Peter Is Here–It’s Radio Days

IMG_0041Peter Mokover is in town. Sunday, he and Nancy came over. I invited a few others. Helaine prepared a feast.

It was radio days!

Peter has an unbelievable collection of great New York City radio moments on-tape. As a teen he was obsessed. He recorded WABC’s Dan Ingram show open and close EVERY day! He still has those recordings.

I remember a shelf in Peter’s apartment in Cherry Hill. Box-after-box-after-box of white 5″ audio tape. Nicely leadered. Peter had an archivist’s touch.

That wall is now a tiny piece of Peter’s hard drive. Properly cataloged in a tree like directory structure, Peter is no less obsessed than he was at sixteen.

He played a few airchecks today. These are recordings, often made in the studio, which only roll when the mic is on. No songs… except the opening and closing few seconds. You’re listening to the disk jockey.

We listened to the iconic news sounders WCBS used in the 70s and 80s. Then some jingles and more airchecks.

Peter and I were driven to get into radio. It was as if we had no free will. It sucked us in.

Radio’s not like that anymore. That’s a shame, because it used to be a fun way to earn a living.

Peter (never Pete, sometimes Petey–as his mom called him) was my boss in Philadelphia, though we first met in Cleveland. Peter showed me my first pocket calculator. He kept me company the night I got to fill-in on WNEW’s Milkman’s Matinee.

Once, in his office, he told me I should stop telling the jokes that weren’t funny. I’m sure I’ll get over that meeting at some point.

Tomorrow, armed with a trusty thumbdrive, I’ll clone that amazing collection. Life is good.

I Love My New Computer. I Hate Windows 8.1


I’m typing on the new computer I ‘built’ a few weeks ago. It’s ‘built,’ not built, because I didn’t actually put the components into their slots. That honor went to a tech at Fry’s. It was built with parts I specified after lots of research and angst. It is custom in every sense of the word.

In nearly every respect this box performs better than anticipated. Because its system drive is an SSD, instead of a mechanical hard drive, it boots in under 20 seconds. Photoshop, a major beast of a program, lights up in under three seconds!

The system was built to manipulate stills and videos while being quiet. It does both very well. High def video is often rendered faster than its realtime running length!

Having two 1920×1080 monitors (which I bought at BestBuy) has given me loads of desktop real estate, making nearly everything I do easier. Two, three, four or more programs can be open simultaneously. That’s a web design game changer.

All that being said, Windows 8.1 is the weakest link. For a longtime Windows user this latest Microsoft iteration is non-intuitive while adding extra steps and hoops to jump through.

What were they thinking?

The problem is Windows 8 was built to be used in touchscreen and keyboard scenarios. It comes up short when you are forced to use actions more suitable to a tablet on a keyboard and mouse computer. It is frustrating.

My friend Peter Mokover is in the final stages of building a similar computer. He asked which OS to use, Windows 7 or 8.1?&#185 I’m not sure.

Windows 7 is a better bet right now. But, as a geek, it’s tough to not use the latest operating system which is still in active development. I won’t be surprised if he grits his teeth and goes with Windows 8.1, even knowing it’s bad.

For my purposes (and Peter’s) a Windows alternative is not an option. Too many of the specialized programs we need only run on this platform.

For most general users who basically surf and read email, Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot! Nowadays web based apps are replacing OS specific programs. This debacle will only push more people to Android or Apple’s OSX and IOS.

Here’s my rundown:

  • Windows 8.1 (x64) (build 9600)
  • CPU: 3.50 gigahertz Intel Core i7-4770K
  • Motherboard: Z87-G45 GAMING (MS-7821) 1.0
  • RAM: 16328 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
  • Drive: Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB [Hard drive] (250.06 GB) — drive 0
  • Drive: WDC WD2002FAEX-007BA0 [Hard drive] (2000.40 GB) — drive 1
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 [Display adapter]
  • Monitor (2): AOC 2367 [Monitor] (23.1″vis, s/n BEGD89A000462, August 2013)
  • Case: Thermaltake Soprano

&#185 – Windows 8.1 is a free, service upgrade to Windows 8 after the original cry from users. It is a small, incremental improvement over the original.

How Much Longer Will We Pay For Phone Calls?

Basically I have flat rate service and both at&t and I know it! It’s just neither of us is saying it aloud.

I spoke with my friend Peter Mokover earlier today. That’s him in the screengrab from our Skype call. Peter’s located just south of Atlantic City.

There was a time when we’d worry about the cost of this long distance call. Now, who cares?

Let me show my age for a second. When I was growing up prices for long distance calls varied depending on the time of day.

Daytime rates were outrageous. Evenings were cheaper. Late night, calls after 11:00 PM, were cheaper still.

Phone companies offered person-to-person and collect calls. They existed to shield you from paying dearly for calls that didn’t quite work out. Do those services even exist today (other than for calls made by prisoners)?

When I was growing up there was only one way to make a long distance call–AT&T. Starting in the late seventies new long distance companies like Sprint&#185 and MCI arrived. By dialing a code or later switching your provider entirely you could put your long distance bill on a diet.

Steadily year-by-year the cost of long distance calls have come down. For the last few decades people have been predicting the end of billing individual phone calls entirely. It’s not here officially, but for me and I suppose many of you it’s the practical reality.

I buy a cell package for my family. We share 1,400 minutes per month. On top of that all mobile-to-mobile calls are ‘free’ as are calls to my ten number “A-list.” Calls after 9:00 PM or on the weekend don’t count either.

Better than halfway through our current billing cycle we’ve used 194 of our 1,400 minutes. At the same time we’ve used nearly 1,800 minutes where the meter’s not running!

If it made sense I could cut my minutes even farther. With Google Voice’s “Click2Call” I can make outgoing calls which look like incoming calls from one of my “A-list” numbers. Practically speaking that means unlimited unmetered calls!

No wonder we have 6,002 rollover minutes available!

My cell provider at&t isn’t stupid. If I tried to cut my bucket of minutes below the allotted 1,400 I’d lose a bunch off those otherwise “free” call programs.

Basically I have flat rate service and both at&t and I know it! It’s just neither of us is saying it aloud.

The downward pressure on phone rates isn’t over yet. My call to Peter was made via Skype. It was free.

The video call was about as effortless as can be. If there’s lag I didn’t feel it. Beyond that Skype has figured out how to cancel the echoes and other disturbances that come when both Peter and I use microphones and speakers (as opposed to somewhat sound isolating handsets). And though I made the call on my desktop PC I’ve got Skype on my cell too!

Skype is good, but it’s not the end of this technology shift. There are and will be more methods of moving voice and video over IP networks instead of the switched long distance we’ve all been using. The one thing I’ll guarantee is none will have an incremental cost.

Sometime within the next few years we’ll start paying for a data bucket on our phones. Use that data any way you want; no more billing for calls. That would allow the telcos to get back in the business of making a little cash on individual phone calls.

We’re going to have to start thinking differently about how communications works and how we buy it. If you buy smart you’ll surely save.

&#185 – Sprint actually began as part of a railroad! Southern Pacific Railroad had excess microwave and later fiber capacity from the lines it ran along its right-of-way. That’s how they routed calls in competition with AT&T. Sprint actually stood for “Southern Pacific Railroad Intelligent Network of Telecommunications.”

Guest Blogger–My Friend Peter

Why didn´t CNN do this? Stewart put them to shame. So much for their journalistic skill.

I just got an email from my friend Peter Mokover on the Jersey Shore. “If I had a blog” he began, He doesn’t have a blog. Actually today he does–mine.

Over the past several months I´ve read or heard interviews of several leading broadcast journalists in which they expressed their concern about how more and more people are getting their “news” from bloggers on the Internet and late night comedy shows. I share that concern. The majority of bloggers have limited journalistic skill. Late night hosts are comedians not journalists. None of them are The New York Times, NBC or CNN.

Then I watched John Stewart interview Jim Cramer tonight (and several other pieces Stewart has done recently) and I wondered: why didn´t one of the network news shows do this? Why didn´t CNN do this? Stewart put them to shame. So much for their journalistic skill.


Peter has a point… and then again he doesn’t. Though Stewart takes on the media, he does it on the cheap. In fact it’s The New York Times, NBC, CNN and the rest that pay for The Daily Show’s coverage. They send reporters to the field and buy cameras and satellite trucks.

And, of course, The Daily Show isn’t answerable, so they can call someone a douche (or other term). I’m not sure how that would play in news.

Where Peter is totally correct is that mainstream media often take those in power at their word. That is a shame. I suspect it might get worse with newspapers dying and TV stations retrenching.

Thirty Years Ago Today

Today marks a milestone for me. 30 years ago today – March 3, 1979 – I got my first

computer. It was a life changing event – more than I imagined at the time.

My friend Peter Mokover sent me an email today about his thirtieth anniversary. I thought I’d share it with you.


Today marks a milestone for me. 30 years ago today – March 3, 1979 – I got my first computer. It was a life changing event – more than I imagined at the time.

It was an Apple II Plus. It was the first Apple computer ever sold in Rhode Island (where I lived at the time).

It came with 32KB of memory. I remember the sales person at the store said I could get an additional 16KB for around $400. I didn´t think I would need that much memory so I didn´t get it. Today that amount of memory is so small it would cost a fraction of one cent.

My Apple was considered advanced because it had two floppy disc drives and a modem. Most computers then had either one floppy drive or none and no modem. Many used audio cassette tapes to store programs and data.

I´m currently building a new PC for myself. To show how much technology has changed…

The Apple had 32,000 bytes of memory. My new PC has 6 billion bytes.

The Apple had 280,000 bytes of storage. The new PC has 2.3 trillion bytes.

The processor chip in the Apple (Motorola 6502) had a single core and a speed of around 1,000,000 instructions per second. The processor in the new PC (Intel Core i7) has four cores and a speed of around 3 billion instructions per second.

The Apple displayed up to 16 colors on a low resolution screen. The new PC displays more than 16 million colors with a resolution greater than a new HD television. (Who knew there were than many colors!)

The Apple had a modem that downloaded data at up to 30 characters per second. The new PC´s modem averages around 1.5 million characters per second. I recall paying around $8.95 per HOUR (off peak) back then to connect to the Internet. I now pay a little over $50 per month.

Over the past 30 years the power of computers has increased many thousands of times yet their price has dropped significantly. There aren´t many things other than technology for which that can be said.

Thirty years ago I already had my TRS-80 Model 1 with 16 Kb of RAM!

The 23&#162 Check

Hidden away somewhere, Helaine and I have 300 shares of Disney stock.

When I first came to New Haven, WTNH was owned by Capitol Cities Communications, which bought ABC, which was then bought by Disney (or maybe it was the other way around – who remembers). We thought it was a well run company, we bought some shares.

Today we received a notice. Disney has sold their radio station holdings to Citadel Broadcasting. Since Helaine and I are among Disney’s de facto owners, we will benefit.

Our 300 Disney shares gets us 23.038839 shares of Citadel stock. They won’t let you own fractional shares, so our stake was rounded down to 23 shares. We got a check to cover the rest.

It’s a check for 23&#162!

It’s surely just boilerplate, but on the check is the inscription, “only twenty three cents.” “Only!” Don’t you think that’s a little judgmental?

I know this stuff happens all the time. I remember, thirty years ago, my friend Peter Mokover’s parents had a 1&#162 check from LILCO hanging on the wall of their beach house on Fire Island.

What is the real cost of our check? It surely cost more than 23&#162 to print and stuff it in an envelope. It cost more than 23&#162 for postage. It will cost my bank more than 23&#162 to process it. Citadel’s bank has processing costs too.

The check comes attached to a form explaining the whole thing. It says “Retain for your records.” Yeah, I don’t want to serve time if I forget to declare this.

I hate to propose anything that might smack of corporate welfare, but maybe it’s OK to let companies off the hook for this little stuff. We are going through the motions and no one actually gains in this transaction.

Actually, let me take that back. I got a blog entry out of it.

Why Do We Still Fax Things?

Why do we still fax things? It’s a reasonable question. Why do we still send and receive faxes? What is the advantage? As far as I can see this is old technology which is now outmoded and unneeded.

I remember my first run in with a fax machine. I was working at WPEN in Philadelphia, hosting the morning show from 2212 Walnut Street. Somehow, because I work in the newsroom now, people think I was in news or weather then. Nope, I was the morning DJ&#185.

One of our sponsors was the Philadelphia Inquirer – an excellent morning newspaper. The Inky had a commercial we ran. It was what is called a ‘donut’ spot.

There was a catchy jingle (“Wake up Philadelphia. Wake up with the In-Quirer-Er”&#178) with an instrumental hole in the middle. I would read some copy over the music.

Since the Inky wanted fresh, topical copy every day, we were forced to set up a finicky, wet paper fax machine. Every morning the fax would start spinning and a few minutes later the paper would be full of words for me to read.

Email was out of the question. Back in 1977 there couldn’t have been more than a few hundred email addresses worldwide… if there were that many. I certainly had never heard of it or could have even conceived of it.

Today, faxes are everywhere, used when people want to send (mostly) images from paper back and forth. Things like contracts or proposals fly over phone lines as faxes.


There’s no difference in sending a fax or an email attachment. Here at home, I don’t even have the fax functionality of this computer hooked up. If someone wants a fax, I usually ask if it’s OK to send it via email. Then there’s silence. Why the disconnect?

A fax machine isn’t much more than a scanner and modem. I already have a scanner. Why not use email, which is so much more efficient and now carries imagery, like photos, all the time?

For the end user, a fax machine means a dedicated phone line or fax service bureau. That means money. And then there’s the fax equipment itself.

I’m sure the fax machine won’t disappear overnight – but it should. It could be gone tomorrow, replaced by email attachments and no one would know the difference. That’s a much better way to go.

&#185 – I find the term “DJ” to be distasteful. When forced to say it, I usually pronounce it ‘disk jerky,’ as in “I was a disk jerky.” Considering how much I enjoyed being one and that I made my living as one for 11 years, it’s a weird way to feel.

&#178 – I wonder if my friend Peter Mokover has a copy of this jingle? It was really great – an all time favorite. If anyone reading this has a copy, I’ll host a digital version here for all to hear.

Sorry to be Correct

Yesterday, I wrote how Helaine and Steffie’s absence would only encourage me to stay up later than usual. It didn’t take long to see that prediction come true.

As I sat in bed watching TV at 5:19 AM, laptop at my side, a message came in from my friend Peter Mokover. I quickly replied and said I was awake – it was OK to phone. He did.

So, at 5:20 AM, instead of being asleep, I was awake and on the phone.

There’s a certain amount of discipline an adult is supposed to have. I believe I’m a little short in that department.

To The Mall

There was some thought of visiting my friend Paul in New York this weekend, but when that didn’t work out, I asked Helaine and Steffie what they wanted to do. Mall.

Hey, I asked.

My friend Peter Mokover (gratuitous mention) summarized it properly on the phone. “Girl’s stores.” He’s right, that’s what malls are all about.

In many ways this is similar to gifts given to couples. Yes, it’s for them… but it’s really for her.

We headed out to West Farms Mall, about 45 minutes from here. First stop was Dunkin’ Donuts. I picked up a cup of coffee and the spied something new in the baked goods rack – Low Carb Bagels.

Low Carb Bagels! How is that possible? Is there anything less friendly to carb counters than a bagel.

I bought the bagel.

Before I left the counter I asked if there was any information on this bagel? Was it 10% lower, 20%, 80%? The woman serving me didn’t know. Later I went to the Dunkin’ Donuts website. No info there either.

The bagel was fine. It seemed to be coated with cheese. I’m really not sure. I just wish I could find out what it is.

We went to the mall. Peter’s right – girl’s stores.

I spent some time at the bookstore, Radio Shack and The Discovery Channel Store, but there’s nothing as compelling to me as Abercrombie and Fitch is to Steffie. I also made 3-4 calls to my parents in Boynton Beach. Hurricane Frances has them trapped inside. They’re comfortable, well fed and with friends, but without TV, computer, air conditioning or electricity.

Before we left, we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Wow. I have never seen a business built so much on merchandising. Even the menus had warnings about taking them, because they were for sale in the store… which you walk through to go inside.

My burger was good and the three of us split a “Volcano.”

Here’s the bottom line. It was really nice to spend the day with my family. It is a pleasure we don’t have all the time and I savor it.

Fixing My Computer Until It Doesn’t Work

Last night, while sitting at the computer, I opened up TweakUI, a program that allows mere mortals to fool with the Windows user interface. Somehow, over time, my computer had started demanding I sign on every time I powered it up. I wanted that to stop.

I had forgotten about TweakUI until my friend Peter Mokover reminded me. There’s no reason for that last sentence other than the gratuitous mention of his name. At one time Peter was ‘the man.’

TweakUI allowed me to turn off the sign on procedure and even eliminate the names that appeared for signing on… well, not quite.

This morning, when I turned on the computer, up came the log on screen (that I thought I had turned off). It came without any names to sign on! That part, unfortunately worked.

The cure, thankfully, wasn’t too difficult. Windows does have a facility to roll back the clock and reset the computer as it was before I made these changes (going in through Safe Mode).

I still have to log in.

Damn you Bill Gates!

Blood and Guts Tech Support

Matt Scott, who I work with at the TV station, was having problems with his computer. It was running slowly and popping ads. It sounded like a typical adware/spyware/malware infestation. So, I offered to help and he took me up on it.

I brought it home and hooked it up, borrowing all the connections from my Linux machine. Almost immediately, it hung while calling a webpage. My suspicions seemed well founded.

Since I couldn’t operate on the web with a browser that was stuck, I burned a CD with Spybot, moved it to Matt’s machine and ran it. It found some cookies, and a few other minor annoyances, but nothing that would cause all this trouble.

My friend Peter Mokover (who has asked me to mention his name and put it in bold letters) suggested I clear the browser cache (which was set ridiculously high at 550 MB). Bingo. The browser opened perfectly, but the machine was still pretty slovenly.

I attempted to do a scan disk, but the computer kept writing to the hard disk – each time aborting the scan. I rebooted into ‘safe mode’ and tried again. There were a bunch of bad sectors – but again, nothing I hadn’t seen in the past. As long as I was here, I defragged the system and prepared to ‘declare’ virtual memory (as opposed to letting Windows 98 do it for you).

I have heard, and I believe, that contiguous virtual memory works better. He had the space, so why not.

As I was entering the system tab within control panel I noticed something that was very strange. The computer was reporting only 32 MB of RAM. I couldn’t believe HP would ship a Windows 98 PC with that little RAM, so I went online and looked. It should have had 64 MB. OK – we’re getting somewhere.

I opened up the machine and went to look at the 2-RAM sticks inside. If he only had 32 MB, I could throw some old memory I had (and which doesn’t work in any of my current machines) to boost it up. I took out the first stick – 256 MB. Uh oh. What’s up here? Obviously, it wasn’t being seen.

Back on the HP website, I noticed this model, HP Pavilion 8655-C, could only take 256 MB of RAM total, with no stick over 128 MB. Oops. That 256 MB stick, probably an ‘upgrade’ was taking up a socket and doing nothing.

I pulled both memory sticks and went to install 2 – 128 MB sticks. Oh my God! The memory was under the CDROM drives, squeezed where only part was partially visible and much was hidden. I had to snake my fingers through while balancing a small flashlight on some cables. I wasn’t able to reach far enough in to release the far side latch. I would hope it opened, as it should, when I attempted to insert the stick, then close when I applied pressure.

This was a whole lot easier said than done. The RAM didn’t want to properly seat. I must have worked on getting the first stick in for a half hour until I looked down and saw red. I had sliced into my knuckle. In fact, by the time I finished getting the RAM installed, I had 6 or 7 little cuts on my fingers and hand.

I’m not sure what HP was thinking when they put this machine on the shelf, but they certainly didn’t expect anyone to work on it. The computer must have been assembled from modules, meaning screws holding the CDROM drives were facing down, toward the motherboard, where I couldn’t get at them! If I could have moved the drives, the job would have been a snap.

Matt has picked up the machine and hopefully by now it’s back on the web and faster than ever. It’s just another case of a computer slowing with age – they all do. Luckily, it’s always curable.

Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!

The New York Times did a wonderful profile of a friend of mine, Jon Wolfert. Jon is to radio jingles as Janet Jackson is to wardrobe malfunction. What makes it even cooler is the gratuitous mention of our mutual friend, Peter Mokover.

Jon is responsible for some of my favorite jingles – including a few he did for me. I am responsible for sneaking him into the Kennedy Space Center to watch John Glenn’s launch.

I’ve attached the article to the link below.

Continue reading “Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!”

You Make the Call!

The snow is coming down. If it’s going to change to a liquid form, it’s certainly taking its sweet time. My thermometer reads 24.6&#186.

Down to our south, at La Guardia Airport in NYC, the temperature has risen 4&#186 in two hours; at Kennedy Airport 5&#186 over the same period. At Kennedy, the snow has turned to rain.

I would guess we have 4-5″ on the ground already. Though currently in a lull, there’s more where this came from!

With all this in mind, two photos from today. The first was taken out my front door, looking across the street at a neighbor’s house, beautifully decorated for Christmas. The second, taken by my friend Peter Mokover (who somehow manages 5 weeks every winter in Hawaii) is of the Home Depot on Maui.

Where would I rather be? You make the call!