I had the honor this past week to attend the 71st Annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) Conference and Gala held at the Tropicana Resort and Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.
I plan to share more information about this East Coast NAB style event in a future blog, but today I want to focus on something Tom Taylor said that I feel is critically important for all broadcasters to hear.
Tom Taylor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award by NJBA
I’m sure, like me, you are still experiencing some “Tom Taylor Now” withdrawal since the time Tom announced his retirement in December of 2018 and his daily coverage of the radio industry ceased publication. For anyone who’s lived around the Philadelphia area, Tom’s style was akin to that of Channel 6’s Action News. You got all the news you needed to know, delivered in an easy to digest style, sometimes accompanied by a sense of humor.
NJBA President/CEO Paul Rotella and his Board of Directors’ selection of Tom Taylor for his 31-year run as a radio trade journalist was well deserved.
How It All Began
Tom was the son of a radio broadcaster. He was born in North Carolina and started at a radio station where his dad once worked.
Tom moved to New Jersey over 40 years ago to program the heritage WPST in Princeton, New Jersey and he has lived in the Garden State ever since.
Tom left WPST after 12 years with the title of Station Manager and Vice President of Programming for Nassau Broadcasting to begin a career in radio trade journalism. First for Kal Rudman’s Friday Morning Quarterback (FMQB) and then to Jerry Del Colliano’s Inside Radio, both based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
For the last six years of Tom’s radio trade journalism career, he rejoined Robert Unmacht and Kristy Scott to form RTK Media and publish Tom Taylor NOW – Radio’s Daily Management Newsletter. That publication ended on Friday, December 28, 2018 with Tom writing his “Final sign-off for the daily Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter.”
Tom’s “One Quick Word About Journalism”
In his acceptance speech, Tom said something I believe all broadcasters should hear about the importance of journalism in today’s world and the role of radio/TV operators in carrying out our responsibility to the communities we are licensed to serve. Here’s what Tom said:
“I spent 31 years as a New Jersey-based trade journalist. During that time, no boss or business partner ever said ‘Don’t do that story, because it will make somebody mad.’ Or, ‘be nice to so-and-so.’ More than ever, we need to support good journalism. And as local broadcasters, the responsibility is especially on us, because people look up to us – or down to us – as ‘the media.’ We’re really in the crucible.
This is something I said at the opening session of the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas – Regardless of your politics, does anyone in this room really believe that journalists are the enemy of the people?
Mark Twain said this – ‘Free speech is the cornerstone of every right we have.’
Let’s not forget that – or why we became broadcasters in the first place.
There’s an old joke, where the guy says ‘I wanted to be on the radio when I grew up. But then, I was told I couldn’t do both.’ On the inside, part of us is still a little kid, and that’s probably a good thing. But the rest of who we are is… (are) grownups who have a responsibility to the community. As long as we remember that, we should have listeners (and podcast users, and video consumers, and social media fans).
Here’s the other thing I said at the NAB Show – Plan well. Try new things. And adopt some extra confidence and pass that along to the folks who work for you. It’s contagious. And as you go home from Atlantic City – keep having fun with broadcasting. Because I believe, and I’ll bet you believe, that it’s still magic.”
Thank You Tom
Tom Taylor is still an inspiration to broadcasters everywhere and I’m grateful for this friendship that has spanned over 35 years since moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1984 and becoming a member of the NJBA.
You and your lovely wife Sharan, have earned your retirement.
Live well. Live long. And be happy.
P.S. Scott Fybush produced a podcast with Tom Taylor and you can hear that HERE
The part with Tom begins in 11:16 minutes into the podcast.
8 responses to “The Importance of Free Speech”
If you haven’t made anyone angry, your rights to freedom of speech have not been exercised.
Interesting perspective Jeremy. -DT
Tom is a true treasure of the radio industry. An independent voice who daily kept us up to date on our industry. Just the facts. How many of us read Tom’s column first thing every day?
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I woke up to Tom’s newsletter every day. First got my coffee and then sat down and read it.
Free speech is 100% loved! But, we have to go beyond that and add “balanced” speech in broadcasting. Not just in politics, but in all types of stories. A lot of “journalists” are loose when it comes to getting both sides of a story and getting them correctly.
Bob, define “a lot.” Are there some who are opinion folks that make the claim to be journalists that do this, I would say yes.
But the journalists I read and listen to, are iron core reporters that aren’t afraid to put in the shoe leather to get the story right. They are also the first to admit when they got something wrong and say so.
A free press is vital to America’s democracy.
It happens that I awoke extremely early this morning, sky still dark, the world seemingly not yet astir. Groggy as I was, I grabbed my phone to see what time it was. Oh, so early, what to do. Despite it being almost 6 months ago since it came to an end, I went to look for Tom’s morning email.
I chuckled at myself, how what was a daily habit for so many years is hard to break. Up early and groggy, instinct had me looking for Tom’s email.
None of the other broadcast journalists captured or reported on the industry like Tom. The facts, the caring, the humor, all there.
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Irreplaceable indeed Dean. I’m still dealing with withdrawal symptoms from my daily Tom Taylor NOW read.
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