Random talents of the homeless (5×8 – 1/5/11)

Why is one homeless guy getting so much attention, your walking speed indicates how long you’ll live, the Internet is more popular than TV, who’s on steroids, and President Michele Bachmann?


A reporter for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper came across a homeless man the other day. He was a former radio announcer who had fallen hard.

Let’s think this through just a bit. The gentleman’s story is compelling and clearly the voice is why he’s become an Internet sensation. Which one of your Facebook friends hasn’t posted this clip? Maybe the attention will get him a job. Good for him. He has obvious talent.

Why is he homeless? And why is he the one homeless person who’s been selected for attention? Why did we choose today to consider the plight of someone who’s homeless?

It’s our reaction that deserves some analysis. Behind it is the thought that people with such talent can’t possibly be homeless, or shouldn’t be? But who should?

The gentleman’s story, unfortunately, isn’t unusual. Sometimes homelessness comes as a result of a drug or alcohol problem. Sometimes it’s because you took care of your elderly parents.

NBC is flying the gentleman above to New York to appear on the “Today” show. They could’ve stopped by the side of the road on the way to work in New York today and probably found a nearly identical story.


What will the mall walkers be talking about today? This. How fast you walk determines how long you’ll live, a new study says.

The University of Pittsburgh researchers looked at data from nine studies involving nearly 35,000 seniors and found that only 19 percent of the slowest walking 75-year-old men lived for 10 more years compared to 87 percent of the fastest walking ones. Only 35 percent of the slowest walking 75-year-old women made it to their 85th birthday compared to 91 percent of the fastest walkers.

Still to be determined for sure, though, is whether people walk slower because they’ve got some underlying medical condition that will shorten their lives.


pew_010411.jpg It wasn’t that long ago — 12 years — when some of us online pioneers in the radio business told our radio brethren that this Internet thing was going to catch on and someday — maybe– it would pass radio. It passed radio among the younger demographic years ago and now it has its eyes set on TV, a Pew survey says:

Currently, 41% say they get most of their news about national and international news from the internet, which is little changed over the past two years but up 17 points since 2007. Television remains the most widely used source for national and international news – 66% of Americans say it is their main source of news – but that is down from 74% three years ago and 82% as recently as 2002.

In 2010, for the first time, the internet has surpassed television as the main source of national and international news for people younger than 30. Since 2007, the number of 18 to 29 year olds citing the internet as their main source has nearly doubled, from 34% to 65%. Over this period, the number of young people citing television as their main news source has dropped from 68% to 52%.

Even among 50-64 year olds, the Internet is about to pass newspapers as the primary source of information, the survey says.

Think the trend is going to change? Check this picture from the floor of the House of Representatives in St. Paul that Nikki Tundel took yesterday:


Find more of these sorts of images here.


The experts say Bert Blyleven should get the call today from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell probably will not, even though his statistics rival those of Willie Mays. This column in the New York Times says Hall of Fame voters increasingly have to vote while trying to figure out who used steroids.

Then the writer drags our guy’s name through the muck::

But the same could apply to the Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. In his first two years for the Minnesota Twins, Puckett hit four home runs in 1,248 at-bats. Then he averaged 20 home runs per season for the next decade. He always looked exceptionally strong for his size. He died of a stroke in 2006, at age 45.

Those are facts. Do they prove that Puckett used steroids? Of course not. I have no idea if he did or did not. But his name came up on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2000, before we knew the extent of the steroids problem, and he sailed in with 82 percent of the vote. He played like a Hall of Famer, and he deserves his plaque in Cooperstown.


Michele Bachmann is thinking about running for president.

The new Congress is sworn in today. The new crowd looks like the old crowd, the LA Times says.

But at tony Washington clubs and restaurants — Charlie Palmer steakhouse and Johnny’s Half Shell oyster bar — the scene is far from the message heard on the campaign trail.

On his campaign website, incoming Arizona Rep. David Schweikert promised he would “be there to represent your interests, not big spending special interests. I will push for common sense reforms in Congress that will reduce the influence of lobbyists and special interests.”

Schweikert invited lobbyists to a debt-retirement fundraiser at the National Republican Campaign Committee in early December. The suggested contribution was $500 for an individual, $5,000 for a “benefactor.”


Mark Twain scholar plans to release a new edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” without the N word. Should an editor change a classic novel to keep from offending modern readers?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The 112th Congress starts today, and while compromise is word that’s on everyone’s lips, many of the incoming GOP legislators are gearing up for a fight on healthcare, the deficit, and smaller government.

Second hour: She was called Queen of Kings, and in her lifetime Cleopatra was romantically linked with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Biographer Stacy Schiff considered her a shrewd political strategist and powerful ruler.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former Vice President Walter Mondale joins Midday on his birthday to talk about the new 2011 Congress opening today and other current events.

Second hour: Former Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter, speaking at the JFK Library in Boston.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political Junkie Ken Rudin

Second hour: Adventures in surrogacy and twiblings.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Re: the comments about Kirby (RIP) by the NYT columnist, I can’t help but wonder if he speculates so causually about steroid use in the Pinstripe Pack?

    Look at the masthead, buddy. That ‘news’ isn’t fit to print.

  • Joe Busch
  • Brian Porter

    I really don’t care how a person pulls themself up by their bootstraps to continue in this life. You missed the point of this one PERSON! MAYBE because of his good fortune he will be able to carry a message that often gets buried and hidden. Just maybe. I can assure you that He won’t forget and take this for granted. I wish him the best. He has discovered humility and spirituality from the look and sound of him. Hey, maybe you should give it a shot!

  • Dave Svens

    I CAN walk fast but usually choose not to. There’s something to be said for stopping and smelling the roses. I walk the 1/4 mile to the post office most every day along the ocean shore and invariably notice something new each time.

  • Bob Collins

    No, Brian, YOU missed the point by ignoring the questions that were asked. It isn’t about whether he deserves a second chance or redemption; of course he does.

    The question is with all of the homeless people with similar stories out there, why America chose to embrace this one, while essentially ignoring others.

    Why, for example, didn’t the story equally resonate about the guy who took care of his elderly parents and was left homeless when they died and he was left with thousands of dollars in nursing bills.

    Why wasn’t that guy flown to New York, why isn’t THAT guy’s story being posted on Facebook, and Tweeted?

    Give it a shot.

  • Noelle

    I think the homeless man’s story is all about perception and expectation. When you see someone like that guy on the streets, peddling for money, most people probably assume that person has a similar plight – trouble with drugs, alcohol, or both, and probably don’t recognize potential for talent or industry. It’s surprising to see this man with such a talent, and it’s a novelty to see ANYONE speak with that announcer-type voice, so the combination is explosive on the internet.

  • Bob Collins

    I think you hit it, Noelle. It speaks to our perception of the homeless. This guy “isn’t like the others.” But I think he probably is.

    I also think the fact the guy made his living in the media made it easier for the media to give a damn.

  • Noelle

    And quite honestly, I think the fact that this one man is being given such attention is (a) wonderful for him, but (b) practically makes a mockery of the millions of others just like him who desperately need assistance. I’m sure it makes NBC feel good about themselves to bring this guy on the show, but for some reason it just bothers me.