What Great Radio & a Great College Experience Have in Common

For over four decades, I was a professional radio broadcaster, before beginning a second career as a college professor. Both of these professions hold a special place in my heart.

The “R” Word

The one student element that is critical for an impactful higher education experience is building relationships. Unfortunately, this global pandemic has disrupted both radio and higher education; in a similar way.

Think back on your own education, what do you remember most about Intro English or Chemistry 101? If you’re like me, not a darn thing. But what you probably do remember are those professors, classmates, or advisors that made a real impression on your life and the decisions you made during your years at college.

“Personal relationships are really fundamental to college success, “ says Dan Chambliss, co-author of “How College Works.” “It’s the people, not the programs, that make the difference.”

It’s those relationships which engage the student that are so critical for colleges trying to attract and retain students.

Radio Personalities

In the radio business, it’s the radio personality who builds a relationship for the station with the listener.

“Not everything that can be counted counts,

and not everything that counts can be counted.”

-William Bruce Cameron

 Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking

Mike McVay recently wrote this about the importance of the radio personality:

“Every radio station needs a Star. Who is that one personality that your audience will think of when they hear your station’s name? You can’t win without a radio star. Smart companies know this and they invest in personalities.

Developing an emotional connection between your on-air personalities and listeners is an effective way of ingraining the station’s brand into the listener’s memory.”

What Mike is saying is how important building relationships between the radio listener and the radio station is to a station’s success; and how it’s accomplished through the radio personality.

Business 101

Whether you’re running a college or a radio station, one thing is true for both businesses, it’s easier – and less costly – to retain an existing student or listener than it is to acquire a new one. People in sales and advertising have long known this maxim when it comes to building a client base.

In a college, it’s the faculty that are critical to establishing strong relationships with the students; and in the radio business, it’s the radio personality that is critical to establishing a large and loyal listening audience for the radio station.

Radio & Emergencies

When the first winter storm of the 2022 season struck the Washington, DC area, traffic came to a standstill on all the major highways and byways along the Mid-Atlantic coast. One person who found themselves stranded on I-95 for over 20 hours shared their thoughts and observations about the emergency situation on Facebook. Let me share with you the part that caught my attention:

“Local radio is actually corporate radio, and except for the repeated promos (“you’re listening to the rock of Fredericksburg” type BS) so there was no news or information on the radio.”

Radio broadcasters are usually quick to point out that in times when cell service goes down, that they are the citizen’s only link with the critical information they need.

Well, guess what, this person also wrote:

“I had no (cellphone) signal, GPS stopped working and I couldn’t contact anyone or look up what was going on, I imagine this was because too many phones were pinging off of too few towers in the affected areas.”

What could have been a moment of radio magic, turned into a moment of listener misery.

The Customer Experience

I used the wisdom of Shep Hyken in my university broadcast sales training classes. Hyken is a customer service expert. He writes:

The one statistic that matters most is if the customer(listener) comes back. You see, customer(listener) loyalty is not about a lifetime. It’s about the next time… Every time! So, what are you doing, at every point of interaction you have with your customers(listeners), to ensure that they come back the next time they need what you do or sell?

How do you think all those stranded motorists felt about their relationship with radio if all they could find up and down their car’s radio dial was automated music and syndicated talk programming?

There’s no doubt in my mind that those motorists who could receive WTOP’s radio signal were kept informed about their situation, but I still remember the words of a local AAMCO Transmission shop owner, who was one of my first radio advertising clients, that said to me how concerned he was to ensure that every local transmission repair owner treated his customers right. He said that all it took was one miscreant to have the consumer label all transmission repair places as “crooks.”

With the plethora of radio signals crowding today’s airwaves, the chances for a bad listener experience has never been greater.

And that should be an industrywide concern.

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Why I Stream ALL My Radio Listening

Twelve year ago, radio broadcast engineer Tom Ray, penned these words: “Unless we give Joe Consumer a reason to go out and purchase an HD Radio for his car – until he can obtain it easily and at a reasonable cost, and a device that works – I fear HD Radio is going to go the way of FM quad and AM stereo, relegated to the scrap pile of history.”

Tom Ray wrote his article for Radio World when he was the vice president/corporate director of engineering for Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio in New York City. He was a strong and vocal supporter of HD Radio and his WOR was one of the first AMs on the air with an HD Radio signal. So, any broadcaster that read Tom’s article, “HD Radio Shouldn’t Be This Hard,” should have taken it as a wake-up call about steps the radio industry needed to take to stay relevant in their listeners’ lives.

Buying a New Car in 2010

Tom is a loyal Ford customer, so when his Explorer went to the automobile graveyard with 230,000-miles on it, Tom wanted to get a new Ford Escape, equipped with HD Radio. The only problem was, Ford wasn’t putting HD Radios into their Escapes, instead, they were pushing Satellite Radio. (Tom noted that his wife listened only to Satellite Radio in her car, saying “in her opinion there is nothing worth listening to in New York’s Hudson Valley, 50 miles north of New York City.)

This should have been yet another radio industry wake-up call about its future.

I encourage you to click on the link and read what Tom Ray wrote a dozen years ago about how difficult it was to put an HD Radio into a new car which, at that time, didn’t offer OEM HD Radios and how he, as a broadcast engineer, was totally frustrated trying to install an aftermarket one.

Streaming Radio at Home

Since Christmas 2017, when my wife gave me my first Amazon Echo smart speaker, our Echo family has quickly grown to four of these devices. There is nowhere you can be in our home and not ask Alexa for something.

Since 2017, all of our in-home radio listening is via streaming.

While we also occasionally streamed radio in the car, on all of our road trips from 2018-2021, SiriusXM always seemed to be offering a 3-month free listening trial that I can honestly say we enjoyed the listening to. But, I’ve never been a subscriber, because other than road trips I spend very little time in the car.

Streaming Radio in the Car

In October, while enjoying my latest free 3-month trial for SiriusXM radio, I decided it was time to bring my in-house streaming radio habit into both of our cars. We own a 2006 Subaru Forester and a 2009 Honda Accord.

The Subaru doesn’t have an AUX input, the Honda does.

Streaming in the Subaru was accomplished with a Blue Tooth receiver that will broadcast on any FM frequency (88.1 works best). In the Honda, this same device’s output was plugged into an AUX receptacle.

The result is, as soon as either my wife or myself enters one of our cars, the Nulaxy KM18 immediately pairs with our iPhones. I installed the AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount to hold our phones, and keep them easily assessible to control whatever we would like to listen to.

Total cost for each car: $33.43. Time to install, virtually nil. I just plugged the Nulaxy KM18 into a power port and it was operational. The AINIOPE holder easily clamps to an air vent on the dashboard and holds any smartphone.

Unlike the nightmare that Tom Ray experienced back in 2010 trying to put HD Radio into his car, this installation by me, a non-engineer, was a piece of cake.

A Call to Action

I recently sat in on a Radio World webinar called “A Call to Action, radio’s existential battle for the dash.” Paul McLane, Managing Director of Content/Editor in Chief of Radio World at Radio World/Future U.S., hosted the webinar and did an excellent job. However, one particular piece of information shared during the presentation that I thought was crucial was, how Mercedes Benz was equipping their vehicles’ radio screens with the following pre-sets: SiriusXM, FM, AM and TuneIn Radio.

TuneIn Radio is the App I use for most of my radio listening, but why was it chosen by Mercedes Benz? Turns out the answer is, “TuneIn’s radio stations can be accessed worldwide in 197 countries on more than 200 different platforms and devices.” TuneIn says it “provides the displaced radio listener a connection to home with local, national, and international stations anywhere they go and on any device.”

In other words, why would any audio consumer need DAB, DAB+, Digital Radio Mondiale, HD Radio, AM or FM when they can receive any radio station in crystal clear audio via streaming?

With the exception of the proprietary content offered by SiriusXM, everything else is available via streaming at no charge.

Cellular Plan

Now it goes without saying, that streaming consumes data. Each cellphone service provider offers different plans and different price rates. My wife and I are on Verizon’s unlimited phone/text/data plan. We have no landline phone in our home and our iPhones are our lifeline to being connected with each other, our family, our community and the world.

I’ve found streaming radio in our cars provides us with audio quality that is pristine. There’s no buffering or dropout, and it’s been a more reliable signal than AM, FM or SiriusXM radio, especially when traveling through tunnels.

Streaming Apps

I thought you might be interested in knowing what streaming Apps I have on my iPhone, here’s the current list:

  • TuneIn Pro
  • Audacy
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • NPR ONE
  • YouTube
  • Simple Radio
  • StreamS
  • Apple Podcasts
  • AccuRadio
  • 650AM WSM
  • Stitcher

Why I Prefer Streaming My Radio

We live far enough away from Washington, D.C. that radio signals for WTOP or WETA experience lots of noise and dropout, depending atmospherics, sometimes making them totally unlistenable. However, their streams are always crystal clear.

This fall Sue and I escaped to Cape Cod for a week and when I get on the peninsula, I love turning on WFCC – Cape Cod’s Classical station – 107.5 FM. Now with streaming radio, I can dial up WFCC on my TuneIn radio App and listen when we’re back home in Virginia.

Full disclosure, I am the midday DJ on WMEX-FM in Rochester, NH. But even if I weren’t on the station, WMEX-FM would be my #1 pre-set for streaming. Gary James, the station’s morning man and program director, puts together a music mix that I find absolutely fabulous. It’s the music of my life.

Which brings me to another important point, radio today is global. No longer is your radio station competing just with other local stations, but radio that is streaming from anywhere on planet Earth.

Streaming also makes it possible for ON DEMAND spoken word radio, also known as Podcasts, to be easily available in the car.

Simington on Streaming

FCC commissioner Nathan Simington recently addressed Ohio broadcasters saying, “content delivery power had shifted away from broadcasters – stations and networks – and toward ‘online platforms,’ something he thinks the FCC needs to recognize in its quadrennial review of media ownership regs.”

He warned that:

  1. “Online media platforms are growing rapidly and threaten dominance over traditional media platforms; and
  2. Broadcast advertising revenue has flatlined, having been siphoned off from higher margin online platforms.”

The Future is Streaming

88% of the world’s population now uses mobile broadband as its main source of internet access, and nearly 90% of homes in the United States now have internet streaming. 2021 saw an estimated 22% ad industry growth rate, which Magna Global said was “the highest growth rate ever recorded” by this agency, beating a 12.5% growth rate recorded in the year 2000. The caveat however is, digital dominated traditional advertising raking in 64.4% of the growth in ad spending.

RAIN reports “The U.S. recorded music industry will exceed a 48-year revenue record set in 1999 (based on current estimates),” all coming from revenues paid by streaming music services.

The Harvard Business Review recently published “4 Principles to Guide Your Digital Transformation,” by Greg Satell, Andrea Kates and Todd McLees. In it, the authors wrote, “digital transformation is not just about technology. We’re desperately in need of a shift in focus. Leaders must inspire and empower their entire organization to boldly reimagine their work environment, customer needs, product offering, and even the purpose of the enterprise.”

Tom Ray was the proverbial “canary in the coal shaft” back in 2010, with few paying attention. Sadly, based on the early news coming out of the 2022 CES in Las Vegas, nothing has changed.

We’re living in a communications revolution,

bringing about changes that will be both

permanent and irreversible.

Revolutions never maintain or preserve the status quo.

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Best of the Blog 2021

It’s been my tradition since I began this blog seven years ago to look back on the year that has just past and share with you the Top 5 Most Read and shared articles of the past 52-weeks. Maybe you missed them or perhaps you’d like to read them again.

To date, I’ve published 386 articles that have been viewed over 245,300-times around the world.

Most Read Article of 2021

One of the things I loved about listening to radio growing up was the flawless on-air production one could hear up and down the radio dial. Sadly, today’s radio hardly ever sounds like that anymore, which prompted my most read article of 2021 titled “Does Radio Sound Choppy to You?

This article obviously hit a nerve with readers as thousands of you feel as I do that there is a definite lack of attention to what comes out of one’s radio speaker. It reminds me of those famous words of former FCC Chairman Newt Minow, when he referred to television back in the 60s as a “vast wasteland.”

Second Most Read Article of 2021

I’ve heard many folks blaming the state of things in America today on radio and television broadcasts. These people think that what we need to do to fix things is to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

It was shortly after the January 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill that occurred during the counting of the President Electoral Votes that I wrote “What was The Fairness Doctrine?

The Fairness Doctrine only applied to broadcast radio/TV stations during the years 1949-1987. It required the holder of a broadcast license to both present controversial issues of public importance, and also to present them in a manner that was honest, equitable, fair and balanced. It didn’t apply to cable networks or social media, which did not exist in 1949 when the doctrine was enacted.

Third Most Read Article of 2021

Following a much delayed trip across America to visit our children and grandchildren, I wrote “What I Recently Witnessed About Radio use. This article would draw the most comments of any of my blog articles in 2021. I chronicled how radio was used (or not used) in three different households, as well as in hotels, businesses and public transportation. What I would witness, was concerning.

Fourth Most Read Article of 2021

Sue, (my wife and the editor of this weekly blog) and I grew up on AM radio. For me, it created a passion and desire to pursue a radio career while I was still in grade school. In the article “The Thrill is Gone,” I reviewed the declining state of AM radio in America, but even more importantly, I addressed the lack of great on-air, live radio personalities that created a medium which was exciting to listen to. It was my plea for the radio industry to bring back the thrill of listening to Great Radio.

Fifth Most Read Article of 2021

Just over ten years ago, I was in Las Vegas presenting at the Broadcast Education Association’s annual international conference about how things would be changing in our world in the decade to come. It was the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, when already mediated communication was social, global, ubiquitous and cheap. It was the beginning of what we now call the social media revolution.

With that decade in the rearview mirror, I thought it might be pertinent to review those predictions in an article titled “What is The Future of Radio?

Whether you are in the radio business, OR are a radio listener, there is one question you honestly need to ask yourself. Read this article to learn more.

Most Read Articles, Period

The most read article to date is “SiriusXm Radio is Now Free,” which pondered what might happen to commercial over-the-air AM/FM broadcast radio if this satellite broadcaster opened up some of its channels to everyone as an ad-supported service.

Next is “The Day the Dumbest Idea Invaded the Radio Industry,” which addressed how the concept of increasing shareholder value hurt the broadcasting industry as much as every other industry it was introduced to.

The article that holds the record for the most views on the day it was published (over 3,500 reads) continues to be “We Never Called It Content,” published in 2015. It was about the iconic radio personalities like Larry Lujack, The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Dale Dorman, Ron Lundy, Salty Brine, Bob Steele and so many, many more upon which the magic of radio in the 20th century was created, but which 21st century radio has abandoned.

                  Radio is an art form.

When you remove the artists, there’s not much left.

Why I Blog

I blog for broadcasters, educators and students, I blog to provide media mentorship and to pay-it-forward to the broadcasting industry that I have been a part of for over 50-years. I’m grateful for the more than 184,000 people from all over the world who have visited this blog (https://DickTaylorBlog.com) and have read an article that caught their interest.

Thank You for reading, next week I will begin my eighth year of blogging with all new articles.

Together we can all learn from one another by sharing our experiences, knowledge and wisdom. Feel free to contribute your thoughts to the discussion in the comments section. I read every one of them.

Happy New Year!

Dick & Sue

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Grateful for Your Readership

Back next week with the year’s most impactful articles

on DTB in 2021.

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Is it LIVE or AI?

One of the loyal readers to this blog, wrote and asked me what I thought the future looked like for the combination of radio and Artificial Intelligence (AI). In today’s blog, I will consider that very question.

Is it Live, or is it Memorex?

I remember when the audio quality of tape recorders became so improved with audio reproduction, that the question of the day was, “Is it live or is it Memorex?” Memorex was a company established in 1961 for selling magnetic computer tapes. In the 70s Memorex moved into producing quality audio tape for recording music and voice.

TV commercials at that time featured Ella Fitzgerald singing a note that shattered a glass, while simultaneously being recorded on an audio cassette. The recorded audio would then be played back and the recording would also shatter a glass, to which the announcer would ask, “Is it live, or is it Memorex?”

Is AI Going to Replace Voicetracking?

Then Radio Ink published a story that got many of the people in my radio, podcasting and other social media groups talking about, titled “Is AI going to replace voicetracking?”

Voicetracking technology has been used to replace live radio personalities for decades, but what AI presents the industry with is the possible ability to bring back the big name radio personalities.

Dan Ingram, Larry Lujack, Robert W. Morgan, The Real Don Steele…

Imagine your radio market’s favorite radio personality returning to the airwaves. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

A company called WellSaid Labs has created dozens of human voice avatars where all one needs to do to get them to talk, is type text into a computer and the voice will say it.

Imagine how having a creative person, who has studied the style of an iconic personality, and then creating new, contemporary material to be delivered in that personality’s voice might sound.

Netflix Research

Now you might be wondering why anyone would want this type of technology. Well, Netflix now streams content worldwide and buys new content from producers all over the world. Much of that content is produced in the country’s native language and so Netflix has to show that content with either subtitles or voice-dubbing the dialog with voice actors speaking in the language of the country the material will air in.

It might not surprise you to learn that when Netflix has offered viewers two ways of viewing  a program, Americans in particular, prefer voice-dubbing to subtitles. (I know I do.)

To speed up the process of voice-dubbing and to have voices that sound the same as the original actors, companies like WellSaid are developing artificial intelligence technology that by voice sampling can then re-create the voice automatically.

ALEXA

I already have conversations with Alexa and have wondered what she might sound like as a DJ on a radio station, haven’t you?

The afternoon DJ on KCSN, Andy Chanley, has been on-the-air there for over 32 years. Now using a robot DJ named ANDY (Artificial Neural Disk-Jockey), Chanley’s voice will continue to be heard in many places throughout Southern California. During a demonstration for Reuters, reporters say that Chanley’s AI voice was hard to distinguish from his human voice.

You can listen to these computer generated voices WellSaid has created for yourself by clicking on this link: https://wellsaidlabs.com/?#actors-preview-list

Is Your Favorite DJ Already a Robot?

WellSaid says its voice avatars are doing more than just DJ work, they are being used extensively in corporate training material and the creation of audio books.

Do I think I will live to see radio’s great personalities coming back to life? No, because I think there will be too many legal issues that might complicate that from happening anytime soon.

But I do think that original voice avatars, teamed up with creative content developers, might just come into existence sooner than we imagine and provide us with an entirely new form of radio entertainment.

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Once It Was Radio

My wife and I recently visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, also known as “Christmas City, USA.” It has a magical Main Street filled with Christmas lights, old fashioned street lamps, and unique merchants with stores that are fun to go into.

Lodging

When we check into a hotel while traveling, the first thing I do is put all of our devices on the establishment’s Wi-Fi. It’s become the most important feature in our room, followed by a flat screen TV. However, fifty years ago, it was having a radio in your room.

Historic Hotel Bethlehem

In 2021, the Hotel Bethlehem was “Voted #1 Best Historic Hotel in America” by USA Today. The hotel features 125 guest rooms and suites all connected with fiber optic Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is so robust, that I was able to still be connected to it as I walked Main Street.

Before Wi-Fi, It Was Radio

The hotel opened in 1922, two years after the birth of commercial radio in America. It was constructed in the midst of what would become known as “The Roaring Twenties.” It’s opulent lobby, with eight Corinthian Columns capped with gold leaf  hid the I-Beams forged in the nearby factories of Bethlehem steel.

By 1953, the hotel was proud to embrace the communications revolution in America by placing a brand new alarm clock radio in every room.

Now seventy years later, connectivity to the world means having fiber optic Wi-Fi.

My Grandkid’s Audio Habits

In 2020, all of our travel plans were disrupted by the global novel coronavirus pandemic. This year, having been “fully vaccinated,” we journeyed to visit all twenty-three of our children and grandchildren in six different states, spread out from coast-to-coast.

Our youngest grandchild is eight months and our oldest is eighteen years, but one thing I couldn’t help noticing was how our grandchildren access the music they want to hear. In each case, they asked for it via the smart speaker system in their home.

Just the other day, I was visiting my six year old granddaughter in Virginia, who wanted to show me how clean her room was. (Clean, being in the eyes of the room’s owner, parents and grandparents might beg to differ.) As we were sitting on the floor talking, a song came on that wasn’t something my granddaughter wanted to hear, and she said “Hey Google, stop” and she continued to tell me about her day.

One of our granddaughters is named Alexis and her mother told me that they had to change their smart speaker from “Alexa” to “Echo,” because the smart speaker couldn’t discern the difference between the two names.

Two of our other granddaughters out west took turns in asking Alexa to play their favorite songs via their Sonos home speaker system.

Only our eighteen year old high school graduate seemed to play a radio, but that was only in her car, when driving her mom’s car, she played her mom’s SiriusXM radio.

Parents & Grandparents

That last observation is poignant, because a lot of today’s parents and grandparents are opting for a SiriusXM subscription, or, playing Pandora or Spotify off of their smartphone that seamlessly connects to their car’s audio system. Both my wife and I have such a connection to our iPhones in our 2006 Subaru and 2009 Honda. It has allowed us to take the music we enjoy streamed in our home with us when we’re on the road.

Radio 101

Radio celebrated its 100th Birthday in 2020, and at that time I read an article entitled, “Commercial Radio is 100 Years Old. Can It Survive?” The article featured the thoughts of four industry veterans weighing in on how they’d “fix” a “medium that remains popular, but lacks innovation.”

The article’s author cited Statista’s research which found 57% of Americans listen to audio online, pondering if radio might last another ten years, let alone another hundred.

The veterans basically focused on the fact that radio was portable, free and local; and that its success is driven and made possible by its personalities.

Portable, Free & Local

My smartphone is portable and allows me to tune into the world for music, entertainment and information.

When it comes to something being “free, “ we have to define what is the cost of our time to sit through a long stop-set of commercials for things we don’t want or may need, versus owning an unlimited data plan from our cellphone provider.

Time is money, what is your time worth?

And lastly, when it comes to local, in today’s short-attention-span world…

Relevant is the new local.

When the supply chain was disrupted by the global pandemic, cargo ships sitting outside the Port of Los Angeles became a local story for every community.

In today’s connected world, relevant content rules.

For radio to have a place in people’s lives going forward, it will need to develop strong personalities that deliver relevant content to the audience it wants to serve.

Radio stations that focus on the medium’s strengths, will have advertisers lining up at their door.

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Change, the Only Constant

At no time in the history of advertising has there been more unprecedented challenges to the creation and execution of an effective, results-oriented marketing plan. Consumers are struggling with the demands of a time-impoverished society, a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, an uncertain economy, domestic terrorism, political polarization, the future of our democracy and the world’s climate.

Algorithms

Everything on the internet is driven by algorithms. If you think about it, these mathematical formulas have replaced “hype & puffery.” Algorithms are a new form of deception as they feed us exactly what they know we want to hear. It’s like everyone is now surrounded by their own team of “YES Men.”

Our interconnected world insures, whether good or bad, that you get the word – and lightning fast.

Passion Drives Sales

Marketing through price promotions, is like having a drug addiction; it’s difficult to stop, and when you do, it’s painful.

Today, auto manufacturers strive to make cars that people can’t wait to buy. Recording artists focus on making music people can’t wait to download.

If people aren’t passionate about what you do, you won’t be around for long.

An Educated Consumer

Anyone growing up around the New York City area remembers Sy Sims promoting his clothing stores with the phrase “An educated consumer is our best customer.”

Today, the internet has made everyone an “educated consumer,” and often, we know more about a company’s product or service than the people selling it.

I recently went into a T-Mobile store to inquire about their 55+ plan that offered unlimited talk, text and data for only $27.50/month. Unfortunately, the person who came over to help me was totally unaware of this plan and this price point.

I called up the most recent ad on my iPhone, to which this young lady said, “can we walk over to show my manager?”

When I spoke with the store manager, he went on to tell me that the service was inferior to their Magenta Plan and that when you add in the taxes and fees, I would end up paying almost as much ($90/month).

Needless to say, I walked out of the store, not buying a new iPhone nor a T-Mobile plan.

Meaningful Difference

T-Mobile’s ads promise a “meaningful difference.” Unfortunately, the instore experience was anything but.

Today, an older wiser population is more discerning. They want to know precisely how your offer will make a meaningful difference in their lives, and the mega trend that catapulted meaningfulness is access to the World Wide Web. The web has made it easy for everyone to research, compare and contrast purchase options, and when customers have greater access to information, they make more meaningful purchasing decisions.

Claims of huge selections, friendly service, clean sandy beaches and low prices mean nothing when people on social media are posting pictures and telling of their real-life experiences.

Like, what I just did with my story about my T-Mobile shopping experience.

No matter what business you’re in, if you are going to thrive and grow, delivering exactly what you promise in your advertising is mandatory.

Update: While I never heard a word from T-Mobile about my experience, Verizon Social Media reached out to me via Twitter and put us on their new 55+ Unlimited Plan. While slightly more expensive than T-Mobile advertises their plan to be, we’re happy to remain Verizon customers. 12+ years & counting.

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What are You Grateful For?

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with family and/or friends that are special to you. In our case, our children and grandchildren are literally spread out from east coast to west coast, so it’s impossible for us to be with all of them. Fortunately, we do have children and grandchildren living close to us here in Virginia and we celebrated Thanksgiving with them in our home.

Gratitude Thought Starters

In the devotion before our meal, my wife prayed:

“Heavenly Father, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry; when I have work, help me to remember the jobless;  when I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all;          when I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer. And in remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help; by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen”

She then asked everyone to lift their dinner plate to reveal a different “Gratitude Thought Starter” that she had written especially for each one of us to think about and share with everyone. They were things like:

  • Name something you smiled or laughed at recently.
  • What is something you learned this year and are thankful for?
  • What is a song you’re grateful for?
  • What is a memory you are thankful for?
  • Name someone you’re grateful for.

And when I looked down at what was under my dinner place, I read:

  • What blessing in disguise are you grateful for?

I was seated at the other end of the dinner table from my wife, about half-way around, and when it was my turn to share, I said, “I don’t understand mine. I will pass and you can come back to me.” My wife said to me, “Think of it beyond the box of traditional Thanksgiving things.”

My Blessing in Disguise

After my wife shared her blessing, all eyes turned to me and I said:

“I’m grateful for all the times I’ve been fired.”

Which left everyone dumbfounded.

I realized that every time I had been fired from a job in my life, what always came next was better than what I had left behind.

The First Time I Was Fired

I was half-way through my undergraduate degree program at college when I was told by my radio station general manager that if I didn’t work the insane hours he wanted me to work, then I would be fired. I handed him my key and walked out the door.

I placed a higher value on doing my best in school and earning my college degree, than I did working in the career that I loved, radio.

Before the week was out, the other radio station in town called me and hired me to work for them. The hours were better (fit with my school schedule), the pay was better and I got to play the music of my generation that appealed to people my age.

The Second Time I Was Fired

For the next two decades I would enjoy being promoted and hired away for better and better jobs.

In 1997, the stations I had been the general manager of for 13 years were sold to new owners. I was called to a 3pm lunch by one of the partners of the new ownership group. He explained that one of the partners was to be the “managing partner,” and that my job would end with that lunch.

But, what came next in my life were two new general manager jobs that took me to Delaware/Maryland and Iowa, that provided me with new professional growth and a renewed enthusiasm for the radio business.

The Third Time I Was Fired

While I was managing in Iowa, the phone rang one day with the owner of radio and TV stations back in New Jersey asking me “What can I do to get Dick Taylor to come back and work for me?” As the station group I was working for was in the process of selling the group to Cumulus Broadcasting, I was anxious to return to New Jersey and be close to my two sons. I also was thrilled to once again be able to rejoin the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (which made me a Life Member in 2010).

However, that job would end in three short years, when the owner who hired me unexpectedly passed away while on a cruise. The stations were put up for sale and the number of managers were reduced from three to two, with the board deciding the last hired should be the first fired.

That’s when I was recruited by Clear Channel to manage their Lancaster, Pennsylvania properties. It would also be the second time I got a change to move radio stations into a completely new facility, while growing ratings and revenues.

Clear Channel would promote me to a station group back in New Jersey and all went well until the Great Recession of 2008, when the world would see the company doing massive RIFs (Reduction In Force).

After completing all of my property’s mandated RIFs (none of which I agreed with and fought hard to prevent) my regional manager came into the radio station unannounced, proceeded to my office and fired me.

Ironically, the day that it happened, the latest edition of Radio Ink magazine came out naming me one of the best general managers in radio.

In that same magazine, would be a classified ad for a radio broadcasting professor position at Western Kentucky University. I applied for the position and was hired by the School of Journalism and Broadcasting. Teaching at a university had always been my next career goal after working in radio. I wanted to “pay forward” what I knew to the next generation of broadcasters.

Always Be Grateful

The lesson in life that I want to share with you is, we can’t see how the twists and turns of one’s life will play out in the moment they occur, but if we choose to look for the positive in each event, we will find it.

Henry Ford put it this way:

Whether you think you can or think you can’t,

you’re right.

The simile to those words I would contend are:

Whether you think what happens to you in life is good or is bad,

you’re right.

Pick the positive, what have you got to lose?

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Grateful for the Motivating Thoughts

One of the entertaining aspects of watching Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” show is watching how Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, motivates his footballers, as well as the boss who hired him and his kit man who maintains the field and the locker room.

For anyone in management, this show is a master class in the art of motivation, and how to value people.

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving approaching this Thursday, I thought it appropriate to share the wisdom I’ve collected over the years, from some incredible folks.

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“Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”

-Lauren Becall

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“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

-J.R.R. Tolkein

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“We all become the stories we tell ourselves.”

-Tom Asacker

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

-Albert Einstein

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“Eighty percent of success in life is showing up.”

-Woody Allen

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“Life is made up of small pleasures.

Happiness is made up of those tiny successes, the big ones come too infrequently.

If you don’t have all of those zillions of tiny successes,

the big ones don’t mean a thing.”

-Norman Lear

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“NOTICE

If you want to sell your product to our company,

be sure your product is accompanied by a plan,

which will so help our business that we will be more anxious to buy

than you are to sell.”

-Don Beveridge

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Today, we live a world consumed by measurement. The internet, along with social media, has put data tracking front and center. To people selling traditional media, where user estimates are still the currency, it might be good to keep this wisdom from Albert Einstein in mind. Einstein’s fame was based on numeric calculations that helped us to understand the universe, so it might surprise you that he had these words printed on a sign that hung over his desk at Princeton.

“Not everything that counts can be counted,

and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Have a

Happy Thanksgiving

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Celebrating Our 3rd Anniversary

It seems like only yesterday, that we met,

yet I can’t remember my life before Sue.

Grateful for our Wonderful Life Together.

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Back next week with a blog to motivate your thinking in a positive direction.

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