He’s Running For What? For Real?

While Doug Morris dot org was in the midst of getting back up and running (and again, I can’t thank Geof and Indigo enough for their help in getting this site and DougMorris.net back up and revived), this somewhat surprising news came to my attention.

The Real Rick James — yes, my former boss at SL-100 — is making a run for the Mississippi state legislature. He’ll run as a democrat seeking the House District 102 seat — currently occupied by Lee Jarrell Davis, a republican. As he does, he’s continuing his work selling houses for a local real estate office.

Now, call this a grudge if you like, but speaking as a voter and as someone who used to work for Rick James, I could never vote for Rick. See why here and read onward.

One thing that’s siding against Rick is the fact he’s not a native of this area. Lee Jarrell is from Seminary; Rick arrived here circa 1991 after roving from town to town, up and down the radio dial, beginning his life in the Washington, DC area.

Another thing, I don’t think he has a real grasp of the issues facing South Mississippi. That’s evidenced on the talk shows he hosted on former news/talk stations WQIS (which is now WEEZ, a gospel station) and WXHB (which is now a …stop me if you’ve heard this one … gospel station). On these shows, he rarely dealt with local issues. True, he did have area law enforcement officers, politicians and such as guests from time to time. But most of Rick’s subject material dealt with UFO investigations, national government corruption and the like. Eye-opening stuff — but that’s better left to folks like Art Bell.

With all that said, can Rick win? Only if he’s really serious about the political office he seeks.

Rick’s not coming into this as a rookie, per se. He comes into this with some campaign experience — having helped with Ronnie Shows’ run for the new 3rd US congressional district last year. Ronnie lost. While it’s so easy to place some blame on Rick, in the final analysis, most of the new district’s territory favored the eventual winner, Chip Pickering. A friend of mine was in Meridian a week before the election and saw lots of Pickering campaign signs — but not many for Shows (including one Shows sign that was upside-down…signal of distress?).

So, with that experience in hand, the only way I see Rick winning is if he campaigns day and night. From the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed — campaign, campaign, campaign.

Already, I’m not seeing good signs — because, in the midst of a lot of road-travelling this weekend, I saw lots of campaign signs — but none that read “Vote Rick James for Legislature” (in fairness, I didn’t see any Lee Jarrell signs, either).

No matter what, now’s a good time to begin a full-scale attack. By “full-scale attack”, this means he’ll have to show up at any debates that are scheduled, he’ll have to speak on the issues at rallies and other events, he’ll have to speak with possible future constituents and he’ll even have to purchase advertising on billboards, in newspapers and TV and even radio stations.

Ah, yes, radio — the very medium he butchered at three different stations. Most of what follows further adds to the reasoning why I could never vote for Rick — no matter what the office. So if you want to stop reading here, that’s fine.

One example of his faults in radio: During the “Talk Radio 890” days of WQIS, Rick’s mid-morning show would start at 10:00 exactly — and go right on up ’til 11:06 — thus bypassing *two* top of the hour network newsbreaks and going straight to Rush Limbaugh. Quite odd and not one of his smarter moves.

Staying with QIS: When the station managed to get the Rush show from the old WHSY-AM 1230 (which the Blakeneys got in the deal for what’s now Rock 104…but have yet to even sign on the carrier almost a decade after the fact since 1230 barely covers one county), there was precious little publicity. Quite sad when Rush’s popularity was quite high nationally during this time — the Clinton administration. “When you’ve got it, flaunt it” — isn’t that the signature line from The Producers? WQIS, under Rick’s guidance, didn’t even bother spreading the word in those first few months.

At this point in time, WDAM-TV was carrying Rush’s TV show (albeit on a one-day delay in the afternoons). I told Rick that’s a perfect opportunity to buy some ad time for WQIS. I even remember suggesting how this TV spot should be staged. Have some guy standing in front of an old radio with an unseen announcer asking, “Looking for Rush’s radio show?” After the guy nods yes, finish the spot with the announcer saying, “Your search has ended (insert logo here full screen) with Talk Radio 890 AM, WQIS”. Short and simple. Total run time — 10 seconds. Can’t be too expensive, right?

Whatever the reason, Rick just never tackled the idea of spreading the word about Rush and QIS’ other programming. He just simply hoped word of mouth would be pub enough. Sadly, the station suffered from it. WQIS didn’t have many sponsors in its years under a talk format (gee, what a surprise).

One last point on this matter: About six months into WQIS being the new home of Rush, SL-100 and WQIS were at the Food, Home and Health Show (either the first or second ever show). Among the freebies for those who stopped by the stations’ booth: bumper stickers from SL and 890 — including some that were custom-made for Rush affiliates that read “RUSH IS RIGHT — TALK RADIO 890 WQIS”. Several Rush fans said something to the effect of, “Oh, wonderful, you’re carrying his show now. I’ve been listening to WWL-870 out of New Orleans to get my Rush fix. Thanks for the info.” Info that could’ve been shared six months sooner.

Moving on to another example of Rick’s radio brilliance (har har): When Rick became the new station manager of WESV, later to taken on the WXHB calls, the station was beginning a new life as a talk station. Strangely enough, XHB was a new home for Rush since WQIS changed formats to beautiful music after I left for Rock 104 and Rick was fired (yeah, elevator music on an AM station…don’t ask).

Early on for XHB, there was no studio line and the station had little, if any, sponsorship (again, Rick did little to publicize a new talk station…sound familiar?). So, for the first few of his shows, it was just Rick talking…and talking…and talking…and talking. Fascinating stuff, ain’t it?

I’ve already told my tales of SL-100 here — so I won’t repeat them.

Now, with Rick mismanaging these stations, you’d think I’m predicting a landslide win for Lee Jarrell, right? Not so fast.

Remember that phrase “full-scale attack”? As Rick campaigns for this office, I think he can afford to take an occasional swipe at opposition. While the last time I talked to him was the day I turned in my resignation notice (and I prefer to keep it that way), I think Rick understands he’s coming into this as the challenger trying to knock out a champ.

But, Rick shouldn’t be negative in every ad. If all Rick says is “Lee Jarrell did this” and “my opponent screwed up on that” and “because of all of Lee Jarrell’s boneheaded moves, that’s why you should vote for me” and such, forget it. Negative campaigning gets real old, real quick.

Plus, if Rick thinks he can win solely based on voter dislike toward Lee Jarrell or the public’s readiness for change, that proves to me he hasn’t changed one bit. He’s got to promote his agenda aggressively or else he’ll lose. Also, if I read things right, there’s another democratic challenger wanting to run against Lee Jarrell. So, the party primary’s a whole other hurdle for Rick.

This race will be an interesting one to watch — that is if Rick chooses to make it interesting.

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