Highs and Lows on Tuesday: Herbstreit, a Festival of Ideas and Meeting a Reptile Wednesday, Oct 1 2014 

Quite a week in my hometown. On Tuesday, ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit answered questions friend of Rusty John Asher at a charity luncheon for Catholic schools held in conjunction with the Trinity-St. X football game on Friday. Herbstreit said he’s a regular at the Derby, which Asher reminded us is only 214 days away.

It was the start of the Idea Festival, where Angie Fenton hosted a session called Thrivals targeting young adults. I stopped in and heard several high school students ask intelligent questions about what will be different in 2035. One young man named Thomas was from Fern Creek High School, and his concern was about light pollution and how we can’t see the stars at night in cities. As he was speaking, I got a text alert from a news station that his school was on lockdown after a shooting.

Later, at Louisville Collegiate School, the writer Carl Hiaasen spoke about his book, “Skink-No Surrender”. In conjunction with the appearance, Carmichaels Bookstore invited the Louisville Zoo to bring along some actual skinks. Now I don’t know much about lizards and skinks and reptiles of any sort, but I did get to see the slimy creature below up close. Hiaasen talked about his approach to writing, saying that he doesn’t do outlines and just lets the characters and stories go where his mind takes them. He credited the real life weirdness of Floridians for inspiring the strange actions his characters sometimes take, and took questions from a mix of the old and young among the several hundred book-lovers who showed up.

As Carl spun tales about the real-life criminal mind that inhabits the Sunshine State and inspires his novels, I couldn’t help but think about how, well, we’ve got enough goofballs around here who break the law in strange ways, plus corrupt politicians and even some people who manage to do the right thing,  that I ought to write a similar book featuring Kentuckians. I’ll put that on the list.

zooguybeRelevant Herbstreit

Murder the Devil, Larry Muhammad’s New Play, On Stage at Vault 1031 Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

Former Rusty Satellite Show guest Larry Muhammad has a new play being performed this week. I’m going to try to go, you should to. Here are the details:

Add to upcoming 9/11 observances this year a new Larry Muhammad play at Vault 1031 examining the prospect of homegrown terrorism and how it links to ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

murderthedevilposterfinalTitled MURDER THE DEVIL, it was a finalist for the Kentucky Theatre Association New Play Award in 2010 and Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative did a stage reading in 2011 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati.

“What inspired me to write the play was the arrest of some black guys in an FBI sting operation in 2006 for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago,” said Muhammad, whose plays have been performed at Kentucky Center and Actors Theatre. “There was this FBI agent pretending to be an Arab terrorist and offering these guys money. And I thought: What if a real terrorist tried recruiting a real Chicago streetgang into the jihad? Now that would make an interesting piece of theatre.”

The script was further developed this year at New Play Slam, a workshop of Louisville theatre artists held monthly at Vault 1031, where it premieres Sept.  4, 5, 6, 7 and 11.

Set in Chicago, MURDER THE DEVIL involves an Al Qaeda reject who slips through Homeland Security on a bloodthirsty mission, recruits a treacherous  street gang but learns too late who is hustling who. Racial animosities surface and heated disputes over killing in the name of God as the fate of a hostage hangs in the balance.

“It’s raw and edgy,” Muhammad said, “with complex characters from the wannabe terrorist and his parents trying to keep him out of trouble, to the ballsy hostage and unexpectedly patriotic black gangsters. I think audiences are going to like it.”


Sept. 4, 5, 6, 7 & 11

7:30 pm each night

Vault 1031

1031 S. Sixth Street, Louisville

$10 cash at the door

Reservations: barbara.cullen117@gmail.com

Culture Rant: Assault on Personal Expression Tuesday, Jun 17 2014 

historyWhen considering whether to click on the link below or not, you are surely asking yourself, “What topic of major global import did c d kaplan discuss Saturday morning during his weekly radio gig?

“1) The Iran situation;

“2) The Syrian situation;

“3) The increasingly deleterious effects of global warming;

“4) The Tea Party’s war on American politcs; or

“5) None of the above.”

Of course, the answer is “None of the above.”

But what I did rant about last Saturday morning on FPK 91.9 with James just may change your life.

Audio MP3

The First 99 Most Interesting People in the ‘Ville Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

Well, the Rusty Satellite Show has almost made it to a major milestone. This week will mark the 52nd episode of the Rusty podcast.  The list below includes politicians, media professionals, lawyers, entrepreneurs, athletes, professors, public officials and a lot of good friends who agreed to help me build this little show.

On Father’s Day, it’s also worth mentioning my son, Nick Redding, now living in New Orleans, who came up with the Rusty Satellite moniker many years ago as a middle school student. It’s a great name.

I’m trying to make this little show a bit bigger, and one way to do so is to publish a book showcasing the special talents and people who have appeared on the show. Stay tuned for an update on that project in the near future.  For now, here’s the list, and stay tuned for Rusty’s 100th guest coming up this Thursday.

Allen, Tyler

Arnold, Joe

Asher, John

Ashton, John

Bell, Jill

Berry, Mike

Bisig, Larry

Boel, John

Boyd, Terry

Brown, John Y III

Budde, Neil

Buthod, Craig

Carter, Mark

Clark, Perry

Coffey, Claudia

Cogan, Shannon

Coomes, Mark

Coomes, Steve

Cosby, John

Crawford, Eric

Davenport, Scotty

Davis, J.P.

Domine, David

Esrock, Margue

Estopinal, Wayne

Faulkner, Karen

Fehder, Steve

Fenton, Angie

Fischer, Greg

Galliette, Greg

Gates, Belinda

Gaukel, Kirsty

Gentner, Kat

Gilderbloom, John

Gimmel, Emily

Green, Jackie

Griggs, Stacy

Haire, Darrell

Hart, Ed

Havens, Sara

Haygood, Glenn

Haynie, Hugh

Hebert, Mark

Hettinger, Wayne

Heuser, Chip

Holland, Gil

Holliday, Darrell

Inman, David

James, David

Jones, David Jr.

Kaelin, Brigid

Kandle, Kirk

Kaplan, C.D.

Kimel, Kris

Koons-MdGee, Tim

Laird, Tim

Lamas, Anthony

Lefkoe, Adam

Lubbers, Bernie

McCarthy, Brendan

McDonnell, Dan

McKnight, J.K.

Miller, Ashley

Miller, Corky

Miller, Jerry

Minnick, Fred

Muhammad, Larry

Nation, John

Paradis, Steve

Putney, Mose

Redman, Rick

Rhodes, Ben

Rogers, Darren

Schimmel, Shoni

Schmitt, Karl

Servo, Stacey

Sirchio, Kris

Smith, Ted

Sokoler, Bob

Tandy, Cyndy

Trusty, Taylor

Walczak, John

Walls, Kristen

Waters, Les

Weis, Nick

Wesslund, Debbie

White, Stephanie

Williams, Tom

Williamson, Diane

Wilson, Dick

Wiser, Steve

Witten, John

Yankeelov, Dawn

Yarmuth, Aaron

Yarmuth, John

Ye, Dr. Hong

Yunker, Mollie

Zickuhr, Marianne

Zirnheld, Craig


Highlighting a Pre-Pre Derby Week at Churchill, Library, Freedom Hall and a Racquetball Lesson Sunday, Apr 20 2014 

With a couple of days left still until the frenzy of Derby Week, I warmed up with an active schedule of interesting activities available only in Louisville, Kentucky.

First, you can listen to my conversation with Darren Rogers, the big man on campus (at least as far as 2,000 media members are concerned) at the new and improved Churchill Downs. Here’s a link to our show, which also includes Kentucky Derby Festival board member Jill Bell.

Listen to the Rusty Satellite Show here.

The biggest improvement is the massive new scoreboard you’ve probably heard about on the backside. Of course, the infield has changed a lot since I ended my eight-year stretch of consecutive Infield experiences in 1989. And I’m not a fan of most of the changes (all that concrete), but the new scoreboard is a big improvement no matter what your vantage point. Pull out all your synonyms for “big” to describe it. I can’t wait to see it in action.

And a new area of the track that Darren showed me, with an elevated view of the Derby starting gate, will be an awesome place to watch. It reminds me of the area above the South End Zone at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The new facade facing Central transforms the look of the place. It’s in a spot where Rogers told me Downs president and South End resident Kevin Flanery used to cut the fence and charge a reduced entry fee to his friends.

I think all my liberal progressive friends and Bill Maher fans showed up at the Library Wednesday to hear from journalist Matt Taibbi. He spoke for 90 minutes about injustices in the American justice system, specifically contrasting how white collar financial criminals manage to avoid jail time while committing crimes that affect millions versus the minor offenses that put the less-privileged behind bars. His book, The Divide, is high on my reading list.

On Firday, I took my son Luke out to a basketball game at Freedom Hall, where we marveled at how old and out-of-date the place seemed, having experienced the Yum! Center on a regular basis. The game was the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, and featured three U of L recruits. It’s the oldest of these all-star games in the country. The highlight may have been U of L recruit Jaylen Johnson taking a feed from his Mom in the Dunk Contest, but we were also impressed by Ballard recruit Quentin Snyder’s court presence.

For those of you who follow local media, I had two interesting stories at Insider Louisville. Check out my piece on the new political show on WHAS-TV, hosted by Joe Arnold.  And I had the only local story on the sudden departure of Claudia Coffey from the WHAS-TV anchor desk. Both have been guests on the Rusty Satellite Show.

So all in all it was a great week, not including playing golf with my girlfriend Paula on Saturday. And one more thing I never expected. I walked into the Westport LAC for my regular racquetball game Friday afternoon. I noticed the guy on the court, by himself, looked like he was pretty good, but I couldn’t see him clearly. So I got dressed in the locker room, thinking maybe I’d challenge this stranger.

But when I got over to the court I recognized that it was none other than Kane Waselenchuk. Now that may not mean much to you, but Kane is the best player in the world. See for yourself in this New York Times profile.

Kane Waselenchuk is the best in the world Journalist Matt Taibbi spoke at the downtown Library Jill Bell of the Kentucky Derby Festival Darren Rogers with the new scoreboard at Churchill Downs Joe Arnold has a new show on WHAS-TV Claudia Coffey has moved on from WHAS-TV

He hasn’t lost a professional match in four years, and has been #1 since 2009. He’s married to a Louisville girl, Kim Russell, a champion on the court herself. I used to play her Dad, Rick, in the 1980s at the YMCA. I compared it to Tiger Woods hitting balls at Seneca, or maybe LeBron James showing up unannounced at a U of L basketball practice to get some work in. But neither superstar dominates his sport the way Kane does.

There were only three of us by the courts, and Kane, who’s a really cool guy, agreed to play my friend Travis in a game that was as lopsided as you might expect. I asked Kim why they were here, and her answer tells you a lot about how someone can become a dominant force in any sport. They were in town to visit her family, and when she asked Kane what he wanted to do, he said he wanted to practice. And that’s how the #1 player in the world ended up hitting balls at my club.







No Fear, Fire Up The Thunder Thursday, Apr 10 2014 

OK. I’m a little bit worried.


Let’s hope the only fireworks are in the sky

I keep running into people, coming across social media posts, that indicates to me a lot of people are staying home for Thunder Saturday.  The message I’d like the community to send is that we’re not giving up our riverfront, Waterfront Park or downtown to criminals.

In the last few days, it’s become known that youth gangs were responsible for the March 22 violence, and that the culture that exists within that culture isn’t extinguished by putting more cops on the street or having meetings in the West End. This memo, written by an FBI agent, claims a gang known as YNO is behind the problem. Here’s the scariest part — as part of the group’s initiation, members may be “required to assault someone” and that assault may or may not be random in nature.

I think the only citizens who don’t have a little fear are the ones who haven’t read the memo. No one wants to risk running into a young gang member on a mission to hurt somebody. People are talking about it, and the media is quick to highlight citizen fear in news stories.  We’re used to fear tactics from the media related to weather, but this is something entirely different.

That all this is happening now is tragic for the city. There’s a perfect Thunder forecast for the 25th anniversary. It will/should be a perfect day to mark the opening of the Derby Festival. I’m hopeful it will be, but no one can be sure there won’t be problems.

So there’s the 25th anniversary of Thunder. I talked to Wayne Hettinger for this week’s Rusty Satellite Show, and it’s worth listening to, especially if you want to get a little fired up for the show. Wayne does not lack for enthusiasm, and I’m anxious just to hear the soundtrack of songs — one from each of the 24 previous Thunders.

My other guest is Tom Williams, who is the point man for another extremely positive movement in town — the one for compassion.  So download the show and let me know what you think.




Cultural Differences, and Plentiful Options, in the ‘Ville Monday, Mar 24 2014 

Among the reasons I really enjoy doing the Rusty Satellite Show is the opportunity to learn a little about a lot of things from the rich roster of guests I have been able to convince to spend 15 minutes talking about themselves.  In every case, I learn something form the conversation, and I hope you do too.

It would be hard not to get something worthwhile from my talks this time with Tim Koons McGee and Steve Wiser. Koons McGee’s ambitious plans for the four-year-old Comfy Cow, which include becoming a national brand, was news to me. I just called him because I wanted to know about the new store at Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road, and maybe get a free scoop of ice cream.  I also got a relevant opinion on same-sex marriage from someone actually affected by the much-debated topic.

Wiser is one of those guys with a vast amount of local knowledge, which made 12 minutes really insufficient to get all my questions answered about local architecture.  But if you listen you’ll find out about the renovation of a long-anticipated restoration project and what could really be a cool change to downtown.


And I got to talk about seeing one of my cultural heroes, the hilarious Dave Barry, at the downtown library last week. It motivated me to check out his book “Lunatics” and recall how much fun I still have with my son Josh talking about the movie “Big Trouble” based on Dave’s hilarious first novel.

Which got me to thinking about the culture available around here, like seeing Barry (or Matt Taibbi, coming soon) at the library, a rich resource where I’ve built my music collection and keep finding books I want to read (Nick Hornby’s “Slam“). Maybe I’m just itching to get out, but it’s great I have options like the upcoming shows by Lyle Lovett and (just announced) Elvis Costello. Not to mention events I’ve actually bought tickets for, including Billy Joel at the Yum! Center and the Book of Mormon at the Kentucky Center. I’ve written about how great the Humana Festival is.

There is certainly a lot to choose from to keep your mind occupied. I mentioned a few media stories on the show last week — how Mitch McConnell dissed a LEO reporter, how the University of Louisville is paying hush money to former employees, how a court sided with newspapers in a battle with the state over releasing records to the public. So it was fitting that I finally got to the end of a memorable binge watch — five seasons of the HBO series “The Wire.” which concluded with a long piece about the media’s effects on life in a big city. I highly recommend it, even if it’s already dated (pagers).

Something for everyone, of course. But everyone around here is talking about a basketball game scheduled for this Friday in Indianapolis. I can handle respectful differences of opinion, even if I don’t agree with your point of view (like if you agree with Sarah Palin, who thinks the missing Malaysian jet may have been snatched up into heaven by God, according to fake news reports).

As for the game, I think we should all take a deep breath, turn off talk radio and stop reading our Facebook news feeds. Let’s use the game as an excuse to have a beer with our friends. Let’s not surround ourselves with the negative energy we’re feeling toward people who think the 20-year-olds they’re cheering for in a basketball game are superior to the 20-year-olds in different uniforms you’re cheering for.  If you only read one piece on the game, read this one by former Rusty guest Mark Coomes. And if our team loses, let’s become the best fans of our home state team, even if we can’t stand the behavior of some of their fans.

Dave Barry at the Library Architect Steve Wiser Tim Koons McGee at the Comfy Cow



Culture Rant: Missing Plane Mystery Solved Monday, Mar 17 2014 

historyI actually put down the clicker, got up from my recliner and stepped away from Championship Week long enough to do my regular Saturday radio gig on FPK 91.9 with the estimable James Bickers.

And, having cracked the mystery about the missing Malaysian airliner, I shared the answer with those who were tuned in.

Because we didn’t cut off communication, as happened aboard the jet, my man Brad Yost has fashioned the podcast, so you can learn what’s up with that darned missing plane, even if you didn’t tune in Saturday.

Is that a deal or what?

Audio MP3

Bracket Distractions — Arts and Business and Politics Sunday, Mar 16 2014 

It’s always good to have some friends who don’t pay attention to the same things you do — it offers perspective. What’s important to you (whether U of  L will be a #2 seed or #3 seed in the NCAA bracket) is like speaking a foreign language, I’m guessing, to someone like Les Waters, the artistic director at Actors’ Theatre and my guest on the Rusty Satellite Show this week.



On the other hand, I suspect that my other guest, El Toro exec Stacy Griggs, can probably tell you how many points Russ Smith got (42) against Houston in the AAC Tournament. I asked neither Les or Stacy about basketball, so I’m guessing here. We all seem to know a lot about something, which is what makes finding guests for the Rusty show kinda fun.

When I was the editor of the NCAA Basketball Championship game programs, for instance, I knew the names of the head coaches and the nicknames of every Division I team. When I was syndicating a TV show to stations across the country, I knew the call letters and network affiliation of every station in the U.S.  At WKU 30 years ago, I learned a lot about constellations (those 3 stars in a row are Orion’s belt). There are a lot of experts on college basketball, or at least you would think so, if you listen to local talk radio or watch ESPN.

But being able to talk with authority about the Blue Jays (Creighton) and Shockers (Wichita State, the only unbeaten team going into the tourney) won’t help you fill out your brackets with accuracy. That’s what makes it fun.  Remember that you are as likely to pick a 14 seed upsetting a 3 seed as Digger Phelps. And none of those so-called experts will pick a perfect bracket (even with a billion dollars on the line).

I know that memorizing lists of trivial knowledge is great for impressing folks at cocktail parties. That’s because I used to recite Kentucky Derby winners that I memorized by studying Derby glasses. Attorney general Jack Conway knows the same trick.

Which is all to say that even though a LOT of people are focused today on the NCAA Final Four tournament field, I know several who wouldn’t recognize Rick Pitino if they saw him in line at a drug store (which I’ve done, btw).

I am among those interested in the tournament, though, and will be running a bracket contest at work, like a lot you will be. And having watched Pitino’s team all season, I don’t see the Cards losing short of the Final Four. It may be the most fun-to-watch group ever assembled around here, or anywhere. After winning the AAC title, Pitino told a TV audience he thinks his team should be a #1 seed, and the world of basketball watchers learned a new term — Pitino and the pundits now love saying the Cards passed the “eye test” (C-J headline: “Pitino’s pupils should pass NCAA eye test”).

Next Thursday and Friday, when U of L and UK will play their first-round games, Louisville viewers will find ways to tune in and make our city #1 in the country — for TV sets tuned to hoops. Office productivity will hit a low that won’t be matched until Oaks Day, and you’ll still have hope that you can win that office bracket pool, even if you had Arizona going all the way and they lose to Siena.

I’m rambling, I know, perhaps thinking of Dave Barry’s appearance at the Library Wednesday night. But here are the top stories, outside of basketball, discussed on the Rusty show this week:

Omni Hotel Downtown — The Omni could transform downtown, and is reason for optimism — bringing a long-needed grocery downtown along with the luxury rooms and apartments. The downside — a key player is the Cordish Cos., which was central to a huge scandal over a loan from the city at Fourth Street Live! a few years back. The block – between 2nd and 3rd and Ali and Liberty — was once talked about as the ideal place for what became the Yum! Center. Let’s credit Mayor Fischer (for now) for bringing it all together.

Among other things state lawmakers won’t accomplish is a smoking ban –  the list of ideas that aren’t getting done include casino gambling, local option sales tax, hemp, and marijuana legalization. The state session has produced plenty of talk about guns in bars, guns in schools, abortion restrictions and whether Kentucky students should be taught science or creationism.

Republicans Courting African-Americans – I’d compare Kentucky Republicans courting votes in the West End to sending Obama supporters to Leslie County in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. (Obama got 8.75% of the 2012 vote there). But Rand Paul’s support of voting rights for convicted felons and other key issues important to African-Americans could sway some votes there.

For next week — Former Rusty guest and C-J editor Neil Budde would be glad to know I took the paper up on a limited-time-free offer and read three stories making news this week — Joe Gerth’s column correctly points out that Jack Conway is not required by law to appeal that same-sex marriage ruling, and he blasts (without saying his name) WDRB’s Bill Lamb for “huffing” about it. U of L’s administration has taken to paying off former employees with lavish, and undeserved, payoffs simply to keep their mouths shut. And a special report reveals that Kentucky’s drug abuse problem, as it relates to babies being born addicted to drugs, is exploding. Few in our city will find sympathy for the two women profiled in Laura Ungar’s piece — both pregnant with multiple children born with their mothers’ addictions.

Let’s watch some hoops! Les Waters of Actors' Theatre El Toro's Stacy Griggs


Raving on Rusty #36: Shoni Schimmel, Dawn Yankeelov and an Update on Karen Faulkner Saturday, Mar 1 2014 

The Rusty Satellite Show is mostly a labor of love for me. I am grateful that Passport Health Plan sponsors the show, but my motivation is really tied to the fact that the show gives me an opportunity to meet and talk with some really cool local people and also to air my opinions about things. So this was a really great week.


The first time I became aware of Shoni Schimmel was her freshman year, the first that the Yum! Center was open, and I took my son Luke to a few games because we couldn’t get tickets for the men’s games. Watching Shoni dribble and shoot was pure entertainment. Luke and I went to several games, in which we didn’t really watch the game, but watched Shoni — how she moved without the ball to get open, how she would shoot it under any circumstance, how she made the difficult and risky pass, how even then she was the emotional leader of the team.

Dawn Yankeelov Shoni Schimmel

Since then, of course, she’s scored more than 2,000 points and become a national figure in the game. Not only that, but she’s an engaging and outgoing personality who has attracted the attention of Native Americans across the U.S. So it was a bit of a thrill to have her on the Rusty Satellite Show the week of her final regular season game Monday at the Yum! Center. You should go. The few tickets left are just $5.

Talking with Dawn Yankeelov after a trip to D.C., in which she led a team to talk technology with John Yarmuth and Mitch McConnell was equally cool. Of course, I’ve known Dawn for many years, going back to my Business First days, where she preceded me as a reporter.

In the News:  You should go Monday to Insider Louisville’s Meetup at Vincenzo’s, where you can hear more of the logical reasons we should have casino gaming in Kentucky from Johnathan Blue, a leader of the Kentucky Wins! campaign. But I pointed out on Rusty that stories like the one in which Mayor Fischer talked about a casino going downtown just don’t matter until the neanderthals in Frankfort pull their heads out of the sand and vote for gaming.

Once I posted my opinion about Bill Clinton coming to town, that Clinton’s popularity seems to really get under Republicans’ skin, I got a reaction on Twitter that proves my point:  Clinton committed a felony, he lied under oath. Did that while he was Prez. Does that qualify as dishonest?  

Kentucky is 49th in a health ranking, which is not really news.

I hope you get a chance to attend at least one of the performances in the Humana Festival of New American Plays. I’ll have a review of “Partners” that I attended Friday night soon here on LouisvilleKY.com.

THE UPDATE:  You may remember that a week ago one of my guests was Karen Faulkner, who found herself and her campaign in the news this week. Faulkner’s opponent in the May election for Jefferson County Attorney, incumbent Mike O’Connell, seems to have decided the time is right to go after one of her main supporters, Metro Council member David James (another ex-Rusty Satellite guest). O’Connell found an obscure rule that says James can’t be a sworn U of L police officer and a sworn Metro Council member at the same time. O’Connell’s political ploy here is pretty obvious to insiders,  as Faulkner told WFPL.


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