Squeezing the Love Sponge; Is iPhone the Killer App for Mobile Technology?
On the surface, he's the embodiment of much I oppose as a critic. Borderline mysoginist. Racially insensitive. Knuckleheaded and profane. When he was on free "terrestrial" radio, I wrote a story criticizing his recurring bit making fun a mentally challenged fan called "wake up a retard." for this, i earned the ultimate honor of being called an asshole on air by him.
But we also have a lot in common. We're both Indiana natives, who were kicking around the state at about the same time in the mid'80s. During my most recent visist to his well-appointed home Friday, we realized that we frequented the same clubs in Terre Haute, Ind. -- he as a patron and me as the drummer in a popular regional funk band -- and saw a lot of the same craziness.
So perhaps that explains why my story today on his upcoming wedding wasn't the kind of pointed criticism some might expect from me. Particularly since he's moved his act to satellite radio -- where adults who want to hear his shtick can pony up for the pleasure -- I've mellowed a little in my treatment of the Sponge, reasoning that an evenhanded view of his antics might serve readers better.
Already, I've taken a phone call from a reader complaining that the newspaper featured the story on its front page. One thing I've learned in my years as a reporter is to never turn down the opportunity to get your work on the front page -- but I also see today's Bubba story as a fun, celebrity tinged way to talk about a lot of stuff, from his year anniversary on satellite radio to the circus his wedding seems poised to bring to our town.
A few things we didn't have room for today:
Bubba spoke about a recent flap between he and producer Brent Hatley, in which a member of Bubba's crew interviewed Bubba' son Tyler and then edited his responses to make it sound as if he was being read an x-rated story live on air. The bit was apparently included on a CD release -- Bubba said he wasn't aware of it -- and when the bit aired on Bubba's show, he blew his top.
"Tyler's mom flipped out and I flipped out...Brent didn't think it was that big a deal, but he doesn't know what's its like to have children and to have...a baby's momma on the other side," Bubba said. "We've never had this much freedom, and it can be trial and error sometimes on what works."
-- Some fans are complaining about the criticism of satellite radio included in the story. But I think it's fairly obvious that the medium's current business structure requires the companies to spend too much money to get content and subscribers. And Sirius head Mel Karmazin wouldn't be making all the noises about a merger of the two companies if there wasn't a sense that some drastic change is needed. That said, it also seems obvious Bubba would chafe under the more restricted format of terrestrial radio, so it's hard to know how serious he is about talking with Cox radio.
-- Bubba claims to have video footage recorded from the moment Internet model Brooke Skye entered his Tampa studio that will exonerate him from the lawsuit she recently filed.
-- Bubba also claims there won't a be a bachelor party -- just a get-together at his favorite strip club with his buddies and their wives. "Howard said to me, 'I can't wait for your bachelor party,'" said Bubba. "My answer was: my whole 20s and 30s was a bachelor party. I don't need that now."
(By the way, if you have Sirius radio, check out Stern's Howard 100 News today for an interview I did on the Bubba story. I have no idea how badly they're going to make me look, but I hope they at least say my name right)
Is the iPhone the Killer App for Digital Media?
Because I'm so focused on TV, when I wrote about the future of media in 2007 for the business page yesterday, I focused mostly on that screen.
Bad move. Because the avalanche of publicity about Apple's iPhone today shows that this is the technology eveybody is talking about. Even I -- somebody who is moedrately tech-savvy but waited to get an iPod because of the price -- am considering an iPhone when it hits the market, because a PDA/cell phone/iPod is an awfully convenient combination.
As Matt Lauer suggested on the Today show this morning, Apple's advantage is that it makes technology cool. There may be other mobile devices which combine all these things in one unit but nobody makes it look at cool or user-friendly as Apple.
The key feature of the iPhone and the Apple TV product I wrote about Tuesday is navigation: both products promise to help consumers navigate the increasing amounty of personal media piling up on different platforms. IPhone synchs music, movies, email, web favorites and photos; Apple TV synchs with your iTunes library and allows you to watch video downloaded there on your TV (key stumbling block -- you can't watch video streamed on non-Apple web sites, at least according to the latest information).
At a time of exploding media choice, the company that helps you navigate it best will win. Microsoft, are you listening?
Wire Creator David Simon Coming to Eckerd College
"David Simon, a writer and producer for HBO's THE WIRE, will be at
Eckerd College for the 3rd Annual Writers in Paradise Conference, Jan. 20-28. A highlight of the conference is the series of free evening readings:
David Simon will be speaking on Thursday, Jan. 25 from 8:00-9:00 p.m.
in Miller Auditorium." The speech by Simon -- a former Baltimore Sun reporter who created The Wire and wrote the book on which the series Homicide: Life on the Street was based -- is free and is open to the public.
(as always, click on a photo to enlarge it)