Monday, May 21, 2012

About Barbieri; On the Record

Some people have chided me about my supposed flip-flop on the Ralph Barbieri firing at the albatross radio outlet, KNBR.

A frequent attack: You attacked him and now you're railing that they fired him. You're not consistent.

No, not really. In fact, I wrote that Barbieri's disclosure to Scott Ostler that he had early-stages Parkinson's disease was intentional and timed specifically to coincide with his upcoming, (at the time), contract negotiations. This was back in October. We now know the outcome.

I was never a big Ralph fan, but from time to time he did a decent interview and showed some pizazz an credibility at a place that has no such element. It is awash in a lot of in-house bravado and Giants 24/7 PR machine. Even if you're a Giants fan, it's much too much and over the top. Non-stop and frankly, unlistenable.

Ralph at least showed a bit of objectivity. Unabashed as a fan, he at least tried to coax a few legitimate answers out of GM Brian Sabean even if often turned into a on-air argument, (which might have been a part of the puzzle that led to Barbieri's ouster). He wasn't a kiss-ass robot. He could be funny and poignant too, often talking about his love for his cat. Or he could tell a good story. And his occasional rants with Rick Barry made for funny and compelling radio.

Sure, the pizza spots were grating. God-awful with the obnoxious, self-serving monologues that were supposed commercials. Yeah, it drove me nuts too. But everyone has to make a living. I wasn't thrilled, either, with Barbieri's hard-ons with the Sharks and Brent Jones, in particular. But the razor was quick to point out that whenever he took a road trip with the team, it was on his dime, contrary to popular belief.

And yes, his word meandering; the two things can be mutually exclusive--adios muchacho, manoemano--the frequent Al Davis/Raiders bashing, among other things drove me nuts and I ripped him up the ying-yang. But we all have our days. He had me listening too and many times I enjoyed his banter with Tolbert and forays back in time to the OJ trial. It was entertaining, it was funny, and yes, it made for good radio. Mostly though, it was legit. And it was that legit that made me listen in spite of some frequent pimples.

I too could hear the arrogance. It drove me crazy to listen at the top of the show to hear Tolbert's ten-minute monologue and then, out of nowhere, suddenly, without any notice, Barbieri began talking. No hello. No intro. Imagine a guy out of town driving up 101 from the airport: Who's this guy talking? Yeah, I get it, Ralph-bashers, including me.

Even with all that, I respected Barbieri for his style and pace. And his longevity spoke for itself. He was a booster all right, but he didn't broadcast from the booster club. I'm not privy to all the other rumors about his off-mike behavior and frankly, don't care. Everybody has skeletons in the closet. I don't think Ralph was canned for being late too many times. There are several stories making the rounds, some of which I heard way back last fall. Maybe some of the clients, (ie: Giants), were not so happy. Advertisers a little grumpy. A move was imminent, was the word, just a matter of time. And it happened.

And now we're here. I don't have a dog in this fight. As stated, I have both praised and ripped Ralph. I think I've been fairly consistent. And yes, I'm not a lover of the cloud people--they are the epitome of corporate greed and have ruined some of the greatest call letters in this market--they have destroyed Bay Area radio to the point that many people are way, way angry about it. Their workers are mostly zombies who have no backbone.

Barbieri has hired a lawyer to fight his cause. Most of the legal eagles say he has no chance of winning, even if the case goes to trial. It'll be expensive and yes, it'll be ugly. This is one ugly that I'm going to pay attention to.

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  1. Lieberman is either oblivious or disingenuous in claiming he doesn't have a dog in the fight.

    He can't seriously pretend to be neutral when it comes to Cumulus. He rails against them on a daily basis

  2. Well,the being late may have been the key to firing Ralph,but no doubt they were searching to fire him because he tweaked the noses of Bunghole and Dickey. The SF Hate story,the being late,and his terrible banquet speeches where he further insulted the big was more then just the normal reason-to save money. I bet Tom and Ralph made far more money for the station then Radnich and co host of the day ever did. But Raddy calls them "Mr. Dickey" and "Bill" like the subservient employee he is.
    Like Raddy says..they share sensibilities.

  3. succesful age discrimination plaintiffs are entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages.

  4. Whatever the outcome (and I do hope Ralph wins), it may be beneficial for the public if this goes through and isn't sorted by a reached settlement. If it makes it to court, some of the real hideousness that is Cumulus radio may be brought to light and hopefully rectified.

    Some people say I'm a dreamer...

    1. "Some people say I'm a dreamer"

      Not a dreamer, DELUSIONAL!

      This case will NEVER make it to trial!

  5. Rich rips corporate radio because he has been around here for a long time and has watched the local scene disintegrate in an alarming fashion in just a few short years.

    What is happening in local radio is unfortunately happening in other cities and towns, and has been going on since deregulation of the industry in 1995. The problem is that so many Americans are so preoccupied with other concerns (and rightfully so) that very few have had time to pay any attention.

    Yes, almost everything runs its course and things do change.
    It's called evolution and we have our own version of it as human beings. Think of the amazing changes over the last 100 years in our human world.

    But radio, especially local radio was one of the good things that brought us together, gave us a sense of community, allowed for informal and personal connections, and sparked the imagination.
    I understand the philosophy of folks who are in the business world, I was in a business fraternity in college. Most of these guys were good people, but their primary interest was to make money.

    When that becomes the primary goal in life, and everything else takes a 'second seat,' it's not necessarily a good thing for anyone. As has been stated many times, greed is one of our most
    reprehensible traits, and many of the generation in power today have taken greed to a new level.

    And I will also contend that even those who profit aren't truly happy at the end of the day.
    After all, you don't take any of that 'stuff' with you.

    Finally..a simple many people remember Ghandi, Kennedy, Martin Luther King, FDR, Winston Churchill, or any of the other iconic figures of the 20th century?

    And how many people can tell you who some of the great business titans of the 20th century were...and that they did good things for their fellow human beings?

    In the end, it's not how much money you made for yourself or your company, but what you did to make this a better world for your family, your community, and for future generations.

    Companies such as Cumulus and the Dickey Brothers are just a few of the unenlightened who will be long forgotten in the not too distant future. But I guess they don't care, because they seem to subscribe to the philosophy of: "je who dies with the most toys at the end of the day, wins." That's very sad. I pity them.

    1. The world is changing. You can either adapt to change or spend your time lamenting about the good old days.

  6. 11:16, great post.

  7. Yes, Ralph followed the team "on his own dime", but then deducted it as work related on his taxes.

    1. Are you his CPA's gopher?

  8. If it was somebody other than Ralph, I may have cared. Ralph never gave a damn about people he didn't like and never held back his ill feelings. He called people all the bad names he could use on radio, so on behalf of all those folks....RALPH ....fill in the blanks....

    Nobody wants you back.

  9. So the world is changing...and we have to accept it? This is a free society where one can go off on his or her own and do amazing things if one is determined enough and passionate, creative and intelligent.

    To blindly accept that "you can either adapt to change or spend your time lamenting the good old days" is a cop-out.

    That's the same kind of philosophy that has gotten people into more trouble since the dawn of civilization.

    When American citizens accepted the 'Blacklist' in the late 1940s and early 50s and adapted to the change, we devalued the basic tenets upon which our democracy was built. When we complied to policies that included discrimination toward fellow Americans, we turned the clock back on improving our country. And now, when we've allowed
    politicians and big business interests to dumb down, homogonize and downsize a very significant part of a once open, vibrant and diverse information system (radio), we have also devalued our society.

    Think about what you're saying the next time you write something so cynical and stubborn. Yours is the same kind of thinking that eventually allowed despots to rise to power over people who
    (like yourself) thought that 'you can either adapt to change or
    lament thinking about the good old days.'

    We can have those 'good old days' back, but everyone needs to sacrifice and do their fair share. Voting, caring about your community, and being passionate about protecting community assets are not habits that should be considered arcane or part of
    'the good old days.'

    The kind of lazy, uninspired mind that prompted you to
    write those few short words really frosts my ass...and those of a lot of other Americans who still believe that each one of us has an ability to help make this country great again.

    I have to give you credit for one thing though...It just reaffirms my belief that I will never behave, act, write, or practice the negative philosophy that you espouse.

  10. "We can have those 'good old days' back, but everyone needs to sacrifice and do their fair share"...

    OK Grandpa, keep on sacrificing and doing your share and maybe a horse and buggy will come pick you up and take you to the apothecary shop because you really need those meds!

    1. You're a jackoff.

      To bin everything of the past because it was of "Grandpa's" time is bullshit. As is your thought process.

      There were a lot of things that were better about the days not that long ago, and a few things that needed fixing. Now, there are a lot of things that need fixing, and not that many good things. "Change" has resulted in greater disparity between rich and middle class (to say nothing of the poor) in the last 30 years. "Change" has brought us leafblowers that fuck everything up, and do nothing in return. "Change" has brought us e-mail and "smart" phones which keep people more tied to their work, not free them from it.

      Positive change WOULD be great. Synchronize the stoplights. Cohorts that overbreed could stop. Instead of using technology to build behemoths that don't handle well OR drive offroad, use it to produce fun to drive vehicles that aren't laden down with DVD players, and more electronics than were used in the Apollo program, and thus use less fuel and resources.

      Change the mindset that there is nothing to be gained from the past, for sure. Otherwise, you know the old chestnut about repeating others' mistakes. Unless of course, you so denigrate the past, you don't believe in remembering quotes, either...

    2. And while I'm speaking of "change", you wankster, it's time to change the paradigm that it's OK to be addicted to legal speed (how many times in the office has one heard the excuse "I haven't had my coffee yet this morning"; or what about all the "energy" drinks; or now "energy strips", pieces of paper you put on your tongue for "energy"—in high school we'd get busted for putting paper on our tongue that had some sort of chemistry on it; it's all very PKD...) like all you Cumulus interns have to be do satisfy your puppetmasters, and yes, change that paradigm so that people accept cannabis as both legal medicine AND a recreational substance.

      That's some "change" I can accept, you lackey!

  11. FYI, I'm not that old...I have a daughter who's in the first grade, so don't judge someone's age by their words. Wisdom comes to many who are younger, and many who are older. Obviously you've got a lot to learn...and I hope for your sake that you're young, because you've obviously haven't learned much.

    You also don't sound very worldly or well read, because if you were, you would have understood what I was talking about, instead of having a gut-level reaction to it. Unfortunately that is typical of a lot of attention-deficeit conditioned people nowadays.

    The saddest part of it is that you don't seem to have much respect for someone who's got a different opinion than yours.
    I'm hazarding a guess that you also have a lack of understanding of much that's happened before you were born.

    Also FYI, I don't have to go to the pharmacy because I have taken pretty good care of myself, and I can still run circles around people who are much younger. Good exercise and eating and dealing well with stress has a lot to do with that.
    Perhaps if you spent less time texting, tweeting and facebooking, and actually learning about the world around you,
    (such as actually having a conversation that lasts longer than 5 minutes), you might actually gain some wisdom a and become a contributing member of society, instead of just taking up space and wasting oxygen.

    Sounds like you've got a long ways to go my friend...I wish you well...but here's a suggestion....lose the's not going to win you friends or influence people and it also kills good conversation!

    1. I've enjoyed and appreciated each of your comments on this thread. I wish I could be so articulate and patient with the more "challenged" talking monkeys that have "responded" to your posts. Well done, and thank you.

  12. Ralph what's it like being escorted out the building?
    Why don't you tell us how much humiliation you felt.
    How much trash talking were you doing on your way out. . . . Not a word? I thought so.

  13. What's it like having your career assassinated by heartless bean
    counters who don't know which end of the microphone is up and wouldn't know how to broadcast if their sorry lives depended on it?

    What's it like watching an industry that you were once proud to be a part of become a play pen for underpaid, attention deficeit,
    smarmy, sarcastic overgrown teenagers?

    What's it like realizing that America is becoming even more dense and uninformed because outside of a few lonely radio stations that still believe in practicing responsible broadcast journalism, one now has to wade through a barrage of unimaginative commercials, self-serving, repetitive promos, and 'snappy patter'
    just to get a single shred of worthwhile information?

    If Ralph and other vets like him are Bitter...they certainly have a right to be. 'Getting shoved off the dance floor' because one is 'too old, and is making too much money,' is a weak excuse that management likes to use behind closed doors.

    I know Ralph won't see one penny from the Cumulus frauds, but I hope he and Angela stir up a hornet's nest and give the Dickheads
    a big black eye. Maybe even Ben Fong-Torres will take notice and write a few lines in his 'Radio Waves' column.

  14. @10:38 very touching love letter to Ralph but your facts are wrong.

    Ralph's career wasn't assassinated by heartless bean counters, he just wasn't doing the job any more. If he was still interesting and knowledgeable they'd have been happy to keep him around. But it had gotten to the point that he was difficult to listen to. I tuned in to hear Tom and ended up turning it off because of Ralph.

    The comment that someone is old and making too much money is "a weak excuse" is bewildering. If it's a weak excuse, what's the real reason?

    This message board seems to be an incubator for paranoid purveyors of conspiratorial theories about villainous radio companies. It's not that complicated. It's a business. That's it.

  15. Hey 12:56pm You don't have a clue about radio because you obviously haven't been paying attention to what has been happening in the last ten years to the industry.

    Yes, it is a business...but there in plain black and white on the FCC license is written a section that talks about "community service," that stations are required to observe and practice.

    The FCC has no teeth anymore since deregulation, so these mega-box companies can do whatever they want about bending the rules, and of course, they do.

    Since special interests have bought and sold this country's soul for the last
    15 some odd years (they've always had a hand in the game, but they've gotten 'out of hand' over the last 15 years), American business practices are now beyond reprehensible.

    How often do you get a live person on the phone when you now call a business..any business? How often when you finally do reach a person, it is someone in India who is working for 7 bucks an hour at 4am and is as useless as a dick on a priest? How many people do you know that have worked in the last 15 years for just one company and no other? How many companies are proud to sell you what they manufacture with the idea that what you're buying from them will last 5-10 years minimum, not 1-3 years? How many companies actually care about their employees? How many CEOs and Market Managers chatter on incessantly about 'the Brand' being so
    holy and mighty?

    My question is...what is the brand? Is it the people who make the company what it it the management that sets the course for the company...or is it perhaps something swirling in the ether like some mythical or mystical idea? Remember reading about how the Romans talked of their empire? ("Rome is a state of mind, a place, an idea.")

    I'm sorry, but I don't think American big business has any soul left. As an example...look no further than the tech world and the way it treats it's employees. I have a close relative who works for one of these bloodless companies for 80 hours a week, and yet he's not secure and the company is always demanding more of him.
    And he's been there for 15 years! (He came back after a two year force haitus when they 'downsized' his job. He worked his way back into their good graces by working even harder and getting another job. It's amazing his wife has stood by him all of these years. His kids resent the fact that he hardly ever spends any time with them. What a way to live!

    "It's a business." That's what Calvin Coolidge said when he made his famous comment: "the business of America is business."
    And that worked out really well didn't it? ( 1 year after that stooge left office in 1929, the stock market crashed and the world wide depression set in, setting the stage for despots like Hitler and Tojo to rise to power and ignite WW II which killed 40 million people in six years.)

    Those who don't learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. I know I'm borrowing the phrase from someone very famous, (I think it was George Santayanya) but it's more true today than ever before. Americans like anon 12:56 just don't know, or even care to know much about their own history because their own powers of concentration are so very limited. It doesn't have to be that way, but they've been conditioned and brought up in our media-oriented society to not have little interest or curiosity about things that don't directly involve them.

    Very Childish and Very Sad!

    1. @2:17 "I'm sorry, but I don't think American big business has any soul left....."

      Huh? You though big business is supposed to have a soul? business doesn't have heart and it doesn't have a soul, but it does have a bottom line.

      And the bottom line for you is that blog is not titled "Write the dumbest, sentimental essay that makes no sense and includes idiotic quotes."

      But if that's what you thought then I've got to hand it to you because the Calvin Coolidge quote is incredibly nonsensical while managing to without any coherent relevance invoke the stock market crash, WW II, Hitler and the deaths of 40 million people.

      Often I myself think of the most tragic events of the past 100 years and think about the great depression, WW II, and the firing of Ralph Barbieri.

      As you say, those who don't learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them so I expect you to respond with more pretentious soporific drivel.

    2. Again, thank you for your articulate and on-point posts.

      One of the many sad things about the current society is one might get laughed at for asking "How many people do you know that have worked in the last 15 years for just one company and no other?".

      I know many who buy into the bag of trash notion that one has more independence by "consulting" and doing other ridiculous "Freelance" type work. Or to move from company to company chasing bigger stock options and on. And never having roots, and getting fewer benefits along the way, and of course, working more than ever. (In spite of all this great "hi-tech" stuff that is supposed to free us from the drudgery of work but instead keeps us "connected" 24/7...)

    3. Ralph was fired for eating too much. That is bad business.

    4. Hey @3:00pm, you and that wind bag @2:17PM who pens his endless self-righteous drivel about history and god only knows what ever else he's trying to say should get together.

      He could continue to regale you with his endless analysis of today's society and you could keep thanking him for his articulate on-point commentary.

      Both of you should stay tuned in to your old radio in case those good old days come back and your beloved Ralph Barbieri returns to the air.

    5. Hey 8:10. One of these nights one of those vodka martinis is going to catch up with you and you'll stuff it into a wall somewhere. Hopefully you don't take any innocents out. Until then, cheerio!

  16. We are now living in a society where people like to move from job to job and city to city without putting down roots. And why do they do it? Perhaps They're chasing some will' a wisp' of a dream where they can make more money, get a more prominent position, or feel that they may a 'part of something important.'

    That dream and hope is vanishing quickly in this country. There are few companies that invest anymore in their employees, especially with all of the off-shoring and downsizing. They'd rather hire young and cheap talent that will do whatever they're told without hesitation.

    "My way or the highway!"

    In general, American business did not operate in this fashion before the 1980s. For the most part, most people stayed in one place at one job for years, and that's how communities were built and flourished. The middle class and the working class made this country, not the gazillionaires.

    Anon at 2:59 seems to take issue with someone who is passionate, intelligent, and has been through the ringer. But he discounts it as "pretentious soporific drivel"

    Sometimes people who have strong feelings get emotional.
    I submit that the person who wrote the post was very upset and was trying to elicit some response. Evidently he did a pretty good job.

    I guess 'tilting at windmills' may seem futile to many folks,
    but someone should be doing it! That's why our democracy still works, although it's been weakened considerably in recent years.

    People can still have exchanges such as this, even in this sort of fashion on the internet on a blog. Good stuff!

    1. "Anon at 2:59 seems to take issue with someone who is passionate, intelligent, and has been through the ringer."
      Well I agree that he must have been through the ringer but I'm not seeing too much intelligence.

      Since the both of you seem to be yearning for more fulfilling employment perhaps you two should sign up with Philosophers_R_Us. You both have so much to offer!

  17. What is all this "it will cost so much money to go to trial", and "Ralph can't afford it". Huh?

    If Angela Alioto is doing this on contingency, there goes one huge cost.

    Secondly, if her business is slow, or she needs the attention, this PR may get her both. Ever think of that? What if she has time on her hands?

    Third, the only hard costs may be Discovery, and hiring a court approved court reporter. What does that cost, $300 a day? $500 a day?

    The calculus may not be as simple as you think.

    1. 1. It's expensive to bring a case like this all the way to trial. Ralph has a weak claim and stands to gain very little, realistically all that he could hope for is a couple of months compensation.

      2. Lawyers don't typically take employment law cases on a contingent fee basis and the idea that a lawyer picking up the cost takes care of the cost problem is ridiculous because she's not about to waste her own or office money on such a small value case.

      3. Your claim about the hard costs reveal your total ignorance of the process. Interrogatories alone, (and many long interrogatories would be required), can easily cost as much as $300-$500 PER HOUR - NOT PER DAY.

      I'm sorry if you are dreaming about Ralph getting a big award or settlement, it's not going to happen!

    2. Who says it will go all the way to trial? 98% of cases settle. It could ettle in 6 months, or 2 years.

      You assume that Ralph has a weak case, we don't know the facts, and from what I can tell, I haven't heard that a Complaint has been filed that we could review to make such an assessment. Do you have an axe to grind? (I don't.) His case may have merit, or may be a joke. I dunno.

      What does Ralph make a year? $200,000? $400,000? He could argue for 2 or 3 years pay. Do punitive damages apply here? I dunno, not worth my time right now.

      "Typical" and Angela Aliot don't go together. Colorful, Passionate, Loud and Italian do! They are both Italian, and have a strong affinity for each other.

      I also see that you passed over a big item here - the PR value. AA loves PR! (Didn't you know that her house was painted pink my Armstrong Painting?)

      Angela is not a fresh out of law school graduate. She has had a long career, and could be taking one for the team on a contingency basis, with Ralph kicking in $10-20,000 for costs. I dunno. He may win, he may lose. But folks like you that say it is 100% one way, or the other, surely look like you have an axe to grind. And a very large axe at that.

    3. The strength of a legal case rests with the facts not emotion. The facts in this case do no favor Ralph.

      Your arguments, i.e. Barbieri and Alioto are colorful, passionate, loud, and Italian, are as idiotic and uninformed as your estimate of costs.

      Ralph's chances of winning big in this case are about as likely as Emmanuel Burriss winning the triple crown.

    4. I don't know the facts, and they haven't been published. If they have, please cite a source or provide a link.

      So either: a) you're on the inside; b) you have an axe to grind; or c) both.

      Lawyers take employment cases on contingency all the time. It may not be standard, or the norm, or a cash cow, but it is not uncommon.

      You also haven't mentioned the fact that the Bay Area is uber liberal, judges here tend to be liberal, and a "jury of Ralph's peers" would tend to be - liberal. And, gee, would liberals - generally - be on the side of the big, bad, evil, out-of-town corporation? Or a man in his 60s, with Parkinson's, a long-tiem, faithful employee, who is trying to provide for his young son?

      Like I said, I don't care, it could go either way. But might you also be a shill for said corporation?