Tag Archives: radio

Oscars: Take time to pray for all those in media who really need a prayer

February 24, 2012

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On the occasion of the Academy Awards this weekend, in its parish bulletin St. Therese in Deephaven offered this prayer for the media and entertainment industry:

“Father, in a world deafened by a cacophony of sounds, may all be able to hear your whispering voice. We ask this for all who work in media, the press, radio, television, the internet. May they cherish truth more strongly than their own prejudices and personal agendas. May they present truth in a way that will enlighten hearts rather than inflame passions and conflicts.

“We pray for the artists and musicians of the world. May they utilize their talents to give you glory and in the process receive the recognition that they deserve. May they expose the horror and error of sin and the beauty and truth of virtue. We ask this, Father, in the name of your Son, our divine Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who lives and reigns gently with you, and the Holy Spirit, one loving God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Tommy James tells a rockin’ story about his life in rock ‘n’ roll

January 15, 2011

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As you’ve bounced up and down on the dance floor at your cousin’s wedding, admit it, you’ve always wondered who was “Mony,” the inspiration behind the monster rock ‘n’ roll classic that gets even Uncle Clem to loosen his inhibitions and boogie down.

Tommy James  lets us all in on the secret in “Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells.”

This may be the best semi-autobiography I’ve ever read. It’s a page-turner right from the start, close to drama, overbrimming with nostalgia for boomers.  Writer Martin Fitzpatrick has crafted taped interviews with the hit-making guitar player into a 225-page Scribner hardback that reads as if Tommy James is sitting in your living room telling you about his life.

How so many of the Shondells’ hits came to be and how they came to climb the charts pulled me back to those heady days of the sixties and seventies when I first heard “Hanky Panky” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” pouring out of the radio. If you were a teenager then, I’ll bet you still know all the lyrics.

Backstage in the music industry

But as interesting as the making of the songs are, it’s the back story of the music business that adds a fullness to the story of this kid from Niles, Mich., whose songs got played every 20 minutes on Top 40 radio.

New York mob connected Roulette Records and its president Morris Levy share the Tommy James story right from the start, and it maybe because the principals are dead — some violently — that James can publish this tell-all.

James himself is probably lucky to be alive, lucky the mob didn’t turn on him but even more fortunate the pills and alcohol life of a rocker didn’t kill him as it did his contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

In those No. 1-record years, James admits to doing everything but what is expected of the Christian he eventually becomes. The drugs, the booze and jumping into bed with whomever was convenient play no small part in two divorces.

James credits the Betty Ford Clinic with sobering him up, and says it was there that he turned back to Christianity.

It makes for a feel-good ending, but then feel-good songs by Tommy James and the Shondells have pumped life into dance floors everywhere for more than 40 years now. — bz

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Catholics ought to be up in arms about anti-Catholic ‘humor’ on National Public Radio

December 19, 2010

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“This American Life” is one of the very best radio programs in the country, but the past week the producers of the show from Chicago’s public radio outlet let down a good portion of their audience by allowing a “comedian” to make fun of Catholics and the practice of their faith.

I frankly couldn’t believe what was coming out of my car radio as I drove from store to store doing Christmas shopping. I’m posting the link here because I think others need to know what this is all about:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/422/comedians-of-christmas-comedy-special. It’s Act Three: The Little Altar Boy” by Mike Birbiglia that triggered my calling Minnesota Public Radio to express my indignation that it would allow such bias on its station.

I kept asking myself, doesn’t anyone at “This American Life” have the brains — or the sensitivity — to know how offensive Birbiglia’s piece was to Catholics? 

I expect so much better from public radio. I expect public radio will be the standardbearer against prejudice of all kinds. And then it allowed someone to use its very valuable, “public” air time to make fun of the faith and the religious practices of millions? Intellectually, how does that make sense? I wondered, was the crew laughing along with Mr. Birbiglia, or did anyone in authority anywhere along the way ask themselves, “Are Catholics going to find this not only distasteful but an attack on their beliefs?” They should have.

 As soon as Birbiglia uttered the words, “Christ has lied …,” the little bell should have gone off in the heads of someone, if not at “This American Life,” if not at WBEZ, then certainly at MPR. If someone in any of those public radio offices had the ethics that I equate with public radio they would have pulled the plug on Birbiglia’s mic or on the syndicated feed and apologized to the 70 million Catholics in this country.

 Frankly, Birbiglia’s stuff wasn’t even funny. The jokes by the third graders that were aired early in that show were better than the childish garbage Mr. Birbiglia presented as humor. It’s really too bad he didn’t have the creativity of the third graders.

 Here’s to hoping everyone at public radio rises above the anti-religion, anti-Catholic gutter in the future. If you agree, why not let them know. — Bob Zyskowski

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