Wave Goodbye to the Handshake

don't handshakeCOVID-19 will change our world in so many ways. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hopes the world will end the custom of handshakes going forward. It’s a custom that dates back to the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace and a way to demonstrate that neither person was carrying a weapon.

What wasn’t known was that handshaking can transmit germs, bacteria, and viruses (like the common cold and flu) as well as the current pandemic causing COVID-19. Now that we know this, why would we continue this ancient tradition?

Common Cup

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 was raging in America when in Winchester, Virginia, Austin A. Kelly would begin his ministry at the church my wife and I are members of, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Because of this global pandemic the chalice, or common cup, at the administration of the Lord’s Supper was to be abolished in favor of the individual glasses.

The first communion services conducted by Pastor Kelly during the Easter services of 1919 gave communicants the option of either drinking from the common cup or receiving their wine via individual cups. Virtually all communicants preferred the new innovation, and from that point until the present day, individual cups have been the way wine has been received at Grace Church.

YouTube Easter Service

I learned about all of this as my wife and I attended the 2020 Easter Service at our church via YouTube.

In January of 1942, Grace Church began the radio broadcasting of church services over WINC-1400AM. Those radio broadcasts ended long before our arrival in Winchester, Virginia.

COVID-19 would see Grace Church forced to innovate again by broadcasting its services on its newly created YouTube channel.

Will some members of the church prefer to attend church via a YouTube channel or Facebook page versus attending services wearing a mask and protective gloves going forward? Only time will tell.

What we do know is that global events, like world wars, depressions and pandemics bring about lasting changes and a new normal.

What We Can Learn from the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919

Much like with COVID-19, there were no vaccines or treatments for the Spanish flu when the outbreak spread. The only ways to mitigate it’s spread was to have people isolate themselves from one another via self-quarantine.

What history has shown is that cities that took the Spanish flu seriously did better than those that didn’t.

By the way, how the name “Spanish flu” came about has its own interesting story. The 1918 pandemic began near the end of World War I. Countries engaged in the war limited journalist to reporting only positive or encouraging news, and so reporting anything about this flu bug was forbidden, but Spain was a neutral country during this war and so its newspapers reported on the flu outbreak popularizing the term “Spanish Influenza.”

It should also be noted that influenza pandemics have been regularly occurring every thirty to forty years since the 16th century. So, the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t really have caught the world by surprise.

One study of the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that I found interesting was the impact it made on the cities of Philadelphia and St. Louis. When the first cases of the Spanish flu showed up in St. Louis, it took the city only two days to close schools, libraries, courthouses, churches, theaters, playgrounds as well as other venues where numbers of people usually congregate. Philadelphia didn’t take similar actions until two weeks after their first cases of the flu were diagnosed.

St. Louis city’s quick action saw its death rate one-eighth of what Philadelphia experienced from the pandemic. However, when things looked better and social distancing measures were rolled back, a second wave of the flu struck and deaths went up again. In fact, the second wave of the flu (October 1918) proved to be deadlier than the first (March 1918), and by the time it was over in 1920, 675,000 Americans would have lost their lives.

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us

Each society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. In 1918, it was American soldiers returning from World War I that would bring home the Spanish flu.

Yale historian Frank Snowden has studied the impact infectious diseases have made over the centuries and notes that they have “altered outcomes of wars, inspired political reform, demolished revolutions, transformed entire societies’, relationships with God and fundamentally changed the course of human history.”

For positive change to take place, it will take leadership from the top and a realization from all citizens on how important the role of government is in creating a national plan for their health and well-being. It’s our current health and economic crisis that brings home the results you get when government abdicates its role.

Free Market Thoughts

Capitalism thrives on infinite growth, but we live on a planet with finite resources.

For most of my broadcasting career, every year brought double digit revenue growth at my radio stations, until America’s Great Recession of 2008. Revenue growth never returned to that level in the decade since, yet the number of radio signals in America has continued to grow. The radio industry has created an infinite number of advertising avails in a world with a finite number of advertising dollars.

It’s a myth to think that we can grow everything infinitely without facing the consequences.

A Big Re-Think

No one has the answer to all the world’s current problems. Any plan that has a chance of succeeding needs to take a collective, collaborative effort to devise a global society that lives in harmony with its climate, its resources, its economies and the lives of its people.

I’m hopeful that COVID-19 is the wake-up call that begins real meaningful change in every aspect of our personal and professional lives.



Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

10 responses to “Wave Goodbye to the Handshake

  1. Jerome Stevens

    Yes, the handshake goes back the 5th Century but The Germ Theory of disease was proven correct in the 19th Century and we kept doing it. It’s weird that the custom lasted so long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • During the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, hand washing was not known as a preventative way to keep the virus from spreading.

      It was always amazing to me to see men leaving the Men’s Room WITHOUT washing their hands.

      Let’s hope that everyone develops the good habit of hand washing and we finally stop shaking one another’s hands when we meet.

      Thanks for adding your thought Jerome.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vaughn Baskin

    Who cares.

    The Coronavirus will be gone by August.


    • Nothing I’ve read by anyone in the medical or scientific community would agree with your statement.

      We know in countries that have experienced summer (southern hemisphere) that heat doesn’t stop this novel coronavirus.

      This is going to be with us for sometime. Don’t let down your guard.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Normally I pretty much agree with you; however , this time I must disagree! CoVid-19 isn’t destroying this country, Liberal/ Progressive Politicians who are taking advantage of some scare monger Dr’s Is! In reality no more people have died from this “ pandemic “ than die in one our normal Flu seasons! And some of the reported deaths from CoVid-19 are incorrect! To be fair some that we’re reported to have died from other causes could have had CoVid-19 ties! The facts are the longer we keep the country closed down the more deaths we will have due to other causes, like extreme depression, loss of jobs and businesses! Normal people can’t just stay cooped inside their homes without hope or a income! The Government can’t just keep printing play money 💴 to try and shut them up! We have to open up this economy before all the small businesses go down the tube!! I say, take a chance, open up now! Be the Nation On The Hill our Forefathers made us to be!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael, we are dealing with a global pandemic from a novel coronavirus. This is not a political problem.

      The sad reality in America is we’ve built a healthcare system for efficiency versus resilience. The opposite of what we do with our military. Just imagine if we took citizen health with the same priority, how we would have mitigated this pandemic.

      Sadly, the old saw is correct: “By the time you’re in the middle of the mess, it’s too late to prepare.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fred

    You’re the only radio operator I know who didn’t lose 40% of their revenue in the 1989 – 1992 melt down. 2001 was also a killer. 2008 made radio a hobby for most mom and pops. I can’t believe it was anything but a billling nightmare once the 1996 deregulation and mega mergers kicked in. You must be the exception?


    • 1989 was my first radio broadcast career million dollar bottom line. 1991 was the second.

      2001 was another stellar year for the properties I was managing at that time.

      I sat on the board of directors for a broadcast association, so I know that others were saying things like “turn off the lights, the party’s over.” But we pressed on and the results for our clients, employees and stakeholders were positive.

      COVID19 presents a whole new set of challenges. Radio companies that have had efficiency be their goal are finding themselves in a world of hurt. Companies that have put resiliency as their guiding principle are not.

      It’s a choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Walter Luffman

    Kudos to my former colleagues who are doing all they can to keep the public informed during this pandemic. I hear good advice and reminders from both local and syndicated personalities every day. Stations with news and.or talk operations are providing frequent updates. Stations are running public service announcements from government and other authorities. Even sales departments are providing a valuable service by shift focus to businesses that are producing hand sanitizer, bleach and other important items, and working with businesses that are remaining open to serve the public — notably dine-in restaurants that have shifted to offering take-out or delivery.

    But just as important as all of this, radio is providing programming that helps people get their minds off all the doom-and-gloom thinking by providing entertainment wherever they are: in their homes, workplaces, cars and wherever else they may be. Radio entertainment contributes to a sense of normalcy that the nation — and the entire world — needs right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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