Lefsetz: Sizing Up the Winners & the Losers

Mark-Zuckerberg.AOL

Makes online easy.

But it turns out online is much more than their walled garden and that cable and telephone companies utilize pricing pressure to get people to sign up for a bundle that includes internet access. Turns out that access is king. All of AOL’s content was no match for high speed access to everything.

AOL survives as a lame portal that gets way too much attention from Wall Street. And if you’ve got AOL e-mail, switch immediately. The truth is you’re missing out on so many messages, with AOL’s spam filters so tight and ever-changing.

GOOGLE

Made search work.

Create comprehension from chaos, make the world understandable and usable for a huge swath of people and you’ll get rich.

But you won’t stay rich. In mobile, search is secondary, it’s all about the app.

But what is most interesting about Google is it got a pass. Utilizing its mantra of “Don’t be evil” to market itself as a new kind of company (that only lasted until earnings faltered), Google’s history is about the public and press giving it a chance when it does not deserve one. Sure, Google gave us Gmail, a slightly better Hotmail, but it makes no money on YouTube, Google Plus is an invasive disaster and Google Glass was a sideshow that got a ton of publicity while WhatsApp and Snapchat got all the glory.

Just because someone is good at one thing, don’t assume they’re good at everything. Furthermore, just because someone is rich, that doesn’t make them smart and indomitable.

EVAN SPIEGEL

Who?

He’s Mr. Snapchat, who’s now a billionaire.

It’s easy to be a one trick pony. But now Spiegel has pivoted Snapchat into a content company, something prognosticators did not foresee, increasing dramatically the value of the enterprise. Like Mark Zuckerberg before him, Spiegel refused to sell out at a low price, he believed in himself and his vision. Those who take the short money, however large, are losers.

MARK ZUCKERBERG

Facebook is an advertising company, not a social network. After his HTML5 mistake, Zuckerberg pivoted and made Facebook the king of mobile advertising. It’s like a klezmer band deciding it’s better to make pop music. Well, a very successful klezmer band. Proving, even if the Winklevosses came up with the idea, they never could have turned Facebook into the juggernaut it has become. Continue reading

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Jack Goes Confidential: Vince Vaughn Disappoints In ‘Unfinished Business’

UnknownYou think it’s easy being a critic?

Think again.

It’s a job that leaves yourself wide open for many a disappointment.

Case in point.

I’ve been a fan of Vince Vaughn’s brand of comedy for quite some time now. Loved him in SWINGERS, WEDDING CRASHERS and OLD SCHOOL.

Heck, I even appreciated him in BREAK-UP and THE INTERNSHIP.

However his latest offering, UNFINISHED BUSINESS, has a major portion of its story line set in Berlin, which just so happens to be my second adopted home town.

So you know I was pumped for it. Continue reading

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Glazer: Q104 Superstar Mike Kennedy to Country Radio Hall of Fame

Mike“I was stunned, thrilled when I got the call from  Toby Keith. Mike, you have been elected to the Country Music Radio Hall of Fame.” 

That’s what veteran Q104 morning show host Mike Kennedy told me Wednesday about how happy he was over this rare honor.

Only four deejays nationally were elected this year and our guy was one of them.

Kennedy was attending the Country Radio Convention in Nashville last week when it all went down. He told me he had no clue he was going to be inducted. But he sure has earned the honor.

Kennedy is one of those rare radio personalities today that enjoys more than two decades of both on the air success as well as being an executive in a very tough industry.

Mike is from Emporia, Kansas where he began his radio career in the 1970’s as a just kid.

“I’d only been in fast food and clean up before radio and stayed in this biz ever since.”

Kennedy told me former 61 Country legend Ted Cramer is also in the Hall of Fame. Cramer is with Q104 sister station KFKF FM today. Kennedy began his career with Q104 in 1991 as a program director working over legendary radio bad boy Randy MillerContinue reading

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Jack Goes Confidential: ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’—Is Just That,

1407154479000-XXX-ABEMH2-13405CRP-662214762011’s BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was a real charmer!

It brought out the Medicare crowd in droves. It also had what the industry calls legs. Translation: The film didn’t burn out at the box office after just a couple of weeks. Instead it just kept on playing and playing and playing.

And that was something really unusual!

The audience demographics turned younger the longer the movie played and word of mouth was definitely on its side.

Now for the sequel most of the primarily British cast is back including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel as Sonny, the hotel’s proprietor. Adding American flavoring are Richard Gere and David Strathairn.

You’ll recall that the Marigold Hotel had become more or less a retirement home for various Brits who chose the old Indian hotel for its low cost living expenses. The pound obviously went much further there then it did back home. Continue reading

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Lefsetz: Apple has Samsung, Microsoft & Google on the Ropes

290x195mobileentapps9Gartner Report: “Apple overtakes Samsung as world’s top smartphone maker; fueled by iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.”

Get rid of the removable battery and micro SD card?

That’s like kicking out the drummer and the bass player, hard core fans are not going to like that.

However tech is not like music. In music it’s about establishing a catalogue of hits so you can tour until you die. The future is important, but it’s about the past even more.

In tech if you’re not on the bleeding edge, you’re gonna die, which is what was happening to Apple - it just did not have large enough phones. And it turned out people wanted phablets. Because the whole world is going mobile, that’s where you not only surf and connect, but buy too. It’s like satirist Gary Shteyngart‘s “Super Sad True Love Story” come to life.

And Apple perfected the smartphone.

Let’s not forget, once again, that the Cupertino company was not there first, nor do you have to be – that’s a big story in tech, that the bleeding edge does not often succeed.

MySpace was replaced by Facebook and Rhapsody was overtaken by Spotify and the iPhone kicked the BlackBerry and Treo to the curb. And to win it’s not about marketing so much as functionality. If it just works, people will use it.

Hell, we’re still fighting this war with television remotes. Continue reading

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Valentine: Netanyahu Visit Unmasks Petty Congressional Politics

Original art by Mark Valentine

Original art by Mark Valentine

Who do they really represent ?

Washington was abuzz over Israel prime minister Netanyahu. He came to speak against the deal with Iran. He was invited by the Congress, not the White House. And his speech contained elements that were stark and factual.

Not one person from The White House attended, although CNN showed archival footage that occasionally showed vice president Joe Biden. But don’t be fooled – Biden was nowhere to be found.

The dust up with The White House could have easily been avoided by President Obama, but instead he dug in and made it an issue. That decision made the event one of the most watched speeches ever given in Congress.  The New York Times said that demand for tickets to Netanyahu’s speech before the joint houses of Congress compared to that of a top-class musical concert.

The many Democrats who did not attend allowed us to see that that they no longer represent their districts.

They represent the President. Continue reading

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Donnelly: Strike Still Looms as Sporting Home Opener Approaches

Hamburg-v-Stuttgart-Rafa-van-der-Vaart-celeb_3022108

Rafael van der Vaart

Sporting Kansas City‘s home opener is coming up quick…

It’s scheduled for this Sunday, March 8th at 6:00 p.m. against the New York Red Bulls.

And all signs are pointing to another sold-out season for Sporting, as Kansas City’s soccer madness just continues to boil over – quicker and bigger than most observers ever predicted.  Sunday’s opener is a tough, tough ticket, maybe as tough as I’ve seen over the years, including playoffs.

If you’re lucky enough to have your ticket in hand already, congrats to you.

The weather is supposed to be warm, and the beer should be flowing.  So what to expect from this year’s team?  I’ll get to that in a sec.

But first, let’s talk about that pesky little CBA negotiation that’s ongoing.  And that’s threatening to derail this weekend’s MLS opening games.  The players and owners have been trying to hash out a new deal, and one of the key sticking points is free agency.  I won’t get into it in too much detail, especially since trying to explain the MLS single-entity contract structure is confusing at best, but the players have threatened to strike if their demands are not met. Continue reading

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Steele: Keep the Sewer Flowing but Lower the Fecal Count

screen-shot-2015-01-06-at-9-30-47-amColumnist Tom Friedman of the New York Times once opined, “The Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone.”

And that is its beauty.

In what may be the last days of untreated flow before the FCC puts its filters on, allow me to opine on the ways that the sewer might flow a little bit better.

The advantage that a blog like KC Confidential has over, say, a New York Times is that it creates a community of interested parties all of whom are capable of adding information to the debate.

The advantage that the traditional media have is that they pay their reporters, give them time to develop their stories, and then charge the consumers for that information.

As such, traditional media should have higher standards. They don’t always, but they certainly create higher expectations among their audience. That audience, however, has almost no way to influence the content. Continue reading

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Sutherland: An Evening to Forget with The New Yorker’s George Packer

George-PackerGeorge Packer, long time writer for the New Yorker, was this year’s Carolyn Cockefair Benton Lecturer at UMKC. He spoke Thursday on “What is ISIS and Why Are We Back in Iraq?” 

Much of his material came from his 2005 book, The Assassin’s Gate: America’s Role in Iraq. 

Packer is an outspoken political liberal, once writing a non-fiction history of his family and how its fate was intertwined with the American liberal tradition over three generations, called “The Blood of the Liberals.”

As knowledgeable as he is about the Mid-East, everything gets filtered through a partisan prism, which is not surprising since his employer has become the leading theoretical journal of American liberalism, especially now that The New Republic has imploded.

The inevitable result is that everything is predictably couched in terms of DNC/MSNBC talking points.

Packer began his lecture by stating unequivocally that there was no reason for the U.S. to have gone into Iraq in the first place,unless it was out of an unsatisfied desire for revenge after 9-11, which made no sense since Iraq had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda.

One would never know from Packer’s statement to this effect that he had supported the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Continue reading

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Glazer: A Call for Sanity in TV Weather Warnings

polar-bear-dnr-hoaxIt finally happened…

The weather people got one upped on Saturday. After about 40 or more over the top snow storms being forecast for this winter, finally people went ENOUGH ALREADY!

Some of us have been screaming that nearly every week we get weekend SNOW reports that either don’t happen at all, or are not much. The public panics and doesn’t go out at night. They cancel plans, trips, and even schools are closed. All of this based on snow and ice storms reported by the tv news, radio and even online. As we’vee all learned, while Kansas City gets it share of cold days and nights, we’re NOT a big time snow spot.

We haven’t been for years.

Once again this weekend the media spent much of the time warning us of a big all day and all night snow event coming as early as Friday night, all day Saturday and then Sunday – today – was gonna really get hit.

In the end, as usual, it was mostly much about nothing.

The main part of our city got some “wintery mix” as the media has dubbed it now.

What that really means is, “We don’t know what’s gonna happen so we cover the news with scary predictions.

We did get about an inch early on.

Then the temps climbed and the light snow did not make the roads too bad.

In fact, the major streets on the Kansas side had little at all by late afternoon. You just had to slow down a bit, thats all. FINALLY the public said to itself, “These almost phony weather panic attacks need to stop, lets go OUT.”

Yes, business was down somewhat around town, but not nearly like it had been with other reports where almost nothing happened.

Last Friday the weatherman called for snow and even ice storms. It just rained. That was it. Yet as an example Stanford’s had a big star, Dave Coulier of Full House fame, who had been sold out on paper.

But only half the people showed up for our 9:45 pm show, due to the blizzard and ice storm coming. Yet nothing happened. Even our full shows on Saturday didn’t cover the losses. That goes for all restaurants and evening spots around town.

These way over the top reports and the fear placed by local media costs our city many millions of dollars each week. Continue reading

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Steele: Tom Schweich Suicide — What Really Happened

Tom Schweich

Tom Schweich

I’d expected to vote for Tom Schweich for Missouri governor in 2016…

Although I had met Schweich only briefly, I knew his likely Democratic opponent, Chris Koster, halfway well, and I liked the contrast: dweeby straight arrow vs. blow-dried sleazeball.

I was convinced that Koster had changed parties a few years back because he had too much personal baggage to run for statewide office as a Republican.

Yes, Virgina, Republicans do face more media scrutiny.

Doubt me? Ask Scott Walker. Ask Sam Brownback.

But there was much I didn’t know about Schweich,

Missouri State Auditor for the last four years. One very close associate described him as “high strung and thin skinned,” in this case a lethal combination for a gubernatorial candidate in what promised to be a difficult election.

Schweich did not see the political advantage in his own obvious lack of charisma. I’m told that a recent radio ad comparing him to Barney Fife wounded him deeply.

Schweich had another weakness.

As an establishment guy with a great Ivy resume and years of Washington experience, he understood Missouri’s Republican base no better than does his mentor, the increasingly out-of-touch John Danforth. Continue reading

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Hearne: American Royal Con Game Advances

The Pitch ran this pic last fall to illustrate how few people actually attend the American Royal

The Pitch ran this pic last fall to illustrate how few people actually attend the American Royal

Cross your fingers…

If Kansas City gets lucky – and I mean really lucky – the laughably ridiculous threat by the American Royal to move out of Kemper Arena and the stockyards will come to pass.

They’ll convince some other part of town or city into building a pint sized place to put on the Royal’s dying horse and livestock shows before the bite sized crowds that still subscribe to that dated form of entertainment and move on down the road elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter where the American Royal goes, just that it does indeed go.

Otherwise, the way the all too malleable Kansas City Council works, it’s only a matter of time until the small handful of local business big shots con them into making an incredibly bad deal for local taxpayers to keep the American Royal in the stockyards.

Trust me on that one.

Because short of a miracle, all this hocus locus about threatening to move the American Royal out of good, old KCMO is a total crock.

Nobody with half a clue actually thinks catering to a ridiculously small cadre of horse and livestock lovers is worth investing tens of millions of dollars – taxpayer dollars.

Once upon a time it was.

When I was a child the American Royal mattered – it was a relatively big deal.

However those days are long gone.

The American Royal ain’t NASCAR, nor are they Sporting KC.

People are not going to start attending those type of events just because they build something smaller and nicer.

Look at what happened at the Woodlands.
Continue reading

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New Jack City: ‘The Book of Mormon’ @ The Music Hall, Kansas City

 MORMON3rev-kwicks-slider-size-yoNEWNo display ads for the show in the newspaper lately…

Hardly any TV commercials either.

Did THE BOOK OF MORMON really make it to Kansas City?

You bet it did—and for a two week run no less!

The Tony Award winning show didn’t need the extra hype as it’s packing them in wherever it plays. Wednesday night’s performance at an almost sold out Music Hall certainly was proof of that.

Frankly I didn’t know what to expect.

All I knew is that I’ve been waiting to see the controversial play ever since it became the hottest ticket on Broadway, where it’s still selling out on a daily basis.

Did it deliver? Yes. Was it what I had expected? Yes and no.

One thing is for sure, THE LION KING it’s not.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

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Steele: Book of Mormon or Book of Hypocrisy?

falseThe Star’s Robert Trussell is the rare reviewer to understand the historical significance of the musical, “Book of Mormon,” playing through March 8 at the Music Hall…

“Had the revered composers of shows we now consider to be part of the “golden age” of musicals peered into the future and seen what was coming,” writes Trussell, “their fastidious minds would have viewed it as a grotesque nightmare.”

Trussell accurately describes “Book of Mormon” as “an international hit that mocks religion and the conventions of musical theater with jokes about AIDS, female circumcision, dysentery and African poverty.”

This is all true enough, and in a more equitable world, there might be a place for such a play just as there is for Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s amusing and perversely on-target film “Team America,” but this is not an equitable word.

An American citizen, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, was deep-sixed in a Texas prison for making a mere trailer for a movie, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that questioned Islam. Continue reading

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Leftridge: All Hail King Sweeney

2007 Kansas City Royals Spring TrainingYesterday, the Kansas City Royals announced that Michael John Sweeney would be the 26th player elected to their Hall of Fame. This makes very good and complete sense, as Michael John—or “Mike” as he is more commonly called—was a good baseball player for several years. His inclusion into this semi-elite fraternity of greats seems almost inarguable. But if you’re a contrarian, or just like to be a dick, here are some things to consider.

Point: He was a five time All Star!

Counterpoint: Aaron Crow was an All Star. BOOM. But seriously, there may not be a player in the modern era of baseball who benefited more greatly from the “every team must have a representative” rule than Mike Sweeney. His first All Star year was 2000. You know who else was on that team? Carlos Febles. Ricky Bottalico. JAY WITASICK. (I’m intentionally leaving out Joe Randa, Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye because they don’t prove my point.) Continue reading

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Steele: Some Questions for Kris Ketz to Ask Obama

Kris Ketz "Boy Wonder"

Kris Ketz
“Boy Wonder”

Score one for KMBC 9 News

On Thursday, anchor Kris Ketz will interview President Barack Obama at the White House and report live from Washington all-day Thursday on Channel 9.

It should be a real snooze fest, unless Ketz asks Obama a few of the questions that the rest of the media are afraid to ask.

Ketz might ask:

“Mr. President, what’s with the “042” Social Security number? You could only have gotten that if you lived in Connecticut, but there is no record of your ever having lived there.”

“Mr. President, the late Percy Sutton, a respected black politico, said on air that Saudi billionaire Alaweed bin-Talal’s lawyer asked him to help you get into Harvard Law. Any truth to that? If not, how did you get into Harvard? Your grades in college sucked.” Continue reading

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Hearne: One Up, One Down in the News Mag Game

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.20.52 PMSmall world…

Just as the Kansas City Star‘s weekly Sunday magazine was blowing taps, another newspaper weekly was  soaring to new heights, says former Star editor and reporter Jim Fitzpatrick

“That same day the New York Times redid their magazine,” Fitzpatrick says. “”It’s about three times thicker, completely redesigned and loaded with advertising. You ought to see that thing; I mean, they went all out.”

Star Magazine went to its grave with a measly 24 pages and barely four of those ads.

“The first 30 pages of the New York Times magazine were all ads,” Fitzpatrick says. “And this was the most advertising they’ve had in eight years.” Continue reading

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Lefsetz: Bill O’Reilly is a Puerile Bully

18k3jfhr70vzcjpgKarma’s a bitch…

They’re out to get him, but it’s Bill O’Reilly‘s response that has me flummoxed.

Why does everybody in power double-down? Why do they try and blow their attacker’s house down? It makes men look foolish, that they can’t admit that they are wrong, believing that he with the biggest megaphone wins. When it really just makes them look like blowhards.

I don’t care whether Bill O’Reilly reported from a war zone or not.

But the truth is O’Reilly’s such a bully people are afraid to contradict him. Continue reading

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Steele: But With Whom Will Michael Sam Be Dancing?

0223-michael-sam-dancing-with-the-stars-tmz-7

Michael Sam

In December, readers of TMZ were treated to the shocking headline, “I’m Not in the NFL Because I’m Gay,” so insinuated former Missouri star defensive end Michael Sam

“I think I was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year,” Sam told TMZ. “So I don’t think it had to do with talent.”

This month’s TMZ headline was more promising, sort of, for the would-be Jackie Robinson of gayness. “I JUST SIGNED!!! With ‘Dancing With The Stars.'”

Now there’s a headline that will have NFL general managers speed dialing Sam’s agent. Or not. Even TMZ, not exactly an insider sport hotspot, saw a problem brewing: Continue reading

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Hearne: End of the Trail for ‘Star Magazine’

Star Magazine columnist Cindy Hoedel

Star Magazine columnist Cindy Hoedel

And another one bites the dust…

After 45 years, the Kansas City Star newspaper’s Star Magazine is no more. The weekly tabloid was distributed inside the financially all-important Sunday edition where it bridged the divide between hard news, sports and entertainment.

Over the years Star Mag blossomed as a showcase for feature writers and photographers.

More recently, it had become something of a catch all for society schmooze pics that previously appeared (albeit more selectively) in the long gone “society section,: schmaltzy connection stories, abbreviated travel tips that used to appear in the now defunct”travel section,” syndicated items, flashbacks down Hippie Trippie Lane and snapshots of small town life, people and places .

Some of Star Mag’s profiles were good – like the one about jeweler Harold Tivol a few years back – but too many served as little more than excuses to promote various forms of diversity via writing about obscure, not wildly interesting people.

Speaking of flashbacks… Continue reading

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