Tag Archives: COVID-19

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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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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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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Look for the Helpers

 

Look For The Helpers“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine on December 23, 1776. What Paine was writing about in his essay “The Crisis” was about how Americans were being tested in their ability to stand up for their country and their newly won freedom.

Paine went on to say, “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Courage

I remember when Dan Rather anchored the CBS Evening News, as that network was going through tough times, and he changed his nightly sign-off to one word, “Courage.” That’s what we all need right now, courage.

Dan recently wrote,

“When we emerge from this, we must remember what society needs in order to function more equitably and justly. At the same time, please let us protect the embers of light that makes life livable.

We are left with a lot of time to sit and think. That is the nature of this particular crisis. The news is grim, and will likely get grimmer. But there is still joy and hope. There can be. There must be.”

Some Helpers

Fred Rogers was born the day I was writing today’s blog, March 20, 1928. Mr. Rogers was always quick to share with us what his mother told him in times of trouble, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

This week, some helpers appeared, to give those of us in media and advertising some new ideas and encouraging thoughts on how we can help our clients (and ourselves) through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Gordon Borrell & Borrell Associates

The first helpers of the week were Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia; Matt Coen, president of Second Street Media; Matt Sunshine, Managing Partner at The Center for Sales Strategy; Jim Brown, EVP of Sales for Borrell Associates; Corey Elliott, EVP of Local Market Intelligence for Borrell; and Gordon Borrell, CEO. They presented a free webinar titled, “Crisis Marketing for Local Media.” Here’s a link to the recording: https://wordpress.borrellassociates.com/crisis-marketing/

Not only did Gordon and his associates give actionable ideas for helping local agencies and media companies on how to serve local businesses during this global pandemic, but even the format of the presentation itself was an excellent blueprint of what every media organization should be doing on the local level, right now.

I highly recommend viewing this webinar and using Gordon’s slides in your own presentation for your marketplace.

You’ll learn how to help your clients who are struggling with declining sales and customer distractions. You’ll learn what businesses might actually thrive with the right marketing, and how you can help them establish their local voice as community leaders.

When the recovery begins, you’ll know what those who are suffering will need most from you.

Edison Research

The next helpers were Tom Webster and John Rosso. Tom Webster (Senior Vice President, Edison Research) and John Rosso (President, Market Development of Triton Digital) delivered the latest data in their annual “The Infinite Dial” webinar.

With most people sheltering in their homes, and with one third of American households without a single OTA radio receiver, the presentation provided real insights into why radio stations need to be paying close attention to their streams. In most America homes today, the smart speaker is the radio, and Amazon’s Echo, dominates. You can view the presentation deck here: https://www.edisonresearch.com/the-infinite-dial-2020/

The Research Director

The third helper of the week was Charlie Sislen, partner in The Research Director, Inc. I’ve known Charlie since his days at Eastman Radio in New York City and have always found him a go-to person when you need help.

Charlie presented a short, to the point, webinar on “Advertising in Uncertain Times.” During that webinar he gave a link to a webpage you will want to bookmark on your browser: https://researchdirectorinc.com/hot-topics/

In addition to the material Charlie covered in his webinar, you’ll find constantly updated information, ideas and facts in his “Radio Survival Kit.”

Charlie writes:

“These are uncertain times. Nearly every aspect of our lives are changing due to the spread of COVID-19. Research Director, Inc. strives to help our clients and the radio industry at large, weather this storm by gathering the strongest and most informative data and opinions available.

 

It may be an understatement to say that we are living in unusual times. Every American’s life has been disrupted and there is a real concern for what will happen next.

 

While it may seem minor compared to other events that are pressing right now, this is a time when radio, especially local radio, excels. It is important for everyone to realize that this is not business as usual, and our industry’s ability to adapt is the secret of our long-term success.”

Focus on the Future

It always seems, in times like these, that things will never get back to normal. But they always do.

Be optimistic, you really don’t need to fill your basement up with toilet tissue. The stores will soon be fully stocked once again and offering you coupons to buy it.

We’re in this together.

Let’s “be the helper” and help one another to get through this.

BONUS HELPER

This Monday morning (3/23/2020) I opened my email to find this email from The Wizard Academy. I wanted to share it with you. I hope you will share it with others.

Wizard Academy Update:

Advertising in a time of crises.

We just sat down with Roy and filmed a quick video of some very encouraging wisdom and insight for small business owners and advertisers during this extremely difficult time we are all facing.

This is our small way of giving hope to small businesses that you don’t need to simply give up and fade away, but can actually succeed and grow in this season.

-below is the direct link to the video:
https://youtu.be/kHaM_7l5-Gw

 

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The Day the World Shut Down

Disney World ClosedSwitching from a ten-year run as an air personality and operations manager, America was headed towards a brief recession, when I began in radio sales in 1979.

During that year, inflation had climbed to an unbelievable 11.3%, but 1980 saw it continue to grow to 13.5%. The prime interest rate, considered an important economic measure, climbed to 21.5% in June 1982.

They say timing is everything, and beginning a radio sales career during these challenging times turned out to be a blessing. Orders were not flying in over the transom. but if you wanted advertising business, you had to do your homework, develop creative advertising programs for your clients and burn lots of shoe leather to get the orders.

The Great Recession of 2008

I wasn’t afraid of facing the Great Recession of 2008, as I had learned that during difficult economic times, radio was the effective and very affordable means of advertising that got solid results for local businesses. Plus, during the economic downturn in 1989-90, my radio station cluster in Atlantic City turned in its first million dollar bottom line performance.

While the business environment was very challenging, and not all segments of society were doing well, there were people who were still employed, making money and wanted to increase their possessions, go places and try to live a normal life and radio was what reached them most effectively and efficiently.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Fast forward to 2020 and the global pandemic.

Maybe the closest comparison to what’s happening right now is the planet’s two World Wars.

Not in my lifetime, can I ever remember a time when just about everything was closing down, postponing or cancelling their events all across the globe.

The list continues to grow and the depth and breadth of it boggles the mind.

We are truly in uncharted waters.

Social Distancing

The new buzzwords are “social distancing.” Church services, if they are even allowed to be held, are telling parishioners not to shake hands but rather to nod their heads or make the peace sign during the service and avoid all human contact.

Everyone now is being told to stay home and avoid all contact with other people.

Every time I open my computer inbox, another company is sending me an email detailing how they’re dealing with the pandemic and advising me to stay home.

My city in Virginia added a new page on COVID-19 to their website and sends out emails and text messages updating the situation in both our city and state.

This new form of communication from local schools, governments and businesses, eclipses broadcast media for staying abreast of the situation on a moment by moment basis.

Economic Impact

While economists were already predicting a recession in our future the percentages of that occurring this year were relatively low, until COVID-19. Bloomberg now says with the bear market’s arrival last week, the chances of a recession in America this year have increased to 80%.

When the weatherman says there’s an 80% chance of rain, I grab my umbrella when I leave the house, so I take this change in the economic forecast very seriously.

Bloomberg says only twice has the stock market plunged 20% and not had a recession follow.

Truly, the United States is facing a potential “Black Swan Event.” Black Swan Events are occurrences that are extremely rare and unpredictable which spawn potentially severe consequences. Is radio ready for a “Black Swan Event”?

Fasten Your Seatbelts – Turbulence Ahead

People who are sequestered in their homes, will most likely be consuming media that they stream.

Most radio listening these days occurs in the automobile, but if people are staying home, they are not in their cars and listening to their car radio, and one third of American homes no longer have a single radio receiver in them.

I expect we will see an increase in people binge watching programs on their streaming video services, as well as buying groceries and other items they need online, to be delivered to their home.

To create a new habit, it takes three weeks to become routine, and the lockdown currently underway appears it will last from three to five weeks. Is that enough time for a major change in media habits to occur?

After the Crisis Ends

In terms of deaths and economic impact, the COVID-19 Pandemic has been described as a “major crisis” and could be on scale with that of a world war.

When it ends, will we see pent-up demand for goods, services and experiences, like occurred after WWII ended? Or will we see people reassessing their lives and what’s really important to them, moving people away from a consumer driven society to a more planet/people sustaining one?

What will radio’s role be then?

It’s not too early to begin forming a strategy to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19.

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