July 24, 2014
Host: Ted Simons
Arizona ArtBeat: Childsplay
Category: The Arts
- See how Childsplay, a Phoenix theatre company geared toward children, is using the theater to teach important life lessons.
| Keywords: the arts
Bill Thompson, aka “Wallace”
- Former kids show host Bill “Wallace” Thompson has died. Thompson created the “Wallace and Ladmo Show,” which reigned for 35 years on local television. One of the show’s co-stars, Pat McMahon, will talk about the man he calls his brother.
- Pat McMahon - Co-Star, “Wallace and Ladmo Show"
| Keywords: culture
Ted Simons: Well, for decades Arizona kids would literally run home from school to watch "Wallace and Ladmo," a local show that was a blend of cartoons and skits with humor often aimed at adults. Yesterday the creator and star of the show Bill Thompson passed away. Pat McMahon was one of the costars of the "Wallace and Ladmo" show for most of its 35-year run. Pat is here to talk about a man he calls his brother. He was kind of your brother, wasn't he?
Pat McMahon: Absolutely. And I'm an only child. They were both my brothers. I know that they would say today, were they here, that even though you invite us on to talk about the "Wallace and Ladmo" show, you still can't have a Ladmo bag, I'm sorry. I'm sure.
Ted Simons: Who was Bill Wallace -- Bill Thompson. I’m sorry. Wall-boy.
Pat McMahon: Because neither Lad nor I ever called him Bill, much less Bill Thompson. Rarely did he turn around and recognize anyone who did call him that. He was Wallace virtually the entire time. 35 years, a little bit over that. And I joined them in 1960. The show had already been on the air for nearly 6 years. I wound up being the new guy for 30 years. Can you imagine any kind of a vehicle in this business, when you already have a career that's five or six years long, and then comes the rest of it?
Ted Simons: Your initial impression.
Pat McMahon: Of Wall?
Ted Simons: Of Wall-boy.
Pat McMahon: A prankster, a quiet private person who had a -- a bizarre sense of humor. I can't think of a better word than bizarre, irreverent. Not at anybody's expense unless that anybody was full of himself. He delighted in poking holes in balloons. And that of course would include almost all the politicians, particularly those that appeared on the show.
Ted Simons: I'm sure, yeah.
Pat McMahon: It was terrific. Because Wall was a guy who was in charge but never managed things. And Lad and I would show up and then we would talk about the bits that we would do. He had a framework of the kinds of stuff that appealed to him, usually out of the news. And then we would talk about how we would do it, what character, and then we would do it. It was improvisational theater.
Ted Simons: Improvisational theatre but did Bill Thompson -- did he write stuff down? Did he have just a clear vision -- it just sounds like his vision was see, do, see, do. When you first met him did you know what he wanted to do with that show?
Pat McMahon: When I first met him, I was in the news department at channel 5, had just been hired. I didn't care that much about preparing the news. That seemed like a less than entertaining project. And so instead of putting the news together as a professional would do, I would go downstairs to Studio A and watch the "Wallace and Ladmo" show because I just fell in love with it. One day he looked over and said, I have inadvertently written a three-man comedy act, this was during a break, and we need a third guy. Would you possibly come over and join us and help us? And I would end up helping them every day for years. I had no idea what kind of -- and please know I don't use the G word that easily -- I had no idea what kind of a true genius he was. The flowing of ideas and all of these things, most of it out of contemporary topical things. And he was incredibly creative, so humble that he never wanted to be known as an actor or a comedy writer. He wanted to be known as the guy with the derby.
Ted Simons: It sound to me and you tell me, it sounds to me off screen, off stage, he was very similar to what we saw with that derby on stage. Was he that similar or a little different?
Pat McMahon: A little quieter.
Ted Simons: Quieter?
Pat McMahon: A little quieter off. Remember, as a straight man he was very disciplined. There was nothing that Wallace truly appreciated, all of the years I was with him and Lad, too, nothing he appreciated more than Lad getting a laugh or me getting a laugh. And that's one of the reasons I think the chemistry happened. Nobody was stepping on one another's lines. He was really listening. I could have walked into the set as we're talking and since did you work on the set during the Wallace show, you know this happened. I would walk in, there would be a prepared bit prompted and we thought it would be a good idea to have lines every once in a while that we had actually prepared. Then some poor guy had to follow where we were because the character would walk in and go terribly and completely off script before we even started. Wallace immediately jumped into that new -- that new possibility for laughter.
Ted Simons: Yes, yes, and the timing impeccable. People underestimate timing. That show, if you just watch it, it's like the old Odd Couple TV series. Forget about everything, just watch the timing.
Pat McMahon: And it was everything. Lad grew up as the child of a policeman in Cleveland. His talents were totally directed to baseball. He was considered for a professional contract by Hank Greenburg who sent him to Arizona to go to school and get a few of the rough edges off. Went to the wrong school. Hank intended for him to go to the U of A and he spent four years as a Letterman at ASU. Wallace came out here, part of the art department at channel 5 and one day the management said we've got these cartoons, these crazy cat cartoons and nobody wanted to touch the idea of being a kids show host because it lacked dignity. And Wallace said, that's my kind of show.
Ted Simons: That's me, huh?
Pat McMahon: Yeah.
Ted Simons: What made Wall-boy laugh? What made him laugh?
Pat McMahon: Oh, that's good, that's a good question.
Pat McMahon: The first thing I think of, us. We did. He wouldn't rig up but you could just see the joy in his face when something was working and if you would ad lib something he had no idea was coming, he loved that. He didn't like corny comedy so much like Mel Brooks. He liked cutting edge stuff that kind of thing. He loved Johnny Carson.
Ted Simons: Didn't everyone, though. Again, timing, such a factor. We've only got a couple minutes left. Was he ever surprised by the likes of a Steven Spielberg or Alice Cooper letting him know how important he was to their upbringing?
Pat McMahon: He was in awe. He was the kind of a guy that could be a huge fan. Alice was watching the show and almost memorized bits. As he grew into the superstar he was, couldn't believe that Alice still remembered the vocal show. Steven I ran into a few months ago when he was in town with the symphony. He was delighted to go over old times. I gave him a Stevemo bag.
Ted Simons: Good for you!
Pat McMahon: Last question now. The last show was what, ‘89 ?
Ted Simons: The last day of ‘89, yeah.
Pat McMahon: Does all of this seem, when you look back, does it all seem like a lifetime ago? Or does it seem like only yesterday?
Pat McMahon: It can't seem like longer ago than yesterday, because yesterday several people stopped me somewhere and said, did I ever tell you when I didn't win the Ladmo bag and the kid next to me did? Did I tell you about playing baseball on Ladmo's team?
Pat McMahon: That's yesterday, today. Seems like it'll continue to tomorrow.
Ted Simons: And the bottom line is for Bill Thompson, Wall-boy, call him what you -- what a life well lived.
Pat McMahon: Yeah, I'm grateful.
Ted Simons: We are all grateful. Thank you so much, Pat, we appreciate it.
Pat McMahon: Sure.
- Drones are expected to be more and more a part of our everyday lives. Attorney James Arrowood of the Frutkin law firm in Scottsdale will discuss the future use of drones and laws and regulations that can help protect us from possible drone abuse.
- James Arrowood - Attorney, Frutkin Law Firm
| Keywords: law
Ted Simons: Increasing use of drones in society is indicative of a new technology with a lot of potential, but it's also making for privacy and regulation concerns. Here to talk about legal issues surrounding drones with James Arrowood with the Frutkin law firm in Scottsdale. Good to have you here.
James Arrowood: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Let's start the discussion. What is a drone?
James Arrowood: It kind of depends on who you ask. There's a military drone which I've seen. But now I think what's really concerning people are these smaller UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles. Depending on if you ask the FAA or an individual, it used to be that there was a rule put out in about 1981 what's called a model aircraft. It fell outside of the FAA's regulatory rules. That allowed hobbyists to fly model airplanes in parks and things like that. It wasn't something most people could access, people self-regulated in clubs. Now we’ve gotten to a place where there’s very small rotary vehicles that could stand in place and surveil areas. You can get them for a few hundred dollars. Everything's gone out the window as to what is a UAV drone.
Ted Simons: So again, my liability. What would be my liability for flying a drone? What am I responsible for if I send my drone up to the heavens?
James Arrowood Like anything, you would be responsible if you injured somebody for instance or caused property damage with any piece of property. If you were to throw a baseball and break a window for instance, there would be similar liability issue. But the problem is, with the UAV, it's very, very hard right now to track who may own that and you can go out of sight. Somebody could be in a building and flying a drone or UAV somewhere, cause damage and it would be nearly impossible to identify them.
Ted Simons: Is licensing a must? Got to figure out who’s got the drone that just did that.
James Arrowood Well, presently the FAA is saying everybody should be licensed and certified to be flying under certain conditions and what have you. But the truth is people aren't. Personally I think there needs to be some technology involved. Much like a license plate on a car or a serial number even. You have something similar but it would probably be electronic, maybe like an RFID that would coordinate with cell towers. We already have a system in place for pinging on cell towers. That would be a simple solution and maybe a few dollars.
Ted Simons: Tracking makes better sense?
James Arrowood: Better than maybe licensing. You could get a motorcycle endorsement and it would probably make sense somebody would get an endorsement to fly these things. The bad actors, they are so simple to fly, you don't even need to know how to fly one now. You can pick a point on a map and another point on the map, and make it fly point to point, you really don't need to know how to fly it.
Ted Simons: If it turns into the Jetsons with so many drones buzzing around, what is going to be needed as far as regulations are concerned?
James Arrowood: I've got some strong opinions on that. I think that right now we have, on the federal level of FAA is trying to determine where its rules and regulations apply. Drones have gotten so small now that the FAA regulations used to just apply to bigger things. People have argued successfully recently that they are not subject to the FAA rules and that creates a big problem of course. The FAA is trying to enforce it, they issued a bunch of subpoenas in New York to real estate agents, so they are using them to fly around New York. I think the solution has to be coming up with some sort of way of having lanes in the sky, as it were. I think Arizona ought to be a leader in that and they are just not right now.
Ted Simons: I can see these things, buoys in the sky, marking spots for other aircraft or UAVs to come and go, the whole nine yards.
James Arrowood: That's not a bad idea, practically speaking, in maybe 20 years, you could have lanes east-west or North-South. Right now, for instance, Texas has some good laws on this. In terms of a state being proactive, they have addressed the law enforcement side, which is warrantless surveillance, that's what most people are worried about, and when can you use it in an emergency situation like the firefighters in Yarnell. That was a situation where you have a spotter and they were in a bad spot. Certainly drones could save lives, I mean that’s a 100%. We need to have exceptions for that. But we need to have criminal penalties for people who are misusing them in the civil and commercial context.
Ted Simons: Indeed, and I would imagine commercial context would be relatively easy in the sense that you're making money off of what you're doing, but as far as the privacy concerns, how deep do those concerns go and what are you seeing out there as far as how the industry, the drone world is handling this?
James Arrowood: The drone world is disjointed in a lot of ways so there hasn’t been a uniformed sense of that. I think people are worried about somebody hovering over them and watching their dinner party or something. Right now you don't have an expectation of privacy. Someone with a helicopter could theoretically fly over you and videotape your backyard if it were open. I think Texas law does a good job of addressing that, it provides a misdemeanor if you have intent to view have been surreptitiously without their consent, over private property. The problem is tying in intent and the person who's using that drone.
Ted Simons: You think about the various size of UAVs, but they can be teeny, tiny too, can't they?
Well there’s something called MAVs, micro aerial vehicles. Not just aerial vehicles but things that might look like a rat or something else that could go around. Microvehicles that are autonomous. That's just a whole New World. There really needs to be things that identify -- from the manufacturers for instance from the get-go, somebody couldn't buy one of these without it being somehow encoded. That's not a hard fix and it ought to be legislated and in the rules.
Ted Simons: Is that happening?
James Arrowood: I haven't seen it, and I certainly haven’t seen it in Arizona. There have been minor attempts, out of Chandler they tried to put some law enforcement laws in place but it didn't go through. If you were to put drones over the border and give the border patrol access, far more effective than 1,000 National Guardsmen. They have no ability to make arrests or do anything. If you just fly drones up there and they identify, there's just great uses for that to be in place.
Ted Simons: And let's talk more about the potential use of drones in a variety of ways. Commercially speaking, we're talking about concerns and regulations that might be needed, some of the positive potential for drones.
James Arrowood: There's unbelievable potential. Arizona ought to be a leader in that for a variety of reasons. We know Amazon want to use these to deliver packages, for instance. Maybe they are a company with the money and resources to make that happen. Conoco-Phillips has them for oil lines for safety, sending people out in the winter, things like that. There are a number of good uses economically for them. Why isn't Arizona taking the lead on that? It ought to.
Ted Simons: Why doesn't Arizona take the lead?
James Arrowood: I don't know, I'm trying to figure that out.
Ted Simons: Your biggest concern about drones and your biggest hope for the future about drones?
James Arrowood: Well, misuse, personal or national security, anything that hurts people is my biggest concern. My biggest hope for drone use is that we figure out a way to maximize, certainly on the state level, the proper use of them for law enforcement, for saving lives and for economic value. It's not reinventing the wheel. We went through this 100 years ago with cars, motor vehicles. The only real difference here is you're in a 3-dimensional space as opposed to a two dimensional linear space. It can be done, it’s not rocket science.
Ted Simons: Will it be done, in another 20, 30 years, are we going to see the Jetsons with stuff buzzing around over us?
James Arrowood: You're going see the Jetsons and it gets even further than that. If you could imagine you could have a guide drone linked to you as a watch, that follows you around maybe on a hike, and it could carry your water or something, essentially an aerial donkey or a mule, rather than be afraid of it, let's be proactive. Let's do something about it. I like to get ahead of this. Why is Texas taking the lead on that? Why is that happening?
Ted Simons: There's a brave New World out there. Very good information, good to have you here.
Thank you, thank you.