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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Memories of Mark...Early Days

Mark Shannon was arguably one of the best radio talents this market has ever experienced.  Next to Mike McCarville himself, few had the mastery of the art of theater of the mind like Shannon.  Mark has influenced many people in the radio business and probably more than we will ever know.  This evening, I've been sitting around thinking about some of the early days, when I first met Mark.

The first time I actually met Mark Shannon was at the Citadel complex of radio stations, I believe it was in the conference room.  Larry Bastida was introducing everyone and we were talking about the "new lineup" at WKY.  In the room was Jim Traber, Brad Copeland, Mike Steely, Larry Stein, Dax Davis, Todd Lisenbee, my producer Kevin and of course, Mark Shannon.  I was introduced, as I recall, as the newest acquisition from Renda Broadcasting - from the station now known as KOKC.

Mark stood out among the crowd, his trademark ballcap and unlit cigar hanging out of his mouth.  He was the first to share ideas for promotions and always aggressively looking for a new angle to promote the station.  I remember sitting back in amazement as Shannon got on Bastida's case for not being willing to spend more money to advertise the station.  He said something to the effect, "You know, we sell people every day to buy ADVERTISING on our station, but we don't ADVERTISE OUR STATION."

It was a special moment.  We didn't bring that up to Bastida again after that, by the way.

Mark had the morning groove with Larry Stein and it was a well-oiled machine.  I remember asking Shannon how he accomplished it so effortlessly and he was more than happy to share with me his secret:  Show preparation.  We sat in one of the production studios talking as he showed me his "script" for the show and how every single segment was planned out to the minute.  It was amazing to see.  He suggested that my "style" didn't necessarily fit that format, but that I should work on making sure that each quarter-hour had a list of topics in the event the phones didn't ring...something we rarely had a problem with at WKY.

Mark taught me about "bits."  How to put together 1-minute to 2-minute vignettes that were humorous, designed to shock and often just make people laugh.  Many of you remember "Stephen from the Paseo."  Well, he was inspired by Mark Shannon.  Stephen was a "bit."  He was a set-up caller who owned two dogs, "Powder" and "Blue" whom he loved dearly.  There were times I did that bit and absolutely almost wet myself.  It was one of the funniest and most hilarious moments I have ever experienced on radio and it was all because of Shannon's inspiration.

Over the next few days, I'll share more "Mark Moments" that will perhaps show you a little more about Mark and his intense radio talent.

UPDATE:  Here is the Mark Shannon story from Oklahoma City's Fox 25.


Mark Shannon Passes

Mark Shannon passed on to be with the Father last night.  According to reports on the McCarville Report, his wife Kris says:

"I would like to thank all his fans, friends, family and co-workers for all the prayers, love and support that they've given him throughout the years and especially during this last week. Mark believed in Jesus Christ and he is now at home with his Father in Heaven."
Mike provides a detailed history of Mark's radio career, including his time on KRXO, KJ103, a station in Nashville and his post as the afternoon drive guru at Oklahoma City's KTOK.

Mark and I worked together at WKY - he handled the morning duties with Larry Stein and later solo.  I also had the honor of filling in for him on the morning show and let me tell you, Mark had one hell of a system.  His show-prep abilities were phenomenal, virtually unmatched.  The way he put together a show caused it to basically run on its own, as though it was self-aware.

There are many who absolutely despised Mark Shannon and I have already received comments from some and I must say that I find them wickedly inappropriate and offensive.  When asked by KOKH Fox 25 about some of the comments about him, Mark replied wryly from his hospital bed, "I would have said the same about them."  Even from the hospital, Mark was a fighter.

As far as I am concerned, it is time for us to mourn his loss - to appreciate the great things that Mark Shannon accomplished and his amazing on-air talent.

Mark was, as Tiffany Titsworth of the Brogdon campaign said, "the voice of Oklahoma's conservative movement."  A year ago, Mark helped in getting the Tea Party movement going, providing them with air time on his show and KTOK did wonders to get out their message.  Mark became a firebrand for conservatives - a man who once considered Charlie Meadows and the OCPAC crowd to be "out there," spent time with conservatives and became one of them.

Shannon was without question a polarizing figure on the air.  But off the air, he was a man who really did not lack the courage of his convictions.  Today, the radio industry in Oklahoma is weaker without him.

My prayers go out to his wife, Kris, and their family as they navigate through the grieving process.  Truly a sad day for Oklahoma radio.

Newson6.com story.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Paying for Government

This political cycle has a common theme throughout the GOP:  We want smaller, more effective government.  No doubt, the "more effective" aspect is something both Republicans and Democrats alike can agree is necessary, it's the "smaller" part with which we have some disagreement.  For example:

1.  Do we really want a smaller military force?  Perhaps we have forgotten, but we still have boots on the ground and much like back when I served in the military during the Cold War, the Russians and China continue their war games.  And let's not forget the ever-increasing threat to the world Iran poses.  Our men and women of the Armed Forces are doing a spectacular job, but no doubt they could use more assistance.

2.  We want swift justice, but not willing to pay for it.  We are eventually going to need a new jail to replace the Oklahoma County Jail, but no one is really excited about new taxes.  Maybe if we allow it to double as an NBA practice facility, we'll like the idea, but it will represent higher taxes.  We want to prosecute criminals, but we don't really like to fund the prosecutorial processes, do we?  The Medical Examiner's office is facing scandal, some of my Republican brethren even talked of dismantling the office and now, we're surprised when it takes so long to get toxicology reports?  If we want justice, we are going to have to pay for it.

3.  Mental health services.  Recently, hundreds marched on the capitol to tell their legislators that there was and is a need for mental health services.  If we don't fund it, what do we do with these people in need?

Those are just three examples and I haven't even begun to talk about education and the most recent (but annual) exhibition of power of David Boren. 

I would argue that we do, in fact, need smaller and more effective government but it is going to require we consider all the consequences - intended and otherwise.

But the BIG question remains as to which of our government expenditures is actually authorized by the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the great state of Oklahoma...

A Reminder: Pray for our troops.

Every man and woman who joins our military takes an oath.  Those who are running for office and those who support those who are running for office need to remember these words below and never forget that there are men and women right now, laying down their lives so we can have the freedom we do today.  This is the oath I took back in the day...
I,____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. I swear (or affirm) that I am fully aware and fully understand the conditions under which I am enlisting.
Just sayin'...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Thursday Review

Here are a few updates:

MARK SHANNON:  According to various reports, The Shanster is going to be headed home on Saturday.  This is a good sign, but as always, we must continue to pray for his full recovery and that God will bless he and his wife, Kris.  His health is still not that great, but our God is.  He can do that which we believe impossible.

Watch the Fox 25 piece on the Shanster here.

THE GIRLS:  Lots of people have sent e-mails and well-wishes for the two girls under our care.  They lost their mother a little while back and the update is that they are enrolled in Edmond schools, going through the standardized testing all kids are experiencing right now and are getting comfortable in their surroundings.  Losing a mother is never easy - I've experienced it myself, but the prayers and thoughts of friends has been immeasurably helpful.  We're seeing some dramatic changes in them as they are surrounded by people who are seriously looking out for their best interests and are showering them with care and love.  It's amazing to see God's people work together to meet the need of two young girls who are finally getting to experience what it's like to be young girls.  Thank you for your kindness and your prayers.

SUPERINTENDENT RACE:  The McCarville Report is reporting that Shawn Hime has dropped out of the race because of health reasons.  Janet Barresi's reponse was kind and very endearing.  She wrote:
“My prayers go out to Shawn and his family as he deals with his health issue. As anyone who has been a statewide candidate knows, running for office is a difficult task that takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. To try to do so while balancing the needs of a career, family and health would be a very difficult task. I wish Shawn, his family, and Enid Schools all the best.”
Classy, I tell you.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Be ye warmed and filled."

There is a sad misconception about Christianity that permeates the fabric of our social pathos in this great country.  Somehow, there is this belief that if you're a Christian, there is a certain way to look, to carry yourself and that meeting need is something someone else does.  That it's the role of "those guys" who are "called" to that ministry. 

Christianity is not how you look, it is not even really what you say or in some cases, what you do.  We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3) but we have forgiveness and there exists within us a striving, a longing to be conformed into the image of the risen Son.  We are forgiven in spite of what we do, what we say and even how we look.  Of course, it begs the statement from Paul, "Shall we sin so grace may abound?  May it never be!"

But I do see so many people in need and I have seen so many people who have the means and ability to meet need but they don't because they feel their is someone else to handle that "problem."  I don't really understand that.  We are to meet need, as I understand Scripture, and simply let God sort out the rest.  We have no investment in the outcome for to do so, we brand ourselves as Pharisees (Mt. 23).

How does that mix with passages such as James 2:
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (v. 15, 16 - KJV)
 And then there's this sticky wicket in 1John 3:17:
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (KJV)
Meeting "need" can mean many things.  For example, what some people need is to simply shut up and listen to the voice of the Almighty (I include myself in that mix).  Some people need to hear the truth.  Some people need to be punished.  Some people also need to be loved and shown that they are of value and mean more than just what they wear and how they look.

Of course, we're in the political season right now and the news is flying fast and furious over how much candidate X has raised or how many doors have been knocked - all of which is necessary.  But really, it's fascinating to see this from people who clearly wear their Christianity on their sleeves in such a way that they present themselves as paragons of moral virtue and if we only vote for them, perhaps we can usher in the 2nd Coming and we'll live a debt-free, care-free life wherein all of our problems will fade off into the sunset...


Jesus warned us that we would have the poor with us always (Mt. 26:11) and to me, people in need are often invitations sent by the Father himself to a world we simply cannot fathom.  A place that is not Utopian, but rather wrought with trials and tribulations but in the midst of them, a solid, unwavering sense of peace that transcends all understanding.

Many of you already know that I am anything BUT the ideal Christian.  Quite the contrary.  I admit openly that I am one of the biggest failures the planet has ever seen.  I am not the kind of father I should or could have been, I am not the kind of husband I should or could have been and I'm not even a very good Christian.  But I'll tell you what:  If by my admitting my wrongs and encouraging others not to pull the stunts I have, then maybe - just maybe there is still hope.  Because if there's hope for a pile of human waste such as myself, there's hope for you.

No matter what you're wearing.  No matter where you work.  No matter whether you're a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.  You see, faith transcends political party.  I know - tough to swallow during an election year.

I don't even know why I wrote this tonight.  Just needed to vent a little...

Update on the Shanster

Mark's niece, Nicole, sent me a message...here's the update:

As of today, Mark will be going home on Friday with home health, not hospice. This is much better news. They will be able to test his blood regularly and he will get be getting units based on the results. Please pass on the good news. He is also wanting to do a final show on air so be listening for it. Thank you for all the prayers! Please visit him if you get a chance.

Please share with your friends.

Cinco de Spanko. This is America, Not Mexico.

Yes, it is once again the 5th of May and all the media is twitterpated about Cinco De Mayo celebrations - the day some folks celebrate Mexican Independence Day (or something like that).  Well, good for them.  This little gray duck will be celebrating the 5th of May, a day just like any other because after all, this is still America.

Greatest country on the planet.

And since it is the greatest country on the planet, it's easy to understand why we have such an issue with illegal immigration right now.  People around the globe want to either emulate us or come to this country to chase their dreams and in some cases, fulfill them.

But Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day (the day the Mexicans defeated the French), not American Independence Day and frankly, I have no interest in celebrating.  Many local establishments will have tequila specials and all kinds of other festivities and we'll see a plethora of bodies gyrating to modern versions of the Macarena throughout Central Oklahoma and the newspapers, blogs and Twitter accounts will be deluged with photographs of local "hotties" doing their best to appear as though they truly have something to celebrate.

Meanwhile, back on the homefront, we're:  Investigating a thwarted terrorist attack, trying to clean up an oil spill, paying more at the pumps for gasoline, debating the efficacy of the 10th Amendment, defending the 2nd Amendment, fighting the problem of illegal immigration, bending over for the IRS and lubing up for Obamacare and most importantly, praying for a safe return home of our troops who are (by the way) defending our freedoms so we can go out and party like "rock stars."

Oh, did I put a damper on your Cinco de Spanko celebration by reminding you that there are boots on the ground, fighting terrorists.  My apologies.  Continue...

Oklahoma Controlled Hunt Deadline Approaches

One of the innovators in state government is none other than the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.  Over the last couple years, the state agency has created an online presence that is unmatched in state government.  You can purchase licenses, tags and you can also apply for "controlled" hunts in Oklahoma as well.

Controlled hunts in Oklahoma are unique opportunities to hunt public lands at specific times during specific seasons wherein limited numbers of people are allowed to hunt those areas.  Here are a few tips and tricks to get some success:

1.  Apply as a group.
2.  Always include a "newbie."  (Someone who has not applied previously.)
3.  Look closely at the numbers - the higher number of people allowed for the draw increases your odds.
4.  Be creative.  Always include a hunt wherein the odds are against you.
5.  Be diverse.  Apply for a variety of hunts that include bow season, black powder and rifle.

To apply for Oklahoma's controlled hunts, click here.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Now for something completely different.

Smile.  It could always be worse.

KFOR's Report on KTOK's Mark Shannon

Admittedly, calling Mark Shannon "KTOK's Mark Shannon" seems a little weird.  More than anything, Mark is "Oklahoma radio's Mark Shannon" - his fans and listeners cross cultural and age barriers.

KFOR's Ed Doney reported on Mark this evening and in the video, you still get a slice of Marks' unique sense of humor, but also a taste of his spiritual understanding.


Continue your prayers for Mark and his amazing wife, Kris.

Mark's website is here.

Mark and I worked together at the station formerly known as "Supertalk 930, WKY."  Mark and his partner, Larry Stein, handled the morning duties, I covered the afternoon drive responsibilities.


May 4, 2010


Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners Bob Anthony and Dana Murphy today informed Gov. Brad Henry they want to each give the state part of their pay to match wage losses experienced by furloughed Commission employees.

They are asking Gov. Henry to accept the money on behalf of the State and direct the funds back to their agency so the money can be used for other Commission costs, pursuant to sections 383 and 384 of Title 60 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

Commissioners may not reduce their pay under state law, Commission General Counsel Andrew Tevington said, so they have opted to write checks back to the government.

“The Commissioners believe it’s only fair to be included in the unpaid furlough days the agency’s employees have had to take in the second half of this fiscal year,” Tevington explained. “Because the furlough days are the result of cuts to the agency, Commissioners Anthony and Murphy have stipulated their gifts go to the specific use and benefit of the agency, rather than to the General Revenue fund.”

State law does not allow the Commissioners to make the gifts to their agency without going through the governor, Tevington said.

The state’s budget shortfall has forced the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to cut approximately eight percent of the agency’s work force, place the Commission’s remaining 440 employees on eight unpaid furlough days through June and institute $400,000 in additional cuts over those mandated for all agencies.

The Commission’s budget was cut 18 percent at the beginning of the current fiscal year compared to five to 10 percent for other agencies. The state’s current fiscal year ends June 30.


All OCC advisories and releases are available at http://www.occeweb.com/

Ryan Leonard Announces Big Money in A.G. Race

Ryan Leonard, Republican candidate for Attorney General announced today his fundraising report and it is most impressive.  From his press release:

Ryan Leonard, Republican candidate for Attorney General, released his first quarter fundraising totals showing $167,790 raised during the first quarter, for a total of more than $609,000.00 for the campaign. Leonard reports $421,503 cash on hand.

Republican Scott Pruitt did not file a report. Democrat Jim Priest reported raising $86,000.
Leonard has been exceptionally aggressive in not only fundraising, but in generating name recognition for his candidacy.  When Attorney General Drew Edmondson refused to file suit against the federal government, Leonard was one of the first voices heard criticizing Edmondson and since the entrance of Republican all-star, former Senator Scott Pruitt, Leonard has been heard on the radio and other forms of media.

Leonard's website is http://www.ryanleonard2010.com/.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Mark Shannon Needs Prayer

KTOK's Mark Shannon continues his struggle and according to Larry Stein, his former morning show partner, Mark is still an in-patient at Baptist in Oklahoma City.

Mark Shannon has been battling health issues for quite some time now and he and his wife, Kris, need our prayers and well-wishes more than anything.  For those of you who are Christians, you know that we serve the God of the living and that He is merciful and just and will answer our prayers.  Granted, we may not like His answer, but he does answer prayer.

Mark's website here.

Monday Flew By...Some Thoughts

It has been a very hectic day, but finally, I have the opportunity to share some thoughts about the political hoopla and pop culture items of interest.

The McCarville Report shows, without question, State Senator Todd Lamb is dominating the money race in the bid for the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor.  Which, of course, will be a stepping-stone for Lamb to either run for Governor in a few years or perhaps even Congress.  And no, I'm not being cynical, but rather a realist.  Todd Lamb was born and bred for just this type of career path and I find it absolutely laughable when many of his supporters decry "career politicians."  I have to say, as far as "career politicians" go, Todd is one of the better ones and he has a wickedly impressive resume'.  On the other hand, Representative John Wright, proud recipient of the OCPAC endorsement is not doing so well.  His campaign reports a staggering $2,578 fund raising effort contrasted with Lamb's meager $137,147. 

Read the McCarville Report here.

Oil spill in the Gulf is still a mess, and it will be for a very long time.  Reports show that President Obama has made it clear that BP PLC will foot the bill eventually for the clean up, but that the federal government will most assuredly spare no expense to get the job done.  It will be a long time before all the facts come out about this one.

Gubernatorial passion runs hot.  First it was the controversy surrounding the Tea Party excitement, then it was TARP and now, it's illegal immigration.  In a couple short hours, my Facebook page was covered up in comments when I asked a simple question:  "Where does Brogdon stand on illegal immigration? Fallin?"  Of course, the conversation plunged into ad hominem attacks and to be honest, I was surprised no one brought up the desire to see gubernatorial debates.

But the day isn't over just yet.

Contrary to popular belief - and to the chagrin of some in the blogosphere who wouldn't know truth if it jumped up and bit them in their self-righteous, Constitution-stroking asses - I am not in the "Mary camp."  I like Congresswoman Fallin just as I like State Senator Randy Brogdon.  Unfortunately, some of the supporters of Brogdon (referred to affectionately as "Brogdonites") apparently have no reading comprehension ability whatsoever, forgetting that I have lauded their efforts in grassroots.  (The link is here for those of you who are reading this who would like to improve their comprehension skills.)

Did I offend?  My apologies. 

This race will turn out to be the biggest mud-slinging pile of political propaganda this state has ever seen and it isn't even June yet.  And don't think for a nanosecond that the Fallin campaign is going to sit back and allow the name-calling and misinformation to be spread for long.  The Fallinistas are getting pretty darned tired of it and it is even drawing the attention of many in the media who has been staying out of this disaster for a while.  Fallin has the money, the name recognition and the reputation to go scorched earth, replace the topsoil, plant new seeds, fertilize the new shrubbery before anyone even realized what happened.  The Brogdonites will be sitting back, licking their wounds and wondering what in the hell just happened while Mary is hosting her inaugural ball.

Of course, that is just my opinion and I could be wrong...but I seriously doubt it.  For the latest salvo in the gubernatorial caged death match, read the Oklahoma Watchdog here.

More to follow, kids! 

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sounds of Sunday

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and yes, there is always work that needs to be done but in the midst of it we can stop and listen - truly listen - to the sounds around us and find something to touch our hearts, and open our minds.

Yesterday, the new girls in the house had a visit from their grandparents and it was pretty surreal at moments - both the actions and behaviors of the girls as well as the environment itself gave me great pause.  The girls behaved remarkably different than they have when it was the six (or eight) of us and I notice little things perhaps others overlook or can be oblivious.  Having been a Hospice counselor "back in the day," I listen closely and intently for insights as to what the emotional dynamic may be and to develop a glide-path for ministering to those in the grieving process.  While grandmother and grandfather were here, the 13 year-old in our care quickly became the "alpha," her body language and her mannerisms indicated a long history of being the one who ran the proverbial show.  For what has been arguably been the first time in her life, this young girl, who lost her mother under some very odd circumstances, has the opportunity to be a young girl - a 13 year-old.

And it seems to be a tough transition for some.

My wife and I have been charged with their care temporarily and it really has been a challenge, but also a blessing.  All the kids have begun to learn what it means to lay down our lives for someone truly in need and in obedience to James 1:27 - to care for the widows and orphans in their time of need.  Not only are they in need of simple loving care, but academically, these girls are clearly behind their peers.  The 13 year-old has been encouraged via homeschooling to be in a grade beyond her abilities and we have had to adjust accordingly.  The 7 year-old is brilliant, but has some speech therapy issues that must be addressed sooner rather than later and we are working toward that goal for the time that they are both in our care.

The death of their mother is a haunting experience, something that is unsettling and mysterious in my spirit.  It is truly difficult to describe, but there is something just "wrong" about the whole thing and the actions thereafter of those involved cause every nerve ending in my body to shiver with what could have happened.  There are moments when the hair stands up on the back of my neck because of it.  Everyone reacts differently to loss, but for this little gray duck (me), were one of my family members to have died under less than conclusive circumstances, I would be screaming for justice from the mountaintops.

But in this case, no one is screaming for answers.  I am not implying anything here - just that this situation is so bizarre to my sense of normalcy, that in comparison, it makes Tim Burton look like Frank Kapra.

In instances like this, it's the sounds and the absence of sounds of life that really matter.  Radar on "high alert," emotions running free, mind functioning with crystal clarity to pick up even a single pin drop that would provide answers...the sounds of another Sunday.  Watching young children in our care interact like young children; it's amazing how much you can pick up through their actions and even their inactivity.  We just have to be receptive.

With each passing day, we're learning more and more - and it becomes increasingly unsettling.