Game Show Prizes

Hi, Doc!  I found myself watching “The Price is Right” today.  A question suddenly entered my head.  If a contestant is from, say, Buffalo, NY and they win a car, how do they get it home?  For instance, if they flew to California, they’d probably fly back.  So, do they have to pay to ship the car cross-country?  Do they get a certificate to pick up a similarly equipped car in their hometown?  And, how does the title transfer work for game shows?  Signed - A curious guy with too much time on his hands who loves your column.


Curious:  Thanks for the comment about the column.  I’m glad you enjoy it.   I didn’t know the answer to your question, so I sent it to Jhani Kaye (KRTH-FM in LA), who said:


Game shows typically arrange for the car to be picked up by the contestant at a local dealership.  However, many winners don’t realize that they’re responsible for all the taxes associated with the car’s retail purchase price, so some shows offer the winner a cash buy-out for the automobile—at a reduced amount less than the actual cost of the vehicle.  It’s the winner’s choice, but they still must cover the taxes on any prize worth over $600.

Gas, Cats, and Mic Processing

Dr. Wimmer:  Thank you for your outstanding effort, knowledge, and insight that you provide to us broadcasters.


1.  We had a gas leak under our building last week.  I sat in it at my desk for two days before it was noticed and we were evacuated.  Did breathing in that gas kill any of my brain cells?  If so, is there anything I can do to grow new ones?  (It was unleaded car fuel, if that matters.)


2.  Of our two cats, one seems to favor being near me instead of near my wife.  The other seems to favor my wife instead of me.  She picked the one that favors me and I picked the one that favors her.  Are cats capable of consciously picking favorites?  On a related topic, are they capable of emotions like love, longing, boredom, etc.?


3.  Our mic processing "don't be right."  I can't put my finger on what sounds bad, but I know the difference from where we are and where we should be.  I can't explain it coherently enough for our engineers (they're bright...just not me, perhaps).  When I adjust the settings myself, I make the mics sound worse.  I cannot find any useful articles or other data that explain different mic processor settings, and the different styles they can be used to create.  Any suggestions you have would be lovely.


From a shivering person in Grand Rapids, MI.


Shivering:  Thanks for the comment about the column.  I’m glad you enjoy it.  On to your questions.


1.  (Note: Since I’m not a medical doctor, this answer should not be construed as a medical opinion.)  I searched the Internet and asked a doctor (my wife) about the problem of inhaling gas fumes.  I found that long-term inhaling, or inhaling gas fumes from a paper bag (as some people do) can cause significant brain cell damage.  In your case, it sounds as though you were some distance away from the source, and the distance probably reduced the amount of damage.  It doesn’t appear that you have suffered any long-term significant damage or you wouldn’t have been able to submit these questions (although some might argue that in relation to your question #2).


You may have lost a few brain cells due to your gasoline exposure.  For years, research said that brain cells cannot regenerate, but recent research suggests that brain cell regeneration is possible.  Here is an article that explains this in more detail:  Brain Cells.


2.  It is interesting to me how some people attribute human characteristics to animals lower in the food chain.  This is especially true with the people who pass themselves off as “animal psychologists” (or whatever) and claim to know what animals think and feel.  Hogwash.  These people belong in the same place with Miss Cleo.


Anyway, I’m sure some animals are capable of selecting one person over another as a favorite.  But I can’t say if this is a “conscious” decision because I don’t know if cats (or any other animals) process information the way that humans process information.  It may be that both cats favor your wife, but one decides to sit by you because it doesn’t want to “share” your wife’s attention with the other cat.  It may also be that the cat that favors your wife doesn’t like the way you smell.  Who knows?


Anyway, here is an article for you that discusses cat’s “emotions” in greater detail: Here Kitty Kitty.


3.  To solve your mic processing problem, you may need someone who has a “good ear” for sound who can translate your concerns into understandable terms.  I have known many PDs (and others) who can do this.  Find one.


In the meantime, I setup a search for you.  Not all of the references are relevant, but there are a few that looked like they might help solve your problem.  Click here: Can You Hear Me?

Gas Mileage and Stick Shift

Does an automatic transmission get better or worse gas mileage than a manual transmission car?  Is there a difference at all? - Anonymous


Anon: Historically, automotive experts have claimed that stick shift vehicles get better mileage than their automatic shift counterparts.  However, that may no longer be true with today's use of computers in vehicles.


The problem with comparing gas mileage between automatic vehicles and stick shift vehicles is that there are many variables to consider, such as: the environment, type of vehicle, type of engine, and how a person drives.  Although there are hundreds of articles on the Internet about the topic, here is one written in 2002 that seems to sum up things very well—click here.  Be sure to click on the link in that article that says, "Opposing View" by Allen Wastler.


Wastler makes several arguments for the stick shift, but I like this one the best—


The stick shift is an anti-theft device too. Since only a certain portion of the population knows how to drive a stick, it stands to reason only a certain percentage of the criminal population knows as well. And the car they steal will be less marketable.


In summary, I think it's tough to find a definitive answer for the mileage question.  However, I do believe that knowing how to drive a stick shift is advantageous because once a person learns how to drive a car with stick shift, the knowledge is easily transferred to any motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, trucks of any size, buses, vans, heavy equipment, and motorcycles.  My parents forced my brothers and me to learn how to drive a stick shift car, and I'm glad they did.

Gas Pill

Doc:  I was listening to a talk show yesterday and a caller said that his father told him that several decades ago, an inventor developed a pill that could transform water into gasoline.  The only problem is that after the inventor demonstrated the "gas pill," he disappeared—the thought is that the government or an oil company had him killed.  Is there any truth to this? - Anonymous


Anon: Oh, wow.  I understand that many human beings will believe just about anything, and particularly in reference to oil or gas since the price has soared in the last few months.


Sure, there is truth to this story.  It comes in the shape of an episode of an old TV show called, One Step Beyond.  It's amazing to me how fiction can, over time, become non-fiction.  You can watch the relevant part of the episode (there were three stories in this particular episode) titled, "Where are They," which aired in 1960, if you click here.


Assuming you watched the video, does that sound similar to the story told by the caller to the talk show?


By the way, the same idea of a "gas pill" was also used in the 1943 Laurel & Hardy movie titled, Jitterbugs.


I think the person who called the talk show needs a dose (pill) of reality.  Oh, wait . . . maybe someone should tell the caller about Crop Circles.

Gasoline Prices

Hello Doc! Great column.  Like many others, reading it is part of my daily routine!


I have a question that many people might think is "ignorant."  Why is there an extra "9" after gas prices?  It's been explained to before, but it's never really sunk in, and I still don't get it. You have an eloquent way of describing things, so naturally I thought of you when this question came up.  Thanks! - Rodney


Rodney:  I’m glad you enjoy the column.  Thanks.


First, don’t worry about other readers thinking your question is “ignorant.”  There are no ignorant questions in my view, so forget about that.  On to your question…


The “extra 9” is part of the price for a gallon of gas.  The “extra 9” mean “9 tenths of one cent.”  For example, if the price per gallon is listed as 999, it means that one gallon is 99.9¢—only one-tenth of a cent less than $1.00


So why is it listed as 999?  Because it’s a psychological thing.  Most retailers believe that most people will see only the $.99 and think/say that they are paying only 99¢ per gallon, but it’s actually 99.9¢ per gallon—999 looks better/cheaper than $1.00.


Most retailers use the same approach.  For example, a person may buy a radio for $79.95, which comes to more than $80 with tax.  However, many will think/say that they bought the radio for “79 dollars.”  Or, you may see a sign for a product or service that is $999.95, in which case most people will think it’s a better buy than if the sign were $1,000.00.  The psychology of buying and selling, Rodney, that’s all it is.

Gas Pump Credit Card

Every so often I copy one of the questions/answers on your column to give to my staff.  A few weeks ago, you answered a question about credit cards and gas pumps.  I thought your answer was interesting, but I forgot to copy it.  Would you please repost the question and answer?  Thanks. - Anonymous


Anon:  No problem.  The question is on “The Research Doctor Archive,” but it’s buried in the “P” questions since the person asked three questions in the same note.  Anyway…the person asked, “You know when you use your credit card at the gas pump?  Why do you have to insert and remove it quickly?  Who am I hurting if I swipe it at my own pace?”


My answer was:


When I first read this question, I thought I’d be able to find the answer on the Internet.  No luck.  Then I thought I’d be able to find the answer by calling petroleum companies.  No luck again.  In fact, I called three petroleum companies, and none knew the answer to your question.


OK, so the only way to answer your question was to conduct an experiment for you.  I got in my car and went to three gas stations (Conoco, Phillips 66, and Shell).  At each station, I first went in and asked the cashier your question.  None of the three people knew the answer.  In fact, all three said that no one had ever asked them that question before.  So now what?


Well, the only way to find out what happens if you don’t remove your credit card quickly is to leave the card in the pump.  And that’s what I did.  But I did it in two different ways.


First, I inserted the card and immediately lifted the hose.  The second approach was to insert the card and not lift the hose.  In both cases, the message on the pump was the same.  It said, “Please pay after fueling.”  In other words, by leaving the card in the slot, the pump would not accept my credit card.


Hmm…another test.  I inserted the card and lifted the hose.  Then I removed the card (still holding the hose), and then inserted the card a second time and removed it quickly.  A new message came up.  It said, “See cashier for help.”  (When I returned the hose to the cradle on the pump and lifted it again, the message was cleared and I could start from the beginning.)


OK.  So what’s the deal.  I can’t get an answer from anyone, but I think I have a clue.  I believe the “Remove Quickly” notice is on the pump so customers won’t forget their credit card in the pump.  This seems logical since the pump will not work if you leave the card in the slot.  My guess is that the folks who designed the self-service pump tried to anticipate every possible error that customers could make.  Leaving a credit card behind was probably on the top of the list.


So…I think that’s the answer.  In order to make the pump operate, you must remove your credit card quickly.  This eliminates the possibility that you will leave your card in the pump and drive away.

Gas Pump Credit Card - Using

I have long fingernails and I can not remove the card quickly enough to satisfy the computer.  I just get the message, "Remove card quickly."  Duh, I would if I could get a grip on it that fast.  After a couple of attempts, I push cancel and pay inside.  Any advice?  Trimming nails not an option. - Anonymous


Anon:  Captain!  We have a major problem here!  We simply don't have enough power to continue!  OK, so that's probably for another question.


I can't duplicate your problem since I don't have long nails.  I also can't ask my wife because she's a dermatologist and doesn't have long nails since they don't work well with rubber gloves.  So . . . I have to guess here without conducting an experiment.  So here is my solution for you . . .


You obviously need some type of tool or device to hold the card, but it has to be small and strong enough to hold only a small portion of the credit card (that's all that is exposed when you insert the card in the gas pump).


Paper clip?  Not strong enough to hold the card.  Needle-nosed pliers?  You'd look like your trying to break into the gas pump.  Wad of chewing gum?  Uh, no, that would be disgusting.  Punch a hole in the card and insert a string through it?  No, because some gas pumps require the magnetic stripe to face left, and some require the magnetic strip to face right.  Hmm.  Wait!  Tweezers.  Ah-ha!  There's your answer.  Tweezers are small, strong enough to hold even a small portion of the credit card, and you can keep them in your vehicle.  (You could use medical forceps, but they are probably too expensive.)

Gateway Logo Changes

Why does Gateway keep changing its logo? - Anonymous


Anon:  I called Gateway and talked to Greg Lund, Gateway’s Senior Manager for Media Relations.  As a footnote, Greg was happy to explain the company’s logo changes and I’d like to thank him for his help.


Mr. Lund said (I’m paraphrasing) that Gateway has changed its log three times since the company started in 1985.  The first change was in 1987, followed by another change in 1998, and the most recent change to the stylized letter “G” in 2002.  The purpose for these changes is to communicate more effectively/efficiently with Gateway’s customers and to more accurately represent Gateway’s business philosophy.  The most recent logo change was made to not only relate to individual consumers like you and me, but also to large corporate clients.


We didn’t discuss specific research Gateway has conducted about their logos, but from my conversation with Mr. Lund, I would guess that they tested the new logo with both individual and corporate customers (find out what the customer want and give it to them).

Gaussian Distribution

Would you explain what a "Gaussian Distribution" is? – Anonymous

Anon: You’re in the statistics field with your question.

The term "Gaussian Distribution" is interchangeable with "normal distribution" or "bell curve." The term comes from the German mathematics genius Carl Gauss (1777-1855) who developed the formula. I won’t print the normal distribution formula here because it looks like a small child’s drawing of how to get to the Dairy Queen.

"Geezer Glide"

Doc:  I heard a guy talking about getting a new motorcycle and he said that he would probably buy a "Geezer Glide."   What is that? - Mike


Mike: You'll notice that I corrected your spelling of "geezer."  You must be a younger guy.


Anyway, Harley-Davidson makes several types of touring bikes that have the word "glide" in the name, such as Road Glide, Electra Glide, and the top of the line, the Ultra Classic Electra Glide.  Touring bikes such as these are usually called "full dress" bikes (or "dressers") because of all the accessories on them, or "baggers" because of the large storage bags on the back of the bike.


Although there are some exceptions, older bikers usually buy baggers because of the comfort and additional available accessories.  These people have had their share of fast, sleek, and possibly uncomfortable bikes, and move on to something more relaxing.  Younger riders (probably under 30) wouldn't be caught dead on a bagger because they aren't perceived as "cool."


I'm not sure where the term originated, but Geezer Glide is a term that refers to a touring bike—a full dress bike or bagger.  The term isn't derogatory.  It refers to the age of the people who tend to buy them—geezers.


If you want to see the Harley line of Geezer Glides (the company doesn't call them that), click here.

Geraldo (Rivera)

Have you seen any research related to people’s opinions about Geraldo Rivera and the fact that he gave out military information on Fox a few days ago?  (This is where he was drawing in the sand the positions of US troops—where they were and where they were going.) - Anonymous


Anon:  No I haven’t seen any research about Rivera and I don’t think it would be necessary to conduct any.  Well, wait a second, there might be one question that could be asked….something like…Using a scale of 1 to 10, where “1” means “Partial Moron,” “10” means, “Complete Moron,” and 2 thru 9 are in-between, how would you rate Geraldo Rivera?


If you read this column often enough, you know that I almost always advocate research as the way to discover something.  In the case of Geraldo, I don’t think research is necessary to discover that what he did falls into the category of “moron,” “stupidity,” and other related terms.  Geraldo Rivera needs to be sent to Antarctica to count penguins.  No wait.  On second thought, that might not be a good idea because he'll probably report that he found Jimmy Hoffa's body down there.

Getting Ahead of the PD

I need help. I'm currently a programming research assistant and I am desperately trying to get "noticed" or "ahead of the game."  How can I preview new music that will be coming out before my PD gets his hands on it? My reasoning is this—it is a very big deal here if you can spot a hit and it becomes one for our station. Also, do you have any other tips for someone like myself who is looking to travel up the ladder quickly?" - Anonymous


Anon: This is tough because I don’t know you or your PD. However, if I were in your shoes, I would ask the PD if I could listen to the songs first and compare it to his ratings—so that you can learn how it’s done. From there, you could gradually ask to do it alone. I wouldn’t try to sneak anything by the PD, such as getting to the mailroom early. Be upfront and tell your PD you want to learn.


Tips? How about asking questions? The way to get ahead in any business is through knowledge. Find out how everything works in a radio station. What is the big picture? What are the small elements? What is successful? What fails? It also helps to talk to PDs (and others) from other radio stations to get different perspectives. And don’t be in such a hurry. You have the determination and you will get where you want to go.

Getting Music

I work at a small market station in Indiana, and I was wondering if there is a way to get music free?  You know, just for radio stations. - Anonymous


Anon:  The only way I know of is to write to record companies, explain your situation, and ask them to be included on their music list.  If you don’t have a list of companies, try this search.

Getting Music - Comment

Hi Roger:  Just wanted to remind you that in response to the small market programmer looking for free music, our site is exactly what the person needs.  Please let him know about the site.  Thanks. - Benji Kurtz


Benji:  I usually don’t do free advertising in the column, but in this case, you have a good product and I think it will help the person.  Click here to get to the site.


I am the Urban Program Director at a college radio station. Besides record label reps sending us some copies of new music to give away, we do not get much of any other giveaway/contest material. How do I go about getting either more copies of the music or other product for giveaway for our prize packs? Thanks. - Anonymous


Anon: I asked Russ Schell to answer your question. He said:


Most college radio stations, no matter how wonderfully programmed they may be, don’t reach a lot of listeners. Record labels want to sell records rather than give them away. Consequently, the more listeners you have, the more likely the record labels believe the promotion you provide their product is of greater value than the cost of the product itself. However, this only quantifies the issue.


You might try to find ways to qualify your listener base.  Do college students buy more CDs than most people?  How many CDs are sold in your town each week?  How many of them are sold to 18-22 year-olds?  You get the idea.


Also, keep in mind that most college radio stations have a high staff turnover. Graduation, dropouts, and attrition in all forms take a toll. The relationship between record labels and radio is just that—a relationship. You have to work on it and you have to be consistent about it. As that relationship builds, you’ll likely find that trust improves (both ways) and you’ll have an easier time getting more giveaway product each semester.

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS)

Doc:  I'm curious about how the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system works, particularly for handheld devices, or the type that is used in vehicles.  I have looked on the Internet, but can't find a simple explanation.  Can you help? - Anonymous

Anon:  While there are several million articles about GPS on the Internet, here are two that are simple and straight-forward explanations: GPS One, and GPS Two.

Globe Size?

If there were a globe that were big enough to show every street in America—much like a map of a small town does—how big would that globe be? - Anonymous


Anon:  I was hoping I could save time and find the answer on the Internet, but no luck.  I had to calculate the answer myself.  I hate when than happens.


Before I did any calculations, I checked the legend on several maps in my office.  I found two maps with a scale of 1 inch = 5 miles.  While the printing on such a scale is rather small, it’s still readable, and that’s the scale I used to compute your hypothetical globe.  Here are the steps I used:

  1. Earth’s circumference = 24,901.50 miles.

  2. Using the 1 inch = 5 miles scale produces a circumference of 4,980.30 inches, or 415.03 feet.  This globe would have a diameter of 132.11 feet.

So imagine a globe sitting out where the buffalo roam.  The globe would be just over 13 stories high.


Remember that I used a scale where I could read the street names without a magnifying glass.  I’m sure it’s possible to make the globe the size of a marble where you could read the street names with a high-powered microscope.

Glossary for Radio

Hi Doc:  I would like to know where I can references or find the radio terms or words used in radio language, such as sweepers, liners, beds, spot, etc.  Thanks. - Chamorro


Chamorro:  Here are a few sites that may help:


Radio Terms One


Radio Terms Two


Radio Terms Three (general search)


Radio Terms Four (from the UK)


Radio Terms Five

GM Responsibilities

What does a radio GM (General Manager) do? I have no idea! - Anonymous


Anon: My guess is that a large number of RADIO people reading this column are laughing right now—probably because they wonder the same thing.


OK, enough of that. I believe your understanding of the GM position would be easier if the title were "president" or "CEO" and not General Manager. A radio GM is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the radio station including, but not limited to, programming, sales, engineering, budgets, FCC rules and regulations, and personnel.


If I recall correctly, the term General Manager was coined to differentiate from all the other managers in the radio station—General Sales Manager, Local Sales Manager, National Sales Manager, and Program Manager (now Director). With so many managers, it seems logical to have a general manager manage all the managers. What a sentence that is! Or maybe that isn’t logical.


Click Here for Additional G Questions


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