Up and Down the Rock

Up and Down the Rock

By Phil Pash

The Mouse That Roared: Before we get too far away from the Oct. 30 edition of The Rock River Times, I would like to share a few thoughts.

It was 60 pages broken into two sections. That’s the most pages we ever have published in one issue, and the first time there has been a two-section newspaper.

You also saw that it contained a ton of election ads. That says we have a lot of creditability; otherwise why would so many people seeking office—even ones we did not support—advertise with us? Did you think they would spend their advertising dollars in a publication that wasn’t read?

They’d be fools if they did.

So, we are the little mouse that roared. We do outrageous things—like offer free classified advertising in a weekly paper that is free. We offer an eclectic mix and stick our noses in places where others don’t. But we have fiercely loyal readers who do a lot of word-of-mouth advertising for us. You will find a wide range of topics in our pages, more far-ranging than anyone else is offering you.

We’re definitely small; you can read almost the entire employee roster on Page 3 every week.

But the best part is that we are locally owned and operated in a market that is overrun with media companies who have their roots elsewhere. I mean all media companies—newspapers, TV and radio. At the close of business on Friday, we don’t ship off any profits to another state.

When I came on board Jan. 1, Frank Schier —owner, publisher, editor and chief bottle washer—told me, “We’ll get better.” So far, he has proven to be correct. I know I’m not disappointed. I don’t think you can be, either.

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I’ll Have Waffles: Did Chris Bowman do an about-face on the jail referendum or what? Early on, he seemed to be against it. But in the waning days, the WNTA radio talk show host seemed to be leading the charge for it.

He was either won over by the bleeding-heart Ken DeCoster after DeCoster toured the jail, or just maybe his WNTA bosses told him to tone it down. I did not call WNTA to check this out, but I heard from a reliable source that the WNTA power structure contributed some fair-sized dollars to the advertising campaign in favor of getting the jail referendum passed.

Chris, of course, knows this newspaper will give him space to deny or confirm.

This, more than likely, kills my chances of ever being on Chris’ show or WNTA again, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I’m not real crazy about WNTA, anyway.

I tried to start a dialog with Chuck Diamond over the possibility of motor sports or outdoors programming, or both, with me hosting either one or both on WNTA. But he didn’t have time for me. Now WNTA has a block of African American programming on Saturday mornings, and Diamond is telling his audience that the station has many voices.

Unless you are a motor sports fan or outdoor enthusiast. Then you don’t get a voice. Then you can listen to a Chicago station, or find what you can where you can.

A motor sports show has not worked in Rockford because the only attempt was tied too heavily to Rockford Speedway, and not all motor sports fans in the Rockford area live for what happens at Rockford Speedway.

An outdoor show can work; I proved that at WROK for almost a year before the station pulled the rug out from under me, saying the show wasn’t drawing enough advertisers. Yet for the last month, every possible ad spot was sold, and the show went from five minutes on tape to one hour live, with some very good guests via phone.

I even did a live show from Eagle River, Wis., with three of that area’s top fishing guides as guests.

Bosses aren’t always right, but they always are bosses.

As you can tell, I’m running out of media outlets in this area—the Freeport paper, the local daily, WROK and now WNTA. When I part ways with the Times, I probably will write the “30” mark to a career.

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More Disappointments: On the subject of the disappointing media, if Anna Nicole can get her own TV show and get renewed, then it follows that Charles Barkley can get his own show. That’s another one I’ll never watch.

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Dubious Award: The Rockford Lightning definitely win the Preseason Egg on the Face Award for signing Lee Benson Jr., bringing him in for a round of media hypes to talk about his life in prison and how this is a big chance for him and then seeing him skip off to Greece on the eve of Rockford opening training camp. He still might be in a Lightning uniform—the Athens Lightning.

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Not the Same: I know it’s over, but it still ticks me off that those seeking yes votes for the Winnebago County public safety referendum were not truthful with voters, going with slogans of “One Penny for Public Safety.” It wasn’t one penny, it was 1 percent, and that’s a big difference.

In their own advertising, they even used an example of “for every $100 spent, the total bill goes from $106.25 to $107.25—an increase of $1.00.” Yet they insisted on that “One Penny for Public Safety.”

They even got Pat Cunningham to write a column to that effect and Sue Mroz to do TV commercials drumming home, “A One Cent Public Safety Sales Tax for Safe Homes, for Safer Communities.” Is Sue supposed to be the Walter Cronkite of Rockford, the TV person we all can trust? I don’t trust her after she says something like that.

Am I the only one whose education taught him there is a distinct difference between one CENT and 1 PERCENT? It’s not a Rockford education; maybe that’s it.

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Where We’re Heading: Responding to last year’s item about Rockford needing a theme, a reader said we should call ourselves the Social Services Destination of the Midwest because “that’s the direction we are headed in.”

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Bring in Tourists: Tourism representatives from Rockford, Kankakee, the Quad Cities and the Woodfield mall area met with officials from college and amateur sporting associations during a Chicago conference last month, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Terry Hasseltine, director of championships for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), said he is looking for venues for 23 title events. I remember covering an NAIA golf championship in Rockford in the mid-1960s. It might have been here two years running or just for one year.

Either way, with all of our golf courses, that would be something to bring here. Or an NCAA event of some kind. We also had the Western Amateur golf tourney here in the 1960s, and for a long time, Macktown was a regular stop on the LPGA tour for the Cosmo Women’s Open.

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Chicago Politics: Calling it a “stunning development,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Oct. 30 that former Republican lawmaker and party insider Roger Stanley, facing bribery charges, has started talking with federal investigators in their ongoing probe of corruption under Gov. George Ryan.

Stanley could be a key informant for federal authorities and provide further damaging information against Scott Fawell, the former George Ryan campaign manager who is to go on trial in November on corruption charges.

Could that be the start of someone rolling over on Ryan to get a prosecution break from the feds?

The Chicago Tribune broke a good one of its own the same day, charging Mayor Richie Daley’s administration benefits from patronage, which was deemed illegal by a federal court decades ago, an order that became known as the Shakman decree.

Though it has no official connection to the mayor, the Hispanic Democratic Organization is quickly transforming the city’s political landscape, the Tribune charged. HDO has helped Daley snatch turf that was once an alderman’s domain and wield control over the city’s growing Hispanic community, which has yet to coalesce as a political force.

HDO has amassed a roster estimated at more than 1,000 members using the same techniques that helped the mayor’s father, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, build a massive patronage army; raising money for favored candidates, swarming precincts on Election Day to get out the vote, and, some members say, doling out city jobs and promotions to friends, relatives and campaign workers.

About 500 of HDO’s members are city workers, mostly employed in departments where HDO lieutenants hold high-ranking posts, according to an analysis of city records by the Tribune and Exito!, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper published by the Tribune Co.

Through his press secretary, Daley declined to comment about HDO.

Remember, Chicago is the city where dead people turned out to vote—again and again.

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Too Many Penalties: The Bears looked better Sunday, but they still lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 19-13 in Champaign. Illinois native Donovan McNabb, who played high school football at Mount Carmel, led the Eagles, running nine times for 46 yards and completing 18 of 33 passes for 209 yards.

Jim Miller, returning to quarterback after missing two games with a sore shoulder and elbow, gave the Bears some spark, but they were their own worst enemies, being penalized 12 times for 121 yards. The Philly defense shut them down in the second half, and on a possible game-winning drive in the closing seconds, Miller overthrew Marcus Robinson in the end zone.

It was the sixth straight loss for the 2-6 Bears while the Eagles improved to 6-2. The Bears are home in Champaign again next Sunday, facing New England.

The Packers played Miami in the Monday night game, and will entertain Detroit Sunday.

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16 Teams Left: Sixteen Rockford-area high school football teams posted victories last weekend to survive the first round of the Illinois High School Association playoffs. They all will be in action this weekend in the second round.

Days and times were to be announced Monday afternoon, too late for publication. But generally, if a winning team had a home game last weekend, it will be on the road this weekend, and vice versa.

Eleven area teams saw their seasons end in the first round. Among them were Rockford Lutheran, Rockton Hononegah, Belvidere, Pecatonica, Oregon, Sterling, Sycamore, Dakota and Forreston.

Among the survivors, two area team are unbeaten with 10-0 records. They are Rochelle and Freeport Aquin.

Class 1A (0-273 enrollment)

Scores Last Weekend

Freeport Aquin 52, Winnetka N. Shore Country Day 6.

Stockton 40, Aurora Christian 8.

South Beloit 58, Milledgeville 25.

Galena 25, Pecatonica 0.

Games This Weekend

Freeport Aquin (10-0) vs. Stockton (7-3).

South Beloit (9-1) vs. Galena (9-1).

Class 2A (274-372)

Scores Last Weekend

Monmouth Yorkwood 42, Dakota 24.

North Boone 24, Sterling Newman 7.

Aledo 34, Forreston 8.

Amboy 29, Toulon Stark County 7.

Games This Weekend

Monmouth York. (10-0) vs. North Boone (9-1).

Aledo (10-0) vs. Amboy (7-3).

Class 3A (373-531)

Scores Last Weekend

Stillman Valley 18, Erie-Prophetstown 14.

Pearl City-Eastland 36, Fulton 28.

Lena-Winslow 46, Rockford Lutheran 0.

Games This Weekend

Elmhurst IC (9-1) vs. Stillman Valley (7-3).

Pearl City-Eastland (7-3) vs. Lena-Winslow (7-3).

Class 4A (532-718)

Scores Last Weekend

Byron 34, Richmond-Burton 21.

Addison Driscoll 17, Burlington Central 13.

Lombard Montini 16, Oregon 12.

Princeton 49, Macomb 7.

Games This Weekend

Lisle (7-3) vs. Byron (9-1).

Princeton (9-1) vs. Fairbury Prairie Central (7-3).

Class 5A (719-1,153)

Scores Last Weekend

Rochelle 46, Sycamore 27.

Geneseo 41, Yorkville 32

Johnsburg 42, Maple Park Kaneland 14.

Games This Weekend

Rochelle (10-0) vs. Geneseo (7-3).

Morris (10-0) vs. Johnsburg (8-2).

Class 6A (1,154-1,652)

Scores Last Weekend

Freeport 12, Fox Lake Grant 6.

Crystal Lake South 34, Sterling 0.

Rock Island 13, Woodstock 12.

Rockford Boylan 26, Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge 19.

Games This Weekend

Freeport (9-1) vs. Crystal Lake South (7-3).

Rock Island (9-1) vs. Rockford Boylan (8-2).

Class 7A (1,653-2,190)

Scores Last Weekend

Libertyville 34, Belvidere 7.

Zion-Benton 35, Rockton Hononegah 28.

Games This Weekend

No area teams left.

Class 8A (2,191-4,235)

No area teams.

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It Was a Stinker: Low TV ratings for the World Series were predicted here last week. They were the lowest ever, breaking the record of the Yankees and Mets in 2000. That record was a 12.4 rating and 21 share. The new record by the Angels and Giants is an 11.9 rating and 20 share.

Nielsen Research Media said that’s down 24 percent from last year and down 50 percent—not 50 cents—over the past 11 years. The World Series averaged only one-third the rating of the most recent Super Bowl and was less than this year’s NCAA basketball championship game between Maryland and Indiana and Miami’s national football championship-winning Rose Bowl victory over Nebraska.

Still, it was higher than this year’s Daytona 500, the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals.

The Series was on Fox and News Corp., Fox’s parent, took a $909 million charge against earnings in February, saying it had overpaid for its sports deals: $4.5 billion for the NFL, $2.4 billion for baseball and $1.9 billion for NASCAR.

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