It was much to my surprise Wednesday evening when I reviewed my monthly credit card statement and found several charges from iTunes. While it's not irregular to see the occasional song purchase by myself or one of my kids on the account, I was seeing purchases in the $20 range. And not just one, duplicates on consecutive days. And upon further research, there were more than a dozen of these charges.
After logging on to iTunes and not being able to match the charges with the statement, I woke up Thursday morning to hear John and Susan on WBEN reporting a multi-million dollar settlement Apple was involved in as a result of so-called "in-app" purchases. A light went off! Were my kids unsuspectingly clicking something and making charges against the account with an innocent click within some popular games?
I made a call to the Apple and iTunes folks and tried to get some answers. I have to say, their customer support is tremendous and they followed through via email and on the phone. During the process it was uncovered that these charges, perhaps not as severe, had been piling up for months. The Apple Rep not only arranged for a refund of the in-app charges in question, she was very helpful in pointing out some features on the iPhone that can help prevent this type of thing from happening.
So, I'm asking you to do two things! Talk to your kids about clicking on anything to enhance their performance in games that may be tied to purchases! And better yet, take the following steps on ANY iPhone to restrict in-App purchaes on the devices. Hopefully this will help avoid the same problems I encountered. By the way, the Apple phone number that got me on the right track is: 800-275-2273
Go to SETTINGS
Click on GENERAL
Scroll to RESTRICTIONS and click
Enter or set up a RESTRICTIONS PASSCODE
(if you have one it would date to when you first got the phone)
For 83 years, WBEN has been the dominant radio station in the Buffalo area at 930 on the AM dial. Beginning Thursday, September 26th at 12 noon, WBEN will no longer simulcast programming on 107.7 FM WLKK and one great radio station will remain on one great dial position, 930 AM.
After determining through research that 95% of listening to WBEN is happening on the 930 AM signal, we're making the change to allow for a yet-to-be announced radio option on FM 107.7. While I'm certainly aware many people added the FM signal to their daily routine, the vast majority of you who enjoy WBEN continue to do so on the 930 AM signal.
In reality I know many of you are disappointed and upset about the decision as you used the FM signal when you were commuting outside of our regular 930 am coverage area. I understand that concern and would encourage you to make use of our other transmission assets that may help fill any voids.
I myself use the WBEN iPhone app regularly to listen to WBEN when I'm traveling outside of the Buffalo metro area or simply am in a spot where the signal may be marginal. The reality today is that you can hear WBEN anywhere in the world with the technology we have at our disposal.
As broadcasters, when we see that 95% of our vast audience is receiving us from one signal, it encourages us to seek a void in the marketplace and use the additional signal to help fill it. That's the plan for 107.7fm WLKK and that will be unveiled Thursday.
Here's what WON'T change. WBEN.
We will continue to offer you all the news and talk programming you depend on and enjoy. John, Susan, Sandy, Rush, Tom and the complete WBEN News Team will be there for you every day, whether it's 930 AM, here at wben.com, the iPhone and Android apps or the WBEN mobile website.
I welcome your comments below and thank you for listening to and relying on WBEN!
In 1972, an executive at ABC Radio told Rush Limbaugh, "If you want to stay in this business, you had better go into sales, because you just don’t have the talent. You’re never going make it’". Now, 25 years later, you know the rest of the story.(Sorry for stealing a line from another radio icon, Paul Harvey)
Actually most people working in the radio industry have a story like that to tell. I know I do, but I'll save that for another time. But Rush's story is an interesting one in that he blazed a new trail with the start of his talk radio show. After his start in Missouri and stints in Kansas City and other places, Limbaugh was on WABC Radio in New York City when his show syndicated on August 1, 1988.
In 1988, who would have thought that someone would listen to three hours of someone talking on the radio? What about the music? I remember joining WBEN in 1988 as a part time newsman and the only talking came in between the songs and the news at the top and bottom of every hour. In Buffalo, the likes of Tom Bauerle and John Otto were doing some longform talking on WGR and WKBW, but it was relegated to late nights and weekends. That would never work during the day, right?
I still remember the day at WBEN when I heard the rumblings in the hallways that we would soon begin to air a three hour talk show at 12n. Huh? What would this guy Rush Limbaugh possibly talk about for three hours? And who would listen? Well Rush took off in a short time on WBEN and dozens and dozens of radio stations across the country. Now his affiliates are measured by the hundreds, not dozens.
Rush blazed the way for Phil Donahue, Dr. Dean Edell and Dr. Laura on the radio. And soon the format of talk became a "real" thing and saved the AM dial from the fidelity FM had to offer the music formats. Today talk radio is a top radio format in the country and the stations are now migrating to the FM dial and the format has split off into multiple genres that attract different demographics.
WFAN followed the talkradio model and went all sports. Sports 24/7 on the radio? Who would listen to that? Today sportsradio is one of the hottest growing formats on both the AM and FM dials.
Rush Limbaugh was truly a pioneer in radio. Set his politics and opinions aside, he recognized that there was a place for talk on the radio and he knew how to build a loyal following. Rush isn't just a guy on the radio who talks, he is a guy on the radio who his faithful can identify with. He shares his listeners ideals, lets them know they're not alone and he represents their ideals on a national stage.
If your own personal politics are on the other side of Rush's, you might be ready to cast Rush aside and disregard what he's built on the radio. Like his beliefs or not, you really need to credit Rush for a style of radio that has changed the way a nation uses the radio.
Rush is the reason you have a radio station like WBEN where the conversation continues 24/7 with Sandy Beach, Tom Bauerle, Sean Hannity and others. Rush had a vision for a new kind of radio where the person on the air replaced the music as the star.
Rush Limbaugh may not always be "right". But he sure got it "right" when he launched his nationally syndicated radio talk show.
Ten years after the ban on indoor smoking in New York State, it's interesting to look back at how the law has settled-in and how other annoyances have taken over. If you need a reminder of what life was like then, just stop in at a casino and it should all come back to you quickly! Remember those days of hanging your clothes to air them out from the smoke inside many institutions?
Ten years ago, those of us non-smokers would grudgingly sit in a restaurant and take in the tobacco odor and smoke from the smoker at the table next to us. Now, we're 'smoke-free' but need to listen to them on their cell phone talking to their spouse, boss or babysitter. That's almost as bad, but at least it's not a health issue. And no, we don;t need a law for that either!
At the time the smoking law was being debated and implemented, many a business owner and restaurant operator was arguing their business would suffer. And initially it probably did. But those short term losses seem to have given way to long term benefits. With fewer and fewer people smoking these days, it seems to be in the best interests of a business to be smoke-free and force those who want to smoke to find a suitable spot to do so.
I'm not a big proponent of having government legislate what makes good sense. But this time it seems like the ban has simply followed the social wave toward less smoking. With more non-smokers out there, it makes sense for businesses to cater to them. And it's also a law that's relatively easy to enforce. Then, there is that health benefit to consider too.
So many would now argue that if the smoking ban was a good law, why not keep passing laws that legislate our lifestyles? Should we ban smoking in your car? In your house? What about those sugary sodas and fatty foods? I think not. When it comes to legislating common sense, it's probably a time to draw the line. The smoking law was a success in its implementation because it eradicated unhealthy and unpleasant exposure to smoke for the non-smoker.
We have enough laws on the books. It would just be nice if some of them worked as well as the smoking ban has. Wouldn't it be nice to read one less headline about someone killed in an accident caused by distracted driving while texting or drinking and driving?
It's commonplace that we live in a largely smoke-free society in 2013. We can only hope it will be just as common to see such broad compliance with the multitude of other laws we already have in place.
The old saying goes "there ought to be a law". I say, just enforce the ones we have. And the smoking ban has been a good one and stood the test of a decade.
When the deal was announced Thursday afternoon between New York State and the Seneca Indian Nation, we immediately made some calls to change the direction of "Buffalo's Early News" for Friday morning.
I personally made the call to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster's mobile phone and got his voicemail. I asked if he would come into our studios at 7am Friday and join John and Susan. Mayor Dyster accepted the offer and called our newsroom to confirm. After calling Mayor Dyster, like any good journalist, I thought it would be a good idea to have some native input on the show. I called John Kane who hosts a show on WWKB Radio and asked if he would come in studio as well. He agreed. Now the first question some would ask is, "did either of them know the other would be here". They were booked separately and both were good enough to agree to come in.
Shortly after the interview began, Mayor Dyster became visibly upset at John Kane's thoughts on the deal and his opinion that the Seneca's got the short end of the stick. When John Kane said he felt Governor Cuomo and Mayor Dyster owed the Seneca's an apology, Mayor Dyster jumped in and said he would leave if "this keeps up". So he walked out.
Really Mayor? Let me repeat the title MAYOR.
If you're charged with being the elected leader of a city I think you should be comfortable enough with your beliefs, thoughts and positions to hear from someone who may disagree and have an adult conversation about those differences. It's been a long and divisive road to this deal and obviously there will be some who don't like how it ended. As the leader of the city, I think it's a mandatory trait to be able to address those differences with something more than "blessed are the peacemakers" and "let it go". The Mayor told the audience "this is not why I came in here". Apparently the Mayor expected to come in and sit in the glow of praise for the deal. There are two sides, sometimes more, to every story and it's only right to allow those differences to be aired and let each individual decide.
In the end, the deal is done and has been at least ceremoniously signed. I don't have a strong opinion on who won or who lost in this agreement. And if it really is a good deal, no one lost.
But I do have a strong opinion on how Mayor Dyster walked out of an interview and took the spotlight away from the issue and put it on his sophomoric reaction to being challenged by John Kane. John Kane never raised his voice and presented his ideas in a professional and mature manner. The Mayor took the low road and walked out, leaving the remainder of the interview to Kane alone.
John Kane says the Mayor owes the Seneca Nation an apology. I think the Mayor owes his constituents an apology for walking out and not standing up to someone who disagrees with him.
I'm thinking if you're asked to sing the national anthem before the start of any event, you should really take it seriously and learn the words and music. We've all heard poor renditions of the anthm over the years. Usually it's simply some artistic twist on the music that makes it go bad. But the singer usually knows the lyrics and doesn't need the crowd to sing along and provide the "bouncing ball".
Singer Alexis Normand is Canadian, so it may be understandable that she is not completely familiar with all the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
But I'm thinking she should have learned the lyrics before agreeing to sing the anthem of the United States before Saturday's Memorial Cup hockey game between the Portland Winterhawks and Halifax Mooseheads.
After successfully belting out "O Canada," Normand tackled Francis Scott Key's famous song. Here is what happened:
This sort of makes Rosanne Barr look like a Grammy winner, doesn't it?
I'm thinking Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black felt about the same Monday afternoon as Ryan Miller did in this photo when he couldn't do anything about a puck that was about to hit the back of the net. During the Sabres end of season news conference, any hopes Black had to offer some reasoned commentary ended when two members of the media peppered him on the timing of the Sabres season ticket price increase announcement and the perceived lack of availability of team owner Terry Pegula. And while I won't apologize for the press for asking the questions, I will raise my hand and at least say it was the "way" and "tone" that the questions were delivered that derailed the season-ending session.
But here's what I'm thinking.
What happened at that press conference was a manifestation of how this town feels about its sports teams. They come up short of the playoffs, we're told we're "rebuilding" and some of the key names who occupy the top management offices remain in place. All that while, in some cases, the price of a ticket goes up. If you've spent any amount of time in Buffalo, you've heard this before. And you'll undoubtedly hear it again.
Ted Black and Darcy Regier saw up close and personal the frustration of many a fan through the tone of the questions lobbed by Jerry Sullivan and Mike Harrington. It was heated indeed. And Ted Black admittedly lost his cool too, even offering a rare apology at the end of the session.
While many are taking sides and pointing the finger at the media or the Sabres management in the verbal spar, I'm saying it's just the same conversation that's being had on the streets of "hockey heaven". Fans are frustrated. And I think it's a good sign Ted Black has a temper to lose. Does anyone honestly think he wants anything other than the same thing the fans do? A winning season. Playoffs. Maybe even a cup.
I'll completely agree that fans receiving a season ticket price increase notification in the mail on the day of the final game and "fan appreciation day" is a timing blunder, but I'd challenge anyone to find many entertainment options where the price is staying the same or going down. If the cost of tickets needs to go up, so be it. But at least think twice about when you send out the notice. And the fact that Terry Pegula is a billionaire really shouldn't have anything to do with how much a ticket costs. The Sabres, or any professional sports franchise for that fact, aren't a charity or not for profit.
Finally, as for Terry Pegula being made available for the media? How many owners have a press conference at the end of a losing season? I think we can all agree that Pegula has done more good than bad for this community by snatching up the Sabres and investing millions in our waterfront. Pegula has entrusted Black and Regier to lead the team. That's where the anger should be directed. Had we gone to the playoffs and Pegula didn't do an end of season news conference, would we be having the same conversation? I think not.
Sports is simple. When you win, people smile. When you lose, people are mad.
If you're from Buffalo, I hope this is interesting. But it shouldn't be new. And if you're not from Buffalo, this writing may explain the attitude of many a Buffalo sports fan.
This is the land where we judge the success of our seasons by how close we get to almost making it to the playoffs.
For the past few weeks at work, I've been hearing the chatter in the hallways that goes something like this: "We're only four points out of the 8th spot" or "If we win tonight and two other teams lose, we might be within three points of the 8th spot"! And then there is my favorite conversation on the radio that suggests we're better off simply losing out, losing our remaining games, to make certain we have a good shot in the draft. How pathetic.
But it doesn't end there. It's relentless and it happens year after year. It happens in football season and in hockey season. And if that's not enough, it even happens during the off season. We hope for change at the deadlines and in the drafts and our hopes are most often dashed. We certainly can't forget the 24/7 Mario Williams watch can we? Days went by and we sat on the edge of our seats wondering if we would win the prize. This was it! Mario could be the off season ticket to the NFL post season. We all know how that went.
In other towns the trading deadlines and drafts are times to bolster their teams and make them better. In this town, those days are better than the regular season! These pivotal days offer us hope that maybe we will make the moves that will help us finally bring home the championship hardware. Again, hopes dashed.
I can't criticize the brass of the Bills and Sabres for not trying. They've spent sizeable amounts of money and invested in the teams. But the formulas just seem cursed. Think about it. Wide right! No goal! John Rigas! Mario Williams! And that's just a handful in the bag of Buffalo sports bitter pills. Oh, and don't be caught saying we missed Briere and Drury after we let them slip away. That's truly taboo.
Sure, we all want a Superbowl or Stanley Cup championship. But I'd settle for just being more excited about our teams during their respective seasons than on days like today, the NHL trade deadline. Today is a day we hear Buffalo Sabres fans hoping for a trade involving the players who once brought us such great joys and hopes. Who could imagine, just a year or two ago, talk of trades involving Pominville, Vanek or Miller. Now it's just part of the Buffalo sports conversation.
I know great teams are built over years and I know it takes bold moves on days like today to lay the foundation for a true championship team. But forgive me for being from Buffalo and saying "we've been here and done this before". And we always buy into the hope that it WILL work. Let's hope it does.....this time.
But we'll have to do it with one or two fewer of our favorites here in "Pominville".
Right from the start, I'll tell you I hate these things.
I can tell you the worst part of the East basket on for me as a kid would be when I got through the chocolate and found the marshmallow peeps at the bottom. Inevitably they'd be stuck to the fake green grass alongside the jellybeans(not much my favorite either) just lying in wait. Maybe my sisters would make a trade?
What is it about Peeps that so many people love? In case you haven't heard, they're now 60 years old, are manufactured just north of Philadelphia and are enjoying a growing success. Why? They're marshmallows coated with colorful crystallized sugar. Yuck.
I married into a Peep family. My wife and sisters-in-law love these things. Around this time of year the Peeps start to show up at the door, dropped off by a thoughtful family member who picked them up on sale. I'll open the freezer and find them sitting next to the ice cream(they're good frozen I'm told). And if I time things right, I may walk in the house when the kids pop the Peeps in the microwave and pull the gooey mess out on a paper plate and devour them. Yes, my kids inherited the taste for Peeps.
60 years and going stronger than ever, I find Peeps to be a "love 'em or hate 'em" proposition. Where do you fit in? And feel free to share how you eat your "Peeps".
So it's the first day of Spring, it's below freezing and the ground is white! Welcome to Buffalo, where Spring can mean 80 degrees(like it was a year ago) or lake effect snow as it is today. But we're Buffalonians and we just grin and "bear" it.
Well I might suggest that a little "bear" may be just the 'pick me up' we all need on this unseasonable start to Spring.
"Luna", the new polar bear cub at The Buffalo Zoo, is bringing smiles to our faces as the little one gets a taste of the environment she loves. SNOW! I think this video will cheer you up on this otherwise blustery and frightful first day of Spring!