By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Punching Rocco's Ticket
It didn't take long. Less than a week after the Dallas Observer's story about KTCK-AM (1310) appeared ("Talking up The Ticket," March 18), Ticket noon-to-3 p.m. talker Rocco Pendola was fired by station management. Not that the Observer story had anything to do with the talk-jock's firing.
At least, that's the word from the boss.
Ticket program director Bruce Gilbert tells Buzz that the article's appearance and Pendola's firing coming so close to each other was nothing more than "an unfortunate coincidence."
"I am man enough to accept the blame for my own decisions," Gilbert says. "Everybody wants to come up with their own reason why this happened, and the fact of the matter is, we decided not to renew his contract."
See, it's as simple as that. Or is it?
Apparently, Pendola didn't take too kindly to being referred to as "obtuse" and "invidious" in these pages. On Friday, he went on the air ranting about how upset he was by the story. He claimed, among other things, that he and the article's author, Robert Wilonsky, were old friends and that Wilonsky had betrayed him. In fact, the two have met only once--for about five minutes at Dallas Cowboys training camp last August.
On Saturday, Gordon Keith replayed the diatribe on his 9 a.m.-noon show, The Bohemian Rant. Pendola and Keith had what one die-hard Ticket fan describes on the Internet as "a personal conversation that you really had no business hearing." According to some who heard the exchange, Pendola ripped into Keith and, for some reason, Hardline co-host Mike Rhyner, claiming neither of them gave him a fair chance at the station.
Gilbert says those ugly episodes "aren't worth commenting on," but claims they didn't directly lead to Pendola's dismissal. The program director says he's looking for a new host to fill the time slot, which is currently being subbed by other sports jocks. When asked what he's looking for, Gilbert says only, "I hope I'll know it when I hear it."
What's in a name?
It seems only right to Buzz that American Airlines should have its name on the new arena. Linking Tom Hicks, Ross Perot Jr., and American in a tax-financed project has a nice end-of-the-millennium ring to it: Dallas' own holy trinity enshrined in a cathedral to sports. Taxpayers genuflect! If only it were football instead of hockey and basketball, but the Arkansas Antichrist has a lock on that local franchise.
It would be nice if some of that $195 million American will pay Hicks and Perot for being able to call the arena the "American Airlines Center" were sent back to the people who helped pay for it--alms for the poor, you know. But who are we and Councilwoman Donna Blumer, who suggested the same thing, fooling?
Still, Buzz hopes to see some benefit from the union. American has loads of experience in ticketing and reservations. Maybe the Mavericks might one day be rid of Ticketmaster surcharges. Purchase your Mavs tickets two weeks in advance and save 40 percent, provided the game's on a Friday and you stay over at the arena through Sunday. Those sitting courtside will receive a warm towel, slippers, and complimentary champagne. OK, then--just offer Advantage Miles for season-ticket holders. There has to be some reward for watching the Mavs play.
But in the "American Airlines Center"? You'd think if a mighty corp. were going to lay out those kind of bucks for a name, and with all the money it spends on marketing, it could at least come up with something catchy. Like Fly High Stadium or Deep-Pocket Pavilion or One Terminal Place or The Hub--or just about anything else.
Get used to it
Glad as we are that Hicks and Junior stand to make a ton of money from selling the arena's name to American--Lord knows they need it--don't they realize that they are getting in bed with a globally renowned Sodomite that has been castigated by Christian right organizations as a gay-friendly corporation? Which suggests to us another possible name: "Big Gay American's Big Gay Arena," taken from Buzz's favorite South Park character, Big Gay Al. (Don't watch the show? You loser.)
Maybe that name would finally pierce the thick skulls of the American Family Association and other right-wing anti-gay groups. Evidence that these religious homophobes just don't get it can be seen in last month's American Family Association Journal, which bore the headline, "American Airlines breaks word/Company continues promoting radical gay agenda." The article claimed that the airline disregarded a verbal agreement made at a meeting last March with "pro-family" leaders to discontinue "actively promoting the homosexual agenda." (Buzz tried to get American's response to the article, but its press people took the question and never called back. We can't imagine why.)
But as the Observer reported last year ("Straighten up and fly right," April 16, 1998), American never promised the anti-gay leaders anything, despite their frequent claims to the contrary. Those claims were, in a word, lies--big fat ones. Apparently, the Observer article never made it to the offices of the AFA.
We can't imagine why.