Let the games begin!

With the end of the Athens games, it’s time for several more competitions to get underway. Which do you think will be more interesting — the GOP Convention this week in NYC or the World Cup of Hockey over the next three weeks?

I’m leaning toward the hockey, especially because of the theory that this is the last chance for hockey before a NHL lockout. In addition, there should be actual competitions on the ice, where the convention is kinda like a week-long commercial for the GOP. Much like the Democrats before the Olympics.

Speaking of competitions, the fall TV ratings war is about to begin. Say didja notice any NBC ads for their fall season during their Olympics broadcast? With an average of 70 hours of broadcasting a day, I’m sure NBC was able to air a couple hours worth of promos for its fall season daily. I was watching mostly the CBC, and they fit in their three promos a couple million times.

For what it’s worth, many TV critics are saying that NBC’s line-up this year is pretty tame — even tamer than a few years ago. I can say that there’s nothing that I really feel like tuning in for — not even the murderous lions getting their own show on Father of the Pride.

Before their time

I often wished that Poway High School held a five-year reunions. I don’t know why they don’t do it — five years gets nearly everyone through college. We probably still look like our yearbook pictures, but we’ve made progress through the world. Unfortunately, some of our fellow classmates are no longer on the journey with us.

In lieu of a reunion, I occaisionally look at how alumni from the Class of 1996 at both Poway and my first high school Roswell High are doing. In trying to see how some of these people have changed, I once again realize how little I knew them.

Tonight, I saw that Ezekiel Webber passed away earlier this year in April. Zeke was in the theater guild at Poway — he was a funny actor and singer, especially in Guys and Dolls in 1995. The more I recall, I also believe he was a speaker at our commencement.

Doing a Google search, it sounds like Zeke made a difference whereever he went — as an Eagle Scout, an undergrad at Dartmouth College and a UCLA law school student. It also sounded like he fought the good fight for lesbian, gay, bigender and transgender issues.

The mention of Zeke’s passing reminded me of another classmate who died. Just two years after graduation, Mimi Bowles died near Oceanside. The circumstances behind her death were unfortunate.

I feel bad that I wasn’t able to instantly recall her name. It took me about 15 minutes to fully remember her name although I can easily remember the story in the newspaper about her death — including the mention of her progress at Palomar College, her internship at the Poway News-Chieftain and the questions about what happened and why.

I was never close with Ezekiel or Mimi, but I’m saddened to read of their passage. Although I never made many close friends at either high school, I feel that there’s some connection because we experienced the typical trials of adolencence together.

When I graduated high school, I took a positive look towards the future and the opportunities that we’ll be able to create. To hear that some have already left us as young adults is a tragedy.

Blow me down…

I saw something on TV Barn that just astounded me:

Clear Channel Expands Progressive Talk To Two More Stations from Radio Ink.

Clear Channel Radio has announced that two additional stations are adopting a progressive talk format, converting stations in Ann Arbor, MI and San Diego to the programming.

This is from Clear Channel, the radio giant that most creative types love to hate because of its sheer corporate dominance and love of piping pre-taped shows all over the country at the cost of local quality and musical exploration.

Obviously Clear Channel always looks out for the bottom line, and it’s interesting that they’re branching out. It’ll be fun to see where this goes — it’s good having a more diverse marketplace of ideas on the airwaves.

The cities that CC has introduced the format to are an interesting bunch — Portland and Ann Arbor have reputations as towns welcoming of “progressives”. San Diego, the long-time military city that often sides with Republicans in elections, seems to be more of a challenge. Still, it’s a big market with a lot of diverse opinions and issues.

Perhaps Clear Channel is moving to capitalize on the success of National Public Radio and its growing listening base. NPR’s drive-time newsmagazines are among the top-rated programs in the nation after Rush Limbaugh.

Dude, where’s my summer?

I don’t want to wail endlessly about the weather, but I do want to observe that this has been one of the coolest summers that I’ve witnessed in my short life.

As the slow winter thaw dragged on through spring, my friends started complaining about the lack of warm temperatures. Indeed, spring morphed into a half-hearted leap with sweatshirts and jackets remaining on our backs until mid-May. It certainly gave a new meaning to phrase “June gloom.”

Ever the optimist, I bravely tried to push past the naysayers. I pointed to my previous summers in the U.P. — despite the ever-dominating presence of snow from late December through April, summers have turned out alright. It got sad when people around started saying, “It’s all downhill after July Fourth.”

No, no, I said. Wait until August. August has always been the most luscious month in the Keweenaw full of vibrant growth and life.

I was wrong.

Now with kids about to return to school, the leaves have already started to turn. It’s Aug. 26. Sure, we’ve had some really nice days — blue skies, gentle breezes and a benevolent sun shining down, but they seem to be far and few in between the muck. It’s just I don’t think we’ve gotten our fair share of the good weather.

It’s been cool — I’ve only had my fan on twice this summer compared to weeks in years past. In one sense, it’s a good thing. There are fewer pests, and the decreased need for mechanical cooling (or air-blowing) means cheaper power bills.

And the good days have been glorious. The Copper Country Strawberry Fest happened to fall on the best weekend of the year, so far. I got to clear brush on a Lake Superior beach with a college friend on another fabulous day. I’m upbeat about the Houghton County Fair this weekend (starting tonight).

While I’m hoping for a late-season turnaround, I’m going to take advantage of the remaining warm days — who knows what’s around the bend.

Carrying a torch …

My excitement is building as the Olympic torch is just a few hours away from returning to its ancestral home. I look forward to seeing all the intense competition during the next two weeks. Regardless of how the Games are covered, it’s always a treat to see the finest in the world compete in the field of sport.

Apparently, this is a great time to be an couch Olympian, especially after reading NBC’s press kit for its Games coverage. The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius (meaning “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”). NBC is definitely going for more in this year’s coverage. It’s even trying to set the world record for continuous TV watching in a publicity stunt.

From the looks of it, it’s pretty impressive — over 1,210 hours of coverage on seven television networks. The networks are as varied as broadcast parent NBC to Spanish-language Telemundo. And it’s not all going to be gymnastics and track-and-field, either. NBC is promising some coverage of all the Olympic sports.

That said, NBC’s not getting its unprecedented coverage off to an auspicious start. Apparently not willing to preempt sudsy Passions, Friday’s opening ceremonies will air taped in primetime Friday night.

By comparison, Canada’s CBC not only manages to air the opening and closing ceremonies live (Starting at 1 p.m. EDT Friday), but they re-air the opening ceremonies in prime-time.

It’s true that the CBC’s coverage won’t be as comprehensive as the juggernaut that NBC is assembling (294.5 on its main network, 115 on CBC Newsworld and 150 on non-CBC network TSN). But, of all the NBC-Universal networks, I only get one — NBC. All the live sports that might air on Bravo! or USA are pretty meaningless to me. Just like I’m not too concerned about Radio-Canada‘s and RDS‘s Olympics coverage in French.

It’s no secret that I love the CBC’s comprehensive coverage of events — live whenever possible. Still, according to a Globe and Mail story, it seems the time difference is going to force the network to tape delay some coverage. I guess the fact that it would be 1 a.m. in Greece when the East Coast hits prime time is a pretty good reason.

While the CBC is resorting to airing a highlights programme each prime time, that doesn’t mean that its not airing the events earlier in the day live. I wonder if NBC would be nice enough to give us the same option?

The only sure thing is change

After much effort, I relaunched my professional site earlier today. Take a look at my professional journalism experience and let me know what you think. My address is ryan -at- rtomedia.com.

Also this week, I will be at the UNITY 2004 convention in Washington DC. It’s my first trip to DC and I’m excited to visit the nation’s capital while meeting hundreds of journalists and media professionals. I also hope to hear presidential candidates John Kerry and George Bush address convention members on Thursday and Friday.

I’ve established a special UNITY blog. I will be posting updates from the convention floor when time permits. Stay tuned to this page as well — I’ll be posting here too.