The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.



DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

JetBlue’s Problems

jetBlue is in the midst of a meltdown. They’ve scrubbed a boatload of flights tomorrow, the fifth consecutive day of cancellations following a Northeast ice storm. Passengers are up in arms.

There was a call for congressional hearings after a recent debacle by American Airlines in Austin, TX. Whether hearings accomplish anything or not, I see them as certain now.

I don’t know much about the airline business, but I can tell you why jetBlue is having the problems they’re having. To a large extent, it’s because there is no jetBlue!

I look upon jetBlue as a virtual company. It doesn’t own its planes. It doesn’t do most of its maintenance (much of which is performed in El Salvador). Its telephone reservation system is based in Salt Lake City and mostly staffed by women working from home.

Is jetBlue the top priority of any of their contractors?

jetBlue is perfectly staffed… as long as nothing goes wrong. In real life, things go wrong.

Unfortunately, what has happened to jetBlue will happen in more and more places with more and more companies. Since passengers won’t be locked in place for ten or twelve hours we won’t hear as much about them.

Companies are cutting away as much cost as they can and that certainly extends to any protection against unusual failure. There is no profit in standby contingencies.

You see this all the time in stores, with fewer staff members or less competent staff. Here’s what Floyd Norris of the Times said in his blog about the former chairman of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli.

He was a man who thought he was worth unlimited amounts, and yet messed up the company by a desire to slash compensation expenses. He pushed out experienced store workers, figuring part-timers were cheaper, and did not realize in time that those knowledgeable workers were critical to the willingness of amateurs to shop there&#185

In some ways, we bring this on ourselves. We’re willing to shop entirely on price. I’m guilty myself, even though it’s often bad in the long run.

Years ago, when most stores were closed on Sunday’s, my father used to say, “If you don’t want to work Sunday, don’t shop Sunday.” The same applies today. If you don’t want to suffer bad service, don’t shop where service is not a priority.

Easier said than done, I’m sure.

&#185 – When he was drummed out, Nardelli received a king’s ransom in severance. Norris added, “Perhaps Lowe

The New Era Of Communications

I got this email today:

We are in panama we just went thru the locks. all is well we are having a great time mom and dad

What do we have here? Well, certainly, for his next birthday I’m buying my dad punctuation marks and capital letters! More than that, a check of the originating IP address shows he sent this from on-board ship.

My mom and dad are cruising, but the Internet is there with them.

I remember when Helaine and I took a cruise many years ago. We stopped in Puerto Rico and rushed to a pay phone to check in with everyone back home. Same thing in St. Thomas (in fact, I can still picture the pay phones to the left of the main door of the St. Thomas Post Office).

It wasn’t that there weren’t phones on the ship, but it was ridiculously expensive.

Yesterday, my friend Peter left for three weeks on Maui. I spoke to him as he went to the airport. I spoke to him in San Francisco, waiting for a delayed flight. I spoke to him once he got to his Maui hotel. Each time I dialed the same South Jersey cellphone number.

Each of my calls were included in my cell plan with no additional charge… in fact, with no meter even clicking off the minutes.

Calling Hawaii, like making a call from a cruise ship, used to be expensive. No more.

I also played around a little, calling my friend Bob in Austin, TX using Skype. The quality was great, using my laptop on the sofa in the family room and a cheap headset. Of course the call was totally free.

This ability to communicate, whether by computer or phone or a combination of the two is amazing – something we in the 21st century share with no other moment in history. It is, unfortunately, limited to the wealthy.

A little clarification. In this case wealthy applies to the vast majority of people in the United States and many more around the world, who are included in a global middle class. They are only wealthy in contrast to those who are dirt poor – and there are many who fit that category.

Now, maybe there is hope for them to benefit from this communications and knowledge explosion, fueled by computing.

I saw Nicholas Negroponte with Charlie Rose on PBS. Negroponte heads MIT’s Media Lab, a communication and information think tank

In its first decade, much of the Laboratory’s activity centered around abstracting electronic content from its traditional physical representations, helping to create now-familiar areas such as digital video and multimedia. The success of this agenda is now leading to a growing focus on how electronic information overlaps with the everyday physical world. The Laboratory pioneered collaboration between academia and industry, and provides a unique environment to explore basic research and applications, without regard to traditional divisions among disciplines.

That’s some of the least explanatory prose ever written by otherwise educated people.

Negroponte was on to talk about a project I’ve been following for a while – a $100 laptop, to be produced in bulk and distributed for free to students around the world.

If this is the first you’re hearing about this project, please go to their site and read more. It’s really an amazing undertaking.

The MIT Media Lab has launched a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop

I’m A Bluetooth Guy

Who named the technology that ties wireless phones to wireless headsets Bluetooth? This might be the dumbest name in all of technology. But, it’s a great technology.

You’ve probably seen this technology at work, watching an otherwise normal person walking down the street, seemingly talking to himself. On his ear is a device fit for a ‘borg’. A blue light intermittently flashes.

When I bought my Motorola RAZR I knew it had Bluetooth capability, so I ordered a headset. It is small, doesn’t actually go into my ear, but does flash every few seconds with a blue LED. I can find no way to turn the LED off!

My daughter and wife have both told me I’m forbidden from wearing this IOGear Bluetooth headphone anywhere but in the car. They say it will make me look too geeky.

Hello? Isn’t that a preordained fact? You mean I should be the chick magnet babe I was back in high school. Right. There’s a major work of fiction.

My friend Bob in Austin, on the other hand, says go right ahead. It looks fine.

Unfortunately, Bob would be the wrong guy to tell you how not to be geeky! That is not a photo of Bob on the home page of one of his websites… but “Great Home Theater Made Easy”… C’mon, you think a Colin Farrell type is writing that?

Anyway, I have begun to fool around with the Bluetooth headset and it’s great. No longer do I have to hold the phone to my ear, forcing me to drive with my knees or leaving me one hand short when it’s time to signal a lane change.

This IOGear model is plenty loud too. That’s a major concern when I drive with the top down. And, as time goes by, it seems more obvious I don’t hear as well as I once did.

I bought the headset on eBay. It was shipped from Taunton, MA. At the same time I also bought a Bluetooth Dongle&#185 which is coming from Hong Kong. Let’s say how much longer Hong Kong takes. I’ll bet it’s less of a difference than you think.

The dongle will plug into the USB port on my computer, allowing me to use the headset for PC applications, like Skype. I also want to do more narrated slide shows on my website.

As I said, so far I’m very impressed. It has done all I’ve asked of it. It has made my life that much easier. And, I suppose, this means my new toy has a new toy.

Is there anything cooler… or geekier?

&#185 – It is likely, if anyone tried to say “Bluetooth Dongle” on primtetime TV, they’d be bleeped.

Discovering Skype

Earlier today, I got an email from my friend Bob Wood in Austin, TX. He’s having a computer problem, as Windows XP fights with an application written in the ‘golden days’ of computing.

I picked up my cellphone and gave him a call. We ran through the typical trouble spots and found nothing.

As we went through a list of programs in msconfig, I looked at the cellphone and saw we were already 20+ minutes into the conversation. Hey – I’m not made of minutes!

I think it was then that Bob mentioned Skype. Skype is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service.

VOIP isn’t a new concept. In fact, we already use a VOIP service at home as an extra phone with unlimited Connecticut calling.

What makes Skype so different is its excellent integration into your PC. It took under 5 minutes to download, install and activate my Skype account. From that point forward, I was talking to Bob PC-to-PC. In that mode, Skype is free!

There are also ways to use Skype to call an old fashioned phone. That’s what my friend Peter did while traveling through France. Calls from a PC to a telephone cost a few cents a minute – even when calling from Europe.

The voice quality was excellent. There is no noticeable lag. Bob said radio stations could conceivably use Skype for remote broadcasts. I agree.

Where Bob and I disagree is his contention that Skype is a telephone killer. It’s good, but it’s not convenient. You need to be near your computer. It’s not portable.

It’s an adjunct, not a replacement. However, it’s a pretty darn good adjunct.

My Friend Bob Blogs

I got an email late last week from my friend Bob, newly landed in Austin, TX. He wanted to start a blog and he wanted to know how?

This is one of those good news, bad news stories. The good news is, you can blog easily. The bad news is, if you take the difficult route you’ve got a lot more flexibility (and work). Since Bob isn’t computer-iffic I recommended the easy way out.

Bob is now firmly established on Blogspot, the Google blogging tool. I’ve added these links to his site because that will help Google and the other search engines find it&#185.

I’m pretty impressed with the ease at which his blog was created. I don’t think he can do all the tricks I can do here – though I’m not quite sure if that’s to my advantage or not. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to post on a regular basis.

In the meantime, in the more established ‘blogosphere,’ Arianna Huffington’s new, mainly liberal, blog community has made its debut. Walter Cronkite, Larry David, Mike Nichols and a host of other luminaries are there. That’s pretty impressive for a maiden voyage.

Again, like Bob’s blog, it will be interesting to see how it looks in a few months and whether there is enough discipline among her unpaid writers to keep it up.

&#185 – Getting links is good. I’m always appreciative when someone adds a link from their webpage to mine.

Culture Shock Texas Style

My friend Bob recently moved from Minneapolis to Austin, TX. Is there anything these two cities have in common? I assume there’s culture shock… in fact I know there is.

Last night, while talking the dog outside to do her bidness, I encountered my first scorpion. It was parking itself in Terri’s space in the garage, as she’s away in Dallas, learning how to drive the Wells Fargo loan stage.

This Lobster mini-me danced across the cement like an effeminate waiter with two full trays, its claws in the air with an invisible WELCOME TO TEXAS banner stretched across them. Its tail was curled in challenge.

The siege had begun.

Then Mister Shoe stopped the show. And added another just for crackling sure.

I’m gonna get a gun!

My best,

Bob

OK – we’ll scratch Austin off the list.

Going To School From Home

I am now in my eighth of nine semesters of broadcast meteorology at Mississippi State University. Other than driving through, I’ve never been to Mississippi. Even then, I’ve never been to Starkville&#185, home of MSU.

Of all the school courses I’ve ever taken, going all the way back to 1955, I am currently taking the toughest – Thermodynamics. It’s heavy on theory, often using examples that don’t or can’t exist in the real world.

I’ve always been good at looking a theoretical problems from a real world perspective and using that to shape my understanding. So far in this course, that doesn’t work.

I will pass this course. In fact, I hope to do well in this course. The first homework test was a killer – exceptionally tough. Because it was a homework test, I had unlimited amounts of time to formulate my answers to the questions before I opened up the timed portion, I was able to get a 96%.

Trust me, it was still crushingly difficult. I’m petrified about the midterm which is timed but without the opportunity to answer the questions in advance.

This is one course where there would be an obvious benefit to being in a classroom where I could raise my hand and say, “What the hell are you talking about?” Getting my lectures on DVD makes that impossible.

I’m not sure where my knowledge of thermodynamics will lead. There is probably a good purpose for this which will become obvious later… or not. Sometimes a school’s curriculum just doesn’t make sense. The academic and professional worlds are often far apart.

I have become more sensitive to this course and others I’ve taken, because of a proposed law in Texas. I’m not going to fool you, this proposition is already dead. Still, the fact that someone tried to push it through is pretty upsetting to me.

A Keller lawmaker’s bill regulating TV weathercasters stirred up a whirlwind of opposition in Austin. But the dust-up between scientists and TV personalities hasn’t lost speed and may show up soon on a radar screen near you.

Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, triggered a gust front when she sponsored a bill requiring math and science college studies before a person can use the title of meteorologist.

Under this proposed legislation, my 53 college level credits in meteorology and related subjects would mean nothing! Behind the scenes, it looks like this was pushed by a degreed meteorologist who didn’t feel my coursework was enough… and probably didn’t want to compete with the likes of me.

There is no doubt I am a biased observer. However, I can say absolutely, this course will give me enough knowledge to call myself a meteorologist and much more knowledge than I’ll ever need to be on TV. It was actually devised to pass the scrutiny of the American Meteorological Society and their Broadcast Seal program. Like academia, the AMS is also sometimes out of touch with the professional world.

When I first started the course, my wife asked if I had learned anything new. When I said yes, she asked, “How important could it be if you didn’t need it for the last 20 years?”

This summer, after all my courses are finished, I will head to Birmingham, AL&#178. Birmingham in August – pinch me.

After a few days of on-site seminar lectures I will be done with my schooling. Hopefully no one else will make an end around and try to change the rules.

&#185 – Here’s a town name right up there with Marblehead, MA and Peculiar, MO. Starkville is, I would assume, the opposite of Pleasantville. At some point someone looked at what surrounded him and the best word to describe it was, “stark!” Or, it’s named after someone whose last name was Stark… though my explanation is so much more fun.

&#178 – Birmingham is being used because of the size of our group. In some ways I’m disappointed. Who wants to finish their college career without once seeing the campus?