Category Archives: Matt Pierce

Hot Air

Who?

My friends who know a little something about soccer tell me the USA victory over Ghana yesterday is a big deal.

Search me. The extent of my knowledge of the world’s most popular game is so sparse, as the saying goes, it could be fit into the navel of a flea.

So I did a little digging. Ghana, it turns out, is located in that western protrusion of the African continent that’s home to a whole passel of anonymous (to us) little countries like Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo. The capital of G. is Accra, which is sort of known, I suppose. Its population is 2.27 million with a total of four million in its greater metropolitan area making it, overall, about as big as Rome or Sydney.

Ghanians

Ghana Soccer Fans

English is its official language although its diverse pop. also speaks tongues like Asante, Ewe, and Fante. That diversity is represented by ancient and traditional tribal groups known as Akan, Mole-Dagbon, the aforementioned Ewe, and others. Ghana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1957 and now is a constitutional democracy. Ghanians produce gold, cocoa, and a barrel or two of oil. Some 50 percent of them work in the service industry. The country is known as one of the most stable and advanced on the continent.

I doubt if I’ve ever met a Ghanian. I know I would have been hard pressed to point it out on a map before doing this bit of seat of the pants research. I’d never heard of its president, John Dramani Mahama. Its air force is only two years old.

Fútbol aficionados in this holy land are delirious about the world’s last remaining superpower’s glorious triumph over little Ghana. I don’t know precisely who the USA is playing next in this World Cup shebang.

Perhaps Ellettsville.

A House Divided

The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that the state’s casinos are “losing money.”

Let me repeat that. Casinos in the Hoosier State are losing money. Losing money!

Friends, that’s impossible. It should not happen. It cannot happen.

The house never loses. That’s the single Commandment in the bible of the gaming industry. In fact, the games that are offered in casinos and other such centers of culture and competition are designed to give the edge to the house. Simply setting up the games and letting anyone, no matter their ability play them, automatically guarantees the house operator a winning certainty.

Take blackjack. The player always goes first. If both the dealer and the player go over 21, the house wins because, under the rules, the player has gone first and therefore loses.

Players cannot count cards but very astute dealers do. When a good dealer notices the deck’s edge going to the player, s/he simply reshuffles.

Chips

How about roulette? You’d think the odds of winning would be 50/50, split between the house and the player. After all, you either get red or black, right? Only casino roulette wheels have either one or two extra spaces, a zero or double zero. When the ball lands there, it’s a win for the house. So the odds favor you know who. Over time that slight statistical edge pays off handsomely.

Poker tournaments are big deals in casinos. The house wins no matter what because it takes a cut off the top of every ante. Winning players get paid from their opponents, not the house.

Craps is a big money-maker for the house. Whenever a dice thrower scores a big win, there is screaming and cheering. This automatically draws players to the table, the majority of whom will lose — the odds are built into the dice — so the house loves to pay out big.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say the reason the Outfit got itself cozy in Las Vegas was the guaranteed revenue of gaming. There is next to no risk in operating a casino (other than, of course, getting your brains blown out for cheating the Mob out of its cut.)

So how can Indiana’s casinos be losing money?

Simple. The state of Ohio has allowed several new facilities to open up near Cincinnati. That’s only an hour from three of Indiana’s riverboats and “racinos.” The gaming industry here wants land-based casinos. The state legislature has been loath to allow that for years. Keep in mind this is a state that still doesn’t allow liquor sales on Sundays; just getting floating casinos here was fairly revolutionary. House Speaker Brian Bosma is exhibiting no sign that he’s about to start thinking about allowing brick and mortar casinos.

So things don’t look good for Indiana’s gaming people right now, that is, unless Bosma is wearing his best poker face. Should he push for land-based casinos, the state might get back the millions of dollars lost to the Ohio competition and even maybe even make more than that. Pols, just like gamblers, hate losing dough.

At this moment, the state of Ohio is the house. It’s gonna win. Bosma may feel the need to make Indiana the house once again.

Where It’s At

Jazzman and political science prof. Jeff Isaac stopped in to the Book Corner yesterday. He’s a magazine freak, tending toward titles like Downbeat and Perspectives in Politics, natch. He had to elbow his way to the checkout counter with said titles in hand as this correspondent was holding court with the usual revolving gang of cognoscenti.

Isaac

Ivory Tickler

“Let me through so I can do some business with this man,” Isaac said. He paused a moment, scanning the semi-circle of faces. “Man,” he said, “this is the nerve center of Bloomington right here.”

So it is.

To wit: State Rep. Matt Pierce paid a visit about an hour later. He says he and his statehouse colleagues are wrapping up last minute business in Indy these days and then they’ll take a few months to get themselves reelected this fall.I told the Rep. I was worried about what the 538 political numbers blog is saying about the November beauty contests. I figured Pierce might try to snow me with partisan cheerleading but he spoke frankly. Bad news on the national front, Pierce observed, trickles down to the local. He’s not worried, personally, as he’s running unopposed to retain his District 61 seat.

We went on to talk about US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s earth-shattering primary loss last week. I told the Rep. Cantor was ousted because only 12 percent of the voters in his district even bothered to show up. Pierce nodded. “You only get the true believers when that happens,” he said. True: If there’s one thing that’s dangerous in politics, statecraft, or religion, it’s a true believer.

Pierce

Pierce added that only 13 percent of Hoosiers voted in our May primary. “It’s ironic,” he explained, “that the people who can really benefit from voting don’t, so then when pols get in who do nothing for them they conclude that system is broke. Then they become even more alienated from the process. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.”

The Big Mike take-away: An apathetic electorate is just as dangerous as a gang of true believers.

Libation Information

Attn: Pencillistas! I want you to add another blog to your bookmarks. It’s local and it’s goddamned good.Author and playwright Joni Herkimer runs the A Cocktail A Day daily bleat. It’s funny and informative.

From A Cocktail A Day

Monday’s Concoction

Here’s a little taste from Sunday’s post:

I think if I got to choose my royal title, I would choose Countess. I don’t know why exactly, but the title has always appealed to me much more than Queen, Princess, or Duchess. I don’t even know exactly what a real Countess is or does, but I am pretty certain I would enjoy being one.

Keep a close eye on Countess Joni: She’s working on a play right now that’s sure to blow this town sky-high if and when it gets finished and produced. It deals with one of the biggest news stories in our great metrop.’s recent history. Everything you think you know about it, JH swears, just may be wrong.

Other than that, my lips are sealed about the project.

Hot Air

Make Me Laugh

Can’t wait to get my hands on the new issue of Bloom mag.

Bloom Mag Cover

Ha.

The Comedy Attic‘s Jared Thompson graces the cover. Inside, you’ll find out all about funny business in this town, natch, so grab one when you get a chance. You know, of course, that the Limestone Comedy Fest is fast approaching. This year the fest features as a headliner Patton Oswald.

Sure, he’s good, but can he rival last year’s appearance by Tig Notaro for getting Bloomington’s laugh-addicted pumped to the sky? Time will tell.

Spring Can Stink, Too

So I’ve been bragging and crowing about how fab these recent spring days have been. Y’know, sunshine, warmth, daffodils, forsythia, breezes, short pants, and the ebbing of crushing winter depression.

All true. Life has taken a decidedly more positive turn of late.

In fact, I threw every window in the house open yesterday. The months-old atmosphere redolent of garlic, olive oil, my socks, me, dog, cat, and other foulings of air were swept out forthwith and, within minutes, the joint smelled like a delightful cabin in the woods.

It was so warm last night that most of the windows were still open when Steve the Dog, Sally the Dog, Kofi the Cat, and I all fell asleep on the two living room sofas. It was as peaceful a sleep as four creatures could experience together, all of us lulled by the rustling of budding trees and bushes in the soft wind and the occasional distant hoot of an owl.

But then an unseen skunk shot a blast of self-defense at some threatening critter and the first wave of reek blasted the four of us out of the arms of Morpheus. Steve and Sally began barking and howling like mad dogs, my eyes began watering, and Kofi went so far as to stir, stretch, and resume his snooze.

Skunk

Sleep Wrecker

I had to slam shut every single window in the house and somehow explain to the hounds that they weren’t going out no matter how much they begged and whined. My explanation consisting solely of the repeated words, “Shut the f_k up!”

So, I’m still pretty deliriously happy about spring, only I’m now reminded nothing’s perfect.

WFHB Board News

The WFHB Board of Directors will have a new look after the station’s annual meeting June 7. That’s when the general membership will vote to fill three open spots.

Current Board members Carolyn VandeWiele and Matt Pierce (also state representative from the 61st District) are giving up their seats and Hondo Thompson quit the Board a while back, with his seat filled on an interim basis by Richard Fish. Fish is running for a full term this time.

Here are thumbnail descriptions of the four candidates for the three open spots, as selected by the current Board’s nominating committee.

Sarah Borden is new to the WFHB  family but has been seeking the best way to volunteer her skills at the station for some time. She has a business background and offers skills in accounting, bookkeeping, tax filing, payroll, budget preparation and monitoring, financial planning, grant research, writing, submission, and management and specific HR duties which could be very useful to the station.

Richard Fish has served on the WFHB Board since March 2013 when he was appointed by the board to finish out the term of a member who resigned and is seeking re-election.  Richard is a founding member of Bloomington Community Radio and long time host of Bloomington Beware and The Firehouse Theatre. Richard states that he feels that he can “help most in the area of planning and visioning. WFHB is — and will be — facing some serious challenges and changes in the foreseeable future.”

Benjamin Loudermilk comes to us through the on-air appeal for persons interested in applying for the WFHB Board of Directors. He writes “I have been a proud supporter and listener of WFHB since it was launched on the airwaves 20 plus years ago. When I learned of the upcoming open seats, I was excited at the prospective opportunity to seek candidacy to serve on WFHB’s Board of Directors.” Benjamin is a native Bloomingtonian, currently employed as a Paraeducator at BHSNorth, and an IU alumnus. He has been active in the local Arts community for over 30 years. He feels his strongest skills are in communication, research and networking.

William Morris has been associated with WFHB for nearly five years – as a DJ (“Brother William”) on several music shows, as a roving reporter and news reader with the Daily Local News, and as an interviewer/producer on Interchange. He states “Now, I’d like to participate in a broader, more-constructive and (hopefully) more productive way as a member of the Board of Directors….  As an attorney, I believe I can help the station think through and resolve legal matters that it will face in the next several years. As a former journalist and big-time music fan, I hope I can help the station look at programmatic, artistic and creative decisions.  And, as a five-year member/volunteer of the station, I hope I can share my enthusiasm for WFHB with others in a way that fosters greater community, camaraderie and achievement.

Other candidates can still get in on the fun through a petition process. One of those is Maryll Jones, who started the Friends of WFHB Facebook group. The Friends arose in reaction to the Board’s selection of Kevin Culbertson as general manager last fall. Culbertson’s nod sparked a firestorm of controversy when it was revealed he’d been instrumental in operating a number of Christian radio stations out west and that he wasn’t a member of the Bloomington community. Jones is collecting signatures at this time.

Speaking of Jones, she applied to the nominating committee but was rejected. Word is the Board is keeping its distance from her because she’s the boss of Friends. Because of the negative reaction to Culbertson’s hiring in Friends and his subsequent decision not to accept the position, there’s been talk he could, if he so chose, institute some type of legal action against the station. If anything, the scuttlebutt goes, Culbertson could claim something on the order of workplace religious discrimination. When he informed Board President Joe Estivill he wouldn’t be taking the job in a letter dated November 20th, 2013, Culbertson wrote:

Never in my 30 plus years of working in broadcasting and media have I seen such hostility in a work environment.  The slanderous statements and cyber bullying have passed the point, in my opinion, which any reasonable person would believe there would be an expectation of being able to accomplish the objectives of the station in due course.

WFHB honchos are hyper-sensitive to the possibility that Culbertson might file suit. Even a suit without much legal basis would have to be answered in court, meaning the station would incur potentially devastating expenses. It’s been decided that since Friends is an independent entity, the station shouldn’t have any connection with it as long as WFHB still has exposure to legal action. Ergo, Maryll Jones won’t be getting an official imprimatur from anybody connected with Firehouse Broadcasting any time soon.

Hot Air-waves

Smoke? Fire?

People are talking. Some people.

They’re saying the WFHB Board of Directors is playing with fire.

They’re worried about the future of the community radio station if the Board’s choice for general manager actually takes the job.

And the offer has been out in the world since last week. What, people are asking, is going on?

At least three key members of the station’s volunteer membership are concerned that the Board’s pick may be a stalking horse for a media operator that could potentially alter the direction of Firehouse Broadcasting.

Of course, these same people may be shrieking that the sky is falling.

No one knows yet.

In fact, no one knows if the Board’s choice will take the job. He hasn’t yet. And it is a he. And he is not Chad Carrothers.

One of the active vols with whom I spoke yesterday tells me the station’s last fund drive fell short of levels that had become the norm under former and would-be-future GM Carrothers. “Why wouldn’t you re-hire the guy that could bring in money?” this vol wondered.

Carrothers made enemies with his brusque — some would say insensitive, bordering on insulting — style. CC may not have had the mien of a maître d’ but he sure plotted out a path for the station and he raked in the cash for it.

maitre d

May I Lead You To Your Radio Station?

Many insiders believe the Board wanted somebody with Carrothers’ track record and abilities sans the rough edges. The third finalist for the GM position was a veteran fundraiser for non-profits. But, according to my sources, she wasn’t a radio person.

The Board’s choice was indeed a radio person. A TV person, too. He’d operated media outlets out west.

My sources tell me an alarming number of those stations went belly up, or darned near close to it, after he took over. Even more alarming, according to these sources, on several occasions a Christian broadcasting operator swooped in with ready cash and saved the day for the stations.

Broadcasting Tower

The Looming Tower?

Before he was named the nominee, this finalist was asked about his history in public meet-the-candidates forums. The vols I spoke with all agreed: He oiled his way out of actually answering pointed questions.

I don’t know yet how the Board vote shook out. “Who,” one of my sources asked, “would want this guy in there?”

I echoed the query: Who?

My source shrugged. Then this source mentioned the name of State Representative (and IU Telecommunications Dept. lecturer) Matt Pierce .

Me: How do you know?

My source shrugged again.

So, is all this a lot of made-up scariness? Hard to say. All I know is, people are talking.

Radio, Radio

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