Ted Williams

Kraft brings back ‘Golden Voice’ spokesman Ted Williams


 I always love a story with a good ending. I am happy to report that Kraft Mac and Cheese and Ted Williams are teaming up for a very special Valentine’s Day salute.

Kraft will donate 100 boxes of Mac and Cheese to Feeding America for every tweet (up to 100,000 boxes) using the hashtag #VoiceofLove on Valentine’s themed tweets. In addition, Williams will record a personalized video message for each person to share with a loved one from 100 selected tweets.

Williams is the perfect person for Kraft to use for their social media campaign to fight hunger. He was once homeless and hungry himself and then shot to fame a little over a year ago when he was found on the streets with a sign advertising himself as “the man with the golden voice”. I have written about him several times on this blog therefore I will not go into depth here.

I give two thumbs up for this effort—one for Williams and his hard work on the road to sobriety and one to Kraft for recognizing his efforts. If I tweeted I would take advantage of this offer but, unfortunately, I don’t. So, tweeters get those sweet tweets out there!

Kraft brings back ‘Golden Voice’ spokesman Ted Williams.


Charlie Sheen in March 2009

Image via Wikipedia

In spite of my pleading last week for Charlie Sheen to go away, he is still everywhere. He is now not only haunting our TVs but also the web. After opening a Twitter account, he zoomed to 1.3 million followers after only two days. He has also done a 50 minute internet show called “Sheen’s Corner” and SiriusXM Radio created a special channel called Tiger Blood Radio to broadcast Sheen 24 hours straight.

Finally, CBS and Warner had enough and fired their star from his show Two and a Half Men. What brought us to this point? Surely, he had it coming but would it have reached this climax if Charlie Sheen hadn’t been spewing venom hourly in the media and on the web. Did he create career suicide, did the media’s over indulgence cause this, or did we, the gawking public, cause his demise?

Some interesting questions have been raised about incessant media exposure and its affect on the victim. With producers trying to outdo one another, this fed into Sheen’s massive ego and his need for constant exposure. Some have even asked the question, is the media “enabling” Sheen to continue on his path of self-destruction to his career, his health, and his family? Is the media exploiting him? if so, does the media have a responsibility to consider what is best for their subject?

This same scenario can be applied to what happened to Ted Williams after he was snatched from the streets of Columbus and plucked down in the middle of a spot light on fame’s stage. Was Dr. Phil and the media exploiting him for better ratings? In both cases we have someone eager for the attention and publicity but what does this do to an unstable person? Surely, the intense scrutiny can’t be good for someone already struggling with inner demons. Psychiatrist Gail Saltz said, “The spotlight is almost never helpful to people in these situations. It makes it harder to evaluate mistakes, to think things through, to take a different turn.

It was probably best for Ted Williams that he left the chaos and opted for an alcohol and drug free house where he would receive constant supervision and support—AND MAINTAIN HIS PRIVACY.

In Charlie Sheen’s case he is accustomed to the bright lights of fame. Jeff Jarvis, a prominent media blogger, said, “The drug Sheen is on right now is attention, and he’s overdosing on that drug. This is a cynical act by the media. It’s exploitation.” He added “if what we’re seeing is bipolar disorder, then it isn’t Charlie Sheen we are hearing…it’s the disorder, and we are delaying his recovery.”

Predictably, the networks don’t agree. Andrea Canning of ABC, who did an interview with Sheen for a hugely rated 20/20 show, said she still thinks he has some things to say when asked if he had had enough air time. And you can be sure she will be there to eagerly report anything else he has to say–that is her job.

Marty Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at t he USC Annenbeusrg School of Communication agrees that the media has been Sheen’s enablers.  However, he added that he wouldn’t be getting such intense exposure if it didn’t bring big ratings “so it’s the audience—us—who are his codependents. Is the attention making his behavior worse? Maybe. But the media didn’t invent people’s urge to rubberneck at car crashes.”

But even if the media suddenly stopped all interviews and coverage, Sheen still has access to the public through Twitter and the web. Because he was, literally, an overnight sensation, advertisers are eager to attach to his site. Thus, he will gain more exposure and money.

Todd Boyd, professor of popular culture at University of Southern California, said, “Fame is perhaps as much a drug as the real drugs. And it’s legal.” As long as there is a Charlie Sheen or a Ted Williams, the media will continue to flock to them like vultures; and, sadly, the bystanders—you and I—will continue to stand by to watch the train wreck.

So, who is to blame for this circus—the media, the audience, or the fame seeker. Each feeds on the other. The media would not continue to cover attention seekers if it had no audience. The audience would not watch it if the media did not cover it. And, the fame seeker would not cavort in public if he did not have an audience. Whatever the reason, one fact remains, if something isn’t done soon the fame seeker will go down in flames like the moth drawn to the light of a candle.

Regardless of who is at fault, the media is the constant that drives this scenario. Maybe it is time the media take a long look at itself to analyze its role in dealing with ego maniacs and how it will handle future situations.


Looking very dapper and professional in his new gray suit with complementary gray stripped tie, Ted Williams appeared on CBS “The Early Show” today to update us on his progress.

He looks like a new person with new clothes, glasses and teeth but the question is—has a transformation taken place inside also? He did seem more relaxed and centered as he answered questions about leaving rehab and his future plans. He said too much came at him all at once and the added pressure of a reunion with his family was just too much. He said he agreed to go to rehab without thinking it through, “That was probably a very rushed decision….It was too much, too fast, and I was just not really focused on what I should be doing. I felt scripted.” He said he was doing live phone-ins to the TV show from rehab when he should have been in classes. He added he loved Dr. Phil but it was all just too much.

He says he is currently living in a sober house for the voiceover community in Los Angeles and is dedicating himself to his new Second Chance Foundation. According to Williams’ manager, Al Battle, he is surrounded by a small group of specialists including a minister, psychologist and people from Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous who are with him around the clock.

In an article in the Columbus Dispatch February 4, it reports that many of the offers that came in the beginning have faded away after the companies learned of Williams’s addictions and arrest records. A spokesman for NFL films said they are using caution. Kevin McLoughlin, director of post-production films said, “We have to see that he (Ted) is on the right path. In this business, you can’t have a drug and alcohol problem.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers have also backed off of their original offer. A Cavs news release said the team remains available to help Williams discuss “work interests” and “create a path for future professional success”—but only if he is healthy, willing, and beyond the “critical personal challenges” he faces. In addition, some promotional spots Williams did for MSNBC Lean Forward Campaign have been taken off the air and a spokesman said they have no further plans to work with him.

However, a bright spot in this saga is that the commercials Williams made for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are still running and he has been paid for this gig. Battle says offers continue to come in from as far away as Germany and Japan.

It is hard to believe it has been only a little over a month since Ted Williams left the streets and became an instant celebrity. He has gone from a tent to pricy hotels overnight, from toast of the town to rehab, from rehab to a sobriety house all within a period of a few weeks. He has been on a roller coaster of emotions during that time with the excitement of the lights of fame and the lows of reopening old family wounds. Has he learned from these experiences? Is he surrounding himself with the right people? Is he able to walk away from the temptations of his old life? There will be many people hanging on and trying to take advantage of his new fame.

Williams has been given something not many people receive—a second chance. Is he able to clean up on the inside to match his new image? The one encouraging aspect of all his interviews is his continued expression of his faith. May God be with you, Ted Williams—we are all rooting for you. (See also Is Ted Williams Being Exploited?–January 2011)



New York Times

Image via Wikipedia

My piece last week about Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, must have hit a nerve because I have received some interesting comments. Many people think he is being exploited.

In two weeks Ted Williams has gone from homeless to famous to rehab. His story has touched a nation and is a story of hope for so many struggling in this economy. Everyone pulls for the underdog and wants to see the average Joe down on his luck overcome all odds to eventually find fame and fortune.

Ted Williams’s story certainly fits that formula. He was living on the streets with only a makeshift tent, a few blankets, and cardboard preventing him from freezing to death. However, once he was plucked from obscurity we find he has a dark and troubling past. One filled with alcohol, drugs, and many arrests. His family and others he has hurt and taken advantage of in the past are now wondering if he deserves all this attention. He even admitted to Dr. Phil, after viewing a montage video of all the frenzy surrounding him, he doesn’t feel worthy of what has happened. In tears he said to Dr. Phil, “It’s like, why me? Lord, I didn’t do anything super deserving of it.”

Several have said to me they are uncomfortable that Dr. Phil has entered the picture and he is exploiting the situation. Before we analyze the problem let us look at the definition of exploit. It is a verb meaning:

  1. to take advantage of somebody or
  2.  to use something for benefit.

The first definition is further explained as to take selfish or unfair advantage of a person or situation, usually for personal gain. The second definition adds, “To use or develop something in order to gain a benefit.”

No doubt Dr. Phil will gain ratings and advertisers and thus continue his show if he has programs that draw an audience. To do that he must be current and have guests, themes, and topics the viewing public is interested in—something that is in the news or news worthy.

 In a similar vein, this goes back to my college days and Journalism 101 discussions of what is news. News is information about recent developments or current events. News is what sells newspapers and today drives the 24 hour news networks. The Ted Williams story began as a simple human interest story that went viral and became news. It is what everyone is talking about.

So, yes, Dr. Phil will receive personal gain and benefit from presenting programs about current topics. In addition, the other offers Ted Williams has received will and have gained recognition for helping a homeless man. Good PR never hurt anyone. But, were these offers selfishly motivated? We should also ask the question, “Will Ted Williams benefit from appearing on Dr. Phil’s show and signing contracts with Kraft Mac and Cheese, the Cleveland Cavaliers, etc.?”  Most definitely, “Yes!”

The fact Ted Williams is now in rehab and not sitting on the street corner should be proof enough. After reading transcripts of some of the shows, I see that Dr. Phil warns Ted he knows of his dark past and wants it to come out now so he can help him and give him an opportunity to explain and defend it. Dr. Phil warns Ted it will all come out eventually and he is giving him an opportunity to say, “…that was wrong and I will do it differently this time.”

During his radio DJ days Williams became involved with booze, women, and drugs and didn’t manage his fame well. Dr. Phil points out that Ted has to make this second chance stick because there won’t be a third chance. Ted responds that if he lets his family down one more time then he won’t expect them to ever give him another chance. “I blow this and I die.”

Ironically, I ended my last blog about Ted Williams with those very words, “I hope he doesn’t blow it.” He has a long road ahead of him and rehab won’t be easy. He will have a lot of temptations in his new life and he apparently didn’t handle temptations well in the past. Admittedly, Ted Williams has not been a virtuous and model citizen but everyone deserves a second chance. He now sees what will happen if he does not follow through with his rehab and conquer his demons.

Whether or not he is being exploited can be debated. He will certainly have those hanging onto him who are there for their piece of fame and will exploit him whenever possible. Once again, I will close by saying, “I sure hope he doesn’t blow it.” By his own admission, the stakes are even higher this time around.


The man with the golden voice

This time last week the only Ted Williams anyone had ever heard of was the baseball player. Then a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III, posted a short clip on the internet on a slow news day and overnight Ted Williams went from homeless to a star with job offers reportedly coming from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Nicholson, Kraft Foods, and many more.

I don’t believe in blind coincidence. If things come together coincidentally, then I feel this is God’s signpost pointing us down the right path. And, there are so many things about this story that are coincidental. What drew the reporter and the homeless man together on that particular corner? Chenoweth claims he actually shot the clip a couple of weeks prior to posting it. Why did he hold onto the clip? If it had been posted before Christmas, it would, most likely, have been lost in the holiday shuffle. A slow news day at the start of a new year was a perfect time to place some “filler” on the newspaper’s web site. A feel-good human interest story will always attract some interest.

So, let’s say the stars were aligned perfectly to look favorably down upon Ted Williams. However, Ted Williams, himself, played a large part in this scenario by being prepared at the right moment. He was not afraid to do a little self-promoting on his sign. He proudly proclaimed on his sign that he had a God-given voice. There is that word again—God.

 In spite of all the suffering Ted Williams had gone through he still recognized that he had a special gift from God. When Chenoweth gave him the money and asked to hear his “God given voice” Williams not only launched into an impromptu audition but also thanked him for the opportunity and asked God to bless him. What kind of ex con and drug addict says something like that? One who was raised in a prayerful home. I have included links to several clips from the Columbus Dispatch video site. Be sure to watch the one of the reunion of Ted Williams with his mother. They both speak of their prayers over the years.

I have developed a unique belief—one I have never read or heard of from any other source. I believe God has given each one of us a special talent. It is up to us to find and develop that talent and use it for good purposes. Sometimes it is difficult finding our talent but each person knows deep within himself what that talent is. Usually teachers, parents, or other counselors help us discover it during our youth. It is then up to us to nurture and grow our talent to the best of our abilities. And, it is never too late to develop that talent. Remember Grandma Moses who didn’t take up painting until she was in her seventies?

I feel this talent is not only God-given but serves as our tie to our creator. Many times when I am writing I am deep in thought and concentration (or is it meditation) and when a piece is finished and I read it I often wonder where some of the words and phrasing came from.

The opposite side of this belief is that if we abuse or neglect our talent then we will suffer in some way. It is sometimes, but not always, physical suffering such as Ted Williams has gone through but it may be in the form of a spiritual dryness.

Putting all religious theories aside, it is wonderful Ted Williams got his second chance. He was prepared to take advantage of an opportunity when he saw it. However, now the hard work begins. Many problems often accompany overnight fame. Has he recovered from his drug and alcohol addictions enough to resist the temptations now before him?

Sadly, I see in today’s news that he has already garnered negative press. It seems he and his daughter got into an argument loud enough to cause others in the hotel to call police. He also admitted that during the press whirlwind he was nervous and asked for a nerve pill. I am asking all of you to join me in sending prayers his way to encircle him with positive energies to enable him to resist temptations and live a rich and rewarding life now that he is on a new path. He is going to need the help of many. I hope he doesn’t blow it.