Tag Archives: TuneIn Radio

We Are the Choices We Make

WSM(15)From my earliest days, I knew what I wanted to do in life. Drive a car, fly a plane and be a disc jockey.

I know, they don’t seem like big hairy audacious life goals, but to an eight year old, they were.

Disc Jockey

You might be surprised to learn that the goal of becoming a professional disc jockey on an AM radio station came first. I actually had to have my mom drive me to the radio station and pick me up after my shift and I’m sure it was a kick for both of my parents to hear their youngest son on the radio.

My mother was a radio listener. My father never was.

Driver’s License

By the time I got my driver’s license and was graduating from high school, my radio work had earned me enough money to buy my first car and head off to college.

My course of study in college was in physics and education. I was on the path to becoming a teacher. My parents didn’t feel that becoming a full-time disc jockey was a career with any future and wanted me to have a college degree and a career I could fall back on.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked to get an FCC license for an FM radio station for my college and became the first general manager of WJJW 91.1FM. Between classes I DJ’d on my college radio station, and on weekends, holidays and summers, earned money working in professional radio.

I never had a student loan and between my radio work and playing a trombone in professional marching and concert bands, I not only paid for my college education but saved some money too.

1968 was when minimum wage paid the most money per hour in the history of the minimum wage law in America. You can’t do what I did on minimum wage today.

Airborne

Flying a plane wouldn’t happen until 17-years later. I was promoted to general manager of WIIN-AM/WFPG-FM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The previous general manager had worked out a trade deal with our local airlines, which also provided our news/talk AM planeradio station with local traffic reports during beach season. When I took over the job, everything was already in place for flying lessons and I took advantage of the arrangement and learned to fly.

Soloing a plane over the South Jersey Shore Beaches in the summer time on the weekends was such a thrill.

Teaching

IMG_3351Whenever people would ask me what I wanted to do next with my life, my answer was always the same, teach. Yes, I wanted to teach at a college or university the very profession that I had spent my entire working life doing, radio.

When Clear Channel was doing major RIFs (Reduction In Force) in 2009, I one day found myself with a surprise visit from my Regional Vice President. For the past year, I had spent being told who I needed to terminate next in my radio stations and I knew this time it was me. It was the worst year in radio I ever had.

The good news was, I saw in Radio Ink that Western Kentucky University was looking for a broadcast professor to teach sales, management, history and other radio/media courses. The position perfectly described my background and because of my two college degrees, both in education, I knew I had found the final path of my professional life.

I moved to Kentucky. Helped Dan Vallie to create the KBA/WKU Radio Talent Institute and over the course of seven years did research on the future of radio, along with creating this very blog, that I’ve been writing weekly for over five years.

Disc Jockey, Second Act

Before retiring from the university, Joe Limardi, then operations manager for WSM 650AM in Nashville, invited me to come to Music City and do a radio shift on The Air IMG_2368Castle of the South. Joe Limardi had been a guest professional broadcaster in my Capstone Class at WKU and it was during his lectures with my students that I learned that Joe had grown up listening to me on the radio back in our hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts on WBEC 1420AM. Joe always thought of me as a disc jockey and little did I know I inspired him to pursue a radio career.

IMG_2352I had not been behind the mic on a radio station in 35-years. I had a 10-minute lesson in how to run the control board from Joe and then was off on my own to do the next four hours on The Legend WSM.

Soloing on WSM that day was a thrill, one I had not had since my flight instructor got out of the plane one day and said, “Take it around by yourself.”

But my disc jockey second act didn’t end that day, I continue to do a VT midday shift (EST) on WMEX-LP out of Rochester, NH and heard worldwide on TuneIn Radio.

One thing is clear, we are the choices we make.

Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.

 

 

 

 

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My First Echo

My First SonyBack in the 1980s, SONY introduced a series of small-scale electronics for kids. They came in brightly colored plastic with large buttons that were easy for little people to control. The line was called “My First Sony.”

SONY even introduced this line with a slick TV ad. Take a moment and watch it HERE.

The tag line in the ads was “What I love is my first Sony. It won’t be your last.”

That was over 30-years ago.

Voice Activated Devices

This past Christmas, my fiancé, Sue, gave me an Amazon Echo Dot. Why a Dot and not the larger version? Because I said I didn’t want one of these things. Heck, I own a “million” radio sets.

But she figured for $29 it would make a fun stocking stuffer.

Amazon Echo’s and Google Homes’ were the hot Christmas gift of 2017. Amazon said that they sold “tens of millions” of Echo devices all over the world and that it’s Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa voice remote were its most popular products across all categories.

Our Family Got Bigger

The Echo Dot was so easy to set-up and begin using. You basically plug it in. Then use your smartphone to connect it up to your WiFi and begin using it.

Like most new owners, the thing we used it for was to play music.

Now the Dot has a speaker akin to the one in my iPhone7. It reminded me of the sound that I used to get out of my first Zenith transistor radio back when I was in grade school. But then, it sounded great listening to the oldies on WMEX-FM via TuneIn radio. It’s the way I originally heard all of these songs.

My fiancé is not a fan of my many remote controls and especially all the buttons they have, but she very quickly fell in love with Alexa and controlling everything with her voice. We both did.

Alexa quickly became the third member of our family.

I told Sue that I could see us getting an Amazon Echo with the bigger speaker in our future.

Happy Valentine’s Day

That future came on Valentine’s Day 2018. I gifted the love of my life jewelry, candy, a romantic dinner out and she gifted me an Amazon Echo. Oh, there were many other things she gifted me, but the second Echo device is what I remember most and quickly put into service in our living room replacing the location previously occupied by the Dot.

When we got back home from our Valentine’s Day dinner, we sat on our living room couch, and asked Alexa to play our favorite love songs.

No Going Back

When I think of how quickly Alexa has taken over our lives – and we haven’t even scratched the surface of all she can do – I realize that there’s no going back.

It’s like giving up the microwave oven in the kitchen, or power windows in the car, or Google search or the internet. Once you have made these new innovations a part of your life, you won’t ever wish to return to a life before them.

The TV remote control made it possible to quickly change channels without leaving the couch. The video cassette recorder and then the DVR made it possible to no longer be chained to the TV network’s schedule. Netflix made watching a series, a binge affair.

Now these voice activated devices are changing the world of audio.

Quickly.

Addictively.

So, What Happened to the Dot?

If you’ve read this far, you might now be wondering what happened to our Amazon Dot.

It’s been re-deployed to the bedroom where it now puts us to sleep and wakes us up.

And it sounds great! Thanks to my BOSE Wave Radio.

Amazon Echo Dot & Bose Wave Radio

Let’s see the next holiday on the calendar is St. Patrick’s Day. I could see getting a couple more of these Dots to connect to our other BOSE Wave Radio and other radios I have in each room of our home.

Alexa, welcome to the family.

 

 

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Bring Back the Radio Hackers

We never called them that back in the early days of radio’s reinvention period after the birth of television in the 1950s, but that’s what they were.

Radio from the beginning basically was a medium that killed Vaudeville. Radio enticed the performers of Vaudeville to bring their acts to this new mass medium. The sales pitch went something like this: you won’t have to travel every day of the year, sleep on trains and eat your meals on the run. When you move your act to radio, you will be able to go home every night to your family and have a “normal” life. And you’ll make more money!

Not all performers would make this transition. The downside to moving their act to radio was that no longer could they have one act that they could perform night after night. On the radio, they needed a new act every performance. That’s a BIG CHANGE.

When television came along, the successful radio acts moved to TV and radio needed a new idea.

Enter the Hackers

 Alan Freed would hack the term Rock ‘N’ Roll and become the first famous disc jockey introducing a new venue for radio.

Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon aka “the Maverick of Radio” would hack the idea of Top 40 radio introducing a tighter playlist and higher repetition of the biggest hits. After observing teenagers playing the same songs over and over in a juke box.

Better Practices

 Today’s world is infested with the concept of “Best Practices.” It can be a stifling thing when it comes to creativity.

Today’s radio was born out of hackers that were constantly thinking up “Better Practices.” Ron Jacobs and Bill Drake certainly did at Boss Radio in Los Angeles with 93 KHJ. John Rook did it in Chicago with both WLS and WCFL. Rick Sklar did it in New York at Music Radio 77 WABC. Plus there were so many others in all size markets. Radio was different everywhere you listened because it was being hacked in so many wonderful ways. It was exciting to turn on your radio and hear what was going to come out next.

Insanity

 The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We have a lot of that kind of stinking thinking today and I’m sure you’ve heard all the reasons for why this is the path some of our biggest broadcasters are taking. As the radio business grew from a mom and pop business to the behemoths of today a ritual of “Best Practices” replaced hacking.

Today’s Economy is a Hacker Economy

 We live in a world where it seems everything has been turned upside down by the World Wide Web, the Internet and mobile Apps. The power is shifting from the big to the nimble; the hackers. Learn to hack or be attacked by those that hack.

Radio is not exempt from this shift. And it doesn’t have to lose.

Radio has what everyone else would love to own, a mass audience. Radio today is delivering the largest mass audience of all the mediums.

It’s why every entity trying to play in the audio medium calls itself “radio.” Pandora Radio, Spotify Radio, TuneIn Radio, RadioTunes, Beats 1 Radio etc. What radio folks have that these folks don’t have is a broadcast signal that is ubiquitous and a listening habit that has been cultivated over many years.

However, what those pure plays have that radio is missing are hackers.

Radio needs to stimulate agility, creativity and take risks.

Stop thinking about where you want to be in 5 years and start thinking about what problems you want to solve most right now. The winners will be those most able to adapt.

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