By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Franchione is likely gone within seconds of the final whistle of the season, if not sooner. The Aggies are bowl-eligible, thanks to a cupcake schedule, so he may hang on through the end of whatever crummy bowl A&M goes to. But he's a dead man walking.
At least this time, he won't be telling his players "so long, suckers!" over the phone.
Music Turkey of the Year: Mike Jones
Not since Tommy Tutone sang about 867-5309 has an artist done more for a phone number than Houston rapper Mike Jones.
And then, it seems, done less with his newfound fame.
Jones exploded onto the scene in 2005, endlessly exhorting his fans to call him at "281-330-8004, baby" (don't bother; chances are good it's busy).
And since then he's been hard at work...trying to piss his success away as fast as he can.
Jones has thrown around money on Bentleys and bling, which after all isn't the most unusual thing a newly successful rapper might do. But he's also seen fit to get embroiled in a nasty fight with his first label, SwishaHouse, and that's effectively kept him from taking advantage of his 15 minutes in the sun.
Like a lot of young artists, he thought SwishaHouse was screwing him with his contract. (A musical act getting screwed by a label? That's news.)
There's few things duller than the details of a record-label dispute, so we'll spare you. The bottom line is that the guy who exploded onto the scene might be fizzling away into a dud.
Jones has tried to break out on his own, but he's still hampered by the deal he signed. He's moved to get Rap-A-Lot's muscle behind him, but when was the last time you heard any new Mike Jones stuff on the radio? (If you wanted to, that is.)
Some are not all that sad to see him go.
"Bunch of fucking idiots is what it is," says one Texas rap promoter of the Jones-SwishaHouse dispute. "Plus, who the fuck can listen to an entire Mike Jones record without throwing up? He's the most one-dimensional waste-of-time rapper I ever heard. And that includes Vanilla Ice. At least Vanilla Ice can dance."
Tommy Tutone, you may have some company soon in the category of One-Hit Telephone Song Wonders. The new guy will be driving up in a Bentley...if he's saved while he had the chance. So, probably, forget about the Bentley part.
Media Turkey of the Year: Michael Berry
Let's say you're a giant media conglomerate that operates radio stations all over the nation. AM radio is in turmoil these days, so who do you hire to run your AM operations in the country's fourth-largest city?
Someone who has absolutely no experience running a radio station, much less three of them.
City Councilman Michael Berry, who is soon to be term-limited out of office, is now a radio mogul. Since April he's been Clear Channel's AM guy in Houston, a job for which he extensively trained by hosting a talk show.
Berry is no longer giving out interviews about his radio gig to the media, but we talked to him about sports-talk radio for a cover story a while back. Let's just say he's absolutely confident that he's up to the job.
And let's just say your assessment may differ.
Berry oversees KTRH, KPRC and KBME. The latter is sports 24/7, and struggling in the ratings.
The other two are the most famous AM stations in town, pioneers in different ways in Houston radio.
They're still pioneering. In sucking.
KPRC has become "Radio Mojo," and it is exactly as bad as the name sounds. The station, which led the way in radio talk for years, now broadcasts eight freaking hours of Walton & Johnson.
If you don't know Walton & Johnson...well, first thank whatever God you pray to. Then realize that airing eight hours a day of their tired shtick is like XM deciding to put on a 24-hour channel of Gallagher stand-up.
It's not just that their allegedly wacky group of character voices includes a redneck and a lisping gay guy, it's that — if listening to the show is any indication — they apparently haven't had an original thought in years. Last month — in 2007, mind you — they spent a whole segment discussing, and taking as gospel, that idiotic list of people whom the Clintons supposedly have had killed.
KPRC follows this abomination with Howard Stern wanna-be Mancow. We just hope they don't get the bends from diving so ferociously for the lowest common denominator.
And then there's KTRH, long known as the city's leading news station. Back in the day (say, the early '90s) it had up to three dozen people staffing regular beats (City Hall, the courts) and breaking investigative news.
Now there's maybe half that number of people, and they ain't breakin' much. Unless you count rip-and-reading that morning's Chronicle.
"A viable news operation has been slowly frittered away," one KTRH alum says.
Berry has shown a keen eye for spotting potential ethical problems — and then acting like they don't exist. He is, after all, the boss of KTRH, which occasionally covers City Council. Including City Council member Michael Berry. Doesn't bother him.