I think I've mentioned here before that I find Twitter to be remarkably useful and interesting, and just in the last couple of days there have been a couple of additional instances that prove it.
This morning, with heavy rain causing serious flood headaches all over the Madison area, Katie Austin's Twitter feed, @madisontraffic, was indispensable. She's plugged in to various law enforcement agencies and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and she gets tips via Twitter from people reporting what they see as they travel. On the air, we report this information as quickly and as often as we can, but the beauty of Katie's Twitter feed is that if you miss anything, you can go back and see what she has been reporting. Plus, it's instant information. You never have to wait.
Last night, a state legislator in Texas launched a 13-hour filibuster in hopes of stopping a controversial bill from passing. Oddly, her speech didn't get much coverage on the cable news channels, but it was all over Twitter, with information from reporters, from people watching the proceedings online, and from people inside the statehouse in Austin. Something similar happened here during our Capitol protests in 2011--you could watch news happen in real time instead of waiting for somebody to tell you about it later.
In quieter times, Twitter is equally useful and entertaining. (If you're a dog owner, for example, the feed @IAmAGoodDog is hilarious.) I am not just a reader of Twitter--I crack wise on it, too, and you can follow me @ja_bartlett. If you decide to try Twitter and you follow me, let me know you're a Magic listener and I'll follow you back. I promise.
Although I grew up just an hour away from Madison, I didn’t listen to legendary Top 40 station WISM every day. Its signal, on AM at 1480, wasn’t especially great where I lived, and it went away entirely at night. But when I visited my cousin in Madison during the summer, we’d listen, and if I was ever coming to town at any other time, I’d listen. Plus, the voices were inescapable: in that era, nobody on the Madison airwaves was more familiar than Jonathan Little. It seemed like he was on dozens of commercials we’d see on TV or hear on other radio stations.
So I was pretty excited when I heard about the WISM reunion last Saturday night. And with good reason: it was an amazing three hours of radio, with Jonathan, Charlie "Rock & Roll" Simon, and Pat O'Neill playing the hits and telling stories, with montages of old WISM jingles and clips from old WISM shows. It was tremendous. The response from listeners was tremendous, too. Ann and I were two of them, in the car on our way back to town that night, and when we got here I said, “We gotta go over there.” And so we did. The last 20 minutes of the show took place with she and I lurking in the back of the studio, me with a big stupid smile plastered on my face because I couldn’t believe where I was, or what I was hearing.
WISM doesn't exist anymore, but that great radio station is in our DNA. (Magic is the old WISM-FM.) We're standing on the shoulders of all those people who came before: not just Charlie and Jonathan, but Clyde Coffee and Bill Short, Sam Francisco and Rockin' Robin Steele, and the dozens of others who made WISM so important to Madison during the 1960s and 1970s. If they hadn't done what they did, we wouldn't be doing what we do.
In the last few weeks, Magic 98 listeners have made great suggestions for Five at Five--those five songs I play in a row every weekday at 5:00.
What five songs would you put together? You can use a really clever theme or a really simple one. You could pick five songs from your favorite year, five artists you liked when you were in high school, five titles that begin with the same letter or contain the same word. You could even put together your personal Saturday at the 70s or Sunday at the 80s sneak preview. Use as much imagination as you want. If we pick your list, you'll even get to introduce a song on the air.
When you submit your list, send seven or eight songs, just to give us some wiggle room. (The Magic 98 Music Vault is pretty big, but we haven't got everything.) Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. And some afternoon soon, you might get to be the star of the show.
I am convinced that part of what annoys us about gas prices, beyond the high prices themselves, is being reminded of the high prices, which are posted on every corner. We can't avoid thinking about them, even if we'd really rather not.
Especially right now. According to AAA's invaluable Fuel Gauge Report for Wisconsin, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Madison today (Thursday the 6th) is $3.97. That's up three cents from yesterday, 16 cents from a week ago, and 32 cents from a month ago. That's not the highest price in Wisconsin, however--in fact, it's below the statewide average, which is $4.00 even. In Milwaukee, they're paying $4.06, and in Janesville and Green Bay it's $3.99. In Madison, we're paying about 35 cents more than the national average. It's supposedly got something to do with a couple of oil refineries in Chicago that are not producing right now. That lack of production is squeezing the supply, which makes the price go up.
The AAA's national report is pretty interesting, too. You'd expect the prices in Alaska and Hawaii to be high, and they are--$4.06 and $4.36, respectively--but there are some eye-popping numbers elsewhere. In Michigan right now, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $4.23, in Illinois $4.15, in Indiana $4.11. (Blame those Chicago refineries again.) The cheapest gas I could find is in South Carolina, where the average price is $3.21.
The good news is that when those two refineries in Chicago start producing again, the supply of gasoline in the Upper Midwest will increase and the price will start to fall. The bad news is that lots of us are going to need to fill up again before that happens.