By Ken Krayeske • 10:50 AM EST
A regular installment in the Continuing Saga of Morning Radio in America's 28th or so largest media market - New Haven/Hartford.
So, in our last adventure, Chaz and AJ put a halt to my fledgling career as a progressive morning radio commentator.
But I didn't stop listening to PLR - I have it programmed onto button 3 in my car. 99.1 is mid-spectrum on the FM dial, not around many other listenable stations. So it has a spot on my rotation.
Once in while they play a good tune that still has some listenability, some life and spark left in it, otherwise, I'm comfortably numb from hearing comfortably numb. The Wall contains a dozen other great songs, like Nobody's Home: "I got a little black book with my poems in it, a bag with a suitcase and a comb, when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone."
Whatever, I'm done beating PLR's dead horse playlist.
This one August morning, Tuesday, August 19, I took off from work to head down the beach with friends, get in a good day at the beach before school started. I'm sitting a drug store parking lot waiting for a friend who ran in for something, flipping stations, and I hear Gov. M. Jodi Rell's voice.
Gov. Rell deigns to grace them with her presence regularly. They don't ask hard questions, and she's a morning show maven. Check out Andy Bromage's reporting in the Advocate about how Grandma Rell studiously (if anything she does can be considered studious) avoids WNPR's John Dankoski and his hour-long interview-call in format, Where We Live.
I happily identify as "Ken from Hartford" when I call Where We Live on 90.5 when it's on daily between 9 and 10 a.m. Dankoski deftly handles callers, directing their inquiries right to usually interesting guests, and he treats me no differently.
WNPR is button number one, but I can't stomach Where We Live, the 8 am to 9 am trash that passes for balanced news. It's nationally produced, and it tries to come off as progressive, but it is bad enough to wear the moniker National Pentagon Radio, or, National Petroleum Radio.
And Tuesday mornings on WWUH, 91.3 FM (button 2) is a Celtic show I'm not so into. Once in a while I can handle it, but it's not my favorite on UH's morning lineup, like Wednesday's "Caterwaul" folk rock with Ed McKeon or Thursday's "Pine Grove Blues" Zydeco show with River City Slim.
So this morning, this gorgeous August morning, I'm surfing car tuner buttons, trying to avoid commercials and other assorted stupidity in search of good groves, and I hear Governor Rell's voice.
She's riffing with the crazy Chaz and AJ crew first about Frosted Flakes-news: Shelton Little League's heartwarming run through the kiddie world series, and Gov. Rell was going to use her executive power decisively to make the next day the official "Shelton Little League Day" in Connecticut.
Then came the real reason for Rell's regular visit: she was pitching the sales tax holiday. Get out there and spend, and save money, because we won't tax you this week.
"You can save six percent sales tax on any item of clothing or footwear under $300," Rell said, sounding like an experienced radio pitchman. She gave examples, like a new suit, "which is what I'm looking for," she said.
She also said she considering taking another trip to another store and buying sneakers, too, because she walks two miles every morning. No one mentioned that she walks this in Brookfield, then gets in a state police cruiser and drives to Hartford to work.
For anyone who's paying attention to geography, the Governor's mansion is probably about two miles from the state capital, where she works. But what's a no-car day every day when you can auction off carbon credits and raise money off of pollution.
The state will soon be addicted to revenues from ass-end of the oil industry - smog. It's like sin taxes on alcohol - the state relies on our bad habits to stay alive. No wonder Democrats and Republicans don't want to hear alternative voices in debates.
We might suggest that a sales tax is a regressive tax affecting the poorest consumers. Instead, we get Governor Rell pulling her best post-9/11 W., giving us a sublime shopping is patriotic riff, and Chaz and AJ and crew can't seem to master the basics of a sales tax holiday.
And Chaz and AJ's team just can't seem to comprehend the nuances of the rule, that you can make multiple trips to multiple stores, or even the same store, to get the six percent break.
Rell was very patient, like a tarnished grandmother patronizing the not-too-bright Dennis-the-Menace next door about her garden, the one that blooms every year, like the sales tax holiday has done for the last nine years.
There in reality, in a CVS parking lot, taking a day off from work, thinking about media's role in our republican form of democracy, I wanted to call in and frame the discussion in terms of revenue mechanisms that sustain not just self-government, but more importantly direct behaviors towards the health of people and the planet.