpiece in the mid-50s to accommodate the growing trend of the day: Cinemascope. 

However, by the end of 1954, the State had two major problems: WPBN-TV and WWTV. Television had come to northern Michigan and it hurt the State and other cinemas. When Coddington purchased the Stare in 1960, he changed the name to the Cinema Theatre to avoid confusion with Traverse City's State, opened in 1949 by the giant Butterfield chain.

According to Yuchasz, he blamed Coddington for not properly running the theater. If it rained, the roof leaked, which made finding a seat at the Cinema tricky. The ceiling became heavily water damaged and the seats became so unusable that some had to be removed. Needless to say, fixing up the Cinema would become Joe's mission. 

The late 60s and early 70s were a tough time for movies, but Joe and the Cinema soldiered on. In 1975, Butterfield built the Plaza Cinema by the Meijer on US-31 South in Traverse City, the area's first multiplex. Three years later, the State was twinned. In 1985, Butterfield also built the Grand Traverse Cinemas in Acme, only about ten miles from the Elk Rapids Cinema. To add more headaches for Joe, Elk Rapids' economy in the 80s was disastrous. Factories were closing (even my own mother - who worked as a secretary in one of them - lost her job) and downtown was a near-ghost town. Even Joe cost his costs by moving his music store into the Cinema lobby.

In 1986, Joe was given a new occupation: mayor. Well, technically, he was Elk Rapids' Village President. Under his aegis, the small village of 1,600 would transform from a dying middle-class town to a vacation paradise, even expanding the village harbor twice. The once-nearly abandoned downtown would transform into a haven for small businesses, even with some transformation in the late 90s into the 2000s with the addition of several new buildings such as the ones housing what is now Gil-Roy's Hardware, Chemical Bank, and the Plaza next to Gil-roy's.

I often frequented the Cinema as a young boy and had many good conversations with Joe. Long after I graduated high school, moved to Grand Rapids, and got myself a steady job, I would go back to Elk Rapids and one of the first things I would do is catch up with 'ol Joe at the Cinema. One of my fondest memories was when I came up one weekend during a sidewalk sale. Joe was outside on his laptop ordering CDs for customers at his Music Shoppe. I noticed that Joe had a problem regarding newfangled technology: everything he left on his vendor's website, he had the begrudging trouble of reentering his password over and over again. So, I taught him how to use tabs on his browser. Problem solved.

It was no secret that Joe was a talker. If I was the sole person in the building with him, he'd yap up a storm. We talked about the movie business or other theaters. I told him that I now lived in "Loeks Country" and he talked at length about Jack Loeks, the founder of what is now Celebration Cinema. He talked about how Loeks transformed "a small plot of land" into what was once the biggest cinema in the world, the now-demolished Studio 28.

In those 30 years past, 1/2 of Ed and Son's is now the Chinese restaurant Chang Express while the other 1/2 is now a smattering of smaller businesses. Riteway Party Store is now River Street Market and has freshened up. Chef Charles is still there. However, after the death of longtime owner Charles Egler, new owners stepped in and renamed it Chef Chuck's. The owners also vowed to not change any of Charles' recipes, which left locals happy.

Up until recently, it seemed that the only downtown mainstay to not change drastically in those 30 years was the Cinema. Joe was there most of the time, running it as a one-man operation at times. Of course, he would have high school kids help assist at the concession stand and even his sister Catherine would take tickets as well.

Yes, Joe had his critics. Most of the movies he showed were a month old or two. And yes, some would even make the trek over to Traverse City to see movies there. Well, that was a Hollywood problem and not a Joe problem. The studios have long favored bigger multiplexes versus small-town cinemas like the ERC. The bigger theaters can play a film longer because most have smaller auditoriums for older, less-profitable movies. If a movie plays at a theater on its first weekend of release, the studios will force them to play that film for two to six weeks, depending on its popularity. With just one screen, Joe didn't want to gamble on a film that would bomb.

And yes, the big elephant in the room was none other than the Cinema itself. Many wondered why he owned the theater for so long and didn't do hardly anything to repair it. Obviously, the answer was money. Joe refused to be a charity case and refused any money from people wanting to put new seats in the theater. The obvious answer was the roof itself, which needed to be replaced. Nearly 20 years ago, that long-awaited dream became reality. Soon after, Joe repainted the mural, added new floors, repainted the walls, and gave the Cinema much-needed new seats. Obviously, the Cinema's restoration got two thumbs up from the community. 

Joe paid for the remodeling thanks to a bank loan. However, as soon as the loan was paid off, he got stuck with another bill: the mandatory switch to digital. 

By the mid-2010s, most bigger multiplexes had made the switch to showing movies off of a hard drive as opposed to a mess of 35mm film. Granted, digital projectors weren't cheap, but it saved money on a projectionist having to thread a ton of film.

The AMCs, the Regals, and the Cinemarks can afford to go digital. But for smaller, independent cinemas, it became a challenge. In northern Michigan alone, many theaters ran crowdfunding campaigns to buy new equipment. Grayling's Rialto Theatre, for example, used Grayling native and Detroit Pistons TV voice George Blaha for their Kickstarter campaign. Frankfort's Garden Theatre became a non-profit. 

Other cinemas haven't been as lucky. In 2013, Elaine Dawson, whose family owns theaters in Bellaire, Petoskey, Gaylord, Cheboygan, and Mackinaw City was sent to prison for a year for not properly reporting her taxes. Charlevoix Cinema III has struggled to maintain an owner, especially after its longtime owner defaulted on the theater's mortgage during the 2008 economic downturn. Plus, The Bay in Suttons Bay became a non-profit after its longtime owner announced that he could no longer pay that cinema's bills.

Obviously, all this made Joe Yuchasz and the Elk Rapids Cinema truly one-of-a-kind. Everyone who knew Joe knew he did it for the love of movies and his hometown. He understood that not all the films he showed were liked by everyone. Unless it was an artsy-fartsy film, he avoided R-rated films. Being a devout Catholic, he did show some religious films, including several anti-abortion flicks like 2019's "Unplanned", produced by failing snake oil salesman Mike Lindell. He even showed 2014's "America: Imagine the World Without Her", which was made by convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza. 

According to records, the Elk Rapids Cinema made roughly $100,000 per year under Yuchasz's management. That's before bills such as HVAC, taxes, paying employees and distributors of both movies, and concessions, to name a few. He managed to make those multiple upgrades despite tightened margins, according to the Cinema's website.

This past January 18, Joe Yuchasz passed away at age 82, just two months shy of the 50th Anniversary of his taking over the Cinema. There was some irony in Joe's death; the first film he booked, "Fiddler On The Roof" was over three hours long. The same with the last film he showed, "Avatar: The Way of Water." Just two months after Joe's death, Chaim Topol, 'Fiddler''s star, died at 87.

Joe never married, nor had children. However, he was very close to his sister, Catherine, whose three children were willed in the Cinema. For the next several months, Joe's family banded together to learn how to run the Cinema. In a statement to the Elk Rapids News, the family said that even with it closed, the Cinema's bills still came in monthly. So after nearly six months of dormancy, the family decided that Memorial Day weekend would be perfect to reopen the Cinema. The family re-lit the theater with "Guardians of the Galaxy 3".

All things considered, business at the Cinema was brisk this past summer. And like many theaters, they benefitted from the Barbenheimer phenomenon. Many felt that the Cinema was in good hands with Joe's family. 

However, just after the town's yearly Harbor Days celebration, many in the community were shocked when the Cinema was listed on a real estate website for $500,000. The site even told people not to talk to any of the staffers because they wanted anonymity during that time.

With a price tag some called steep, some in the community criticized Joe's family for putting money in front of tradition. Some even feared that the 83-year-old Cinema would be transformed into condos. 

In a statement to the Elk Rapids News, the family was told by their Uncle Joe that he really didn't care if after he was gone, it wasn't a cinema anymore. The family even pointed out that they were at least 20 years older than Joe when he bought the Cinema in 1973, plus the fact that they all have their own families and personal lives. For example, his nephew, Brian Bowe, Ph.D. is the current chair of the Department of Journalism at Western Washington University. Joe's niece, Mary Vasquez is a nurse at Munson Medical Center. They all unfortunately knew that they couldn't run the Cinema quite like Joe did.

But a few weeks ago, the family announced that the Cinema was going to stay a cinema after all.

The new owners are the Chalfonte Foundation, a Detroit-based non-profit that owns summer camps in Elk Rapids and nearby Torch Lake (pronounced "shall-font"; it means "cool fountain" in French). According to the organization's website, its goal is to eliminate poverty of all forms - educational, cultural, spiritual, and physical - among children. They were founded by the late Rev. Jim Meyer, a Detroit Roman Catholic priest and former chaplain of the Children's Hospital in Detroit. He was angry that the hospital was charging parents whose children were patients for meals, parking and even just to watch TV. Often, he raised money to help the families.

Meyer's parents lived in Elk Rapids and when they died in the 1980s he converted their home into Chalfonte House. Meyer was a fierce supporter of the arts and championed social justice activities such as Civil Rights. Meyer died at age 86 in 2021, but his work continues. 

According to Joe's family, Chalfonte purchased the Cinema for a reasonable price. Mary Vasquez will now serve on the board of directors for the Chalfonte Cinema and Cultural Center, which will oversee operations for the Cinema. 

The Cinema will continue to show regular first-run films ("Five Nights at Freddy's" was their debut film; they showed the recent Hunger Games movie its debut weekend and they're now showing 2004's "The Polar Express" by request) but will also have shows from PuppetART, an organization that works with Chalfonte. 

The biggest surprise of all is that Chalfonte does have ambitious plans for the Cinema that only Joe could ever think of. Before his death and Chalfonte's acquisition of the Cinema, he devised plans to expand the theater. The expansion would add a second screen in the basement, a soda fountain, a gaming room, and even a cafe. Now that the Cinema is a non-profit, chances are that members of the community will open their hearts - and wallets - to make this positive change happen.

Even more, Chalfonte is planning to make a dream come true that Joe could not achieve: starting a radio station. The Foundation was donated thousands of old records from Joe's personal collection and plans to build a low-power FM radio station from the Cinema's basement. They also plan to host several talk shows discussing the work they do and some of the people who they support. 

In a way, it's heartbreaking when an older theater closes because it can't compete with the multiplex several miles away. Many of those movie palaces of old have all long closed or are now run by a non-profit that knows that they're not doing it for the money, but to bring entertainment and enlightenment to a group of people. It's just like Michael Moore and the Traverse City Film Festival. He admitted years ago that if he ran the State Theatre as a for-profit, it would only be open on weekends. Granted, Moore has his critics who all cry "oH, hE's RicH! He'S a TheIF!"

Let's remember who owns Moore's competition in Traverse: AMC, a multi-billion-dollar corporation that closed the only theaters in Alpena and Big Rapids. If anything, what Moore did was encourage others to turn that old cinema into a place where communities can gather to enjoy good movies.  

In the long run, I expect the Elk Rapids Cinema to last well into the future under Chalfonte's aegis. Obviously, it will be a community effort and since the community loved Joe, it will be a testament to how well he was loved.

Joe will be missed, but as long as the community says so, his legacy will live forever.

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Sunday, November 5, 2023

Bee-otch of the Day: Tyrone Bynum

Name: Tyrone Bynum
Age: 62
Occupation: shady lawyer and radio station owner
Last Seen: Ada, Michigan
Bee-otched For: running his radio station into the ground and giving it a suitable place to be run

A wise man once said, "Every city in America has two shopping malls: the mall the white people go to, and the mall the white people used to go to."

And yes, that wise man was Chris Rock.

Well, Grand Rapids has three enclosed malls. Woodland - built in 1968 - is still going strong with JCPenney, Macy's and Von Maur as its anchors, plus a recently revamped 14-screen cinema and a new bowling alley just announced for the property. The mall's only dead spot is the Von Maur wing, which opened a few years ago, but its growth was hindered by the pandemic. 

And then, there's Rivertown Crossings. Opened in 1999, the mall had a tough battle with Woodland for years. However, the double-decker mall lost both Sears and Younkers to bankruptcy, and its owner, Brookfield has financial problems and has spun several of its properties to Kohan, a company notorious for mismanagement of their properties. 

Last, and definitely the least is good 'ol Rogers Plaza, still holding on after 62 years.

The mall was built around Rogers Department Store across the street, now an office building. In its heyday, Rogers Plaza was your typical 1960s mall with Montgomery Ward, Grant's, Kresge's, and both an A&P and Kroger. However, because of competition from other malls like the aforementioned Woodland in the 80s, Rogers started to suffer. Of course, losing Ward's did not help the mall one bit.

Today, Rogers still has a good deal of stores. However, most of them have no access to the mall's interior, always a troubling sign for any mall. Its anchors include mostly budget-based retailers like Ross Dress For Less and Ollie's Bargain Outlet and local thrift store B2. However, most of the mall is useless with the exception of the essential Post Office and Secretary of State and a few businesses at their main entrance: Maya Mexican Grill, China Buffet, and the Designer's Dugout barbershop. Another barbershop, King's Room recently vacated the mall after being there for over 50 years.

Now, there's a new tenant at Rogers Plaza which is perfect to mix with Just Jesus Jerseys, Lifeline Community Church, and a wig shop on the west end of the mall: 102.5 The Ride.

Yep! The adult R&B station that's owned by the douchebag known as Tyrone Bynum now has its studio at Rogers Plaza on the east end of the mall. Originally, the station's studio was in the old Goodrich Radio complex on 44th by the Beltline. Then, it allegedly moved to a space by Bynum's law offices in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Granted, it's cool when a radio station allows its listeners to see inside their studio. It's quite magical. But, when you're dealing with an asshole who has long used his skin color to get what he wants, you end up dealing with the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

We've talked about Tyrone's bullshit many times before. In the 2000s, he ran WMFN 640 into the ground so hard that they packed up and moved to Chicago. A few years later, he did the same to WPRR 1680, formerly Public Reality Radio, which carried a progressive talk format. In 2016, Bynum bullied station program director and Southpaws host Darren Gibson out of his job. According to Gibson, Bynum was a professional when it came to gaslighting him. Gibson criticized the Democratic Party for how they treated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. However, Bynum,  a 'vote blue no matter who' Democrat, had a closed-door meeting with several bigwigs with the Kent County Democratic Party in regard to Gibson using his show to promote someone other than the party's choice for the 2016 presidential election, which was Hillary Clinton. 

After Gibson's dismissal, Bynum started programming WPRR. In its final days as Public Reality Radio, the station was one of the Grand Rapids area's lowest-rated radio stations. In 2020, station owner Bob Goodrich filed for bankruptcy because of poor business decisions regarding both WPRR - his last radio station after owning several in the 80s and 90s such as WSNX - and his movie theater chain, which his father founded in 1930. Goodrich donated WPRR to Bynum, who flipped the station to its current format.

Under FCC rules, WPRR 1680 and 102.5 - a 155-watt translator whose transmitter is located in Alpine Township - must simulcast 24/7. However, 1680 has been airing separate programming, mainly an automated mish-mash of mostly old-school R&B music. The station has been acting like a pirate, airing no station IDs or commercials. On the other hand, 102.5 is airing normal programming. Recently, the station dumped Steve Harvey's morning show for Ricky Smiley's; both in turn were dumped by rival urban station Magic 104.9, owned by Townsquare. Magic now carries Dallas-based DeDe in the Morning (which is syndicated through Compass Media Networks, which also syndicates sister WGRD's Free Beer and Hot Wings).

So, why don't the two stations simulcast? Well, who knows? But, since the words "Tyrone Bynum" and "piss-poor management" go hand-in-hand, it's no shocker. The station's website is even down and their Facebook page has disappeared. 

With the shit he's been pulling for years, I hope Tyrone will soon be fined by the FCC. BIG TIME. He's not fit as a broadcaster or a human being. Since he now broadcasts from a place that's seen better days, it doesn't shock me. He's now close to a field where a once-popular movie theater sat and several motels known for being magnets for prostitution. Recently, I was there on a Saturday night and there was hardly anyone in the halls. Kinda reminds me about how many people listen to Tyrone's shit.

BTW, Magic 104.9 is in 10th place in the current radio ratings in Grand Rapids with a 2.9 share. They have 2.9 times more listeners than 102.5.

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