Kultur: Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Full Disclosure: The Ticket
by Scott Boyter

Benbella Books
224 pps.
Bull Disclosure

The new Ticket book merely pays lip service to telling all.


Full disclosure: I listen to SportsRadio 1310-AM The Ticket quite a bit, which means Iím a P1, a.k.a. a devoted Tickethead. Iím also in the stationís coveted 25-to-54-year-old male demographic. Iíve been a guest on some of the shows and contributed to its Fax Fodder segment some years ago. And as announcer Greg Williams advised us so often, I never forget about the Pajamagram.
So I have an inherent interest in The Ticket: Full Disclosure, recently released in celebration of the stationís 15th anniversary. Written by Scott Boyter, editor of the Dallas-based Sports Page Weekly, Full Disclosure is being advertised as a tell-all book. Well, is it? Eh, not quite.
The book may have been written by Boyter, but Ticket corporate management, according to several sources, retained control of the content, leaving readers with just one long version of Arenít we all great over here at The Ticket and Look at how successful weíve become and Man, we are going to kick ass in every ratings book from here on out and so forth.
But you donít need anyone to tell you about The Ticketís control. Just look at how the book is being sold: You canít buy it online or at bookstores, only at Ticket events, including the stationís annual Tickestock, sort of a P1 cult party. To the station, Full Disclosure is really nothing but another marketing tool. But the way it is being sold begs a basic question: If this book is a marketing tool, why not get it in front of as many sports fan eyeballs as possible?
The first 80 pages give a bit of the history: how hard it was to get start-up financing, the obstacles faced in building an audience. This is all stuff the stationís hosts talk about every year around the Ticketís birthday.
From there the book gets into glowing profiles of the hosts, with, once again, not much in the way of revelation. The most popular on-air personalities ó morning hosts George Dunham, Junior Miller, and Gordon Keith, and afternoon drive-time host Mike Rhyner ó mostly offer just the usual blather about how the listener is so important to them. Nothing about how the Burrito Jimmy and the Overcusser bits went from ideas to funny radio.
Seriously, what about how Dunham got wasted with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in New Orleans one night, which helped Dunham get the public-address announcing job at Texas Stadium? What about Keithís getting arrested at Lambeau Field for stomping on the Green Bay Packersí ďGĒ logo at midfield? What about how idiotic players can be in the locker rooms? What about what Jones thinks of the stationís ostentatious ďFake JerryĒ character? Or what about ďFake Wade,Ē a parody of the Cowboys coach as a mentally fragile redneck? None of that is in the book.
We donít learn a single thing about what goes on behind the scenes at this station that has cult status among many of its listeners. All these talk show guys get to do what many men dream of, like going to the Super Bowl every year. They hint on the air about all the hijinks they come up with during Super Bowl week, but we donít get any of that here. The Ticket has had a feud with a Baltimore talk show guy for more than a decade, and it escalated this year into an actual brawl. Tampa police were called in. But nary a word is mentioned about the feud in the book. And Boyterís writing style steers the book away from those kinds of musings. The text is almost all quotes from the station hosts and management: Predictably, that doesnít provide a tell-all narrative.
Iím not saying there arenít some interesting parts in Full Disclosure. The profiles of hosts Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell are both good, giving readers a taste of what itís like to work your way up through the grueling small-market radio industry. (McDowell almost got fired at one station for referring to soft-rocker Neil Diamond as ďThe Jewish Elvis.Ē) Also, Greg Williams, who got canned from the stationís popular Hardline show for abusing drugs, chimes in, mostly going over territory thatís already been covered on-air but also pausing to add some insights. Even avid listeners might not know that at the beginning of the end, his relationships with his co-workers had deteriorated to the point of off-air shouting matches.
Clearly, Full Disclosure is meant to entice sports fans who arenít P1s but know enough about the station to be curious. But if the average non-believer isnít inspired enough to lean over and punch in 1310 on his AM dial, what makes Ticket honchos think heís going to drive all the way to Plano ó or wherever else subsequent Ticket events may be ó to plop down 25 bucks for a book?

Lotta Swans, No Angels
Every classical dance company aspires to have a decent Swan Lake in its repertory, and Texas Ballet Theater has one of the finest. The revival of artistic director Ben Stevensonís colorful production last week in Bass Performance Hall showed the company at its best.
Letitia Oliveira and Andre Silva, two of TBTís strongest dancers, performed the Swan Queen and Prince on opening night and were wonderfully engaging in the second- and fourth-act love duets. The athletic Black Swan variations in the third act were marvelous. She threw in a barrage of double and triple fouettes in the 32-turn variation, and he took off in spectacular aerial spirals and effortless leaps that brought gasps from the crowd. This was world-class dancing that would earn cheers at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.
The corps, too, revved things up a notch, dancing with energetic precision in the character dances and graceful unity in the swan ensembles. At some point, the 16 ballerina swansí arm movements will be more languid, but what is done now will tide us over.
Everything was in place for a memorable evening ó except a live orchestra to luxuriate in Tchaikovskyís popular score. TBT dropped the Fort Worth Symphony this season for a purely budgetary reason, a malaise thatís affecting a number of companies. Pittsburgh Ballet and Miami Ballet have both switched to recorded music. Miami, incidentally, also released eight dancers. The Atlanta Ballet went without an orchestra for two years, but the live orchestra has returned, courtesy of a $250,000 donation by two angels.
An angel in the form of the Garvey Foundation ponied up enough money for live music to accompany TBTís season opener in the fall, but no other offers have come along. Even the companyís Dallas opening at the new Winspear Opera House next season will have recorded music. Letís hope the sound system there is better than the one at Bass Hall. The strings sounded thin, and the full orchestra frequently came through as brassy.
Before, during, and after the performance, members of the local professional musciansí union were outside Bass Hall, handing out leaflets lamenting the orchestraís situation but offering no solutions. The handout says, ďTo pay for its fiscal irresponsibility, the ballet companyís board of directors decided to pick on professional musiciansĒ and other equally negative comments. In fact, the tone of the leaflet would seem to alienate the two groups instead of working toward bringing them together. ó Leonard Eureka

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