When the screaming stopped


December 18, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

If you want to tune in to a liberal Democratic college professor, 1090 AM might not be the most obvious spot on the dial. Yet there was Tom Schaller on Fridays, mixing it up with WBAL's conservative listeners and hosts Chip Franklin and Ron Smith.

It was fun while it lasted.

Now the UMBC political scientist is gone, for reasons that are about as clear as radio reception in the Harbor Tunnel.

Schaller says he was fired. WBAL says he's just on leave while he finishes a book and is coming back.

After all that sparring on the air, who'd expect Schaller and WBAL to start seeing eye to eye now? But you'd think they could agree on whether or not the guy has been canned.

Schaller says he did ask to take a leave to finish a book a couple of weeks ago, but only from Franklin's show, a three-hour-a-week gig that he says often turned into "screaming matches." He says he wanted to keep doing Smith's show, which only took an hour and was less confrontational.

"The management wanted to go the other direction, keep me on Chip and take me off Ron," says Schaller.

When Schaller dug in, he says the station told him to take a hike.

"I was there to create conflict and on-air clashes, and I thought I did that well," he said. "But I think the station wants to take it in another direction."

Station manager Jeff Beauchamp says Schaller has not been dismissed.

"Tom Schaller is taking a sabbatical. I'm not sure he's in town," he said. "He told us he was going to take a three-month sabbatical and return, as far as I know, when his sabbatical is over."

Well, at least they're still arguing. Maybe it's not over.

Finals don't get under your skin at UMBC

Finals started last week at UMBC, and students have found something besides binge drinking to blow off steam. Namely, free massages and acupuncture, finger painting and Play Doh, and "healthy" drinks and foods (a category that includes some, but not all, varieties of Pop Tarts).

All that and more can be had in the "Stress-Free Zone" created in an area in the UMBC Commons, says Jordan Hadfield, student government president. Among the more surprising offerings are the services of the campus acupuncturist.

Campus acupuncturist? Who knew there was such a thing?

Well, there is, and her name is Yu She. Throughout the school year in the UMBC and College Park infirmaries, she sticks students to relieve migraines, back pain and stress. That usually sets patients back $20, the co-pay under the school insurance plan.

Until finals wrap up Wednesday, students can get stuck for free. Ahhh.

That true taste of Australia

The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a brand-new Australian-themed addition, and you know what that means: Scads of dignitaries at Friday's opening bidding each other a Maryland-accented "g'day." (Fortunately, none of them donned a swimsuit like our former mayor/governor did at the original opening.)

The Down Under schtick was all over the gift shop like grease on a bloomin onion. Forget the plush toy kangaroo, since this is an aquarium after all and there aren't any real kangaroos here. Go straight for the little jars of Vegemite.

Just $7.99 for 4 ounces of the "concentrated autolyzed yeast extract" - enough to feed your nostalgia for Men at Work and the dawn of the MTV age.

Not available in stores!

Looking for a stocking-stuffer?

Donate $300 to Governor Ehrlich's campaign and you'll get a limited edition Ehrlich for Governor lapel pin.

And hurry - Ehrlich says in an e-mail to supporters urging them to buy the pins. Not because Christmas is coming. It's the General Assembly session that's looming. By law, Ehrlich can't raise money from the Jan. 11 start until the session is through in mid-April.

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