Getting Caught Up

When I turned off the web site, I did not delete the website based on the unlikely idea that civilization could fall apart, and it might be important for people to hear what’s going on in other parts of the country.

So I listened to absolutely no radio since the first of the year, and doing relatively little maintenance since getting married.  I am not optimistic that radio is an effective communication tool anymore, but I’ll give it a listen

I am poking around in this system using my highly secret technique, and trying to see what’s changed in the last year while I wasn’t paying attention.

This thread will be the place where I drop in my observations and you can say I can’t believe you didn’t know that!


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The ethics of vaccine testing

The only way to be sure you have an effective vaccine is considered not ethical. You may have read that one of the participants in one of the phase three trials has died. This is especially true if you are watching the Matt Drudge “I hate Donald Trump” show as he counts the daily number of deaths.

The prior phases of the trial should have caught if the administration of the vaccine by itself causes significant health damage. Some of you may remember the 1976 Swine Flu vaccine that caused neurological damage. The virus had never escaped out of the military base where it was discovered, so that damage was completely unnecessary.

The remaining question is to whether the vaccine actually protects you from the virus. Death rates is only one metric. This virus can cause permanent organ damage that does not kill you right away, but still shortens your life.

If you deliberately exposed all participants to the virus, you would know within 2 weeks if you had an effective vaccine. Without deliberately exposing the trial participants to the virus, you are relying on random exposure, which could take a very long time to become statistically significant, especially if the participants are following the rules to not be exposed to the virus and are not at high risk of exposure to begin with.

The news story stated that patient privacy prevents them from telling us much, beyond that we don’t know if it was a placebo or the real vaccination because it is a double blind study. They also didn’t tell us if the cause of death had anything at all to do with the virus. All that they reported was that someone had died and the trial was not stopped. They might have died in a car crash or they might have died from suicide for all we know.

We know that around 1% of the placebo group will die for no reason or suffer organ damage other than preserve the sanctity of double blind testing..

If you provide the placebo patients with very aggressive care which the general population is not going to receive, now you have distorted the death rate. The same is true if the participants are self-selected because they believe they are in good health.

If the participants in the trial found out the cause of death of others, they might change their behavior and distort the outcome of the trial. If you are given a vaccine and told that it probably works, will you engage in riskier behavior than you otherwise would?

If the person had a placebo vaccine and died from the virus, that supports the idea the vaccine might be working, but you are trying to prove a negative. If the person who received the vaccine got the real vaccine, and still died from the virus, that one death does not prove that the vaccine doesn’t work.

No vaccine, especially one for a corona virus that is mutating so quickly, is going to be 100% effective. The reason that measles and polio have an effective vaccine is because the virus mutates very slowly.

How long are you willing to wait until there is a critical mass of people who don’t die to get the answer? People not dying is the proof that the vaccine is working – but only if you know that they were exposed to the virus.

The vaccine itself may cause antibody test to say the person was exposed to the virus when they were not. We already know that people will turn antigen positive from taking the vaccine. That is in fact the point of the vaccination.

The urgency for the vaccine is for medical workers who need to get herd immunity so they don’t spread it further, and highly vulnerable people like those on anti-rejection medications following organ transplants.

With political candidates blaming each other every time one more person dies, it is going to take a lot of courage to release the vaccine and gather the statistical information to be certain that the vaccine works and the country can somewhat return to normal. China and Russia have already taken risks for us, but we don’t trust them to tell us the truth.

There are definitely people who intend to wear a mask for the rest of their lives, and demand that people be put in jail who don’t comply with their fear. In many cases, those are the same people will refuse to take the vaccination because they don’t actually believe in science.

Prisons might be the ideal testing ground, since viruses spread like wildfire. However, that won’t work because very early on we found out that 80 to 90% of prisoners have already been exposed to the virus and survived – and now have herd immunity. That news very early on was a strong indicator that a societal lockdown was not only not necessary, but counterproductive. Herd immunity is the cure.

The most stupid thing being done is releasing prisoners from jail because you’re afraid they might get the virus. Well, the second most stupid. The most stupid was put in known infectious people into nursing homes that killed thousands of people in New York

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The ’80s until now

This is not the first time I voiced my frustration with radio. Radio still has not dealt with the issue that it is 2020 and they still haven’t decided how to describe the music they play.

A large portion of owners of FM radio stations acquired station licenses in the 1960s. Lack of competition and rules to freeze out new competitors caused radio to stagnate. People who controlled their local radio station in the 1960s are now at least 80 years old. In a lot of cases, their children have no interest in inheriting Dad’s radio station and taking home a minimum wage salary.

I know this is hard to take, but the 1980s were 40 years ago. That music is as stale as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey was in the 1960s when I was a teenager. My father loved that music, but it set the stage for the Beatles to arrive.

Many of the artists have long ago died, which makes it difficult to give concerts, which is where the real money is, at least before the virus fear pandemic.

Almost nobody under the age of 40 listens to radio, unless it is country music or K-Love or Mexican accordion music. We are in the twilight of radio as we knew of it. When Rush Limbaugh cannot do his show anymore, the final pillar will collapse.

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The Dubious Media

I invite you to visit your favorite news aggregator, for instance google news, and try to find any story about the hunter Biden laptop data dump.

A quick summary of the facts. A laptop was dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019 because of water damage. The laptop had a sticker on it from the Beau Biden Foundation, named after Hunter’s deceased brother.

According to Louis Rossmann, who has a very popular YouTube channel about his business in New York City, it would be extremely unlikely that water would damage the hard drive in a Mac laptop.

It needs to be stipulated the repair store owner is a Trump supporter and fairly extreme – he accepts the possibility that Marc Rich was murdered by the Clinton campaign because he leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails. That may also play into his distrust of the FBI.

So after 90 days went by and nobody showed up to pay for the repairs and his attempt to contact the owner failed, he took ownership of the laptop as the normal repair contract provides.

He opened up the laptop and looked to see its contents. He found something disturbing enough to cause him to contact the FBI. In response to his information, the FBI issued a subpoena to seize the laptop, which occurred in December 2019,

Before giving the laptop to the FBI, he made a copy of the contents of the hard drive, probably suspecting the FBI would not pursue the information.

So he got in contact with Rudy Giuliani a few months ago and provided him with a copy of the hard drive, probably in electronic form. Mac Laptops have SSDs (Solid State Drive) that do not have platters that spin. Unlike the iPhone, the contents are not encrypted. To access the contents, whoever dropped off the device would have been required to provide the password to unlock the device.

One of the accounts that is a little dubious is that they noticed bleed through on the subpoena that was probably from the FBI agent who requested it. This source believes the signature is of an FBI agent who specializes in pornography displaying underage children.

So the emails concerning Ukraine are not the only thing on the device. There are also emails regarding China, and Hunter Biden’s involvement in legal issues to protect Chinese interests. Allegedly, there is video of Hunter Biden engaging in drug use and sexual activity with an unspecified female.

So if we accept that this might all be true, what does this have to do with Joe Biden other than his disappointment in his surviving son’s life choices? Well, if Joe Biden actually did intervene as vice president at the request of his son, and then deny that he did so, now it becomes his problem.

The FBI definitely has some explaining to do, and Republicans are going to turn up the heat very quickly.

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The Decline of the Dickey Empire

In keeping with the three generation rule, the Atlanta-based Dickey family appears to have significant difficulties.

Lewis Dickey Sr was generation one of the Dickey broadcasting empire. He owned several radio stations in the Atlanta area. He originally owned radio stations in Toledo Ohio, but moved to Atlanta in 1980, when he was in his mid 50s.

Lewis Dickey Sr had 6 children. Lew Dickey Jr and John Dickey built up Cumulus Broadcasting using other people’s money until they were kicked out by the lenders in 2015. Cumulus subsequently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Shortly thereafter, it was announced Lew Dickey Jr had a $200 million line of credit to acquire media properties. He did not re-enter the radio business, instead investing in a company called akazoo, hoping to become the world’s biggest streaming company. I have never heard of it.

It turns out it was a fraudulent company with exaggerated subscriber counts. Lew Dickey Jr has stayed on as CEO to resolve the legal issues.

Back to Dickey Radio Company (DRC) – well after sons Lew Jr and John were running Cumulus, dad continued to own three AM radio stations in the Atlanta Market. If his children can be believed, Dad moved those assets into a trust, and then split up that trust among his children, in anticipation of his death. Nobody informed the FCC and the children claim they only learned of it several days before Lew Sr died in 2013.

So that brings us up to now. Dickey Radio Company still owns 3 AM radio stations in the Atlanta Georgia market. WCNN-AM holds the AM broadcasting rights for Atlanta Braves baseball games. All three stations are sports talk format. That is diffult to keep going in 2020.

I guess it was not a surprise that Dickey Radio Company was near the front of the line to get a government rescue loan.


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Michael “Savage” Weiner seeks freedom

Michael Savage is joining the parade of people in syndicated radio leaving “over the air” radio and going the podcasting route, as of the end of the year.

After leaving Roy Masters’ Talk Radio Network in an ugly legal fight, he landed at Cumulus Media Network, which merged into Westwood One, currently owned by post-bankruptcy Cumulus Media.

Given the sharp downturn in radio revenue due to lack of sports, it would not be a shock if they told 78 year old Mr Weiner they can’t meet his contract demands. His show was cut back in 2018 to make room for Ben Shapiro.

Can you survive doing podcasts telling your listeners they are idiots?

If you read between the lines in the inside radio story, he is undoubtedly constrained by a non-compete agreement. It’s already well established that doing podcasts is not considered “radio” for purposes of non-compete agreements

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Plan B

Do the Democrats have a campaign strategy to run against Mike Pence?

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Coloring the News

The new owners of clear channel / iHeartRadio the apparently decided that there is money to be made by segregating news into black news and non-black news.

Some of the sponsors will look familiar

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Do you see problems?

Several times, wordpress has returned incomplete pages. I have temporarily reverted back to the very basic default template

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LFPINC and marketing 101

Ralph Ketner had a plan. He wanted to be someone important in the grocery business. From his first store right next to Catawba College, he launched his grocery empire in 1957. His grocery store was named Food Town. (Ralph Ketner died in 2016 – he was still alive when I was house hunting in Salisbury in 2013).

A friend of my parents really liked Food Town, rather than Winn-Dixie or Harris Teeter. The reason, according to her, was they accepted coupons for everything, whether you bought the product or not. Food Town grew rapidly.

Speeding the growth was that the store gave out free bumper stickers that merely said LFPINC. People would literally wave you over and want to know what that strange thing meant on your bumper sticker. Was it some sort of secret society? Was it some sort of a political message? No, it merely stood for Lowest Food Prices in North Carolina

Mr. Ketner had a partner named Wilson Smith. In 1974, in order to speed up the growth of the business, they were acquired by Ahold, a European based grocery. Ralph continued as the president and public face of Foodtown.

Ralph Ketner had a very close relationship with Catawba College – the Business School is named after him.

I interviewed with Food Town in 1976. At the time, they were doing something that was way ahead of its time. Mr Ketner was fanatical about numbers and efficiency. Food Town acquired barcode readers and had a process of reordering items that were running low by scanning the barcode and downloading the information to an IBM mainframe, back when modems were entirely controlled by AT&T. The only way around that was to use a device called an acoustic coupler, which would transmit the modem sounds over the analog phone lines.

Barcode readers at the register did not yet exist, but Food Town used the sales data to calculate what was the correct amount of space to use for an item, and at what point should it be reordered. This made them very efficient. They were not using the model of renting shelf space to food companies, which could wind up with high margin products that nobody actually wanted to buy. This is basically the same idea that made Walmart so successful.

But This desire to expand ran into a couple problems of not thinking far enough ahead. Foodtown did not own a trademark beyond the state of North Carolina, which meant any attempt to expand into Virginia would run into immediate lawsuits.

So Foodtown ran a contest for its employees to come up with a better name. The signs on their stores were made up of eight letters each in a square block with a single letter. [F][O][O][D] * [T][O][W][N]. The main priority was that the new name needed to not require new signs, and reuse as many of the existing letters as possible. Thus Food Lion was born. The old slogan no longer worked – I remember them temporarily trying to expand it to LFPINC/VA/SC

Spin forward a year and I’m actively interviewing for a job. I get sent to one of the strangest interviews I ever had, but it was through an agency so it was legit. I drove halfway across North Carolina and met a gentleman who worked for Donnelly marketing, the people that used to send out big thick packets of coupons under the name Valpak.

We talked in his car, without ever going to an office. He really enjoyed his job, part of which was detecting coupon fraud. He explained that the coupon business was much more complicated than I would think.

Among other things, they would send out coupons for fictitious products that did not exist, and wait for grocery chains to submit them for reimbursement, then explain how it was they sold a product that did not exist.

A slightly more benign use was to test market a product without actually creating it. Maybe you would put out a coupon for a new variety of Pop-Tarts. If the idea had any merit, the shoppers would go to the grocery store manager and want to know why they were not yet carrying the watermelon flavor Pop-Tarts. That would then filter back to the company that was deciding whether or not they should invest in creating and marketing a new product.

Today, my YouTube trucker buddy Steve, is delivering a trailer full of something from Atlanta to the Food Lion distribution center near Petersburg Virginia, literally in the middle of nowhere in between i-85 and i-95. He is not allowed to say who he works for or who the customers are, but it is very obvious in this case.

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Stale FCC data

I have not figured out what to make of this yet, but as I started reviewing the radio station data, I realized that the updates have not been happening for many months. The reason is curious.

As a sanity check to prevent problems in the event of a partial download, I do a test to make sure the file that I’ve downloaded from the FCC is approximately the correct size. If not, the update fails and nothing is updated.

For the FM stations, my script was testing to make sure that the download was at least 14 MB of data, but as of today the complete file appears to only be 12.4 MB. I don’t have a clue how 15% of the FM radio station licenses could have vanished.

It is possible there has been a big Purge of low power FM licenses and/or translators. This is also possible that the data for each radio station has shrunk for some reason. It’s getting late and I don’t yet know the answer, but if anybody notices strange things about the FM stations, that is why

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