Tag Archives: Fred Rogers

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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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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Radio Knows What to Do

Munster RadioRon Robinson is a Canadian radio curmudgeon that writes a weekly column in Radio Ink. A recent column asked the question, “Will More Data and Tech Help Radio?I thought I’d take a go at answering this question in this week’s blog.

Spoiler Alert: The Answer is NO

Radio seems to be awash in data and tech, more is not what’s needed. Radio knows what to do but isn’t doing it.

Education that is not put into action, is simply entertainment.

Likewise, having too much information can be as useful as not having any information. Moderation is the key to everything.

People Listen to Radio

I have no doubts that people are listening to radio. Unfortunately, the proliferation of radio stations has fractionalized any one radio station’s listening audience. Gone are the days of big double digit shares of listening to any radio show or radio station.

Nobody cares if your radio station is #1. (They never did.)

Are Your Listeners Responding?

For the advertiser, it’s always been about cash register rings. That’s the ONLY audience measurement they ever cared about.

To accomplish driving this metric, means an investment in the copywriting process. It means advertising representatives who know how to find each advertiser’s unique characteristic that will become their story. It means having relatable communicators who can tell the story in a way that engages the listener and inspires them to action.

I personally have been studying why people do the things they do for over three decades. And have been a disciple of Roy H. Williams aka The Wizard of Ads for almost as long.

Any radio person serious about getting their advertiser results should be investing in their people’s education at the Wizard Academy.

Social Media

I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now and post it to different social media platforms. Looking at the metrics about where readers come, from #1 would be from Facebook. Facebook not only comes in first, but what comes in after it, is far behind in impact.

I’m thinking that your local advertisers may be experiencing something similar if they’ve used Facebook to promote their business.

Technology

I began streaming music when living in the greater New York City area and WQCD – CD101.9 FM dropped its smooth jazz format. In my radio career, I launched two different new smooth jazz formatted radio stations and fell in love with the music and the artists.

To take a break from monitoring my own radio stations, I’d turn on CD101.9.

When they left the air, I was forced to go online and find a streaming smooth jazz station. So, in essence, the radio industry by removing this relaxing format at station after station, forced folks like me to go elsewhere for their music fix.

You Can’t Go Back

In my many travels, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a couple of OTA smooth jazz radio stations that brought this format back. I found them hard to listen to. Here’s why, they are cluttered, and the streaming smooth jazz channels I enjoy are not.

Much in the way that Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube have made television clutter free viewing, streaming audio via my Amazon Echoes has done the same thing for my music listening.

Anyone who’s had a car with an automatic transmission, won’t want to return to the days of shifting, or has had a car equipped with air conditioning won’t buy a car without it.

It’s Innovation Time

Radio needs to do what others are not.

The successful radio stations of the future will be ones where their people are 100% focused on its content, and nothing else. They will be niched to satisfy a defined audience so perfectly, that those listeners will find little need to go anywhere else.

They will be people communicating with other people, live in real time and with relevant content.

Fred Rogers put it this way, “L’essential est invisible pour les yeux.” (What is essential is invisible to the eye.)

More data and tech won’t take radio to the next chapter.

People will.

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A New Direction for Broadcast

rogers-pastoreLast week I told you about how our world is exploding with media to the point of over-saturation. Not only are we drowning in a plethora of media, the rate of new ways to communicate keeps accelerating at an unfathomable pace.

For one form of broadcast, RADIO, I believe it has a super power that it can wield to cut through the clutter.

Radio’s Advantage

Radio’s biggest strength is its ability to make people aware of things. More than 300 radio stations across America annually participate in “Radio Cares” to support St. Jude Children’s hospital, raising tens of millions of dollars every year.

Radio has the power to make people aware of the need, and listeners respond with their dollars.

Artificial Intelligence

Radio grew up with the strength of connecting with the radio listener by power of the human voice and a talented personality behind a microphone.

Radio is an art form. When you remove the artists, there’s not much left.

The development in the field of AI (artificial intelligence) is incredible. Amazon’s Alexa now has a “news voice” to deliver the latest goings-on in our world with the authority of a network newscaster.

But, the curious thing is, as artificial intelligence grows, we find human interaction takes on even more importance.

Radio needs to automate the backroom and other areas unseen or unheard by the listening consumer, and return to live personalities 24/7 that connect and engage the listener on an emotional level. Personalities that can not only sell the music, but the advertiser’s goods that support the radio broadcasting station.

The Radio Listening Experience

The 21st Century world is filled with people seeking out the best customer experience. And what comes through the listener’s speaker, is critical.

Radio programmers sweat bullets over their OTA signal while completely ignoring the programming that streams over the internet. The radio listener’s experience in those long commercial stop-sets is painful. Often with the same advertisement running multiple times in one of those gargantuan breaks.

This IS NOT a great listening experience.

Radio Needs to Be Personalized

Radio needs to stop worrying about reaching the most people and instead personalize its programming to a specific target audience. A specific group of people with like interests, needs and desires.

Radio that personalizes itself to an audience that shares common beliefs and/or lifestyles will deliver an advertising platform for products and services that wish to reach these same people.

Social Intelligence

Radio needs to learn how to turn its social media data into social media intelligence that can be leveraged to personalize their programming and keep it fully aligned with the target audience.

80% of people’s decisions are based on emotion.

Emotion is data too.

Fred Rogers

Back in 1968, public television in America was worried that Senator John Pastore’s Subcommittee on Communications was going to gut its congressional monies. Public television’s head selected Fred Rogers to champion its cause before Senator Pastore’s committee. Mr. Rogers testimony is still considered one of the most powerful pieces of emotional persuasion ever filmed.

Fred Rogers appeared before Senator Pastore on May 1, 1969 and it will definitely be worth your time to view and analyze it HERE

Rogers secured public television’s full funding without a single penny being cut.

During Mr. Rogers presentation, Senator Pastore remarked: “Well, I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I’ve had goose bumps for the last two days.”

When Fred Rogers concluded his testimony, Senator Pastore’s closing statement was “Looks like you just earned the twenty million dollars.”

Radio’s Mission for the Future

Radio can’t win by being artificial.

Radio needs to be earnest, authentic and live in the moment.

Radio needs personalities that are personal, informal, and that speak to human feelings and emotions using the words that the listener uses and understands.

The radio personality who becomes an extended member of the listener’s family can be powerful in making the listener aware of everything they need to know, even advertised merchandise and service.

Radio’s best investment to secure its future is creating the best listener experience both over-the-air and online.

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Mister Radio

mr rogersI didn’t grow up watching “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” The television in my family’s house was connected to two different antennas that each picked up a single television station. One TV station was affiliated with the NBC television network and the other with the CBS television network. My childhood mentor was Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan’s broadcast was on commercial television, so I was also exposed to products such as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid, where the “sugar, sugar, sugar…is already in it.” Sad, that I remember that sell line over 50-years later, more than any other lesson taught by that show.

Fred Rogers

I think I really became aware of the impact that Fred Rogers’ telecast made on children when in 2003 my oldest son Chris called me and said, “Dad, today’s a very sad day, Mister Rogers died.”

But my quest to learn more about this man really came about when I viewed the documentary on Netflix called “Mister Rogers & Me: A Deep & Simple Documentary Film.”

“I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.”

-Fred Rogers

Deep & SimpleDeep & Simple

Fred Rogers learned of this concept from a friend, mystic, activist and author in Durham, North Carolina by the name of Bo Lozoff. Bo wrote a book titled “Deep & Simple.” I bought a copy of the book from the Human Kindness Foundation, which Bo and his wife Sita founded. I wanted to read about the three core tenets of a deeper life that inspired Mister Rogers.

$20 Million Testimony

rogers-pastoreOn May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before Senator John Pastore’s Senate committee to explain why they should continue to fund PBS (Public Broadcasting System) for another term at a cost to the taxpayers of America of twenty million dollars. If you’ve never seen Mister Rogers’ testimony, I encourage you to stop, and take a moment to view it now. Click HERE

Spoiler Alert, Senator Pastore gave PBS its $20 million funding.

Be Real

What Fred Rogers did before the Senate hearing, was the same thing he did on his TV program, in interviews and in life. He was himself. He was being real.

His truthfulness and sincerity were never in question.

2002 Dartmouth Commencement Speechdartmouth-rogers

In May of 2002, Fred Rogers was invited back to his alma mater, Dartmouth, to give that year’s commencement address. It was powerful in its deep and simple message. Here are some of the things he said that day, that I feel have importance to the radio broadcasting industry.

Mister Rogers told one his favorite stories about the Seattle Special Olympics, where nine contestants, all of them physically or mentally disabled, were to run a 100-yard dash.

The starting gun fired and all of them began to run. One little boy stumbled, fell and hurt his knee. He began to cry. Hearing him cry, the other eight children turned around and ran back to him. They picked him up, linked arms and all joyfully crossed the finish line at the same time.

What makes this story so powerful, Fred Rogers told the graduates, was that

“Deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”

Radio used to operate with this everybody wins type of esprit de corps, a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty, to its staff, its advertisers and its community of license.

You Are Unique

Fred told the graduates that day that each one of them is unique and special. No one will ever be like them.

Radio stations used to be unique and special when I was growing up. DX’ing (listening to distant AM radio signals via the night skywave) was a cornucopia of theater for the mind. Every station was unique. Every radio personality was special. To not listen to any one of them left the radio listener with a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Choices

Fred Rogers said that he was very much interested in choices.

“What it is, and who it is, that enable us human beings to make the choices we make all through our lives. What choices led to ethnic cleansing? What choices lead to healing? What choices lead to the destruction of the environment, the erosion of the Sabbath, suicide bombings, or teenagers shooting teachers. What choices encourage heroism in the midst of chaos?”

Radio has been constantly faced with choices over its nearly 100-years.

When television was born, radio chose to move in new directions and created new kinds of programs that would engage the next generation of listeners.

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

-from Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince

What’s Essential About Radio?

In the 21st Century, who’s asking this question? What’s essential about radio today? What’s essential about the people who broadcast over your radio station?

Fred Rogers told those Dartmouth students that commencement day, they were graduating because of the people who helped them become the people they are.

“Anyone who has ever graduated from a college, anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work, has had at least one person, and often many, who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others,” said Mister Rogers.

bill gableThis past week, news spread that Brother Bill Gable had died. For many of us, it was the time he broadcast over The Big 8 – CKLW out of Windsor-Ontario, Canada that endeared him to our hearts. His best friend, Pat Holiday shared a story about what made Brother Bill and the rest of the air personalities at CKLW essential radio listening. Pat wrote:

“Each day on CKLW the big deal was the show opener. We’d all try to outdo each other. No, ‘Hi…how you doing?’ stuff. It HAD to be larger than life. We’d all do our best to do some crazy or funny or amazing thing to set the tone for the rest of the show. Something mesmerizing. So much that you’d think, ‘Holy shit that was great. How am I going to top that?’”

This is in such stark contrast to what we hear over the radio today.

George Johns shared a blog post from his radio friend Bob Christy that was titled “It’s Over…” The blog was written by Bob after he had spent a couple of hours listening to New York City’s #1 radio station. You can read the complete blog article HERE 

The essential element for most radio listeners, the air personality, was throttled to four mic breaks per hour. Worse, the personality sounded uninterested according to Christy and the only local story he shared was ripped off the internet.

Bob ends his post by asking, “So is it fair to judge a station by listening to one break or for ‘only a few hours,” hell yes it is. The audience will give you one shot, you better be ready and make it count.”

Won’t You Be My Listener?

Radio has choices. It will either work to become essential in people’s lives again, or it won’t. Will it continue down the path of being shallow and complex, or return to its roots, being deep and simple? Great radio is more than anything you can see, hear or touch. Great radio is community and companionship. Great radio is LIVE and engaging to its target audience.

Great radio is created by dedicated radio people who spend every waking hour focused on delivering great radio.

I wish for the people in today’s radio industry to possess the wisdom, strength and grace to make the choices the industry needs, to make it the best radio it can be, going forward.

 

 

 

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