Friday, February 13, 2009

Groundhogs Day

I'll set this straight now and state for the record that I think this is asinine, and somewhat mean to the rodent. Strangely, like an echo of the Bill Murray film, Groundhogs Day really has become a major media event. The holiday has been celebrated in Punxsutawney since 1886. When I checked their website I found that they even have a video feed.

Event: Groundhog Day Date: February 2nd, 2009 Time: 05:45 to 08:30 (Eastern) (30 Minute Soft Out) Satellite AMC - 5 (KU-Band Digital) Transponder K 08 Channel: A (9Mhz) Sym Rate: 6.380 msps FEC: 5/6 Bit Rate: 9.799348 Downlink Pol: Horizontal Downlink Freq: 11912.50 Mhz Audio: 6.2/6.8

Radio warmed to Phil-the-groundhog early on. In 1928, the groundhog's prediction was carried live on a program at KDKA-AM with Punx'y Rotary Club. KDKA stuck with the feature and in 1948 interviewed the President of the Groundhog Club on the "Brunch With Bill" program. In 1953 Punxsutawney got it's own local radio station, daytimer WPME on 1540 AM. They dutifully arrived at gobblers knob each year. In 1973 they got a local FM as well 104.1 WPME. Renda Broadcasting acquired the stations in 1981, but still cover Phil.

Today the holiday is covered essentially everywhere. WGN-AM has carried it dutifully for decades. The programming is silly and wholesome and part of what leaves radio freeze-dried in the past and why your cynical grand kids don't listen to the radio any more. Sadly this is still how radio staff are trained to look at radio. The 2004 text book "Radio" By Steve Warren had this to say:
"Make Groundhog day a big day. Plan a Groundhog day party, if not really then at least on air. Talk about Groundhog day decorations festooning the radio station. Get listeners involved with a Groundhog's day Happy Hour after work at a local restaurant or bar hosted by station personel. Have the bartender concoct a special drink like Groundhog Martini. Rename bar food Groundhog Burgers, groundhog Wings or Groundhog nuggetts..."