Thursday, June 25, 2009

Behind the Homeless Students Story

After the publication of a story last week about the worrisome increase in the number of homeless students now struggling to get an education in Monterey County, we learned that the woman featured in the account has had several encounters with law enforcement. The homeless woman has three children. They were living in a hotel room until recently while the kids were trying to stay in school with the help of a program designed specifically for homeless children.

According to court records, the mother has been convicted (twice) of domestic violence and for several other misdemeanor charges. This came to our attention after an attorney for her former landlord called to say the mother's account of why she is now homeless is in dispute.

Had we known now what we did then, we might have approached the story differently. On the other hand, the story was about homeless students — and representatives from the school district referred us to the woman when we asked for a good example of families who are trying to make do in these tough times. The fact that the woman has a police record does not diminish the fact that her children are homeless.

Some people are homeless because of the circumstances they confront; others are homeless because of the unfortunate choices they've made. When children are involved, it shouldn't really matter how it happened.

"The main point is that kids who are . . . living in the streets, we need to put them in schools," said Carlos Diaz, the homeless liaison for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

True Believers

What do you get when you throw red meat into a packed house filled with true believers?

That was the social experiment I designed today by inviting Hal Ginsberg, Mark Carbonaro and their respective fans to Wave Street Studios on Cannery Row for a live taping of "Central Coast Views." The show aired today and can be found on on Friday.

I'm proud to report that no blood was shed, no folding chairs were damaged and the law was not summoned. And while there was plenty of disagreement about the politics of the day, Hal and Mark proved that it is indeed possible to agree to disagree. The partisan crowd never let their rankle get the best of them; rather, they cheered and applauded their man and a good time seemed to be had by all.

Hal is the progressive radio maven, the owner and morning host on KRXA 540 AM radio. Mark teams with Jim Pearson on KION 1460 AM. Hal and Mark have significantly different listening audiences -- and neither they nor their listeners lack passion.

I served as both referee and cutman during the ten-round bout, but I'm not qualified to say who "won" the debate. Both were incredibly well prepared. Both were articulate and thought-provoking. 

All in all, and except for a few minor glitches and the mumbling moderator, I thought the first show was a rousing success. The lively live audience seemed to enjoy it -- at least they all said they looked forward to attending the next show. 

Based on the success of today's show, we expect to air new episodes of "Central Coast Views" monthly. And we are considering a change in the time of the show; we heard from dozens of people who said they would like to be part of the studio audience but couldn't break free at 3 in the afternoon. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Radio Waves

If you enjoy rigorous debate — the type where principled people with faces and voices slug it out — you won't want to miss The Herald's first-ever meeting of the minds on Thursday at Wave Street Studios.

The program, called "Central Coast Views," will feature Monterey County's two most popular political talk radio personalities, Mark Carbonaro and Hal Ginsberg. Carbonaro teams up with Jim Pearson each weekday morning on 1460 KION-AM, while Ginsberg is general manager, talk-show maven and chief bottle washer at 540 KRXA-AM.

Ginsberg and Carbonaro both insist they transcend political labels. But for those of us who listen in, it comes as no surprise that Ginsberg's station can be found on the left end of the dial, while Carbonaro's is entrenched on the right side. Also, KRXA features Bill Press and Ed Schultz, while KION features Michael Savage and Glenn Beck.

For years, Carbonaro and Ginsberg have been preaching to their respective choirs about politics, big and small. But it occurred to me that we've never actually seen them in the same room together, discussing the issues with someone who might disagree.

Both are articulate. Both are passionate. Both are knowledgeable.

So, with the help of Wave Street Studios, The Herald is getting Ginsberg and Carbonaro together for a good old-fashioned debate. I will serve as moderator, referee and designated cutman. We'll take on the events of the world, the nation and the state. We'll go local, if we have the time, and might even take on our favorite weasel politicians.

The show promises to be a great opportunity for fans who would like to see their favorite radio personality go mano a mano against a rival. It's also a chance to visit Wave Street Studios, the local Taj Mahal of multimedia production, at 774 Wave St. in Monterey.

The fun starts at 3 p.m. Thursday and everyone is invited. The admission charge of $10 will help defray production costs.

The show will be streamed live on and will be rebroadcast on various platforms, including, beginning Friday.

But we expect it will be more fun to see it live.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Bottom of the Page

Congratulations to PacRep. my personal favorite local theater company, for its stellar marketing campaign to promote its production of "The Blue Room." It certainly got what it needed from The Herald.

A couple of days before the May 28 opening of the show, we were told of a "late ad" that would be running on the front page of The Herald. Whatever. The folks in the newsroom don't actually see the advertisements before they get in the paper. But about 10:30 that night, our copy desk got a call from someone upstairs, in the production department, asking if anyone was aware that a woman's naked butt was scheduled to appear on the front page.

The production guy sent down a copy of the ad, our assistant city editor appropriately flipped, and she called her bosses at home to figure out what do do with the woman's posterior. Since none of us had actually seen the bare-assed ad, the assistant city editor was told to use her discretion. So she pulled the thing.

She was hailed as a Herald Hero for doing so -- and PacRep had its Eureka! moment for its follow-up ads. The Blue Room! A Production Too Hot for The Herald to Handle! The local weeklies had a great time of it, accusing The Herald of being censorial prudes, pointing out that the depiction of undressed buttocks was the work of a noted photographer, etc.

It seems like a silly thing to defend, the removal of exposed tush from the front page. But I think the assistant city editor made the correct call. She, for one, is not offended by exposed cheek action, but figured the majority of readers probably aren't prepared to confront a naked butt when they open their daily newspaper. Here on the Monterey Peninsula, people get so riled up that they call me to complain because they think Adam@Work is too racy, that the general's secretary in Beetle Bailey is profoundly sexist.

And what if, next time, the depiction of bare ass is not the artistic and shapely bottom of a model? What if PacRep chose instead to present an Andres Serrano photograph of the hairy, flabby keister of a middle-age man to promote its next show?

If I was promoting PacRep, I'd give it a try. It certainly got a lot of marketing mileage out of The Blue Room's tush.