Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - December 30, 2015

Brian Gongol


The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.


Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

We need an NTSB for police-involved shootings

You're Not Yelping

Three cheers for Paul Ryan

The Speaker of the House gave a speech recently in which he shared his vision for a "Confident America".

Some thoughts about Cheryl Pannier

Cheryl Pannier hired me for my first "adult" job. Fresh out of high school, I had talked my way into tagging around the WHO Radio newsroom as an intern, and after two weeks of my haunting the place, Cheryl asked if I would be interested in working as a board operator. The idea of running the controls for the most powerful and legendary radio station in Iowa was overwhelmingly enticing; I accepted on the spot.

That was in the early summer of 1997. During the succeeding eighteen and a half years, I saw Cheryl in every possible workplace mode: Harried supervisor trying to fill a last-minute gap in the work schedule, seasoned professional guiding the station through some significant news or weather event, caring and thoughtful co-worker looking out for someone's well-being when they needed it. Most often, she was a source of humor and good cheer.

Any workplace runs the risk of turning dry and dull; Cheryl was like a ball of entropy, bringing a little bit of zany fun to the place. I remember most the ongoing series of gags she would play at the expense of Bob Quinn in the days when he ran the newsroom. Perhaps it was watching my two immediate supervisors duke it out via tongue-in-cheek memos and manipulated pictures photocopied and stuffed into mailboxes that left me with a firm appreciation for just a touch of anarchy in the workplace.

Through it all, Cheryl persevered. She should have had a bigger budget so she could hire a few extra people without having to worry about parsing out time off during the holidays. She should have had more storms and breaking news to cover so she could groom more young broadcasters to shine when they were needed most. She should have had more time on the air to have a little more fun and to bring a few more listeners along for the ride. But I never saw her take it personally, and I always saw her laughing. It was her ability to roll with the circumstances that came her way -- particularly when at their most ridiculous -- that brought out the best of her humor, like her truly masterful recordings of contest rules peppered with non sequiturs.

The last time I crossed paths with Cheryl was just a couple of weeks ago. She was covering an overnight board shift so the full-time operator could have a day off around Thanksgiving. I only saw her through the glass for a moment as she set up the programming for the next hour before she ran off to some other corner of the building. I finished some routine tasks of my own before packing up to head home for the night. Since I hadn't seen her in a while, I wanted to catch up; I could always count on Cheryl for a good anecdote about something absurd that had happened since we had last talked. I went looking around, first on the third floor and then on the second, where her office light was on and the door open to an empty room. No matter, I thought; she was probably busy editing some production work for the air in a studio I had overlooked and I'd catch up with her sometime over the holidays. A storm had put many of our studio "On Air" lights on the fritz, so I probably missed her that one last time by walking right past for want of a working light bulb.

And that, perhaps, is how I'll choose to remember her: Working in the middle of the night to lay down some recording while the meters kept on moving in the control room without her. I'll choose to tell myself that she was recording something fittingly hilarious and ridiculous and clever. And I will remind myself that radio (or "RAY D O", as Cheryl's license plate would have it) is the theater of the mind, where actors like Cheryl should always be the stars.

What I learned from Cheryl

Other news items

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Computers and the Internet Twitter imposes new rules to cut off hate speech, intimidation, and harassment
There's simply no perfect solution for companies like Twitter. The new language codifies a philosophy that intimidation is as rivalrous to free speech as explicit censorship. And yet there's the ironic condition that letting hateful people use platforms like Twitter for speech makes them easier to find, call out, and counteract. Sometimes, it's even useful to let terrorists tweet (it can help identify where to drop bombs, just for example). The problem is that services like Twitter and Facebook land on a nebulous boundary between "open" and "closed" societies and ways of thinking. The evildoers who wants closedness also want to take advantage of the tools of openness.

Computers and the Internet Facebook's "Free Basics" app: Game-changing public utility or violation of net neutrality?
Or maybe both?

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