I’ve been subjecting myself to some unusual social, physical and psychological experiments over the last year or so. Nothing sexual. Done some cleanses… Did a fast. Went without a car for a while. Was homeless.
This latest apple thing is part of a bigger, more long term protocol. Apples were just one part of the adventure.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. It could be very interesting and I’ve been documenting the whole thing. Pictures and all!
It’s official. I am homeless. It’s true. Have you ever been homeless?
I’m certainly not homeless in the “bumfights” or Pursuit of Happiness sense of the word. We’re not looking for space in homeless shelters each night for food and warmth, thank God. But I am homeless none the less.
We’re also not victims of foreclosure or bankruptcy like many Americans today. We are actually homeless by choice.
Can you imagine? Would you ever CHOOSE to be homeless?
I am betting not. We didn’t choose to be homeless as much as we chose to “pay the price” for our end goal. Our end goal was to get more home for our money. Our end goal was to live in a community that isn’t in severe danger of becoming uninhabitable for young families. Our goal was to move away from drug deals in broad daylight on our block and a school district plagued with a political tug of war.
Now the irony is, our neighborhood and neighbors were excellent. The problem was, scattered among the wonderful people were drug dealers. The tragedy was with all the wonderful people in our neighborhood and all the potential for greatness in our community, the majority of the people in our town were content to look the other way while the village and community were self destructing. People either didn’t see it happening before their eyes, or they saw it and did nothing.
Our end goal was to find a home with reasonable taxes and excellent schools….schools that didn’t cost us an additional $600 a month in private tuition.
So after 3 years on the market, we finally sold our house without having another home to buy.
It became clear to us after house hunting for nearly 3 years that we would have to sell BEFORE we could get serious about buying. We would have to take less for our house and bank on getting more value when we BOUGHT our next house. We would have to suck it up and make it work.
So now, we’re homeless. But the good news is, our gamble paid off. We found the house with all the things we want and need.
We’ll be homeless for another month, but 2 months of being homeless was a small price to pay for our end goal.
I believe you can get anything you want in life if you are willing to pay the price, whether it’s a house or something else….and it’s a great feeling when you get what you’re after. You often surprise yourself.
I’d love to read about something you paid the price for. Please feel free to add your story to the comments.
When I was the PD of Nine FM we had a morning show issue. We had to get rid of a morning show that didn’t fit the direction we were taking the station in but my GM wouldn’t allow me to cut bait until we had a solution.
Serving Chicagoland from the suburbs, we had the hurdle of being suburban stations which were held to Chicago standards.
I pitched an idea I thought would work brilliantly, especially since our variety format was geared toward gold pop-rock hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
I told Harvey Wells (the GM) I wanted to reach out to Jonathon Brandmeier’s “people”. He laughed. He didn’t laugh because Johnny was a bad idea, but because he and I both knew we didn’t have $2million a year to pay Johnny B.
At the time, Brandmeier was on the air in LA and just doing ok. In fact as I continued to pester Harvey (I don’t give up easily) things changed and Brandmeier was off in LA and rumors were swirling about his return to Chicago to be near family. I argued Brandmeier would be back. If LA didn’t work, Chicago was going to work AND I’ve long felt that the rise of Eric & Kathy in mornings was directly related to Johnny B’s absence in morning drive in Chicago during E&K’s rise.
None of that mattered. I didn’t want Brandmeier to do a live morning show. I wanted his “best of” shows. I wanted to play his best of shows in between the Cars songs and other pop-rock 70s & 80s songs we focused on. These were the songs that were popular when Johnny was at his height. I wanted to hire a team of interns and producers to cut up these “Bits of Brandmeier” so we could fit them in between songs in morning drive and eventually afternoon drive.
The Portable People Meters were on their way and I believed (and I still do) that stations with star talent should build their stations around those stars. Music stations have nothing unique. Anyone can play Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday, and EVERYONE did. Top 40, Hot AC, Modern Rock, Rock, AAA, Alternative, AC and Variety WERE ALL PLAYING THE SONG. The only formats that weren’t were Urban or Country!
So my plan was to convince Brandmeier’s “people” to license his “best of” shows to 9 FM so we could boast BRANDMEIER MORNINGS. Then when the PPMs came I would also run BRANDMEIER in Afternoons. Needless to say, Harvey didn’t buy into it. While a smart radio station in Chicago did bring Brandmeier back….they failed to build a station around him and the audience he brings.
The result was, The Loop didn’t fit Brandmeier, and Brandmeier didn’t fit The Loop. You would think the folks at Emmis would have know this since they watched this same movie play out with Mancow. Your morning star has to be the star of the station, not just the star of mornings.
This all centers around my theory that if TV Land played re-runs of Johnny Carson’s tonight show opposite Leno and Letterman, TV Land would show huge numbers. Upon further reflection though I’ve changed my tune and I believe Carson would have to air earlier on TV Land.
So if there was one PD willing to run the “best of” a top tier morning show that once was….is there one more? Perhaps not.
Randy Michaels (Tribune CEO) put out a list to his company chronicling 100 words that “shall not be named”. It’s my understanding this list was intended for Tribune writers, WGN TV presenters, and WGN radio hosts.
“The real goal here is to avoid using words that make you sound like you’re reading, instead of talking — that shatter the image you’re speaking knowledgeably to one person. By not using ‘newsspeak,’ you enhance your reputation as a communicator.”
The new bosses at Tribune came in and pissed all over everything THEN tried to establish themselves as credible and respect worthy management. Now, they’re looked at as the bulls in a China shop when all they really want is to fix a company mired in “we’ve always done it this way” which is killing newspaper across the US.
I had lunch with a friend and fellow radio programmer yesterday and we laughed because the “list” of words not to mention is not too far off base. Million dollar TV and Radio hosts have gotten lazy. Their management has been reluctant to shape and mold them, or perhaps incapable because the managers didn’t have the chops or command the respect to do so. Either way, it’s time to catapult Tribune into the 21st Century for sure. There’s no doubt about that.
Anyone who says YOU ALL or YOU GUYS is NOT relating to an audience of ONE, which is what your audience ALWAYS is. But tell that to Oprah. Sometimes, she even calls the audience……AUDIENCE!
I think Mr. Feder recognizes these things even though he admittedly has not programmed a radio or TV station. He get’s it. He also gets how the Tribune Company will rot from the inside out if this stuff continues the way it’s being done.
Mr. Michaels is indeed attacking the messenger. That’s what his staff is doing as well, because of the way he executed this initiative. Memos like this are meant for telling all staff the parking lot is going to be painted on Monday and please park in lot B. Phone calls, one on one development meetings and good old conversations are the way to motivate and inspire real change on the scale they need at the Trib.
Randy, you need to get those people walking with you NOT 20 steps behind you in fear. I recall the signs all over the inside of WGN Radio which boldly stated: “YOU own this place now” referring to employee ownership. If the employees own the place, why aren’t they being treated with as much or MORE respect than you’d offer to Sam Zell? The employees actually have SKIN IN THE GAME.
Also noted by Feder is how Michaels bagged on bloggers. Funny. Bloggers are good enough to anchor ChicagoNow.com AND take up precious airtime on WGN CHICAGO! So what does Robert Feder know? I think he’s seen enough over his 30 years covering Chicago media to know when something’s off. He’s also smart enough to know the web is the future for all writers and darn near everything…..but then again, What the hell does Matt DuBiel know….?
(In full disclosure, I reached out to ChicagoNow about blogging for them a while back. I began “blogging” in 1997, and then started podcasting in 2004. Admittedly, it wasn’t a weekly effort on my part. Either way, I pitched ChicagoNow on a blog concept coming from the perspective of a 30 something dad in the suburbs. I got a response. I was told to lay out some examples, which I did, and I then never heard back. The more I thought about it afterward, the more I questioned why anyone would blog for ChicagoNow or anywhere else UNLESS they are getting paid. Blogs are cheap and easy to set up and when you control your blog you control your message, your brand and your relationships. Anyone blogging for ChicagoNow for free should blog on their own website and let ChicagoNow refeed it. Don’t just blog for ChicagoNow or any other site for free.)
Advertising works. Just ask Toyota. Advertising giveth to Toyota….and then advertising taketh away.
Just because they didn’t pay for it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t advertising. But given the chance, wouldn’t you rather control the message as much as possible? The truth is while advertising is your only shot of controlling the message. You still have to be great. And even if you are great, and the message you pay for is right, the people can change the message. You’re never in complete control.
I think the answer is to be great at what you do, tell the world and engage with your customers. If you miss any one of those 3 elements though, the others won’t work. Try advertising a crappy service and you’re going to get a lot of interest from people you’re going to let down….and you wont want to engage with THEM.
Toyota’s having a rough patch and they’re advertising now on the radio more than I’ve heard in a while. Here’s another interesting thing to note though, they didn’t just run screaming car ads for the last 10 years. They built their business on customer satisfaction. I understand they’re having recall issues now and it’s easy to speculate all of a sudden that Toyota was never so good all along, but the FACT of the matter is Toyota’s have rocked for years. They’ve won more than they’ve lost. They got sloppy and now they’re fixing it and telling their story to the masses via the radio.
I got my oil changed at Jiffy Lube. My 2004 Town & Country (what a pimp right) was screaming for some TLC. So as I am waiting to pay I over hear a woman on the phone with her husband. He needed batteries and she told him to get them from her camcorder. She almost begged him to use these batteries instead of buying new ones. In fact, at one point she said, “please use the batteries in the camcorder it will save us $10″.
My oil change was $39. I know from experience I can change it myself and it costs me about $14 WITH SYNTHETIC OIL. You could change your own oil, buy batteries for $10 and still have $15 left over! That’s 3 rentals at BLOCKBUSTER HA! It’s 3 foot longs are Subway, or MONEY IN THE BANK.
The truth is, I believe we need to be spending money in this economy. I think we need to tip better. But we just need to be smart about how we spend the money.
When times are tight, advertising is one of the first things businesses cut back on. Does that make ANY SENSE? Not to me. Now is THE time to advertise. Everyone else is cutting back. Everyone else is recoiling and panicking. And if they’re not….they’re doing crazy things like raising their prices! Remember the scene in It’s A Wonderful Life where everyone FREAKS about their money. George Bailey and Mr. Potter are the only ones who kept their heads. After it passed, and these things always do, they were the two big dogs left.
Now is the time to advertise the right way. If you’re selling advertising on the radio or anywhere else and business owners start telling you they have no money….think about the woman at Jiffy Lube. She didn’t have any money for batteries but she had money to get her oil changed. Good advertising should be FREE, because it pays for itself if it’s done right.
P.S. I realize not everyone knows how to change their own oil. You may also be wondering why I wasn’t changing my own oil. I sometimes change my oil myself, and enjoy it when I do. Today I chose to have it done while I got my hair got across the street. Multitasking, sort of. Either way, the example made sense for the purposes of this post…I hope!
Apparently 5 dollars is the new “black”. First it was $5 dollar foot longs. Tonight I rented a flick at BlockBuster and the woman behind the counter made sure to mention the NEW pricing structure…Drum Roll……5 Days for 5 Dollars….as if I need Star Wars I: Phantom Menace for 5 days! (No disrespect to the fine folks at the ForceCast.)
It’s funny, I didnt recall how much rentals were prior to this change. I new they weren’t $5 though. I’m told “old movies” were priced at $3.99. Now all movies are $5…… at BlockBuster. NEW movies at a Redbox are just $1 though. (Did you know Redbox is owned by McDonalds which is publicly traded? I’m just sayin….)
I went to BlockBuster close to Halloween one year to rent Ghostbusters II and Blockbuster didn’t even carry it. They didn’t even carry Beetlejuice. We never have that problem with Netflix because they have everything, but sometimes you want to run out and grab something NEW on a whim. That’s where Redbox comes in.
So I guess I am saying “see ya around” BlockBuster. It was fun while it lasted, but you have adjusted to YOUR needs and away from mine.
I think this is how a lot of listeners feel about their favorite radio stations. Over the years many stations haven’t kept up with the needs of their listeners. Listeners have migrated to other sources. It’s happened to newspapers and TV. Look at the eruption of online video. We used to WATCH Saturday Night LIVE….LIVE. Now we watch clips of SNL ONLINE at work. People’s needs are changing and to stay relevant, we need to change with them. It’s true in sales too. How many times are your sales reps trying to force feed a package down a client’s throat because it works for the sales department.
It needs to work for the customer, and if it doesn’t….don’t expect them to stick around. On the other hand, the opposite is true too. Serve your customer well and even anticipate her needs and she will return….with friends.
This relates to radio, I promise. My wife and I took our kids out for ice cream the other night. Sometimes we take the kids to Dairy Queen or 31 Flavors, and every now and then we visit a more premium shop with even better ice cream. At this place cones can be $3-$5 and my wife and I ALWAYS get their peanut butter chocolate. It’s fantastic.
On this night, we get the peanut butter chocolate and there’s literally ZERO peanut butter in it. Now if it was a $.99 McDonald’s cone I would have let it go…so I politely mentioned to the guy who gave it to me that there was no peanut butter in it.
He said, “That IS peanut butter chocolate!”, as though I was accusing him of scooping from the wrong bucket. With that, he tossed it and scooped another cone from the “peanut butter chocolate” bucket. Guess what? There was no peanut butter in there either. None. Zip. Not a shred. Not a hint. You could take a hundred bites and never taste peanut butter.
My wife just continued on and ate her faux peanut butter chocolate ice cream…but not me. I can’t let stuff like this go. I don’t want to frankly. So long story short, I bring the cone up for the 2nd time. I politely ask the manager for some peanut butter chocolate ice cream, with peanut butter in it. He proceeds to tell me IT IS PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE. I smile and showed him the hunk of chocolate ice cream. I pulled it apart and showed him there wasn’t a trace. It was like a blue berry muffin with no blueberries in it. Do you remember that scene from Casino?
The point is, you have to deliver the peanut butter every time! Cause if you don’t the people who come in for the peanut butter will stop coming in. If for some reason you are not delivering the peanut butter, and a listener calls you on it you need to listen! Don’t call them a liar and make them feel stupid for letting you know. Reward the interaction. Embrace the interaction and use it to get them to try something else.
The peanut butter in your case is the promise your station or show makes to your listener. It’s the promise your clients make. Sales reps and sales managers need to be in tune with this too otherwise the advertising isn’t going to do the client any darn good! Imagine running an excellent on air campaign that works and drives traffic to a place that doesn’t make good on their promise! All the ads in the world won’t keep that business afloat.
The other thing to note is, the guy scooping the ice cream thought he did his job because he scooped from the bin marked “peanut butter chocolate” even though there was no peanut butter. It didn’t occur to him that his job is to deliver the promise, not just go through the motions.
I have a tendency to use food analogies a lot. I think they make sense to the most amount of people. My morning show meetings with the morning team at 9 FM in Chicago (Steve Fisher and Joey Fortman were the hosts) often consisted of me imploring them to “spread out the cookie dough”. That’s a post for another time.
These are “things” I think you might also “dig”….in no particular order.
Entourage. I know, I’m like 5 years late. Better late than never. Thanks to JP I’ve viewed all previous seasons on DVD. Good times. I recommend dipping in if you never have. Jeremy Piven is excellent, and I never liked Jeremy Piven.
iPhone. It’s not for everybody, but there’s no other phone for me.
Macbook. I’m on it now. I’m done with PCs. Apple has it going on.
AWeber. This program is for email newsletters. It’s like Constant Contact or MailChimp, except better. If you have an email database, or want to have one, use AWeber.
Boxee. This website/software is best on Macs and makes it super easy to watch video from various sources (MTV, YouTube, Kid’s Networks and more). This software and others like it make it super easy to connect your computer to your TV thereby making it a super entertainment center.
Black Eyed Peas. My kids and my wife love “I Gotta Feeling”…and so do I. It’s a fun and inspiring song.
Turkey. As in the meat. I have hated turkey most of my life, but this year I found this roasted turkey at Costco that ROCKS. Now I make turkey, alfa sprout, carrot peel, lettuce wraps for lunch….and they’re delicious.
Black Coffee. I used to be a 2 cream and 3 sweeteners coffee guy…but in 2009, I went black. It’s far less maintenance for sure. I still enjoy coffee the old way, but day to day it’s black all the way.
Now in fairness to me, I did write 2009 and BEYOND. Beyond is key because silly old radio just didn’t move fast enough for Matt DuBiel. There are some points where I was off, the others (I maintain) are just too “cutting edge” for radio and may take a few more years to come to fruition.
Here’s where I was wrong:
1) Sirius/XM did not merge with another company as I predicted. I still think they will eventually.
5) MTV and VH1 styled repeats have not hit the radio yet and morning shows replayed in the afternoon have not been a programming fad….YET.
6) Shorter talk shows have not been the latest trend. While long 5 hour talk shows like Steve Dahl’s in Chicago have been the victim of PPM, we have not seen an influx of shorter talk shows….YET.
9) The Hamburger U styled Radio Sales Boot Camp is not alive and well….or at least not widespread. This will happen eventually. Someone will see that the talent drought in radio is on the sales side and once this is addressed radio will realize a significant renaissance.
10) Arbitron has not been chased out of radio and is still being allowed to dictate the success of the industry…. Radio should turn it’s back on this ridiculous association with a company which has caused more damage to the industry than an other single entity….but radio fears change and sadly while this SHOULD happen asap, it very well may not….ever.
14) Radio Disney hasn’t really taken the FM dial by storm yet. No one has really claimed the tween markets on the air and perhaps this will take longer than expected….
16) Westwood One has not been gobbled up by Triton Media….but everyone else has pretty much!
Now I am not claiming all my other predictions were spot on, but they either came to pass or part of them came to pass. I’ll be dishing out my predictions for 2010 and beyond next week. If you’d like to read all the predictions from last year, click here.