Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Farewell, Friend

As Bob Burnell mentioned in passing on Tuesday, we lost an old friend here at the Radio Ranch last week.  Kevin Backstrom was an occasional fill-in here on WOSH and often worked the control board for our sports broadcasts on several stations. 

Kevin also taught communications at UW-Oshkosh, and we shared a frustration with the appalling lack of knowledge and skills with which today's high school and college graduates leave school.  Kevin would always note the low scores he received on students complained about him actually marking down papers and presentations for poor grammar, lack of punctuation and sentence structure that made you think that the writer had used some free Chinese-to-English translation website to copy the paper off the internet.  He also didn't buy too many excuses for not getting assignments done on time--or requests to retake exams because "my cousin's best friend's sister died and I was on SnapChat all night trying to make her feel better so I was really tired when I took the test the first time".

Kevin almost got fired at UWO for "cultural insensitivity".  He made the mistake of holding a discussion in his class about stereotypes in entertainment and culture and asking if perhaps those stereotypes were so successful because there was an element of truth to them.  That led to a student complaint--because who needs to be "confronted" with the possibility that Apu the convenience store clerk on The Simpsons might be like an actual convenience store clerk here in America.

When Kevin and I weren't weeping for the future of America, we were usually on the golf course.  At one time KB was actually a pretty good player--and even worked for Jack Nicklaus in Florida.  But age and physical ailments had left him pretty frustrated with his game in recent years.  We would always do match play--and he refused to take enough handicap strokes to actually have a chance to win.  "Pride goeth before the fall" I would tell him.  The usual bet was a simple milkshake after the round--and usually by the eighth hole he was asking me what flavor I would be getting that day.  I'm going to miss that.

Kevin had no family here and a small circle of friends--but I didn't want Oshkosh to be unaware of his passing.  Farewell, my friend.

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