By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
Maybe it worked better on radio: Today, everyone visiting KMBZ 980's Web site -- a group made up mostly of mouthbreathers, Minutemen and anyone interested in using this century's technology to access last century'spolitical thinking -- is confronted with this catchy headline command: "Spell 'Participate.'"
That's not hard to do when the word's printed right there in front of me.
You know who could do it without the leg-up? Twelve year-old Morgan Brown, whose touching tale of Scripps National Spelling Bee denial and, this morning, acceptance captured the hearts, pages and on-air minutes of our media professionals. Unable to resist a story combining the white-hot topics of spelling and participation, the Star gives it both a hard-hitting Mike Hendricks column as well as an above-the-fold page-one headline, much more prominent than who-cares? bullshit like "Iraqi Forces Attack Militia." Iraqi forces? That's your news, old man!
Walk a Mile in My Fox: For My News, I turn to myfoxkc.com, which I link to with this caveat: your myfoxkc.com will likely look entirely different than mine. Like snowflakes and fingerprints, like the prophet Ezekial's conception of God or that creepy swamp cave in The Empire Strikes Back, every individual's myfoxkc is wholly unique and entirely relative. I can't link directly to mine, but I can tell you this much: there, reporters report news, and everyone's in any goddamn spelling bee they want to be in.
And this guy is mayor.
What's Red, White, and Black all over? According to this piece in The New Yorker abloody newspaper! Like all of them, apparently, including your Kansas City Star, which today was so thin I used it to bookmark my place in the Sunday Times.
Local media's three point plan to save print:
1. More stories about spelling bees.
2. More hard-hitting Mike Hendricks columns about spelling bees.
3. Make every newspaper My Newspaper.
Not on the agenda: re-investing in serious reporting and arts coverage until the daily paper is so vital to the cultural life of the city that nobody could imagine living without it.
Holy Shit! That Little Girl's Back in the Spelling Bee! That's according to KMBZ's morning news program, and then the Darla Jaye show, all on My 980 AM. My favorite thing about my 980 is the way they play those old-school sound-effects in the commercials. When they advertise Darla's podcast, for example, they play this dial-up phone noise, which signals clearly to me that they're talking about the Internet. When Darla starts the show, they play Lenny Kravitz's "American Woman," which alerts me to the facts that a) she's American, b) she's a woman, and c) that she'd better get away from Lenny Kravitz.
Sometimes, during promos for Shanin and Parks show, KMBZ even uses the record-scratch sound effect. Like this: the announcer will make some grand claim about Shanin and Parks' significance, and then the record will scratch, and the announcer will be like, "Yeah, right!" and then everybody starts laughing. This signals to me that Shanin and Parks don't know about CDs or iPods, but they do know that their show is retarded.
Other old-school sound effects KMBZ could use:
Effect: Astro the dog saying "Ruh Roh"
Situation: A caller's implied racist bullshit suddenly becomes explicit racist bullshit.
Effect: A springy, boneriffic b-o-i-n-g
Situation: Mike Shanin mentions Ronald Reagan
Effect: Puckered lips making a long, slow, spit-flecked sucking noise
Situation: An on-air personality shares his or her success on Slim For Life
That's All: But we must pay brief tribute to My Chris Packham, who has for months now, made Daily Briefs the Internet's only source of humor.