2010 Turkeys of the Year

Metro chief Frank Wilson is our biggest gobbler.

We imagine the memo a consultant would have written beforehand.

To: Rice

From: Your high-priced consultants

Re: The KTRU sale

Everyone: Thanks for the briefing on what you're planning to do with UH.

It's clear to us that there are two options. We'll call the first one the Obvious, Smart Choice and the second the Really, Really Dumb Choice.

Option One: The Smart, Completely-Obvious-to-Anyone-Breathing Route to Take

The key to this option is always keeping in mind that the vast majority of people don't really care about KTRU. They may like the idea of it, perhaps even nostalgically recall when it was the first to play the Ramones or Soundgarden or Strawberry Alarm Clock or whatever, but no one's listened to it in years. It's kinda like The Simpsons.

So what do you do? Easy: Have lots and lots of "town hall meetings" with "stockholders" and anyone who "has skin in the game." Present dire options.

First, the meeting with the radio staff. This will be the most intense, so get someone who can take a lot of flak and a) nod sympathetically, b) promise to take the ideas she/he is hearing right up to the highest levels and c) (most important) keep a straight face. This last part can be difficult, obviously, especially as show hosts make dramatic threats to rouse up student demonstrations.

After that, it's gravy. Post flyers all over the dorms announcing a session on KTRU. At the session, which will be sparsely attended, emphasize that the station will still be available on the net. Watch attendees leave, bored.

Now, the alumni or local residents. Don't hit too hard on the advertising on this one (not because alumni will show up — Lord knows they will find much, much better things to do), but you never know what kind of local lunatics will show up to harangue you about squelching free speech, the corporatization of Amerikkka, whatever. It's too much to ask anyone to bear. Just do enough in the way of announcing the meetings to get away with saying there were plenty of chances for public input and no one really showed up.

Then, after you've seen the KTRU staff try in vain to get anyone to care, possibly having to put up with some glorified "We're Not Leaving!!" lock-themselves-in-the-studio drama, you present a report on how you've listened to everyone and feel confident in moving forward.

Cost: A couple of hours of an intern sitting around looking at Facebook on her BlackBerry while pretending to be listening to losers gripe.

Option Two: The Really, Really Dumb Way to Go

The key to this option is keeping in mind that the core KTRU constituency, such as it is, is made up of old hippies, young proto-anarchists and anyone who loves to wallow in fights against The Man, in whatever corporate form he takes.

So to fully understand the dumbness of this proposed method, you have to understand that it will reinforce every suspicion, bad feeling and resentment in anyone who feels even fleetingly some small connection with that constituency.

So what do you do? Easy: Keep everything secret. "Why?" you say. "We're selling an asset, how could publicity hurt?"

You're missing the point. You need to take great pains to keep things secret — in fact, write memos about how you've made an embargo deal with the Houston Chronicle so you can have "a quiet weekend" before the vote on the sale. If you want to go really nuts, feel free to write another e-mail saying how you are deceiving the Houston Press so they won't publish the story "prematurely."

The point is, make yourself, and the sale, look as evil and manipulative as possible.

You'll stir up resentment, give legitimacy to the previously marginalized KTRU people and possibly engender court costs from a lawsuit.

Like we say, there's a reason we named this option what we did.

But, hey, it's your choice. We're sure you'll choose wisely.

Or, on the other hand, Rice and its administration could choose to nominate themselves for a Turkey award. It's clear what option they chose.

The Coulda-Beens

The runners-up to this year's slate of Turkeys of the Year all deserve, at the very least, a participation medal. They gave their all, no one can gainsay that, but in the end they all just lacked that one little piece of true Turkeyness to put them over the top. Or, more likely, they had someone completely Turkified they were trying to compete with. (Hey, you try to out-nut the State Board of Education.)

The silver and bronze medalists:

Bill White might have been a shoo-in any other year for Political Turkey. Running as a Democrat for statewide office in Texas, on the program of being a big-city mayor? In a city that has minorities in it who are dealt with as legitimate constituents? Not in this Tea Party cycle. Still, he gave it all he had. Very, very earnestly. We're sure he still goes to bed dreaming of how he'd kick Perry's ass in a debate.

Gary Kubiak, as we indicated above, came oh-so-close to winning Sports Turkey. He came as close as, say, a missed Kris Brown kick, a Sage Rosenfels helicopter fumble, a Hail Mary for the all-time highlight reel. We'd say, as Texan fans have long grown used to saying, that there's always next year, but we're not sure Kubiak will be around to try.

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