Look out below: Hey, radio listeners, have you noticed how the traffic reports on KOA, KHOW and all the other Jacor-owned stations in the metro area seem to have that...not-so-fresh feeling lately? Perhaps it's because the airborne spotters who deliver the latest word on rollovers, bottlenecks and runaway septic-tankers have been temporarily grounded, the result of the radio conglomerate's decision to terminate a longtime contract with Metro Traffic Control. For years, Jacor and its top spotter, the inimitable wordsmith Al Verley, hovered over the city's freeways in a helicopter that had been leased by its friends at Metro, the nation's largest radio-traffic firm. But Jacor recently decided that since it controls so damn many radio stations (including eight in the Denver area alone), it might as well direct its own traffic. As of April 30, Jacor cut the cord with Metro, which continues to provide updates as a silent partner with numerous other local stations, including KOOL-105 and the Peak.
While the Jacor juggernaut goes about the expensive task of trying to line up its own chopper, it's having to make do with traffic reports pieced together by earthbound spotters. "We've got people in the streets," explains a station spokeswoman, adding that the company expects to put its eyes back in the skies sometime later this summer. So what does our pal Al think about the temporary setup? Verley couldn't be reached--he picked a good time to go on vacation.
H. Wayne's world: As part of his ongoing effort to control the sale of every car, truck and motorized go-kart in the known universe, Florida-based garbage-hauler-turned-auto-monopolist H. Wayne Huizenga hits town June 10 as the keynote speaker for the Colorado Capital Conference. That daylong confab at the Arvada Center is dedicated to promoting the fine art of "entrepreneurial financing," but don't expect Wayne to take time while he's here to underwrite that drive-though Viagra stand you've been wanting to open. Instead, Huizenga's coming to Denver to promote yet another of his new local car lots. And conference organizers are giddy with excitement over the prospect that the Waste Management co-founder may get a chance to rub elbows with the winner of their annual Duane Pearsall Entrepreneurial Award: none other than John Elway, who sold his own local car dealerships to Huizenga last year, in the process cashing out a few yards shy of $100 million.
That momentous meeting of the millionaires may not happen. Conference organizers describe Huizenga's attendance at the $79-a-pop gathering as a sure thing, but as for Elway, promotional materials note that "either John or his designated representative will be on hand to accept the award." If the two do bump into each other, however, don't expect Huizenga, who owns the soul of every professional athlete south of Macon County, to get all misty-eyed and ask Biff to autograph his forehead. After all, this is the same romantic who spent the past year trading away every able-bodied member of his world-champion Florida Marlins after deciding that winning a World Series just wasn't cost-efficient.
Potshots, part deux: Last week it was the Rocky Mountain News that was in hot water over running a Victory at Sea advertisement that included this multiculturally challenged phrase: "Witness boats, planes, subs and entire crews of Japs...sent to a watery grave." Yes, if you order that shoot-'em-up video series chronicling the battles of World War II, you'll have a "ringside seat to the fires of Hell that raged for over four years in the Atlantic and Pacific." But it'll be nothing like the hellfire soon to erupt in the executive offices of the Denver Post, which, apparently oblivious to the fact that the News had issued a formal letter of apology to the local Japanese-American community over the incident, ran the same Victory at Sea ad last Saturday--complete with the offending "Japs" slur. Apparently a glutton for punishment, the Post made good and sure the ad got noticed by World War II vets by placing it directly across from an offer to "Shrink Away Prostate Miseries for $19.98."
Lap dogs: Insight magazine, the Washington, D.C., publication that ran the infamous photo of Roy "Six Minute Man" Romer in a hot 'n' sweaty clinch with former aide B. J. Thornberry last January, is working on a follow-up article about Roamin' Romer. And while the nation breathlessly awaits that expose, political junkies will have to settle for the musings of "One Minute Man" Gary Hart, author of nine non-bestsellers, including his new tome, The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People. The Mind of Mulch From Troublesome Gulch has been all over the airwaves lately touting his latest policy-wonk treatise, but would Meet the Press have been so eager to book him last Sunday if it couldn't have paired him with Prudemaster General Bill Bennett for a discussion of "character"? After all, through what other device could the show have justified dredging up the topic of Hart's past pecadilloes? His fateful voyage aboard the Monkey Business with Donna Rice sank his 1988 presidential bid and lent new meaning to the term "pleasure craft." For the past ten years, Hart has not shown much interest in discussing those wicked, wicked days, but now, with a book to push, he's back in his Speedo and sending out engraved invitations in the form of op-ed pieces about the media's unwarranted scrutiny of public officials.
And Hart may be surprised at who else is talking about his past indiscretions. Former bud Pat Schroeder was in town late last week hyping her own book, 24 Years of House Work...and the Place Is Still a Mess. That volume is a typically outspoken effort in which Schroeder lays it on the line concerning Hart's decline and fall--a glorious bit of self-destruction that she witnessed up-close and personal back in 1987 as a co-chair of his campaign. Schroeder writes: "I have to admit my first reaction was, 'Do you mean I've been canceling my schedule, flying to these godforsaken places, eating pressed hamster or whatever that airplane food is, while he's on a pleasure boat in Florida?'
"Although Gary and I are still cordial when we meet, our friendship was history, too. Perhaps he felt I didn't adequately 'defend' him and was angry because I was not prepared to fall on my sword for him. I felt we'd all been let down by him. I felt he used me because having a woman at the head of his campaign might deflect these issues. But Donna Rice wasn't sitting in my lap, and I just didn't have the energy to even engage asking why she was in Gary's."
Schroeder--who's clearly no longer a FROG (Friend of Gary's)--finishes off with one last grinding of her boot heel into the prostrate Hart's behind. "Gary is a cipher," she writes. "He didn't suffer fools lightly and didn't like small talk...He kept saying I was his good friend, and I thought: 'If I'm his good friend, he has no good friends.'"
And with no good friends like that, who needs enemies?