I Want It Now

I want it nowGrowing up telling mom or dad that I wanted something now, got the usual response of “you will have to work for it” or “you’ll get it when it’s ready.” Learning that good things come to those who wait was part of my maturing process.

But not any longer.

Google

I remember when I wanted to know about something, I either had to spend some time going through our family’s World Book Encyclopedia or take a trip to the library. But not any longer, I just Google it.

Alexa

I’ve been able to stream radio around the world for years, but it never became easier than when Alexa entered my world. Now, anything I want to know or hear, I simply ask Alexa, and that little genie in my Echo serves it up. My wish is Alexa’s command.

FOX TV

Remember when we used to have television seasons? Every fall, I couldn’t wait for TV Guide to arrive to plan out my TV viewing strategy.  ABC, NBC and CBS would introduce lots of new shows every fall and it was a big deal.

Then FOX changed things up while working to become America’s fourth television network. FOX began introducing new shows during the summer, and winter break, while ABC, NBC and CBS were showing re-runs.

Now new television programs are a year-round affair. Gone are pilots, re-runs and the fall season being the only time networks introduce brand new shows.

Netflix

But the most dramatic change to the introduction of a new television series happened five years ago when Netflix started releasing an entire season’s worth of shows, all at the same time. Netflix now gave viewers a choice in how you could watch a new season. You could watch on a weekly basis, watch a new episode every night, or binge watch the entire season.

Binge watching became the preferred method.

Disney+

Which is why I was surprised to hear Disney+ announce that it would be releasing its new shows an episode a week. History has shown with many different products and services, that you can’t go back to the way things used to be. I wish the mouse house good luck.

Knowing Your Audience

Netflix spends a lot of time trying to understanding what their subscribers want and like. They’re adamant that releasing an entire season all at once won’t ever change. They cite two reasons for this:

  • TV viewers have moved away from appointment viewing in droves, preferring to watch shows ON DEMAND, often by binge watching, and
  • 2) Netflix has found that people tend to watch only one show at a time. In other words, once a Netflix viewer finds a television series they like, they will watch all the episodes of that program before moving on to another show.

Netflix knows a happy customer remains a paying customer.

Reflecting on my own Netflix viewing habits, I would have to agree that I’m hooked on the concept of ON DEMAND television viewing and when I start a Netflix TV series, I watch the entire series, usually several episodes a night, until I’ve finished it. I’ve watched Downtown Abbey that way twice now.

Radio vs Podcasting

GoldsteinIs there a lesson for radio broadcasters from what I just shared about television viewing habits? I think there is. Programmer Steve Goldstein puts it this way, “Traditional radio – by design – is a lean-back business. Podcasting is a lean-in business.” That perfectly describes the difference between Netflix (lean-in) and broadcast (lean-back) commercial television.

These changing media habits are not just a temporary thing.

These changes in how people want to access and use media are the future, and we can’t wish the past back, no matter how much we might want to.

Goldstein says a podcast needs to be “thumb stopping.” By that he means the listener doesn’t exit the program and move on to something else with a press of their thumb.

Because of push button pre-sets, radio stations know all too well how easy it is for car radio listeners to change stations when something they don’t want or like comes on. Today, it’s in the car where most broadcast radio listening takes place.

Sadly, radio operators aren’t acknowledging this reality in the digital world.

Mad Men

Matt Weiner, the creator of the Mad Men television series that played on A & E, said that if he ever approached Netflix to run one of his shows, he would try to convince them to release the episodes on a weekly basis.matt weiner

It’s the same kind of thinking old timers in radio might suggest when they talk about how to make radio great again.

What would Netflix tell Mr. Weiner if he pitched his idea of releasing his programs a week at a time?

“He would lose,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s content chief.

Radio should think of this reality as its “canary in the coal shaft” moment.

 

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Thank You Jason Jennings

jennings

Photo by Barbara Ries

In 1979, two major life-changing events occurred around the same time. One, I got married and two, I left the programming, operations, and on-air side of the radio business to enter radio sales. Both would change my life forever.

Before I ever set one foot on the street to sell a radio ad, my new company’s owner would send me to sales training. The trainer was Jason Jennings, and when I finished the day with him, I could not wait to get out on the street to begin selling radio advertising.

Jason William Jennings

Jason was born on May 31, 1952 in Ishpeming, Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Detroit. His politics back then were listed as Republican and his religion Lutheran.

I didn’t realize that when I first met Jason to undergo radio sales training, we were the same age, 27. He was so self-assured, confident and in total command of the room. He told everyone to take off their wrist watches and be prepared to take notes. I remember filling up my note book with what he was telling us.

What most amazed me was he taught for an entire day and everything he shared was stored in his mind. Not a single note did he ever refer too.

Only recently have I learned that while Jason and I started off as Republicans, we both were now progressives in our political views, we are both of the Lutheran faith and both aged 67.

Music was also a part of our lives, Jason played the viola and I the trombone.

AVI Communications, Inc

I met Pat “Spark” Shaughnessy at a radio conference back in the 90s. We were sitting next to one another and he introduced himself. That led to hanging out during the meetings and forming a friendship by the time the conference ended. Pat invited me to review a new radio sales training video program he had just finished with Jason Jennings. He sent me the entire program and I would watch every second of it and read the workbook materials. I then sent Pat a multi-page document with my thoughts.

Years later, when I was working on an advanced radio sales course for my university’s School of Broadcasting and Journalism, I contacted Pat to see if I could purchase two copies of the Quantum Sales Training Broadcast System for my students.

The program by now had been bought for thousands of dollars by over 600 TV stations, 2,000 radio stations and several hundred cable systems. Today, one copy of the series sits in the WKU main library and the other copy in the school of broadcasting.

The basics of the program, written and hosted by Jason, are timeless. I’ve used the DVD on Negotiation in sales training at all of the radio stations I’ve managed and in my introductory sales classes at the university.

LinkedIN & Facebook

I believe it was through LinkedIN that Jason first reached out to me to reconnect. More recently, Jason asked to be friends on Facebook. I’m embarrassed I didn’t ask him first. I believe it was because I so looked up to him as a mentor and felt asking would be a bother. Jason obviously didn’t feel that way.

Over time, I learned we were in concert on so many things, like what’s important in sales, management, politics and life.

A Better Tomorrow

Jason really cared about people. Somehow this man who was named among the twenty-five best speakers in America by the Nationwide Speakers Bureau, a bestselling author and media consultant always found the time to drop me a note and wish me well. I’m sure I was not the only one Jason did this to.

During his keynote addresses, it was normal for Jason to ask the audience “How many of you want your tomorrows to be better than today for you and your family?” He knew how to tap into our universal human desires in a real and genuine way.

“Ensure your heart is in the right place with a genuine desire to help highly principled people reach their full potential,” was how Jason’s podcasting co-host, Dale Dixon, defined Jason Jennings’s purpose in life.

Selling is Like Doctoring

In life, there are some phrases you come in contact with that become a part of you. When seeking to know what an advertising client was expecting from his radio campaign, Roy H. Williams taught me to always ask, “How will you measure success?” From Zig Ziglar I learned, “You can get anything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

From Jason Jennings I learned, “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.” In other words, before you can begin to advise any client what he needs to do to improve his business you first need to learn, where it hurts, what’s going wrong, what’s the breakdown that’s causing business to languish.

For me, Jason’s phrase spoke to my unending curiosity. I loved asking clients lots and lots of questions; about their life, their families, their business, then using what I learned to create unique, one-of-a-kind advertising programs to increase their business.

Are Radio Groups Mis-Training Sellers?

Back in October of 2012, my radio friend Barry Cohen wrote an article for Radio Ink taking the radio industry to task for the lack of radio sales training. Barry wrote, “When I started selling radio advertising, the first thing my sales manager did was hand me one of Jason Jennings’ books, which I promptly ‘devoured.’ As I moved to each station, my managers continued to give me the good stuff, exposing me to the likes of Chris Lytle (who just turned 70 this month), Irwin Pollack, Pam Lontos and, of course, RAB sales training materials.”

For many of us, Jason Jennings was one of a handful of training professionals that radio people held in very high esteem.

Don’t Let Radio End Up Like Yahoo!

In August of 2016, I wrote a blog article based on one of Jason’s “Game Changers” podcasts. I applied the lessons Jason learned from his analysis of why Yahoo! disintegrated to the radio industry. “Don’t Let Radio End Up Like Yahoo!” was the fourth most read article on my blog in 2016.

In reviewing that article’s advice, it strikes me that this is how Jason Jennings lived his own life.

  • Know what you’re all about
  • Have a set of guiding principles
  • Don’t use a business like a personal piggy bank
  • Don’t try to be all things to all people
  • Don’t copy the competition

Jason Jennings was an original who pursued perfection and achieved excellence.

I will always be grateful to Jason Jennings for giving me a solid foundation upon which I was able to build a successful radio and teaching career.

A global community of sales and management professionals are saddened by Jason’s sudden and unexpected death this month from a ruptured aorta aneurysm.

We will always be grateful for all he taught us.

 

 

 

 

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What Is Normal?

What Is NormalA reader of this blog recently asked me if things would one day return to “normal.” They said that over the past ten years, they’ve moved beyond wondering “why” there have been so many massive changes and disruptions in our lives, pondering now if things will ever settle down.

Will we ever get back to “normal,” or is this our “new normal?”

Is it possible, “never normal,” is where we are headed?

Normal

If you look up “normal” in the dictionary, you will see that as a noun “normal” is defined as “the usual, average or typical state or condition.”

What do you consider “normal” temperature for where you live? What do you consider average as the amount of time you interact with other people? What is the typical state or condition of your car?

When we think about “normal” in this way, we quickly realize that temperatures are constantly changing; by the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year, and so on. When we apply that to personal interactions with others, again you’re probably thinking to yourself things like, are we talking about a weekday, weekend, holiday, vacation etc. And when it comes to your car, its condition changes with every mile you put on the odometer.

In other words, “normal” means things are constantly changing.

When Were Things Ever Normal?

When you really start to think about the concept of “normal,” you quickly realize this thing called normal never existed.

What we have are periods in our lives when things are going well (and we like to think this is “normal”) and other periods where things are completely FUBAR*(we call these times “not normal”).

The truth is, normal life is constant change.

History’s Lessons

History doesn’t repeat, but often rhymes.

Do you think the village blacksmith wondered as cars drove down the streets past his shop, when this “fad” would end and people would return to riding horses or in carriages pulled by horses? I’m sure he did.

In April 1860, pony express moved mail across the country faster than ever before, but for only 18-months before it was then replaced by the wired telegraph.

As wireless telegraphy was born, the wired telegraph would see its challenges.

Morse Code, with the dots & dashes communication method of the telegraph, saw its demise with the transmission of voice and music through the ether.

Television would add pictures to radio’s sound, leading many to predict the end of radio. But radio didn’t end, it changed with the times and was reborn for a new generation of youth who listened to it for hours on transistor radios.

Then the biggest disruption of all arrived, the iPhone. Now this singular device has replaced your cellphone, typewriter, camera, video camera, radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, computer, tablet, flashlight, credit cards, keys, tape recorder, note pad, iPod, GPS, blood pressure monitor and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting about.

Having an iPhone or similar Android device many would call the “new normal.” It’s almost hard to consider a world where, it too, has been replaced by something even better and more essential to our lives.

You Can’t Go Back

I first heard this advice when I was taking a film making course in college. My instructor told the class, be sure you get every shot you need when you’re out filming your movie, because you can’t ever go back and shoot something you missed at a future date. Things change, and nothing will be like it was, the first time you were there.

My film was about glass blowing. The day I was to film the making of a glass vase, the glass blower welcomed me. He was sporting long hair and a beard. The molten glass he was working with that day was green and produced a lovely green glass vase.

I filmed every part of the process of making a vase, from the liquid molten glass in the furnace to the rolling, blowing, shaping, cutting and cooling of the glass into a finished product.

I was so grateful to the glassblower for allowing me to come to his shop and film him that I bought that green glass vase.

Back when I was in school, filming was really shooting on film, 16mm film. That meant shipping the undeveloped film off to Kodak for processing and then waiting for the film to return so I could view it and begin the process of editing the footage into a final 15-minute film.

It wasn’t until I was viewing the rough footage that I discovered some of my shots were out-of-focus. There was simply no way to complete my film without some key parts of the process included.

So, I called up the glass blower and made an appointment to come back to his shop and film those sections I needed.

When I arrived, he had shaved off his beard, gotten a crew cut, and was now working with purple glass.

My instructor, unbeknownst to me, would buy that second purple glass vase to give to me for Christmas that year and to bring home the point that I indeed, “could not go back.” Things always change.

Change

If you’re really honest with yourself, you want change in your life. You want to learn new things, see new movies and TV shows, hear new music, visit new places, watch your children grow up and so much more.

We want change that makes us happy, we don’t want change that doesn’t.

I seriously doubt anyone would want to give up their smartphone that’s connected to the internet, no matter how much we may pine for simpler times.

Change in our lives, is like normal in our lives, it’s individually defined. Others may look at our life and call it abnormal.

Normal is change from sunrise to sunset. Normal is changes in weather and seasons. Normal is also pandemics, being a cycle that can span decades or a century.

What Does This Have to Do with Radio/TV?

OK, this is a blog where I write about radio/TV and you may wonder what any of what I wrote so far has to do with broadcasting, well here it comes.

Jeffrey Katzenberg put it this way, “One thing that’s happened to me in 45-years of being in Hollywood, and in this industry is, I’ve never seen an instance where real quality entertainment hasn’t found an audience.”

While some say “Radio is dead,” or more specifically “AM Radio is dead,” this past April we saw that AM Radio (WOR) was #1 on Long Island, AM Radio (KFI) was #1 in Los Angeles, AM Radio (WBBM) was #1 in Chicago, AM Radio (KCBS) was #1 in San Francisco, AM Radio (WSB) was #1 in Atlanta, and AM Radio (WWJ) was tied for #1 in Detroit. I’m sure there are others, but I think you get my point.

Mr. Katzenberg has it right, when you provide content that people want, they will find you, even if it’s on the AM Radio Dial.

Change is normal and wanting to hold on to the past that has been romanticized in our memories, is normal.

But what never changes is people are born, they age, and they die.

Success belongs to those who can touch the most hearts with their product or service, and make a difference in their lives.

The only way RADIO or TV will lose, is if they do it to themselves.

Broadcasting holds the keys to its success in its own hands.

Will they use them to unlock all they are capable of?

—————————————————————————————

*FUBAR is a military term that means out of working order; seriously, perhaps irreparably, damaged. For a more literal definition of this acronym, Google FUBAR.

 

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Reflecting on Life’s Lessons

Tom Hanks as Mr RogersThe other evening, I re-watched the excellent Tom Hanks movie about Fred Rogers, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Be sure to have a box of tissues next you too.

During the movie, a character who’s dying, says to his son, “It’s not fair, you know? I think I’m just now starting to figure out how to live my life.”

That line stuck with me because, I’ve had those same feelings at different points in my life. They come when one phase of your life is ending, and you feel like you finally got good at it, but now it’s over. Like raising your children, it’s not until they leave the house to venture out on their own you feel like you finally have parenting figured out, and now that part of your life is over. When I finally left radio, to teach broadcasting at the university, I thought I’d finally figured out radio management, only now to try and teach what I knew, to my students. And when I retired from teaching, I thought how I had finally figured out that profession, only to now be seeing it too, come to an end.

Blogging

I started this mentoring blog over five years ago for the purpose of sharing with my students and my graduates, things that I had learned that might be beneficial to them on their life’s journey.

In today’s blog, I’m going to try and reflect on life’s lessons.

There’s More to Life Than…

Once upon a time, kids used to dream about what they wanted to be when they grew up. When Art Linkletter’s TV show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” asked kids this question, the answers were things like a postman, a policeman, an actor, a doctor, a teacher, but when kids today are asked that same question, the answer is “rich.”

Why do you think that the pursuit of making vast sums of money became the focus of today’s youth? Has our media, movies/TV/radio, been the driver of this change? Our parents?

The Great Recession was a real lesson in how no occupation is safe, and how what makes you happy, is what’s really important in life, not how much money one makes. Your family, your friends, learning and growing in responsibilities, and helping others are life’s greatest rewards.

Do What You Love

Early in my life, I wanted to be a disc jockey on the radio. DJs weren’t the richest folks in town, but they sure were the people creating good times, doing exciting things in their communities and making an impact on people’s lives.

The other career I wanted to pursue was teaching. I thought about teaching in the halls of ivy for most of my professional radio career. Just as I had envisioned, the final chapter of my working life was teaching broadcasting, sales and management, at a university.

Be Grateful for the Good in Your Life

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself or thinking everything bad happens to you. We all have challenges in our life. No one has a “Disney Fast Pass” that allows us to bypass the speed bumps life puts in our way. What makes the difference is how you deal with those hard times and what you choose to focus on. Make time each day to be grateful for the good things in your life. Notice what’s going right and be grateful.

It can be as simple as being grateful that you have a bed to sleep in, enough food to eat or a hot shower to start your day.

Balancing Your Life

We all have the same number of hours in a day. How you decide to allocate your time, energy and talent will ultimately impact the life you will lead.

Life is filled with uncertainty, but if you have a strategy for how you will live your life every day, and keep your goals in front of you, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

The relationship you have with your family is your most enduring source of happiness, but often when we’re starting our careers, we let our work dominate our focus. We over invest in our career causing us to under invest in our family. We let immediate gratification disrupt what’s really important in our lives.Trouble with trouble

Creating a Culture

Glassdoor just released their 2020 “Best Companies to Work” list. Companies that embrace a culture-first ethos made the top of the list. Culture defines how you prioritize the different types of problems you confront. Culture is what drives people’s engagement and creates a place they enjoy being in.

Culture, both at work and at home, can create an environment that causes employees and family members to instinctively do the right thing.

The choice you have is whether to consciously build a positive, nurturing, respectful culture or let one evolve inadvertently. Both ways, take time, only one builds a foundation for strong self-esteem and confidence that will prove invaluable over time.

Everyone You Meet Can Teach You Something

No matter how far in life you’ve gone, or how many degrees, or medals, or trophies you’ve earned, stay humble. Every person you meet carries knowledge about life that you can benefit from. Stay curious and be willing to soak up the wisdom from everyone that you come in contact with.

Having Enough

There’s an old saying that says, “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

Sadly, we live in times where everyone wants more and more and more. Maybe it’s to keep up with “The Jones” next door, or the people we see on TV, or the people we work with or people we grew up with.

The irony in life is too much of anything becomes toxic.

You already have everything in life to make you happy, the secret is embracing what you have and being grateful for it.

Your Only Possession No One Can Take from You

Life is full of uncertainties. So much of what we have, our jobs, our possessions, and our health, can be taken away from us in a moment’s notice. But there is one thing that no one can take away from us, and that is our values.

Your values were instilled in you from your parents, your school, your civic engagements, your church and others who were your mentors, or in other words, from the culture you were raised in.

The only one who can take your values away from you, is you.

You never will go wrong by doing the right thing.

Savor Every Moment

One of the things I would say at employee gatherings of radio stations I’ve managed was, “Look around the room, soak in this moment. I know I am. I’m grateful for each and every one of you. What a wonderful opportunity it is to spend every day with people who love what they do, are good at what they do, and work hard to be the best they can be. Thank You for being a part of this wonderful family.”

I used to say something similar at every family gathering, with the additional caveat that one day, we won’t all be here, as God calls us home. My oldest son used to say, “Dad, you always say that!” To which I would say, “And sadly, one day I will be right.”

As members of our family have passed on, he has learned how true those words are.

Difficult times teach us how to be strong. Good times let us enjoy life’s sunshine.

Both go by so fast.

Slow down and enjoy the things that really matter.

happy mother's day

 

 

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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.

 

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Nobody Wins Until We All Do

COVID19 ImageThe current pandemic is not a sporting event. We are either all winners or we are all losers. Unlike anything in our lifetime, we are all in this together, at the same time, on every continent.

I believe COVID-19 is the worldwide wake-up call, that we all needed. That we need to embrace the rule that nobody wins until we all do.

Today’s Heroes

The real heroes of this pandemic are the healthcare workers, the truck drivers, the delivery people, the grocery store workers, garbage collectors, the scientists working on a cure, the journalists keeping us informed, the people who keep our infrastructure of water, sewer, electrical and other power grids operating and our internet working.

The real heroes are those people we took for granted, the people we never cared about or understood the vital role they play, we just assumed they would always be there.

COVID-19 is teaching the world the true meaning of what it means to be an “essential worker.”

An Interconnected World

In a world so interconnected, we’ve never been more dependent on others. The world before COVID-19 rewarded the few with untold riches, while the many lived paycheck-to-paycheck.

It’s time for the world to embrace what all of the world’s great religions have taught.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read that Jesus’ last words as he hung on the cross were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Jesus understood that nobody wins until we all do.

Stay home, stay safe.

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It’s Wine Time

Wine GlassesThe headline read, “The Price of Wine is Dropping Fast.” Being a wine drinker, I wondered what was the reason for this downward price spiral and it turns out that it’s due to a surplus of California grapes. (Note: this story broke before the COVID-19 Pandemic. I’ll have an update on how that’s impacting wine sales at the end of this article.)

In this case, the law of supply and demand says when an oversupply of grapes exceeds demand., prices will fall.

From the moment they plant a new vineyard, vintners tell us it takes up to five years to bring wine to market. Only five years ago, demand greatly exceeded supply, causing vintners to begin planting a plethora of new fields. It seemed like a sure bet, because this growth in demand had been steady for the past two decades, until it vanished. The sudden slowdown caught the wine industry by complete surprise.

Supply & Demand

Any business that wants to see the price for its goods or services go up, knows that it benefits when demand exceeds supply.

For vintners, the first part of their problem was growing too many grapes, but the second part was seeing the consumption of wine drop for the first time in twenty-five years delivering a one-two punch to the wine grower’s gut.

Boomers

The generation that was fueling the growth in wine consumption were the Baby Boomers. And let’s face it, we Boomers aren’t going to live forever.

The problem the wine makers are having is best demonstrated by looking at two couples dining out. One couple is in their twenties and the other is in their sixties. If you were to ask a server to bet on which couple would be ordering wine, twenty years ago, they would have chosen the twenties couple, but today, they would bet on the older one.

Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division says it’s due to a failure of the wine industry to capture the attention of the millennials.

Does This Problem Sound Like Radio’s?

It’s no secret that the radio industry has been focused on increasing the number of signals it can put on the air in America. The FCC reports that as of December 31, 2019 there are 21,255 AM, FM, FM Educational, FM Translators & Boosters and Low Power FM radio signals on the air. Ten years earlier that number was 16,649, and twenty-five years earlier (the same amount of time that wine began its 25-year growth cycle) there were only 2,281 radio signals beating America’s airwaves.

So, like the growth in the number of grapes produced over the past twenty-five years, the number of radio signals grew almost ten times over that same period of time. Also, like wine, radio was dependent on Boomers to make their numbers. Younger generations are moving away from beer and wine for beverages, and away from broadcast radio for their audio consumption. Radio people and vintners have good reason to both want to drown their sorrows.

Former WLW programmer and air personality, Darryl Parks, tweeted the situation out this way:

More stations mean more avails to sell, which in turn means lower rates. Never understood how those running the big box broadcasters don’t understand the simple law of supply & demand. There’s no other way for this to turn out. Death by a thousand cuts.

Universal Laws

I believe that some laws are universal, in that they transcend all areas of life.

In the area of my college major, physics, Newton’s 2nd Law says, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Zig Ziglar, the great salesman and motivationalist, put it this way, “you can get anything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” And the Bible says, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

Botanists know that pruning plants causes new growth. Forest fires, while appearing destructive on the surface, actually are part of the natural cycle of woods’ growth and replenishment, clearing dead trees, leaves, and competing vegetation from the forest floor, so that new plants can grow.

For the radio industry to grow and prosper, it needs to stop choking off its own growth and prosperity by thinking more and more radio signals will be to its benefit.

To serve their communities of license, it’s time for less radio signals, that do more for the communities they are licensed to serve, while being economically viable.

Why not pour yourself a glass of wine and start working on meaningful solutions that don’t try to counter life’s universal laws.

COVID-19 UPDATE

Quarantinis are driving a spike in alcohol sales

US sales of beer, canned cocktails, wine and spirits have surged in recent days as people stocked up on drinks to see them through quarantine and pub closures. Experts predict the increase will be short-lived as many households will prioritize more pressing expenses if emergency measures remain in place. Some experts have raised concerns about the risks of increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic — a fear that has driven officials in several countries to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages entirely.

 

 

 

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Easter 2020

EasterCrossToday’s blog was written by the love of my life & pandemic partner, Sue Towley

When Dick asked me to walk with him in today’s Easter blog, my first thought was in the conundrum of “why.”

Dick’s knowledge of radio comes through joy – a fulfillment in his life and his mastery in a talent with astute proficiency of his craft. (I could be very biased, but this I believe.)

My second thought was, our thoughts run in a totally different orbit. (My degrees and competence embrace Religion, Family Life, Guided Imagery, Grief Counseling, and the Art of listening.)

My third thought was – Ahh, I’m not listening — he said “Easter” not “Radio” – so this is my contribution to a most beautiful day.

Recently, I hear us all singing the children’s song “This is a Song that Doesn’t End” (Sherri Lewis), with the movie “Groundhog Day” playing in the background, and wondering if Bill Murray will be the delivery person for the mail or Amazon.

We, as a global unit, have run into a very steep wall of mountains. We all are questioning, we can’t believe that ‘this’ is happening, we’re not sure what to do, we, have lost the essence of who we are now. But even more confusing, who were we?

Wherever your steadfastness is at the moment, we are all asking for help in the impossible. With wanting to socialize on a Friday night, attend a graduation, a wedding, just a simple visit with children, grandchildren, a neighbor. But as the weeks, and now months pass by, and some not being able to provide food or shelter for their family, by the loss of a job, or the visitation of a relative in a nursing facility, only able to see them through a window – or – a death of a loved one, not being able to be by their side during their final breaths, these and more scenarios are prompting a deep crisis emerging in our faith.

During these powerful and uncertain times, we have been given a beautiful gift, a spiritual gift, through new found wisdom, and a trusted knowledge.

As Dick and I have taken walks, FaceTime called with family, gone for drives and changed our whole agenda, I’ve seen in these weeks, a teaching tool, something new that each one of us has learned, something that we have not learned from a college education, books, or even a human teacher.  We have seen a beauty in the everyday around us.   Walkers, joggers, families actually playing with children and children loving the outside, people sitting and reading, people making life saving masks for health care workers; these people, all of us, are becoming centered.

We are now seeing our quiet side, a side that had been forgotten for so many years.  But because of “our” new quiet joy, we can also see a “quiet” in our animals, animals that are truly a part of the family, and our children, that now feel the love, so long denied.

We the people, even the smallest of children have lost ourselves in becoming a follower, judging ourselves with how many friends we have, becoming a bully to be accepted, how much money and status we have acquired and even how we look at ourselves in the mirror. We were making all of this our “GOD” defying the 1st Commandment.

Here is a question, Why, when someone, anyone, talks about God and Christ or spiritual beliefs the tone of a conversation becomes uncomfortable, but not the same when in that same conversation the talk is about themselves, their money, their beers.   Why is that?  God is our heavenly Father, our confident, our cheerleader, He gives us true HOPE, He gives us true LOVE. And what do we give back when things don’t go our way, we give our anger, our animosity, our attitude.  How often do we thank Him? How often do we give our love as He so freely gives of His? How often do we pray as a family?

We can emerge from anything—negative or positive with HOPE that comes through our FAITH.

The stress which was becoming our legacy has released us and brought us back to our heritage, and our inheritance, bringing us back to the truth of where we should be.

Now, ask yourself this question, why is this pandemic happening?

The answer is: We have been given this time to change direction and to make a heart comfort decision for who we really are.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,

if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

J.K. Rowling

As adults, so much of what is real and true can be learned through the eyes of children, getting inside their little minds of “truthful and honest.” Even Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

We all need to come home, we all need to listen to the silence, for in this silence is the heart of God. God cannot be found in noise and RESTLESSNESS. God is the friend of our Silence.

Look at the images of tulips blooming in the fields across the globe, in Amsterdam, in Texas, in Oregon, in Washington State, in Norfolk, in Michigan, all over the world. A Tulip is significant of a “Perfect Love. A promise of a new beginning.  “Hope Springs Eternal through the Human Soul.. article by Saul Levine M.D.

Easter is one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the Son of God. For those who trust, death is swallowed up in victory, a new birth into a living hope.

“Wonder can be found wherever we are open to searching for it.”

Joshua Foer

Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives, DO not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Why Easter?  Because these Holy Days have been given to us all as a Gift. And it is up to us to find, choose and delight in this Gift and this day.

This day, this Easter, more than any other Easter or Passover celebrated in our lifetime, keep the softness that you have discovered, and when our new normal blooms, welcome that new you.

Amen

 

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And the People Stayed Home

1919 Pandemic Photo

Spanish Flu 1918 photo

There’s a wonderful poem that’s been circulating on social media during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s often prefaced with these words:

History repeats itself. I came across this poem written in 1869, reprinted during the 1919 Pandemic.

This is Timeless…. It was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara.

 

There’s only one problem, it’s not true.

The author of the poem is Kitty O’Meara. After Deepak Chopra shared it, the untitled poem went globally viral and made her the poet laureate of the current pandemic.

Kitty lives in Madison, Wisconsin, she’s retired, lives with her husband Phillip and they have five rescue dogs.

You can read the whole story in Oprah Magazine HERE

And Now You Know, The Rest of the Story

So, take a moment and enjoy this wonderful message, perfect for these times.

And people stayed at HOME

And read books, and listened, and rested,

and exercised, and made art, and played games

And learned new ways of being, and were still,

And listened more deeply,

Some meditated, some prayed, some

danced, some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of

people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless

and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people

joined together again, they grieved their losses,

and made new choices, and dreamed new

images, and created new ways to live and heal

the earth fully, as they had been HEALED.

-Kitty O’Meara

 

Kitty adds that we all have gifts. It’s a good reminder that whatever your gifts are, and however small they may be to keep using them. This is a really good time for that.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible;

and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

-Saint Francis of Assisi

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Our New Normal

Normal?We are living in a surreal time. The birds are singing, the trees and flowers are blooming and yet, life is anything but what we used to call normal.

Huge changes are in the wind, in ways that we hadn’t predicted as 2019 was coming to an end.

If You Had More Time, You Would…

Funny how we fool ourselves about the reasons we haven’t gotten around to doing some tasks.

Example: A person on Facebook wrote, “After years of wanting to thoroughly clean my house, but lacking the time, this week I learned that wasn’t the reason.”

I’m sure similar thoughts are conjured up in your mind.

Normal Routines

I’m retired but I still had a daily routine. I got up every weekday with my wife, had breakfast, saw her off to work and then poured myself another cup of coffee while watching a morning television news program.

Then I’d start my day.

The media I used consisted of streaming TV and streaming audio. Over-the-air radio was something I played in the car when I went shopping for food or supplies.

Then COVID-19 invaded everyone’s normal life.

Disrupted Routines

With my wife now out of work, we didn’t have a need to rise with an alarm. Watching the morning news with that second cup of coffee was now a memory. Going out for the daily food and supplies is now something done much less frequently. Streaming movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and YouTube now make up more of our day, as has Face-Timing with our kids and grandkids, as they too are all home now.

I can only imagine, how even more disrupted the lives of parents are, they now find themselves trying to work from home, plus home school their children.

New Normal

On average it takes a person over two months to form a new habit, 66-days to be exact. That’s the length of time, most of us, will be staying-at-home. What will we be like after that time?

Will we immediately make plans to dine out, go to shows, be in large crowds or will we cautiously proceed?

Will we maintain some of those new habits, never to fully return to the way things used to be?

Will we begin to maintain a basic stockpile of necessities, like toilet tissue, to be sure we never find ourselves looking at bare store shelves when we’ve run out?

Will we find that saving more money in our bank accounts is prudent for times when we may find ourselves out-of-work again?

Will the new media choices we’ve found during our time of forced hibernation become the ones we now depend on in our daily lives?

How Has Your Life Been Changed by COVID-19?

In the comments section of today’s blog, I hope you will share your COVID-19 stories about how your lives have been changed by this virus. How you are adapting and how you are surviving. Maybe there’s something you’re doing we might all enjoy doing as well.

We’re all in this together.

Stay safe, stay home.

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