Tag Archives: Cleveland

One For the Books

January 11, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Well, another year has come and gone. That is to say: last year has gone, and this new one has come. That is, to be more precise, assuming you are reading this essay sometime after the annual transition and all of the associated festivities and repercussions. Frankly, it’s hard for me to know when anything is coming or going anymore, so let’s just agree that it’s 2017, okay?”

Last year really sucked. But then, most do.  I mean, nothing good happened at all, am I right?

Well, except the Cubs…they happened, and that was good. Even though allowances must be made for Cardinals fans, oh…and Cleveland fans, and maybe football fans, Cricket aficionados, purists of rounders, and other reprobates who hate baseball…So, I have to admit the Cubs winning might be considered a bad thing, and thus, part of a bad year…but for me it was good. I mean, the Cubs are World Champions! Who’da thunk it? I’m thrilled, and I hope that’s fine with you.

But except for the Cubs, last year really sucked.

Well, except for Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. That was cool, though again, there are those who can’t stand Bob Dylan’s voice…or people who actually think Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” is great stuff…or the few who dislike his stuff because it’s hard to dance to…Well, just remember Bob didn’t get the prize for his vocals or rhythms, but rather, for his poetic lyrics…and I memorized all the words to Highway 61 Revisited within 48 hours of buying my copy, so it was good for me. I hope that’s fine with you.

Anyway, except for the Cubs, and Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, last year really sucked.

Then again…the Kepler Space Observatory discovered a total of 1,284 new exoplanets in 2016—that is, hitherto unknown worlds beyond our solar system. As a space nerd, I thought this was pretty amazing, wonderful stuff. I’m always happy when I find out new stuff, though it does make some people uncomfortable when they realize how small this little ball of ours is, and how fragile and insignificant the vast universe can make us feel. Also the Flat Earth Society took this news hard…so, for them, not so good, I guess. But for me, the news sent me back to my bookshelf and Arthur C. Clark. I hope you understand.

Still, except for the Cubs, the Nobel Prize, and more than a thousand new planets, last year really sucked.

And come to think of it, if I take time to sit back and think…I didn’t fall off the roof. That’s a good thing that didn’t happen. I hauled out the old ladder, schlepped it out back, climbed it, and cleaned out the gutters with the leaf-blower I bought from a TV infomercial, and climbed down again without plunging to my death. I do realize that there are a few people in the world who would have taken great cheer from such a pedestrian end to my great career. I regret any disappointment I may have inflicted upon my enemies by surviving such a risky endeavor. Though it must be noted that none of my rivals died either, so in that sense, we broke even.

Yeah, except for the Cubs, the Nobel, all the new planets, and the fact that I didn’t die… 

Last year really sucked.

Otis XII hosts the radio program, Early Morning Classics with Otis XII, on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Visit kvno.org for more information.

Otis XII hosts the radio program, Early Morning Classics with Otis XII, on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. Visit kvno.org for more information.

Becka’s Back

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The unmistakable voice that many in Omaha have come to love (or, if we’re honest, love to hate) has returned to the airwaves. In January, radio talk show host and Benson High School grad Tom Becka found himself in a familiar seat back in Dundee. (Not a Dundee Dell barstool; although, Becka is known to wax poetic on the air about his love for the Dell’s single malt scotch selection.)

Many recently remember Becka from his weekday afternoon show on KFAB (1110 AM), located in the heart of Dundee. But in October 2011, the decision was made to end Becka’s tenure with KFAB and its parent company, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Becka insists the decision was issued not locally, but at the corporate level: “I didn’t fit their line-item formula.”

Becka then headed north for about a year, landing a job as program director for an FM talk station in Fargo, N.D. But not long after Becka set up shop, he was lured back to Omaha, sort of, hosting an afternoon talk show on KKAR (1290 AM). KKAR is owned by NRG Media and located in Becka’s old stomping grounds near 50th and Dodge streets. He pulled double-duty for several months: waking pre-dawn to host a morning talk show, managing the radio station and all its moving parts, and then prepping for his two-hour afternoon show in Omaha (broadcasting from a makeshift studio fashioned in his West Fargo apartment).

But the sale of the Fargo radio station gave Becka an opportunity to return to Omaha and pursue radio full-time…once again, in his beloved Dundee. “The Tom Becka Show” airs from 2 to 6 p.m. on 1290 AM, now dubbed the Mighty 1290 KOIL. “I am genuinely excited about helping rebuild this legendary radio station,” Becka says. “By working at 1290 KOIL…I can focus on what is happening here in Omaha, and not have to worry about what they say at the home office in Texas.”

“I always wanted to be in radio, but didn’t think I could do it with my voice.”

KFAB was Becka’s home not once, but twice. He launched his talk radio career at “the 50,000-watt blowtorch” in 1994, but left five years later for an on-air job in Kansas City. He returned to Omaha (and KFAB) in 2004, where he remained until his termination in 2011.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Becka moved to Omaha his junior year of high school. (“When you move outside of Omaha and tell people your high school mascot was a bunny, they think you’re making it up.”) He studied at UNO and was active with the university’s radio station, KVNO (90.7 FM).

Although talk radio would become his wheelhouse, Becka fell hard when he discovered rock and roll. An AM Cleveland DJ by the name of Jerry G played popular tracks overnight. “He was the king of Cleveland Top 40 radio. Even though I was supposed to be asleep, I would hide a radio under the blankets and listen until late at night,” he recalls. “I always wanted to be in radio, but didn’t think I could do it with my voice.”

Becka’s voice has become his signature statement: fast, high-pitched, loud, and always laced with his own opinion, whether listeners like it or not.

His career has been spent in an industry rife with obstacle, ratings, and setbacks. Becka says he has learned perseverance, adapting to change, and how to maintain friendships when lines are drawn in the sand. “I have fond memories of my time at KFAB and a lot of respect for my friends who are still working there,” Becka says. “But I am really excited about competing against them. I like to think of it as a football player who has been traded to another team. My job is to beat them, but we can remain friends off the field.”