Tag Archives: pandemic

The Play’s the Thing

William Shakespeare wrote “the plays the thing” in his famous play “Hamlet.” Actually, Hamlet says “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Shakespeare had Hamlet planning to catch the king red-faced when confronted with his evil deeds presented in the play. In other words, he hoped to expose the king’s guilty conscience.

It’s my first week back from a little R&R, so I thought I’d try to convey a more optimistic tone.

SPOILER ALERT: This week’s blog has nothing to do with radio, television etc. but everything to do with life in troubled times.

The Plague

Alright, maybe this doesn’t sound like I’ve struck the right cord, but please bear with me.

From late 1592 until early 1594, people living in London were dealing with the bubonic plague, a scourge that had been around for thousands of years . The plague during these two years would kill more than 10,000 Londoners.

London was home to William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. So, when the plague was ravishing London, much like COVID-19 is ravishing the United States, everything closed down.

All of the theaters of London actually closed down for a full year to prevent the spread of the black death. This occurred in the midst of Shakespeare’s career and life.

Good Times Don’t Last, but Neither Do the Bad Times

When the plague subsided, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre re-opened, people starved for entertainment lined up for his productions. Gate receipts were huge and inspired the Bard of Avon to write “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In fact, Shakespeare used his plague experience as source material in “Romeo and Juliet.” You might remember the scene where Friar John is sent to deliver a message to Romeo about Juliet’s fake death, but due to being suspected of living in a plague infected house, Friar John is quarantined and never completes his delivery.

When the plague’s second wave during Shakespeare’s lifetime came in 1603, he continued to write his plays, completing “King Lear” and “Macbeth” as 30,000 more Londoners would perish. They would become some of his best loved productions.

Living with a Pandemic

William Shakespeare lived his whole life in the shadow of the bubonic plague and along with another influential Elizabethan playwright, Thomas Nashe, shared the view that there might never be a medical solution to the plague. Steven Greenblatt, professor of Humanities at Harvard writes that both men would focus their words on what they felt was an even greater plague, that of “being governed by a mendacious, morally bankrupt, incompetent, blood-soaked and ultimately self-destructive leader.” Writing in The New Yorker Greenblatt states:

“But the strange thing about these lines from “Macbeth” is that they are not intended as a description of a country in the grip of a vicious plague. Instead, they describe a country in the grip of a vicious ruler. The character who speaks them, Ross, has been asked how Scotland fares under Macbeth, who is nominally the country’s legitimate king. But everyone suspects what is the case, that he has come by his exalted position through underhand means: “I fear / Thou play’dst most foully for’t.”

The results have borne out the worst suspicions. In office, Macbeth has ruthlessly pursued his enemies and betrayed his friends. Egged on by his “fiend-like” wife, he will do anything to make himself feel perfectly secure—“Whole as the marble, founded as the rock.” But, though he always finds people willing to carry out his criminal orders, he only ever feels more anxious: “cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears.” And, under increasing pressure, calculation gives way to raw impulse, the reckless confidence that his instincts are always right: “From this moment / The very firstlings of my heart shall be / The firstlings of my hand.”

So, it would seem, we are living in times not so different than those of Shakespeare and we should strive to produce our own best work in these most troubled of times.

Build Character

Overcoming adversity is character  building. It shapes us into who we are and who we will become. It creates the confidence to overcome and the learning mechanisms to deal with the things that don’t go our way.

Create Resilience

Learning to deal with and address adversity is what creates resilience.

-Jim Haudan, Co-Founder and CEO, ROOT

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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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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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