Columnist Calls A Truce With Radio Ranch

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This is about KMOG, our one and only local radio station. I've poked a lot of fun at the Radio Ranch in this space, mostly for its country-western music format. And I still end my prayers each night with this plea: "God, please do what you can about changing that God-awful (no offense) format. Please God, please."

And then there's the competitive thing. As the only two news outlets in the Rim country, KMOG and the Roundup/Rim Review are rivals of sorts, although more often than not, the news heard on KMOG is read directly out of the pages of the Roundup.

Since I arrive at Payson Town Council meetings at the last possible moment, I always find myself bookended at the media table by Dan Haapala and Don Holcombe the balding boys of KMOG. I haven't figured out if they don't like each other much, or if grabbing the seats at either end of the table is some kind of control thing.

I do know this. One day before I die, I am going to show up early and get one of their end seats.

Anyway, whenever a council member says something like, "Despite what you read in the Roundup ...," the two baldies will turn simultaneously to me with matching smirks. I'm pretty sure they sit out in the parking lot and practice before each meeting, because they do this absolutely in synch.

But I have come to this column today not to bury KMOG, but to offer an olive branch. Because in all fairness, they do a pretty good job at what they do.

The Rim country is fortunate to have a newspaper and a radio station of the caliber of these two. And despite all the potshots we take at each other, I believe I can speak for the Boys H in saying that as professionals, we have at least a minimal modicum of respect for each other.

Besides Holcombe recently let fellow Rim Review columnist Mike Burkett and me come on his morning talk show and pretty much have our way.

It was the second time in my life that I have been on the radio the first being when I was about 10 and was the 500th person to walk into a new Walgreens in my hometown. I won a shiny new red bicycle and the local radio station that was doing a live remote from the grand opening put me on the air. I believe the extent of my remarks were my name, age, and "Sure," when asked if I was happy to have a new bicycle.

I didn't have much more to say on KMOG, because Burkett hogged about 97 percent of the airtime. But those of us who know and love him learned long ago that the Mike Burkett doll comes complete with foaming mouth.

Burkett claims he used to have a Sunday radio show in the Valley, which would account for the suspicious circumstances under which he was unceremoniously dumped in the Rim country one dark night and told never to return.

But I digress, and for good reason. Because if I am going to make peace with KMOG, I must come to grips with this country music thing.

Molly Ivins, one of my favorite writers, once wrote a hilarious column on how she finally learned to accept country music. After listing all the reasons to hate it it's uncool, politically incorrect, sexist, and its major themes are all too often, "momma, trucks, trains and prison" Ivins concludes that it nevertheless touches life in ways no other music does.

What, she asks, do people care about? Not arms control or monetary policy.

"Hell, no. What they care about most is love ('We Used to Kiss Each Other on the Lips, but Now It's All Over'). Betrayal ('Your Cheatin' Heart'). Revenge ('I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home'). Death ('Wreck on the Highway'). Booze ('She's Actin' Single, I'm Drinkin' Doubles'). Money ('If You've Got the Money, Honey, I've Got the Time'). Loneliness ('Hello, Walls'). Tragedy-love songs ('She Used My Tears To Wash Her Socks').

If one week, as I did last week, I can extol the virtues of cowboy poetry because it touches the common man, then surely the next I can at least grant Ivins her point.

I had a friend in college a music major who said he liked all kinds of music but country, and that he felt bad because he had never really given it a chance.

In that spirit, I have decided to set my clock radio to KMOG and give it a chance. If you want to dedicate "Kiss This" to me, boys, I get up at 5:50 a.m.

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