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The Zeitgeist Beat!

It’s the time of year when we look back over the past. I’ve taken the longer view: my “life and times” are stuffed into this new book, The Zeitgeist Beat. It’s an immodest tale about how I figured out what to do for a living and wound up among amazing people, places and things…embedded with…

The Park — ‘Weekend Woodstocks’ in NW Ohio Cornfield

•  If you build it, they will come: Allman Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, Canned Heat, Chuck Berry, Edgar Winter, Alice Cooper •  When Woodstock Nation annexed North Baltimore, Ohio •  Was it all just a front for laundering pot dealers’ money? I’ll never tell The idea started as a pipe dream, probably. A handful…

What’s Left of the Dial

•  Lies and the lying liars who launched Air America •  The slow-motion train wreck that was supposed to take down Rush Limbaugh •  You can call me Al and Rachel and Marc’s radio colleague once upon a time They were among the luckiest documentary filmmakers ever. “Left of the Dial,” was a documentary that…

Thwarted

• You can’t always get the story you want •  Clapton, Jackson and Orbison: off-limits •  Once, twice, three times a loser One of the best rock shows ever filmed was underway and I couldn’t talk my way past the bouncers at the stage door. I had tried, since landing in L.A., to get a…

In the 1990’s, when I was covering entertainment news for CNN’s Showbiz Today, I was sent to Toronto, where the Stones were in rehearsal for their Bridges to Babylon tour. They had taken over an old Masonic temple with a rehearsal space the size of a large basketball court, offices, a mess hall, and interview…

Sex and the Single Reporter

•  Why don’t we do it on the road? •  Yes, I’m going to go there •  From the sacred to the profane and everywhere in between . . . the sheets I was interviewing Leonard Cohen in the studio at CNN’s New York bureau. It was around 1993. He was a personal favorite; I…

RSNN: The Rolling Stones News Network

•  ABC’s Reporter on the Road…..doesn’t go on forever •  Mick and Keith to the rescue. They keep me from going on the dole, mate •  All the news that’s fit to print – or say – about the Steel Wheels tour As the Eighties drew to a close, so did my days as ABC…

Hockey News

• WHA? As a PA announcer in the World Hockey Association, my safety was in question • D’oh! The Stanley Cup-clinching overtime goal this reporter missed • All the news that fits: covering college hockey for the NY Times People who have trouble ice skating sometimes say, “My ankles are weak.” Mine weren’t, despite the…

Hockey Celebrities

• I got mugged by the Hanson brothers from “Slapshot” • Hung out with Gretzky, Messier, Huddy and Lowe at their Edmonton bar • Scored on an assist from Rod Gilbert. Honest Any reporter worth their salt gets amped up covering the stories that bring them in contact with some of their personal favorite subjects.…

Celebrity Hockey

• The ultimate sports fantasy camp: you play in a televised game against the ’74 and ’75 Stanley Cup champions. • What would you pay to spend a weekend treated like an NHL player? But wait – there’s more! • See how Dave “Full House” Coulier, Cameron “Beverly Hills 90102” Bancroft and I combined for…

George Clooney

George Clooney heard me on the radio when he was in high school. Years later, he puked behind my back.

Flown But Not Forgotten

• Charlie Watts’ side hustle . . .and true love. I’ve got lots of pictures of me and various Rolling Stones. Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Bill. Not a single one of me and Charlie. The drummer was seldom involved – and reluctant when arm-twisted – in the massive pre-tour hype machine which cranked up every time…

Thwarted

• You can’t always get the story you want •  Clapton, Jackson and Orbison: off-limits •  Once, twice, three times a loser One of the best rock shows ever filmed was underway and I couldn’t talk my way past the bouncers at the stage door. I had tried, since landing in L.A., to get a…

Monday Night Football, Dec. 8, 1980

I think it’s worth noting that in 1980, what we called the counterculture had only been around for about 15 years. So breaking into a Monday Night Football game with the news of the murder of John Lennon was actually a debatable decision. Hear Howard Cosell lose the off-air debate to “Dandy Don” Meredith, and…

Rock it, WMET News!

•  Uriah Heep, John Belushi, the exploding lunch trick and Jesse Helms across ‘Americaland’ •  A relic from another era: a petrified noon newscast •  A private company launching a rocket into space? Never happen! Way, way down at the dusty bottom of that milk crate was the last cassette. Krapp’s Last Tape?  No, just…

How Bogus Were the ’89 Grammys?

•  It was the first year with a Rap category and a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal one, too            •  So, how did that go? •  The struggle for Grammy relevance was real . . and still is Evil Duke: Put them in the iron maiden. Ted: Iron Maiden? Bill & Ted: Excellent! [air guitar] Evil Duke:…

Superspreader: Spring Break

•  Cramming thousands of kids together on a Florida beach used to be a good idea         •  “Where the Boys Are” in 1989 •  Rick Nielsen is blasé about half-naked ragers In a post-Covid world, one imagines, an annual ritual such as spring break on America’s beaches will be revived safely . . . if…

R.I.P. Conventions

•  Hear, hear! . . how dull things were – already – 40 years ago •  The pandemic’s silver lining: shrunken presidential nominating pageants •  In 1980, everybody must have gotten stoned Summertime, every four years. The speeches, the balloon drops, the protests. The boredom. National presidential nominating conventions can’t die soon enough. I could…

Almost Famous in Toronto

• Talking hockey over dinner with Kate Hudson •  I ❤️ Toronto •  Watching hockey in enemy territory I’ve spent time in five of Canada’s big cities. Toronto is my favorite (although I’ve yet to visit Vancouver). My first visit was to attend a game in the first Canada Cup series in 1976. Then in…

Barefoot in the Park

Newly-found negatives from a positive summer concert site “More Park photographs, Mom!” Canned Heat, Edgar Winter, John McLaughlin The story of how I spent my summer vacation in 1972 can be seen here, in “The Park — ‘Weekend Woodstocks’ in NW Ohio Cornfield.” And, a couple more photos in “I Shutter to Think.” I was…

Oye Cómo Va, Carlos?

•  From Woodstock to the Waldorf, I’ve been in Carlos’ fan club •  His Hall of Fame Induction •  Tea time in the lobby By the time I got to Woodstock in August of 1969, all I knew about Santana was a nugget picked up in some alternative music paper: the band was managed by…

Country According to Al Green

•  Lyle Lovett and the Reverend Al went down old town road decades ago •  Wasn’t hard to get Green to sing in a Grammy interview •  Funny how time slips away This post is “dedicated” to Bob Mugge for making a film that boosted my appreciation of the soul legend Al Green. My longtime…

Ten for Two

• A documentary that takes me back 49 years • When protest was patriotic . . even then • Sounds like an ESPN 30 for 30: US vs. John Lennon During the height of the Covid 19 lockdown, when every night brought a new adventure in streaming entertainment, I came across a documentary released in…

SXSW

•  Austin’s annual music festival makes for a pretty routine CNN piece •  The biggest name to interview there was Matthew Sweet. But that’s the point *  At least I survived another visit to Texas without being hauled into court Me & Texas just haven’t always gotten along. There was that time a sneaky prosecutor…

A Beach Boy’s Life

•  Not an ideal time to interview an idol of mine •   Under the spell of a quack, Brian Wilson visits CNN •   This piece was no fun . . fun . . fun It’s most unfortunate for me that the two times I was in the close presence of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson,…

An Iowa State Update

• That’s my Dad • He was a major influence • Drummed a lot into me They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.So may I introduce to youThe act you’ve known for all these years,Arthur Scheerer’s Iowa College Band. I was lucky to go to the 50th…

I Am NOT Touching Your Tape Recorder!!

•  I snapped. Had a near-meltdown at the Grammy Awards *  Outtakes: How radio reporters make sausage, revealed •  YANC explained I don’t often lose my temper and yell. I’ll get mad, alright. But sarcasm and passive-aggressive remarks under my breath are my more likely relief valves. Only one girlfriend and my ex-wife figured out…

Playing Hockey for Lou Dobbs

•  I was a lefty shot on a right-winger’s squad •  Caught on a live mic: one pissed-off teammate •  I doubt we played a conservative style of hockey Lou Dobbs is an anchor on the Fox Business Channel, and – as I write this – a staunch defender of, apologist for, and unofficial advisor…

Assignment: Garfunkel

•  Now it can be shown: Art Garfunkel bails on an interview •  He opened up to the NY Times, then shut down at CNN •  I didn’t set out to ruin his day I wrote about Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon’s erstwhile partner, a year ago January in a piece about unpleasant experiences I had…

Not On Walden Pond

•  A transcendental television moment with the Eagles’ Don Henley •  The difficulty of making a green new deal with a determined developer. •   Sour grapes about no Concord stand-up I can’t possibly complain about a career that took me around the world, let me meet and talk to fascinating people and rewarded me handsomely.…

The Kent State Effect

•  How the May 4th, 1970 events changed my life and shaped my career • If you’re not part of the solution . . •  Overcoming shyness with the trial-by-fire method On a chilly day in early May, 50 years ago, I either got a phone call at my off-campus house – or heard on…

Happy Birthday, Barbra

•  Why she found Grammy world friendlier than Oscar land. •  The Prince of Tides junket revisited. Can you spot the error? •  Shooting her “through the grease.” I lumped Barbra Streisand into a category of diva, along with Beyoncè, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and the Spice Girls in a blog…

Elvis had the Flu

•  But a 1994 interview went forward anyway •  Brutal Youth, boxed sets and bootlegs •  You’ve heard the story, now see the video In a blog post here last year, I told the story of what a trouper Elvis Costello was when he showed up for an interview with a temperature over 100 and…

I Shutter to Think

•  What if I’d become a photographer? •  In college, the shutter bug bit me •  The professor who set me straight “Mr. Scheerer has done it again,” said the professor. “His idea is worthy. His execution leaves something to be desired.” It was the spring of 1969, in a J-school classroom at Bowling Green…

New York Locked Down

•  The Siege (1998) presaged 9/11. •  One of its writers has a new novel due out that predicts a pandemic and quarantine •  How life imitates art . . and can make prophets out of artists The Siege was a box office bomb, if you’ll pardon the expression. But — as one of its…

It’s a Wrap

•  No, not this blog. My career, pretty much •  How it sputtered, as journalism atrophied and news organizations crumbled beneath me •   Few photos here . . I wasn’t around some of these places long enough The first media outlet to shut down and leave me (and other newsies) out of work was Air…

Missing a Role Model

•  Danny Schechter, the News Dissector •  In 1973, I wanted to work for him. In 1997, I focused CNN on him •  In 2020, I miss him I was driving a cab in Boston in 1973, after my first taste of doing radio news in Toledo, Ohio, ended abruptly. I listened to WBCN-FM, as…

Throwing the Book at Woody Allen

•  Two months of soap opera in a ‘90s Manhattan courtroom • A thicket of therapists weighed in on the most intimate details of the tabloid couple • A wacky trial gave way to a Waco siege I don’t know if Woody Allen molested his 7-year-old daughter. You’d think I might have some idea.  I…

R.E.M.embered

•  This one goes out to the band I love •   My date for an early R.E.M. concert has a Rapid Evaluation Mishap •   I finally get to interview them . . after they lose their drummer The first time I saw R.E.M. perform live, my date pronounced them D.O.A. My arrival at network radio…

Insta(matic)gram

• Random photos cluttering my desktop • Some seen elsewhere but never on this blog . . until now! • Some worthy of the Hall of Shameless Posing, some not Some will say I have a big head. Hell, I will say that. At least if we’re talking in terms of physical size. I thought…

Do You Believe?

•  Can you believe it was 40 years ago? •  Revisit The Miracle on Ice this week •  Here’s a complimentary Miracle Media Guide I often claim I can turn anyone into a hockey fan by taking them to a college or pro game, sitting them in the right place – where they can see,…

Rare Slides: The Greatest

• New photos of Muhammad Ali unearthed, prompted by HBO documentary • Thrill to The Champ wolfing down his salad while I sit by, snapping photos • The Tale of the Table I can’t say enough about the HBO documentary, Ali & Cavett – The Tale of the Tapes. In the Sixties, The Champ and…

A Striking Baseball Story

•  40 years ago, ballplayers saw a strike coming without being tipped off •  Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt and Dallas Green talked to me about unemployment and gardening •  Come the World Series and I’m unemployed The drumbeat in the spring of 1980 – louder than a Houston Astro banging on a trash can –…

Thanks, Caption Obvious

• Like caption contests? So did ABC PR in the Eighties • Marketing Mark with Mild Snark • Try this at home! In every newsroom I ran, I would post random news photos or headlines of an odd nature and invite my fellow radio colleagues to contribute funny captions. So I was pleased and surprised…

What’s Left of the Dial

•  Lies and the lying liars who launched Air America •  You can call me Al and Rachel and Marc’s radio colleague once upon a time •  The slow-motion train wreck that was supposed to take down Rush Limbaugh They were among the luckiest documentary filmmakers ever. The photos and clips in this post are…

Rock On Radio

• From Christian Rock to Porn Rock . . . whatever that is. • Radio News: Little podcasts sent wirelessly to your AM-FM device. • Ozzy Osbourne, Blackie Lawless, Stryper, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee and Yoko Ono One thing I liked a lot about my broadcast career was that I spent a lot of…

Whitney Houston, Rock Star?

• Maybe if by “rock” you mean something else entirely • In a 1998 interview, the heat was on • A gorgeous visage . . . revealing what? This is not about Whitney Houston’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It’s just triggered by it; it reminded me I have a CNN…

The Color of Memory

• Remembering Pete Seeger and Aretha Franklin •  Sometimes memories come in a color •  They come flooding back with the passing of people I was fortunate to meet When Pete Seeger died in 2014 and Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018, I hadn’t yet created this blog. On those sad days I put down…

Back in the USSR

•  Fresh new evidence shows the Billy Joel trip was no Russia hoax. •  Good Morning America introduces a new – and “special” – correspondent •  Some really awful music, through some really awful transmissions When I wrote about The Piano, Man, in Russia last year, the blog post was mostly words and photos; just…

More Q and A

• Interviewing myself again? (I’m an easy “get”) •  The first time I did a Q & A with myself, I was rattled by the tough line of questioning. •  I’ll try to do better this time. The following has been edited for clarity and brevity. Mark, was there ever a story that you’ve completely…

Shadow and Light: Marty Scorsese

•  The Irishman and the Dalai Lama – the director’s dualism •  Talking peace and love with the guy who brought us Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino •  In 1997, Hollywood and China were engaged in a moral trade war If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman, you know he’s still at the…

Joe Pesci, Pop Singer

Mob guys don’t “sing” – but Cousin Vinny did “The Irishman’s” standout performer – or one of them – releases an LP He’s funny. “I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?” I was concerned Joe Pesci might shoot me in the foot. He was making a record store appearance…

40 Years Ago: the Who Tragedy in Cincinnati

•  How we covered it in Philadelphia, where the promoters of the concert were based •  The coincidental involvement of Harvey Weinstein . . yes, that Harvey Weinstein •   A week later, the Who played Philly; I talked to Roger Daltrey about the horror It was probably the biggest – and saddest – news story…

Badgering a Beatle

•  Was I too hard on George Harrison in a 1987 Good Morning America interview? •  He didn’t have to invite Paul McCartney onto Cloud Nine . . but I had to ask about it •  Watch him give me the stink-eye I’ve told the stories of my Beatles encounters already, but I recently unearthed…

Off to College with Dad – and Mic

• I went to my father’s 50th college reunion . . . and stuck my mic in everybody’s business. • College life in 1934 compared to 1984 • Lionel Richie and gin & tonics vs. prohibition bootleg booze My dad was born and raised on a farm outside of Ft. Dodge, Iowa. (That’s me above,…

What the Hell is Interactive Music?

•  Predicting the future . . . and getting it wrong •  How’s your home CD maker deck performing? •  The drawbacks of analog crystal balls In the early 1990s the music industry was on the verge of an existential crisis. And not everybody knew it. Analog recording had given way to digital and while…

Deconstructing the News Conference

•  32 years ago, news conferences were different. Or not •  You can tell it’s 1987 by the big hair •  Alert: This is a thumb-sucker. A think-piece. Deep, very deep In 1987, an executive producer at CNN was frequently calling in ABC Radio News’ Reporter-on-the-Road (me) to hold forth on TV about such matters…

Sex and the Single Reporter

•  Why don’t we do it on the road? •  Yes, I’m going to go there •  From the sacred to the profane and everywhere in between . . . the sheets I was interviewing Leonard Cohen in the studio at CNN’s New York bureau. It was around 1993. He was a personal favorite; I…

Courtside with P. Diddy and MJ

•  Ballers, shot callers and boldface names •  A field study in celebrity culture •  Finally, something not about hockey The last time I really cared about NBA basketball was probably the day Michael Jordan retired for good. It’s not my favorite sport (can you guess which is?) although I do enjoy the March madness…

The Park — ‘Weekend Woodstocks’ in NW Ohio Cornfield

•  If you build it, they will come: Allman Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, Canned Heat, Chuck Berry, Edgar Winter, Alice Cooper •  When Woodstock Nation annexed North Baltimore, Ohio •  Was it all just a front for laundering pot dealers’ money? I’ll never tell The idea started as a pipe dream, probably. A handful…

Straight Up – Mondays on UHF Ch. 30

•  Watch! As Seals and Crofts and I bore a very small audience to death in 1974 •  Took 13 years before anybody would let me on TV again •  The gatekeepers of Public Television must have been stoned that week This is the 60th post on this blog since I began chronicling the professional…

The Greatest

• My lunch with Muhammad Ali • He ate, I took his picture. • Call me crazy, but. . .that’s what Ali did in 1996 I get the question sometimes: “Who was the first famous person you interviewed?” Or, “Who was the most famous person you interviewed?” They were one and the same: Muhammad Ali.…

The Jump to the Major Leagues – Pt. 1

Evel Knievel, Jerry Springer, Larry Flynt, Pete Rose… A lost episode of Celebrity Big Brother? No, just some of the people who crossed my path at (Not) WKRP in Cincinnati. A two-parter set in the Queen City.

Purple Woody Hayes

In 1978, Ohio State and Clemsen met each other in the Gator Bowl and Jimi Hendrix immortalized it in song. Sort of. A 20-second audio flashback:

Sun Ra – I Invaded His Space

•  Space is the Place. So was a rooftop in West Philly •  An Introduction to filmmaking in the 1970’s. •  Behind the scenes of Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise Picking up a part-time gig here and there was a part of my budding career in radio in the 1970’s. The pay for newscasters at…

How About That?

I grew up a NY Yankees fan, listening to the great Mel Allen call the games in which my first sports hero, Mickey Mantle, starred. In the 1980s, a friend, Bill Gubbins, hired Allen to do some voice work on a media project. He asked Mel to record an answering machine message for me and…

Why, You’re Welcome, Ms. Chambers, Mr. Rodgers

•  Miss Manners was no stranger to Marilyn and Paul •  You’ve heard about it – now you can hear it. The naked radio interview, last aired in 1981 •  For some reason, my posts about Marilyn Chambers get a lot of clicks It occurred to me today that, as far as I can recall,…

Lebanon

One of my first assignments as Reporter on the Road for ABC Radio News found me in Beirut, Lebanon, which was embroiled in civil war in 1983. As I was tasked to “go anywhere anything of interest to young people” was happening, it was pointed out by my editors that US Marines were, of course,…

Live Aid

The film “Bohemian Rhapsody” does a great job of re-creating Queen’s performance at Live Aid. I try to re-create my backstage – and onstage – experiences on that weekend.

Ethiopia

A couple of months after Live Aid and We Are the World, an opportunity arose to see firsthand what some of the money raised by the benefit concert and charity song was actually doing for the people afflicted by the drought and famine in Africa.

The Things I Carried

• Listen up you whippersnappers! When I was your age, I had to haul around a lot of crap • There was heavy lifting in radio news • Where was the digital age when I needed it? One of the reasons I started blogging about my broadcasting career was because my three nephews, all “digital…

Sudan

If a plane carrying Harry Belafonte and me disappeared in a Western Darfur sandstorm, only one of us would make the headline. How that no-brainer was arrived at.

Rock in Rio – Yes, Ozzy, AC/DC, Go-Gos, Iron Maiden (and more!)

• Is it possible to have a crappy time at a rock concert in Rio de Janiero? • We go Flying Down to Rio. . . but forget about that Girl From Ipanema • Do you want some whine with that caipirinha? A newspaper comic strip popular with my journalist friends, called “Shoe” featured some…

Audio: 1984 NCAA Basketball Championship

Your ace sports reporter, Red Roughandsore, captures all the excitement of the Georgetown Hoyas’ first national title, beating Houston, 84-75, at the Kingdome in Seattle. Thrill as the seconds tick down. For one shining moment, I was Jim Nance. Listen here: (:33)

State of the Standups 1985 • Seinfeld, Leno, Wright, Lewis, Klein

Weird Al Yankovic was promoting one of his Michael Jackson parodies. I guess I thought I’d do a lame Jackson impersonation. (I had nothing on my face but a stupid look.) Anyway, Weird Al’s not in this blog post. Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis and Robert Klein are, but I didn’t have…

Odds and Sods – Brian Wilson, Biggie Smalls, Oasis, Bob Dylan

• These are a few of my favorite things. . . that happened while interviewing celebs • Notorious B.I.G. almost ruins an interview with his eyes closed • The guy from Fountains of Wayne versus the guy from Wayne, N.J. Brian Wilson was still under the spell of a weird therapist, Eugene Landy, and extremely…

Unconventional Coverage

• Presidential nominating conventions aren’t what they used to be: interesting •  They used to let long-haired freaks walk right up to the podium and place a collect call •  What it was like covering that big Brian Wilson story no one can forget at the ’84 Dallas Republican confab • In the heat of…

1st Airborne Rock and Roll Division

•  Ever seen US Marines slam-dancing? •  Not exactly “3 Days of Peace and Music” • Cheap Trick, Kansas, Doobie Brothers, for the boys They used to send Bob Hope to entertain the troops. Or Playboy playmates (both in fiction – “Apocalypse Now” – and in reality — Playmate of the Year Jo Collins visited…