Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 27, 2011

Month Of May In Indiana: Keeping the Indianapolis 500 A Part of the Vibe is Getting Tougher

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:06 pm

Ignorance of the meaning of the month of May in Indianapolis seems epidemic these days. It began a long time ago, but was exacerbated when risk-averse bean counters now in charge of IMS decided to make the month of May the Half-a-month-of-May. Certain external factors are involved; e.g., crated Honda-badged Ilmor engines that cannot be tested unless you pay several grand for an engine guy to be on site (mandatory) and a hundred bucks a lap (also mandatory), but the sprouting of checkered flag-themed displays on homes and business like spring flowers sadly seems a thing of the past. No amount of car shows or off-track activity at 16th & Georgetown can make up for race cars on the track, however.

The latest entity to dismiss the meaning of the month of May from a traditional sense are the folks at Emmis, who operate the 1070 frequency (WIBC before it moved to FM) and call it ‘The Fan.’ You might think a local media company might understand what May is (or used to be) about, but Jeff Smulyan does not program the station. I do not know who the program director is, but my guess is that it is some young hotshot who is in Indianapolis (but not from Indianapolis) more as a career stop than a destination. Because most program directors everywhere no longer possess any discernable ability to think on their own or be creative in even basic ways, a safe approach heavily dependent on research is the crutch used to remain largely unoriginal. That is not a knock on any one person; the entire business operates that way.

As a result, this May fans of the great race at its 100th Anniversary will NOT get to hear Donald Davidson in his customary 6pm time slot doing Talk of Gasoline Alley.  The JMV show is the highest rated show in its time slot in Indianapolis and his time slot, which runs until 7pm, will not change. Good for JMV. He grew up in the same part of southern Indiana as yours truly, and he has made good. But it is May for Chrissakes.

As a result of safe, conservative, non-creative programming, JMV will run until 7 discussing mostly stick n’ ball and hot chicks and other such insipidity. From 7 to 8 my understanding is that Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee will do an hour of Trackside, then at 8 it will be Donald Davidson with ‘Talk of Gasoline Alley’ only no longer from garages or even the track.  That is simply irresponsible and completely disregards what Indianapolis in May is supposed to be about. It also shows no regard for the history of on-air coverage through the month. Particularly galling is that it is the 100th Anniversary. I wish the Program Director would accompany Donald downtown to the library one day to research the history of the race, particularly how it was treated by the media before everyone collectively lost their attention spans. I have been  told there is a ‘Free Donald Davidson’ Facebook page, but have not seen it.

If I were the Program Director I would keep JMV on until 7, but the last hour of his show would be co-hosted by Donald Davidson AT THE TRACK with a ‘Talk of Gasoline Alley’ theme. JMV could handle it; he is a Hoosier after all. I would keep Donald on from 7 to 8 solo, then finish up from 8 to 9 with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. No offense to Curt or Kevin, but Curt’s on-air persona is just about as bland as the newsprint on which his columns are printed in the Star. Kevin gets a little too lecture-y for my taste from time to time, and if they don’t have guests they are at times unlistenable.

None of this angst will probably make any difference, but if you are a fan of Donald Davidson on the radio and the traditions of the month of May, drop Emmis a note.



  1. As I posted on the Facebook page, from a purely “radio biz” standpoint, I understand this move. After “flailing” somewhat with their previous efforts, (Bob Kravitz and Eddie White) the station is now winning the “afternoon drive” time slot. If I’m the PD, particularly if I’m a NEW PD, why do I want to mess with that?

    That being said, the idea of doing a co-hosted hour with Donald from the track is a good one, far better than relegating Donald to an off-track show in “evening oblivion.” For many years when I lived up there, it was ritual to listen to Donald on the way home from work. Now that I live in South Carolina, listening to the show on the internet while reading email or catching up some work, well, it’s just part of May.

    Comment by SkipinSC — April 27, 2011 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Defender:

    Sounds like somebody is living in 1995…just kidding, I am very disturbed to hear that the local stations in Indy are scaling back coverage of the ‘500’ and events leading up to the great race…it’s bad enough that the ‘world wide leader’ only covers Indy Car when Dannica has an incident or some driver smashes his car into a million pieces but to have your local coverage curtailed must really hurt.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — May 3, 2011 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

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